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Initiative Against Drudgery

 

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Image result for pictures of drudgery

Taking the Initiative Against Drudgery

From: Utmost.org

When it comes to taking the initiative against drudgery, we have to take the first step as though there were no God. There is no point in waiting for God to help us— He will not. But once we arise, immediately we find He is there. Whenever God gives us His inspiration, suddenly taking the initiative becomes a moral issue— a matter of obedience. Then we must act to be obedient and not continue to lie down doing nothing. If we will arise and shine, drudgery will be divinely transformed.

Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine. Read John 13. In this chapter, we see the Incarnate God performing the greatest example of drudgery— washing fishermen’s feet. He then says to them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). The inspiration of God is required if drudgery is to shine with the light of God upon it. In some cases the way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy forever. It may be a very common everyday task, but after we have seen it done, it becomes different. When the Lord does something through us, He always transforms it. Our Lord takes our human flesh and transforms it, and now every believer’s body has become “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

 

The Safety Zone

From: Get More Strength

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” Proverbs 18:10

The first church I pastored was in Springfield, Ohio. Our home was situated near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base—directly in the flight path of landing B-52 bombers that were coming home after circling the globe in our nation’s defense. Needless to say, these low-flying nuclear warehouses made a horrible racket as they flew overhead. They were so low that I hoped they avoided leaving tire tracks on our roof.

But the biggest problem with their booming approach was the trauma they caused in the hearts of our young children playing in the backyard. Happily engrossed in their own little world, the growing sound of trouble in the distance and the shadow of the massive planes as they skimmed the treetops traumatized our kids with fear. They instinctively knew what to do. They ran into the house to look for their mom or dad!  My legs still have the embedded marks of their fingerprints from clinging to me till the danger passed.

Every time I read this wonderful verse in Proverbs, I think about our children and the B52s. Like a kid frightened in his backyard, we are often anxious and sometimes terrified by the circumstances that come our way. Maybe it’s a health scare—a suspicious biopsy or the worried look on the doctor’s face. Sometimes it’s the threat we feel from family and friends who challenge and mock the beliefs we hold dear. The loss of a job, the betrayal of a trusted friend, the anxiety of not being able to cope as a single parent—all of these have a way of making us feel overwhelmed. Fearful and lonely, we need a refuge, a place to run.

Proverbs 18:10 is the MapQuest for our souls. It tells us to run to the name of the Lord. As the text says, His name is a strong tower and those who run to it are safe. So what’s so safe about His name?

His name is Provider—His grace is sufficient for every circumstance (2 Corinthians 12:9) and His wisdom is given in spades (James 1:5).

His name is the All-knowing and Almighty—nothing has escaped His notice, nor is anything beyond the scope of His power (Psalm 57:1-5).

His name is Good—regardless of what He permits to come into our lives, He will bring good from even the darkest situations (Romans 8:28).

His name is Father and Friend—the One who gave His Son to make you His child and to guarantee you a world to come where fear and anxiety are forever replaced by peace and joy (John 14:1-6).

So run to Him! There is no safe place without Him. And comfort in the time of stress is elusive apart from Him.

I guess this is why faith is so childlike. My children knew exactly where to turn when fear struck. They ran to the safety of their father’s love. May you and I be wise enough—and childlike enough—to do the same.

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • What fears have surfaced in your life this week? What was your response to these fears?
  • Where do you usually turn when you’re afraid? Friends? Escapism? Solutions apart from God?
  • Take action today by thinking about some of God’s Names (Healer, Sustainer, Provider, Redeemer, Almighty). Let the truths about Him be your strong tower today.
  • Read and rejoice in the truths found in Psalm 42:1-11Romans 8:31-39; and 2 Corinthians 4:7-18!
FEBRUARY 19, 2015From: Crosswalk

A Wedding Prayer, A Marriage Prayer
LYSA TERKEURST

“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.” Psalm 34:15 (NIV)

When my husband Art and I got married, we had a tough time transitioning from being two independent people into a unified couple. We didn’t have huge marriage issues to overcome — we had a lot of little everyday annoyances that started to chip away at the foundation of our relationship.

Slowly, we stopped seeing all we had and started focusing on all that was lacking in each other.

Honestly, enjoying each other got lost in all the efforts to fix each other. And that can be so disillusioning.

It can open your marriage up to a world of attack and the temptation to think, Did I marry the wrong person? I didn’t know it was going to be this hard.

Do you ever find yourself in this place? Me too.

The other day I came across the prayer Art’s dad prayed at our wedding. And it occurred to me this is much more than a wedding prayer. It’s a marriage prayer.

As I read back over this prayer, I am amazed at how God has answered so many of the requests intertwined in the words. This was being prayed over two broken, fragile, headstrong, needing-to-learn-a-lot individuals. Individuals who five years into our marriage weren’t sure we were going to make it. But we did.

And so can you.

I would encourage you to take your spouse’s hand and either have someone read this prayer over you or read it together. Use it as a reminder and recommitment.

And if your marriage isn’t at a place where that’s possible, pray this in the quiet shrine of your heart. As our key verse, Psalm 34:15 tells us, God hears you. He knows. He loves you. He will show you the way.

Father in Heaven, thank You for this husband, ______, and wife, _______, and their commitment to Christian marriage. As we look ahead, we pray that their future will never lack the convictions that make a marriage strong.

Bless this husband, ______. Bless him as provider and protector. Sustain him in all the pressures that come with the task of stewarding a family. May his strength be his wife’s boast and pride, and may he so live that his wife may find in him the haven for which the heart of a woman truly longs.

Bless this wife, ______. Give her a tenderness that makes her great, a deep sense of understanding, and a strong faith in You. Give her that inner beauty of a soul that never fades, that eternal youth that is found in holding fast to the things that never age. May she so live that her husband may be pleased to reverence her in the shrine of his heart.

Teach them that marriage is not living for each other. It is two people uniting and joining hands to serve You. Give them a great spiritual purpose in life. May they seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, knowing that You will sustain them through all of life’s challenges.

May they minimize each other’s weaknesses and be swift to praise and magnify each other’s strengths so that they might view each other through a lover’s kind and patient eyes. Help them every day to be kind and gentle, more like You. Give them a little something to forgive each day, that their love might learn to be long-suffering.

Bless them and develop their characters as they walk together with You. Give them enough hurts to keep them humane, enough failures to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours, and enough of success to make them sure they walk with You throughout all of their life.

May they never take each other’s love for granted but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims, “Out of all this world, you have chosen me.” Then, when life is done and the sun is setting, may they be found then as now, still hand in hand, still very proud, still thanking You for each other.

May they travel together as friends and lovers, brother and sister, husband and wife, father and mother, and as servants of Christ until He shall return or until that day when one shall lay the other into the arms of God. This we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the Great Lover of our souls. Amen.1

 

~ ~ ~
 

Dear Lord, thank You for the opportunity to come before Your throne with every concern I have and blessing I desire for my marriage. I pray these blessings over my husband and myself today, believing You will do immeasurably more in us than we can imagine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

1 Adapted from Dr. Louis H. Evans’ Marriage Prayer for Bride and Groom.

Thus Saith the Lord

From: Bible gateway

“Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.”
Ezekiel 36:37

Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true in your own personal experience. God has given you many an unsolicited favour, but still great prayer has always been the prelude of great mercy with you. When you first found peace through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much, and earnestly interceding with God that he would remove your doubts, and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances out of sore troubles, and mighty helps in great dangers, you have been able to say, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing’s shadow. When the sunlight of God’s mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, he himself shines behind them, and he casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest certain, if we are much in prayer, our pleadings are the shadows of mercy. Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly.

“Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw;

Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;

Gives exercise to faith and love;

Brings every blessing from above.”

Evening

“He first findeth his own brother Simon.”
John 1:41

This case is an excellent pattern of all cases where spiritual life is vigorous. As soon as a man has found Christ, he begins to find others. I will not believe that thou hast tasted of the honey of the gospel if thou canst eat it all thyself. True grace puts an end to all spiritual monopoly. Andrew first found his own brother Simon, and then others. Relationship has a very strong demand upon our first individual efforts. Andrew, thou didst well to begin with Simon. I doubt whether there are not some Christians giving away tracts at other people’s houses who would do well to give away a tract at their own–whether there are not some engaged in works of usefulness abroad who are neglecting their special sphere of usefulness at home. Thou mayst or thou mayst not be called to evangelize the people in any particular locality, but certainly thou art called to see after thine own servants, thine own kinsfolk and acquaintance. Let thy religion begin at home. Many tradesmen export their best commodities–the Christian should not. He should have all his conversation everywhere of the best savour; but let him have a care to put forth the sweetest fruit of spiritual life and testimony in his own family. When Andrew went to find his brother, he little imagined how eminent Simon would become. Simon Peter was worth ten Andrews so far as we can gather from sacred history, and yet Andrew was instrumental in bringing him to Jesus. You may be very deficient in talent yourself, and yet you may be the means of drawing to Christ one who shall become eminent in grace and service. Ah! dear friend, you little know the possibilities which are in you. You may but speak a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian church in years to come. Andrew has only two talents, but he finds Peter. Go thou and do likewise.

There Is Rest In The Lord

 

  • Matthew 11:28-30

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Vision and Darkness

From: Utmost.org

Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand” (Isaiah 49:2). The saint’s duty is to be still and listen. There is a “darkness” that comes from too much light— that is the time to listen. The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10-11).

Do I trust at all in the flesh? Or have I learned to go beyond all confidence in myself and other people of God? Do I trust in books and prayers or other joys in my life? Or have I placed my confidence in God Himself, not in His blessings? “I am Almighty God…”— El-Shaddai, the All-Powerful God (Genesis 17:1). The reason we are all being disciplined is that we will know God is real. As soon as God becomes real to us, people pale by comparison, becoming shadows of reality. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.

Redefine Beautiful

From: Crosswalk
LYNN COWELL

Every girl wanted them. And she “needed” them as well!

They were the boots that winter. Another season it was a specific backpack or jacket. Every year my daughter was in school, there was something she just had to have.

If Christmas or a birthday was near, she often got the item she wanted. But sometimes, by the time this special day came around, the crowd was wearing something new and my daughter had moved on to a different “need.”

All too often, I knew the motive: my girl wanted to fit in. She wanted to be like the other girls in her school. And while I didn’t want to encourage her desire for material things, my mama’s heart understood. She didn’t want to be different … at least not in this way.

My daughter was convinced the object of her desire at that moment would meet her needs or fix her problem.

I was thinking about my daughter when I read the story of Peter, John and the crippled man.

Acts 3:1-10 tells the story of a man crippled since birth who was carried to the temple gate called Beautiful every day. There he would sit and beg from those going into the temple courts. One day, he saw Peter and John, disciples of Jesus, about to enter and asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him and said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6b). Peter then took him by the hand to help him up. The man jumped to his feet and began to walk. He followed them into the temple jumping and praising God. All the people who knew the crippled man were amazed.

Every day, there are those we love who are heading to the gate called Beautiful to beg. A man-made “gate,” beautiful is culture’s standard of what it takes to be approved. Asking those who have what it takes, we beg for what we feel we need. For the teen girl it may mean acceptance by the popular group or the boy. As women, it may be our need for significance and value.

But, like the crippled man, we don’t realize we’re asking for the wrong thing from the wrong people. He didn’t know there was a better solution.

Peter and John didn’t give the crippled man what he thought he needed. They gave him what he truly needed — to be made whole.

We too have places in us that need healing. Society has forced its standard of beauty, telling us we must look this way, weigh this much and measure this size. But just like the crippled man in Acts 3, we can be made whole. In the name of Jesus, we can redefine beautiful by His standard and receive the acceptance, approval and affirmation we need.

Today’s Devotions

From: Through The Bible

Morning

January 19

Genesis 19:12-14 (NIV) 12The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here–sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here,13because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” 14So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

Angels had come to deliver Lot from the city of Sodom before it was destroyed. The angels were willing to deliver all those related to Lot. I wonder if the outcry to the LORD against its people was from the citizens of Sodom. Man is so obtuse that he can complain to God about the consequences of his own actions and those of others doing the same things. Sin has a way of torturing those it has mastered. The people refused to be freed from the sin by forsaking it. To stop the misery that sin caused, the people had to have their lives cut short.

Lot warned his sons-in-law of the impending doom, but they seemed to think he was joking. Why wouldn’t they take him seriously? Was it because Lot’s life was so compromised that they couldn’t imagine he would be the special recipient of an angelic mercy mission? After all, he sat in the gate as an official of Sodom, and he probably joked around with the best of them. He probably fit right in since he had become a judge. I believe his compromised life caused his message to sound like a joke.

There is a no less serious judgment coming on all the earth (2 Peter 3:7). We have been given a message and a chance to go out and warn others too. When they see our lives, do they consider our message a joke? Or do our lives add credence to our message? The way we live will add power to, or detract from, the message. Let us live in such a way as to add conviction to the words we speak so that others may be spared from the impending wrath of God.

Consider: Does my life backup the message?

Evening

January 19

Malachi 2:13-15 (NIV) 13Another thing you do: You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. 15Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.

Malachi means ‘my messenger’. The Temple had been reconstructed. The people of Israel were sliding back into some of their old patterns. They could never be the people God intended them to be without a miraculous heart change. The LORD pointed out some of their specific sins in Q and A style. He asked the question that was on their heart. Why doesn’t the LORD accept our offerings? How did they know He did not accept them? They knew because their crops were not blessed. Other people ruled over them. The blessing of God was not upon them, and they knew it.

Are you being blessed? Why not? Is it divorce? Men covenanted with the wife of their youth in marriage. God never takes lightly the breaking of a covenant. The two are made one. They are no longer individually His, but corporately His. He asks again, “Why one?” God is seeking godly offspring. Divorce is so devastating to children. It gives the enemy of their soul a foothold for bitterness and self- loathing. It spiritually handicaps the children. Of course God can help them work through it if they seek Him. The point is, for our convenience, we take the easy way out and injure others. The wife in that culture was then left without a means of support and was rarely remarried.

Consider: Guard your spirit. Remember the covenant you made with your wife and with God.

Church Signs

These church signs are not original material but if you haven’t read them for a while, I’m sure you’ll find them both witty and wise.

“Prevent truth decay. Brush up on your Bible.”
“The best vitamin for a Christian is B1.”
“Under same management for over 2000 years.”
“Soul food served here.”
“Tithe if you love Jesus! Anyone can honk!”
“Beat the Christmas rush, come to church this Sunday!”
“Don’t wait for the hearse to take you to church.”
“Life has many choices, Eternity has two. What’s yours?”
“Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due.”
“Wal-Mart isn’t the only saving place!”
“Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”
“It’s hard to stumble when you’re down on your knees.”
“What part of ‘THOU SHALT NOT’ don’t you understand?”
“A clear conscience makes a soft pillow.”
“The wages of sin is death. Repent before payday.”
“Never give the devil a ride. He will always want to drive.”
“Can’t sleep? Try counting your blessings.”
“Forbidden fruit creates many jams.”
“Christians, keep the faith…but not from others!”
“Satan subtracts and divides. God adds and multiplies.”
“If you don’t want to reap the fruits of sin stay out of the devil’s orchard.”
“To belittle is to be little.”
“Don’t let the littleness in others bring out the littleness in you.”
“God answers kneemail.”
“Try Jesus. If you don’t like Him, the devil will always take you.”

Depression’s Enemy Is Praise

 

 Praise Combats Depression

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Image result for pictures of people praising GodImage result for pictures of people praising God
Image result for pictures of people praising God
Image result for pictures of people praising God

Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His wondrous works and devoutly praise them! 1 Chronicles 16: 9

 

Taking the Initiative Against Depression

From: Utmost.org

The angel in this passage did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable. He simply told Elijah to do a very ordinary thing, that is, to get up and eat. If we were never depressed, we would not be alive— only material things don’t suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation. There are things in life that are designed to depress us; for example, things that are associated with death. Whenever you examine yourself, always take into account your capacity for depression.

When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable. Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things— things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God. If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.

When Slaves Become Sons

From: Getmorestrength.com

“So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:7

For some lucky students it’s a day off of school, but it’s possible the fact that today is Presidents’ Day may have slipped your notice. Nestled between Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, Presidents’ Day gets lost in the shuffle of cards, roses, and shamrocks. But nonetheless, it’s an important day. Remembering presidents like Washington and Lincoln, to whom we owe a great debt, puts our lives in a richer perspective.

Think, for instance, of President Lincoln. He will be remembered forever for eliminating the shame of slavery in the United States. Driven by his convictions against the tide of popular opinion and entrenched racism, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation—an executive order freeing the slaves. In so doing, he joins the exclusive club of persons like Wilberforce and even Moses who risked much to proclaim freedom for the oppressed.

The New Testament is no stranger to the dynamics of slavery. In Paul’s day, every major city had a place in the market where slaves were bought or sold. When a slave was brought to the auction block, he knew that his fate would be sealed by the one who paid the highest price for him. There were three possible outcomes. The slave could be purchased to become a slave to his new owner. Or, the winner of the bid could set the newly purchased slave free. Clearly, most slaves standing naked before the gawking bidders hoped for that highly unlikely possibility. But more unlikely still was the prospect that, legally, the highest bidder could adopt the slave and make him a son, which would mean that the former slave would have full family privileges and an equal place in the family inheritance. This option was so remote that it was more than a slave could hope for. Hopelessly stuck in servitude, the thought of becoming a son was the stuff that impossible dreams are made of.

And, as you’re thinking of that, think of yourself. There are only two kinds of people in this world. Those who are in bondage to Satan and those who by God’s grace are His sons! In fact, according to Romans 6: 1-23, all of us were born slaves to the regime of hell. And then Jesus in His love and mercy showed up in the marketplace of sin and saw you on the slave block, naked and bound with no hope. As the bidding grew more intense, He lifted his nail-scarred hand, pointed to you, and all the bidding ceased—for no one could out pay the price He paid for you! And as your feet were unshackled, soldiers led you to His side and then you heard words you thought you would never hear: “I love you, I want to make you my son, a full heir!” “I want to make you my daughter!”

And now, with God as your Father, full family privileges are yours. Access to a loving Father, the inheritance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, full rights to treasures like peace, comfort, confidence, joy, and the assurance of the fact that soon heaven will be yours—all belong to you forever!

And, as you can imagine, slaves who became sons and daughters were forever grateful and happily served their father without hesitation. Since we too are no longer slaves but sons and daughters, it seems to me that my life and yours should be spontaneously lived to love and serve Him as well!

Lincoln freed the slaves, but only Jesus can make a slave a son—only Jesus can make a slave a daughter!

No wonder the hymn writer penned . . .

My chains fell off, my heart was free;

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!

FEBRUARY 17, 2015

Remember Whose You Are
TRACIE MILES

From: Crosswalk.com

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 (NLT)

Because of mistakes in my past, I spent a lot of years not liking the woman who stared back at me in the mirror.

Maybe you’ve been there, too. Maybe you’ve even played the “wonder” game, like I did, for far too long.

Wondering who you really were. Wondering if you were forgivable. Wondering if you were worthy. Wondering if you were loved by God and others. Wondering if you were lovable. Wondering if you were beyond repair. Wondering if what someone did to hurt you stole your value. Wondering if you were a good enough person, wife, mom, employee, boss, sister, daughter, friend, servant. Wondering if you measured up in any area of life.

Maybe you still wonder if your life counts for something beyond your responsibilities and obligations, or if you were just meant to march through your daily routines with no real purpose or direction. Maybe you wonder if the lies you hear in your head are true: that not only does your life not matter to God, but that you probably don’t matter either.

Today’s key verse is a reminder that these whispers from the enemy are nothing but lies. We are each royal heirs to God’s kingdom, but sometimes life gets in the way of that truth. We think we are either too sinful or too messed up to be loved by a Savior, or that our past voids our chances of being loved by God, much less useful to Him.

Whether we are the sinner or the victim of a sinner, shame can slither in and shape the way we see ourselves. Then it becomes easy for the enemy’s deceptive and damaging schemes to weave a web of lies deep into our hearts and minds. Gradually, we lose sight of who we are in Christ, which is exactly what the devil wants us to do.

Satan’s ultimate goal is to get us to believe the lies, and live them out in our everyday lives, apart from God. But it is up to us whether he reaches that goal or not. We can thwart his plans by claiming God’s sovereignty over our hearts once and for all.

It’s possible you have been living in the shadow of the enemy’s lies, either because of your own mistakes or because of someone else’s choices to sin against you. I wasted many years believing the enemy’s lies were absolute truths. When I finally began to believe I did matter to God, I thwarted the enemy’s plans and began to follow God’s instead.

If you have been living the lie, too discouraged to allow yourself to believe how much God loves you, or too ashamed of your past to accept God’s gift of grace and mercy, let today become the day you begin seeing yourself in a new light with a new reflection looking back at you. Be proud of who you see in the mirror, not because of who you are, but because of Whose you are.

Today’s key verse reminds us that we are, without question, beloved children of God. As Beth Moore once said, “If you are not royalty, He is not King.” We are rightful heirs to God’s kingdom — and His love and acceptance. You are a royal and dearly loved daughter, and He is the King of all kings!

None but Jesus

From: Biblegateway

Charles Spurgeon sermon

“He that believeth on him is not condemned.” John 3:18

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 15:5-11

When I stand at the foot of the cross, I do not believe in Christ because I have got good feelings, but I believe in him whether I have good feelings or not.

“Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.”

Mr Roger, Mr Sheppard, Mr Flavell, and several excellent divines, in the Puritan age, and especially Richard Baxter, used to give descriptions of what a man must feel before he may dare to come to Christ. Now, I say in the language of good Mr Fenner, another of those divines, who said he was but a babe in grace when compared with them—“I dare to say it, that all this is not Scriptural. Sinners do feel these things before they come, but they do not come on the ground of having felt it; they come on the ground of being sinners, and on no other ground whatever.” The gate of Mercy is opened, and over the door it is written, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Between that word “save” and the next word “sinners,” there is no adjective. It does not say, “penitent sinners,” “awakened sinners,” “sensible sinners,” “grieving sinners,” or “alarmed sinners.” No, it only says, “sinners” and I know this, that when I come, I come to Christ today, for I feel it as much a necessity of my life to come to the cross of Christ today as it was to come ten years ago,—when I come to him, I dare not come as a conscious sinner or an awakened sinner, but I have to come still as a sinner with nothing in my hands.

For meditation: We have no more right to complicate the Gospel than we have to water it down. Feelings are good and proper, but Satan can use them not only to give false assurance of salvation, but also to make sinners feel too bad to obey the Gospel and come to Christ.

Loving advice for anxious seekers

From: Biblegateway

Charles Spurgeon sermon

‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.’ James 1:5

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 8:16–22

When a man is really under concern of soul, he is in a condition of considerable danger. Then it is that an artful false teacher may get hold of him, and beguile him into heresy. Hence the text does not say, ‘If any man lack wisdom, let him ask his priest;’ that is about the worst thing he can do; for he who sets himself up for a priest, is either a deceiver or deceived. ‘Let him ask of God;’ that is the advice of the Scripture. We are all so ready to go to books, to go to men, to go to ceremonies, to anything except to God. Man will worship God with his eyes, and his arms, and his knees, and his mouth—with anything but his heart—and we are all of us anxious, more or less, until we are renewed by grace, to get off the heart-worship of God. Juan de Valdes says that, ‘Just as an ignorant man takes a crucifix and says, “This crucifix will help me to think of Christ”, so he bows before it and never does think of Christ at all, but stops short at the crucifix; so,’ says he, ‘the learned man takes his book and says, “This book will teach me the mysteries of the kingdom”, but instead of giving his thoughts to the mysteries of godliness, he reads his book mechanically and stops at the book, instead of meditating and diving into the truth.’ It is the action of the mind that God accepts; it is the thought communing with him; it is the soul coming into contact with the soul of God; it is spirit-worship which the Lord accepts. Consequently, the text does not say, ‘Let him ask books,’ nor ‘ask priests,’ but, ‘let him ask of God.’ Above all, do not let the seeker ask of himself and follow his own imaginings and feelings. All human guides are bad, but you yourself will be your own worst guide. ‘Let him ask of God.’

For meditation: Whom or what do you see as your go-between in your dealings with God? The only mediator he will accept between you and him is the one he has appointed himself—the second Person of the Godhead, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). In his name we can ‘ask of God’ directly (John 14:13–14; 15:16; 16:23–24).

Arise With Joy To Serve Christ

pictures of people getting up in the morning

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The Inspiration of Spiritual Initiative

From: Utmost.org

Not all initiative, the willingness to take the first step, is inspired by God. Someone may say to you, “Get up and get going! Take your reluctance by the throat and throw it overboard— just do what needs to be done!” That is what we mean by ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes to us and says, in effect, “Get up and get going,” suddenly we find that the initiative is inspired.

We all have many dreams and aspirations when we are young, but sooner or later we realize we have no power to accomplish them. We cannot do the things we long to do, so our tendency is to think of our dreams and aspirations as dead. But God comes and says to us, “Arise from the dead….” When God sends His inspiration, it comes to us with such miraculous power that we are able to “arise from the dead” and do the impossible. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life and power comes after we “get up and get going.” God does not give us overcoming life— He gives us life as we overcome. When the inspiration of God comes, and He says, “Arise from the dead…,” we have to get ourselves up; God will not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch out your hand” (Matthew 12:13). As soon as the man did so, his hand was healed. But he had to take the initiative. If we will take the initiative to overcome, we will find that we have the inspiration of God, because He immediately gives us the power of life.

Can You See Her?

From: Getmorestrength

“and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”Luke 7:38

For most of us, prostitution represents a rather repulsive aspect of the underbelly of society. Given our disdain for such a godless practice, my guess is that few of us have ever thought about the people trapped in the “industry,” let alone the thought of taking the love of Jesus to them. We are far more prone to think of prostitutes with Simon the Pharisee’s sanctimonious aloofness—an aloofness that Jesus never felt.

Simon, the “good” person in town, was repulsed by the prostitute who had gate-crashed his party. The text indicates that he watched with revulsion the outpouring of her love at Jesus’ feet. His buttoned-up, spit-polished religious life had shut her out. Jesus, on the other hand, extended love and forgiveness to her and welcomed her in. What a contrast!

Lisa DePalma is the founder of a ministry to prostitutes on the dark street corners of Chicago. I have been stunned by Lisa’s stories of her work with these shattered lives, and I’ve been gripped by her example of what it means to extend the heart and hands of Jesus to them. Always used and never loved, these prostitutes hear—some of them for the first time—that God has wonderfully loved them through the person of Jesus.

To those of us who have a hard time feeling love and compassion for this kind of woman, Lisa writes these pleading lines.

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

Her face instead of her clothes? Her eyes instead of her body?

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

She has a name instead of a label, a broken heart instead of a hard one

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

The image of God instead of an object of scorn

Her worth to the Savior instead of her worthlessness to the world

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

His heart of forgiveness instead of your heart that judges

His blood that covers instead of your rules that condemn

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

And when you do see, what then?

What then? That’s a great question! Getting over a self-righteous, condemning attitude toward people who are not like us—and overtly sinful as well—is not an easy thing. Our “goodness” has a way of backfiring on us when we become proud that we are not like them and think of them as hopeless objects of God’s judgment—if indeed we think of them at all. The good guys in Jesus’ day were constantly shocked that He cared about sinners. But as He said, He came to seek and save those who are lost.

Getting over our infatuation with how good we are begins by asking ourselves if we want to be like standoffish Simon or like the compassionate Jesus. I choose Jesus! I’m tired of how I feel when I am self-righteous and proud. I find that following His lead to love the lost is a breath of fresh air in a stodgy and stagnant world of people who are taken with their own goodness.

 

A Limit To Affliction

From: Streams in the Desert

Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more (Nahum 1:12).

There is a limit to affliction. God sends it, and removes it. Do you sigh and say, “When will the end be?” Let us quietly wait and patiently endure the will of the Lord till He cometh. Our Father takes away the rod when His design in using it is fully served.
If the affliction is sent for testing us, that our graces may glorify God, it will end when the Lord has made us bear witness to His praise.
We would not wish the affliction to depart until God has gotten out of us all the honor which we can possibly yield Him. There may be today ” a great calm.” Who knows how soon those raging billows will give place to a sea of glass and the sea birds sit on the gentle waves?
After long tribulation, the flail is hung up, and the wheat rests in the garner. We may, before many hours are past, be just as happy as now we are sorrowful.
It is not hard for the Lord to turn night into day. He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the skies. Let us be of good cheer. It is better farther on. Let us sing Hallelujah by anticipation.
–C.H. Spurgeon
The great Husbandman is not always threshing. Trial is only for a season. The showers soon pass. Weeping may tarry only for the few hours of the short summer night; it must be gone at day break. Our light affliction is but for a moment. Trial is for a purpose, “If needs be.”
The very fact of trial proves that there is something in us very precious to our Lord; else He would not spend so much pains and time on us. Christ would not test us if He did not see the precious ore of faith mingled in the rocky matrix of our nature; and it is to bring this out into purity and beauty that He forces us through the fiery ordeal.
Be patient, O sufferer!  The result will more than compensate for all our trials, when we see how they wrought out the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. To have one word of God’s commendation; to be honored before the holy angels; to be glorified in Christ, so as to be better able to flash His glory on Himself-ah! that will more than repay for all.
–Tried by Fire
As the wights of the clock, or the ballast in the vessel, are necessary for their right orderings, so is trouble in the soul-life. The sweetest scents are only obtained by tremendous pressure; the fairest flowers grow amid Alpine snow-solitudes; the fairest gems have suffered longest from the lapidary’s wheel; the noblest statues have borne most blows of the chisel. All, however, are under law. Nothing happens that has not been appointed with consummate care and foresight.
–Daily Devotional Commentary

February 16

From: Through the Bible

Exodus 28:30 (NIV) 30Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD.

The LORD gave Moses detailed instructions for the Tabernacle (a mobile house of worship) and all its furniture and instruments. The priests had special clothing that they were to wear when they ministered. The High Priest had a breastpiece that had twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. We do not know the details of the Urim and Thummim, but they are believed to be two additional stones that were used to determine the LORD’s will. Since the Spirit of God came upon people, but did not live in their hearts until Pentecost, the people needed some way to determine the LORD’s leading. Some believe that these stones would glow, one for a ‘yes’ answer, the other for a ‘no’ answer. They were worn over his heart.

Some people today would love to have the Urim and Thummim. I often hear people say, “If God would just send me a fax, it would be so much easier.” God desires us to have an intimate relationship with Him. I’m grateful I live in a day when I do not have to consult a stone, but instead have the Spirit of God living in my heart. If I have been walking in communion with Him, the answer is always clear and very personal. I get a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ or no glow at all in my heart. No glow at all means I’m not ready to know the answer, or I’m asking the wrong question and need not worry about it now. That is the time when people would like that fax from God. But God is telling us, “Trust me! I know what is best and will tell you when you need to know.” His “not now” answer should be sufficient for us. Trust Him!

Consider: God can speak to your heart when you need an answer as long as you genuinely desire to know His will.

Evening

February 16

Matthew 8:25-27 (NIV) 25The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

In a recent low water level of the Kinneseret Lake, a boat dating back to the first century was found preserved in the mud. Archeologists know it was a Jewish boat from that time because there are murals remaining to this day of those boats. If this is the same kind that Jesus and His disciples were in, twelve people would have made a very full boat. There was a quarterdeck up front, under which the nets could be stored. Jesus was probably under there sleeping on the nets. He was an early riser. Before the day got going, He got His instructions and fellowship with His Father. He must have been wiped out physically to have slept through the storm. Jesus was an all out kind of person.

This seems like another one of Satan’s attempts to stop Jesus. Other Gospels tell us that He was on His way to the Gentile region of Decapolis. The Gospel was going to make great advances there. We can expect resistance when we are obeying the will of the Father. The Jews considered the depths of that lake to be the Abyss. To think they might drown was more than just a fear of death. They woke Jesus and pleaded for Him to save them.

Jesus first rebuked them for their lack of faith. The rebuke was not that they did not do what He was about to do, but that they feared. Faith believes that God is greater than any difficulty or situation we find ourselves in. Jesus’ chosen ones need never fear. Their Shepherd is greater than all. Then he rebuked the wind and waves, and there was a complete calm. What kind of man is this? What is your answer? It has a great deal to do with whether you will have fear or faith. If your answer is, “He is my Savior, Creator, Master, and friend!”, then you need never fear what comes your way.

Consider: Go ahead, ask yourself what kind of man creation obeys.

My Brother’s Keeper

 

Older Child Protecting Younger Child- Brother or Sister keeping the younger

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“Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”

From: Utmost.org

Has it ever dawned on you that you are responsible spiritually to God for other people? For instance, if I allow any turning away from God in my private life, everyone around me suffers. We “sit together in the heavenly places…” (Ephesians 2:6). “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…” (1 Corinthians 12:26). If you allow physical selfishness, mental carelessness, moral insensitivity, or spiritual weakness, everyone in contact with you will suffer. But you ask, “Who is sufficient to be able to live up to such a lofty standard?” “Our sufficiency is from God…” and God alone (2 Corinthians 3:5).

“You shall be witnesses to Me…” (Acts 1:8). How many of us are willing to spend every bit of our nervous, mental, moral, and spiritual energy for Jesus Christ? That is what God means when He uses the wordwitness. But it takes time, so be patient with yourself. Why has God left us on the earth? Is it simply to be saved and sanctified? No, it is to be at work in service to Him. Am I willing to be broken bread and poured-out wine for Him? Am I willing to be of no value to this age or this life except for one purpose and one alone— to be used to disciple men and women to the Lord Jesus Christ. My life of service to God is the way I say “thank you” to Him for His inexpressibly wonderful salvation. Remember, it is quite possible for God to set any of us aside if we refuse to be of service to Him— “…lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).


Iraq and the bible

From: Inspire21

Very interesting, but unsubstantiated.

DIDJA KNOW…

1. The garden of Eden was in Iraq. (It sure doesn’t look much like Paradise on earth today thanks to Saddam)

2. Mesopotamia which is now Iraq was the cradle of civilization!

3. Noah built the ark in Iraq.

4. The Tower of Babel was in Iraq.

5. Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Iraq!

6. Isaac’s wife Rebekah is from Nahor which is in Iraq.

7. Jacob met Rachel in Iraq.

8. Jonah preached in Nineveh – which is in Iraq.

9. Assyria which is in Iraq conquered the ten tribes of Israel.

10. Amos cried out in Iraq!

11. Babylon which is in Iraq destroyed Jerusalem.

12. Daniel was in the lion’s den in Iraq!

13. The 3 Hebrew children were in the fire in Iraq (That’s good news to know that JESUS has been in Iraq too as the 4th person in the fiery furnace!)

14. Belshazzar, the King of Babylon saw the “writing on the wall” in Iraq.

15. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, carried the Jews captive into Iraq.

16. Ezekiel preached in Iraq.

17. The wise men were from Iraq. (where are the “wise” men today?)

18. Peter preached in Iraq.

19. The “Empire of Man” described in Revelation is called Babylon which was a city in Iraq!

ALSO, DIDJA KNOW…
Israel is the nation most often mentioned in the Bible. But do you know
which nation is second? It is Iraq! However, that is not the name that is
used in the Bible. The names used in the Bible are Babylon, Land of Shinar,
and Mesopotamia. The word Mesopotamia means between the two rivers,
more exactly between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The name Iraq,
means country with deep roots. Indeed Iraq is a country with deep roots
and is a very significant country in the Bible. Here’s why.

* Eden was in Iraq–Genesis 2:10-14
* Adam &Eve were created in Iraq–Genesis 2:7-8
* Satan made his first recorded appearance in Iraq–Genesis 3:1-6
* Nimrod established Babylon &Tower of Babel was built in Iraq–
Genesis 10:8-97; 11:1-4
* The confusion of the languages took place in Iraq–Genesis 11:5-11
* Abraham came from a city in Iraq–Genesis 11:31; Acts 7:2-4
* Isaac’s bride came from Iraq–Genesis 24:3-4; 10
* Jacob spent 20 years in Iraq–Genesis 27:42-45; 31:38
* The first world Empire was in Iraq–Daniel 1:1-2;2:36-38
* The greatest revival in history was in a city in Iraq–Jonah 3
* The events of the book of Esther took place in Iraq–Esther
* The book of Nahum was a prophecy against a city in Iraq–Nahum
* The book or Revelation has prophecies against Babylon, which was the
old name for the nation of Iraq–Revelation 17 &18

No other nation, except Israel, has more history and prophecy associated
it than Iraq.

And also didja know …

This is something to think about! Since America is typically represented
by an eagle. Saddam should have read up on his Muslim passages…
The following verse is from the Quran, (the Islamic Bible)

Quran (9:11) — For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a
fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands
of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more
rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there
was peace. Note the verse number.


God’s hands

From: Inspire21

Author Unknown

Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked “NO ADMITTANCE.”

When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing.

Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy was sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”

Then, leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was so mesmerized they couldn’t recall what else the great master played. Only the classic “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

That’s the way it is with God. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy. We try our best, but the results aren’t exactly graceful flowing music. But with the hand of the Master, our life’s work truly can be beautiful. Next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. You can hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”

—–

Feel His loving arms around you. Know that His strong hands are there helping you turn your feeble attempts into true masterpieces.

Remember, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. And He’ll always be there to love and guide you on to great things. Life is more accurately measured by the lives you touch than the things you acquire.

Distinguishing grace

From: Biblegateway.com

“For who maketh thee to differ from another?” 1 Corinthians 4:7

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 22:31-34

If thou leave me, Lord, for a moment, I am utterly undone.

“Leave, ah! leave me not alone, Still support and comfort me.”

Let Abraham be deserted by his God, he equivocates and denies his wife. Let Noah be deserted, he becomes a drunkard, and is naked to his shame. Let Lot be left awhile, and, filled with wine, he revels in incestuous embraces, and the fruit of his body becomes a testimony to his disgrace. Nay, let David, the man after God’s own heart, be left, and Uriah’s wife shall soon show the world that the man after God’s own heart still has an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. Oh! the poet puts it well –

“Methinks I hear my Saviour say, ‘Wilt thou forsake me too?’”

And now let our conscience answer:-

“Ah, Lord! with such a heart as mine,
Unless thou hold me fast,
I feel I must, I shall decline,
And prove like them at last.”

Oh be not rashly self-confident, Christian man. Be as confident as you can in your God, but be distrustful of yourself. You may yet become all that is vile and vicious, unless sovereign grace prevent and keep you to the end. But remember if you have been preserved, the crown of your keeping belongs to the Shepherd of Israel, and you know who that is. For he has said “I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” You know “who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” Then give all glory to the King immortal, invisible, the only wise God your Saviour, who has kept you thus.

For meditation: Those who think they can stand by themselves are taught by being allowed to fall by themselves (1 Corinthians 10:12; Ecclesiastes 4:10).

The Shape Of Love

 

 Happy Valentine’s Day

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FEBRUARY 13, 2015

From: Crosswalk.com

The Shape of True Love
ALICIA BRUXVOORT

“God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him. This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:9b-10 (VOICE)

The first time I danced with my husband my nose came up to his armpit. We were swaying straight-armed beneath the disco ball at our eighth grade graduation party, and I joked about how I hoped he’d used plenty of deodorant that day. His face turned crimson, the red rising from his neck, as he solemnly promised that he was protected with a double-dose.

I’d stood on my tiptoes in an effort to shrink the gap, but even with my hair ratted and sprayed as high as an ‘80s girl could manage, that boy loomed tall above me.

Of course, I had no idea I was dancing with my future husband that night in the junior high gym. I never would have guessed that six years later we’d trade the sheen of a disco ball for the gleam of rings and pledge to love one another ‘til death do us part.

Though we were no longer gangly teens on our wedding day, my groom still towered 10 inches above me. But I wasn’t bothered by my armpit view on that special day; I’d set my sights on the heights of love.

I’d given my husband a hand-written letter just hours before I’d walked down the aisle, the words scrawled across the page capturing my hopes for the future: “No matter what life sends our way, our love will always stand tall …”

It was a poetic line, not unlike one you might find on a Valentine’s card this month. But after 21 years of marriage, I’ve come to believe my sentiments were wrong.

Love is, indeed, a sacred and lofty gift, but two decades of loving and learning has taught me that the mark of true love isn’t height, it’s humility. True love doesn’t stand tall; it bends low.

As we see in today’s key verse, God sent Jesus to demonstrate how true love is sacrificial at its core.

True love stoops to pick up the trash bag sitting near the kitchen door and crouches to look a sullen child in the eye.

True love bows to change diapers and to shovel snow, to deliver goodnight kisses and offer hugs.

True love bends over the dishwasher and over the sick child. True love hovers over the hurting and kneels quietly in prayer.

True love chooses to be righteous instead of right, servant instead of master, humble instead of haughty.

Let’s be honest, true love isn’t headline news. It’s not greeting card verse. It’s not blockbuster buzz. True love is Heaven’s hope, as we see in 1 John 4:10: “This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

God didn’t declare His love for us with a bouquet of red roses. He didn’t wrap up a box of fine chocolates or a flowery card. Instead, God wrapped His only Son in wrinkled flesh and proclaimed His undying love on Calvary’s cross.

It’s crazy when you think about it, the way the truest love of all stooped the lowest — so we might know the summit of His glorious love.

I didn’t realize it as a starry-eyed bride, but the heights of love can only be discovered in the depths of surrender. It sounds unnatural, doesn’t it? Impossible … on our own.

But 1 John 4:14-17 tells us that when we confess Christ as our Lord, He perfects His love in us. And as the stooping Savior makes Himself at home in our hearts, our lives proclaim the truth that the whole world longs to hear:

Can’t Wait

From: Getmorestrength.org

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3

Hey, for you guys out there who have forgotten, it’s Valentine’s Day! Hopefully you still have time to pick up something special for the love of your life. (And you don’t even have to tell her that I reminded you!)

The love of my life, of course, is my wife, Martie. I remember so clearly the summer before our senior year of college when I finally summoned up the nerve to ask her to marry me. We had been dating for a couple of years and ended up working in different states over the summer. I spent the summer working at home in New Jersey, and she was up in the Adirondack Mountains serving at a Christian conference center. That struck a little panic in my soul. She would not only be away from me, but she would be surrounded by tanned lifeguards and well-abbed water-ski instructors! I knew in order to seal the deal I would need to take some action.

I pulled together the cash to buy her an engagement ring and climbed into my little Volkswagen to trek up to the conference grounds. The whole way there I was a mixture of nerves and excitement, anticipating the moment that I would pop the question! When I arrived at the conference, however, I discovered that our college president was there as the featured speaker. And, in an act of goodwill, he decided to take all of us students out for pie and ice cream after the evening session. Normally, I would have been delighted to be out for dessert with our college president. But that evening all I could think of was, “I can’t wait to get her out of here!” I had bigger plans and a better agenda for the evening. I wasn’t interested in snacks—I wanted to get Martie out of there so I could propose and spend the rest of my life with her!

Recently, as I was reading John 14:3, it struck me—Jesus can’t wait to get us out of here so He can spend eternity with us. In fact, one of the key metaphors used to describe His relationship with the church is the picture of a groom waiting for his bride. With that in mind, you can almost feel the sense of urgency and anticipation in His voice when He assures us: “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

The timing of Christ’s return, while unknown to us, is perfectly on schedule with God’s sovereign plan. Why would God wait if He really wants to be with us? He waits to allow additional people to hear the life-transforming message of forgiveness and new life in Jesus (2 Peter 3:9). And yet I can’t help but think that Jesus, longing to be reunited with you, says to Himself, “I can’t wait to get them out of there!” His agenda is far greater, far more thrilling, and infinitely better than whatever we have planned on this earth.

If Martie had known what was coming that evening, it would have made her just as anxious and excited as I was to get out of there. It would have affected her whole perspective. And here’s the amazing thing: When it comes to Christ’s return for us, we’re in on the secret! We don’t know the time, but we know the promise—He’s coming back, and He can’t wait! The thrill of the prospect of it all should transform the way we live each day. There should be a sense of holy discontent and a constant longing for what we have ahead of us.

I can hardly wait. How about you?

 Streams IN The Desert

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4).

It is a good thing to “rejoice in the Lord.” Perhaps you have tried it but seemed to fail at first. Don’t give it a second thought, and forge ahead. Even when you cannot feel any joy, there is no spring in your step, nor any comfort or encouragement in your life, continue to rejoice and “consider it pure joy” (James 1:2). “Whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), regard it as joy, delight in it, and God will reward your faith. Do you believe that your heavenly Father will let you carry the banner of His victory and joy to the very front of the battle, only to calmly withdraw to see you captured or beaten back by the enemy? NEVER! His Holy Spirit will sustain you in your bold advance and fill your heart with gladness and praise. You will find that your heart is exhilarated and refreshed by the fullness within.

Lord, teach me to rejoice in You – to “be joyful always” (1 Thess. 5:16).
–selected

The weakest saint may Satan rout,
Who meets him with a praiseful shout.

Be filled with the Spirit… Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
–Ephesians 5:18-19

In these verses, the apostle Paul urges us to use singing as inspiration in our spiritual life. He warns his readers to seek motivation not through the body but through the spirit, not by stimulating the flesh but by exalting the soul.

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings.

Let us sing even when we do not feel like it, for in this way we give wings to heavy feet and turn weariness into strength.
–John Henry Jowett

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and signing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
–Acts 16:25

O Paul, what a wonderful example you are to us! You gloried in the fact that you “bear on [your] body the marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). You bore the marks from nearly being stoned to death, from three times being “beaten with rods” (2 Cor. 11:25), from receiving 195 lashes from the Jews, and from being bloodily beaten in the Philippian jail. Surely the grace that enabled you to sing praises while enduring such suffering is sufficient for us.
–J. Roach

Oh, let us rejoice in the Lord, evermore,
When darts of the Tempter are flying,
For Satan still dreads, as he oft did before,
Our singing much more than our crying.

Brotherhood

by STEPHEN on MARCH 26, 2014 · 22 COMMENTS

in INSPIRATIONAL STORIES

Ram received an automobile from his brother as Birthday present.

One day when Ram came out of his office, he saw a street urchin was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it.

“Is this your car?” – He asked.

Ram nodded, “My brother presented me on my birthday.”

The boy was astounded. “You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn’t cost you nothing? Boy, I wish…” – He hesitated.

Of course Ram knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like his brother but what the lad said jarred Ram all the way down to his heels.

“I wish,” the boy went on, “that I could be a brother like that.”

Ram looked at the boy in astonishment, and then impulsively he added, “Would you like to take a ride in my automobile?”

“Oh yes, I’d love that.”

After a short ride, the boy turned and with his eyes aglow, said, “Would you mind driving in front of my house?”

Ram smiled a little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbors that he could ride home in a big automobile.

But Ram was wrong again.

“Will you stop where those two steps are?” The boy asked. He ran up the steps. Then in a little while Ram heard him coming back, but he was not coming fast. He was carrying his little crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car.

“There he is, brother. Like I told you upstairs, his brother gave it to him and it didn’t cost him a penny. Some day I’m going to give you one just like it then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the shop windows that I’ve been trying to tell you about.”

Ram got out and lifted the crippled boy to the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable ride.

Live and Work

in INSPIRATIONAL STORIES

Father was a hardworking man who delivered bread as a living to support his wife and three children. He spent all his evenings after work attending classes, hoping to improve himself so that he could one day find a better paying job. Except for Sundays, Father hardly ate a meal together with his family. He worked and studied very hard because he wanted to provide his family with the best money could buy.

Whenever the family complained that he was not spending enough time with them, he reasoned that he was doing all this for them. But he often yearned to spend more time with his family.

The day came when the examination results were announced. To his joy, Father passed, and with distinctions too! Soon after, he was offered a good job as a senior supervisor which paid handsomely.

Like a dream come true, Father could now afford to provide his family with life’s little luxuries like nice clothing, fine food and vacation abroad.

However, the family still did not get to see father for most of the week. He continued to work very hard, hoping to be promoted to the position of manager. In fact, to make himself a worthily candidate for the promotion, he enrolled for another course in the open university.

Again, whenever the family complained that he was not spending enough time with them, he reasoned that he was doing all this for them. But he often yearned to spend more time with his family.

Father’s hard work paid off and he was promoted. Jubilantly, he decided to hire a maid to relieve his wife from her domestic tasks. He also felt that their three-room flat was no longer big enough, it would be nice for his family to be able to enjoy the facilities and comfort of a condominium. Having experienced the rewards of his hard work many times before, Father resolved to further his studies and work at being promoted again. The family still did not get to see much of him. In fact, sometimes Father had to work on Sundays entertaining clients. Again, whenever the family complained that he was not spending enough time with them, he reasoned that he was doing all this for them. But he often yearned to spend more time with his family.

As expected, Father’s hard work paid off again and he bought a beautiful condominium overlooking the coast of Singapore. On the first Sunday evening at their new home, Father declared to his family that he decided not to take anymore courses or pursue any more promotions. From then on he was going to devote more time to his family.

Father did not wake up the next day.

Devotion To Hearing

 

Image result for pictures of people listening to speech
Image result for pictures of people listening to speech
Image result for pictures of people listening to speech

The Devotion of Hearing

Just because I have listened carefully and intently to one thing from God does not mean that I will listen to everything He says. I show God my lack of love and respect for Him by the insensitivity of my heart and mind toward what He says. If I love my friend, I will instinctively understand what he wants. And Jesus said, “You are My friends…” (John 15:14). Have I disobeyed some command of my Lord’s this week? If I had realized that it was a command of Jesus, I would not have deliberately disobeyed it. But most of us show incredible disrespect to God because we don’t even hear Him. He might as well never have spoken to us.

The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me (see John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time through the devotion of hearing. A flower, a tree, or a servant of God may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is my attention to other things. It is not that I don’t want to hear God, but I am not devoted in the right areas of my life. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. God may say whatever He wants, but I just don’t hear Him. The attitude of a child of God should always be, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” If I have not developed and nurtured this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God’s voice at certain times. At other times I become deaf to Him because my attention is to other things— things which I think I must do. This is not living the life of a child of God. Have you heard God’s voice today?

10 Reasons to Forgive the Person You Hate the Most

 

 
14 Reasons to Forgive the Person You Hate the Most

by:  Sarah Anne Stewart

“Forgive the person you hate the most.  This is your intention for our class together tonight.”

Wait, what?  Why would I want to begin a yoga class with this intention?  Did I really need to be reminiscing about a time in my life that I really wanted to forget?

After hearing these words, I selfishly began to question my yoga instructor and her motives behind making me do such a seemingly tortuous task.  My ego was not comfortable with this.  This was my time!  This was a place to be blissful and connected to my inner peace.

I sat, confused, and I took a deep breath.  Several deep breaths.  Hate seemed like such a powerful and intense word, but I focused within.  For the first several minutes of class, my mind was a projection screen of unpleasant memories, emotions and feelings.

As I moved through upward and then downward dog positions, I continued to hear her words, “Inhale love.  Exhale hate.  Again, forgive the person you hate the most.”

I noticed that I started to sweat nervously.  “Is this really possible to do in just an hour and a half?” I thought to myself.

It took every ounce of my being to search deep into my memory bank for all of my greatest teachers and what they taught me about forgiveness.

Again I heard her words, “Forgive the person you hate the most.”

OK…  OK, I got it.

In that moment, I surrendered and my ego crumbled.  Everything I learned since childhood came pouring through me.  I had no more excuses about why not to forgive this person.  Instead, I embraced several reasons to do just that.  I focused passionately on those reasons as I stretched my body and mind simultaneously…

So what were the reasons?  Let’s discuss…

1.  Forgiveness allows us to take responsibility for our own happiness.

Most of what we attract into our lives is a mere reflection of what is inside of us.  Our thoughts and actions create our exterior world.  The Law of Attraction teaches us that like attracts like, and we will never experience a happy ending at the end of an unhappy journey.  By holding onto anger and resentment (even inour subconscious mind), we are pre-paving our journey to be filled with anger and resentment.  The way we feel and the emotions we hold are what we use to create all of our future experiences.  (Read The Secret.)

2.  Forgiveness allows us to see everyone in our lives as a teacher.

Family members, spouses, friends, bosses, etc. – everyone is brought into our lives to teach us more about ourselves.  Thanking them for being a part of our journey and teaching us lessons that we now no longer need to learn is an incredible step in expanding our consciousness.

This same philosophy applies to our negative, failed relationships too.  Once you truly learn the lesson behind why a negative relationship came into your life, you will then no longer attract situations and future relationships that attempt to teach you the same lesson.  You get to graduate and grow so you no longer keep repeating the same unpleasant experience over and over again.

3.  Forgiveness helps us stop playing the victim card.

Adjusting your perspective to a place of forgiveness and gratitude allows you to no longer play the victim card.  Most of the time you are not a victim of anything other than your own vibration and level of attraction.  When you continue to blame someone else, you automatically give control of your life to someone else and thus set yourself up to be a lifelong victim.

4.  Forgiveness makes us aware that most people are doing the best they can.

Have compassion for where other people are in their lives.  It might not be where you are, but most people are doing the best they can at their particular level of awareness and understanding.  (Read The Four Agreements.)

5.  Forgiveness embodies the concept of “what goes around comes around.”

We are all human and we have all done “unthinkable” things.  And deep down, we all yearn for the same forgiveness.  When we release others from the penalties of their actions, we create a space where our own thoughtless actions against others can be forgiven as well.

6.  Forgiveness forces our own level of consciousness to expand.

The process of growth is continuous.  The moment we stop learning, searching for lessons and expanding our consciousness, the ego steps in and takes over.  We are always moving toward something greater, and forgiveness helps us get there faster by eliminating our ties to dead weight from our past.

7.  Forgiveness teaches us to keep our expectations tempered.

We should never be expecting anything from anyone.  When we do this, we give up our own power to decide.  We alone are the creator of our universe, and when we are connected to our own inner source, we no longer “need” anything from anyone.  It’s still nice to receive things from time to time, but we don’t need these things to move forward with our lives.  (Read Forgiveness Is a Choice.)

8.  Forgiveness teaches us to tone down our instincts for self-preservation.

Too often we injure one another simply because we are trying to protect ourselves (financially, emotionally, etc.), even when it’s at someone else’s expense.  We have all done it.  Becoming aware of this pattern allows us to stop needlessly injuring others for our own benefit.  And as you know, what goes around comes around…

9.  Forgiveness creates a space to let go and love.

Not everyone and every situation is meant to be a part of our lives forever.  Sometimes they are only there long enough to help us open the next chapter of our story.  Letting go creates space to let new people and experiences in.

In addition, we are all connected.  We have never met another person that we have not loved in some small way.  Sometimes we just don’t consciously know how to understand it and show it.  Simply put, forgiveness in and of itself is an act of letting go of our differences and connecting with our oneness and love for each other and the world we inhabit.

10.  Forgiveness is the best revenge.

A bit of sarcasm in this one, but it’s so true.  You can always seek revenge positively by creating a better future for yourself.  Because nothing annoys an adversary or negative force in your life more than seeing you smile after you have genuinely forgiven them and moved forward with your life.

Afterthoughts

In most walks of life, I think it’s fairly easy to say, “I forgive so-and-so.”  Deep down, though, the resentment and anger still lingers within us and in our subconscious minds, which then impacts our future experiences.

For me, it took an hour and a half of complete and committed intention, stretching into odd shapes, chanting mantras, and inhaling incense for me to fully embrace all of the lessons I had learned throughout my life, and to finally forgive.

As we walked out of this yoga class, my friend and I looked at each other and, at the same time, said, “Wow!”  I could now understand exactly where my yoga instructor was coming from and why she had pushed us breath-by-breath to forgive.  I was extremely grateful.  Typically when I leave yoga, I feel lighter, but this time…

I felt free.”

 

Are You Listening To God

Image result for pictures of people listening
Image result for pictures of people listening
Image result for pictures of people listening
Image result for pictures of people listening
We listen to each other, but do we really listen to God. He communicates with us everyday in special ways, but are we  listening to Him?

Are You Listening to God?

From: Utmost.org

We don’t consciously and deliberately disobey God— we simply don’t listen to Him. God has given His commands to us, but we pay no attention to them— not because of willful disobedience, but because we do not truly love and respect Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Once we realize we have constantly been showing disrespect to God, we will be filled with shame and humiliation for ignoring Him.

“You speak with us,…but let not God speak with us….” We show how little love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don’t want God Himself to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? It is because we know that when God speaks we must either do what He asks or tell Him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God’s servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative. We respond by saying, “Well, that’s only your own idea, even though I don’t deny that what you said is probably God’s truth.”

Am I constantly humiliating God by ignoring Him, while He lovingly continues to treat me as His child? Once I finally do hear Him, the humiliation I have heaped on Him returns to me. My response then becomes, “Lord, why was I so insensitive and obstinate?” This is always the result once we hear God. But our real delight in finally hearing Him is tempered with the shame we feel for having taken so long to do so.

Hey, Where’d You Get That?

From: Getmorestrength.org

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” James 1:17

One of my favorite classical works of music is The Creation. But what I like even more than the stirring sounds and moving lyrics is the attitude of composer.

It was the year 1808, and the last note sounded as the symphony’s performance came to a close. Applause thundered through the auditorium in honor of one of the greatest composers of all time, Franz Joseph Haydn. The piece that had been performed was called The Creation. Haydn had written it to glorify God, by telling the Genesis story of creation through music. Audiences all over Europe adored it. And that night, he responded to the crowd’s ovation by pointing upward and exclaiming, “No, No! Not from me, but from thence! From heaven above comes all!”

At that same concert, Haydn’s contemporary Ludwig van Beethoven is said to have knelt and kissed Haydn’s hands in an act of honor. Praised by other great composers of his time and admired by the public as well, he was heaped with fame and adoration. Still, he refused to become prideful of the music God had created through Him. He knew from where it had come.

For sure, not many of us will be musical geniuses like Haydn. But God has given all of us talents and abilities. Some of us have exceptional people skills; some have what it takes to crunch numbers with precision. Others might be able to cook, write prose and poetry, or repair the transmission on a car. These gifts from God are the result of the way He created us—in His image. God is infinitely talented and able to do anything! Being made in “His image” means we have been given gifts from Him to accomplish good things and to contribute to our world.

But here’s the rub. If we’re not careful, the stealth enemy of pride will whisper to you that you are the one who deserves the credit. There is something really seductive about applause and affirmation. Giving the credit to others is not an easy thing to do. But in the end, who would you rather have people admire—you or your God? And even if you are tempted to honestly admit that you’d kinda like it to be you—upon further reflection, my guess is that you really don’t want to go there. And you shouldn’t. Competing with Him for the applause, especially when He deserves it all, is not a good idea. Particularly when we read that, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Remember, there is a world out there that is sitting quietly, watching your performance, waiting to break into applause. And when the applause comes, stand, take a bow, and then let people know where it all came from!

 

Streams in the Desert

Your heavenly Father knoweth (Matthew 6:32).

A visitor at a school for the deaf and dumb was writing questions on the blackboard for the children. By and by he wrote this sentence: “Why has God made me to hear and speak, and made you deaf and dumb?”

The awful sentence fell upon the little ones like a fierce blow in the face. They sat palsied before that dreadful “Why?” And then a little girl arose.

Her lip was trembling. Her eyes were swimming with tears. Straight to the board she walked, and, picking up the crayon, wrote with firm hand these precious words: “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight!” What a reply! It reaches up and lays hold of an eternal truth upon which the maturest believer as well as the youngest child of God may alike securely rest — the truth that God is your Father.

Do you mean that? Do you really and fully believe that? When you do, then your dove of faith will no longer wander in weary unrest, but will settle down forever in its eternal resting place of peace. “Your Father!”

I can still believe that a day comes for all of us, however far off it may be, when we shall understand; when these tragedies, that now blacken and darken the very air of heaven for us, will sink into their places in a scheme so august, so magnificent, so joyful, that we shall laugh for wonder and delight.
–Arthur Christopher Bacon

No chance hath brought this ill to me;
‘Tis God’s own hand, so let it be,
He seeth what I cannot see.
There is a need-be for each pain,
And He one day will make it plain
That earthly loss is heavenly gain.
Like as a piece of tapestry
Viewed from the back appears to be
Naught but threads tangled hopelessly;
But in the front a picture fair
Rewards the worker for his care,
Proving his skill and patience rare.
Thou art the Workman, I the frame.
Lord, for the glory of Thy Name,

Perfect Thine image on the same.
–Selected

February 12

From: Through the Bible

Exodus 19:4-6 (NIV) 4‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’

Redeemed from the oppression of slavery; now what? Now obey, and you wont go back into slavery. As a people free from the things that enslave the world, they can be priests to the world. That was God’s intention. He wasn’t just building a little social club. Instead of becoming inwardly focused on themselves, they were placed on the trade routes of the world to be an example of what a nation led by God looked like.

God was about to give them the Ten Commandments. First He asked if they wanted to accept the call. Then He instructed them, through the Law, how to be that example the world needed to see. If they could live that way, they would be priests to the world. In the days of Joshua and some of the reign of David, that was true of them. David’s conquest of Israel’s neighbors brought the influence of the Law to the surrounding nations.

You have been redeemed from slavery too. It is not just to hang out in your church social group. It is to affect the world around you. Though you are not under the Law as your guide, you have a more intimate Instructor, the Holy Spirit. If you have dedicated yourself to being the LORD’s vessel in every area of life, you will need His constant instruction to be the example the world needs. You become a priest to those your life comes in contact with, directing them to the Word of God and showing them an eternal perspective (1 Peter 2:5). You are an heir of this promise through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Consider: Obey Him fully. The world around you needs the loving influence of the priests of God.

Evening

February 12

Matthew 7:15-16 (NIV) 15“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Jesus taught us to watch out for false prophets. Many people claim to have a message from God. Outwardly it is hard to spot them. The ‘sheep’s clothing’ often causes us to think they are one of God’s children. But the outside and the inside are totally different. For most people, the person who rants and raves and condemns everyone is easily spotted as being off track, but what about these that appear to be gentle and meek? How are we supposed to spot them?

One way to identify a plant is by the leaf, but even then it is easy to make a mistake. Many leaves are similar. The easiest way is to see the plant’s fruit. What does the plant produce? That tells you what kind of plant it is. What is the fruit of the life of the person you are wondering about? Is their home full of peace and love? Are their followers loving and kind? Does their teaching humble the listener or make them proud about having some secret wisdom? A false teacher can imitate the gifts of the Spirit, but they cannot for long imitate the fruit of the Spirit. Watch them when they are not in front of their audience. See them when they think no one else is watching, and you will soon know what kind of tree they are.

The same is true for us. Do you know what kind of tree you are? What would an unbiased observer of your life conclude? Would they say you are a grapevine or a thornbush, a fig tree or thistle? Sometimes we believe we are something we are not. Look at your fruit, and be honest with what your fruit really is. That is the first step toward the transformation that the life of Christ in you will produce.

Remember: Become His fruit and you will bear His fruit.

Keep Your Mind On God

 

Is Your Mind Stayed on God?

From: Utmost.org

Is your mind stayed on God or is it starved? Starvation of the mind, caused by neglect, is one of the chief sources of exhaustion and weakness in a servant’s life. If you have never used your mind to place yourself before God, begin to do it now. There is no reason to wait for God to come to you. You must turn your thoughts and your eyes away from the face of idols and look to Him and be saved (see Isaiah 45:22).

Your mind is the greatest gift God has given you and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him. You should seek to be “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This will be one of the greatest assets of your faith when a time of trial comes, because then your faith and the Spirit of God will work together. When you have thoughts and ideas that are worthy of credit to God, learn to compare and associate them with all that happens in nature— the rising and the setting of the sun, the shining of the moon and the stars, and the changing of the seasons. You will begin to see that your thoughts are from God as well, and your mind will no longer be at the mercy of your impulsive thinking, but will always be used in service to God.

“We have sinned with our fathers…[and]…did not remember…” (Psalm 106:6-7). Then prod your memory and wake up immediately. Don’t say to yourself, “But God is not talking to me right now.” He ought to be. Remember whose you are and whom you serve. Encourage yourself to remember, and your affection for God will increase tenfold. Your mind will no longer be starved, but will be quick and enthusiastic, and your hope will be inexpressibly bright.

Good Works!

From: Getmorestrength

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” Matthew 5:16 ESV

I had promised my wife that I would bring her a cup of coffee after my morning run. So, at 6:03 a.m., breathing hard and sweaty, I walked into Starbucks to order two cups of coffee to take home.

As I waited in line, the guy in front of me was clutching a copy of theNew York Times and waving a $50 bill in the face of the clerk. Obviously ticked at the clerk, he was ranting, “What do you mean you don’t have change? What kind of a place are you operating here? I’ve got the money. I want my New York Times!”

The clerk, clearly shaken by the man’s anger, apologized, “I’m sorry, sir. We just opened, and I don’t have that much cash on hand yet. I don’t have change for a $50 bill.”

I had just been reading Jesus’ call for us to light up our world with good works so, knowing that this was an opportunity to put Jesus’ plan into gear, I stepped forward and said, “Hey, I’ll pay for your paper” and told the clerk to put it on my bill.

“Are you sure?”

“Yep,” I replied. “Put it on my bill.”

As the guy walked out he thanked me profusely and said, “All that I have is yours!” Which obviously didn’t include the $50 bill in his hand!

When the clerk handed me my two cups of coffee, he surprised me by saying, “Sir, that was a really nice thing you did. This world would be a lot better place if there were more people like you.”

Have you ever had one of those moments where you know that you should testify but the words just aren’t there? Well, I was caught so off-guard that I just muttered some self-deprecating remark and started toward home. I was tormented, wondering what I should have said! About half a block down the street, it occurred to me that I could have said, “Thanks. Actually, the world would not be a better place if more people were like me, but the world would be a better place if more people were like Jesus, because He taught me how to do that.”

I thought about going back to say that to the clerk. But then it crossed my mind that cutting in front of a long line of people to make a religious speech might not be a real good idea. Just then it struck me . . . I was wearing my Moody Bible Institute cap! I began praying that he had seen the cap. Praying that he had discovered that my buying a newspaper for a steamed customer and rescuing him is what “Bible-people” do!

I find myself praying for that server in Starbucks, praying that he will get around a lot of us Bible-people and notice that there is something consistent and compellingly different about us. That someday it will whet his appetite for the Jesus that has made us to be people of “good works.”

When we understand the power of good works our theme song will be:This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine . . . Let it shine till Jesus comes, I’m going to let it shine!

 

The Day I Couldn’t Shut UpFrom: Biblegateway
KAREN EHMAN

“Do you see a man who speaks too soon? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 29:20 (HCSB)

Has your mouth ever gotten you in trouble — yes, even made you sin — all because you talked too much?

It’s certainly happened to me.

Years ago while visiting with a friend at a high school basketball game we discussed a budding new relationship between our 17-year-olds — her son and my daughter. It was nothing official, but we knew they liked each other, and we were pleased.

I rattled on about how my husband and I worked hard to teach our kids to choose whom to date, or even marry, based on more than just their looks. We’d often joke that looks shouldn’t matter since we’re all headed toward ugly anyway. (Then my daughter would chime in, “That’s all the more reason to pick someone with a great starting point!”)

In trying to express how happy we were that our daughter listened to us and not only chose someone who was good-looking, but also displayed godly traits and had a wonderful personality, somehow my friend thought I was saying we were glad our daughter chose on character because — boy, was her son homely!

It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized I had conveyed the wrong message. I received a letter from my friend stating how hurt she was by my backhanded compliment about her son’s character, implying he was unattractive.

I was floored.

And devastated. And misunderstood. And now I had a fractured friendship with someone I’d really hoped to get to know better. All because of my words.

Immediately, I called to apologize and shared what I meant to say before my rambling thoughts came out as misspoken words — that then led to misunderstanding, conflict and offense.

Thankfully my friend accepted my apology and six years later we are still friends!

If we want to avoid offending our friends — or committing any number of verbal sins — we need to learn to control our lips. When we sense a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit that signals a downward spiral, we can simply say, “I’m sorry. I’m talking too much.” And then? As my dad used to say (much like the character Festus from Gunsmoke), we can “shut our tater trap!”

Speaking too soon. Before we really understand all the facts. Before we’ve listened fully to the other side. And most importantly, before we’ve had time to pray and process what we’ve heard with the Lord. When we do any one or even a combination of those things, we are foolish.

Scripture has many things to say about fools. Our key verse today is just one: “Do you see a man who speaks too soon? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20).

In order not to speak too soon, we need to cultivate two habits:

Perfect the art of the pause. Pausing creates white space in a conversation that enables us to sort out our thoughts before we let out our words. Counting to 10 before responding provides just enough wiggle room to really think through what we are about to say.

Ponder what the other person said, and perhaps go on a fact-finding mission. It’s easy to jump to conclusions when we don’t have all the facts. Holding our tongues, and our opinions, for a while often gives us time to assess the situation clearly before pronouncing judgment. I have found that many times what I was going to say was not in the end what I wanted to express. Giving thoughts time to settle and soak in Scripture is a wonderful habit that will keep us from answering too soon and looking foolish.

So pause. Gather the facts. Think before you answer, and don’t speak too soon.

 

Spring in the heart

From: Biblegateway

‘Thou blessest the springing thereof.’ Psalm 65:10

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 2:1–7

God is blessing the springing thereof. In looking back upon my own ‘springing,’ I sometimes think God blessed me then in a way in which I desire he would bless me now. An apple tree when loaded with apples is a very comely sight; but give me, for beauty, the apple tree in bloom. The whole world does not present a more lovely sight than an apple blossom. Painters have declared that there is nothing in the whole world to excel it in beauty. Now, a full-grown Christian laden with fruit is a blessed sight, but still there is a blessedness, a peculiar blessedness about the young Christian in bloom. Let me just tell you what I think that blessedness is. You have probably now a greater tenderness about sin than some professors who have known the Lord for years; they might wish that they felt your tenderness of conscience. You have now a graver sense of duty, and a more solemn fear of the neglect of it than some who have known the Lord for years; and you have a greater zeal than many. You are now doing your first works for God, and burning with your first love; nothing is too hot for you or too hard for you. To go to a sermon, now—no matter what weather it may be—seems to you to be an imperative necessity; you would go over hedge and ditch to hear the Word. But some who are of older growth want soft cushions to sit upon; they cannot stand in the aisle now as they used to do, everybody must be particularly polite when they come in, or they care not to worship at all.

For meditation: The believer is the apple of God’s eye (Psalm 17:8; Zechariah 2:8); what kind of apple tree would you be in God’s eye? One that still produces pleasing fruit (Song of Solomon 7:8) or one that has withered away (Joel 1:12)?

Spontaneous Praise To God

Spon

 

 

Is Your Ability to See God Blinded?

From: Utmost.org

The people of God in Isaiah’s time had blinded their minds’ ability to see God by looking on the face of idols. But Isaiah made them look up at the heavens; that is, he made them begin to use their power to think and to visualize correctly. If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades, if we will only begin to use our blinded thinking to visualize it.

The real test of spiritual focus is being able to bring your mind and thoughts under control. Is your mind focused on the face of an idol? Is the idol yourself? Is it your work? Is it your idea of what a servant should be, or maybe your experience of salvation and sanctification? If so, then your ability to see God is blinded. You will be powerless when faced with difficulties and will be forced to endure in darkness. If your power to see has been blinded, don’t look back on your own experiences, but look to God. It is God you need. Go beyond yourself and away from the faces of your idols and away from everything else that has been blinding your thinking. Wake up and accept the ridicule that Isaiah gave to his people, and deliberately turn your thoughts and your eyes to God.

One of the reasons for our sense of futility in prayer is that we have lost our power to visualize. We can no longer even imagine putting ourselves deliberately before God. It is actually more important to be broken bread and poured-out wine in the area of intercession than in our personal contact with others. The power of visualization is what God gives a saint so that he can go beyond himself and be firmly placed into relationships he never before experienced.

 

FEBRUARY 10, 2015

How to Rise Above the Terrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day
CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

From: Crosswalk

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)

It was his birthday.

We had a flight to catch.

Even though it was a working trip for me, I planned to make our trip a quasi birthday celebration for him. We were still about to leave the house without our kids. That always spells me-and-you time, honey.

We were supposed to wake up and look at each other with “goo-goo” eyes, remembering how much we actually like each other, because there were no distractions.

We were supposed to travel leisurely to the airport and stop somewhere for lunch on the way.

We were supposed to have a meaningful conversation on the plane about deep, important and beautiful things while we were soaring above the clouds.

Instead …

We woke up to plumbing problems, broken suitcases and a rainy day. We rushed to the airport and searched for a parking space while listening to each other’s bellies rumble. We missed our flight and had to run to catch another one that would get us to our destination on time.

Then we sat next to each other … in complete silence … and it was his birthday.

Part of my sullen attitude was because it really was a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day.

Part of my bad attitude was frustration that this yucky day was my husband’s birthday, and I felt so badly about it not being special for him at all.

Most of my gloomy attitude was because things weren’t going as I had planned, and I was pouting.

The cramped ride on the itty-bitty plane came to an end. He helped me get my luggage out of the overhead bin, looked over at me and smiled. He walked through the airport, pulling my suitcase and his.

It was raining in our arrival city too, but he went out of his way to make sure I didn’t get too wet as we got our things into the car. On the way to our destination, he started a pleasant conversation and kept it going until we arrived.

Somewhere between the frustration of the morning and the smile in the afternoon, my husband made a decision. He made a decision to rise above that terrible-no-good-very-bad-day and find something to smile about. He made a decision to choose joy.

And while it never stopped raining, the longer-than-expected-drive-time gave us more time to chat. And stopping at the drive-thru became a romantic birthday dinner for two.

I don’t know about you, but I have lots of days that just don’t go quite the way I want. Even when I’ve done everything I can to ensure my plans don’t go awry, they still do.

Sometimes it still rains and I’m tempted to pout.

I’m tempted to throw all efforts at rising above my situation to the wind and sit and sulk in a quiet corner, lamenting the difficult parts of my day or life. And of course, some problems are a whole lot worse than rain or a delayed flight.

But watching my husband reminded me of something.

I don’t have to let the events of a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day determine my actions and attitude. Like our key verse suggests, we can choose to consider trouble as “an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2b). Life’s challenges allow faith to be tested and endurance to grow.

Some days are just difficult. Life can be hard. And many of those difficulties happen at the most inopportune time.

However, let’s not forget that it’s in the most difficult places where we derive our deepest life lessons. Even from hard spots beautiful things grow.

We can plan, prepare and put our best foot forward, but sometimes life just happens.

Thankfully, bad days don’t have to dictate our response or the ultimate outcome.

We get to choose.

So my friend, choose joy!

Father God, Help me rise above my circumstances, choose joy and find something to smile about. Even in the midst of a difficult day, Lord, help me have a joyful heart while the experiences You allow build character in my heart and produce beauty in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)


Streams In The Desert


 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves (Romans 12:19).

There are seasons when to be still demands immeasurably higher strength than to act. Composure is often the highest result of power. To the vilest and most deadly charges Jesus responded with deep, unbroken silence, such as excited the wonder of the judge and the spectators. To the grossest insults, the most violent ill-treatment and mockery that might well bring indignation into the feeblest heart, He responded with voiceless complacent calmness. Those who are unjustly accused, and causelessly ill-treated know what tremendous strength is necessary to keep silence to God.

Men may misjudge thy aim,
Think they have cause to blame,
Say, thou art wrong;
Keep on thy quiet way,
Christ is the Judge, not they,
Fear not, be strong.

St. Paul said, “None of these things move me.” He did not say, none of these things hurt me. It is one thing to be hurt, and quite another to be moved. St. Paul had a very tender heart. We do not read of any apostle who cried as St. Paul did. It takes a strong man to cry. Jesus wept, and He was the manliest Man that ever lived.

So it does not say, none of these things hurt me. But the apostle had determined not to move from what he believed was right. He did not count as we are apt to count; he did not care for ease; he did not care for this mortal life. He cared for only one thing, and that was to be loyal to Christ, to have His smile. To St. Paul, more than to any other man, His work was wages, His smile was Heaven.
–Margaret Bottome


God’s Wings

From: Inspire21

Author Unknown

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.

Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast.

Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

“He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge.”
Psalm 91:4


God’s Hands

From: Inspire21

Author Unknown

Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked “NO ADMITTANCE.”

When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing.

Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy was sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”

Then, leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was so mesmerized they couldn’t recall what else the great master played. Only the classic “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

That’s the way it is with God. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy. We try our best, but the results aren’t exactly graceful flowing music. But with the hand of the Master, our life’s work truly can be beautiful. Next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. You can hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”

—–

Feel His loving arms around you. Know that His strong hands are there helping you turn your feeble attempts into true masterpieces.

Remember, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. And He’ll always be there to love and guide you on to great things. Life is more accurately measured by the lives you touch than the things you acquire.