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God Makes An Escape For You

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God Provides A Way Out
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When to Walk Away

From: Our Daily Bread

When to Walk Away

God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

1 Corinthians 10:13

When my father became a Christian in his old age, he fascinated me with his plan for overcoming temptation. Sometimes he just walked away! For example, whenever a disagreement between him and a neighbor began to degenerate into a quarrel, my father just walked away for a time rather than be tempted to advance the quarrel.

One day he met with some friends who ordered pito (a locally brewed alcoholic beer). My father had formerly struggled with alcohol and had decided he was better off without it. So he simply stood up, said his goodbyes, and left the gathering of old friends for another day.

In Genesis, we read how Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph. He immediately recognized that giving in would cause him to “sin against God,” so he fled (Gen. 39:9-12).

Temptation knocks often at our door. Sometimes it comes from our own desires, other times through the situations and people we encounter. As Paul told the Corinthians, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.” But he also wrote, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

The “way out” may include removing the objects of temptation or fleeing from them. Our best course of action may be to simply walk away.

Lord, please give me the wisdom and strength to know when to walk away from situations and people that tempt me to do wrong.

Every temptation is an opportunity to flee to God.

 

Are We Small Yet?

From: Get more Strength.org

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s a problem.

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

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

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

Are you small yet?

 

 

Will I Bring Myself Up to This Level?

From: Utmost.org

Will I Bring Myself Up to This Level?

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

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

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

 

 

God Knows We Need Boundaries

Children and adults need boundaries in their lives.

Acts 17:26

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,

Matthew 5:28

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Proverbs 22:24

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,

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Bravo for the Boundaries

From: Get More Strength.org

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” Psalm 1:1

In case you haven’t noticed, we live in a no-holds-barred, do-your-own-thing world. We have been force-fed on the thought that we exist to experience pleasure, that the pursuit of happiness and personal fulfillment should not be restrained. Especially by Bible-thumping religious folk who want to control and oppress the world by calling people sinful every time they try to have fun.

But I keep asking myself: If life in the unrestrained pleasure-lane is all it’s cracked up to be, why aren’t we happier? How distorted is it that we call binge-drinking pleasure and sex on demand fulfilling? What are we saying about ourselves when life as we want it to be is so empty that we have to escape reality by drugging ourselves? Peter Kreeft was on to something when he observed, “If we were not so bored and empty, we would not have to stimulate ourselves with increasing dosages of sex and violence—or just constant busyness. Here we are in the most fantastic fun and games factory ever invented—modern technological society—and we are bored, like a spoiled rich kid in a mansion surrounded by a thousand expensive toys.”

Could it be that we’ve missed something?

The psalmist wrote, “[Happy] is the man who . . . delight[s] in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV).

As strange as it may sound, true happiness is not rooted in life beyond the boundaries but rather in the sweet confines of God’s wisdom. Contrary to popular opinion, God’s ways are anything but oppressive edicts to make sure that we never enjoy life. The reality is that His laws are the key to deep and authentic happiness. Life is far more enjoyable when we don’t lie to each other; when we don’t sleep with each other’s spouses; when we don’t steal; when we don’t covet; when life is not always about us but about the needs and interests of others; when we give; and when we forgive!

We should have had a clue about this from the beginning. Satan used the notion that God was oppressive in his very first assault on our ancient ancestors, Adam and Eve. Though they were enjoying life at its best with God in Eden, Satan offered them a better plan—the good life on their own terms! They bought the lie, and he slithered away leaving them alone in their shame and regret.

Sign me up for the slow learner club!

Because God loves us and wants us to live a life that is blessed, He told us how we could get there. Bravo for His boundaries!

 

 

The Servant’s Primary Goal

From: Utmost.org

The Servant’s Primary Goal

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

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

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

 

 

Positive Repetition

From: Our Daily Bread

Positive Repetition

I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him.

Deuteronomy 30:16

A journalist had a quirky habit of not using blue pens. So when his colleague asked him if he needed anything from the store, he asked for some pens. “But not blue pens,” he said. “I don’t want blue pens. I don’t like blue. Blue is too heavy. So please purchase 12 ballpoint pens for me—anything but blue!” The next day his colleague passed him the pens—and they were all blue. When asked to explain, he said, “You kept saying ‘blue, blue.’ That’s the word that left the deepest impression!” The journalist’s use of repetition had an effect, but not the one he desired.

Moses, the lawgiver of Israel, also used repetition in his requests to his people. More than 30 times he urged his people to remain true to the law of their God. Yet the result was the opposite of what he asked for. He told them that obedience would lead them to life and prosperity, but disobedience would lead to destruction (Deut. 30:15-18).

When we love God, we want to walk in His ways not because we fear the consequences but because it is our joy to please the One we love. That’s a good word to remember.

Dear Lord, as we read Your inspired story, may Your Spirit be our teacher. Help us to walk the path of obedience as we hear the voice of Your heart.

Love for God will cause you to live for God.

The Master Will Judge

Psalms 51:4  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Psalms 74:6-7  For not from the east or from the west  and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,  but it is God who executes judgment,  putting down one and lifting up another.

Psalms 97:8  Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O LORD.

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 Accept Jesus Christ as Savior and You don’t have to worry about Judgment.

The Master Will Judge

From: Utmost.org

The Master Will Judge

Paul says that we must all, preachers and other people alike, “appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” But if you will learn here and now to live under the scrutiny of Christ’s pure light, your final judgment will bring you only delight in seeing the work God has done in you. Live constantly reminding yourself of the judgment seat of Christ, and walk in the knowledge of the holiness He has given you. Tolerating a wrong attitude toward another person causes you to follow the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are. One carnal judgment of another person only serves the purposes of hell in you. Bring it immediately into the light and confess, “Oh, Lord, I have been guilty there.” If you don’t, your heart will become hardened through and through. One of the penalties of sin is our acceptance of it. It is not only God who punishes for sin, but sin establishes itself in the sinner and takes its toll. No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing certain things, and the penalty of sin is that you gradually get used to it, until you finally come to the place where you no longer even realize that it is sin. No power, except the power that comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit, can change or prevent the inherent consequences of sin.

“If we walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7). For many of us, walking in the light means walking according to the standard we have set up for another person. The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie.

Before and After

From: Get More Strength.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Deeply Loved

From: Our Daily Bread

Deeply Loved

Your heavenly Father feeds [the birds of the air]. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Matthew 6:26

Years ago I had an office in Boston that looked out on the Granary Burying Ground where many prominent American heroes are buried. There one can find the gravestones for John Hancock and Samuel Adams, two signers of the Declaration of Independence, and just a few feet beyond that is Paul Revere’s marker.

But no one really knows where in this burial ground each body is buried because the stones have been moved many times—sometimes to make the grounds more picturesque and other times so lawn mowers could fit between them. And while the Granary features approximately 2,300 markers, closer to 5,000 people are buried there! Even in death, it seems, some people are not fully known.

There may be times when we feel as if we are like those unmarked residents of the Granary, unknown and unseen. Loneliness can make us feel unseen by others—and maybe even by God. But we must remind ourselves that even though we may feel forgotten by our Creator God, we are not. God not only made us in His image (Gen. 1:26-27), but He also values each of us individually and sent His Son to save us (John 3:16).

Even in our darkest hours, we can rest in the knowledge we are never alone, for our loving God is with us.

Thank You, Lord, that You never leave me alone and that You know all about me. Make me aware of Your presence so I may share that comfort with others who are feeling alone too.

We are important because God loves us.

God Is Your Protector

Don’t be afraid, despised insignificant Jacob, men of Israel. I am helping you,” says the Lord, your protector, the Holy One of Israel.

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God, Your Protector

From: Streams in the Desert

Don’t be afraid, despised insignificant Jacob, men of Israel. I am helping you,” says the Lord, your protector, the Holy One of Israel. “Look, I am making you like a sharp threshing sledge, new and double-edged. You will thresh the mountains and crush them; you will make the hills like straw. (Isa 41:14-15)
Could any two things be in greater contrast than a worm and an instrument with teeth? The worm is delicate, bruised by a stone, crushed beneath the passing wheel; an instrument with teeth can break and not be broken; it can grave its mark upon the rock. And the mighty God can convert the one into the other. He can take a man or a nation, who has all the impotence of the worm, and by the invigoration of His own Spirit, He can endow with strength by which a noble mark is left upon the history of the time.
And so the “worm” may take heart. The mighty God can make us stronger than our circumstances. He can bend them all to our good. In God’s strength we can make them all pay tribute to our souls. We can even take hold of a black disappointment, break it open, and extract some jewel of grace. When God gives us wills like iron, we can drive through difficulties as the iron share cuts through the toughest soil. “I will make thee,” and shall He not do it?
—Dr. Jowett
Christ is building His kingdom with earth’s broken things. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken, in building their kingdoms; but God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth’s broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory.
—J. R. Miller
“Follow Me, and I will make you” 
Make you speak My words with power, 
Make you channels of My mercy, 
Make you helpful every hour.
“Follow Me, and I will make you” 
Make you what you cannot be
Make you loving, trustful, godly, 
Make you even like to Me.
—L. S. P.

 

 

 

The Discipline of Dismay

From: Utmost.org

The Discipline of Dismay

At the beginning of our life with Jesus Christ, we were sure we knew all there was to know about following Him. It was a delight to forsake everything else and to throw ourselves before Him in a fearless statement of love. But now we are not quite so sure. Jesus is far ahead of us and is beginning to seem different and unfamiliar— “Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed” (Mark 10:32).

There is an aspect of Jesus that chills even a disciple’s heart to its depth and makes his entire spiritual life gasp for air. This unusual Person with His face set “like a flint” (Isaiah 50:7) is walking with great determination ahead of me, and He strikes terror right through me. He no longer seems to be my Counselor and Friend and has a point of view about which I know nothing. All I can do is stand and stare at Him in amazement. At first I was confident that I understood Him, but now I am not so sure. I begin to realize that there is a distance between Jesus and me and I can no longer be intimate with Him. I have no idea where He is going, and the goal has become strangely distant.

Jesus Christ had to understand fully every sin and sorrow that human beings could experience, and that is what makes Him seem unfamiliar. When we see this aspect of Him, we realize we really don’t know Him. We don’t recognize even one characteristic of His life, and we don’t know how to begin to follow Him. He is far ahead of us, a Leader who seems totally unfamiliar, and we have no friendship with Him.

The discipline of dismay is an essential lesson which a disciple must learn. The danger is that we tend to look back on our times of obedience and on our past sacrifices to God in an effort to keep our enthusiasm for Him strong (see Isaiah 50:10-11). But when the darkness of dismay comes, endure until it is over, because out of it will come the ability to follow Jesus truly, which brings inexpressibly wonderful joy.

 

This Time It’s Personal

From: Get More Strength.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Looking Up

From: Our Daily Bread

Looking Up

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down.

Psalm 146:8

An article in the Surgical Technology International journal says that looking down at a smart phone with your head bent forward is the equivalent of having a 60-pound weight on your neck. When we consider that millions of people around the world spend an average of 2-4 hours daily reading and texting, the resulting damage to neck and spine becomes a growing health concern.

It is also easy to become spiritually bowed down by the burdens of life. How often we find ourselves discouraged by the problems we face and the needs of those we love. The psalmist understood this weight of concern yet saw hope as he wrote about “the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—[who] remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous” (Ps. 146:6-8).

When we consider God’s care, His great power, and His loving heart, we can begin to look up and praise Him. We can walk through each day knowing that “the Lord reigns forever . . . for all generations” (v. 10).

He lifts us up when we are bowed down. Praise the Lord!

O Lord, lift our eyes to see Your power and love today so we can raise our heads and our hearts in grateful praise to You.

Faith in God’s goodness puts a song in your heart.

Yield To God’s Love

God is the potter, you are the clay. Let God mold and make you into what he knows is best for you. 

Yield to God’s offer of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.
Yield to God’s love.
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Yielding

From: Utmost.org

Yielding
 

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

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

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

 

No Cause For Alarm

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anger left unchecked is cause for alarm.

 

 

 

My Personal Space

From: Our Daily Bread

My Personal Space

We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses. Hebrews 4:15

An industrial design graduate from a Singapore university was challenged in a workshop to come up with a novel solution to a common problem using only ordinary objects. She created a vest to protect one’s personal space from being invaded while traveling in the crush of crowded public trains and buses. The vest was covered with long, flexible plastic spikes normally used to keep birds and cats away from plants.

Jesus knew what it was like to lose His personal space in the commotion of crowds desperate to see and touch Him. A woman who had suffered from constant bleeding for 12 years and could find no cure touched the fringe of His robe. Immediately, her bleeding stopped (Luke 8:43-44).

Jesus’ question, “Who touched me?” (v. 45) isn’t as strange as it sounds. He felt power come out of Him (v. 46). That touch was different from those who merely happened to accidentally touch Him.

While we must admit that we do sometimes wish to keep our personal space and privacy, the only way we help a world of hurting people is to let them get close enough to be touched by the encouragement, comfort, and grace of Christ in us.

Lord Jesus, I want to be near You and know You so that when I’m in contact with others they can see You through me.

A Christian’s life is the window through which others can see Jesus.

Glorify God With Singing

Come Into God’s Presence With Singing
Psalm 96:1-9

Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples

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Image result for pictures of groups singing
Image result for pictures of groups singing
Image result for pictures of groups singing
Image result for pictures of groups singing

The Song Of The Saints

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

March 11, 2016

From: Crosswalk.com

Swing Like No One is Watching
SHELLY FAUST, COMPEL Member

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

Week after week I watch my boy strap on his helmet, grab his bat and walk trembling to the batter’s box. Each time the ball comes, he stands paralyzed, unable to move. Starting Little League baseball as a rookie 10-year-old can be quite intimidating, especially in a small Texas town where most of your teammates have been playing since birth.

But something about this night feels different. I watch him strap on his helmet, grab his bat and walk — still trembling — to the batter’s box. He digs his cleats in a little deeper, grips his bat a little tighter and stares with a determined focus at the pitcher. This time when the ball comes, he sends it flying into the outfield.

This new baseball mama wants to jump over the strategically placed barrier fencing between us and tackle #21 as he slides into third base. But wisdom (and my husband) encourage me to practice restraint. So instead, I yell like a crazy woman from my side of the fence.

What made this night different?

I can’t say for sure, but maybe my boy decided he finally felt ready. Or maybe, as evidenced by his still trembling knees, he felt afraid but decided to push through the fear that kept him paralyzed all season, frozen in the ready position. Maybe he decided to swing the bat like he did every evening at home in the absence of his peers and opponents.

Maybe he decided to swing like no one was watching.

The truth is, my boy isn’t the only one who has stayed frozen in the ready position by fear and intimidation. I have too often given in to this enemy who wars against purpose and potential. I have sometimes walked to first base but rarely have I risked it all at the chance to get in the game and bring my teammates home.

Maybe you can relate. You’ve trained, prepared and spent intimate moments with Jesus about this thing you’ve been called to do, but your arms and feet just won’t move. It feels too big, too risky.

Like trusting God with your marriage.

Leading a Bible study.

Sharing Jesus with your neighbor.

Or writing a book.

The Words from our own Coach, God Almighty, challenge us to “be strong and courageous.” They command us to “not be terrified or afraid,” and remind us“the LORD your God goes with you.”

Whatever the assignment before us, no matter the opposition against us, God is always with us. And the opposing team is put on notice when we choose to act even when our knees tremble.

Two innings later as my boy steps up to bat, we hear a voice from the outfield nervously yell, “Big hitter!” and the whole team takes a step back.

The enemy goes scrambling when we choose courage over fear.

When we believe God will do what He says He’ll do, we can do what we’ve been called to do.

When we swing the bat like no one is watching, preparation and purpose explode in God’s power.

God’s Total Surrender to Us

From: Utmost.org

God’s Total Surrender to Us

Salvation does not mean merely deliverance from sin or the experience of personal holiness. The salvation which comes from God means being completely delivered from myself, and being placed into perfect union with Him. When I think of my salvation experience, I think of being delivered from sin and gaining personal holiness. But salvation is so much more! It means that the Spirit of God has brought me into intimate contact with the true Person of God Himself. And as I am caught up into total surrender to God, I become thrilled with something infinitely greater than myself.

To say that we are called to preach holiness or sanctification is to miss the main point. We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:2). The fact that He saves from sin and makes us holy is actually part of the effect of His wonderful and total surrender to us.

If we are truly surrendered, we will never be aware of our own efforts to remain surrendered. Our entire life will be consumed with the One to whom we surrender. Beware of talking about surrender if you know nothing about it. In fact, you will never know anything about it until you understand that John 3:16 means that God completely and absolutely gave Himself to us. In our surrender, we must give ourselves to God in the same way He gave Himself for us— totally, unconditionally, and without reservation. The consequences and circumstances resulting from our surrender will never even enter our mind, because our life will be totally consumed with Him.

Self-Care

Self-Care
 

Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.

Mark 6:31

After my husband underwent heart surgery, I spent an anxious night by his hospital bed. Mid-morning, I remembered a scheduled haircut. “I’ll have to cancel,” I said, raking my fingers distractedly through my straggly hair.

“Mom, just wash your face and go to your appointment,” my daughter said.

“No, no,” I insisted. “It doesn’t matter. I need to be here.”

“I’ll stay,” Rosie said. “Self-care, Mom. . . . Self-care. You’re of more use to Dad if you take care of yourself.”

Moses was wearing himself out serving alone as judge over the Israelites. Jethro cautioned his son-in-law Moses: “You will only wear [yourself] out. The work is too heavy . . . you cannot handle it alone” (Ex. 18:18). He then explained ways that Moses could delegate his work and share his heavy load with others.

Though it may seem paradoxical for the Christian, self-care is essential for a healthy life (Matt. 22:37-39; Eph. 5:29-30). Yes, we must love God first and love others as well, but we also need to get adequate rest to renew our body and spirit. Sometimes self-care means stepping away and graciously allowing others to help us with our burdens.

Jesus often slipped away to rest and pray (Mark 6:30-32). When we follow His example, we will be more effective in our relationships and better able to give care to others.

Dear Lord, refresh my spirit today. Help me to bring balance to my life as I juggle my responsibilities. Thank You for Your love and care.

Don’t try to do everything—take time to refresh your body and spirit.

 

 

 

 

Total Surrender To God

Romans 12:1

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

 
Job 11:13

“If you would direct your heart right And spread out your hand to Him,

Romans 6:13

and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

 

Total surrender to God is the answer to many of life’s problems.

Total Surrender to God brings healing.

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Total Surrender

From: Utmost.org

Total Surrender
 

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

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

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

 

March 12

From: Streams in the Desert

Numbers 21:8-9 (NIV) 8The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.

After more wandering in the wilderness because of their refusal to trust God, the Children of Israel became impatient. They began to complain again about their conditions. It was their own actions and their own requests that had placed them there, but they began to blame it on Moses. It is always easier to point the finger at someone else than to consider our role in our difficulties.

God sent poisonous snakes amongst them as a judgment. (There are still poisonous snakes with a fiery bite in that region of the desert) The people began to cry out to Moses for help. Our song changes from a whine to a plea when we are in a life and death situation.

The LORD’s instruction was to take a pole and place upon it a bronze snake. If the people would just turn and look at it they would be healed from the deadly venom. Here is another wonderful picture of what God did for us. Bronze is representative of judgment. The snake is the cursed being that was used by Satan to trick Eve and thereby bring the venom of sin and death into the world. One day that sin would be judged upon a pole. All we need to do to be cured of sin’s deadly venom is to look and live. If we will have faith that sin has been judged in the One who hung there, we will live. Thank the LORD for His wonderful plan of salvation. Look and live!

Prayer: Thank You Lord, for making it so easy for me to come to You. Help me look to You daily and live.

 

Make Up Your Mind

From: Get More Strength.org

“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best” Philippians 1:9-10

When I was young, my mother tried to prepare me for life by urging me to make up two things: my bed and my mind. When I got up each day she would remind me, “Joe, make up your bed.” And when I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, she would prod me, “Joe, make up your mind.”

By far, making up our minds is the more important of the two skills. The real issue is not whether we can make up our mind; it’s whether we can make up our minds correctly. Correct thinking leads to correct decisions—the kind of decisions that guarantee productive and satisfying outcomes. But in our culture correct thinking is a challenge. Every day we are bombarded with secular input that is not only incorrect from God’s point of view, but also counterproductive in our relationships, aspirations, and spiritual growth.

This tug of war in our minds is really about values. Our values define us. They are the guiding principles that form our thoughts, our conclusions, and ultimately our behavior. They are instilled in us by our families, teachers, experiences, entertainment choices, our heroes, our community, and sometimes even by our fallen instincts. When we listen to all the voices around us and ignore the input of God’s Word, making up our mind always get us into trouble.

But when we accept the truth of God’s Word as the guiding principle for decision-making, we will be equipped with the discernment to make up our minds in good ways. And, there is no shortage of good advice in Scripture! God has given us the correct information on how to handle money, relationships, children, spouses, offenses, employers, employees, and politicians. You name it—God has the correct information to guide your mind to correct conclusions.

But beware—good discernment can be easily derailed by rationalization. It’s easy to make mental excuses that neutralize our ability to make good choices. We’ve all heard the excuses—and sometimes from our own lips: “I know it’s wrong, but . . .” or “If it weren’t for the way he treats me” or “I know a lot of people who do worse things.”

In Philippians 1:9-11, Paul encourages us to make excellent decisions that are the by-product of an uncompromised, excuse-free commitment to unselfish acts of love grounded in a discerning application of the knowledge of God’s Word. The result? A life that basks in the pleasures of purity, the fruit of the Spirit, and the fulfillment of our redemptive purpose to live to the praise and glory of God (Philippians 1:10-11).

So take my mother’s advice: Every day, make up your bed and make up your mind. Just be careful how you make up your mind!

 

 

 

Abigail’s Reminder

From: Our Daily Bread

Abigail’s Reminder

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

Proverbs 16:7

David and 400 of his warriors thundered through the countryside in search of Nabal, a prosperous brute who had harshly refused to lend them help. David would have murdered him if he hadn’t first encountered Abigail, Nabal’s wife. She had packed up enough food to feed an army and traveled out to meet the troops, hoping to head off disaster. She respectfully reminded David that guilt would haunt him if he followed through with his vengeful plan (1 Sam. 25:31). David realized she was right and blessed her for her good judgment.

David’s anger was legitimate—he had protected Nabal’s shepherds in the wilderness (vv.14-17) and had been repaid evil for good. However, his anger was leading him into sin. David’s first instinct was to sink his sword into Nabal, even though he knew God did not approve of murder and revenge (Ex. 20:13; Lev. 19:18).

When we’ve been offended, it’s good to compare our instincts with God’s intent for human behavior. We may be inclined to strike at people verbally, isolate ourselves, or escape through any number of ways. However, choosing a gracious response will help us avoid regret, and most important it will please God. When our desire is to honor God in our relationships, He is able to make even our enemies to be at peace with us (see Prov. 16:7).

Lord, thank You for holding back Your anger and having mercy on me. Help me to walk in step with Your Spirit so that my actions please You in every situation.

We can endure life’s wrongs because we know that God will make things right.

Jesus Empowers You To Win

 Jesus, the Example

      1    Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

2    fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

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Image result for pictures of quitting job
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Don’t Quit!

From: Our Daily Bread

Don’t Quit!

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2

In 1952 Florence Chadwick attempted to swim 26 miles from the coast of California to Catalina Island. After 15 hours, a heavy fog began to block her view, she became disoriented, and she gave up. To her chagrin, Chadwick learned that she had quit just 1 mile short of her destination.

Two months later Chadwick tried a second time to swim to Catalina Island from the coast. Again a thick fog settled in, but this time she reached her destination, becoming the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel. Chadwick said she kept an image of the shoreline in her mind even when she couldn’t see it.

When the problems of life cloud our vision, we have an opportunity to learn to see our goal with the eyes of faith. The New Testament letter to the Hebrews urges us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (12:1-2). When we feel like quitting, this is our signal to remember not only what Jesus suffered for us but what He now helps us to endure—until the day we see Him face to face.

Dear Father, sometimes the challenges of life seem insurmountable. Help me to fix my eyes on You and trust You. I’m thankful You are bringing about Your good purposes in me.

We can finish strong when we focus on Christ.

 

 

Gone Fishin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Obedience to the “Heavenly Vision”

From: Utmost.org

Obedience to the

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

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

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

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

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

 

Be An Example Of Your Message

Luke 2:12-20

 

“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” read more.

Luke 24:4-7

 

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? “He is not here, but He has risen Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,

Psalm 99

The Lord reigns,
    let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
    let the earth shake.
Great is the Lord in Zion;
    he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name—
    he is holy.

The King is mighty, he loves justice—
    you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
    what is just and right.
Exalt the Lord our God
    and worship at his footstool;
    he is holy.

Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
    Samuel was among those who called on his name;
they called on the Lord
    and he answered them.
He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
    they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.

pictures of messenger boys 
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Being an Example of His Message

From: Utmost.org

Being an Example of His Message
 

We are not saved only to be instruments for God, but to be His sons and daughters. He does not turn us into spiritual agents but into spiritual messengers, and the message must be a part of us. The Son of God was His own message— “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). As His disciples, our lives must be a holy example of the reality of our message. Even the natural heart of the unsaved will serve if called upon to do so, but it takes a heart broken by conviction of sin, baptized by the Holy Spirit, and crushed into submission to God’s purpose to make a person’s life a holy example of God’s message.

There is a difference between giving a testimony and preaching. A preacher is someone who has received the call of God and is determined to use all his energy to proclaim God’s truth. God takes us beyond our own aspirations and ideas for our lives, and molds and shapes us for His purpose, just as He worked in the disciples’ lives after Pentecost. The purpose of Pentecost was not to teach the disciples something, but to make them the incarnation of what they preached so that they would literally become God’s message in the flesh. “…you shall be witnesses to Me…” (Acts 1:8).

Allow God to have complete liberty in your life when you speak. Before God’s message can liberate other people, His liberation must first be real in you. Gather your material carefully, and then allow God to “set your words on fire” for His glory.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

The Wise Guy in the Backseat

From: Get More Strength.org

“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”Psalm 119:97

Driving with two young children in the backseat often requires a special kind of grace. Especially when, like on this trip, I was the parent. We were driving to Grand Rapids to hear one of my favorite pastors speak, and we were seriously stuck in traffic. I desperately studied the map for an alternate route while my 3-year-old son amused himself by teasing his 18-month-old sister. Her piercing screams got louder until my already frayed nerves finally snapped. I reached behind my seat with the folded map and bonked my son on the head, yelling, “Stop doing that to your sister!”

My son, wide-eyed, looked at me from the backseat and admonished, “Daddy, it’s not be ye kind to hit people!”

Ouch.

I have an advanced degree in theology and make a living teaching others the Word of God. And yet, in that moment, it took a 3-year-old’s loose paraphrase of Ephesians 4:32, to help me catch a biblical clue. Out of the mouths of babes!

That’s exactly what the psalmist is talking about in this tiny nugget of truth from Psalm 119:97-112. Advanced degrees and knowledge-laden education or even an ordination to preach, do not, in and of themselves, make one wise. In fact, some of the smartest and most talented people in this world live and act in extremely unwise ways. Paul references people like that in Romans 1:21-22 when he says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

It’s God’s Word that makes us wise. In fact, let me be more specific—it’s knowing and applying God’s Word that makes us wise. I knew the biblical truths in my head. But in a frustrated moment, I got a solid “F” in translating God’s Word into wisdom in my life.

The beauty of God’s Word is that it is so accessible. From young children, not even yet able to read, to stellar biblical scholars, His truths offer fresh insight and perspective. In the trustworthy pages of the Bible, God actually—get this—teaches us. Instruction directly from the Author and Creator of Life! No wonder His Word “gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

That’s why the writer of this psalm, the longest chapter in the Bible, committed to meditating on God’s law all day long. He knew that questions would surface every day for which he had no answer. He knew that the daily struggle to live with integrity and purpose would require countless moment-by-moment decisions for which he would need wise counsel. And so he steeped his mind and his heart in the truth of God’s Word, heartily trusting that it would be sufficient for every situation. His confidence was that immersion in the truth of the Law granted him wisdom—the real, rubber-meets-the-road kind of wisdom—beyond what could be learned in school.

And so, armed with sound biblical wisdom, a 3-year-old wise guy in the backseat of my car brought a much-needed rebuke to his “biblically educated” Dad. And, by the way, for the rest of the car trip, I was a little bit more “be ye kind.”

 

 

 

From:  Streams in the Desert

Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon, from the lions’ dens and the mountain haunts of the leopards (Song 4:8)

Crushing weights give the Christian wings. It seems like a contradiction in terms, but it is a blessed truth. David out of some bitter experience cried: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! Then would I fly away, and be at rest” (Ps. 55:6). But before he finished this meditation he seems to have realized that his wish for wings was a realizable one. For he says, “Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee.”

The word “burden” is translated in the Bible margin, “what he (Jehovah) hath given thee.” The saints’ burdens are God-given; they lead him to “wait upon Jehovah,” and when that is done, in the magic of trust, the “burden” is metamorphosed into a pair of wings, and the weighted one “mounts up with wings as eagles.
—Sunday School Times

One day when walking down the street,
On business bent, while thinking hard
About the “hundred cares” which seemed
Like thunder clouds about to break
In torrents, Self-pity said to me:
“You poor, poor thing, you have too much
To do. Your life is far too hard.
This heavy load will crush you soon.”
A swift response of sympathy
Welled up within. The burning sun
Seemed more intense. The dust and noise
Of puffing motors flying past
With rasping blast of blowing horn
Incensed still more the whining nerves,
The fabled last back-breaking straw
To weary, troubled, fretting mind.
“Ah, yes, ’twill break and crush my life;
I cannot bear this constant strain
Of endless, aggravating cares;
They are too great for such as I.”
So thus my heart condoled itself,
“Enjoying misery,” when lo!
A “still small voice” distinctly said,
“Twas sent to lift you—not to crush.”
I saw at once my great mistake.
My place was not beneath the load
But on the top! God meant it not
That I should carry it. He sent
It here to carry me. Full well
He knew my incapacity
Before the plan was made. He saw
A child of His in need of grace
And power to serve; a puny twig
Requiring sun and rain to grow;
An undeveloped chrysalis;
A weak soul lacking faith in God.
He could not help but see all this
And more. And then, with tender thought
He placed it where it had to grow—
Or die. To lie and cringe beneath
One’s load means death, but life and power
Await all those who dare to rise above.
Our burdens are our wings; on them
We soar to higher realms of grace;

Without them we must roam for aye
On planes of undeveloped faith,
For faith grows but by exercise in circumstance impossible.

Oh, paradox of Heaven. The load
We think will crush was sent to lift us
Up to God! Then, soul of mine,
Climb up! for naught can e’er be crushed
Save what is underneath the weight.
How may we climb! By what ascent
Shall we surmount the carping cares
Of life! Within His word is found
The key which opes His secret stairs;
Alone with Christ, secluded there,
We mount our loads, and rest in Him.

—Miss Mary Butterfield


 

 

 

 

Strangers and Foreigners

From: Our Daily Bread

Strangers and Foreigners

He was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Hebrews 11:10

I parked my bicycle, fingering my map of Cambridge for reassurance. Directions not being my strength, I knew I could easily get lost in this maze of roads bursting with historic buildings.

Life should have felt idyllic, for I had just married my Englishman and moved to the UK. But I felt adrift. When I kept my mouth closed I blended in, but when I spoke I immediately felt branded as an American tourist. I didn’t yet know what my role was, and I quickly realized that blending two stubborn people into one shared life was harder than I had anticipated.

I related to Abraham, who left all that he knew as he obeyed the Lord’s call to live as a foreigner and stranger in a new land (Gen. 12:1). He pressed through the cultural challenges while keeping faith in God, and 2,000 years later the writer to the Hebrews named him a hero (11:9). Like the other men and women listed in this chapter, Abraham lived by faith, longing for things promised, hoping and waiting for his heavenly home.

Perhaps you’ve always lived in the same town, but as Christ-followers we’re all foreigners and strangers on this earth. By faith we press forward, knowing that God will lead and guide us, and by faith we believe He will never leave nor abandon us. By faith we long for home.

Father God, I want to live by faith, believing Your promises and knowing that You welcome me into Your kingdom. Enlarge my faith, I pray.

God calls us to live by faith, believing that He will fulfill His promises.

Welcome! Please Come Into Heaven

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What wonderful bliss, happiness, glory, love, and total contentment.
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Psalm 98

A psalm.

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
    and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
    and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation of our God.

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Through Christ you will be warmly welcomed into Heaven one day.

 Please Come In

From: Our Daily Bread

Please Come In

Let us draw near to God . . . with the full assurance that faith brings.

Hebrews 10:22

Jenny’s house is situated on a little country lane, which is often used in rush hour by drivers who want to avoid the nearby main road and traffic lights. A few weeks ago workmen arrived to repair the badly damaged road surface, bringing with them large barriers and “No Entry” signs. “I was really worried at first,” said Jenny, “thinking that I would be unable to get my car out until the road work was finished. But then I went to look at the signs more closely and realized that they said ‘No Entry: Access for Residents Only.’ No detours or barriers for me. I had the right to go in and out whenever I liked because I lived there. I felt very special!”

In the Old Testament, access to God in the tabernacle and the temple was strictly limited. Only the high priest could go in through the curtain and offer sacrifices in the Most Holy Place, and then only once a year (Lev. 16:2-20; Heb. 9:25-26). But at the very moment Jesus died, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, showing that the barrier between man and God was destroyed forever (Mark 15:38).

Because of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, all those who love and follow Him can come into His presence at any time. He has given us the right of access.

Lord, thank You for paying such a price to enable me to have unrestricted entry into Your presence!

Access to God’s throne is always open.

A Way Out

From: Get More Strength.org

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” Psalm 51:6

It’s confession time.

The mere sight of a squad car—particularly when my speed is a little beyond the posted limit—kicks off a flurry of excuses in my mind. My speedometer must be a little off . . . I had no idea how fast I was going . . . I didn’t know what the speed limit was . . . I’m on my way to church . . .The prevailing thought behind all of that is: I wonder what I can do or say to get out of a ticket?

When I think about it, I’m actually shocked by how quickly rationalizations and excuses come to my mind when I have sinned. At first blush it seems better to cover up my guilt than to be honest about my true condition. Tell me I’m not alone!

As you probably know, Psalm 51 is written after David experiences a gut-wrenching reality check. A series of choices had taken this king further and further from the path of righteousness until he found himself tangled up in a disastrous web of excuses and cover-ups. It takes a committed prophet, Nathan, speaking truthfully on behalf of the Lord, to draw King David back to reality and expose the ugly details of his sin.

In this psalm, David comes clean! And as he prays, he reminds us that God is not only a compassionate and merciful God, but He is also a God who demands that we be truthful with ourselves about our sin. Not bits of truth coated with rationalizations and excuses. Not half-hearted assertions about our sinful choices ending with “but it’s not really my fault.” When we have sinned, God demands heart-level, flat-out open honesty about our sin and our responsibility for what we have done. It is then that He is ready to pour out the abundant grace of His forgiving mercy.

There is no deceit worse than self-deceit. Making ourselves feel better about our sinful condition by covering it up with lame excuses is like taking a cadaver to the ball in a tux. You may look good for awhile, but before long you’ll have trouble living with what you really are like under all the excuses. More seriously, failing to come clean about our sin short-circuits the process of experiencing God’s cleansing and restorative work in our lives. Why are we hiding? God stands ready to cleanse and forgive! Being honest about our true condition drives our hearts to the cleansing work of the cross.

And, as David points out, instead of living in the smog of self-deceit, being honest with ourselves opens our hearts to embrace God’s wisdom. Facing up to our sin always makes us know that we are not nearly as smart as we thought. After all, if we were all that smart we wouldn’t have taken the nosedive in the first place. Admitting our true condition drives us to embrace our need for God’s wisdom to guide us on our journey!

So whether it means surprising a police officer with a statement like, “You’re right, I was speeding and am sorry for disobeying the law,” or saying to a family member or friend, “I was totally wrong! Will you forgive me?” let’s be done with our excuses. And, more importantly, let’s come clean before God! Each step that we take in acknowledging the truth of our sin is one step closer to the joy of His cleansing grace and the brilliance of His divine wisdom.

 

 

From: Streams in the Desert

So now, O Lord, may the promise you made about your servant and his family become a permanent reality! Do as you promised, so it may become a reality and you may gain lasting fame, as people say, ‘The Lord who commands armies is the God of Israel.’ David’s dynasty will be established before you, (1 Chr 17:23-24)
This is a most blessed phase of true prayer. Many a time we ask for things which are not absolutely promised. We are not sure therefore until we have persevered for some time whether our petitions are in the line of God’s purpose or no. There are other occasions, and in the life of David this was one, when we are fully persuaded that what we ask is according to God’s will. We feel led to take up and plead some promise from the page of Scripture, under the special impression that it contains a message for us. At such times, in confident faith, we say, “Do as Thou hast said.” There is hardly any position more utterly beautiful, strong, or safe, than to put the finger upon some promise of the Divine word, and claim it. There need be no anguish, or struggle, or wrestling; we simply present the check and ask for cash, produce the promise, and claim its fulfillment; nor can there be any doubt as to the issue. It would give much interest to prayer, if we were more definite. It is far better to claim a few things specifically than a score vaguely.
—F. B. Meyer
Every promise of Scripture is a writing of God, which may be pleaded before Him with this reasonable request: “Do as Thou hast said.” The Creator will not cheat His creature who depends upon His truth; and far more, the Heavenly Father will not break His word to His own child.
“Remember the word unto thy servant, on which thou hast caused me to hope,” is most prevalent pleading. It is a double argument: it is Thy Word. Wilt Thou not keep it? Why hast thou spoken of it, if Thou wilt not make it good. Thou hast caused me to hope in it, wilt Thou disappoint the hope which Thou has Thyself begotten in me?
—C. H. Spurgeon
“Being absolutely certain that whatever promise he is bound by, he is able also to make good” (Rom. 4:21, Weymouth’s Translation).
It is the everlasting faithfulness of God that makes a Bible promise “exceeding great and precious.” Human promises are often worthless. Many a broken promise has left a broken heart. But since the world was made, God has never broken a single promise made to one of His trusting children.
Oh, it is sad for a poor Christian to stand at the door of the promise, in the dark night of affliction, afraid to draw the latch, whereas he should then come boldly for shelter as a child into his father’s house.
—Gurnal
Every promise is built upon four pillars: God’s justice and holiness, which will not suffer Him to deceive; His grace or goodness, which will not suffer Him to forget; His truth, which will not suffer Him to change, which makes Him able to accomplish.
—Selected

 

 

 

Turning Back or Walking with Jesus?

From: Utmost.org

Turning Back or Walking with Jesus?

What a penetrating question! Our Lord’s words often hit home for us when He speaks in the simplest way. In spite of the fact that we know who Jesus is, He asks, “Do you also want to go away?” We must continually maintain an adventurous attitude toward Him, despite any potential personal risk.

“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). They turned back from walking with Jesus; not into sin, but away from Him. Many people today are pouring their lives out and working for Jesus Christ, but are not really walking with Him. One thing God constantly requires of us is a oneness with Jesus Christ. After being set apart through sanctification, we should discipline our lives spiritually to maintain this intimate oneness. When God gives you a clear determination of His will for you, all your striving to maintain that relationship by some particular method is completely unnecessary. All that is required is to live a natural life of absolute dependence on Jesus Christ. Never try to live your life with God in any other way than His way. And His way means absolute devotion to Him. Showing no concern for the uncertainties that lie ahead is the secret of walking with Jesus.

Peter saw in Jesus only someone who could minister salvation to him and to the world. But our Lord wants us to be fellow laborers with Him.

In John 6:70 Jesus lovingly reminded Peter that he was chosen to go with Him. And each of us must answer this question for ourselves and no one else: “Do you also want to go away?”

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

 

 

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