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Get Free, Surrender To God

Job 11:13

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

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

 

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Psalm 97

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
    let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
    and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all peoples see his glory.

 

The Surrendered Life

From: Utmost.org

The Surrendered Life

To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things. Being born again by the Spirit of God means that we must first be willing to let go before we can grasp something else. The first thing we must surrender is all of our pretense or deceit. What our Lord wants us to present to Him is not our goodness, honesty, or our efforts to do better, but real solid sin. Actually, that is all He can take from us. And what He gives us in exchange for our sin is real solid righteousness. But we must surrender all pretense that we are anything, and give up all our claims of even being worthy of God’s consideration.

Once we have done that, the Spirit of God will show us what we need to surrender next. Along each step of this process, we will have to give up our claims to our rights to ourselves. Are we willing to surrender our grasp on all that we possess, our desires, and everything else in our lives? Are we ready to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?

We will suffer a sharp painful disillusionment before we fully surrender. When people really see themselves as the Lord sees them, it is not the terribly offensive sins of the flesh that shock them, but the awful nature of the pride of their own hearts opposing Jesus Christ. When they see themselves in the light of the Lord, the shame, horror, and desperate conviction hit home for them.

If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him. And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Stretching the Truth

From: Get more Strength.org

“Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.” Proverbs 4:24

I worked for a carpenter one summer between college semesters. Being the inexperienced apprentice, occasionally I would cut a board too short. Seeing that I had wasted a good board, my frustrated boss would reply: “Get the wood stretcher!”

His point? Wood doesn’t stretch.

Neither does the truth. Once stretched, it is no longer the truth. It is “crooked, devious talk.”

But let’s face it. Stretching the truth now and then can be a handy option, especially if we are in trouble or trying to gain some advantage. But if you think that twisting or slightly adjusting the truth isn’t damaging, think again. When Satan spoke to Eve in Genesis 3:1-24, he exaggerated God’s command—“Don’t eat of this one tree”—asking her if God had really said, “You shall not eat from every tree.” Due to his clever mismanagement of true truth, Eve no longer felt that God was generous and good but rather stingy and restrictive. This distortion of the truth planted seeds of doubt and distrust in Eve’s mind that blossomed into disastrous disobedience—a disobedience that has significantly damaged each of us as well.

Every day there are plenty of opportunities to fall to the temptation of mismanaging the truth for our own advantage. Sins of the tongue like flattery, boasting, gossip, and slander are all easily committed when we lose a high regard for the truth.

But under the surface, distorting the truth is a sign of some serious internal problems. Anger is a fertile spawning ground for exaggerating someone’s faults in order to wound them when they have hurt or crossed us.

If your life is committed to “me first” and to making sure you are on top of the pile, your twisted truth words will quickly betray your addiction to yourself.

Pride will lead you to embellish the truth to help you feel better about yourself or to make you look better than others. Seductive thoughts will lead you to flattery and alluring twists of the truth. A greedy heart will hide the true faults of a product and embellish its virtues just to make a sale.

But beware, stretching the truth for your personal advantage ultimately backfires. It’s our character that suffers as landmark virtues like trust and credibility, two building blocks of successful relationships, get slain on the battlefield of our self-serving twisting of the truth. Turning anger to patience and forgiveness; turning self-serving instincts to loving others; turning pride to true humility and greed to generosity will enable you to have the courage to experience the joy of telling it like it really is—which, believe it or not, will ultimately produce better outcomes than stressing yourself out by always twisting and turning the truth to your own gain. As the poet Sir Walter Scott said, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”

 

 

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

 

 

 

Abundant Supply

From: Our Daily Bread

Abundant Supply

You give them drink from your river of delights.

Psalm 36:8

We have a hummingbird feeder in the garden, and we love to see the little birds come and drink from its sugary water. Recently, however, we went on a short trip and forgot to replenish its contents. When we came back, it was completely dry. Poor birds! I thought. Because of my forgetfulness, they haven’t had any nourishment. Then I was reminded that I am not the one who feeds them: God is.

Sometimes we may feel that all of the demands of life have depleted our strength and there is no one to replenish it. But others don’t feed our souls: God does.

In Psalm 36 we read about God’s lovingkindness. It describes those who put their trust in Him and are abundantly satisfied. God gives them water from His “river of delights” (v. 8). He is the fountain of life!

We can go to God every day for the supply of our needs. As Charles Spurgeon wrote, “The springs of my faith and all my graces; the springs of my life and all my pleasures; the springs of my activity and all its right doings; the springs of my hope, and all its heavenly anticipations, all lie in thee, my Lord.”

Let us be filled with His abundant supply. His fountain will never run dry.

Lord, I come to You with the confidence that You will fill me with what I need.

God’s love is abundant.

Self-sufficiency Hurts Godly Relationship

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  
Matthew 19:24
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Godless Life Means A Shallow, Unfulfilled Existence.
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Why Do These People Need God?
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Will Money Buy Heaven?
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Psalm 96

Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

The Problem With Self-Sufficiency

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

I know  your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. —Revelation 3:15

The city of Laodicea had a water  problem. One nearby town had fabulous hot springs and another had cold, clear water. Laodicea, however, was stuck with tepid, mineral-laden water that tasted like sulphur. Not hot. Not cold. Just gross.

Given those facts, the words of Jesus to the Laodicean believers in Revelation 3 must have stung. Jesus rebuked them for being “neither cold nor hot” (Rev. 3:15). And when He thought of them, He felt like vomiting (Rev. 3:16)—like the effect of their drinking water.

What was their problem? It was the sin of self-sufficiency. The Laodiceans had become so affluent that they had forgotten how much they needed Jesus (Rev. 3:17).

When we say we have everything we need, but Jesus isn’t at the top of the list, He is deeply offended. Self-sufficiency distracts us from pursuing the things we really need that only He can give. If you’d rather have cash than character, if your credit cards are maximized and your righteousness is minimized, if you’ve become smart but aren’t wise, then you’ve been shopping in all the wrong places. Jesus offers commodities that are far better (Rev. 3:18).

He’s knocking at your heart’s door (Rev. 3:20). Let Him in. He will give you all you really need!

We must be careful to avoid
All self-sufficiency;
If sinful pride gets in the way,
God’s hand we will not see. —Sper

We always have enough when God is our supply.

March 7

From: Through the Bible Daily

Numbers 13:30-32 (NIV) 30Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” 31But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.

Ten spies went out to the Land of Promise, the land that God had promised to Abraham. Upon return, only two believed that they could take the land, Joshua and Caleb. These men were generals, the leading warriors in Israel’s army. The other eight spread a bad report and warned that they would be devoured. Looking back, it seems amazing that they did not have the faith to proceed. God had promised to go before them and drive out the enemy. They had evidence of wonderful fruit. The generals said it could be done. The alternative is to stay in the desert. Why would they listen to the eight pessimists?

Indeed, why do we? We have the promises of God. We have seen His provision. We have seen the wonderful fruit from the Land of Promise in the lives of those who have gone in before us. The Generals (Apostles and Prophets) all say, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” And yet we listen to the pessimists.

What giants are you fearing? Do you really want to wander in the desert? Are the giants so big in God’s eyes? And whose battle is it anyway? Obey the call of God, and march forward in faith. He will go before you and the land and all the fruit of it will be yours. Walk by faith and not by sight!

Meditation: Am I listening to the voice of faith or doubt?

 

The Source of Abundant Joy

From: Utmost.org

The Source of Abundant Joy

Paul was speaking here of the things that might seem likely to separate a saint from the love of God. But the remarkable thing is that nothing can come between the love of God and a saint. The things Paul mentioned in this passage can and do disrupt the close fellowship of our soul with God and separate our natural life from Him. But none of them is able to come between the love of God and the soul of a saint on the spiritual level. The underlying foundation of the Christian faith is the undeserved, limitless miracle of the love of God that was exhibited on the Cross of Calvary; a love that is not earned and can never be. Paul said this is the reason that “in all these things we are more than conquerors.” We are super-victors with a joy that comes from experiencing the very things which look as if they are going to overwhelm us.

Huge waves that would frighten an ordinary swimmer produce a tremendous thrill for the surfer who has ridden them. Let’s apply that to our own circumstances. The things we try to avoid and fight against— tribulation, suffering, and persecution— are the very things that produce abundant joy in us. “We are more than conquerors through Him” “in all these things”; not in spite of them, but in the midst of them. A saint doesn’t know the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it. Paul said, “I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation” (2 Corinthians 7:4).

The undiminished radiance, which is the result of abundant joy, is not built on anything passing, but on the love of God that nothing can change. And the experiences of life, whether they are everyday events or terrifying ones, are powerless to “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

 

With Respect

With Respect

If it pleases the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus . . . issue[d] a decree.

Ezra 5:17

The citizens of Israel were having some trouble with the government. It was the late 500s bc, and the Jewish people were eager to complete their temple that had been destroyed in 586 bc by Babylon. However, the governor of their region was not sure they should be doing that, so he sent a note to King Darius (Ezra 5:6-17).

In the letter, the governor says he found the Jews working on the temple and asks the king if they had permission to do so. The letter also records the Jews’ respectful response that they had indeed been given permission by an earlier king (Cyrus) to rebuild. When the king checked out their story, he found it to be true: King Cyrus had said they could build the temple. So Darius not only gave them permission to rebuild, but he also paid for it! (see 6:1-12). After the Jews finished building the temple, they “celebrated with joy” because they knew God had “[changed] the attitude of the king” (6:22).

When we see a situation that needs to be addressed, we honor God when we plead our case in a respectful way, trust that He is in control of every situation, and express gratitude for the outcome.

Lord, help us to respond respectfully to situations around us. We need Your wisdom for this. May we always honor, trust, and praise You.

Respect for authority brings glory to God.

The Power Of God’s Music

Ephesians 5:19-20

 

speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and  making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

Colossians 3:16

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

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Psalm 95

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,[a]
    as you did that day at Massah[b] in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me;
    they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

 

The Power of God’s Music

From: Our Daily Bread

The Power of God’s Music
 

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly . . . with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Colossians 3:16

The Sound of Music, one of the most successful musical films ever produced, was released as a motion picture in 1965. It won many accolades, including five Academy Awards, as it captured the hearts and voices of people around the world. More than half a century later, people still attend special showings of the film where viewers come dressed as their favorite character and sing along during the performance.

Music is deeply rooted in our souls. And for followers of Jesus, it is a powerful means of encouraging each other along the journey of faith. Paul urged the believers in Colossae, “Let Christ’s teaching live in your hearts, making you rich in the true wisdom. Teach and help one another along the right road with your psalms and hymns and Christian songs, singing God’s praises with joyful hearts” (Col. 3:16 Phillips).

Singing together to the Lord embeds the message of His love in our minds and souls. It is a powerful ministry of teaching and encouragement that we share together. Whether our hearts cry out, “Create in me a pure heart, O God” (Ps. 51:10), or joyfully shout, “And he will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15), the power of music that exalts God lifts our spirits and grants us peace.

Let us sing to the Lord today.

Thank You, Lord, for Your gift of music. We sing Your praise together and learn more of Your love and power.

 

 

Soul Food

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart. —Jeremiah 15:16

Grocery shopping with my wife, Martie, is like taking a seminar in nutrition. I’ll often pick up a box of something that looks good, and she’ll say: “Look at the label. Are there trans-fats? What’s the calorie count? How about the cholesterol rating?” I have to confess that if she weren’t the nutrition cop in my life, I’d look like Shamu the whale!

More important than making good choices in the grocery store is thinking carefully about the food we digest for our souls. I love the verse that says: “Your words were found, and I ate them” (Jer. 15:16).

When we read God’s Word, we have to be doing more than checking it off our to-do list. We have to read it to digest it. Slow, thoughtful absorption of the Word of God with quiet reflection on its implications is high in nutrition. His Word provides all the ingredients we need to thrive spiritually:

  • a direct connection to the sustainer of our soul
  • brain food that makes us wise and discerning
  • a daily check-up revealing the condition of our hearts
  • preventive medicine keeping us from sin
  • a spiritual shower of peace, hope, and comfort

Eat God’s Word. It’s a spiritual feast!

God’s Word provides the nourishment
That Christians need if we’re to grow;
But if we do not feast on it,
A vibrant faith we’ll never know. —Sper

The Bible contains all the nutrients for a healthy soul.

 

 

 

Taking the Next Step

Taking the Next Step
 

When you have no vision from God, no enthusiasm left in your life, and no one watching and encouraging you, it requires the grace of Almighty God to take the next step in your devotion to Him, in the reading and studying of His Word, in your family life, or in your duty to Him. It takes much more of the grace of God, and a much greater awareness of drawing upon Him, to take that next step, than it does to preach the gospel.

Every Christian must experience the essence of the incarnation by bringing the next step down into flesh-and-blood reality and by working it out with his hands. We lose interest and give up when we have no vision, no encouragement, and no improvement, but only experience our everyday life with its trivial tasks. The thing that really testifies for God and for the people of God in the long run is steady perseverance, even when the work cannot be seen by others. And the only way to live an undefeated life is to live looking to God. Ask God to keep the eyes of your spirit open to the risen Christ, and it will be impossible for drudgery to discourage you. Never allow yourself to think that some tasks are beneath your dignity or too insignificant for you to do, and remind yourself of the example of Christ inJohn 13:1-17.

 

 

March 6

Talking Against Moses

From: Through the Bible Daily

Numbers 12:1-3 (NIV) 1Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2“Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the LORD heard this. 3(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

Moses family didn’t approve of his marriage. We don’t know what happened to Zipporah, his first wife. The new wife was an Egyptian, probably one of the multitude that came out with the Israelites to worship the God of the Hebrews. I think Moses was big enough to make his own decisions, and godly enough not to be second-guessed. The real issue is leadership. Who has the final say? “Shouldn’t we vote on whether or not this is the right decision? God speaks to us too! Why should he remarry at his age (80+yrs)?”

Yes, He does speak to them. We just saw in the last chapter how His Spirit was placed upon the elders. The question remains, who will have the final say? It is a power struggle, and not the last one we will see in the desert. The power belongs to God. He’s in charge. He is leading through his servant Moses, but helping him with the elders. This most humble of men does not defend himself and his decision to marry, but God will defend him.

We can know that if we are walking with the LORD, in humble submission to Him, that we need not defend ourselves. The office of the prophet as the intermediary between God and man has since ceased (Luke 16:16). The Holy Spirit communes with each of us, and we have His Word. Still, the principle is the same. We will often be questioned, and sometimes our whole family will be against us (Matthew 10:36). We should know that we need not argue our case. If it is a righteous decision, the LORD will defend us. If it is not a godly decision, we will see by the fruit and learn from our mistake. That is genuine humility.

Meditation: Can I trust God to defend my godly decisions?

 

Help Is On The Way

Proverbs 3:5-6 

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Matthew 7:7

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Hebrews 4:15-16

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

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Psalm 94

The Lord is a God who avenges.
    O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth;
    pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, Lord, will the wicked,
    how long will the wicked be jubilant?

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Help Is on the Way

From: Get More strength.org

“ Yes, I am coming soon.’” Revelation 22:20

My aging Chevy Tahoe has a nifty little feature—the OnStar button. Some time back, General Motors started installing this blue button on many of their vehicles. If you need help, all you do is press it. If you’re out of gas, if you’re lost, or if you get a flat tire, just touch the blue button and a real live operator is there to talk to you about your problem. In fact, if you get in an accident and the airbags go off, it will automatically connect you to one of their operators to make sure that you get help. Amazing!

Perhaps you’ve heard the OnStar radio commercials. The ads are usually an audio clip from an actual call. It’s usually something like, “Hello? I’ve just been in an accident and I’m in the middle of nowhere. It’s dark out and I can’t see anything . . . And I think there’s a guy with an axe coming out of the woods.” (Okay, I made up the axe part.) In response, the calm, comforting voice of the OnStar operator, says, “Don’t worry, we have your location and help is on the way!” Then as an added measure of comfort, the operator asks, “Are you going to be alright?” and inevitably the frightened motorist will say, “Yes, I’ll be fine.”

The point is, in the midst of a scary, difficult experience, the promise of “help is on the way” goes a long way in bringing hope and reassurance. It’s a great boost to know that someone is coming to your rescue.

Jesus often comforted His disciples with this exact promise. He knew that the temptation to give up in the midst of tough times would be strong, so He reminded them often, “I am coming back—help is on its way” (see John 14:3,18,28).

But His promise is not just for the first-century disciples. Jesus’ promise extends to us as well. In fact, it is featured in the concluding words of Scripture, as John penned the book of Revelation. Exiled to the island of Patmos, near the end of his life with the promise of Jesus’ coming yet unfulfilled, John is nonetheless strengthened and reassured by these words: “Yes, I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20). John’s response, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is simple and profound: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

John knew what it was to experience sorrow. He felt firsthand the pain of persecution. No doubt receiving the incredible vision of a new heaven and a new earth highlighted how barren and difficult life on this planet could be by contrast. But the recorded words of Jesus throughout the book reinforce the truth: You’re not alone! I know right where you are, and I’m coming back for you!

Life for us is fragile as well. Inevitably, we find ourselves emotionally and spiritually in the ditch, broken-down, frightened, and wondering if we’re going to make it. It happens so fast. One phone call. One visit to the doctor. One broken relationship. But we are not without hope. Jesus promised, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Wherever you are and whatever you’re facing today, your trust in the promise of Christ’s return will bring you a deep sense of peace that defies understanding.

So, chin up—help is on the way and heaven is next!

 

 From: Streams in the Desert

Followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12).

They (heroes of faith) are calling to us from the heights that they have won, and telling us that what man once did man can do again. Not only do they remind us of the necessity of faith, but also of that patience by which faith has its perfect work. Let us fear to take ourselves out of the hands of our heavenly Guide or to miss a single lesson of His loving discipline by discouragement or doubt.

“There is only one thing,” said a village blacksmith, “that I fear, and that is to be thrown on the scrap heap. “When I am tempering a piece of steel, I first beat it, hammer it, and then suddenly plunge it into this bucket of cold water. I very soon find whether it will take temper or go to pieces in the process. When I discover after one or two tests that it is not going to allow itself to be tempered, I throw it on the scrap heap and sell it for a cent a pound when the junk man comes around.

“So I find the Lord tests me, too, by fire and water and heavy blows of His heavy hammer, and if I am not willing to stand the test, or am not going to prove a fit subject for His tempering process, I am afraid He may throw me on the scrap heap.”

When the fire is hottest, hold still, for there will be a blessed “afterward”; and with Job we may be able to say, “When he hath tried me I shall come forth as gold.”
–Selected

Sainthood springs out of suffering. It takes eleven tons of pressure on a piano to tune it. God will tune you to harmonize with Heaven’s key-note if you can stand the strain.

Things that hurt and things that mar
Shape the man for perfect praise;
Shock and strain and ruin are
Friendlier than the smiling days.

 

Is He Really My Lord?

From: Utmost.org

Is He Really My Lord?

Joy comes from seeing the complete fulfillment of the specific purpose for which I was created and born again, not from successfully doing something of my own choosing. The joy our Lord experienced came from doing what the Father sent Him to do. And He says to us, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). Have you received a ministry from the Lord? If so, you must be faithful to it— to consider your life valuable only for the purpose of fulfilling that ministry. Knowing that you have done what Jesus sent you to do, think how satisfying it will be to hear Him say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). We each have to find a niche in life, and spiritually we find it when we receive a ministry from the Lord. To do this we must have close fellowship with Jesus and must know Him as more than our personal Savior. And we must be willing to experience the full impact of Acts 9:16 — “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

“Do you love Me?” Then, “Feed My sheep” (John 21:17). He is not offering us a choice of how we can serve Him; He is asking for absolute loyalty to His commission, a faithfulness to what we discern when we are in the closest possible fellowship with God. If you have received a ministry from the Lord Jesus, you will know that the need is not the same as the call— the need is the opportunity to exercise the call. The call is to be faithful to the ministry you received when you were in true fellowship with Him. This does not imply that there is a whole series of differing ministries marked out for you. It does mean that you must be sensitive to what God has called you to do, and this may sometimes require ignoring demands for service in other areas.

 

Forward to God

From: Our Daily Bread

Forward to God

Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see.

2 Kings 19:16

In the days before telephones, email, and mobile phones, the telegram was usually the fastest means of communication. But only important news was sent by telegram, and such news was usually bad. Hence the saying, “The telegram boy always brings bad news.”

It was wartime in ancient Israel when Hezekiah was king of Judah. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had invaded and captured the cities of Judah. He then sent a letter to Hezekiah, a bad-news “telegram” urging his surrender. Hezekiah described the moment as “a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace” (2 Kings 19:3).

With taunts and scoffs, Sennacherib boasted of his past military campaigns, belittling the God of Israel and threatening mayhem (vv. 11-13). In that dreadful moment, King Hezekiah did an unusual thing with the bad-news letter: “He went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord” (v. 14). Then he prayed earnestly, acknowledging the power of God over their gloomy situation (vv. 15-19). God intervened in a powerful way (vv. 35-36).

Bad news can reach us at any time. In those moments, Hezekiah’s action is a good example to follow. Spread out the news before the Lord in prayer and hear His reassurance: “I have heard your prayer” (v. 20).

Heavenly Father, when people attack us, we tend to react defensively. Teach us to turn to You instead of taking matters into our own hands. We trust You and love You. Defend us today.

Prayer is the child’s helpless cry to the Father’s attentive ear.

 

 

 

Use Your Voice To Glorify God

Psalm 33:1-3

 

Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

 
Psalm 96:1-2

 

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.

 

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Image result for pictures of people singing
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Image result for pictures of people singing

 

Psalm 94

The Lord is a God who avenges.
    O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth;
    pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, Lord, will the wicked,
    how long will the wicked be jubilant?

They pour out arrogant words;
    all the evildoers are full of boasting.
They crush your people, Lord;
    they oppress your inheritance.
They slay the widow and the foreigner;
    they murder the fatherless.
They say, “The Lord does not see;
    the God of Jacob takes no notice.”

Voices

From: Get more strength.org

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Hearing voices has to be the most haunting of all the mental disorders. After all, which voice do you listen to? Talk about massive confusion! But before you think that you are among the blessed ones who don’t hear voices, think again. Today will be full of voices that compete for a piece of your life. Your boss, your spouse, your children, close friends, advertisements, and talk shows all will bombard your psyche with conflicting advice or demands.

It’s not just the voices on the outside. No matter how sane you think you are, we all have inner voices that compete for control; voices that are not always positive. I confess to hearing the compelling whispers of the dark side of my heart on a regular basis. Whispers that advise and plan ways for me to live for my own advantage. Whispers that convincingly argue that a life lived by the lure of my desires is life at its best. Whispers that tell me I am clever enough not to get caught, that nobody is perfect, that God understands my weakness and will forgive me. Tell me that I am not alone and that you can identify!

I have learned that when those kinds of inner voices dominate, I often look back in regret and shame for letting them grab the control levers of my life. They promise me life at its best but consistently leave me empty, disappointed, guilty and embarrassed.

That’s why I am forever grateful that there is a voice within that I can trust. A single voice that puts all the other voices into perspective. A voice that speaks wisdom clearly and confidently. A voice that has my best interest in mind and wants to lead me to life at its best.

Over the years as I have followed the advice and counsel of that voice, I have never been disappointed. It hasn’t always been easy advice, and sometimes it hasn’t made a lot of sense—like telling me that I should forgive someone who has hurt me or that I need to die to myself—but it has reliably been the right advice.

It’s the voice of Jesus. When you get on line in your heart to hear His voice and His alone, you will be liberated from the conflicting voices that in the end you really can’t trust. Thankfully, He has given you all the equipment you need. Talk about high tech! The indwelling Holy Spirit actually lives within you to decode God’s Word as you read it. He speaks to your mind, heart, and conscience as your eyes scan the lines of the bestselling how-to-live book ever written.

So put the “earbuds” in and tune to the one frequency where you are loved and led to life as God meant it be—life at it’s best!

Remember, His is the only voice you can finally and fully trust. He loves you and died to prove it!

 

 

 

Is This True of Me?

Is This True of Me?

It is easier to serve or work for God without a vision and without a call, because then you are not bothered by what He requires. Common sense, covered with a layer of Christian emotion, becomes your guide. You may be more prosperous and successful from the world’s perspective, and will have more leisure time, if you never acknowledge the call of God. But once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God asks of you will always be there to prod you on to do His will. You will no longer be able to work for Him on the basis of common sense.

What do I count in my life as “dear to myself”? If I have not been seized by Jesus Christ and have not surrendered myself to Him, I will consider the time I decide to give God and my own ideas of service as dear. I will also consider my own life as “dear to myself.” But Paul said he considered his life dear so that he might fulfill the ministry he had received, and he refused to use his energy on anything else. This verse shows an almost noble annoyance by Paul at being asked to consider himself. He was absolutely indifferent to any consideration other than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received. Our ordinary and reasonable service to God may actually compete against our total surrender to Him. Our reasonable work is based on the following argument which we say to ourselves, “Remember how useful you are here, and think how much value you would be in that particular type of work.” That attitude chooses our own judgment, instead of Jesus Christ, to be our guide as to where we should go and where we could be used the most. Never consider whether or not you are of use— but always consider that “you are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). You are His.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

 

 

For His Time

For His Time
Read: James 1:2-4 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 31–33; Mark 9:1-29

My times are in your hands.

Psalm 31:15

When South African pastor Andrew Murray was visiting England in 1895, he began to suffer pain from a previous back injury. While he was recuperating, his hostess told him of a woman who was in great trouble and wanted to know if he had any counsel for her. Murray said, “Give her this paper which I have been writing for my own [encouragement]. It may be that she will find it helpful.” This is what Murray wrote:

“In time of trouble say:

First—God brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place. In that I will rest.

Next—He will keep me in His love and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.

Then—He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.

Last—In His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows.

I am here—by God’s appointment, in His keeping, under His training, for His time.”

We want the instant solution, the quick fix, but some things cannot be disposed of so readily; they can only be accepted. God will keep us by His love. By His grace, we can rest in Him.

Dear Lord, it’s hard to endure times of illness and suffering. Comfort me and help me to trust You.

When God permits suffering, He also provides comfort.

Feed God’s Sheep

Matthew 28: 19-20 “  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”       (The Great Commission)    

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Pictures of Officers being commissioned
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Did you know you are commissioned by God to do His will?

Psalm 93

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
    the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
    indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
    you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, Lord,
    the seas have lifted up their voice;
    the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
    mightier than the breakers of the sea—
    the Lord on high is mighty.

Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
    holiness adorns your house
    for endless days.

His Commission to Us

His Commission to Us

This is love in the making. The love of God is not created— it is His nature. When we receive the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit, He unites us with God so that His love is demonstrated in us. The goal of the indwelling Holy Spirit is not just to unite us with God, but to do it in such a way that we will be one with the Father in exactly the same way Jesus was. And what kind of oneness did Jesus Christ have with the Father? He had such a oneness with the Father that He was obedient when His Father sent Him down here to be poured out for us. And He says to us, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).

Peter now realizes that he does love Him, due to the revelation that came with the Lord’s piercing question. The Lord’s next point is— “Pour yourself out. Don’t testify about how much you love Me and don’t talk about the wonderful revelation you have had, just ‘Feed My sheep.’ ” Jesus has some extraordinarily peculiar sheep: some that are unkempt and dirty, some that are awkward or pushy, and some that have gone astray! But it is impossible to exhaust God’s love, and it is impossible to exhaust my love if it flows from the Spirit of God within me. The love of God pays no attention to my prejudices caused by my natural individuality. If I love my Lord, I have no business being guided by natural emotions— I have to feed His sheep. We will not be delivered or released from His commission to us. Beware of counterfeiting the love of God by following your own natural human emotions, sympathies, or understandings. That will only serve to revile and abuse the true love of God.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

From:  Streams in the Desert
And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him (Mark 9:26).

Evil never surrenders its hold without a sore fight. We never pass into any spiritual inheritance through the delightful exercises of a picnic, but always through the grim contentions of the battle field. It is so in the secret realm of the soul. Every faculty which wins its spiritual freedom does so at the price of blood. Apollyon is not put to flight by a courteous request; he straddles across the full breadth of the way, and our progress has to be registered in blood and tears. This we must remember or we shall add to all the other burdens of life the gall of misinterpretation. We are not “born again” into soft and protected nurseries, but in the open country where we suck strength from the very terror of the tempest. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
–Dr. J. H. Jowett

Faith of our Fathers! living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword:
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious word.
Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to Thee till death!
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them, could die for Thee!

 

What’s In Your Wallet?

From: Get More Strength.org

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Ephesians 1:11

An advertising blitz for a credit card company once featured two humorous television commercials. One featured Vikings who were defeated by credit card’s low interest rates. The other series of ads poked fun at the apparent difficulty of cashing in on the “other company’s” frequent flier miles. Every one of the commercials ended with the same catchy tagline: “What’s in your wallet?”

It’s an interesting question. The stuff in our wallet represents financial security, purchase power, and prosperity. The question “What’s in your wallet?” is a clever way of planting doubt in our minds about whether or not we have the right stuff to get all the satisfaction we are looking for in life. It prompts us to wonder if we are getting all that we think we deserve. Is there more out there that we don’t yet have? Do we have what it takes to be successful? Of course, the intent of the ad campaign is to make us think that only this particular card will make us satisfied, secure, and significant. And if we don’t feel secure about having the right things in our wallet, perhaps we need to reevaluate its contents. But those who have traveled life’s road for a while will tell you that it’s not really the stuff in your wallet that finally brings the happiness you’re looking for.

Thankfully, God has an announcement of His own about where to find satisfaction, security, and significance! In Ephesians 1:3-14, the apostle Paul can hardly contain himself as he lists the incredible resources that our Father has placed at the disposal of His children. When we turn to Christ by faith, we’re given forgiveness—the joy of a clean conscience before God. We’re entrusted with His wisdom—inside information on how to live life without the downside of our ongoing dead-end experiments. We’re given access to His mercy and grace to find help in the time of need, worship to lift our spirits above the din of ordinary living, and prayer to put us in touch with the One who cares for us and loves us without condition. We find all of this and more in our spiritual wallet!

What are you trusting to bring you joy and satisfaction? What do you depend on to give you a sense of security and safety? Where do you turn for significance? Are you focused on a wallet that’s growing with the “right” credit cards, a thick stack of cash, and the right business cards? Ironically, a full wallet can be carried on a body with an empty heart.

Live for the incredible spiritual wealth and riches offered to you by our loving heavenly Father, who, according to James, delights in giving good gifts to His children. Your physical wallet may be almost empty, but, if your heart is full of all that Jesus offers, you’ve got all the right stuff to defeat the Vikings that plague your life and to experience true joy and satisfaction.

 

 

Grandma’s Recipe

From: Our Daily Bread

Grandma’s Recipe

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. Deuteronomy 32:7

Many families have a secret recipe, a special way of cooking a dish that makes it especially savory. For us Hakkas (my Chinese ethnic group), we have a traditional dish called abacus beads, named for its beadlike appearance. Really, you have to try it!

Of course Grandma had the best recipe. Each Chinese New Year at the family reunion dinner we would tell ourselves, “We should really learn how to cook this.” But we never got around to asking Grandma. Now she is no longer with us, and her secret recipe is gone with her.

We miss Grandma, and it’s sad to lose her recipe. It would be far more tragic if we were to fail to preserve the legacy of faith entrusted to us. God intends that every generation share with the next generation about the mighty acts of God. “One generation commends [God’s] works to another,” said the psalmist (Ps. 145:4), echoing Moses’ earlier instructions to “remember the days of old . . . . Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you” (Deut. 32:7).

As we share our stories of how we received salvation and the ways the Lord has helped us face challenges, we encourage each other and honor Him. He designed us to enjoy family and community and to benefit from each other.

Is there someone from a different age group with whom you can share your faith journey? How about asking someone from an older generation to share their story with you. What might you learn?

What we teach our children today will influence tomorrow’s world.

God Is With Us

The Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.

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Psalm 92

A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.

It is good to praise the Lord
    and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
    and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
    and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
    I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
    how profound your thoughts!
Senseless people do not know,
    fools do not understand,
that though the wicked spring up like grass
    and all evildoers flourish,
    they will be destroyed forever.

But you, Lord, are forever exalted.

For surely your enemies, Lord,
    surely your enemies will perish;
    all evildoers will be scattered.
10 You have exalted my horn[b] like that of a wild ox;
    fine oils have been poured on me.
11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
    my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
    they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
    he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

Lurking Lions

From: Our Daily Bread

Lurking Lions

The Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.

Numbers 14:9

When I was young, my dad would “scare” us by hiding in the bush and growling like a lion. Even though we lived in rural Ghana in the 1960s, it was almost impossible that a lion lurked nearby. My brother and I would laugh and seek out the source of the noise, thrilled that playtime with Dad had arrived.

One day a young friend came for a visit. As we played, we heard the familiar growl. Our friend screamed and ran. My brother and I knew the sound of my father’s voice—any “danger” was merely a phantom lion—but a funny thing happened. We ran with her. My dad felt terrible that our friend had been frightened, and my brother and I learned not to be influenced by the panicked reaction of others.

Caleb and Joshua stand out as men unfazed by the panic of others. As Israel was poised to enter the Promised Land, Moses commissioned 12 scouts to spy out the region. They all saw a beautiful territory, but 10 focused on the obstacles and discouraged the entire nation (Num. 13:27-33). In the process, they started a panic (14:1-4). Only Caleb and Joshua accurately assessed the situation (vv. 6-9). They knew the history of their Father and trusted Him to bring them success.

Some “lions” pose a genuine threat. Others are phantoms. Regardless, as followers of Jesus our confidence is in the One whose voice and deeds we know and trust.

Lord, we face many fears today. Help us distinguish between real danger and empty threats, and help us trust You with all of it. May we live not in fear, but in faith.

The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1

From: Streams in the Desert

Be ready in the morning, and come… present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee (Exod. 34:2-3).

The morning watch is essential. You must not face the day until you have faced God, nor look into the face of others until you have looked into His. You cannot expect to be victorious, if the day begins only in your own strength.

Face the work of every day with the influence of a few thoughtful, quiet moments with your heart and God. Do not meet other people, even those of your own home, until you have first met the great Guest and honored Companion of your life–Jesus Christ.

Meet Him alone. Meet Him regularly. Meet Him with His open Book of counsel before you; and face the regular and the irregular duties of each day with the influence of His personality definitely controlling your every act.

Begin the day with God!
He is thy Sun and Day!
His is the radiance of thy dawn;
To Him address thy lay.
Sing a new song at morn!
Join the glad woods and hills;
Join the fresh winds and seas and plains,
Join the bright flowers and rills.
Sing thy first song to God!
Not to thy fellow men;
Not to the creatures of His hand,
But to the glorious One.
Take thy first walk with God!
Let Him go forth with thee;
By stream, or sea, or mountain path,
Seek still His company.
Thy first transaction be
With God Himself above;
So shall thy business prosper well,

And all the day be love.
–Horatius Bonar

The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early upon their knees. Matthew Henry used to be in his study at four, and remain there till eight; then, after breakfast and family prayer, he used to be there again till noon; after dinner, he resumed his book or pen till four, and spent the rest of the day in visiting his friends.

Doddridge himself alludes to his “Family Expositor” as an example of the difference of rising between five and seven, which, in forty years, is nearly equivalent to ten years  more of life.

Dr. Adam Clark’s “Commentary” was chiefly prepared very early in the morning. Barnes’ popular and useful “Commentary” has been also the fruit of “early morning hours.”

Simeon’s “Sketches” were chiefly worked out between four and eight.

Brain Drain

From: Get more strength.org

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1

When I travel, wake-up calls are really important! More than once I have registered my wake-up time with the hotel desk confident that they would call right on time. Well, you know the rest of the story. Rolling over and looking at the clock only to realize that you’ll never make the morning meeting on time is not a great way to start the day!

So here’s a wake-up call that will help you get your day (and the rest of your life) on track for God. If you are not wide awake spiritually, you may find that you have been robbed blind of the most important treasure you have: your mind and the way you think!

Os Guinness tells a great story about a Russian factory worker in the days when Khrushchev was the prime minister. Because of the enormous economic strain in those days, employees would steal tools and just about anything else they could get their hands on. To stop the thefts, a KGB officer was placed at every factory gate where each worker was carefully searched for contraband. Petrov, a long-time laborer, pushed a wheelbarrow loaded with two large sacks of sawdust out the factory doors every day. Each day the guard searched through the sacks of sawdust but consistently found nothing. Weeks into this routine the frustrated guard finally said,“Hey, Petrov, I promise not to tell anybody. I can’t get what’s going on here. I don’t know why you need all this sawdust. What are you stealing?”Petrov grinned and whispered, “Wheelbarrows.”

Os Guinness makes this probing conclusion: “While we’ve been inspecting bags of sawdust, Satan has been stealing our minds.” What a great insight! And while how we behave—keeping all the rules and all the fuss over politics, abortion, and gay agendas—is not sawdust, it is easy to get sidetracked by the issue du jour while letting “control central” slip into thought patterns that quite frankly aren’t anything like God’s thoughts at all. This is no small issue. God’s Word says that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). I have always been taken aback by Jesus’ reproof of the religious folk of His day, when He said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (Matthew 15:8)!

Paul gets it right when he informs us that the key issue in growth and transformation is the renewing of our minds, not just the mental activity of stacking up huge stores of biblical data. If that’s all we have we soon become proud and judgmental. We are to train our minds to think God’s thoughts after Him. To think the way He does about the poor and the oppressed. To think His thoughts about our enemies and those who have used and abused us. To let His thoughts honestly evaluate the lame stuff we pile up in our hearts. To think His thoughts about our money, time, family, job, and all other aspects of our lives.

After years of marriage, I find that increasingly my wife Martie and I think a lot alike. I can almost complete her sentences. After years of being a Christian, you would think that one should almost instinctively know His mind about nearly everything! But unfortunately that is often not the case, because Satan has been stealing us blind of our greatest treasure: the way we think!

 

Have You Felt the Pain Inflicted by the Lord?

From: Utmost.org

Have You Felt the Pain Inflicted by the Lord?

Have you ever felt the pain, inflicted by the Lord, at the very center of your being, deep down in the most sensitive area of your life? The devil never inflicts pain there, and neither can sin nor human emotions. Nothing can cut through to that part of our being but the Word of God. “Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ ” Yet he was awakened to the fact that at the center of his personal life he was devoted to Jesus. And then he began to see what Jesus’ patient questioning meant. There was not the slightest bit of doubt left in Peter’s mind; he could never be deceived again. And there was no need for an impassioned response; no need for immediate action or an emotional display. It was a revelation to him to realize how much he did love the Lord, and with amazement he simply said, “Lord, You know all things….” Peter began to see how very much he did love Jesus, and there was no need to say, “Look at this or that as proof of my love.” Peter was beginning to discover within himself just how much he really did love the Lord. He discovered that his eyes were so fixed on Jesus Christ that he saw no one else in heaven above or on the earth below. But he did not know it until the probing, hurting questions of the Lord were asked. The Lord’s questions always reveal the true me to myself.

Oh, the wonder of the patient directness and skill of Jesus Christ with Peter! Our Lord never asks questions until the perfect time. Rarely, but probably once in each of our lives, He will back us into a corner where He will hurt us with His piercing questions. Then we will realize that we do love Him far more deeply than our words can ever say.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

 

 

God Asks, ” Do You Love Me?”

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Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

The Piercing Question

The Piercing Question

Peter’s response to this piercing question is considerably different from the bold defiance he exhibited only a few days before when he declared, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26:35; also see Matthew 26:33-34). Our natural individuality, or our natural self, boldly speaks out and declares its feelings. But the true love within our inner spiritual self can be discovered only by experiencing the hurt of this question of Jesus Christ. Peter loved Jesus in the way any natural man loves a good person. Yet that is nothing but emotional love. It may reach deeply into our natural self, but it never penetrates to the spirit of a person. True love never simply declares itself. Jesus said, “Whoeverconfesses Me before men [that is, confesses his love by everything he does, not merely by his words], him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8).

Unless we are experiencing the hurt of facing every deception about ourselves, we have hindered the work of the Word of God in our lives. The Word of God inflicts hurt on us more than sin ever could, because sin dulls our senses. But this question of the Lord intensifies our sensitivities to the point that this hurt produced by Jesus is the most exquisite pain conceivable. It hurts not only on the natural level, but also on the deeper spiritual level. “For the Word of God is living and powerful…, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit…”— to the point that no deception can remain (Hebrews 4:12). When the Lord asks us this question, it is impossible to think and respond properly, because when the Lord speaks directly to us, the pain is too intense. It causes such a tremendous hurt that any part of our life which may be out of line with His will can feel the pain. There is never any mistaking the pain of the Lord’s Word by His children, but the moment that pain is felt is the very moment at which God reveals His truth to us.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

 

 

Déjà Vu All Over Again

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. —John 21:1

Baseball legend Yogi Berra is known for his oft-repeated quips like, “It ain’t over till it’s over” and “It’s like déjà vu all over again!”

I wonder if the disciples felt déjà vu when they saw Jesus standing by the shore (John 21:1-25). Discouraged and distracted by their own needs in the shadow of Peter’s denial and their desertion of Jesus, they had abandoned their calling to follow Jesus and returned to their previous occupation—fishing.

Then, after a fruitless night of fishing, a voice from the shore called out, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some” (John 21:6). When they did, the nets were so full that they couldn’t be dragged in. No doubt their minds raced back to their first encounter with Jesus—when He showed up on the shore of their careers and, after another miraculous catch of fish, called them to leave their nets and follow Him (Luke 5:1-11).

Like the disciples, we may want to return to our own agendas when we get discouraged in our walk with Jesus. But then Jesus shows up again on the shore of our lives to extend forgiveness and to draw us back to those moments when He first called us.

It’s like déjà vu all over again!

Son of the living God! Oh, call us
Once and again to follow Thee;
And give us strength, whate’er befall us,
Thy true disciples still to be. —Martin

Jesus calls us to follow Him— and repeats His call when necessary.

 

 

 

From: Streams in the Desert
Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked (Eccles. 7:13).

Often God seems to place His children in positions of profound difficulty, leading them into a wedge from which there is no escape; contriving a situation which no human judgment would have permitted, had it been previously consulted. The very cloud conducts them thither. You may be thus involved at this very hour.

It does seem perplexing and very serious to the last degree, but it is perfectly right. The issue will more than justify Him who has brought you hither. It is a platform for the display of His almighty grace and power.

He will not only deliver you; but in doing so, He will give you a lesson that you will never forget, and to which, in many a psalm and song, in after days, you will revert. You will never be able to thank God enough for having done just as He has.
–Selected

We may wait till He explains,
Because we know that Jesus reigns.
It puzzles me; but, Lord, Thou understandest,
And wilt one day explain this crooked thing.
Meanwhile, I know that it has worked out Thy best–
Its very crookedness taught me to cling.
Thou hast fenced up my ways, made my paths crooked,
To keep my wand’ring eyes fixed on Thee;
To make me what I was not, humble, patient;
To draw my heart from earthly love to Thee.
So I will thank and praise Thee for this puzzle,
And trust where I cannot understand.
Rejoicing Thou dost hold me worth such testing,

I cling the closer to Thy guiding hand.
–F.E.M.I.

 

 

Leaning into the Light

From: Our Daily Bread

Leaning into the Light

[He] called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9

One day I received a bouquet of pink tulips. Their heads bobbed on thick stems as I settled them into a vase, which I placed at the center of our kitchen table. The next day, I noticed that the flowers were facing a different direction. The blossoms that once faced upward were now leaning to the side, opening and reaching toward sunlight that streamed in through a nearby window.

In one sense, we all were made to be like those flowers. God has called us to turn to the light of His love. Peter writes of the wonder of being called “out of darkness into [God’s] wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Before we come to know God, we live in the shadows of sin and death, which keep us separated from Him (Eph. 2:1-7). However, because of God’s mercy and love, He made a way for us to escape spiritual darkness through the death and resurrection of His Son (Col. 1:13-14).

Jesus is the Light of the world, and everyone who trusts Him for the forgiveness of sin will receive eternal life. Only as we turn to Him will we increasingly reflect His goodness and truth (Eph. 5:8-9).

May we never forget to lean into the Light.

Joyful, joyful we adore You, God of glory, Lord of love; hearts unfold like flowers before You, opening to the sun above. Henry Van Dyke

Salvation from sin means moving from spiritual darkness to God’s light.

God Still Loves You

Psalm 90

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
    or you brought forth the whole world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust,
    saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
    they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
    but by evening it is dry and withered.

We are consumed by your anger
    and terrified by your indignation.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.
All our days pass away under your wrath;
    we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
    or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
    Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
    that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
    your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor  of the Lord our God rest on us;
    establish the work of our hands for us—
    yes, establish the work of our hands.

 

god is love: 3D Cross made up of various words that describe Christianity and the Cross of Jesus Christ.
god is love: God is love. 1john 4:8, Holy Bible Stock Photo
god is love: Crossword of Love God drawn with colorful chalk on a blackboard Stock Photogod is love: Happy family are dancing at the bright Cross
god is love: 3D God Loves You Button Click Here Block Text over white background

 

February 29, 2016

From: Crosswalk.com

I Still Love You, Lord
TRACIE MILES

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 (NLT)

The last few months have been one of the hardest seasons I’ve ever experienced. A situation in my personal life went haywire and left me with an aching heart.

There have been days when I didn’t know if I could get through. Days when God’s strength and my faith were the only reasons I got out of bed. Days filled with “whys.” Days when I’ve questioned God about suffering, the unfairness of life at times and unanswered prayers. I’ve carried the weight of a myriad of overwhelming emotions, fear and heartache.

If I’m honest, I can’t say I’ve felt thankful for my circumstances or focused on God’s promise of having a plan and a purpose for everything. I can say I have been upset with God at times, questioning His ways and feeling discouraged, fearful and down.

Yet recently in the midst of an especially trying day, my heart was changed during a time of prayer. I heard myself say something that caught me off guard. It was just one simple statement consisting of five simple words that rolled effortlessly off of my lips:

I still love You, Lord.

Even though my mind was swirling with hurt and negative thoughts, my heart was swirling with love for God, even when I wasn’t really thinking about it. I realized I loved Him unconditionally, even though in that moment I had felt forgotten. I experienced a surge of peace and relief, prompting me to trust God’s ways, and then today’s key verse came to mind.

Romans 5:8 reminds us of this beautiful, holy love which is not based on us meeting certain conditions, adhering to strict rules or proving our worthiness. A love we are blessed with simply because of who He is. It’s not because of who we are, but because of what He’s done for us, not because of anything we do for Him. It’s a love we don’t deserve, but enjoy nonetheless.

When life is good, it’s easy and natural to love the Lord. But when life falls apart unexpectedly, it’s not quite so easy. In fact, it might even feel impossible. Those thoughts and doubts don’t make us a bad person or a failure at being a believer; they merely make us human.

The upside is these thoughts can force us to ask ourselves a really hard question: Despite everything — will I still love Jesus with my whole heart, soul and mind?

Our honest answer to this question serves as an indicator of whether we love the Lord all the time, or just in the good times — when He gives, and when He takes away, when He answers our deepest prayers, or when it seems He isn’t listening at all.

Maybe you can relate to the emotions and feelings I’ve been experiencing. Maybe you are facing a difficult time, an undeserved hurt or a painful loss. Maybe you’ve been wondering if God hears your prayers, or if He has forgotten you. Maybe you’ve doubted if He loves you, and if you could still love Him, in the face of your hardships.

Sweet friend, you are not alone.

Even the most faithful followers of Jesus have times when they find themselves doubting not only His love during difficult times, but maybe even His existence. Times when they wonder if His love is meant for them, or just everyone else. The truth is, those thoughts are from the enemy who wants to cloud our minds, make us bitter and pull us away from God. But Scripture tells us God sent His Son to die for us, even though we were still sinners, because He loves us unconditionally.

This brief encounter with God helped me refocus on how blessed I am to have His love, especially when life isn’t perfect.

God’s love is unconditional, with no strings attached. I’m so thankful for His gentle whisper on that particular day which reminded me how important it is to love Him unconditionally in return.

How To Become Rich

From: Get More Strength.org

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. —Luke 12:15

I find it interesting that Jesus taught more about money than anything else. And He wasn’t trying to ratchet up the treasury. As far as we know, He never even asked for an offering. The reason He taught extensively on the subject is that nothing clogs our spiritual arteries more quickly than money—either working to have a lot of it or wishing that we had.

Think of the man who brazenly asked Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13). Amazing! He had an opportunity to “go deep” with Jesus, but instead he wanted deep pockets.

Jesus responded with a stunning, counterintuitive statement: “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). He then went on to tell the parable of a rich man who was wildly successful from a worldly standpoint—having so many crops that he had to keep building bigger barns—but who, in God’s eyes, was actually a “fool.” Not because he was rich, but because he was not rich toward God.

You’ll hear a lot of advice about how to become rich. But only Jesus tells it to us straight. It’s not about the money. It’s about the richness of our relationship with Him and the joy of turning our greed into generosity.

The riches of this world are vain,
They vanish in a day;
But sweet the treasures of God’s love—
They never pass away. —Bosch

Learning how to be rich toward God yields eternal dividends.

 

 

 

What Do You Want The Lord to Do for You?

From: Utmost.org

What Do You Want The Lord to Do for You?

Is there something in your life that not only disturbs you, but makes you a disturbance to others? If so, it is always something you cannot handle yourself. “Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more…” (Luke 18:39). Be persistent with your disturbance until you get face to face with the Lord Himself. Don’t deify common sense. To sit calmly by, instead of creating a disturbance, serves only to deify our common sense. When Jesus asks what we want Him to do for us about the incredible problem that is confronting us, remember that He doesn’t work in commonsense ways, but only in supernatural ways.

Look at how we limit the Lord by only remembering what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past. We say, “I always failed there, and I always will.” Consequently, we don’t ask for what we want. Instead, we think, “It is ridiculous to ask God to do this.” If it is an impossibility, it is the very thing for which we have to ask. If it is not an impossible thing, it is not a real disturbance. And God will do what is absolutely impossible.

This man received his sight. But the most impossible thing for you is to be so closely identified with the Lord that there is literally nothing of your old life remaining. God will do it if you will ask Him. But you have to come to the point of believing Him to be almighty. We find faith by not only believing what Jesus says, but, even more, by trusting Jesus Himself. If we only look at what He says, we will never believe. Once we see Jesus, the impossible things He does in our lives become as natural as breathing. The agony we suffer is only the result of the deliberate shallowness of our own heart. We won’t believe; we won’t let go by severing the line that secures the boat to the shore— we prefer to worry.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

 

 

Lifeblood

From: Our Daily Bread

Lifeblood
Read: Hebrews 9:19-28 | Bible in a Year:

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Hebrews 9:22

Mary Ann believed in God and His Son Jesus, but she struggled with why Jesus had to shed His blood to bring salvation. Who would think of cleansing something with blood? Yet the Bible says, “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood” (Heb. 9:22). That, in Mary Ann’s opinion, was disgusting!

Then one day she had to go to a hospital. A genetic condition had altered her immune system, and doctors became alarmed when the illness started attacking her blood. As she was in the emergency room she thought, If I lose my blood, I will die. But Jesus shed His blood so I can live!

Suddenly everything made sense. In the midst of her pain, Mary Ann felt joy and peace. She understood that blood is life, and a holy life was needed to make peace with God for us. Today she is alive and well, thanking God for her health and for Jesus’ sacrifice on her behalf.

Hebrews 9 explains the meaning of the Old Testament blood ritual (vv. 16-22) and the once and for all offering of Jesus that brought animal sacrifice to an end (vv. 23-26). Bearing our sin, He willingly died and shed His blood to become our sacrifice. We now have confidence to enter God’s presence. How could we ever thank Jesus enough for making His sacrifice our sacrifice, His life our life, and His Father our Father?

Lord, I thank You for Jesus and for the shedding of His blood for me. I want to live my life in gratitude to You.

The blood of Christ washes away our sins.

Believing God Leads To Power

Image result for pictures of belief in godImage result for pictures of belief in god
Image result for pictures of belief in god
Image result for pictures of belief in god
Image result for pictures of belief in god

Faith and belief leads to power

“Do You Now Believe?”

From: Utmost.org

“Now we believe….” But Jesus asks, “Do you…? Indeed the hour is coming…that you…will leave Me alone” (John 16:31-32). Many Christian workers have left Jesus Christ alone and yet tried to serve Him out of a sense of duty, or because they sense a need as a result of their own discernment. The reason for this is actually the absence of the resurrection life of Jesus. Our soul has gotten out of intimate contact with God by leaning on our own religious understanding (see Proverbs 3:5-6). This is not deliberate sin and there is no punishment attached to it. But once a person realizes how he has hindered his understanding of Jesus Christ, and caused uncertainties, sorrows, and difficulties for himself, it is with shame and remorse that he has to return.

We need to rely on the resurrection life of Jesus on a much deeper level than we do now. We should get in the habit of continually seeking His counsel on everything, instead of making our own commonsense decisions and then asking Him to bless them. He cannot bless them; it is not in His realm to do so, and those decisions are severed from reality. If we do something simply out of a sense of duty, we are trying to live up to a standard that competes with Jesus Christ. We become a prideful, arrogant person, thinking we know what to do in every situation. We have put our sense of duty on the throne of our life, instead of enthroning the resurrection life of Jesus. We are not told to “walk in the light” of our conscience or in the light of a sense of duty, but to “walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7). When we do something out of a sense of duty, it is easy to explain the reasons for our actions to others. But when we do something out of obedience to the Lord, there can be no other explanation— just obedience. That is why a saint can be so easily ridiculed and misunderstood.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

 

How To Become Rich

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. —Luke 12:15

I find it interesting that Jesus taught more about money than anything else. And He wasn’t trying to ratchet up the treasury. As far as we know, He never even asked for an offering. The reason He taught extensively on the subject is that nothing clogs our spiritual arteries more quickly than money—either working to have a lot of it or wishing that we had.

Think of the man who brazenly asked Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13). Amazing! He had an opportunity to “go deep” with Jesus, but instead he wanted deep pockets.

Jesus responded with a stunning, counterintuitive statement: “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). He then went on to tell the parable of a rich man who was wildly successful from a worldly standpoint—having so many crops that he had to keep building bigger barns—but who, in God’s eyes, was actually a “fool.” Not because he was rich, but because he was not rich toward God.

You’ll hear a lot of advice about how to become rich. But only Jesus tells it to us straight. It’s not about the money. It’s about the richness of our relationship with Him and the joy of turning our greed into generosity.

The riches of this world are vain,
They vanish in a day;
But sweet the treasures of God’s love—
They never pass away. —Bosch

Learning how to be rich toward God yields eternal dividends.

 

 

From: Streams in the Desert
Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually (Heb. 13:15).

A city missionary, stumbling through the dirt of a dark entry, heard a voice say, “Who’s there, Honey?” Striking a match, he caught a vision of earthly want and suffering, of saintly trust and peace, “cut in ebony”–calm, appealing eyes set amid the wrinkles of a pinched, black face that lay on a tattered bed. It was a bitter night in February, and she had no fire, no fuel, no light. She had had no supper, no dinner, no breakfast. She seemed to have nothing at all but rheumatism and faith in God. One could not well be more completely exiled from all pleasantness of circumstances, yet the favorite song of this old creature ran:

Nobody knows de trouble I see,
Nobody knows but Jesus;
Nobody knows de trouble I see–
Sing Glory Hallelu!

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,
Sometimes I’m level on the groun’,
Sometimes the glory shines aroun’
Sing Glory Hallelu!

And so it went on: “Nobody knows de work I does, Nobody knows de griefs I has,” the constant refrain being the “Glory Hallelu!” until the last verse rose:

Nobody knows de joys I has,
Nobody knows but Jesus!

“Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” It takes great Bible words to tell the cheer of that old negro auntie.

Remember Luther on his sick-bed. Between his groans he managed to preach on this wise: “These pains and trouble here are like the type which the printers set; as they look now, we have to read them backwards, and they seem to have no sense or meaning in them; but up yonder, when the Lord God prints us off in the life to come, we shall find they make brave reading.” Only we do not need to wait till then.

Remember Paul walking the hurricane deck amid a boiling sea, bidding the frightened crew “Be of good cheer,” Luther, the old negro auntie–all of them human sun-flowers.
–Wm. G. Garnett

 

 

Growing Up

From: Our Daily Bread

Growing Up

From him the whole body . . . grows and builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:16

Watching my young grandson and his friends play T-Ball is entertaining. In this version of baseball, young players often run to the wrong base or don’t know what to do with the ball if they happen to catch it.  If we were watching a professional baseball game, these mistakes would not be so funny.

It’s all a matter of maturity.

It’s okay for young athletes to struggle—not knowing what to do or not getting everything exactly right. They are trying and learning. So we coach them and patiently guide them toward maturity. Then we celebrate their success as later they play with skill as a team.

Something similar happens in the life of those who follow Jesus. Paul pointed out that the church needs people who will “be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2). And we need a variety of “coaches” (pastors, teachers, spiritual mentors) to help us all move toward “unity in the faith” as we strive to “become mature” (v. 13).

The goal as we listen to preaching and teaching and enjoy life together in the church is to grow up to maturity in Christ (v. 15). Each of us is on this journey, and we can encourage each other on the road to maturity in Jesus.

Lord, help me to strive for maturity. Thank You for equipping the church with men and women who can help me grow in my faith. Show me who I can encourage today.

There’s joy in the journey as we walk alongside each other.