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The Lord Watches Over Us

Psalm 34:15

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry.

 

I am righteous and holy.
“And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24

I have been born again by the Holy Spirit:
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. John 3:3-6

Psalm 89

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
    with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
    through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
    that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
    and make your throne firm through all generations.’”[c]

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
    your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with theLord?
    Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
    he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
    You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

Image result for pictures of people taking notice  Taking Notice
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Psalm 34:15

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry.

 

Taking Notice

From: Our Daily Bread

Taking Notice

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”

Job 38:4

When I clean my house for a special event, I become discouraged because I think that guests won’t notice what I clean, only what I don’t clean. This brings to mind a larger philosophical and spiritual question: Why do humans more quickly see what’s wrong than what’s right? We are more likely to remember rudeness than kindness. Crimes seem to receive more attention than acts of generosity. And disasters grab our attention more quickly than the profound beauty all around us.

But then I realize I am the same way with God. I tend to focus on what He hasn’t done rather than on what He has, on what I don’t have rather than on what I have, on the situations that He has not yet resolved rather than on the many He has.

When I read the book of Job, I am reminded that the Lord doesn’t like this any more than I do. After years of experiencing prosperity, Job suffered a series of disasters. Suddenly those became the focus of his life and conversations. Finally, God intervened and asked Job some hard questions, reminding him of His sovereignty and of everything Job didn’t know and hadn’t seen (Job 38–40).

Whenever I start focusing on the negative, I hope I remember to stop, consider the life of Job, and take notice of all the wonders God has done and continues to do.

When you think of all that’s good, give thanks to God.

The Best Story Ever Told

From: Get More Strength.org

“My purpose is that they . . . may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” Colossians 2:2-3

It’s not uncommon for blockbuster movies today to be followed by a sequel and even a “three-quel.” The film industry has discovered that we like to revisit certain stories. We want to know more about the characters and want to see what happens next.

George Lucas, years after completing his original Star Wars trilogy, took it one step further by producing three “prequels” to look at how the characters and story lines developed. And fans around the world were thrilled to learn more.

As followers of Jesus, however, we have the ultimate story—a real story—provided to us through the truth of Scripture and focused around the person of Jesus. And when our hearts have been awakened to the reality of His grace, we begin to explore Scripture looking for glimpses of who He is and what He has done. We track through the Gospels, amazed and thrilled at His insight and His character. Our hearts are pierced by His words as they cut directly to the core of who we are. We follow Him to the end of each gospel and weep as He is beaten and crucified, realizing the immense cost of our sin and shame. And then our spirits soar with the news that He is risen and has returned to heaven, where He prepares a place for us as His followers and promises to come back for us. But the story doesn’t end there.

We dive into the pages of Acts, exploring the action-packed sequel as we see the Holy Spirit equipping and energizing Christ’s followers to turn the world upside down through the message of the gospel. The pages resonate with the drama of characters who struggle, face incredible trials, and persevere because of their devotion to their compelling Savior. We trace their stories through the epistles, which clarify and explain the nature of this new entity, the church. But even that is not the whole story.

We could go back to the ultimate “prequel”—the Old Testament, where we see the vivid roots of our sin problem in Adam and Eve and yet, even in the midst of that sin, the seeds of grace sown by our God. The seeds of grace grow and flourish through God’s promises to men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. The drama heightens through the personification of God’s love relationship with His people Israel, who continually turn away from the only One who loves them completely. Through each page, we see the promise of Jesus as the hope of God’s people—prophesied and longed for, and pictured through the sacrifices prescribed in God’s law. But still, there’s more to the story.

In Colossians 2:2-5, Paul’s prayer for God’s people is that all of his efforts on behalf of the Colossian church would be focused toward one goal: helping them to know Jesus better. He reminds them—and us—that in Jesus are hidden “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” In other words, the more we know Him, the more we will yearn to know even more. There will always be more to the story, and we will never tire of the characters.

Yet the ultimate story is in the unfolding drama of a Savior who is so deep and wonderful that you never tire of getting to know Him.

 

 

From: Streams in the Desert

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

Left alone! What different sensations those words conjure up to each of us. To some they spell loneliness and desolation, to others rest and quiet. To be left alone without God, would be too awful for words, but to be left alone with Him is a foretaste of Heaven! If His followers spent more time alone with Him, we should have spiritual giants again.

The Master set us an example. Note how often He went to be alone with God; and He had a mighty purpose behind the command, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray.”

The greatest miracles of Elijah and Elisha took place when they were alone with God. It was alone with God that Jacob became a prince; and just there that we, too, may become princes–“men (aye, and women too!) wondered at” (Zech. 3:8). Joshua was alone when the Lord came to him. (Josh. 1:1) Gideon and Jephthah were by themselves when commissioned to save Israel. (Judges 6:11 and 11:29) Moses was by himself at the wilderness bush. (Exodus 3:1-5) Cornelius was praying by himself when the angel came to him. (Acts 10:2) No one was with Peter on the house top, when he was instructed to go to the Gentiles. (Acts 10:9) John the Baptist was alone in the wilderness (Luke 1:90), and John the Beloved alone in Patmos, when nearest God. (Rev. 1:9)

Covet to get alone with God. If we neglect it, we not only rob ourselves, but others too, of blessing, since when we are blessed we are able to pass on blessing to others. It may mean less outside work; it must mean more depth and power, and the consequence, too, will be “they saw no man save Jesus only.”

To be alone with God in prayer cannot be over-emphasized.

If chosen men had never been alone,
In deepest silence open-doored to God,
No greatness ever had been dreamed or done.

 

 

The Impoverished Ministry of Jesus

The Impoverished Ministry of Jesus

“The well is deep” — and even a great deal deeper than the Samaritan woman knew! (John 4:11). Think of the depths of human nature and human life; think of the depth of the “wells” in you. Have you been limiting, or impoverishing, the ministry of Jesus to the point that He is unable to work in your life? Suppose that you have a deep “well” of hurt and trouble inside your heart, and Jesus comes and says to you, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1). Would your response be to shrug your shoulders and say, “But, Lord, the well is too deep, and even You can’t draw up quietness and comfort out of it.” Actually, that is correct. Jesus doesn’t bring anything up from the wells of human nature— He brings them down from above. We limit the Holy One of Israel by remembering only what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past, and also by saying, “Of course, I cannot expect God to do this particular thing.” The thing that approaches the very limits of His power is the very thing we as disciples of Jesus ought to believe He will do. We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty. The impoverishment is in us, not in Him. We will come to Jesus for Him to be our comforter or our sympathizer, but we refrain from approaching Him as our Almighty God.

The reason some of us are such poor examples of Christianity is that we have failed to recognize that Christ is almighty. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment or surrender to Jesus Christ. When we get into difficult circumstances, we impoverish His ministry by saying, “Of course, He can’t do anything about this.” We struggle to reach the bottom of our own well, trying to get water for ourselves. Beware of sitting back, and saying, “It can’t be done.” You will know it can be done if you will look to Jesus. The well of your incompleteness runs deep, but make the effort to look away from yourself and to look toward Him.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Jesus Is Full Of Grace

14   The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth

 

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Psalm 88

Lord, you are the God who saves me;
    day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
    turn your ear to my cry.

I am overwhelmed with troubles
    and my life draws near to death.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am like one without strength.
I am set apart with the dead,
    like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
    who are cut off from your care.

You have put me in the lowest pit,
    in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily on me;
    you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.[d]
You have taken from me my closest friends
    and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
    my eyes are dim with grief.

I call to you, Lord, every day;
    I spread out my hands to you.

God Gives You Grace To Survive

From: Steams in the Desert

But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. (2 Cor 12:9)
The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day’s work. I felt very wearied, and sore depressed, when swiftly, and suddenly as a lightning flash, that text came to me, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” I reached home and looked it up in the original, and at last it came to me in this way, “MY grace is sufficient for thee”; and I said, “I should think it is, Lord,” and burst out laughing. I never fully understood what the holy laughter of Abraham was until then. It seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was as though some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry, and Father Thames said, “Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for thee.” Or, it seemed after the seven years of plenty, a mouse feared it might die of famine; and Joseph might say, “Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee.” Again, I imagined a man away up yonder, in a lofty mountain, saying to himself, “I breathe so many cubic feet of air every year, I fear I shall exhaust the oxygen in the atmosphere,” but the earth might say, “Breathe away, O man, and fill the lungs ever, my atmosphere is sufficient for thee.” Oh, brethren, be great believers! Little faith will bring your souls to Heaven, but great faith will bring Heaven to your souls.
—C. H. Spurgeon
His grace is great enough to meet the great things
The crashing waves that overwhelm the soul,
The roaring winds that leave us stunned and breathless,
The sudden storm beyond our life’s control.
His grace is great enough to meet the small things
The little pin-prick troubles that annoy,
The insect worries, buzzing and persistent,
The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy.
—Annie Johnson Flint
There is always a large balance to our credit in the bank of Heaven waiting for our exercise of faith in drawing it. Draw heavily upon His resources.

 

Hitting the Rapids

From: Get More Strength.org

“Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7

I’ll never forget my first white-water rafting experience. The guide made me wear a dorky helmet and a life jacket that was anything but flattering. Thankfully, my sagging self-image was rescued by the thought that if I didn’t put the stuff on, my life might be in jeopardy. Braced for the worst, I got in the raft, only to discover that life on the river was far more pleasant than I had imagined. The water moved smoothly through the meadows. The birds were in full song and the flowers on the banks added color to the already beautiful day. Not to worry!

But then I heard something around the bend. What was that noise? And what was that mist that rose from the water? As we turned the corner, my heart picked up speed as the approaching white water pounded the jagged rocks that we were about to navigate.

Life is a lot like river rafting—inevitably you hit the white water! No one is exempt. In the midst of his misery, Job declared that “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). In fact, there are only three kinds of people: Those who are headed for the white water and don’t know it yet, those who are in it, and those who have made it through. So the issue is not, will you hit the rapids? You will. The issue is, are you ready to navigate them successfully? And that is where you as a follower of Jesus have a distinct advantage.

First of all, you are not alone in the raft. The “I-will-never-leave-you-nor-forsake-you-Jesus” is at the back of the raft with His hands on the rudder. And, by the way, He has been through this white water before. Having been tested in every white water of life, He welcomes you to come to Him in complete confidence for grace and mercy in your time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Second, the trouble is intended to make you better, not bitter. To make you, not break you. Stop fighting the rapids—you can’t beat them! Surrender to the intention of Christ to use the trouble to expose you to your weaknesses and to develop faith and character so that you will be increasingly capable and useful in the days ahead (James 1:2-4).

Third, if you don’t know what to do or how to respond, don’t trust your instincts. As fallen people, our first instincts are usually wrong. He promises to give you the wisdom you need to navigate the turmoil successfully. There isn’t a situation in life that doesn’t have a point of reference in the Bible. Knowing what to do begins with knowing where to go for advice—to God’s Word. Protective and productive wisdom is as close as your Bible. Prayer is a source of wisdom as well, as we take the time to ask God for what we need (James 1:5). Staying in the throne room long enough for God to speak to our trouble through His Spirit often brings to mind something about the ways and will of God that helps us to know exactly how to respond. One thing is for sure: Don’t do anything until you know the right response.

When life has you in the white-knuckle zone, as it inevitably will, know that He’s in the raft with you. Take your clues from Him. He’s been down the river before.

 

 

How to Grow Old

From: Our Daily Bread

How to Grow Old

I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Isaiah 46:4

“How are you today, Mama?” I asked casually. My 84-year-old friend, pointing to aches and pains in her joints, whispered, “Old age is tough!” Then she added earnestly, “But God has been good to me.”

“Growing old has been the greatest surprise of my life,” says Billy Graham in his book Nearing Home. “I am an old man now, and believe me, it’s not easy.” However, Graham notes, “While the Bible doesn’t gloss over the problems we face as we grow older, neither does it paint old age as a time to be despised or a burden to be endured with gritted teeth.” He then mentions some of the questions he has been forced to deal with as he has aged, such as, “How can we not only learn to cope with the fears and struggles and growing limitations we face but also actually grow stronger inwardly in the midst of these difficulties?”

In Isaiah 46 we have God’s assurance: “Even to your old age and gray hairs . . . I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (v. 4).

We don’t know how many years we will live on this earth or what we might face as we age. But one thing is certain: God will care for us throughout our life.

Lord, please teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (See Psalm 90:12)

Don’t be afraid to grow old; God goes with you!

 

 

 

Our Misgivings About Jesus

From: Utmost.org

Our Misgivings About Jesus

Have you ever said to yourself, “I am impressed with the wonderful truths of God’s Word, but He can’t really expect me to live up to that and work all those details into my life!” When it comes to confronting Jesus Christ on the basis of His qualities and abilities, our attitudes reflect religious superiority. We think His ideals are lofty and they impress us, but we believe He is not in touch with reality— that what He says cannot actually be done. Each of us thinks this about Jesus in one area of our life or another. These doubts or misgivings about Jesus begin as we consider questions that divert our focus away from God. While we talk of our dealings with Him, others ask us, “Where are you going to get enough money to live? How will you live and who will take care of you?” Or our misgivings begin within ourselves when we tell Jesus that our circumstances are just a little too difficult for Him. We say, “It’s easy to say, ‘Trust in the Lord,’ but a person has to live; and besides, Jesus has nothing with which to draw water— no means to be able to give us these things.” And beware of exhibiting religious deceit by saying, “Oh, I have no misgivings about Jesus, only misgivings about myself.” If we are honest, we will admit that we never have misgivings or doubts about ourselves, because we know exactly what we are capable or incapable of doing. But we do have misgivings about Jesus. And our pride is hurt even at the thought that He can do what we can’t.

My misgivings arise from the fact that I search within to find how He will do what He says. My doubts spring from the depths of my own inferiority. If I detect these misgivings in myself, I should bring them into the light and confess them openly— “Lord, I have had misgivings about You. I have not believed in Your abilities, but only my own. And I have not believed in Your almighty power apart from my finite understanding of it.”

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Partnership With God

 

“because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, ”     Philippians 1:5
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Psalm 87

He has founded his city on the holy mountain.
The Lord loves the gates of Zion
    more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.

Glorious things are said of you,
    city of God:[a]
“I will record Rahab[b] and Babylon
    among those who acknowledge me—
Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush[c]
    and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’”[d]
Indeed, of Zion it will be said,
    “This one and that one were born in her,
    and the Most High himself will establish her.”
The Lord will write in the register of the peoples:
    “This one was born in Zion.”

As they make music they will sing,
    “All my fountains are in you.”

Providential Partnership

From: Get More Strength.org

“So Boaz said to Ruth, ‘My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls.’” Ruth 2:8

Dads love it when their kids ask, “Can I help?” Even though the job may be too complex, they welcome the chance to let their kids take part in the project.

I can’t help but wonder if it’s like that with God. His work is so far beyond our capabilities; yet, like Monet painting a masterpiece and then handing the brush to a protégé, God wants to combine His sovereign providence with human initiative. He loves it when we want to be involved in His work!

Of course, God is completely sovereign. He is totally in charge of everything—always. Nobody ever checks His hand. As the God of providence, He is moving all of history toward a grand and glorious end to fulfill His divine plan. And, believe it or not, He often uses people in the process. This is where you and I come in. Every day we have a chance to get involved in what God is doing. His providence goes hand in hand with our obedience to Him in every circumstance of our lives.

The story of Ruth and Boaz is a great example of how God uses people to accomplish His plan. Notice that we don’t read: “God provided Boaz to rescue Ruth and Naomi from their plight.” It’s not spelled out for us quite like that, and what God was doing certainly wasn’t obvious to them at the time. But we know the end of the story. We can see that God’s hidden hand was working behind the scenes in Boaz’s choice to help Ruth in her time of need (Ruth 2:8). Boaz, by his righteous and compassionate actions, unknowingly struck a providential partnership that would ultimately fulfill God’s plan to place Ruth in the lineage of Jesus, the ultimate “kinsman redeemer.”

So don’t expect God’s providence to strike you with a flash of lightning. But count on it: He’s at work in your life even when you’re not aware of it. And He’s waiting for you to live by His will and His ways so that He can partner with you to good and glorious ends! How about it? Are you ready for providential partnership? What an honor!

 

 

From: Streams in the Desert

I am handing over to you every place you set foot, as I promised Moses. (Josh 1:3)
Beside the literal ground, unoccupied for Christ, there is the unclaimed, untrodden territory of Divine promises. What did God say to Joshua? “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you,” and then He draws the outlines of the Land of Promise—all theirs on one condition: that they shall march through the length and breadth of it, and measure it off with their own feet.
They never did that to more than one-third of the property, and consequently they never had more than one-third; they had just what they measured off, and no more.
In 2 Peter, we read of the “land of promise” that is opened up to us, and it is God’s will that we should, as it were, measure off that territory by the feet of obedient faith and believing obedience, thus claiming and appropriating it for our own.
How many of us have ever taken possession of the promises of God in the name of Christ?
Here is a magnificent territory for faith to lay hold on and march through the length and breadth of, and faith has never done it yet.
Let us enter into all our inheritance. Let us lift up our eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, and hear Him say, “All the land that thou seest will I give to thee.”
—A. T. Pierson
Wherever Judah should set his foot that should be his; wherever Benjamin should set his foot, that should be his. Each should get his inheritance by setting his foot upon it. Now, think you not, when either had set his foot upon a given territory, he did not instantly and instinctively feel, “This is mine”?
An old colored man, who had a marvelous experience in grace, was asked: “Daniel, why is it that you have so much peace and joy in religion?” “O Massa!” he replied, “I just fall flat on the exceeding great and precious promises, and I have all that is in them. Glory! Glory!” He who falls flat on the promises feels that all the riches embraced in them are his.
—Faith Papers
The Marquis of Salisbury was criticized for his Colonial policies and replied: “Gentlemen, get larger maps.”

The Destitution of Service

From: Utmost.org

The Destitution of Service

Natural human love expects something in return. But Paul is saying, “It doesn’t really matter to me whether you love me or not. I am willing to be completely destitute anyway; willing to be poverty-stricken, not just for your sakes, but also that I may be able to get you to God.” “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor…” (2 Corinthians 8:9). And Paul’s idea of service was the same as our Lord’s. He did not care how high the cost was to himself— he would gladly pay it. It was a joyful thing to Paul.

The institutional church’s idea of a servant of God is not at all like Jesus Christ’s idea. His idea is that we serve Him by being the servants of others. Jesus Christ actually “out-socialized” the socialists. He said that in His kingdom the greatest one would be the servant of all (see Matthew 23:11). The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet— that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God. It was Paul’s delight to spend his life for God’s interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost. But before we will serve, we stop to ponder our personal and financial concerns— “What if God wants me to go over there? And what about my salary? What is the climate like there? Who will take care of me? A person must consider all these things.” All that is an indication that we have reservations about serving God. But the apostle Paul had no conditions or reservations. Paul focused his life on Jesus Christ’s idea of a New Testament saint; that is, not one who merely proclaims the gospel, but one who becomes broken bread and poured-out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for the sake of others.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

 

 

Go Fever

From: Our Daily Bread

Go Fever

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

Psalm 37:7

On January 28, 1986, after five weather-related delays, the space shuttle Challenger lumbered heavenward amid a thunderous overture of noise and flame. A mere 73 seconds later, system failure tore the shuttle apart, and all seven crewmembers perished.

The disaster was attributed to an O-ring seal known to have vulnerabilities. Insiders referred to the fatal mistake as “go fever”—the tendency to ignore vital precautions in the rush to a grand goal.

Our ambitious human nature relentlessly tempts us to make ill-advised choices. Yet we are also prone to a fear that can make us overly cautious. The ancient Israelites demonstrated both traits. When the 12 scouts returned from spying out the Promised Land, 10 of the 12 saw only the obstacles (Num. 13:26-33). “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are,” they said (v. 31). After a fearful rebellion against the Lord that led to the death of the 10 spies, the people suddenly developed a case of “go fever.” They said, “Now we are ready to go up to the land the Lord promised” (14:40). Without God, the ill-timed invasion failed miserably (vv. 41-45).

When we take our eyes off the Lord, we’ll slide into one of two extremes. We’ll impatiently rush ahead without Him, or we’ll cower and complain in fear. Focusing on Him brings courage tempered with His wisdom.

Before making a quick decision, consider why you want to make it quickly. Consider if it will honor God and what it might cost others. If you are afraid to make a decision, think about why that might be. Most of all, pray!

A moment of patience can prevent a great disaster.

The Power Of The Holy Spirit

 

What can you do with the Holy Spirit empowering you?  Remember what Moses did by the power of God? You can do great works also.  All you have to do is have faith.

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Psalm 85

You, Lord, showed favor to your land;
    you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
    and covered all their sins.[b]
You set aside all your wrath
    and turned from your fierce anger.

Restore us again, God our Savior,
    and put away your displeasure toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever?
    Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
    that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, Lord,
    and grant us your salvation.

The Forward Look

From: Our Daily Bread

The Forward Look
Read: Luke 2:21-35 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 9–11; Mark 5:1-20

Simeon . . . was righteous and devout . . . and the Holy Spirit was on him.

Luke 2:25

When the great Dutch painter Rembrandt died unexpectedly at age 63, an unfinished painting was found on his easel. It focuses on Simeon’s emotion in holding the baby Jesus when He was brought to the temple in Jerusalem, 40 days after His birth. Yet the background and normal detail remain unfinished. Some art experts believe that Rembrandt knew the end of his life was near and—like Simeon—was ready to “be dismissed” (Luke 2:29).

The Holy Spirit was upon Simeon (v. 25), so it was no coincidence that he was in the temple when Mary and Joseph presented their firstborn son to God. Simeon, who had been looking for the promised Messiah, took the baby in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (vv. 29-32).

Simeon was not longing for the glory days of Israel’s history, but was looking ahead for the promised Messiah, who would come to redeem all nations.

Like Simeon, we can have an expectant, forward look in life because we know that one day we will see the Lord.

Father, may we, like Simeon, be always looking ahead for the appearing of Jesus our Lord.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20

 

 

Reversing the Flow

From: Get more Strength.org

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. . . . Streams of living water will flow from within him” John 7:37-38

Chicago is a world-class city. It’s known for its great pizza, architecture, symphony, sports teams, and lakefront setting. I love Chicago! If you were to visit Chicago, you’d see the beautiful Chicago River winding its way through the towering skyscrapers. The river adds a calming dynamic to the noisy rush of the city. But if you lived in Chicago in the late 1800s, you wouldn’t have been happy to have this river in your town. The people were plagued by it—literally.

A poorly-designed sewage system dumped the raw sewage from the city into the river. The river in turn carried the sewage into Lake Michigan. Since the city drew its water from the lake, the pollution from the river contaminated the city’s drinking water, which resulted in deadly outbreaks of cholera, typhoid fever, and dysentery. So, in desperate need of a remedy, someone had the brilliant idea to reverse the flow of the river. If they could pull the project off, the power of the water from the deep blue lake would wash the sewage away from the city and the lake would be purified to provide safe drinking water. After great effort and expense, engineers succeeded in their plan to reverse the flow of the Chicago River. Reversing the flow of the river made Chicago a better city to live in and blessed it with the presence of a clean, beautiful river.

The river problem in Chicago reminds me that I need to be careful about where I get my drinking water. Not literal drinking water, but the water that offers to satisfy the thirst of my passions and needs. Satan shamelessly dumps his sewage into the river of our desires and then welcomes us to drink. And when we drink, the damage begins to do its work in terms of guilt, regret, shame, and brokenness. But God has a better idea! Instead of the downward cycle of taking in the contaminated pseudo-thirst-quenching offerings of our world, He offers us the water of His pure, satisfying presence and wisdom every day in limitless supply.

For too long we have lived with the water of our own desires and passions flowing the wrong way. When everything flows toward self, our own happiness, the satisfaction of lusts, and personal pleasure, we dump a lot of contaminants into our churches, families, and friendships. God paid a high price to reverse the flow when Jesus died to change the direction of our lives.

Reversing the flow begins when we open the floodgates of our hearts and surrender to the flow of God’s wisdom and will into every area of our existence. We’ll know it’s flowing the right way when the water quality of our lives matches the pure quality of the source.

And, it’s not just about us. Getting the flow right means that the massive energy and supply of God’s love for others, His selfless acts of forgiveness and mercy, His care for the needy and poor, His willingness to go the extra mile, and His willingness to surrender Himself for the good of others will flow through us and bless all who live downstream.

Letting God do His work to reverse the flow of your life will give you a healthier existence and bless everyone around you with the beauty and strength of His presence flowing through you.

 

 

 

The Delight of Sacrifice

From: Utmost.org

The Delight of Sacrifice

Once “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,” we deliberately begin to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests and purposes in others’ lives (Romans 5:5). And Jesus has an interest in every individual person. We have no right in Christian service to be guided by our own interests and desires. In fact, this is one of the greatest tests of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The delight of sacrifice is that I lay down my life for my Friend, Jesus (see John 15:13). I don’t throw my life away, but I willingly and deliberately lay it down for Him and His interests in other people. And I do this for no cause or purpose of my own. Paul spent his life for only one purpose— that he might win people to Jesus Christ. Paul always attracted people to his Lord, but never to himself. He said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

When someone thinks that to develop a holy life he must always be alone with God, he is no longer of any use to others. This is like putting himself on a pedestal and isolating himself from the rest of society. Paul was a holy person, but wherever he went Jesus Christ was always allowed to help Himself to his life. Many of us are interested only in our own goals, and Jesus cannot help Himself to our lives. But if we are totally surrendered to Him, we have no goals of our own to serve. Paul said that he knew how to be a “doormat” without resenting it, because the motivation of his life was devotion to Jesus. We tend to be devoted, not to Jesus Christ, but to the things which allow us more spiritual freedom than total surrender to Him would allow. Freedom was not Paul’s motive at all. In fact, he stated, “I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren…” (Romans 9:3). Had Paul lost his ability to reason? Not at all! For someone who is in love, this is not an overstatement. And Paul was in love with Jesus Christ.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Our Only Hope Is Jesus

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one
comes to the Father except through me.   John 14: 6
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Psalm 85

You, Lord, showed favor to your land;
    you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
    and covered all their sins.[b]
You set aside all your wrath
    and turned from your fierce anger.

Restore us again, God our Savior,
    and put away your displeasure toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever?
    Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
    that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, Lord,
    and grant us your salvation.

I will listen to what God the Lord says;
    he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
    but let them not turn to folly.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
    that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
    righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
    and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The Lord will indeed give what is good,
    and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him
    and prepares the way for his steps.

My Only Hope

From: Get more Strength.org

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” Psalm 51:1

Any Star Wars fans out there? Remember the opening scenes of the first movie that begin with a laser battle between a little spaceship (the good guys) and this huge, ominous Imperial Star Destroyer—you guessed it, the bad guys. The camera cuts to the inside of the ship and we see Princess Leia and her loyal fighters quickly overpowered by Darth Vader and his minions. The situation is dire and our heroine has time only to pass a message on to her faithful robot R2D2, who is then jettisoned to safety on a nearby planet along with his uptight buddy C3PO.

The droids end up in the care of Luke Skywalker, who discovers Leia’s message. R2D2 projects an image of the princess pleading, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope!” The message is repeated over and over: “Help me . . . you’re my only hope!”

That simple little phrase encapsulates David’s plea in the first verse of Psalm 51. After fighting a year-long battle against the forces of darkness in his own heart, he had reached a point of desperation. Finally, he admitted that he could not overcome the guilt of his sin by his own cleverness, charm, or position. Nor could his inner turmoil be quieted by a clever spin from a PR department. In the face of the mess he had made of his life—adultery, deception, murder—he was left with only one hope: a plea for mercy from God who held all the cards regarding David’s cleansing.

I have to tell you, whether it’s the overwhelming force of life’s struggles or the guilt of our sin, our only hope is that God in His mercy will forgive and deliver us. As David writes in Psalm 42:11, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? . . . Put your hope in God!”

The good news for David—and for those of us who need to come to this same tipping point in our walk with Christ—is that our hope is never misplaced when we place it entirely and completely in God. And our confidence in His willingness to bestow delivering mercy is grounded, as David said, in the fact that God is a God of unfailing love and great compassion. We don’t need more meds or self-help positive spins on life when we are beyond ourselves. We need God! David said it best when he penned the words of Psalm 25:3, “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.”

In the midst of the turmoil of life and in the mire of our own sin, one simple prayer offers us the promise of rescue and deliverance. “Help me, Lord Jesus. You’re my only hope!”

 

 

From: Streams in the Desert

And there came a lion (1 Samuel 17:34).
It is a source of inspiration and strength to come in touch with the youthful David, trusting God. Through faith in God he conquered a lion and a bear, and afterwards overthrew the mighty Goliath. When that lion came to despoil that flock, it came as a wondrous opportunity to David. If he had failed or faltered he would have missed God’s opportunity for him and probably would never have come to be God’s chosen king of Israel.
“And there came a lion.” One would not think that a lion was a special blessing from God; one would think that only an occasion of alarm. The lion was God’s opportunity in disguise. Every difficulty that presents itself to us, if we receive it in the right way, is God’s opportunity. Every temptation that comes is God’s opportunity.
When the “lion” comes, recognize it as God’s opportunity no matter how rough the exterior. The very tabernacle of God was covered with badgers’ skins and goats’ hair; one would not think there would be any glory there. The Shekinah of God was manifest under that kind of covering. May God open our eyes to see Him, whether in temptations, trials, dangers, or misfortunes.
–C. H. P.

 

 

 

A Better View

From: Our Daily Bread

A Better View
Read: Luke 19:1-10 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 7–8; Mark 4:21-41

Because he was short he could not see over the crowd.

Luke 19:3

As a child, I loved to climb trees. The higher I climbed, the more I could see. Occasionally, in search of a better view, I might inch out along a branch until I felt it bend under my weight. Not surprisingly, my tree-climbing days are over. I suppose it isn’t very safe—or dignified.

Zacchaeus, a wealthy man, set aside his dignity (and perhaps ignored his safety) when he climbed a tree one day in Jericho. Jesus was traveling through the city, and Zacchaeus wanted to get a look at Him. However, “because he was short he could not see over the crowd” (Luke 19:3). Fortunately, those things did not stop him from seeing and even talking with Christ. Zacchaeus’s plan worked! And when he met Jesus, his life was changed forever. “Salvation has come to this house,” Jesus said (v. 9).

We too can be prevented from seeing Jesus. Pride can blind us from seeing Him as the Wonderful Counselor. Anxiety keeps us from knowing Him as the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). Hunger for status and stuff can prevent us from seeing Him as the true source of satisfaction—the Bread of Life (John 6:48).

What are you willing to do to get a better view of Jesus? Any sincere effort to get closer to Him will have a good result. God rewards people who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

Thank You Jesus for all that You are. Show me more of Yourself as I read the Bible and pray. Help me to pursue You with all of my heart and mind.

To strengthen your faith in God, seek the face of God.

 

 

The Determination to Serve

From: Utmost.org

The Determination to Serve

Jesus also said, “Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27). Paul’s idea of service was the same as our Lord’s— “…ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). We somehow have the idea that a person called to the ministry is called to be different and above other people. But according to Jesus Christ, he is called to be a “doormat” for others— called to be their spiritual leader, but never their superior. Paul said, “I know how to be abased…” (Philippians 4:12). Paul’s idea of service was to pour his life out to the last drop for others. And whether he received praise or blame made no difference. As long as there was one human being who did not know Jesus, Paul felt a debt of service to that person until he did come to know Him. But the chief motivation behind Paul’s service was not love for others but love for his Lord. If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people. But if we are motivated by our love for God, no amount of ingratitude will be able to hinder us from serving one another.

Paul’s understanding of how Christ had dealt with him is the secret behind his determination to serve others. “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man…” (1 Timothy 1:13). In other words, no matter how badly others may have treated Paul, they could never have treated him with the same degree of spite and hatred with which he had treated Jesus Christ. Once we realize that Jesus has served us even to the depths of our meagerness, our selfishness, and our sin, nothing we encounter from others will be able to exhaust our determination to serve others for His sake.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Trust God Who Loves You

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.     Jeremiah 17:7
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Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.[c]

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.[d]
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
    listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield,[e] O God;
    look with favor on your anointed one.

10 Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.

Royalty Recognized

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, . . . [and] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. —Philippians 2:10-11

As a kid, I loved watching the film Little Lord Fauntleroy. The story focuses on Cedric, a boy growing up in a poor home with his mother in Brooklyn. He discovers the stunning news that he is actually the direct descendant of the Earl of Dorincourt and the heir of a vast fortune. One day he’s a nobody playing “kick the can” on the streets of New York, and then suddenly he’s traveling through an English town to the cries of “Your lordship!” from adoring villagers.

If you had seen Jesus playing in the streets of Nazareth as a boy, you wouldn’t have taken any special notice of Him (except that He probably wasn’t playing “kick the can”). If you had seen Him in the carpentry shop, you wouldn’t have had a clue about His deity. And if you had seen Him hanging on the cross, that horrific scene wouldn’t have enticed your heart to adore Him if you didn’t know what was behind it.

But in His resurrection, Jesus revealed His true identity. He is the conquering King—ultimate royalty! Since “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9), how much more should we adoringly worship Him who, in such surrendered humility, died so that He could become our victorious King!

Behold Him there! The risen Lamb!
My perfect, spotless righteousness;
The great, unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace. —Bancroft

Recognize and respond to the royalty of God—worship Him!

 

 

 

Be Still

From: Our Daily Bread

Be Still
Read: Psalm 46 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 4–6; Mark 4:1-20

Be still, and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

Years ago I responded to letters within a couple of weeks and kept my correspondents happy. Then came the fax machine, and they seemed content with receiving a response within a couple of days. Today, with email, instant messaging, and mobile phones, a response is expected the same day!

“Be still, and know that I am God.” In this familiar verse from Psalm 46 I read two commands of equal importance. First, we must be still, something that modern life conspires against. In this hectic, buzzing world, even a few moments of quiet do not come naturally to us. And stillness prepares us for the second command: “Know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” In the midst of a world that colludes to suppress, not exalt, God, how do I carve out time and allow Him to nourish my inner life?

“Prayer,” writes Patricia Hampl, “is a habit of attention brought to bear on all that is.” Ah, prayer . . . a habit of attention. Be still and know. The first step in prayer is to acknowledge or to “know” that God is God. And in that attention, that focus, all else comes into focus. Prayer allows us to admit our failures, weaknesses, and limitations to the One who responds to human vulnerability with infinite mercy.

Dear Lord, help me to be still. Nourish my soul as I spend time with You in prayer.

In prayer, God can quiet our minds.

 

 

 

 From: Streams in the Desert

If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:23).

Seldom have we heard a better definition of faith than was given once in one of our meetings, by a dear old colored woman, as she answered the question of a young man how to take the Lord for needed help.

In her characteristic way, pointing her finger toward him, she said with great emphasis: “You’ve just got to believe that He’s done it and it’s done.” The great danger with most of us is that, after we ask Him to do it, we do not believe that it is done, but we keep on helping Him, and getting others to help Him; and waiting to see how He is going to do it.

Faith adds its “Amen” to God’s “Yea,” and then takes its hands off, and leaves God to finish His work. Its language is, “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him; and he worketh.”
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

I simply take Him at His word,
I praise Him that my prayer is heard,
And claim my answer from the Lord;
I take, He undertakes.

An active faith can give thanks for a promise, though it be not as yet performed; knowing that God’s bonds are as good as ready money.
–Matthew Henry

Passive faith accepts the word as true
But never moves.
Active faith begins the work to do,
And thereby proves.
Passive faith says, “I believe it! every word of God is true.
Well I know He hath not spoken what He cannot, will not, do.
He hath bidden me, ‘Go forward!’ but a closed-up way I see,
When the waters are divided, soon in Canaan’s land I’ll be.
Lo! I hear His voice commanding, ‘Rise and walk: take up thy bed’;
And, ‘Stretch forth thy withered member!’ which for so long has been dead.
When I am a little stronger, then, I know I’ll surely stand:
When there comes a thrill of heating, I will use with ease My other hand.
Yes, I know that ‘God is able’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, sometime, will to me come true.”
Active faith says, “I believe it! and the promise now I take,
Knowing well, as I receive it, God, each promise, real will make.
So I step into the waters, finding there an open way;
Onward press, the land possessing; nothing can my progress stay.
Yea, I rise at His commanding, walk straightway, and joyfully:
This, my hand, so sadly shrivelled, as I reach, restored shall be.
What beyond His faithful promise, would I wish or do I need?
Looking not for ‘signs or wonders,’ I’ll no contradiction heed.
Well I know that ‘God is able,’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, at this moment can come true.”
Passive faith but praises in the light, When sun doth shine.

Active faith will praise in darkest night– Which faith is thine?
–Selected

 

 

The Discipline of Spiritual Perseverance

From: Utmost.org

The Discipline of Spiritual Perseverance

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered. Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated. Also, our fear is that the very things our Lord stood for— love, justice, forgiveness, and kindness among men— will not win out in the end and will represent an unattainable goal for us. Then there is the call to spiritual perseverance. A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated.

If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified. Every hope or dream of the human mind will be fulfilled if it is noble and of God. But one of the greatest stresses in life is the stress of waiting for God. He brings fulfillment, “because you have kept My command to persevere…” (Revelation 3:10).

Continue to persevere spiritually.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

God Restores Our Love For Him

  • 1 Corinthians 13:13

    13  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
  • Ephesians 4:2

    2  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
  • 1 Peter 4:8

    8  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

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Psalm 83

O God, do not remain silent;
    do not turn a deaf ear,
    do not stand aloof, O God.
See how your enemies growl,
    how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people;
    they plot against those you cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
    so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

17  May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
    may they perish in disgrace.
18   Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

God’s Heart Revealed

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. —Revelation 3:19

It’s easy to think of God as a divine fly-swatter, just waiting for you to land so that—whap—He can nail you for your sins. But that’s not what we see inRevelation 2:1 – 3:22 in His letters to the seven churches. The pattern of the letters demonstrates God’s loving heart for wayward people.

Jesus began many of these letters by affirming the good things His people had done. This shows us that when we do what is good and right, the Lord is pleased.

But Jesus is also concerned about the faults in our lives. His commendation in these letters was often followed by clear words of reproof. And while it’s not comfortable to hear Him say, “Nevertheless I have this against you” (Rev. 2:4; Rev. 2:14,20), He reveals what needs to be changed in our lives to keep us from self-deceit.

This moves us to the real heart of the matter—repentance. When the Lord told these churches to repent, He was revealing His love for wayward saints. His goal was not to condemn but to restore them to intimate fellowship with Him.

And don’t miss the fact that each letter ends with a specific promise for the “overcomers.” Clearly God desires to reward those who live lives that are pleasing to Him.

What’s He saying to you today?

To live a life that pleases Christ,
It’s crucial to obey His voice;
When He reveals our sin to us,
Repentance is the wisest choice. —Sper

Repentance restores and renews our intimacy with the Lord.

 

 

 

The View from the Mountain

From: Our Daily Bread

The View from the Mountain
Read: Philippians 4:8-13 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 1–3; Mark 3

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above.

Colossians 3:1

Our valley in Idaho can be very cold in the winter. Clouds and fog roll in and blanket the ground, trapping frigid air under warmer layers above. But you can get above the valley. There’s a road nearby that winds up the flank of Shafer Butte, a 7,500-foot mountain that rises out of our valley. A few minutes of driving and you break out of the fog and emerge into the warmth and brilliance of a sunlit day. You can look down on the clouds that shroud the valley below and see it from a different point of view.

Life is like that at times. Circumstances seem to surround us with a fog that sunlight cannot penetrate. Yet faith is the way we get above the valley—the means by which we “set [our] hearts on things above” (Col. 3:1). As we do, the Lord enables us to rise above our circumstances and find courage and calmness for the day. As the apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11).

We can climb out of our misery and gloom. We can sit for a time on the mountainside and through Christ who gives us strength (v. 13) we can gain a different perspective.

Although I can’t always see You or what You’re doing, Lord, I rest in Your love for me.

Faith can lift you above your fears.

 

 

Do You Really Love Him?

From: Utmost.org

Do You Really Love Him?

If what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, it is not really love. If we have the idea that love is characterized as cautious, wise, sensible, shrewd, and never taken to extremes, we have missed the true meaning. This may describe affection and it may bring us a warm feeling, but it is not a true and accurate description of love.

Have you ever been driven to do something for God not because you felt that it was useful or your duty to do so, or that there was anything in it for you, but simply because you love Him? Have you ever realized that you can give things to God that are of value to Him? Or are you just sitting around daydreaming about the greatness of His redemption, while neglecting all the things you could be doing for Him? I’m not referring to works which could be regarded as divine and miraculous, but ordinary, simple human things— things which would be evidence to God that you are totally surrendered to Him. Have you ever created what Mary of Bethany created in the heart of the Lord Jesus? “She has done a good work for Me.”

There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him even small gifts of surrender, just to show how genuine our love is for Him. To be surrendered to God is of more value than our personal holiness. Concern over our personal holiness causes us to focus our eyes on ourselves, and we become overly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, out of fear of offending God. “…but perfect love casts out fear…” once we are surrendered to God (1 John 4:18). We should quit asking ourselves, “Am I of any use?” and accept the truth that we really are not of much use to Him. The issue is never of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. Once we are totally surrendered to God, He will work through us all the time.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

From: Streams in the Desert

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him (Psalms 37:7).

Have you prayed and prayed and waited and waited, and still there is no manifestation? Are you tired of seeing nothing move? Are you just at the point of giving it all up? Perhaps you have not waited in the right way? This would take you out of the right place the place where He can meet you.

“With patience wait” (Rom. 8:25). Patience takes away worry. He said He would come, and His promise is equal to His presence. Patience takes away your weeping. Why feel sad and despondent? He knows your need better than you do, and His purpose in waiting is to bring more glory out of it all. Patience takes away self-works. The work He desires is that you “believe” (John 6:29), and when you believe, you may then know that all is well. Patience takes away all want. Your desire for the thing you wish is perhaps stronger than your desire for the will of God to be fulfilled in its arrival.

Patience takes away all weakening. Instead of having the delaying time, a time of letting go, know that God is getting a larger supply ready and must get you ready too. Patience takes away all wobbling. “Make me stand upon my standing” (Daniel 8:18, margin). God’s foundations are steady; and when His patience is within, we are steady while we wait. Patience gives worship. A praiseful patience sometimes “long-suffering with joyfulness” (Col. 1:11) is the best part of it all. “Let (all these phases of) patience have her perfect work” (James 1:4), while you wait, and you will find great enrichment.
–C. H. P.

Hold steady when the fires burn,
When inner lessons come to learn,
And from this path there seems no turn
“Let patience have her perfect work.”

–L.S.P.


Somebody Cares For You

Send in your prayer request and let us pray for you.
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Matthew 6:32

 

“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

Luke 12:30

 

“For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.

Matthew 10:30-31

 

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

Luke 12:7

 

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

 

Psalm 82

God presides in the great assembly;
    he renders judgment among the “gods”:

“How long will you[a] defend the unjust
    and show partiality to the wicked?[b]
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
    uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

“The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
    They walk about in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

“I said, ‘You are “gods”;
    you are all sons of the Most High.’
But you will die like mere mortals;
    you will fall like every other ruler.”

Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
    for all the nations are your inheritance.

Somebody Cares

From: Get More Strength.org

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” Hebrews 4:16

When I was a little boy growing up in Hackensack, New Jersey, I would often fall asleep listening to my little radio. One of my favorite shows was “Big Joe’s Happiness Exchange,” beamed to my bedside from the heart of nearby New York City. The program always began with a deep, mellow voice saying, “Have no fear, Big Joe is here,” and then to the best of my memory he would sing something like . . .

Somebody cares about you and worries till the sun comes shining through!
Somebody cares if you sleep well at night
If your days go all wrong or if your day has gone right.

Then the song would conclude . .

Please believe me it’s so,
but in case you didn’t know it,
Somebody cares.

Then people from all over the city would call in to talk to Big Joe. With an understanding and quieting spirit he would listen and encourage those who were hurting and lonely. If they had material needs, other people would call in to offer help. It was love, grace, and mercy in action. And there was something really comforting about it, even to my little soul as I fell asleep.

I’ve always been glad that Jesus offers us comfort and help like that.

Even more caring than Big Joe and much more capable to meet our needs, Jesus desires to be personally involved in our lives, to grant peace to our anxious souls, and to supply all our needs. Not limited to a one-hour call-in program, our God is “an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). And, when our troubles are so complex and overwhelming that we don’t even know what to ask for, we are assured that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness,” praying for us “with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). He promises that God will meet all of our needs “according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19) and that He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20)! And just when you think you are down for the count, He assures you that you are not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:9) and that nothing can separate you from His love (Romans 8:31-39)!

Knowing that He is there “24/7” is great news!

I loved Big Joe as a kid. As an adult, I love Jesus even more! What comfort and strength to know that He is ready and waiting to supply mercy and grace in our time of need.

Have no fear—Jesus is here!

 

 

Four Ways to Look

From: Our Daily Bread

Four Ways to Look
Read: Psalm 77:1-15 | Bible in a Year: Leviticus 26–27; Mark 2

I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.

Psalm 77:12

Joan was struggling with some difficult issues with her children when she sat down for a worship service. Exhausted, she wanted to “resign” from motherhood. Then the speaker began to share encouragement for those who feel like quitting. These four thoughts that Joan heard that morning helped her to keep going:

Look up and pray. Asaph prayed all night long and even expressed feelings that God had forgotten and rejected him (Ps. 77:9-10). We can tell God everything and be honest about our feelings. We can ask Him anything. His answer may not come right away or in the form we want or expect, but He won’t criticize us for asking.

Look back and remember what God has done in the past for you and others. Asaph didn’t talk to God only about the pain; he also recalled God’s power and mighty works for him and God’s people. He wrote, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago” (v. 11).

Look forward. Think about the good that might come out of the situation. What might you learn? What might God want to do? What do you know He will do because His ways are perfect? (v.13).

Look again. This time look at your circumstances with eyes of faith. Remind yourself that He is the God of great wonders and can be trusted (v. 14).

May these ideas help us gain perspective and keep moving in our faith journey with Jesus.

Lord, I can’t help but see my problems. Help me not to be discouraged and weary, but to see You in the midst of them.

Our problems are opportunities to discover God’s solutions.

 

 

Taking the Initiative Against Daydreaming

From: Utmost.org

Taking the Initiative Against Daydreaming

Daydreaming about something in order to do it properly is right, but daydreaming about it when we should be doing it is wrong. In this passage, after having said these wonderful things to His disciples, we might have expected our Lord to tell them to go away and meditate over them all. But Jesus never allowed idle daydreaming. When our purpose is to seek God and to discover His will for us, daydreaming is right and acceptable. But when our inclination is to spend time daydreaming over what we have already been told to do, it is unacceptable and God’s blessing is never on it. God will take the initiative against this kind of daydreaming by prodding us to action. His instructions to us will be along the lines of this: “Don’t sit or stand there, just go!”

If we are quietly waiting before God after He has said to us, “Come aside by yourselves…” then that is meditation before Him to seek His will (Mark 6:31). Beware, however, of giving in to mere daydreaming once God has spoken. Allow Him to be the source of all your dreams, joys, and delights, and be careful to go and obey what He has said. If you are in love with someone, you don’t sit and daydream about that person all the time— you go and do something for him. That is what Jesus Christ expects us to do. Daydreaming after God has spoken is an indication that we do not trust Him.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

There Is Safety In Jesus Christ

  • Revelation 21:8

    But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
  • Matthew 25:46

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

 

Christians have been saved from this outcome. It is real and Christ provided safety for all who believe. 

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Psalm 81

Sing for joy to God our strength;
    shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
    play the melodious harp and lyre.

Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon,
    and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
this is a decree for Israel,
    an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
When God went out against Egypt,
    he established it as a statute for Joseph.

I heard an unknown voice say:

“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
    their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
    I answered you out of a thundercloud;
    I tested you at the waters of Meribah.[c]
Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
    if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
    you shall not worship any god other than me.

The Safety Zone

From: Get More Strength.org

Feb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Taking the Initiative Against Drudgery

From: Utmost.org

Taking the Initiative Against Drudgery

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

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

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

 

 

The Voice of Faith

From: Our Daily Bread

The Voice of Faith

Though the fig tree does not bud . . . yet I will rejoice in the Lord.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

The news was numbing. The tears came so quickly that she couldn’t fight them. Her mind raced with questions, and fear threatened to overwhelm her. Life had been going along so well, when it was abruptly interrupted and forever changed without warning.

Tragedy can come in many forms—the loss of a loved one, an illness, the loss of wealth or our livelihood. And it can happen to anyone at any time.

Although the prophet Habakkuk knew that tragedy was coming, it still struck fear in his heart. As he waited for the day when Babylon would invade the kingdom of Judah, his heart pounded, his lips quivered, and his legs trembled (Hab. 3:16).

Fear is a legitimate emotion in the face of tragedy, but it doesn’t have to immobilize us. When we don’t understand the trials we are going through, we can recount how God has worked in history (vv. 3-15). That’s what Habakkuk did. It didn’t dispel his fear, but it gave him the courage to move on by choosing to praise the Lord (v. 18).

Our God who has proven Himself faithful throughout the years is always with us. Because His character doesn’t change, in our fear we can say with a confident voice of faith, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength!” (v. 19).

Dear Lord, when my world is turned upside down, help me to trust You. You have always been faithful to me.

We can learn the lesson of trust in the school of trial.

 

Finding The Peace Of God

 

Philippians 4:6-7

6    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

7    And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Psalm 80

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
    shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might;
    come and save us.

Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

How long, Lord God Almighty,
    will your anger smolder
    against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
    you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derision[b] to our neighbors,
    and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

 

Solitude and Service

From: Our Daily Bread

Solitude and Service

He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

Luke 9:11

Comedian Fred Allen said, “A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become well-known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.” Fame often brings loss of privacy along with a relentless frenzy of attention.

When Jesus began His public ministry of teaching and healing, He was catapulted into the public eye and thronged by people seeking help. Crowds followed Him wherever He went. But Jesus knew that having regular time alone with God was essential to maintaining strength and perspective.

After Jesus’ twelve disciples returned from their successful mission “to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick,” He took them to a quiet place to rest (Luke 9:2,10). Soon, however, crowds of people found them and Jesus welcomed them. He “spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing” (v. 11). Instead of sending them away to find food, the Lord provided an outdoor picnic for 5,000! (vv. 12-17).

Jesus was not immune to the pressure of curious and hurting people, but He maintained the balance of public service and private solitude by taking time for rest and for prayer alone with His Father (Luke 5:16).

May we follow our Lord’s example as we serve others in His name.

Dear Father, as Jesus Your Son and our Savior honored You in solitude and service to others, may we follow His example in our lives.

Turning down the volume of life allows you to listen to God.

 

A Little Herod in All of Us

From: Get More Strength.org

“When King Herod heard this he was disturbed.” Matthew 2:3

When archaeologists excavated King Herod’s palace—an opulent structure boasting a pool large enough to float boats! It stood on a hill outside Bethlehem that allowed the king to monitor the happenings of that little town. The prophet Micah had spoken of a ruler who would emerge from Bethlehem, and Herod, watching from his palace, was ready to squash any challenge to his throne. When the wise men came to inquire about where the “king” had been born (Matthew 2:2), Herod attempted to trick them into leading him to Jesus. And when the plan failed, he slaughtered all the boys under age 2 (Matthew 2:16). Herod refused to be outranked.

John the Baptist stands in sharp contrast. This goatskin-clad, locust-eating, desert wanderer was not a headliner like Herod. Yet, his ministry drew large crowds as he preached a message of repentance in preparation for the coming Messiah. Mark records that all of Jerusalem had gone to the wilderness to hear him. It would have been easy for John to be taken with himself. Yet, when Jesus showed up one day, John humbly turned all attention toward Christ, proclaiming, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). John counted it a privilege to be outranked by Jesus and readily turned the spotlight on the Savior.

As you think about these two contemporaries of Jesus, ask yourself whom you most resemble—Herod or John? I’m afraid, if we’re really honest, there’s a little Herod in all of us. How often do we attempt to cling to our own glory and try to squash Jesus’ will in our lives when it threatens our control of our own kingdom? Instead, if you have your head on straight, you’d be like John, and joyfully bow to the Lamb who took away our sins, directing all the attention to Him—the only One worthy to receive it.

By the way, the body of Herod was found during the archaeological dig. The headliner is dead. But the Lamb is alive! When you know how worthy He is, it’s a privilege to be outranked by Him!

 

 

Taking the Initiative Against Despair

From: Utmost.org

Taking the Initiative Against Despair

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done it produced despair. The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, “Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying anymore.” If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair. But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, “Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing.” In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.

There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them. The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, “Get up, and do the next thing.” If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption.

Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS