Tag Archives: devotion

Fasting and Prayer

Matthew 6

16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which sees in secret, shall reward thee openly.

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Feasting after Fasting

From: Our Daily Journey

Feasting after Fasting

Read:

John 15:7-11
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! (John 15:11).

“How can they observe the season of Lent and then miss out on the feasting afterwards?” a friend asked, mulling over the seemingly lost practice of celebrating the season of Easter—the fifty days following Resurrection Sunday. Christians who follow a more liturgical tradition dedicate the forty days before Easter as a season of prayer and fasting (while celebrating the resurrection each Sunday), but they sometimes neglect to embrace the discipline of celebration during the Easter season. Fasting without the subsequent feasting loses the experience of joy that God longs for His people to know and embrace.

When Jesus spoke to His disciples before His death and resurrection, He promised them joy. He said He would remain close to them and that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (see John 14:3,16-17). Instructing them to obey the Father and remain in His love, He said they would receive joy overflowing (John 15:10-11). Indeed, after His resurrection, the first words Jesus spoke to His friends assembled behind locked doors were, “Peace be with you.” And the disciples “were filled with joy” (John 20:19-20).

The risen Christ appeared to His disciples back then, but He also lives today. As we obey Him and join in His work, we rejoice knowing that He’s alive and that we’ll see Him again (John 16:22). He willingly fills us with the gift of joy.

Have you ever considered celebrating the weeks after Easter as a season of jubilee and feasting? We may not host extravagant parties, but we can foster an attitude of joy as we embrace Jesus’ final words on Earth before He died, rose again, and returned to dwell among us. May our joy be complete and overflowing in Him.

 

Stepping Stones to the Throne

From: Missey Butler, Author

Have you ever felt as if you’ve lost your way? I mean, you can’t really put into words what has happened to you. All you know is that things aren’t the same. It’s as if you are slowly drying up on the inside and you don’t know when or how it all started. Life seems to have kept moving but you decided not to. I remember reading that when it comes to our spiritual walk, we are doing one of two things. We are either moving forward or falling back. There is no neutral ground.

Boy, that really did bother me because honestly, I wanted a little breather. You know what I mean? And then, I kept hearing this catchy little jingle – “You deserve a break today” – so, needless to say, I did. I took a break from working on my spiritual life. Unnoticeably to me, the moments turned into an hour, an hour turned into a day, a day into a week, and before I realized it six months had passed by. I finally realized I had fallen into what felt like a serious backslidden condition.

My mind had turned into a raging battlefield of guilt, resentments, anger, justifications, and one of my personal favorites – indifference. The things I once cared about, even had convictions over, no longer bothered me. My heart used to be so sensitive. Now it was very calloused, so much that it was almost unrecognizable to me.

Immediately, God’s Word, ever faithful and always on time, began to minister to me. I heard Him say, “Break up the fallow ground of your heart and allow me to redeem back the time the enemy has stolen.” His voice was so gentle, but yet firm. He was not at all the condemning, finger-shaking, personality my imagination had conjured up. Instead, I saw my Lord and myself suspended above a shallow pond. I watched him as He slowly bent down and placed before my feet a stepping stone that had writing on it. I leaned over and saw these words:

Romans 2:4b, the goodness of the Lord leads men to repentance.

I felt my eyes swell with tears as I looked up at Him. He very lovingly smiled at me and said, “Step here my beloved.” As I lowered my foot onto the stone, He bent forward with another stone upon which read:

1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I heard His tender voice speak to me again, “Step here my beloved.” As I stepped onto the warm sandstone, I sensed such a cleansing and lifting of a heavy weight off of my soul. I felt so clean and free. The last stone the Lord put before me had inscribed upon it a verse that was very familiar to me, but I had lost sight of it. It was one of those commands that was simple, yet filled with such meaning:

Matthew 3:8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

I hesitated for a moment before stepping out. I closed my eyes and whispered, “Oh Lord, you know how I have failed you in this area. How will it be any different this time?” Then I heard the Lord say, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. My strength is made perfect in your weakness. Now, take another step.”

Don’t Hurt the Lord

April 21 

By Oswald Chambers

Don’t Hurt the Lord

Our Lord must be repeatedly astounded at us— astounded at how “un-simple” we are. It is our own opinions that make us dense and slow to understand, but when we are simple we are never dense; we have discernment all the time. Philip expected the future revelation of a tremendous mystery, but not in Jesus, the Person he thought he already knew. The mystery of God is not in what is going to be— it is now, though we look for it to be revealed in the future in some overwhelming, momentous event. We have no reluctance to obey Jesus, but it is highly probable that we are hurting Him by what we ask— “Lord, show us the Father…” (John 14:8). His response immediately comes back to us as He says, “Can’t you see Him? He is always right here or He is nowhere to be found.” We look for God to exhibit Himself to His children, but God only exhibits Himself inHis children. And while others see the evidence, the child of God does not. We want to be fully aware of what God is doing in us, but we cannot have complete awareness and expect to remain reasonable or balanced in our expectations of Him. If all we are asking God to give us is experiences, and the awareness of those experiences is blocking our way, we hurt the Lord. The very questions we ask hurt Jesus, because they are not the questions of a child.

“Let not your heart be troubled…” (14:1, 27). Am I then hurting Jesus by allowing my heart to be troubled? If I believe in Jesus and His attributes, am I living up to my belief? Am I allowing anything to disturb my heart, or am I allowing any questions to come in which are unsound or unbalanced? I have to get to the point of the absolute and unquestionable relationship that takes everything exactly as it comes from Him. God never guides us at some time in the future, but always here and now. Realize that the Lord is here now, and the freedom you receive is immediate.

 

 

Forgive As Jesus Forgave You

Colossians 3:13  

13   Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

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The Art of Forgiveness

From: Our Daily Bread

The Art of Forgiveness

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

One afternoon I spent two hours at an art exhibit—The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness—in which all of the pieces were focused on Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11–31). I found Edward Riojas’s painting The Prodigal Sonespecially powerful. The painting portrays the once wayward son returning home, wearing rags and walking with his head down. With a land of death behind him, he steps onto a pathway where his father is already running toward him. At the bottom of the painting are Jesus’s words, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion” (v. 20 kjv).

I was deeply moved by realizing once more how God’s unchanging love has altered my life. When I walked away from Him, He didn’t turn His back, but kept looking, watching, and waiting. His love is undeserved yet unchanging; often ignored yet never withdrawn.

We all are guilty, yet our heavenly Father reaches out to welcome us, just as the father in this story embraced his wayward son. “Let’s have a feast and celebrate,” the father told the servants. “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (vv. 23–24).

The Lord still rejoices over those who return to Him today—and that’s worth celebrating!

Father, as we receive Your love and forgiveness, may we also extend it to others in Your name.

God’s love for us is undeserved yet unchanging.

 

Silence Isn’t Always Golden

From: Our Daily Journey

Silence Isn’t Always Golden

Read:

2 Kings 7:3-11
This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! . . . Come on, let’s go back and tell the people (2 Kings 7:9).

Samaria, the capital of Israel, was being besieged by the Aramean army. Food was soon depleted, and many died of hunger while some resorted to cannibalism (2 Kings 6:24-31). The prophet Elisha told the unbelieving king that God would rescue them and provide food for them (2 Kings 7:1). Soon, the divine army that Elisha’s servant had seen earlier scattered the enemy (2 Kings 6:14-172 Kings 7:6-7).

The victory was first grasped not by the people inside the city, but by four lepers who had been forced to live outside the city walls because of their disease (Leviticus 13:45-46). Trapped between the walls and the Aramean army, death was a certainty (2 Kings 7:3-4). But when they went to surrender to the Arameans, they found the army mysteriously gone (2 Kings 7:5-6). God had delivered them!

Entering the empty Arameans’ tents, the lepers gorged themselves on an abundance of food and collected silver, gold, and clothing (2 Kings 7:8). But then they became ashamed of their self-centeredness. Their family members and fellow Israelites were still in misery, uninformed of God’s deliverance and provisions. Guilt-stricken, they admitted, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! Come on, let’s go back and tell the people” (2 Kings 7:9).

Spurred on by their newfound gratitude, they “went back to the city and told the gatekeepers what had happened. . . . Then the gatekeepers shouted the news to the people” (2 Kings 7:10-11).

We have good news to tell: God has come to our rescue! And He’s blessed us abundantly (Ephesians 1:3-8). Like the lepers, may gratitude motivate us as we share openly about Jesus. In His guidance and power, let’s share the good news!

 

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts (Zech. 4:6).

My way led up a hill, and right at the foot I saw a boy on a bicycle. He was pedalling up hill against the wind, and evidently found it a tremendously hard work. Just as he was working most strenuously and doing his best painfully, there came a trolley car going in the same direction–up the hill.

It was not going too fast for the boy to get behind it, and with one hand to lay hold of the bar at the back. Then you know what happened. He went up that hill like a bird. Then it flashed upon me:

“Why, I am like that boy on the bicycle in my weariness and weakness. I am pedalling up hill against all kinds of opposition, and am almost worn out with the task. But here at hand is a great available power, the strength of the Lord Jesus.

“I have only to get in touch with Him and to maintain communication with Him, though it may be only one little finger of faith, and that will be enough to make His power mine for the doing of this bit of service that just now seems too much for me.” And I was helped to dismiss my weariness and to realize this truth.
–The Life of Fuller Purpose

ABANDONED

Utterly abandoned to the Holy Ghost!
Seeking all His fulness at whatever cost;
Cutting all the shore-lines, launching in the deep
Of His mighty power–strong to save and keep.
Utterly abandoned to the Holy Ghost!
Oh! the sinking, sinking, until self is lost!
Until the emptied vessel lies broken at His feet;
Waiting till His filling shall make the work complete.
Utterly abandoned to the will of God;
Seeking for no other path than my Master trod;
Leaving ease and pleasure, making Him my choice,
Waiting for His guidance, listening for His voice.
Utterly abandoned! no will of my own;
For time and for eternity, His, and His alone;
All my plans and purposes lost in His sweet will,
Having nothing, yet in Him all things possessing still.
Utterly abandoned! ’tis so sweet to be
Captive in His bonds of love, yet so wondrous free;
Free from sin’s entanglements, free from doubt and fear,
Free from every worry, burden, grief or care.
Utterly abandoned! oh, the rest is sweet,
As I tarry, waiting, at His blessed feet;
Waiting for the coming of the Guest divine,
Who my inmost being shall perfectly refine.
Lo! He comes and fills me, Holy Spirit sweet!
I, in Him, am satisfied! I, in Him, complete!
And the light within my soul shall nevermore grow dim
While I keep my covenant–abandoned unto Him!
–Author Unknown

Don’t Hurry

Philippians 4:6 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

Proverbs 19:2 

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

Psalm 46:10 

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

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Hurry Not

Hurry Not

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry.” When two friends repeated that adage by the wise Dallas Willard to me, I knew I needed to consider it. Where was I spinning my wheels, wasting time and energy? More important, where was I rushing ahead and not looking to God for guidance and help? In the weeks and months that followed, I remembered those words and reoriented myself back to the Lord and His wisdom. I reminded myself to trust in Him, rather than leaning on my own ways.

After all, rushing around frantically seems to be the opposite of the “perfect peace” the prophet Isaiah speaks of. The Lord gives this gift to “those whose minds are steadfast,” because they trust in Him (v. 3). And He is worthy of being trusted today, tomorrow, and forever, for “the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal” (v. 4). Trusting God with our minds fixed on Him is the antidote to a hurried life.

How about us? Do we sense that we’re hurried or even hasty? Maybe, in contrast, we often experience a sense of peace. Or perhaps we’re somewhere in between the two extremes.

Wherever we may be, I pray today that we’ll be able to put aside any hurry as we trust the Lord, who will never fail us and who gives us His peace.

Lord God, You give the peace that passes all understanding, which is a gift I don’t want to take for granted. Thank You.

God’s peace helps us not to hurry.

Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exod. 14:13).

These words contain God’s command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut upon the right hand and on the left. What is he now to do?

The Master’s word to him is “stand still.” It will be well for him if, at such times, he listens only to his Master’s word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions. Despair whispers, “Lie down and die; give it all up.” But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness.

Cowardice says, “Retreat; go back to the worldling’s way of action; you cannot play the Christian’s part; it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles.”

But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it, if you are a child of God. His Divine fiat has bid thee go from strength to strength, and so thou shalt, and neither death nor hell shall turn thee from thy course. What if for a while thou art called to stand still; yet this is but to renew thy strength for some greater advance in due time.

Precipitancy cries, “Do something; stir yourself; to stand still and wait is sheer idleness.” We must be doing something at once–we must do it, so we think–instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something, but will do everything.

Presumption boasts, “If the sea be before you, march into it, and expect a miracle.” But faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, “Stand still,” and immovable as a rock it stands.

“Stand still”–keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.’
–Spurgeon

“Be quiet! why this anxious heed
About thy tangled ways?
God knows them all. He giveth speed
And He allows delays.
‘Tis good for thee to walk by faith
And not by sight.
Take it on trust a little while.
Soon shalt thou read the mystery aright
In the full sunshine of His smile.”

In times of uncertainty, wait. Always, if you have any doubt, wait. Do not force yourself to any action. If you have a restraint in your spirit, wait until all is clear, and do not go against it.

Lysa TerKeurst April 19, 2018
God Wants Our Whole Heart
LYSA TERKEURST

“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12 (NIV)

God wants us to get some things settled in our heart. One of the most crucial is deciding whether we are all-in when it comes to our relationship with Him. Do we want to walk in the fullness of His love and His plans? Or, do we want to spend our lives chasing after the world’s empty pleasures?

Why not push the limits, live for the now and worry about eternity later?

The enemy is very strategic with his plans to derail and distract us. He’s clever by making his temptations seem so harmless.

The problem is that we miss the whole point of our existence, the very purpose for which we were created. God made us for the relationship of His perfect love. But if we’re always chasing after other things, we’ll never experience the fullness of that love. There’s a big difference between a half-hearted approach to God and whole-hearted devotion.

That half-hearted approach is where we find God’s people in a passage of Scripture I have been studying recently.

Hosea 10 opens with the initial appearance that all is well for the Israelites. They’re flourishing and in a season of plenty. (Hosea 10:1) Anyone looking at them from the outside would probably assume God is pleased with them and greatly blessing them. But Hosea lets the Israelites know God is anything but pleased with them, and their season of plenty and fruitfulness is about to be replaced with one of destruction and barrenness.

Why?

Hosea 10:2 explains the reason, “Their heart is deceitful, and now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will demolish their altars and destroy their sacred stones.”

The Hebrew word for “deceit” is חָלַק, ḥālaq (pronunced “Ha ‒ Lack”) and means “divided, smooth, or slippery.”

God didn’t have their whole heart.

Their hearts were deceived and divided. Instead of worshipping God with their whole heart, the Israelites turned to their pagan altars. (Hosea 10:1) Instead of trusting in the Lord, they put their faith in their rebellious and evil kings. (Hosea 10:3-4, 7)

They ignored God’s warnings to tear down their altars — failing to realize that divided affections will always be detrimental to their life of devotion. And as they chased after their idols, they wandered away from their covenant relationship with the Lord.

Thankfully, God is gracious in the midst of our wandering — beckoning us back home, calling us to repentance, offering us the chance to begin again.

He holds out hope to the Israelites and to us in Hosea 10:12“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.”

I don’t want us to miss the original Hebrew meaning of the word “seek” in this verse. The word is דָּרַשׁ, dāraš (pronounced “Da ‒ Rash”) is translated as “turning to the Lord.” I love that! Can’t you just hear the Father’s voice calling out to His people? Calling out to us?

As if He’s saying … “My wayward and wandering children, turn back! Turn to Me! The path you are on is one that leads to destruction. One I cannot bless. But it’s not too late! You haven’t wandered too far. You can stop right now, right where you are, and return to Me. You can make wise and holy choices. Starting now. You can sow better seed. Today. Draw near to Me once again, and I will draw near to you. Repent of your sins and receive the fullness of My mercy, grace and forgiveness. Welcome Me even into the parts of your heart that have perhaps been hard and resistant to Me. Turn to Me. Seek Me. You will find Me waiting and ready to move in your life with amazing grace, unending love and incredible power.”

Oh how I pray we will answer His call today. Let’s seek God like never before. Let’s turn to Him, follow Him and offer Him all that we are and all that we have.

Father God, please forgive me. You know how my heart can get so divided and stretched and pulled in a million directions. Thank You for reminding me that You want every single piece of my heart. Please reveal anything I have been turning to instead of You. Teach me to rely on Your strength and power in the areas where I am weak. My deepest desire is to follow hard after You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God Is With Us

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With Us in Our Suffering

From: Our Daily Journey

With Us in Our Suffering

Read:

Isaiah 43:1-13
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you (Isaiah 43:2).

Poet Christian Wiman, some time after being diagnosed with an incurable form of blood cancer, reflected on his ordeal, writing, “I have passed through pain I could never have imagined, pain that seemed to incinerate all my thoughts of God and to leave me sitting there in the ashes, alone.” But he found hope in the powerful presence of Jesus. “I am a Christian because of that moment on the cross when Jesus, drinking the very dregs of human bitterness, cries out, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’ ” (Matthew 27:46). In times of great suffering, Wiman realized, only the One who carried all human suffering can sustain us.

While experiencing the hardships of captivity, the Israelites needed reassurance of His presence, and the prophet Isaiah gave them that encouragement. Although they were enduring the consequences of their sin, Isaiah still told them not to fret or fear. God had created them with painstaking care and redeemed them with His power (Isaiah 43:1). Despite everything they were going through, they were still loved by and precious to God (Isaiah 43:4). And no matter what they endured in the future—whether “rivers of difficulty” or “fire of oppression”—God would be with them (Isaiah 43:2). He had sustained them with His presence in the past, and He could be trusted to do so again in the future (Isaiah 43:3-4).

Whether we’re suffering from the consequences of our sin or, like Christian Wiman, suffering pain that is simply a result of living in a fallen world, we need more than glib answers. In the face of overwhelming dread and pain, we can find strength and hope only through the powerful presence of the One who will never let us go (Isaiah 43:13).

 

Well-Seasoned in the Word

From: Cathy Irvin, Author

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15, NLT)

As the world grows darker in sin, we must find time to trim our wicks and fill our lamps with oil. We are to be light to the world and salt to the earth. But have we lost our flavor? If we are well-seasoned in the Word and we maintain our prayer life, we will be making an obvious difference.

It takes soaking up the Word of God daily for the words that flow from our lips to be a sweet savor, an encouraging word to the hearer. It is so easy to become dull and bland without those times of refreshing in God’s presence. Nobody likes plain ‘ole, plain ‘ole anything.

Many times, even a good steak needs some seasoning salt, a little garlic, butter, or steak sauce while it is marinating on the grill. The flavor of the meat is greatly enhanced. And so it is with us. When our lives reflect Christ, it will be evident after we have spent time with Him, because we will manifest His glory. The light will shine brightly for all to see.

People need to see Christ in us, the hope of glory, for them to want Him. Who wants what we have if we are not positive, and not full of joy and peace? I hear some Christians who always speak negatively. They are worrying all the time, and they are sad and gloomy. I think they must be lacking in some quality Bible study time, prayer, and church fellowship. We want those who do not know Him to say, “I know there is something different about you” or ask, “Why are you so happy?” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear them say, “I want whatever it is that you have”?

I remember that I said those very words more than 29 years ago. I gave my heart to the Lord while watching The 700 Club. I went to visit a local church. The people there were singing and clapping, and some even danced in the aisle to the songs. I was overwhelmed. I had always attended a very traditional church while growing up, and I felt no enthusiasm or joy in it at all. I recall listening to the message intently; I had blocked out everything and had focused intently on the preacher as he spoke. I sat on the edge of my seat like I was at a long-awaited concert.

At the close of the service, I remember a lady asking me if I wanted to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t even know what she was talking about, but I said, “Whatever you people have, I want it!” I was gloriously filled that very evening and spoke in tongues. My life was changed forever, and I have felt the joy ever since.

We can share the things we have learned by being salt and light with other believers so that they can enjoy their Christian walk and be better witnesses. It is important to remember that we are not offering a “religion” to anyone. We are telling them about a relationship with a loving, living Savior who can transform their lives and not only give them the gift of eternal life, but also the abundant life while here on planet earth. Jesus wants to add some seasoning to a bland spiritual life.

Got your lamps filled with oil? Follow me! Let’s shine our lights and pour out some salt on those who need to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him. (Psalm 34:8, NKJV)

 

Readiness

By Oswald Chambers

 Readiness

When God speaks, many of us are like people in a fog, and we give no answer. Moses’ reply to God revealed that he knew where he was and that he was ready. Readiness means having a right relationship to God and having the knowledge of where we are. We are so busy telling God where we would like to go. Yet the man or woman who is ready for God and His work is the one who receives the prize when the summons comes. We wait with the idea that some great opportunity or something sensational will be coming our way, and when it does come we are quick to cry out, “Here I am.” Whenever we sense that Jesus Christ is rising up to take authority over some great task, we are there, but we are not ready for some obscure duty.

Readiness for God means that we are prepared to do the smallest thing or the largest thing— it makes no difference. It means we have no choice in what we want to do, but that whatever God’s plans may be, we are there and ready. Whenever any duty presents itself, we hear God’s voice as our Lord heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with the total readiness of our love for Him. Jesus Christ expects to do with us just as His Father did with Him. He can put us wherever He wants, in pleasant duties or in menial ones, because our union with Him is the same as His union with the Father. “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22).

Be ready for the sudden surprise visits of God. A ready person never needs to getready— he is ready. Think of the time we waste trying to get ready once God has called! The burning bush is a symbol of everything that surrounds the person who is ready, and it is on fire with the presence of God Himself.

Learning To Know God

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Learning to Know God

From: Our Daily God

Learning to Know God

But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” John 6:20

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. I dreamed about getting married, getting pregnant, and holding my baby in my arms for the first time. When I finally got married, my husband and I never even considered waiting to expand our family. But with each negative pregnancy test, we realized we were struggling with infertility. Months of doctors’ visits, tests, and tears followed. We were in the middle of a storm. Infertility was a bitter pill to swallow and left me wondering about God’s goodness and faithfulness.

When I reflect on our journey, I think about the story of the disciples caught in the storm on the sea in John 6. As they struggled against the waves in the dark of the storm, Jesus unexpectedly came to them walking on the stormy waves. He calmed them with His presence, saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (v. 20).

Like the disciples, my husband and I had no idea what was coming in our storm; but we found comfort as we learned to know God more deeply as the One who is always faithful and true. Although we would not have the child we had dreamed of, we learned that in all our struggles we can experience the power of His calming presence. Because He is there powerfully working in our lives, we need not be anxious.

Dear Lord, thank You that I do not have to face the storms in this life without You. Thank You for Your calming presence and power carrying me through whatever I face.

Read more about waiting on God at discoveryseries.org/q0736.

We can experience God’s powerful presence even in the storms of our lives.

 

A Thin Line between Humility and Pride

From: Ken Barnes

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Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord and he will exalt you. James 4:6 (NASB).

Humility may be one of the most sought-after virtues in the Bible, but possibly the least achieved. We know it when we see it, but it is difficult to define. It is one of the Christian graces that if you try to pursue it, you may distance yourself from it. You cannot choreograph humility into the script of your life. God has to facilitate the process. If you are trying to get it through self-effort, the accomplishment negates the desired result.

Long ago, the famous preacher, Harry Ironside, from Moody Bible Church, worried that he was not as humble as he ought to be. He asked a friend what he should do. The friend counseled him to make a sandwich board with the plan of salvation in Scripture written on it and walk around the busy shopping district of downtown Chicago for an entire day. Ironside thought this would be a humbling experience, so he walked around the Windy City, spouting Scriptures along the way. When he finally returned to his apartment, he thought about how humbling his excursion had been and was feeling pretty good about the experience. As he was removing his sign, he caught himself thinking, “There is not another person in Chicago that would be willing to do a thing like that.”

Humility is a contradiction in terms. When you feel like you are closest to achieving it, you are farthest from possessing it. When you realize how far you have to go in acquiring it, you are actually closer to having it. Meekness is a virtue that if gotten through your self-effort, can make you proud of your humility. It is a grace that we must continually pursue, but recognize that we can never entirely grasp.

Billy Graham, arguably the greatest preacher of the modern era, might teach us something about humility. On one occasion, someone stole his Bible. He told someone, “I can’t see why someone would want it, it had my name printed right on it.” He was clueless about the fact that a Bible with his name on it, was the very reason someone would want to steal it. Pride always gives us an elevated sense of self-importance. Humility keeps our life in perspective. Over the years, people have studied the preaching of Billy Graham, his style, content, and structure. Many have tried to emulate these, with not near the success he had. Could it be that the secret of his success is not the mechanics of his preaching but a less apparent reason, humility, that God always honors in a person’s life?

In God’s Kingdom, the way up is always down. In the world, you can usurp authority, but in ministry, conceit impedes your progress. Pride is just an incorrect view of who you are in relation to who God is. Accurately compare yourself with God and the only reasonable response will be humility. Humble yourself before God, and He will lift you up.

 

All or Nothing?

By Oswald Chambers

 All or Nothing?

Have you ever had a crisis in your life in which you deliberately, earnestly, and recklessly abandoned everything? It is a crisis of the will. You may come to that point many times externally, but it will amount to nothing. The true deep crisis of abandonment, or total surrender, is reached internally, not externally. The giving up of only external things may actually be an indication of your being in total bondage.

Have you deliberately committed your will to Jesus Christ? It is a transaction of the will, not of emotion; any positive emotion that results is simply a superficial blessing arising out of the transaction. If you focus your attention on the emotion, you will never make the transaction. Do not ask God what the transaction is to be, but make the determination to surrender your will regarding whatever you see, whether it is in the shallow or the deep, profound places internally.

If you have heard Jesus Christ’s voice on the waves of the sea, you can let your convictions and your consistency take care of themselves by concentrating on maintaining your intimate relationship to Him.

In The Blink Of An Eye

 

Matthew 24: 38-42   Be Ready For The Rapture

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

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Just a Second

From: Our Daily Bread

Just a Second

How fleeting my life is. Psalm 39:4

Scientists are pretty fussy about time. At the end of 2016, the folks at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland added an extra second to the year. So if you felt that year dragged on a bit longer than normal, you were right.

Why did they do that? Because the rotation of the earth slows down over time, the years get just a tiny bit longer. When scientists track manmade objects launched into space, they must have accuracy down to the millisecond. This is “to make sure our collision avoidance programs are accurate,” according to one scientist.

For most of us, a second gained or lost doesn’t make much difference. Yet according to Scripture, our time and how we use it is important. For instance, Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 7:29 that “time is short.” The time we have to do God’s work is limited, so we must use it wisely. He urged us to “[make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16 esv).

This doesn’t mean we have to count each second as do the scientists, but when we consider the fleeting nature of life (Psalm 39:4), we can be reminded of the importance of using our time wisely.

Lord, thank You for each moment You give us. May we strive to honor You with this gift by using our time wisely for Your honor and glory.

Don’t just spend time—invest it.

Real Rest

From: Our Daily Journey

Real Rest

Read:

Genesis 2:1-4
On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work (Genesis 2:2).

Following World War I, there was no more accomplished golfer than Bobby Jones. In 1930, he achieved the Grand Slam by winning the US Open, British Open, US Amateur, and British Amateur championships—all in the same year! The golfing world was stunned, however, when shortly following those victories Jones decided to retire from golf. He didn’t decide to hang up the spikes because his skills had diminished in any way. Instead, the talented athlete made his decision because he had accomplished the greatest feat in golf at the time and had nothing left to prove. He simply chose to give his golf career a rest.

When it says that God “rested from all his work” in Genesis 2:2, I’m often tempted to think that He took a break for the same reason that I take a vacation—because He was tired and simply couldn’t go on without a little R&R. But Psalm 121:4 tells us that God “never slumbers or sleeps,” so that obviously can’t be the case. No, He didn’t rest so that He could gain the strength He needed to continue creating. He rested because His work of creation was fully done (Genesis 2:2). God rested because His work was accomplished!

In the New Testament, we read that we can rest in Jesus, such as when we’re told to lay our burdens on Him in Matthew 11:28 or when the writer of Hebrews tells us that He provides our “special rest” (Hebrews 4:9). It can be difficult to fully understand what it means to “rest in Jesus,” but resting in Him includes resting in His completed work—His life, death, and resurrection. We can rest in knowing that God loves us so much He gave His only Son as a sacrifice and that our salvation isn’t earned, but freely given. That’s real rest!

 

Receiving Power

From: CBN Network

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We are still learning to go even lower, which is the only way forward. And we are still learning to stop for the one in the middle of a sea of need. We are still learning what it means to be a friend of God and to value fellowship with Him and each other above all else. We are not professional, high-power, efficient missionary machines. We measure the quality of our lives by the depth of our relationships. We are still learning to love.

We cannot function in this world without the power of our God. Some of us haven’t yet been brought to our extremity, so we aren’t fully and forcibly aware of our dependence. But our time will come. We need Him to stay alive. We need Him for our health. We need Him for our healing. We need Him for righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

We need more than any human being can do for us. We need sheer, raw power in the goodness and love of God. We need power to appreciate our God, to make Him the greatest pleasure in our lives. We need power to rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. We need power to experience His Kingdom, to move in His environment.

How do we get power? It is the grace and gift of God. He plants in us a hunger that will not be denied. He opens our eyes to our poverty without His powerful presence. He grants faith where there was none. In His power we can rest, even while under demonic attack. His power fixes our eyes on Him. In His power we are able to discipline ourselves in everything. We can cast our cares on Him, because He is willing to use His power on our behalf.

How can we be sure He cares for us? The cross. We go to the cross always to find confidence to approach Him. We will not empty the cross of its power. There and only there do we find salvation of every kind. At the cross we come to know our God and His heart toward us. At the cross we learn to become utterly dependent on His power.

 

 

Reason To Sing

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.

Psalm 5:11

But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You.

Psalm 9:11

Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion; Declare among the peoples His deeds.

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Reason to Sing

From: Our Daily Bread

Reason to Sing
Read: Psalm 98 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 27–29; Luke 13:1–22

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. Psalm 98:1

When I was thirteen, my school required students to take four exploratory courses, including home economics, art, choir, and woodworking. On my first day in choir, the instructor called each student to the piano individually to hear their voices and place them in the room according to their vocal range. During my turn at the piano, I sang the notes she played multiple times, but wasn’t directed to a section in the room. Instead, after repeated tries, she sent me to the counseling office to find a different class to take. From that moment on, I felt I shouldn’t sing at all, that my voice shouldn’t be heard in song.

I carried that thought with me for more than a decade until I read Psalm 98 as a young adult. The writer opens with an invitation to “sing to the Lord” (Psalm 98:1). The reason offered has nothing to do with the quality of our voices; He delights in all His children’s songs of thanksgiving and praise. Instead, we are invited to sing because God “has done marvelous things” (v. 1).

The psalmist points out two wonderful reasons to joyfully praise God in song and in attitude: His saving work in our lives and His ongoing faithfulness toward us. In God’s choir, we each have a place to sing of the marvelous things He has done.

Lord, You have done great things in my life. Even if my voice isn’t one that would be heard on stage, I want to join the choir in thanking You for the amazing things You’ve done.

God loves to hear the voices of His children.

 

Never in Vain

From: Our Daily Journey

Never in Vain

Read:

1 Corinthians 15:50-58
Your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58 niv).

In 1882, Antoni Gaudí began construction on the Sagrada Família, a basilica in Barcelona slated for completion in 2026. The National Geographic reports that at the time of Gaudí’s unexpected death, less than 25 percent of the exterior was finished. Even if he had not died prematurely, Gaudí knew he’d never see the completed work; but it didn’t bother him. He believed he was working for God. Whenever asked about the immense time for the project, he answered, “My client is not in a hurry.”

It often seems impossible to see the fruit of our work. We want to believe we’re contributing to God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:10), but sometimes it’s hard to catch sight of how this is true. We believe God has handed us gifts and a job to do, but at times our efforts appear to accomplish little. Does the way we spend our days have any bearing on how God intends to love and redeem our world? Does carpentry or teaching or physics really participate in the new world God is making?

The apostle Paul insisted that Jesus’ resurrection secured believers’ hope, not just for some distant future but also for our lives now. After explaining how in the resurrection “our bodies . . . will be raised in strength,” Paul went on to emphasize that, marvelous as that truth is (1 Corinthians 15:43), Jesus’ resurrection did much more than secure eternal life. The apostle also said that because Christ has defeated death, every stitch of work we do now in obedience to God will yield good fruit. “Be strong and immovable,” Paul said. “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Whatever we might feel in moments of frustration, we can be certain that God will make our work fruitful by His power.

 

Go Your Own Way?

By: Pauline Hyhton, author

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“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5 (NASB)

You ever open your computer screen, scroll through the awful headlines and think to yourself, I’m glad I’m not like them.

I have. My guess is that you have, too.

The Bible reading in Luke today is both awful and interesting. In the first part of Luke 13, Jesus speaks of an incident that apparently took place in the temple. Roman soldiers cut down some Galileans and their blood was mixed with some of the blood sacrifices.

This appalled the Israelites. The Lord’s answer—as usual—is both unexpected and profound. Basically, He states that unless the people repent, they will all suffer the same fate.

Not what the people wanted to hear.

No one likes to hear about repentance.

Why?

Repentance means turning around, going in a different direction, admitting guilt. And face it, most of us like going a direction of our choosing. And according to our culture, you should never feel guilt—it’s always someone else’s fault.

Not according to God’s Word. Not according to Jesus.

In fact, let’s go back in the gospels to the first mini-message of our Lord:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 NASB

What does He mean?

Jesus is saying in essence, I’m here. Turn to me. Don’t follow your own way. Give me your life. You need a Savior for your sin.

How about we skip over to John 8. A woman is caught in adultery. The Pharisees try to trap Jesus into going against the Law—read the account yourself. My point is at the end, when it is just this condemned woman and Jesus, He tells her, “From now on, sin no more.”

In other words, turn from your sin and turn to Jesus.

In this culture, we don’t often use the word sin. We say we “made a mistake,” or “were at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Or even, “I was hanging with the wrong crowd.”

All of these may be true.

Or not.

Philippians 2:9-11 states:

“Therefore also God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (NASB)

Judgment will one day come to this old earth. Those who have trusted Christ and repented of their sins will be saved. Those who have not will be condemned.

If you are a follower of Christ, be glad. Turn from any known sin.

If you are not, trust Him today. Repent of going your own way.

The Apostle Peter said this in Acts 4:12,

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Turn.

Today.

Into The Storms

Mark 4:39

39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

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Into Our Storms

From: Our Daily Bread

Into Our Storms

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:39

Wind howled, lightning flashed, waves crashed. I thought I was going to die. My grandparents and I were fishing on a lake, but we’d stayed out too long. As the sun set, a fast-moving squall swept over our small boat. My grandfather instructed me to sit in front to keep it from capsizing. Terror flooded my heart. But then, somehow, I began to pray. I was fourteen.

I asked God for His reassurance and protection. The storm didn’t weaken, but we made it to shore. To this day, I don’t know if I’ve experienced a deeper certainty of God’s presence than that night in the storm.

Jesus is no stranger to storms. In Mark 4:35–41, He told His disciples to head across a lake that would soon turn windy and wild. The storm that night tested and bested these rugged fishermen. They too thought they were going to die. But Jesus calmed the water and then led His disciples to deeper faith.

Likewise, Jesus invites us to trust Him in our storms. Sometimes He miraculously stills the winds and the waves. Sometimes He does something equally miraculous: He steadies our hearts and helps us to trust Him. He asks us to rest in the belief that He has the power to say to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”

Lord, the storms of our lives sometimes seem like they will swamp us. Help us trust that You are the Master of the storm, to place our faith in You when life’s winds blow fiercely.

No danger can come so near that God is not nearer still.

 

Lessons from the Titanic

By: Neal Matthews, Author

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The Titanic was the largest, most luxurious ocean liner of its time and called “unsinkable” by many. During its first voyage from England to New York City, the British steamer sideswiped an iceberg around 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912.

Two and a half hours later, it broke apart and sank. The ship carried enough lifeboats for only half of its 2,200 passengers and crew. Approximately 1,500 people lost their life.

Many assumed that the iceberg had ripped a long gash in the ship’s hull. When the wreck was recovered in 1985, no such tear was found. Researchers learned that the hull was made of steel that became brittle in the frigid North Atlantic waters, causing it to fracture easily during the collision. Some suspect the Titanic was traveling too fast for an area where there was a possibility of icebergs.

One night, Jesus walked on the water, and his disciple Peter wanted to join Him. Peter left the boat and was doing fine until he looked around at the high waves. Then he became terrified and started to sink (Matthew 14:25-30).

Like Peter, we may be accomplishing great things with God’s help, and we look around at our frightening circumstances. Then our faith starts to waver, and we get more than a sinking feeling.

At other times, we start to look at our successes and ignore the need to safeguard our spiritual growth. We may start to feel unsinkable, like the Titanic.

But there are always hidden dangers that can wreck our witness and ministry. The only way to safely navigate life is to keep our eyes on Jesus, not on ourself or the circumstances around us. He will help us complete our voyage, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

“Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me.” (Psalm 69:1-2, NLT)

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

It was “very early in the morning” while “it was yet dark,” that Jesus rose from the dead. Not the sun, but only the morning-star shone upon His opening tomb. The shadows had not fled, the citizens of Jerusalem had not awaked. It was still night–the hour of sleep and darkness, when He arose. Nor did his rising break the slumbers of the city. So shall it be “very early in the morning while it is yet dark,” and when nought but the morning-star is shining, that Christ’s body, the Church, shall arise. Like Him, His saints shall awake when the children of the night and darkness are still sleeping their sleep of death. In their arising they disturb no one. The world hears not the voice that summons them. As Jesus laid them quietly to rest, each in his own still tomb, like children in the arms of their mother; so, as quietly, as gently, shall He awake them when the hour arrives. To them come the quickening words, “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust” (Isa. 26:19). Into their tomb the earliest ray of glory finds its way. They drink in the first gleams of morning, while as yet the eastern clouds give but the faintest signs of the uprising. Its genial fragrance, its soothing stillness, its bracing freshness, its sweet loneliness, its quiet purity, all so solemn and yet so full of hope, these are theirs.
Oh, the contrast between these things and the dark night through which they have passed! Oh, the contrast between these things and the grave from which they have sprung! And as they shake off the encumbering turf, flinging mortality aside, and rising, in glorified bodies, to meet their Lord in the air, they are lighted and guided upward, along the untrodden pathway, by the beams of that Star of the morning, which, like the Star of Bethlehem, conducts them to the presence of the King. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
–Horatius Bonar
“While the hosts cry Hosanna, from heaven descending,
With glorified saints and the angels attending,
With grace on His brow, like, a halo of glory,
Will Jesus receive His own.”
“Even so, come quickly.”
A soldier said, “When I die do not sound taps over my grave. Instead, play reveille, the morning call, the summons to arise.”

Jesus Helps Us With Life’s Burdens

 

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30). Jesus will remove your heavy burden of guilt and hopelessness and give you true rest in Him.

 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22). God is glad to carry your burdens and give you the daily strength you need.

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What To Do When Your Burden Is Overwhelming

By Oswald Chambers

 What To Do When Your Burden Is Overwhelming

We must recognize the difference between burdens that are right for us to bear and burdens that are wrong. We should never bear the burdens of sin or doubt, but there are some burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off. God wants us to roll them back on Him— to literally “cast your burden,” which He has given you, “on the Lord….” If we set out to serve God and do His work but get out of touch with Him, the sense of responsibility we feel will be overwhelming and defeating. But if we will only roll back on God the burdens He has placed on us, He will take away that immense feeling of responsibility, replacing it with an awareness and understanding of Himself and His presence.

Many servants set out to serve God with great courage and with the right motives. But with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, they are soon defeated. They do not know what to do with their burden, and it produces weariness in their lives. Others will see this and say, “What a sad end to something that had such a great beginning!”

“Cast your burden on the Lord….” You have been bearing it all, but you need to deliberately place one end on God’s shoulder. “…the government will be upon His shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). Commit to God whatever burden He has placed on you. Don’t just cast it aside, but put it over onto Him and place yourself there with it. You will see that your burden is then lightened by the sense of companionship. But you should never try to separate yourself from your burden

 

And the hand of the Lord was there upon me; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth unto the plain, and I will there talk with thee” (Ezek. 3:22).

Did you ever hear of any one being much used for Christ who did not have some special waiting time, some complete upset of all his or her plans first; from St. Paul’s being sent off into the desert of Arabia for three years, when he must have been boiling over with the glad tidings, down to the present day?
You were looking forward to telling about trusting Jesus in Syria; now He says, “I want you to show what it is to trust Me, without waiting for Syria.”
My own case is far less severe, but the same in principle, that when I thought the door was flung open for me to go with a bound into literary work, it is opposed, and doctor steps in and says, simply, “Never! She must choose between writing and living; she can’t do both.”
That was in 1860. Then I came out of the shell with “Ministry of Song” in 1869, and saw the evident wisdom of being kept waiting nine years in the shade. God’s love being unchangeable, He is just as loving when we do not see or feet His love. Also His love and His sovereignty are co-equal and universal; so He withholds the enjoyment and conscious progress because He knows best what will really ripen and further His work in us.
–Memorials of Frances Ridley Havergal
I laid it down in silence,
This work of mine,
And took what had been sent me–
A resting time.
The Master’s voice had called me
To rest apart;
“Apart with Jesus only,”
Echoed my heart.
I took the rest and stillness
From His own Hand,
And felt this present illness
Was what He planned.
How often we choose labor,
When He says “Rest”–
Our ways are blind and crooked;
His way is best.
The work Himself has given,
He will complete.
There may be other errands
For tired feet;
There may be other duties
For tired hands,
The present, is obedience
To His commands.
There is a blessed resting
In lying still,
In letting His hand mould us,
Just as He will.
His work must be completed.
His lesson set;
He is the higher Workman:
Do not forget!
It is not only “working.”
We must be trained;
And Jesus “learnt” obedience,
Through suffering gained.
For us, His yoke is easy,
His burden light.
His discipline most needful,
And all is right.
We are but under-workmen;
They never choose
If this tool or if that one
Their hands shall use.
In working or in waiting
May we fulfill
Not ours at all, but only
The Master’s will!
–Selected
God provides resting places as well as working places. Rest, then, and be thankful when He brings you, wearied to a wayside well.

 

Contentment in All Circumstances

By: Bob Segress, Author

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“… I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity …” Philippians 4:11-12 NASB

One Sunday, I was sitting in an easy chair in my back yard watching my fountain’s bubbles pop instead of going to church; I began to feel a bit guilty. Even reminding myself that my wife was sick with serious bronchitis didn’t take the lazy bum feeling away.

I let my mind go as if I was at a resort surrounded by palm trees and the sound of the ocean, and suddenly Paul’s voice seemed to intrude and say: “I learned to be content.” Trying to block out the peaceful musical sounds from my fountain, which were hypnotizing me, I thought: “How did Paul learn to be content?”

Still semi-hypnotized, a memory appeared in my mind and caused me to take a step back in time:

My wife and I were celebrating our anniversary in Mexico. We were staying at the Mayan Palace Resort in Rocky Point, Mexico. We had been blessed by receiving an unexpected upgrade to the Grand Mayan section of the luxurious resort. We were happy campers.

As I stood on our balcony looking down at a miles-long private beach owned by the resort, I was very awed. But, I was also concerned by what I had read in Luke 6:24(NASB): “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.” As I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with riches, I wondered if we needed to jump in our car and burn rubber away from the Palace.

When I calmed down, I realized that any verse taken out of context is a pretext. Thinking about the context of Luke 6 made me feel much better. Jesus had said that when we have abundance, we must be on our guard as our life does not consist of our possessions or pleasures. God loves us. Giving is a natural desire for anyone in love. However, gifts can be dangerous.

Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” Luke 12:15 NASB.

Then, the Holy Spirit answered my question and told me how Paul learned to be content.

Paul first said:

“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Philippians 4:12NASB

And then pow! He tells how contentment is possible by saying in the following verse: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NASB

Paul’s relationship with Jesus put everything into perspective and was satisfying enough to strengthen him into contentment.

After I told my wife what I’d learned, we held hands and went on a long walk on the beach and picked up shells normally found in seashell shops. The sounds and mist from the waves seem to be a living motion picture we had walked into. We felt our Lord’s warm presence as the three of us walked and enjoyed being together. We were content.

I was very thankful to have been shown what the Holy Spirit taught Paul about contentment. He had said that:

Jesus and contentment are partners. Don’t reject His loving gifts to you; accept them with gratitude and use them humbly. Hold on to the love in Jesus’ tender hands and this will be a very good day.

The Son of Man Lifted Up

Numbers 21:1-9

14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

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From: Our Daily Journey

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Read:

Numbers 21:1-9
As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up (John 3:14).

The origins of crucifixion are unknown, but the Roman Empire was infamous for inflicting the debasing practice on society’s lowest. Yet today, the cross—the representative symbol of crucifixion—is often prominently displayed, cherished by believers in Jesus around the world.

The Israelites experienced a similar turnaround during their sojourn in the wilderness. After an exhilarating victory (Numbers 21:1-3), God led His people through a detour to avoid engaging another nation in battle. “But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. . . . So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died” (Numbers 21:4-6).

Moses prayed for the people and received this divine instruction: “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” (Numbers 21:8).

This likely would have struck Moses as odd, given the commandment forbidding graven images (Exodus 20:4) and the understanding that anyone who hung on a tree or pole was cursed (Deuteronomy 21:23). Yet he obeyed, and, as God had promised, anyone who’d been bitten found healing when they looked at the bronze snake (Numbers 21:9).

In that wilderness, a symbol of death and judgment was transformed into an instrument of life and healing. But God didn’t stop there—just “as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man [was] lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

In difficult times, remember—God can transform even what’s most painful in your life into a place where you experience His healing power. Wait on Him for new life and hope.

 

A Strange Night-Light

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Lessons can be learned with just about anything or in everyday life experiences.

The other night, my son was up late and he was looking for our cat, Bella, in the dark. He didn’t want to wake me as the kitchen is next to my bedroom, and I had left the door cracked for my cat to come in since she likes to lie under the desk.

I heard him in the kitchen because I am a light sleeper and as quiet as he was trying to be, I noticed a small light in the kitchen. I don’t have a night-light in there, just a small lamp but this was just a small stream of light.

Seeing that light, I ventured into the kitchen out of curiosity. I saw that he had opened the refrigerator door to peer around the corner to the living room to see if Bella’s shadow was in the window sill. It worked! The tiniest light can brighten up a room.

Are we lights for Jesus for all to see? The curious will wonder why we are different. We should dispel the darkness wherever we go.

Do you remember the story about the ten virgins? They had oil lamps, but some had used up their oil and did not have any. They had failed to keep their lights burning and when they needed it, they were frantically searching for some light. But, it was too late.

Others were wise and kept their lights shining brightly. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light, and He is the light of the world. When we accept Him in our hearts that light also shines in us for others to see.

As His followers, we must continue to read the Bible, fellowship with believers in church to grow and pray for direction, and pray for others to keep our lights shining at all times for the world to see.

If we keep our focus, and our gaze fixed upon the Lord, then others will see us shine and be drawn to the light of God’s love. They are groping in darkness without the knowledge of Jesus and how much He loves them, so we must keep our lamps filled with the oil of the spirit of God.

There is something in the countenance of the ones who stay close to Jesus. It comes from the inside to the outside. It comes from our hearts, and His love is reflected in our eyes and in our smiles to a lost and hurting world.

I have a replica lampstand from Jerusalem of the seven candlesticks. It was an important piece in the tabernacle of Moses, and it reminds me to keep my light burning and to pray for those who need to know that Jesus is the Light of the World.

If a matchstick flame can lighten up a room, can you imagine how much our lights can dispel the darkness in the world? I urge you to not let your flame grow dim.

Matthew 15:1-3 says,

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.” (NIV)

“Make a lamp stand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it.  Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lamp stand—three on one side and three on the other.  Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lamp stand.  And on the lamp stand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lamp stand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lamp stand, hammered out of pure gold.

Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lamp stand and all these accessories. See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Exodus 25:31-40 (NIV)

Complete and Effective Dominion

Complete and Effective Dominion

By Oswald Chambers

Co-Eternal Life. Eternal life is the life which Jesus Christ exhibited on the human level. And it is this same life, not simply a copy of it, which is made evident in our mortal flesh when we are born again. Eternal life is not a gift from God; eternal life is the gift of God. The energy and the power which was so very evident in Jesus will be exhibited in us by an act of the absolute sovereign grace of God, once we have made that complete and effective decision about sin.

“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8)— not power as a gift from the Holy Spirit; the power is the Holy Spirit, not something that He gives us. The life that was in Jesus becomes ours because of His Cross, once we make the decision to be identified with Him. If it is difficult to get right with God, it is because we refuse to make this moral decision about sin. But once we do decide, the full life of God comes in immediately. Jesus came to give us an endless supply of life— “…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Eternal life has nothing to do with time. It is the life which Jesus lived when He was down here, and the only Source of life is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Even the weakest saint can experience the power of the deity of the Son of God, when he is willing to “let go.” But any effort to “hang on” to the least bit of our own power will only diminish the life of Jesus in us. We have to keep letting go, and slowly, but surely, the great full life of God will invade us, penetrating every part. Then Jesus will have complete and effective dominion in us, and people will take notice that we have been with Him.