Tag Archives: devotion

The Day I Couldn’t Pray

Psalm 147:3 

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Isaiah 40:1 

“‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God.”

Matthew 5:4 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Matthew 11:28 

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

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When you feel you can’t pray remember that God knows your heart and mind. He knows how you are hurting and is helping already.
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The Day I Couldn’t Pray

From: Our Daily Bread

The Day I Couldn’t Pray
Read: Romans 8:22–26 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 5–6; Ephesians 1

The Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

In November 2015, I learned I needed open-heart surgery. Surprised and a little shaken, I was naturally drawn to think about the possibility of death. Were there relationships I needed to mend? Were there financial matters I needed to attend to for my family? Was there work that could be done ahead of time? And what about work that couldn’t wait; who should I hand that off to? It was a time to both act and pray.

Except I couldn’t do either.

My body was so weary and my mind so fatigued that even the simplest of tasks seemed beyond my strength. Perhaps most surprising, when I tried to pray, my thoughts would drift to the discomfort, or the shallow breathing caused by the damaged heart made me fall asleep. It was frustrating. I couldn’t work and I couldn’t even ask God to let me live so I could spend more time with my family!

The inability to pray troubled me most. But as with all other human needs, the Creator knew this was happening to me. I would eventually recall He made two preparations for such occurrences: the prayer of the Spirit for us when we can’t pray (Rom. 8:26), and the prayer of others on our behalf (James 5:16; Gal. 6:2).

What a comfort it was to know that the Holy Spirit was even then raising my concerns before the Father. What a gift also to hear from friends and family as they prayed for me. Then came another surprise: As my friends and family asked me what to pray for, it became clear that my answers to them were also being heard by God as prayers. What a gift it is in a time of uncertainty to be reminded God hears our heart even when we think we can’t call out to Him.

 God never leaves the voices of His children unheard.

 

 

Lysa TerKeurst September 28, 2017
When God Isn’t Answering Our Prayers
LYSA TERKEURSTFrom: Crosswalk.com

“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2 (NIV)

When God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers it can be hard. Sometimes, downright awful.

One minute I’m determined to trust God.

In the next, I feel myself slipping. The “why” questions tumble in so hard. My heart hurts. My eyes leak.

Ever been there?

I don’t want to oversimplify what to do in these times. I know from prayer requests I’ve received over the years many of us are facing really tough issues. Situations where the answers aren’t easy or clear cut.

But I have discovered a few things that help me when God seems silent …

* Press in to God when you want to pull away.

When I really want to hear from God but He seems silent, I sometimes find I want to disengage from my normal spiritual activities. Skip church. Put my Bible on my shelf. And let more and more time lapse between prayers.

But our key verse, Psalm 61:2, reminds us that the best thing we can do when our hearts are growing faint is to call out to God, not pull away from Him: “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

The Bible also promises we will find God if we seek Him with all our heart. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV). All my heart includes the parts that are broken. Bring it all to God.

He can handle your honesty and will respond. But we have to position ourselves to go where truth is. Go to church. Listen to praise music. Read verses. Memorize verses. And keep talking to God.

* Praise God out loud when you want to get lost in complaints.

In the midst of what you’re facing, find simple things for which to praise God. I don’t mean thank Him for the hard stuff. I mean thank Him for the other simple, good things still in the midst. A child’s laugh. A bush that blooms. The warmth of a blanket. The gift of this breath and then the next.

Psalm 40:3 reminds me God will give me a new song when I make praise the habit of my heart and mouth: “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him” (NIV).

* Put yourself in the company of truth.

That friend who speaks truth? Listen to her. Stay connected to her. Let her speak truth into your life, even when you’re tired of hearing it. Stand in the shadow of her faith when you feel your own faith is weak. Let her lead you back to God time and time again.Proverbs 12:26a reminds us: “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor …” (ESV).

It’s okay to feel hurt and confused. Our God is big enough to handle our honest feelings. But don’t let your feelings lead you away from God or away from His truth. Press into Him. Praise Him. And put yourself in the company of truth.

As you stay with God in these ways, you’ll become ready to receive His answer when it comes.

Dear Lord, thank You for hearing every “why” my heart sends up to You. Forgive me when I retreat from You and Your Word. I want to trust You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Perfect Plans

From: Our Daily Journey

Perfect Plans

Read:

Isaiah 45:1-13
So all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other (Isaiah 45:6).

The rejection letter I received from the university’s registrar sent me spiraling into shock and disbelief. In the midst of my sadness and confusion, I was grateful that one of my cousins had encouraged me to apply to another school. Fortunately, I was accepted by that university. While I didn’t understand why I was unable to attend my dream school, I recognized that God wasn’t surprised. He knew everything about my situation and had my best in mind.

Years before the birth of King Cyrus, the prophet Isaiah declared, “This is what the Lord says to Cyrus, his anointed one . . . . I will go before you . . . and level the mountains. . . . I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one” (Isaiah 45:1-4).

Since God had declared that He was “the God of Israel” (Isaiah 45:3), His actions through a foreign king may have seemed unusual. Even more surprising would have been the idea that God was using this foreign power to bring about something good for His chosen people. Yet God dispels any doubts with this unequivocal declaration, “I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God” (Isaiah 45:5-6).

The university I attended ending up providing me with connections that laid a solid foundation for my career. What made no sense to me at the time became a shining example of God working out His purposes for my good and His glory. We can rest in His perfect plans.

The Webs Of Life

Job 8:14

Whose confidence is fragile, And whose trust a spider’s web.

 

Proverbs 30:28

The lizard you may grasp with the hands, Yet it is in kings’ palaces.

Isaiah 59:5

They hatch adders’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth.

Job 27:18

“He has built his house like the spider’s web, Or as a hut which the watchman has made.

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Don’t Allow Yourself To Be Caught In One Of Life’s Webs.
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The Webs of Life

From: Author, Missy Butler

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Fall. The cool breezes of autumn cause us to reach for our favorite sweater, as we step outdoors to take a brisk walk in the crisp, clean air. The smell of burning leaves always reminds me of my childhood, with thoughts of flickering fireplaces and large mugs of hot chocolate, topped with a big ole melting marshmallow.

Another not so fond memory of autumns past, was one of me riding along on my bicycle, minding my own business, when suddenly I would find myself plowing head-long, face-first, into the middle of a large sticky spider web! Oh, how I hated that! With arms flailing and lips sputtering, I would attempt to peel off the remnants of what used to be Madame Spider’s abode as she would have no other choice but to now come along for the ride, and I just knew that her little eight-legged self was creeping along somewhere in the vicinity of my shoulders.

For some unknown reason, I have found myself very intrigued (again) with spider webs. I happened to spot one the other morning as I was heading out for my usual morning bike ride with my favorite Labrador companion, Champ. It was still dark and the moon was shining at just the right angle where I could see the reflection of the silk woven web. I was amazed at how perfectly concentric its design was.

A few seconds later, I was stunned, as I witnessed a very large fluttering butterfly come out of nowhere and rapidly plunge head-long into the center of its web. The poor butterfly frantically began to struggle only to find itself being wrapped tighter with each panicky movement. I instinctively lowered my bike and walked over and with both hands, reached in, and as gently as I could, cupped my palms around her and slowly pulled her out. I released her into the moonlight and watched as she hastily flew away.

Immediately, I thought of God’s own hands and how they had lovingly reached down into my own web of impending death. I recalled those web-like sticky fibers of sin that had wrapped themselves around my mind and heart so tightly, just waiting for me to die a slow death. I desperately tried to free myself from the bondage of sin, but could not. He came along at just the right moment and cupped his palms around me and set me free.

Today, I am that butterfly and I now soar in my new-found freedom, knowing full well just what I have been rescued from. I rejoice in the liberty that He has given me by way of my salvation. The very same palms that were nailed to a cruel cross, one day lovingly reached down into my own web of sin and forever set me free.

Will you allow Him to do the same for you? He understands how we so readily fall prey to the enemy of our soul, and He longs to release us from the entanglement of sin. Stop trying to release yourself, and let Him reach down and set you free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galations 5:1).

Always on Duty

From: Our Daily Journey

Always on Duty

Read:

Galatians 6:1-10
Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith (Galatians 6:10).

Julie Stroyne, a trauma nurse, had just gotten married and immediately after the reception was walking with her wedding party in downtown Pittsburgh. Suddenly she spotted an unconscious woman on a bench. Still in her wedding dress, Stroyne kicked off her shoes and jumped into action in an effort to save the woman’s life. It didn’t matter that she was celebrating her wedding. As a nurse, she was ready to serve.

The apostle Paul says that all believers in Jesus should be ready as well. He wanted those who have received salvation to know that “whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

Yes, we have a special responsibility to other believers (Galatians 6:2). Doing good to those who are in the family of God demonstrates His faithfulness to His people. Like a loving home, family members’ needs are to be met first—followed by friends and neighbors.

Members of the Galatian church to whom Paul wrote didn’t receive help from local civic leaders. The only source of aid for struggling believers was the generosity of other believers. So as the individual Galatian believers had opportunity to do good, they were to do so to everyone. Paul reminded them that no matter the disruptive circumstances, the constant inconveniences, or changing locations, they were always on duty, and shouldn’t “give up” helping others (Galatians 6:9).

Like medical professionals, followers of Jesus are always on duty. Therefore, the time for doing good is anytime. God is always orchestrating fresh opportunities for us to assist those who are in need. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes so we can see where and to whom He wants us to do good today.

Sticking Up for Jesus

From: Get More Strenght

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Recently, I read a disturbing quote from a pastor of a large church in California. He said, “I used to believe that we should ask Muslims to accept Christ as their Savior. But I don’t believe that any more. I’ve sensed the presence of God with Muslims, and I’ve come to believe that it’s wrong to try to talk them into becoming Christians.”

I don’t know why he changed his mind, but caving in on what Jesus has clearly said, is a betrayal of Jesus Himself. Jesus came to make a way to God by removing the one barrier that blocks everyone’s path to God—the barrier of sin. This meant that He had to die in our place to pay the price of sin. Without His sacrifice, there is no other way. Let’s face it; if there were other ways to God, then He didn’t need to die. It’s ludicrous to believe that His Father would send Him through the agony of the cross if it were only another religious option. To deny that He is the way is to deny Jesus.

But let’s get personal about this. While it’s easy to “be out” on a West Coast pastor who has bailed on the message of Jesus, we ourselves find it hard to tell people at the water cooler that we believe He is the only way. There are probably a lot of reasons why we tend to fudge on the issue: keeping culturally respectable, not appearing to be to the right of Attila the Hun, or just not wanting to seem intolerant or bigoted all stack up as pretty good reasons to duck when the subject is raised.

But at some point, we have to make up our mind about whether any of these pressures are worth betraying Jesus for.

Judas did it for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 27:1-5). And, to be candid about it, he had some pretty good reasons to bail. If he had stuck it out with the unpopular Jesus, he would suffer (as Jesus had told His disciples), be thrown out of synagogues, and perhaps even die for the cause. On the other hand, betraying Christ would bring him acceptance from the “powers that be,” safety, and security by aligning himself with the big guys—and some extra cash besides. Being like Judas is always an option. But let’s remember that he was no hero. When was the last time you heard of parents naming their newborn son Judas?

All I’m trying to say is that sticking up for Jesus against heavy odds is always tough. But it’s always right. Perhaps we have misunderstood the nature of being a follower of Jesus: We are to take up our cross and follow Him. Paying a price for Him comes into clear perspective when we remember the phenomenal price He paid for us.

I’m not asking you to be obnoxious about it, just humbly clear. And by the way, is there anything compelling about your life that would back up the words that Jesus is the way? Are you wonderfully different because Jesus is the way? Do people at the water cooler know that you are trustworthy, forgiving, fair and honest, joyful, and quick to speak a good word about others?

It’s always easier to speak up for Jesus when we have already shown up for Jesus.

From Empty To Full

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Things that are empty.
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From Empty to Full

From: Our Daily Bread

From Empty to Full
Read: 2 Kings 4:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 1–2; Galatians 5

When all the jars were full . . . the oil stopped flowing. 2 Kings 4:6

A popular children’s book tells the story of a poor, country boy who took off his cap to honor the king. An identical hat appeared instantly in its place on his head, inciting the king’s anger for what appeared to be disrespect. Bartholomew removed hat after hat while being escorted to the palace for punishment. Each time, a new one appeared in its place. The hats grew increasingly fancy, bearing precious jewels and feather plumes. The 500th hat was the envy of King Derwin, who pardoned Bartholomew and purchased the hat for 500 pieces of gold. At last, Bartholomew’s head was bare; he walked home with freedom and money to support his family.

A widow came to Elisha in financial distress, fearing her children would be sold into slavery to pay her debts (2 Kings 4). She had no assets other than a jar of oil. God multiplied that oil to fill enough borrowed jars to settle the debts plus care for their daily needs (v. 7).

God provided financially for the widow in much the same way He provides salvation for me. I am bankrupted by sin, but Jesus paid my debt—and offers me eternal life as well! Without Jesus, we are each like the poor, country boy with no means to pay our King for our offenses against Him. God miraculously supplies the extravagant ransom for us, and ensures that those who trust in Him will have life abundant forever.

Thank You, Lord, for paying my debt through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I had nothing; You paid it all for me.

Jesus’s sacrifice pays for our spiritual debt.

The “Go” of Reconciliation

By Oswald Chambers

This verse says, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you….” It is not saying, “If you search and find something because of your unbalanced sensitivity,” but, “If you…remember….” In other words, if something is brought to your conscious mind by the Spirit of God— “First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24). Never object to the intense sensitivity of the Spirit of God in you when He is instructing you down to the smallest detail.

“First be reconciled to your brother….” Our Lord’s directive is simple— “First be reconciled….” He says, in effect, “Go back the way you came— the way indicated to you by the conviction given to you at the altar; have an attitude in your mind and soul toward the person who has something against you that makes reconciliation as natural as breathing.” Jesus does not mention the other person— He says for you to go. It is not a matter of your rights. The true mark of the saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.

“…and then come and offer your gift.” The process of reconciliation is clearly marked. First we have the heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, then the sudden restraint by the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit, and then we are stopped at the point of our conviction. This is followed by obedience to the Word of God, which builds an attitude or state of mind that places no blame on the one with whom you have been in the wrong. And finally there is the glad, simple, unhindered offering of your gift to God.

 

Crossing Cultural Divides

From: Our Daily Journey

Crossing Cultural Divides

Read:

Ruth 2:1-18 
I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done (Ruth 2:11-12).

The Institute of International Education revealed that more than one million international students studied in US universities and colleges during the 2015-16 academic year. As a former international student myself, I know how difficult it is to enter a different culture, to learn to communicate in another language, and to experience culture shock and homesickness. I also know how wonderful it feels to be welcomed and loved by believers in Jesus from a local community.

The story of Ruth is a beautiful illustration of God’s people caring for outsiders. Ruth was a foreigner in Israel who had traveled from her homeland of Moab to the land of Israel (Ruth 1:6-7). Although her circumstances were different from an international student, she had taken a huge risk to travel with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to her homeland and join her people (Ruth 1:16). Moreover, Ruth was a citizen of a nation that had experienced hostility with Israel in the past. So the potential for her to be treated badly was even greater than for some foreigners.

Yet God was aware of her situation. Each step of the way He placed the right people in her path so that Ruth would be welcomed and loved. Upon her arrival, Ruth worked hard gathering grain in the fields owned by Boaz. He was a wealthy man and also a relative of Ruth’s deceased father-in-law. He showed amazing kindness and hospitality to Ruth even though she was a foreigner (Ruth 2:8-10).

Immigrants, refugees, and international students with many needs and challenges are present in our communities. As God provides for us, may we use this God-given opportunity to show the same kindness and hospitality that Boaz showed Ruth.

Removing The Barriers

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-4

 

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

 
Ephesians 2:14

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,

Isaiah 59:2

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Mark 16:4

Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.

 

(Refusing To Listen Is One Of The Barriers We Must Overcome).

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Removing the Barriers

From: Our Daily Bread

Removing the Barriers

He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. Philemon 1:16

I saw Mary every Tuesday when I visited “the House”—a home that helps former prisoners reintegrate into society. My life looked different from hers: fresh out of jail, fighting addictions, separated from her son. You might say she lived on the edge of society.

Like Mary, Onesimus knew what it meant to live on the edge of society. As a slave, Onesimus had apparently wronged his Christian master, Philemon, and was now in prison. While there, he met Paul and came to faith in Christ (v. 10). Though now a changed man, Onesimus was still a slave. Paul sent him back to Philemon with a letter urging him to receive Onesimus “no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother” (Philem. 1:16).

Philemon had a choice to make: He could treat Onesimus as his slave or welcome him as a brother in Christ. I had a choice to make too. Would I see Mary as an ex-convict and a recovering addict—or as a woman whose life is being changed by the power of Christ? Mary was my sister in the Lord, and we were privileged to walk together in our journey of faith.

It’s easy to allow the walls of socio-economic status, class, or cultural differences to separate us. The gospel of Christ removes those barriers, changing our lives and our relationships forever.

Dear God, thank You that the gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives and relationships. Thank You for removing the barriers between us and making us all members of Your family.

The gospel changes people and relationships.

 

Never Give Up

From: Our Daily Journey

Never Give Up

Read:

Luke 18:1-8
Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up (Luke 18:1).

Unlike mystery novels where you never know who the villain in the story is until the final pages, in Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow, we’re clued in right at the beginning that the judge is a shady character. Jesus sets the stage by informing us that there “was a judge in a certain city . . . who neither feared God nor cared about people” (Luke 18:2). This judge didn’t waste a moment thinking about God or about anybody other than himself. He was selfish, small-minded, and power-hungry.

Jesus introduces us to another character, however, a widow who was destitute and who came to the judge’s court day after day. She repeatedly asked him for a ruling against someone who had wronged her. Time and again, the judge rebuffed her. Yet the widow refused to take no for an answer. Finally the exhausted judge decided he’d had enough. “I don’t fear God or care for people,” the judge admitted, “but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!” (Luke 18:4-5).

And this is where Jesus drives His point home: If a judge as awful and evil as this can be moved to intervene, then think about how much more powerfully God’s heart and strength will move on your behalf (Luke 18:6). If even this scoundrel finally helps the poor woman, how much more, Jesus asks, can we trust that “God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?” (Luke 18:7).

Keep praying, Jesus insists. Keep bringing your entire heart to God. Bring your hopes and disappointments, your desires and needs, your confusion, your dismay, your brokenness. Keep praying, and never give up. Your God hears you and He will answer.

 

Fight Like a Saint

From: CBN, and Rev. Pam Morrison, author

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“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

We raised our children for many years on a large piece of land that had once been farm property. We built a home, put in a garden, and created a pond behind the house.

The pond had a dock and the Extension Service helped us to stock the pond with bass, catfish, and blue gill. The kids loved to fish. One time our daughter caught two fish on one lure!

But with the joy, came some issues. One of them was algae growth. Oh my, it was concerning to see the green “globs” increase and threaten to overtake our beautiful fishing spot.

My husband went to the feed store and talked with one of the men there. He recommended a product that, with just a small amount poured into the water, could swiftly destroy the algae.

The product was amazing. Within short order, every bit of algae was gone. No more masses of green organisms choking the pond. The water was clear and pristine again.

I thought of this recently in relationship to ministering to people with difficult emotional problems. I spend time with recovering addicts, helping them to get free. The life they have led, the pain experienced through personal choices, and the harsh things that have been done to them often result in a spectrum of spiritual attacks on their minds. Feelings of rejection, shame, isolation, abandonment by God and others, and many more distorted thoughts threaten to suffocate the clear living water of the Spirit and the presence of Christ for them.

Just as the algae attempted to overcome the clear water of our pond, so these thoughts, alien to God’s thoughts, threaten to suffocate the hearts and minds of people oppressed by them. Even many mature Christians struggle.

But we have a “product” too, that can, even with a small amount, slip into the clouded waters of our thoughts and eat away the lies. That product is the word of God. The Lord has reminded me recently that though it is unpleasant to have to do spiritual warfare and get up and fight yet again, the truth of the matter is the One who will really do the fighting is Him. When we feel beset by cloudy, hurtful, or unhealthy feelings, all we need to do is run to His arms, pick up the Word, and once again drop some of it into our circumstances. So we decree:

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

“I am accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:6

“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

I say, “I am loved and I belong to God. I am righteous in God’s sight always as a believer in Christ Jesus.” These new, true thoughts begin to consume and drive out the lies.

When we just put a drop of truth into our minds by decreeing the Word instead of giving into the relentless attack from the enemy, (which we think is simply our emotions) the waters of our mind’s thinking begin to clear.  God fights for us and we get back up on our feet, reinvigorated, hope restored.

Fight like a saint!!

Be Angry But Sin Not

 

Key verse: “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, Ephesians 4:26

Psalms 7:11 (KJV) God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

1 Kings 11:9,10 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded.

2 Kings 17:18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.

Mark 3:4,5 And he [Jesus] said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

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Anger Management

From: Our Daily Bread

Anger Management

In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26

As I had dinner with a friend, she expressed how fed up she was with a particular family member. But she was reluctant to say anything to him about his annoying habit of ignoring or mocking her. When she did try to confront him about the problem, he responded with sarcastic remarks. She exploded in anger at him. Both parties wound up digging in their heels, and the family rift widened.

I can relate, because I handle anger the same way. I also have a hard time confronting people. If a friend or family member says something mean, I usually suppress how I feel until that person or someone else comes along and says or does something else mean. After a while, I explode.

Maybe that’s why the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:26 said, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Providing a time limit on unresolved issues keeps anger in check. Instead of stewing over a wrong, which is a breeding ground for bitterness, we can ask God for help to “[speak] the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).

Got a problem with someone? Rather than hold it in, hold it up to God first. He can fight the fire of anger with the power of His forgiveness and love.

Heavenly Father, please guard us from uncontrolled anger. May the words that we speak bring honor to You.

 

Honor by Example

From: Our Daily Journey

Honor by Example

Read:

1 Timothy 4:6–5:2
Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8).

Darkness wrapped the jet in a quiet comfort, while a few reading lights remained on. Though it was late in the evening and passengers were trying to sleep, the loud chatter of two young women could be heard above the hum of the plane’s engine. Suddenly, an older woman seated in front of them turned around and sharply exclaimed, “Would you two be quiet!” Taken aback, they looked around to see who had heard and began laughing disrespectfully. Turning to glare once more, the disrupted sleeper settled back in her seat.

Both parties could have been more civil. Impatience. Self-centeredness. Entitlement. Each of these qualities can cause us to treat others badly. Whether masked by artificially polite behavior or displayed in outright contempt, the struggle to honor others is evident in our world.

We too can feel unrelenting pressure to demand what culture says is within our rights. Those who’ve been changed by Jesus’ love, however, realize our motivation, though lived out in this world, comes from heaven. The temptation to dishonor should be met by the reality that our hope is “in the living God” who saves (1 Timothy 4:10). Godliness—living out thoughts, actions, and words that reflect Christ’s own—flows from Him and sets the path for us to honor Him.

Even the tendency toward dishonor that all too often accompanies generational differences can be overcome with our decision to live and speak in love, faith, and purity (1 Timothy 4:121 Timothy 5:1-2). Paul’s words to Timothy remind us honoring others must be prominent in our interactions, not only because we bear the image of God but because the world is watching us (1 Timothy 4:16). May we reveal Jesus as He provides what we need to treat others with respect.

 

Keep Hanging On

From: CBN, and author:  Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D.

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Sometimes I wonder why the farmer in Jesus’s parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-20 wasted so much seed on sub-prime acreage. The stony portion of the field, for example, wasn’t a place that just needed a little rock removal. It was “ground where a quite thin surface of earth covers a rock,” according to the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.* In other words, those seeds fell on nothing more than a slab of dusty bedrock.

God’s promises have fallen on similar “tillage” in my heart where I despaired of ever producing a harvest. But even mountains manage to grow a crop of towering pines on nothing more than granite when seeds persist long enough to push through rock. I’ve found, even where my heart feels stony, I can still get it to yield something fruitful.

When we were putting our children through college, my financial faith felt as tenuous as a root trying to survive on a boulder. Our savings never seemed to match the requirements for getting them to graduation.

I held scriptures of God’s faithfulness to provide for us in my heart—promises such as 2 Corinthians 9:10-11Philippians 4:19, and many more. Though the word was sown in me, however, reality constantly threatened to break my hold on trust. Tomorrow’s fees were always looming over today’s inadequate bank account.

Growing Faith Bit by Bit

My faith wasn’t big or strong enough to believe for all the expenses at once, but I kept it alive by trusting God for one day’s bills at a time. When worry lifted its head, I refreshed myself daily (even hourly) by recalling those words of faithfulness, and they consoled and encouraged my heart like dewfall on dry roots.

Day by day, I marveled at how He met our needs. Sometimes a tax rebate arrived just in time. Sometimes a gift appeared in our mailbox. Sometimes there was an unexpected pay increase.

Money seemed to pass through our bank account more than it collected there, so I’m still not sure how it happened, but the bills were paid and both children graduated without going into debt. All the time I felt like the farmer in Mark 4:26-29. I didn’t know how, but the ground seemed to be producing all by itself; first the sprout, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. One thing I do know—my faith that God will provide for us is stronger than ever because my roots had time to go deep.

Faith sometimes takes hold slowly, like roots growing on rocky ground. Keeping His word fresh in our minds, like moisture consistently applied, keeps it alive. Stone-bound seeds kept moist long enough to grow roots attain a remarkable power. They slowly and steadily push against the rock as they grow, until they penetrate then crack it. Under that tiny but consistent pressure, the stone gradually crumbles and becomes the very soil the roots need.

God sows His seed where He wills—even where logic says it should not grow at all. If we will lay hold of His words and cling to them as to great treasure, those words will at last produce a harvest—sometimes thirty, sometimes sixty, and sometimes a hundred fold.

Belief In Christ Redeems Your Soul

 II Corinthians 5: 16-21

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:a The old has gone, the new is here!

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

21 God made him who had no sin to be sinb for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

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God is a great accountant. He keeps detailed records of all bad and good. God knows that we are weak. So, He offers us a full pardon. The pardon makes us completely without sin if we believe in His Son. The result is complete peace with God, and eternity in Heaven.

John 3:16 ” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Ugh, Yes, But . . .

From: Our Daily Journey

Ugh, Yes, But . . .

Read:

Psalm 130:1-8
Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? (Psalm 130:3).

I winced the moment I said it. I meant to be funny, but it came out mean. My comment sagged heavy on my heart when I went to bed and was still draped there when I awoke. I thought, My motives were pure, but my words were clumsy. Such self-talk purchased momentary relief, but soon enough the pain of my words began to haunt my heart again. After twenty-four hours of trying to let myself off the hook, I finally admitted what I had known all along. What I said was wrong. I had been a jerk.

Immediately a wave of relief washed over my head and down to my toes. I understood the rhetorical question of Psalm 130:3, “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive?” Answer: No one. As Paul later declared, “Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).

Almost everyone. Psalm 130:3 may have begun as a rhetorical question, but it didn’t end there. If God kept a record of sins, “Who, O Lord, could ever survive?” Only one person: our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus obeyed God fully and so He could offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. His death and resurrection are the reason we can rejoice in this verse from Psalm 130, “But you offer forgiveness” (Psalm 130:4).

I still often want to make myself look better than I am, but this psalm is teaching me a better way to respond to my sin. I’m learning to say Ugh, that’s ugly, then Yes, that’s what I am on my own, apart from Christ. But that’s no longer who I am. I am now a saint, made holy by the blood of Jesus. So, by God’s grace, my sin has become an excuse to celebrate my new identity. I’m a child of God, forgiven in Jesus. “I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him” (Psalm 130:5).

 

What To Renounce

Utmost.org

What To Renounce

Have you “renounced the hidden things of shame” in your life— the things that your sense of honor or pride will not allow to come into the light? You can easily hide them. Is there a thought in your heart about anyone that you would not like to be brought into the light? Then renounce it as soon as it comes to mind— renounce everything in its entirety until there is no hidden dishonesty or craftiness about you at all. Envy, jealousy, and strife don’t necessarily arise from your old nature of sin, but from the flesh which was used for these kinds of things in the past (see Romans 6:19 and 1 Peter 4:1-3). You must maintain continual watchfulness so that nothing arises in your life that would cause you shame.

“…not walking in craftiness…” (2 Corinthians 4:2). This means not resorting to something simply to make your own point. This is a terrible trap. You know that God will allow you to work in only one way— the way of truth. Then be careful never to catch people through the other way— the way of deceit. If you act deceitfully, God’s blight and ruin will be upon you. What may be craftiness for you, may not be for others— God has called you to a higher standard. Never dull your sense of being your utmost for His highest— your best for His glory. For you, doing certain things would mean craftiness coming into your life for a purpose other than what is the highest and best, and it would dull the motivation that God has given you. Many people have turned back because they are afraid to look at things from God’s perspective. The greatest spiritual crisis comes when a person has to move a little farther on in his faith than the beliefs he has already accepted.

 

Battleground of the Mind

From: CBN, and author: Missey Butler

After my initial conversion to Christianity, it didn’t take long for me to realize that an inner war had been declared and that my mind was where the heaviest skirmishes were taking place.

The ground force troops had been released when I began to recognize that if I was ever going to see victory over my flesh, it would have to first be won in the battlefront of my thinking. The word tells us, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he …” Proverbs 23:7 KJV

I immediately jumped into the foxhole of truth that I found in Galatians 2:20 NIV: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

That hand grenade of a verse had become my John 3:16, if you will, as far as grounding me in the reality that until I die spirituality, no real life was ever going to come forth.

“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24 NIV

I once heard a well-known man of God describe to an audience his early morning ritual. He stated that the very first thing he does after shutting off the alarm is he stands up, stretches, thanks God for a new day, and then… HE DROPS DEAD!

Of course, the audience roared with laughter. Then he quipped, “No, really, I am dead serious!” More laughter ensued. After the hilarity had finally subsided and all eyes were “ten hup” to the wisdom of his next statements, like a good soldier of the Lord, he began to strategically take us through the process of daily mortification of the flesh. The first rules of engagement include the following:

1. Announce that your carnal mind has been declared DOA (dead on arrival).

2. You’ll now be reporting to a new commander in chief from this point on.

3. Never forget, the battles are won and lost in the arena of your mind.

I now faithfully report to my commanding officer every morning. And I’m proud to say I am gaining more and more ground over the lies of the enemy. Some days I find myself dying a thousand deaths within a 24-hour day. This carnal mind does not die easily, but it has to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ.

So now, every morning, I hear the reveille of God’s bugle as He wakes me up to the reality that, yes, the battle is on, but THE WAR HAS ALREADY BEEN WON. I simply stand in an unwavering faith, believing that it is no longer I who lives, but Christ living in me. As Romans 8:37 says, I am more than a conqueror!

 

We Have A King

We Have A King and His Name Is Jesus Christ.

1 Kings 22:19

Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.

Isaiah 6:1

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.

Isaiah 63:15

Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation; Where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me.

Daniel 7:9

“I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.

Matthew 5:34

“But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,

 

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We Have a King!

From: Our Daily Bread

We Have a King!
 s

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. Judges 21:25

After attacking my husband with hurtful words when a situation didn’t go my way, I snubbed the Holy Spirit’s authority as He reminded me of Bible verses that revealed my sinful attitudes. Was nursing my stubborn pride worth the collateral damage in my marriage or being disobedient to God? Absolutely not. But by the time I asked for forgiveness from the Lord and my spouse, I’d left a wake of wounds behind me—the result of ignoring wise counsel and living as if I didn’t have to answer to anyone but myself.

There was a time when the Israelites had a rebellious attitude. After the death of Moses, Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land. Under his leadership, the Israelite’s served the Lord (Judg. 2:7). But after Joshua and the generation that outlived him died, the Israelites forgot God and what He’d done (v. 10). They rejected godly leadership and embraced sin (vv. 11–15).

Things improved when the Lord raised up judges (vv. 16–18), who served like kings. But when each judge died, the Israelites returned to defying God. Living as if they didn’t have anyone to answer to but themselves, they suffered devastating consequences (vv. 19–22). But that doesn’t have to be our reality. We can submit to the sovereign authority of the eternal Ruler we were made to follow—Jesus—because He is our living Judge and King of Kings.

Jesus, please help us remember You are our living King of Kings and Lord of Lords, almighty and worthy of our loving obedience and trust.

God gives us the power and the privilege to enjoy the rewards of doing things His way.

The Root of Unity

From: Our Daily Journey

The Root of Unity

Read:

Ephesians 4:1-16
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6).

Few boxing rivalries are as legendary as the one between Joe Louis, an African-American boxer, and Max Schmeling, a German fighter who was a favorite of Hitler’s (although Schmeling personally had no love for the Nazi regime). The two men were promoted as bitter rivals, but the truth is that the two later became close friends. Schmeling even helped pay for Louis’ funeral in 1981. Very different from one another, they shared a friendship that went beyond the bounds of sameness.

In our world, we often imagine that it’s sameness that lies at the foundation of friendship and unity. But when Paul describes true unity in Jesus in Ephesians 4, he includes a list of very diverse roles that people are called to fulfill as part of the body of Christ: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). Clearly, Paul didn’t believe that unity requires that everyone should be the same.

Instead, the apostle connects unity in Jesus to a far deeper source than outward sameness: We’re to be unified both because of who God is and because of what He’s done. We have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, [and] one God” who is over all (Ephesians 4:4-6). In this way, unity isn’t based on something as superficial as how similar we are to one another. Instead, it’s far more profound, a reflection of God’s character and all He’s done for us in and through His Son Jesus.

This is a far better blueprint for true unity. We don’t seek unity because we’re the same. We seek unity as a reflection of God’s own character, and because His work has carefully forged together one body of Christ. As Paul wrote, “You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family” (Ephesians 2:19).

 

Arguments or Obedience

From: Utmost.org

Arguments or Obedience

Simplicity is the secret to seeing things clearly. A saint does not thinkclearly until a long time passes, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think through spiritual confusion to make things clear; to make things clear, you must obey. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will only think yourself into further wandering thoughts and more confusion. If there is something in your life upon which God has put His pressure, then obey Him in that matter. Bring all your “arguments and…every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” regarding the matter, and everything will become as clear as daylight to you (2 Corinthians 10:5). Your reasoning capacity will come later, but reasoning is not how we see. We see like children, and when we try to be wise we see nothing (see Matthew 11:25).

Even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion, and spending all of our time thinking about it will still never make it clear. Spiritual confusion can only be conquered through obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment. This is humiliating, because when we are confused we know that the reason lies in the state of our mind. But when our natural power of sight is devoted and submitted in obedience to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the very power by which we perceive God’s will, and our entire life is kept in simplicity.

Loving God More Than Money

 

The Widow’s Two Mites    Luke 21: 1-1-4

21 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God,[a] but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

A gift opens the way
and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.

A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

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Give It to God

From: Our Daily Bread

Give It to God

Then [Hezekiah] went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 2 Kings 19:14

As a teenager, when I became overwhelmed by enormous challenges or high-stakes decisions, my mother taught me the merits of putting pen to paper to gain perspective. When I was uncertain whether to take specific classes or which job to pursue, or how to cope with the frightening realities of adulthood, I learned her habit of writing out the basic facts and the possible courses of action with their likely outcomes. After pouring my heart onto the page, I was able to step back from the problem and view it more objectively than my emotions allowed.

Just as recording my thoughts on paper offered me fresh perspective, pouring our hearts out to God in prayer helps us gain His perspective and remind us of His power. King Hezekiah did just that after receiving a daunting letter from an ominous adversary. The Assyrians threatened to destroy Jerusalem as they had many other nations. Hezekiah spread out the letter before the Lord, prayerfully calling on Him to deliver the people so that the world would recognize He “alone . . . [is] God” (2 Kings 19:19).

When we’re faced with a situation that brings anxiety, fear, or a deep awareness that getting through it will require more than what we have, let’s follow in Hezekiah’s footsteps and run straight to the Lord. Like him, we too can lay our problem before God and trust Him to guide our steps and calm our uneasy hearts.

Do you have a prayer request? Share it with the Our Daily Bread family at YourDailyBread.org.

God is our greatest help in times of distress.

 

If We But Trust

From: CBN, By: Kay Camenisch, author

 

Being discharged from Hospice is reason to celebrate. After all, Hospice offers comfort while awaiting death. Discharge means you’re looking toward life, not death. That’s reason to rejoice.

But we didn’t rejoice. Saying good-bye to Hospice meant we were losing helpers who had become family. Several times over 14 months it seemed my 93-year-old father-in-law was in his last days. Hospice was by our side each step of the way, with love, care, comfort, and guidance.

Release meant we’d miss the attention and cheer from the chaplain, social worker, and volunteer who visited Dad regularly. The nurse and doctor who knew him and were familiar with his case would no longer be caring for him.  The aide whose banter brought cooperation would no longer bathe him three times a week. Suddenly, we were on our own.

Symptoms that qualified Dad for Hospice had stabilized. He was no longer eligible and had to be dismissed. But he continued to decline nonetheless. As we bid the team farewell, we faced greater demands–without our team.

We reminded ourselves to trust in the Lord instead of our own understanding. If we acknowledged Him, He would be with us and guide us (see Prov. 3:5-6). We’d take one day at a time and lean on Him.

Almost immediately, Dad seemed weaker, and his daily care was more demanding. Increasingly, he needed a wheelchair instead of a walker to get to the next room to eat. Bathing him was also a challenge, but the days passed relatively smoothly.

God provided. A brother from out-of-state came to help a few days. A nurse from church volunteered to sit with him occasionally and give him a good bath. Nevertheless, the daily burden of care and responsibility rested on my husband and me.

The Veterans Administration rushed the application process to take Dad under their care, but it was a still couple of weeks before a nurse could come for an assessment. The doctor planned to come a week later but his visit was postponed an additional week because of icy roads. Meanwhile, we waited, wondering what the future held.

Dad became weaker, more unstable, and more dependent. His cough keeps us all awake at night. Because of his instability and lack of sleeping routine, we have to be constantly vigilant for his safety. We need assistance.

Finally, the doctor came. He was cordial, gentle, and seemed competent. We answered his questions, trying to help him understand our situation, eager to hear how the VA could assist.

He didn’t have hoped-for answers. He said he was new in that position and is still learning where to go to for needed information.

We were devastated. Still no help. Still no answers.

Over lunch, my husband prayed, “God, help us not look to man for the things You want us to get from You.”

Guilty. I was hoping in man—rather, in a government institution. I had not been trusting “in the Lord with all my heart” (Prov. 3:5).

After lunch, I dipped into Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The devotion for March 5 began, “Make friends with the problems in your life.” The Scripture listed was familiar, reminding me that “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

So why am I anxious?  Why crushed by the lack of answers?

The pressures of life are in God’s hands. He is sovereign and sufficient. He is with me and will never forsake me. He’s at work in this situation. And in me.

Dad continues to weaken. It’s been over a month. We’re tired, and we still don’t have answers. Nevertheless, it’s time to rejoice, give thanks, and celebrate.

Indeed, God will supply all our “needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19) . . . if we but trust in Him.

 

The Far-Reaching Rivers of Life

From: Utmost.org

The Far-Reaching Rivers of Life

A river reaches places which its source never knows. And Jesus said that, if we have received His fullness, “rivers of living water” will flow out of us, reaching in blessing even “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8) regardless of how small the visible effects of our lives may appear to be. We have nothing to do with the outflow— “This is the work of God, that you believe…” (John 6:29). God rarely allows a person to see how great a blessing he is to others.

A river is victoriously persistent, overcoming all barriers. For a while it goes steadily on its course, but then comes to an obstacle. And for a while it is blocked, yet it soon makes a pathway around the obstacle. Or a river will drop out of sight for miles, only later to emerge again even broader and greater than ever. Do you see God using the lives of others, but an obstacle has come into your life and you do not seem to be of any use to God? Then keep paying attention to the Source, and God will either take you around the obstacle or remove it. The river of the Spirit of God overcomes all obstacles. Never focus your eyes on the obstacle or the difficulty. The obstacle will be a matter of total indifference to the river that will flow steadily through you if you will simply remember to stay focused on the Source. Never allow anything to come between you and Jesus Christ— not emotion nor experience— nothing must keep you from the one great sovereign Source.

Think of the healing and far-reaching rivers developing and nourishing themselves in our souls! God has been opening up wonderful truths to our minds, and every point He has opened up is another indication of the wider power of the river that He will flow through us. If you believe in Jesus, you will find that God has developed and nourished in you mighty, rushing rivers of blessing for others.

A Little Bit Of Paradise

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 
 I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
Whom have
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

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A Little Bit of Paradise

From: Our Daily Bread

A Little Bit of Paradise

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:5

Gazing out my open study window, I hear birds chirping and hear and see the wind gently blowing in the trees. Bales of hay dot my neighbor’s newly tilled field, and large, white cumulus clouds stand out in contrast to the brilliant blue sky.

I’m enjoying a little bit of paradise—except for the almost incessant noise of the traffic that runs past our property and the slight ache in my back. I use the word paradise lightly because though our world was once completely good, it no longer is. When humanity sinned, we were expelled from the garden of Eden and the ground was “cursed” (see Gen. 3). Since then the Earth and everything in it has been in “bondage to decay.” Suffering, disease, and our deaths are all a result of humankind’s fall into sin (Rom. 8:18–23).

Yet God is making everything new. One day His dwelling place will be among His people in a renewed and restored creation—“a new heaven and a new earth”—where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:1–4). Until that day we can enjoy the bright splashes and sometimes wide expanses of breathtaking beauty we see around us in this world, which is just a small foretaste of the “paradise” that will be.

Dear Lord, thank You that in this world that can seem ugly with sin and decay You allow us to see glimpses of beauty.

Read about the life to come at discoveryseries.org/q1205.

God is making all things new.

A Promise Fulfilled

She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

In the off-season of baseball, managers and coaches concentrate on trading players to set themselves up for a winning season the next year. But if you are a Chicago Cubs fan like I am, you don’t expect much because we haven’t won a championship in years! That made the promise from a newly acquired player for the Cubs sound rather incredible. To a packed press conference, he said, “We are going to win the World Series!” I have to admit, it was hard not to be skeptical. It sounded like a promise that most likely he couldn’t deliver.

No doubt the Jews of Jesus’ day who were living under the oppressive thumb of Rome had to wonder if God would ever make good on His promise to send a Deliverer who would forgive sin and restore the glory of Israel (Isa. 1:26Isa. 53:12Isa. 61:1-11). God had long ago promised them a Redeemer, but they hadn’t heard a word from Him in 400 years. But then, at just the right moment, the angel announced to Joseph that Mary would give birth to a Son who would “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

God is a promise-keeping God! He said that He would send a Deliverer, and He did. Your sin is not beyond the reach of this promise. He is ready and waiting to forgive your sins—all of them.

 

The King Who Never Dies

From: Our Daily Journey

The King Who Never Dies

Read:

Psalm 24:1-10
Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle (Psalm 24:8).

The death of a king in 2016 elicited deep grief from the people of his nation. The news resounded around the world as citizens wept over the loss of their beloved ruler. One man said the monarch had been a caring leader for every person. Another woman was in such despair that she couldn’t even eat. This king was an able leader who helped bring political stability and economic development to the country for more than seventy years. The loss of his leadership caused many to look with fear toward the future.

As I watched the faces full of sadness over the news of their leader’s death, I felt sad for them. But I also thought about my heavenly King—the One who lives forever and will never die. In Revelation, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13). Knowing this truth gives me peace and comfort when grieving the loss of leaders and others.

David recognized God as the King who reigns over all the earth. Though a king himself, in Psalm 24 he proclaimed the greatness and dominion of God. He knew that he’d become a king not by his own might but because the Lord chose him and “appointed [him] as the leader of Israel” (2 Samuel 6:21). With evident excitement, enthusiasm, and reverence, David gave praise to God—the “King of glory” (Psalm 24:8). He then welcomed Him—desiring to be in His presence. He wrote, “Let the King of glory enter” (Psalm 24:9).

What an amazing thought to ponder: The everlasting Creator of the universe has been and continues to be actively at work among us! He allows those “whose hands and hearts are pure,” through His work in their lives, to seek and worship Him in His presence (Psalm 24:4,6).

Stepping Into Strength

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
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Image result for pictures of God giving powerImage result for pictures of God giving power
Image result for pictures of God giving powerImage result for pictures of God giving power
 Image result for pictures of God giving powerImage result for pictures of God giving power

 

Stepping into Strength

From: Our Daily Bread

Stepping into Strength

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

“Will we see any snakes?”

Allan, a young boy in our neighborhood, asked that question as we started on a hike by the river near our home.

“We never have before,” I answered, “but we might! So let’s ask God to keep us safe.” We paused, prayed together, and kept walking.

Several minutes later my wife, Cari, suddenly took a quick step backward, narrowly avoiding a poisonous copperhead partially coiled on the path ahead. We waited as the snake left the trail, giving it a wide berth. Then we paused and thanked God nothing had happened. I believe that through Allan’s question, God had prepared us for the encounter, and our prayer was part of His providential care.

Our brush with danger that evening brings to mind the importance of David’s words: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chron. 16:11). This advice was part of a psalm celebrating the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. It recounts God’s faithfulness to His people in their struggles throughout history, reminding them to always praise Him and “cry out” to Him (v. 35).

What does it mean to “seek [God’s] face”? It means we turn our hearts toward Him in even the most mundane moments. Sometimes our prayers are answered differently than our asking, but God is faithful come what may. Our Good Shepherd will direct our paths and keeps us in His mercy, strength, and love. May we declare our dependence on Him.

 

The Good Life

From: Get More Strength.org

“Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Luke 12:15

Driving down the highway in Houston, I passed a billboard with large letters that announced “THE GOOD LIFE!” I couldn’t wait to get closer to read the small print, which explained that the “good life” was about buying a lakefront home starting at $300,000. Which made me wonder if some unhappy families might live in those homes, with kids who never see their parents, or couples who, though living on the lake, wish they weren’t even living together.

Luke 12:15 came to mind as I remembered the story of the man who asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. That was the wrong thing to ask Jesus! He replied with a warning, “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” He then went on to tell the story of an extremely rich man who, from God’s point of view, was a fool—not because he was successfully wealthy but because he was not rich toward God.

The sooner we get over the illusion that more stuff means more peace, happiness, and self-fulfillment, the better off we will be. And then the more able we will be to find the longed-for peace and happiness—the true “good life”—that only Jesus can provide.

O Lord, help us to be content,
Whatever we possess;
Protect us from the foolish lie
That “more” brings happiness.  —Sper

The “good life” is found in the richness of God.

 

Packed With Power

From: Get More Strength.org

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

My wife, Martie, and I have some items of worth around our house that sit on mantles or behind glass doors. They are things we have collected over the years, things from special places we’ve been or from special friends we have known. Though these items may have a good deal of worth to us personally, in terms of function they’re not worth much. My guess is that you have a few of your own prized dust collectors as well.

I wonder if you, though you might never admit it, feel that way about the Bible—It’s an important book with great value but with little usefulness for the realities you face every day. After all, how could an ancient book written by religious zealots even begin to connect with the challenges of your often-too-complex life?

Here’s the good news: When it comes to your life, nothing could be more helpful!

The Word of God has tremendous worth and plays an active role in our lives to effect change. Paul explained its power to Timothy when he said that the Bible is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

I think of my friend who told me of a time when he was away on a business trip. As he returned to his hotel one night and stepped on the elevator, two young, attractive women joined him. As he pressed the button to get off on his floor, they said, “Hey, mister, how about a little fun tonight?”

He told me that Galatians 6:8 immediately came to mind: “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” He said that verse was like a shade drawn between him and what could have been a persuasive temptation. In that moment, the correcting power of the Word of God kept him safe and on course.

Whether we realize it or not, throughout our lives we have been saturated with false values, and we need to be reprogrammed with truth. God’s ways and wisdom are without peer. His Word really is like a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119: 105). We need to know what to do with our time, energy, and money. We need to know what to do with our minds. We need to be taught what to do about friends and how to handle enemies. We need to be taught about family, work, and leisure. God’s Word is jam-packed with time-tested principles of success for every situation and issue of life.

More importantly, God’s Word teaches us the wonderful truth that He cared enough to die for us when we were lost in our sin. In His Word we learn about His character and how we can cultivate a trusted relationship with Him. We learn things about Him through His Word that we cannot learn anywhere else.

The Bible is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) and packed with power. It’s not meant to be a collector’s item on your shelf. Go ahead—dust it off and discover for yourself how God can use His Word to guide, protect, encourage, and enrich your life!