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God’s Compassion Never Fails

Lamentations 3:22-23

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

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 Courage to Be Faithful

From: Our Daily Bread

Courage to Be Faithful

Do not be frightened. 1 Peter 3:14

Fear is Hadassah’s constant companion. Hadassah, a young Jewish girl living in the first century, is a fictional character in Francine Rivers’ book A Voice in the Wind.After Hadassah becomes a slave in a Roman household, she fears persecution for her faith in Christ. She knows that Christians are despised, and many are sent to their execution or thrown to the lions in the arena. Will she have the courage to stand for the truth when she is tested?

When her worst fear becomes reality, her mistress and other Roman officials who hate Christianity confront her. She has two choices: recant her faith in Christ or be taken to the arena. Then, as she proclaims Jesus as the Christ, her fear falls away and she becomes bold even in the face of death.

The Bible reminds us that sometimes we will suffer for doing what is right—whether for sharing the gospel or for living godly lives that are against today’s values. We are told not to be frightened (1 Peter 3:14), but to “revere Christ as Lord” in our hearts (v. 15). Hadassah’s main battle took place in her heart. When she finally made up her mind to choose Jesus, she found the courage to be faithful.

When we make the decision to honor Christ, He will help us to be bold and to overcome our fears in the midst of opposition.

Father, give me boldness to stand firm in difficult times.

Let us be bold as we witness for God.

Branded by Shame

From: Our Daily Journey

Branded by Shame

Read:

Genesis 3:1-24
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves (Genesis 3:7).

When our pastor was a youn man, he accidentally defaced a much-loved dining room table. Beautifully crafted, it had been in the family for generations, but it was left with an ugly mark when he accidentally placed a piping-hot dish directly on it. Although his parents forgave him, he was overcome with shame. Years later when he saw an ad for a furniture repair specialist, he got the table fixed. Although he’d been forgiven, the sting of shame only faded once the mark on the table had been removed by the skillful hand of a master.

Shame is a feeling Adam and Eve had never experienced. They had known only an intimate fellowship with their Maker. But when Satan tricked them into tasting the forbidden fruit, they were overcome by the unfamiliar and uncomfortable feelings of guilt and shame (Genesis 3:1-6). “At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves” (Genesis 3:7).

For the first time, horrible feelings caused them to retreat and seek to hide from God (Genesis 3:8-10). Perhaps also for the first time, they blamed others for their actions (Genesis 3:11-13). But the damage had been done: the ugly stain of sin was forever branded on humanity. As the heartbroken couple reeled from a damaged relationship with their Creator and banishment from their beloved home, their Master was the only One who could restore them (Genesis 3:14-24).

And He did. “For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:15).

No matter what you’ve done or how ashamed you feel, He can forgive and heal you.

 

Have faith that whatever you ask for in prayer is already granted you, and you will find that it will be (Mark 11:24).

When my little son was about ten years of age, his grandmother promised him a stamp album for Christmas. Christmas came, but no stamp album, and no word from grandmother. The matter, however, was not mentioned; but when his playmates came to see his Christmas presents, I was astonished, after he had named over this and that as gifts received, to hear him add, “And a stamp album from grandmother.”

I had heard it several times, when I called him to me, and said, “But, Georgie, you did not get an album from your grandmother. Why do you say so?”

There was a wondering look on his face, as if he thought it strange that I should ask such a question, and he replied, “Well,  mamma, grandma said, so it is the same as.” I could not say a word to check his faith.

A month went by, and nothing was heard from the album. Finally, one day, I said, to test his faith, and really wondering in my heart why the album had not been sent, “Well, Georgie, I think grandma has forgotten her promise.”

“Oh, no, mamma,” he quickly and firmly said, “she hasn’t.”

I watched the dear, trusting face, which, for a while, looked very sober, as if debating the possibilities I had suggested. Finally a bright light passed over it, and he said, “Mamma, do you think it would do any good if I should write to her thanking her for the album?”

“I do not know,” I said, “but you might try it.” A rich spiritual truth began to dawn upon me.

In a few minutes a letter was prepared and committed to the mail, and he went off whistling his confidence in his grandma. In just a short time a letter came, saying:

“My dear Georgie: I have not forgotten my promise to you, of an album. I tried to get such a book as you desired, but could not get the sort you wanted; so I sent on to New York. It did not get here till after Christmas, and it was still not right, so I sent for another, and as it has not come as yet, I send you three dollars to get one in Chicago. Your loving grandma.”

As he read the letter, his face was the face of a victor. “Now, mamma, didn’t I tell you?” came from the depths of a heart that never doubted, that, “against hope, believed in hope” that the stamp album would come. While he was trusting, grandma was working, and in due season faith became sight.

It is so human to want sight when we step out on the promises of God, but our Savior said to Thomas, and to the long roll of doubters who have ever since followed him: “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”
–Mrs. Rounds

 

 

Flee From Evil And Honor God

27  All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. 
29  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.…
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Fleeing to Strength

From: Our Daily Bread

Fleeing to Strength

You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:20

“Parry four!”

When I began fencing in high school, my coach would shout the correct defensive position (“parry”) against the move he was making. When he extended his weapon and lunged, to repel the attack I had to listen and respond immediately.

That active listening brings to mind the prompt obedience Scripture calls for in the area of sexual temptation. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 Paul writes to believers tempted to solicit pagan temple prostitutes, telling them to “flee from sexual immorality.” Sometimes we are to “stand firm” in challenging circumstances (Galatians 5:1; Ephesians 6:11), but here the Bible practically shouts our best defense: “Run away!”

Immediate action guards against compromise. Small compromises can lead to devastating defeats. An unrestrained thought, a glance in the wrong place on the Internet, a flirting friendship when you’re already married—each are steps that take us where we shouldn’t go and put distance between us and God.

When we flee temptation, God also provides a place to run. Through Jesus’s death on the cross for our sins, He offers us hope, forgiveness, and a new beginning—no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. When we run to Jesus in our weakness, He sets us free to live in His strength.

Lord Jesus, out of love You gave Yourself on the cross for us. I give myself to You in obedience to Your will.

God alone can meet our deepest needs and give us soul-deep satisfaction.

,

Perfectly Desperate

From: Our Daily Journey

Perfectly Desperate

Read:

Galatians 3:1-9
All who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith (Galatians 3:9).

“The Sermon on the Mount produces despair,” Oswald Chambers said. But he saw that as something good, because at “the point of despair we are willing to come to [Jesus] as paupers to receive from Him.”

When we ponder the Sermon on the Mount, we might well be tempted to despair. Jesus seems to stand reality on its head. Let’s look at just the first of the sermon’s three chapters.

Be happy when you’re persecuted? (Matthew 5:11-12). Anger is as bad as murder? (Matthew 5:22). Lust equals adultery? (Matthew 5:28). Don’t resist an evil person? (Matthew 5:39). Love your enemies? (Matthew 5:44). And if we think we can live up to these standards, we suddenly crash into this: “You are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). What?

At that point we may think the only hope we have is to redefine perfection. But there’s a better way. Consider this statement from Jesus: “I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose” (Matthew 5:17). And what is that purpose?

The apostle Paul may help answer this. He once pointed out how the church in Galatia misunderstood the law’s purpose. “After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” he asked (Galatians 3:3). Then he added, “Does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ” (Galatians 3:5).

Paul explained, “The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith” (Galatians 3:24). Instead of despair, we can come to Jesus in the humble realization that we can’t do it apart from Him.

When Slaves Become Sons

From: Get More Strength

“So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:7

For some lucky students it’s a day off of school, but it’s possible the fact that today is Presidents’ Day may have slipped your notice. Nestled between Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, Presidents’ Day gets lost in the shuffle of cards, roses, and shamrocks. But nonetheless, it’s an important day. Remembering presidents like Washington and Lincoln, to whom we owe a great debt, puts our lives in a richer perspective.

Think, for instance, of President Lincoln. He will be remembered forever for eliminating the shame of slavery in the United States. Driven by his convictions against the tide of popular opinion and entrenched racism, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation—an executive order freeing the slaves. In so doing, he joins the exclusive club of persons like Wilberforce and even Moses who risked much to proclaim freedom for the oppressed.

The New Testament is no stranger to the dynamics of slavery. In Paul’s day, every major city had a place in the market where slaves were bought or sold. When a slave was brought to the auction block, he knew that his fate would be sealed by the one who paid the highest price for him. There were three possible outcomes. The slave could be purchased to become a slave to his new owner. Or, the winner of the bid could set the newly purchased slave free. Clearly, most slaves standing naked before the gawking bidders hoped for that highly unlikely possibility. But more unlikely still was the prospect that, legally, the highest bidder could adopt the slave and make him a son, which would mean that the former slave would have full family privileges and an equal place in the family inheritance. This option was so remote that it was more than a slave could hope for. Hopelessly stuck in servitude, the thought of becoming a son was the stuff that impossible dreams are made of.

And, as you’re thinking of that, think of yourself. There are only two kinds of people in this world. Those who are in bondage to Satan and those who by God’s grace are His sons! In fact, according to Romans 6: 1-23, all of us were born slaves to the regime of hell. And then Jesus in His love and mercy showed up in the marketplace of sin and saw you on the slave block, naked and bound with no hope. As the bidding grew more intense, He lifted his nail-scarred hand, pointed to you, and all the bidding ceased—for no one could out pay the price He paid for you! And as your feet were unshackled, soldiers led you to His side and then you heard words you thought you would never hear: “I love you, I want to make you my son, a full heir!” “I want to make you my daughter!”

And now, with God as your Father, full family privileges are yours. Access to a loving Father, the inheritance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, full rights to treasures like peace, comfort, confidence, joy, and the assurance of the fact that soon heaven will be yours—all belong to you forever!

And, as you can imagine, slaves who became sons and daughters were forever grateful and happily served their father without hesitation. Since we too are no longer slaves but sons and daughters, it seems to me that my life and yours should be spontaneously lived to love and serve Him as well!

Lincoln freed the slaves, but only Jesus can make a slave a son—only Jesus can make a slave a daughter!

No wonder the hymn writer penned . . .

My chains fell off, my heart was free;

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!

God Sent Jesus To Save Us

Jesus with love for all healed many. Also, with love for all, whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life.    John 3: 16
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Loving All

From: Our Daily Bread

Loving All

The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself. Leviticus 19:34

I worship in a church located in a large, open field—a rare commodity on the island of Singapore (we’re just twenty-five miles long and fifteen miles wide). Some time back, people from abroad who work in my country started gathering on the church property for a picnic every Sunday.

This evoked a range of responses from fellow churchgoers. Some fretted about the mess the visitors would leave behind. But others saw this as a divine opportunity to extend hospitality to a wonderful group of strangers—without even leaving the church grounds!

The Israelites must have faced similar issues in their time. After they settled in their new land, they had to grapple with how to relate to other peoples. But God expressly commanded them to treat foreigners like their own kind, and to love them as themselves (Leviticus 19:34). Many of His laws made special mention of foreigners: they were not to be mistreated or oppressed, and they were to be loved and helped (Exodus 23:9; Deuteronomy 10:19). Centuries later, Jesus would command us to do the same: to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).

May we have God’s heart to love others as ourselves, remembering that we too are sojourners on this earth. Yet we have been loved as God’s people, treated as His own.

Father, You have made each and every one of us in Your likeness. May we love those from elsewhere and seek to reach out to them with Your love.

Embracing God’s love for us is the key to loving others.

When You Feel Forsaken

From: Christian Broadcasting Network, Brooke Keith, Author

Have you ever gone through a time in your life when you weren’t feeling particularly spiritual? When it took work to pray. When it was too painful to cast light into the shadowy corners of your heart?

I know I have certainly found myself there — the feeling of being forsaken.

I’ve doubted God and I’ve wrestled with Him when I didn’t like His plan for me. I’ve become angry when my prayers were answered but in the way I didn’t desire. I have wondered where He was; if He was. I’ve been incredibly prodigal. But fortunate enough for me, God has never stopped coming to look for me.

It brings me comfort to know that even our Savior had human feelings. The art of Roman crucifixion was an evil genius – it was the perfect tool to bring about the most inhumane of human sufferings. Tendons torn. Body aching. Eventually, you had to arch your back to find balance. This created ever enlarging wounds in the feet. This continued on until the body’s lungs would fill with fluid. The heart became compressed.

As his heart compresses and his body aches, Jesus cries out in wonder, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” This verse we often overlook in worship services, it is often left out of passion plays – because we don’t like the thought of our Savior hurting. We don’t like to consider the pain our sins caused Him nor do we like to ponder why our Savior, so very sure of His Father, could even consider the possibility He’d been forsaken.

But really, these words were brilliant. They connected us. These words were necessary. This was the moment our brokenness reached deep within His spirit. They bound us to our Father like the tiny hand of a newborn curls around his mother’s finger. Jesus became sin so that we could be free from it. In becoming our sin He had an incredibly human experience — multiplied by the lives of every being the Father had ever created. He echoed the very heart-wrenching words our heart cries out silently when life gives us lemons, when we have shaken off every reasoning and can find no reason, when we simply don’t understand, when we are tempted to consider our Father has forsaken us, leaving us to suffer alone.

“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” These words assure us of every struggle, every valley, every circumstance being vindicated, corrected and justified on the cross. These are the words of our own heart – these words wrapped within His.

I find it poetic that our sins were compromised because his heart compressed. What more proof could a nerdy girl need than that of the Author and the Finisher of her faith metaphorically and figuratively giving her His heart?

We can be sure that God had to turn His head when Jesus suffered. But because He turned His head, He could look upon our suffering and hold us through it. Never budging, completely enthralled with the purchase He had bought at the highest cost imaginable.

At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46)

 

 

Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more (Nahum 1:12).

There is a limit to affliction. God sends it, and removes it. Do you sigh and say, “When will the end be?” Let us quietly wait and patiently endure the will of the Lord till He cometh. Our Father takes away the rod when His design in using it is fully served.

If the affliction is sent for testing us, that our graces may glorify God, it will end when the Lord has made us bear witness to His praise.

We would not wish the affliction to depart until God has gotten out of us all the honor which we can possibly yield Him. There may be today ” a great calm.” Who knows how soon those raging billows will give place to a sea of glass and the sea birds sit on the gentle waves?

After long tribulation, the flail is hung up, and the wheat rests in the garner. We may, before many hours are past, be just as happy as now we are sorrowful.

It is not hard for the Lord to turn night into day. He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the skies. Let us be of good cheer. It is better farther on. Let us sing Hallelujah by anticipation.
–C.H. Spurgeon

The great Husbandman is not always threshing. Trial is only for a season. The showers soon pass. Weeping may tarry only for the few hours of the short summer night; it must be gone at day break. Our light affliction is but for a moment. Trial is for a purpose, “If needs be.”

The very fact of trial proves that there is something in us very precious to our Lord; else He would not spend so much pains and time on us. Christ would not test us if He did not see the precious ore of faith mingled in the rocky matrix of our nature; and it is to bring this out into purity and beauty that He forces us through the fiery ordeal.

Be patient, O sufferer!  The result will more than compensate for all our trials, when we see how they wrought out the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. To have one word of God’s commendation; to be honored before the holy angels; to be glorified in Christ, so as to be better able to flash His glory on Himself-ah! that will more than repay for all.
–Tried by Fire

As the wights of the clock, or the ballast in the vessel, are necessary for their right orderings, so is trouble in the soul-life. The sweetest scents are only obtained by tremendous pressure; the fairest flowers grow amid Alpine snow-solitudes; the fairest gems have suffered longest from the lapidary’s wheel; the noblest statues have borne most blows of the chisel. All, however, are under law. Nothing happens that has not been appointed with consummate care and foresight.
–Daily Devotional Commentary

Follow Where He Leads

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

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Following Where He Leads

From: Our Daily Bread

Following Where He Leads

Then [Elisha] set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. 1 Kings 19:21

As a child, I looked forward to our church’s Sunday evening services. They were exciting. Sunday night often meant we got to hear from missionaries and other guest speakers. Their messages inspired me because of their willingness to leave family and friends—and at times, homes, possessions, and careers—to go off to strange, unfamiliar, and sometimes dangerous places to serve God.

Like those missionaries, Elisha left many things behind to follow God (1 Kings 19:19–21). Before God called him into service through Elijah, we don’t know much about Elisha—except that he was a farmer. When the prophet Elijah met him in the field where he was plowing, he threw his cloak over Elisha’s shoulders (the symbol of his role as prophet) and called him to follow. With only a request to kiss his mother and father goodbye, Elisha immediately sacrificed his oxen, burned his plowing equipment, said good-bye to his parents—and followed Elijah.

Though not many of us are called to leave family and friends behind to serve God as fulltime missionaries, God wants all of us to follow Him and to “live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to [us], just as God has called [us]” (1 Corinthians 7:17). As I’ve often experienced, serving God can be thrilling and challenging no matter where we are—even if we never leave home.

Dear Lord, equip us to be Your missionaries wherever You have placed us—near or far, at home or abroad.

God will show us how to serve Him wherever we are.

 

 

Lysa TerKeurst February 15, 2018
A Better Place to Park
LYSA TERKEURST

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

As I trace my fingers back across the timeline of my life, I can remember times when spiritual and emotional emptiness left me vulnerable. The shape of my lack was the absence of a biological father.

He took with him so much more than he ever could have imagined. Those few suitcases and brown boxes didn’t just contain ties, old trophies and dusty books. Somewhere in between his Old Spice and office files were the shattered pieces of a little girl’s heart.

Now I’m not a big fan of pointing to hurts from my childhood and saying, “All my issues can be linked back to what other people did to me. Let me cut open my hurts and wallow in all that leaks out.” Everyone has hurts from their past. And everyone has the choice to either let those past hurts continue to haunt and damage them or to allow forgiveness to pave the way for us to be more compassionate toward others.

My dad’s abandonment was so huge, so draining, that it caused me to fill my mind with only negative memories of him. In my mind, he never loved me at all.

And you know what? Maybe he didn’t. But parking my mind only on negative thoughts about my dad left such a sadness in my heart.

Sometimes I could brush off this sadness with a little sigh and recitation of who I am in Christ. But other times it made me angry. And defensive. And deeply unsatisfied.

Then one day God surprised me in the most unusual way. While my dad still made no effort to connect with me, a sweet memory of him changed my dark perspective.

One winter I traveled to Vermont, where I woke up one morning to stare at what an overnight snowstorm had brought. I had never seen such snow in all my life. But what really caught my attention were the gigantic icicles hanging from the roof line. They were glorious.

As I stared out at them, suddenly a memory of my dad flashed across the screen of my mind.

I grew up in Florida, which meant no snow ever. But I remember praying for snow.

One night the temperatures dropped surprisingly low and the weatherman called for a freeze, which was a rare thing in our area. How tragic there was no precipitation. It was the one night snow might have been possible.

It broke my little snow bunny heart.

But the next morning, I awoke to the most amazing sight. There were icicles everywhere. Gleaming, dripping, hanging, light-reflecting, glorious icicles were all over the trees in our backyard.

It was magical.

We were the only house on the block with this grand winter display.

Because I was the only girl whose daddy thought to intentionally put sprinklers out on the one night it froze.

I don’t know where this memory had been hiding for too many years. But what a gift. Somewhere in the deep, mysterious, broken places of my dad’s heart, there was an inkling of love.

While this certainly doesn’t solve all the complications of being abandoned by my dad, it gives me a healthy thought to dwell on where he’s concerned — one of those good thoughts Philippians 4:8b tells us to think about: “… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” I like to call this “parking my mind in a better spot.”

It’s so easy to park our minds in bad spots. To dwell and rehash and wish things were different. But to dwell on hard things keeps us in hard spots and only serves to deepen our feelings of emotional emptiness.

This icicle memory gave me a new place to park.

Do you have something from your past that causes emotional emptiness? As a first step toward healing, ask the Lord to help you think of one thing good from this past situation or something good that’s happened, despite the pain.

Dear Lord, You know the hurts I have from the past that still drain me. Please show me a good place to park my mind when the pain stings me again. And when good memories are hard to find, remind me I can always focus on the hope and truth of Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

“Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”

By Oswald Chambers

Has it ever dawned on you that you are responsible spiritually to God for other people? For instance, if I allow any turning away from God in my private life, everyone around me suffers. We “sit together in the heavenly places…” (Ephesians 2:6). “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…” (1 Corinthians 12:26). If you allow physical selfishness, mental carelessness, moral insensitivity, or spiritual weakness, everyone in contact with you will suffer. But you ask, “Who is sufficient to be able to live up to such a lofty standard?” “Our sufficiency is from God…” and God alone (2 Corinthians 3:5).

“You shall be witnesses to Me…” (Acts 1:8). How many of us are willing to spend every bit of our nervous, mental, moral, and spiritual energy for Jesus Christ? That is what God means when He uses the word witness. But it takes time, so be patient with yourself. Why has God left us on the earth? Is it simply to be saved and sanctified? No, it is to be at work in service to Him. Am I willing to be broken bread and poured-out wine for Him? Am I willing to be of no value to this age or this life except for one purpose and one alone— to be used to disciple men and women to the Lord Jesus Christ. My life of service to God is the way I say “thank you” to Him for His inexpressibly wonderful salvation. Remember, it is quite possible for God to set any of us aside if we refuse to be of service to Him— “…lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

 

Jesus Is Preparing Your New Home

My Father’s house has many rooms; . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you. John 14:2
(Jesus Goes ahead of us to Heaven. So He can prepare a place for us in Paradise).
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The Advance Team

From: Our Daily Bread

The Advance Team

My Father’s house has many rooms; . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you. John 14:2

A friend recently prepared to relocate to a city more than 1,000 miles from her current hometown. She and her husband divided the labor of moving to accommodate a short timeline. He secured new living arrangements, while she packed their belongings. I was astounded by her ability to move without previewing the area or participating in the house hunt, and asked how she could do so. She acknowledged the challenge but said she knew she could trust her husband because of his attention to her preferences and needs over their years together.

In the upper room, Jesus spoke with His disciples of His coming betrayal and death. The darkest hours of Jesus’s earthly life, and that of the disciples as well, lay ahead. He comforted them with the assurance that He would prepare a place for them in heaven, just as my friend’s husband prepared a new home for their family. When the disciples questioned Jesus, He pointed them to their mutual history and the miracles they’d witnessed Him perform. Though they would grieve Jesus’s death and absence, He reminded them He could be counted on to do as He’d said.

Even in the midst of our own dark hours, we can trust Him to lead us forward to a place of goodness. As we walk with Him, we too will learn to trust increasingly in His faithfulness.

Help me, Lord, to lean on You when my life feels uncertain and hard. You are trustworthy and good.

We can trust God to lead us through difficult times.

 

Love that Acts

From: Our Daily Journey

Love that Acts

Read:

1 John 3:11-23
If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children . . . let us show the truth by our actions (1 John 3:17-18).

An early church leader named Tertullian wrote that unbelievers in Rome would say of Christians, “See how they love one another.” Particularly in the first three centuries AD, individuals or families who moved from rural areas to cities in search of a better life were very vulnerable if they became ill or faced hard times. In urban areas, they had no familial or communal support network to help them as they might have had in rural villages. As a result, the streets of the Roman Empire were full of weak, sick, elderly, and other vulnerable people who were left to fend for themselves.

But believers in Jesus were different. Believers throughout the empire cared for their own as well as others who were afflicted by a plague that killed many in the third century. Infants who were abandoned—left to die of exposure, often because they were deformed, sick, unwanted simply because they were female—were taken in by believers. Historian Gary B. Ferngren writes, “Church leaders encouraged all Christians to visit the sick and help the poor, and each congregation also established an organized ministry of mercy.” It didn’t matter if those in need were undeserving or deserving, an enemy or a friend. Believers responded with love, and unbelievers took note (John 13:35).

The early church practiced the apostle John’s commandment to love others, not just with words but with “actions” (1 John 3:18). They understood they couldn’t proclaim that the love of God dwelled in them if they had “no compassion” when they saw a person in need (1 John 3:17). Love and acts of compassion and justice are always tied together. Neither Jesus’ disciples nor the early church separated them. Nor should we.

 

REJOICE IN THE LORD

From: Streams In The Desert

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4).

It is a good thing to “rejoice in the Lord.” Perhaps you have tried it but seemed to fail at first. Don’t give it a second thought, and forge ahead. Even when you cannot feel any joy, there is no spring in your step, nor any comfort or encouragement in your life, continue to rejoice and “consider it pure joy” (James 1:2). “Whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), regard it as joy, delight in it, and God will reward your faith. Do you believe that your heavenly Father will let you carry the banner of His victory and joy to the very front of the battle, only to calmly withdraw to see you captured or beaten back by the enemy? NEVER! His Holy Spirit will sustain you in your bold advance and fill your heart with gladness and praise. You will find that your heart is exhilarated and refreshed by the fullness within.

Lord, teach me to rejoice in You – to “be joyful always” (1 Thess. 5:16).
–selected

The weakest saint may Satan rout,
Who meets him with a praiseful shout.

Be filled with the Spirit… Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
-Ephesians 5:18-19

In these verses, the apostle Paul urges us to use singing as inspiration in our spiritual life. He warns his readers to seek motivation not through the body but through the spirit, not by stimulating the flesh but by exalting the soul.

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings.

Let us sing even when we do not feel like it, for in this way we give wings to heavy feet and turn weariness into strength.
–John Henry Jowett

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and signing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
-Acts 16:25

O Paul, what a wonderful example you are to us! You gloried in the fact that you “bear on [your] body the marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). You bore the marks from nearly being stoned to death, from three times being “beaten with rods” (2 Cor. 11:25), from receiving 195 lashes from the Jews, and from being bloodily beaten in the Philippian jail. Surely the grace that enabled you to sing praises while enduring such suffering is sufficient for us.
–J. Roach

Oh, let us rejoice in the Lord, evermore,
When darts of the Tempter are flying,
For Satan still dreads, as he oft did before,
Our singing much more than our crying.

The Blessing Bowl

Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.

(He spoke this verse referring to Judas who would betray Him).

 

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A Blessing Bowl

From: Our Daily Bread

A Blessing Bowl
 
 

I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3

The familiar bing of an arriving email caught my attention while I wrote at my computer. Usually I try to resist the temptation to check every email but the subject line was too enticing: “You are a blessing.”

Eagerly, I opened it to discover a faraway friend telling me she was praying for my family. Each week, she displays one Christmas card photo in her kitchen table “Blessing Bowl” and prays for that family. She wrote, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3) and then highlighted our efforts to share God’s love with others—our “partnership” in the gospel.

Through my friend’s intentional gesture, the apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians came trickling into my inbox, creating the same joy in my heart I suspect readers received from his first-century thank-you note. It seems Paul made it a habit to speak his gratitude to those who worked alongside him. A similar phrase opens many of his letters: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world” (Romans 1:8).

In the first century, Paul blessed his co-laborers with a thank-you note of prayerfulness. In the twenty-first century, my friend used a Blessing Bowl to bring joy into my day. How might we thank those who serve in the mission of God with us today?

Father, help us to intentionally bless those who serve alongside us.

Who can you thank today?

 

Arlene Pellicane February 13, 2018
Stopping the Cycle of Insults
ARLENE PELLICANE

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

After our third baby was born, my husband James wanted to help me in my determination to lose the baby weight. Can you see the fight coming? He talked me into becoming his early morning exercise buddy. But I’m not a morning person … I hug my pillow until the last possible second.

About a month into this, James concluded my lagging meant I wasn’t interested anymore. Nothing was further from the truth. I knew I needed someone to kick me out of bed, or else I would never exercise.

We were at a birthday party when, to my shock, I overheard him ask a friend, “Do you want to work out with me in the morning?” He was ditching me — his wife — for a friend! I was so upset. I had an appointment after the party, so I drove off alone, angry at my husband for breaking our exercise commitment without even talking to me.

I wish I’d thought of today’s key verse in that moment, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

This verse is similar to Matthew 5:44 which says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (NIV).

Now if we’re to bless our enemies when insulted, how much more should we bless our family members and friends who love us? Yet it can be so easy to return fire with fire, rude comment for rude comment … especially with the people we see the most.

When we stop the cycle of insults by our silence or with a kind response, we are putting these verses into action. It’s natural to fight back with my words when I’m hurt or disappointed. It’s supernatural to bless and pray instead, letting God do the fighting for me.

Before confronting my workout buddy, I prayed in the car. “Lord, help me calm down. Help me see things from James’ perspective.” Maybe he was being nice to his friend because his friend was going through a hard time? My feelings of anger began to lessen, and when I got home, we talked about it right away.

James realized he made a mistake by asking his friend to replace me in the morning workout routine without consulting me. He thought I wasn’t interested in exercise anymore. His friend never accepted the offer, and I tried to be more awake in the morning.

Our key verse directly follows the instructions the apostle Peter gives wives and husbands. If you’re married, you probably know it’s tempting to deliver the knock-out punch instead of extending a handshake of peace.

When I’m tempted to be mean instead of compassionate, I’m learning to try these steps:

Seek God. Pray before losing control. I find a sincere, quick prayer for wisdom does wonders. You may only have time to think, Help, God! Other times, you can pray longer about what’s bothering you.

See the other point of view. Play the scene from his perspective. Instead of focusing only on what your spouse did to offend you, be mindful of the ways you might have offended him.

Remind yourself that sometimes silence is the best response. Have you ever yelled at your husband or someone close to you in the heat of the moment, only to regret it later? It’s the ugly words spoken in anger that resurface years later in front of a marriage counselor. If you can’t say anything constructive, walk away until you can.

These steps don’t just apply to husbands and wives, but relationships with co-workers, parents and friends. What are the results of following God’s Word and not repaying evil with evil? The Bible says you inherit a blessing — both in this life and also the life to come. How wonderful to reserve blessings in heaven by acting humbly and kindly on earth. That’s even more exciting than resting after a morning workout!

Lord, I don’t want to repay evil for evil. I especially ask for Your grace to act kindly to my immediate family and closest friends. Help us be like-minded, sympathetic and loving toward one another today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

The Devotion of Hearing

By Oswald Chambers

The Devotion of Hearing

Just because I have listened carefully and intently to one thing from God does not mean that I will listen to everything He says. I show God my lack of love and respect for Him by the insensitivity of my heart and mind toward what He says. If I love my friend, I will instinctively understand what he wants. And Jesus said, “You are My friends…” (John 15:14). Have I disobeyed some command of my Lord’s this week? If I had realized that it was a command of Jesus, I would not have deliberately disobeyed it. But most of us show incredible disrespect to God because we don’t even hear Him. He might as well never have spoken to us.

The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me (see John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time through the devotion of hearing. A flower, a tree, or a servant of God may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is my attention to other things. It is not that I don’t want to hear God, but I am not devoted in the right areas of my life. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. God may say whatever He wants, but I just don’t hear Him. The attitude of a child of God should always be, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” If I have not developed and nurtured this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God’s voice at certain times. At other times I become deaf to Him because my attention is to other things— things which I think I must do. This is not living the life of a child of God. Have you heard God’s voice today?

 

Put Your Trust In God

Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Psalms 56:3-4 – What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.   (Read More…)

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.

Mark 11:24 – Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive [them], and ye shall have [them].

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Trust Me

From: Our Daily Bread

Trust Me

Do not worry about tomorrow. Matthew 6:34

After graduation from college, I had a low-paying job. Money was tight, and sometimes I didn’t even have enough for my next meal. I learned to trust God for my daily provision.

It reminded me of the prophet Elijah’s experience. During his prophetic ministry, he learned to trust God to meet his daily needs. Shortly after Elijah pronounced God’s judgment of a drought in Israel, God sent him to a deserted place, Kerith Ravine, where He used the ravens to bring Elijah his daily meals and refresh him with water from the brook (1 Kings 17:1–4).

But a drought occurred. The brook shrank to a tiny stream, and slowly became a mere trickle. It was only when the brook had dried up that God said: “Go at once to Zarephath . . . . I have directed a widow there to supply you with food” (v. 9). Zarephath was in Phoenicia, whose inhabitants were enemies of the Israelites. Would anyone offer Elijah shelter? And would a poor widow have food to share?

Most of us would rather God provided in abundance long before our resources were depleted rather than just enough for each day. But our loving Father whispers, Trust Me. Just as He used ravens and a widow to provide for Elijah, nothing is impossible for Him. We can count on His love and power to meet our daily needs.

Faithful Father, thank You for knowing exactly what we need before we even ask. Help us to trust You for our daily needs.

God supplies all our needs—one day at a time.

Hey, Where’d You Get That

From: Get More Strength

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” James 1:17

One of my favorite classical works of music is The Creation. But what I like even more than the stirring sounds and moving lyrics is the attitude of composer.

It was the year 1808, and the last note sounded as the symphony’s performance came to a close. Applause thundered through the auditorium in honor of one of the greatest composers of all time, Franz Joseph Haydn. The piece that had been performed was called The Creation. Haydn had written it to glorify God, by telling the Genesis story of creation through music. Audiences all over Europe adored it. And that night, he responded to the crowd’s ovation by pointing upward and exclaiming, “No, No! Not from me, but from thence! From heaven above comes all!”

At that same concert, Haydn’s contemporary Ludwig van Beethoven is said to have knelt and kissed Haydn’s hands in an act of honor. Praised by other great composers of his time and admired by the public as well, he was heaped with fame and adoration. Still, he refused to become prideful of the music God had created through Him. He knew from where it had come.

For sure, not many of us will be musical geniuses like Haydn. But God has given all of us talents and abilities. Some of us have exceptional people skills; some have what it takes to crunch numbers with precision. Others might be able to cook, write prose and poetry, or repair the transmission on a car. These gifts from God are the result of the way He created us—in His image. God is infinitely talented and able to do anything! Being made in “His image” means we have been given gifts from Him to accomplish good things and to contribute to our world.

But here’s the rub. If we’re not careful, the stealth enemy of pride will whisper to you that you are the one who deserves the credit. There is something really seductive about applause and affirmation. Giving the credit to others is not an easy thing to do. But in the end, who would you rather have people admire—you or your God? And even if you are tempted to honestly admit that you’d kinda like it to be you—upon further reflection, my guess is that you really don’t want to go there. And you shouldn’t. Competing with Him for the applause, especially when He deserves it all, is not a good idea. Particularly when we read that, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Remember, there is a world out there that is sitting quietly, watching your performance, waiting to break into applause. And when the applause comes, stand, take a bow, and then let people know where it all came from!

 

STREAMS IN THE DESERT – FEBRUARY 12

TIMES HAVE CHANGED, BUT LIFE’S HARD TIMES HAVEN’T

Your heavenly Father knoweth (Matthew 6:32).

A visitor at a school for the deaf and dumb was writing questions on the blackboard for the children. By and by he wrote this sentence: “Why has God made me to hear and speak, and made you deaf and dumb?”

The awful sentence fell upon the little ones like a fierce blow in the face. They sat palsied before that dreadful “Why?” And then a little girl arose.

Her lip was trembling. Her eyes were swimming with tears. Straight to the board she walked, and, picking up the crayon, wrote with firm hand these precious words: “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight!” What a reply! It reaches up and lays hold of an eternal truth upon which the maturest believer as well as the youngest child of God may alike securely rest — the truth that God is your Father.

Do you mean that? Do you really and fully believe that? When you do, then your dove of faith will no longer wander in weary unrest, but will settle down forever in its eternal resting place of peace. “Your Father!”

I can still believe that a day comes for all of us, however far off it may be, when we shall understand; when these tragedies, that now blacken and darken the very air of heaven for us, will sink into their places in a scheme so august, so magnificent, so joyful, that we shall laugh for wonder and delight.
–Arthur Christopher Bacon

No chance hath brought this ill to me;
‘Tis God’s own hand, so let it be,
He seeth what I cannot see.
There is a need-be for each pain,
And He one day will make it plain
That earthly loss is heavenly gain.
Like as a piece of tapestry
Viewed from the back appears to be
Naught but threads tangled hopelessly;
But in the front a picture fair
Rewards the worker for his care,
Proving his skill and patience rare.
Thou art the Workman, I the frame.
Lord, for the glory of Thy Name,

Perfect Thine image on the same.
–Selected

Bleeding And Dying For You

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Everything Else

From: Our Daily Journey

Alas and Did My Savior Bleed

  1. Alas! and did my Savior bleed
    And did my Sov’reign die?
    Would He devote that sacred head
    For such a worm as I?
  2. Isaac Wattspub.1707
    ref. by Ralph E. Hudson, 1885
Everything Else

Read:

Psalm 96:1-13
Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him (Psalm 96:9).

I once heard a speaker describe God’s unique nature in a memorable way. The word “God” was placed at the top of a PowerPoint slide, the words “Everything Else” at the bottom, and a solid line in-between. The speaker then stated that—as His creatures—we’re more like a worm or a cow than God. In His holiness, He’s separate, “above the line.”

Perfect in all He is and does, God is set apart from all creation and alone worthy of our worship (Psalm 96:8). As the psalmist declares, “Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him” (Psalm 96:9).

Yet more than once in Scripture, those who belong to God are told to also be holy—set apart—as He is holy. How can we, as created beings, reflect divine holiness? We know our own frailties and sinfulness, so it seems impossible. But Paul wrote that those “who have been called by God to be his own holy people” are “made. . . holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he [does] for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Those who believe in Jesus and receive salvation by His sacrifice are dedicated to God, made holy through Christ’s Spirit.

But there’s also an ethical part to holiness. By the power of the Spirit, believers in Jesus can strive to live lives that reflect the beauty and “otherly” nature of God (Romans 8:5-6,9).

Will we do this perfectly in this life? No. Each of us will still struggle with sin. But we can always turn to the One who alone is perfect. May we worship Him for His greatness, beauty, honor, and majesty (Psalm 96:4-6). And may we pursue His holiness as the Holy Spirit provides all we need to be set apart for our “glorious and strong,” holy God (Psalm 96:7).

Is Your Mind Stayed on God?

Is Your Mind Stayed on God?

By Oswald Chambers

Is your mind stayed on God or is it starved? Starvation of the mind, caused by neglect, is one of the chief sources of exhaustion and weakness in a servant’s life. If you have never used your mind to place yourself before God, begin to do it now. There is no reason to wait for God to come to you. You must turn your thoughts and your eyes away from the face of idols and look to Him and be saved (see Isaiah 45:22).

Your mind is the greatest gift God has given you and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him. You should seek to be “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This will be one of the greatest assets of your faith when a time of trial comes, because then your faith and the Spirit of God will work together. When you have thoughts and ideas that are worthy of credit to God, learn to compare and associate them with all that happens in nature— the rising and the setting of the sun, the shining of the moon and the stars, and the changing of the seasons. You will begin to see that your thoughts are from God as well, and your mind will no longer be at the mercy of your impulsive thinking, but will always be used in service to God.

“We have sinned with our fathers…[and]…did not remember…” (Psalm 106:6-7). Then prod your memory and wake up immediately. Don’t say to yourself, “But God is not talking to me right now.” He ought to be. Remember whose you are and whom you serve. Encourage yourself to remember, and your affection for God will increase tenfold. Your mind will no longer be starved, but will be quick and enthusiastic, and your hope will be inexpressibly bright.

Good Works!

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” Matthew 5:16 ESV

I had promised my wife that I would bring her a cup of coffee after my morning run. So, at 6:03 a.m., breathing hard and sweaty, I walked into Starbucks to order two cups of coffee to take home.

As I waited in line, the guy in front of me was clutching a copy of the New York Times and waving a $50 bill in the face of the clerk. Obviously ticked at the clerk, he was ranting, “What do you mean you don’t have change? What kind of a place are you operating here? I’ve got the money. I want my New York Times!”

The clerk, clearly shaken by the man’s anger, apologized, “I’m sorry, sir. We just opened, and I don’t have that much cash on hand yet. I don’t have change for a $50 bill.”

I had just been reading Jesus’ call for us to light up our world with good works so, knowing that this was an opportunity to put Jesus’ plan into gear, I stepped forward and said, “Hey, I’ll pay for your paper” and told the clerk to put it on my bill.

“Are you sure?”

“Yep,” I replied. “Put it on my bill.”

As the guy walked out he thanked me profusely and said, “All that I have is yours!” Which obviously didn’t include the $50 bill in his hand!

When the clerk handed me my two cups of coffee, he surprised me by saying, “Sir, that was a really nice thing you did. This world would be a lot better place if there were more people like you.”

Have you ever had one of those moments where you know that you should testify but the words just aren’t there? Well, I was caught so off-guard that I just muttered some self-deprecating remark and started toward home. I was tormented, wondering what I should have said! About half a block down the street, it occurred to me that I could have said, “Thanks. Actually, the world would not be a better place if more people were like me, but the world would be a better place if more people were like Jesus, because He taught me how to do that.”

I thought about going back to say that to the clerk. But then it crossed my mind that cutting in front of a long line of people to make a religious speech might not be a real good idea. Just then it struck me . . . I was wearing my Moody Bible Institute cap! I began praying that he had seen the cap. Praying that he had discovered that my buying a newspaper for a steamed customer and rescuing him is what “Bible-people” do!

I find myself praying for that server in Starbucks, praying that he will get around a lot of us Bible-people and notice that there is something consistent and compellingly different about us. That someday it will whet his appetite for the Jesus that has made us to be people of “good works.”

God Is Everywhere

 Is Your Ability to See God Blinded?

February 10 

Is Your Ability to See God Blinded?

By Oswald Chambers

The people of God in Isaiah’s time had blinded their minds’ ability to see God by looking on the face of idols. But Isaiah made them look up at the heavens; that is, he made them begin to use their power to think and to visualize correctly. If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades, if we will only begin to use our blinded thinking to visualize it.

The real test of spiritual focus is being able to bring your mind and thoughts under control. Is your mind focused on the face of an idol? Is the idol yourself? Is it your work? Is it your idea of what a servant should be, or maybe your experience of salvation and sanctification? If so, then your ability to see God is blinded. You will be powerless when faced with difficulties and will be forced to endure in darkness. If your power to see has been blinded, don’t look back on your own experiences, but look to God. It is God you need. Go beyond yourself and away from the faces of your idols and away from everything else that has been blinding your thinking. Wake up and accept the ridicule that Isaiah gave to his people, and deliberately turn your thoughts and your eyes to God.

One of the reasons for our sense of futility in prayer is that we have lost our power to visualize. We can no longer even imagine putting ourselves deliberately before God. It is actually more important to be broken bread and poured-out wine in the area of intercession than in our personal contact with others. The power of visualization is what God gives a saint so that he can go beyond himself and be firmly placed into relationships he never before experienced.

Goin’ Home!

From: Joe Stowell, Author

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

At the age of 96, my Dad went home to be with the Lord. I have to tell you those last few days with him were precious days in many ways, but most precious was the way our hearts were drawn to Jesus and heaven. The business of life has a way of blotting out what is really important. There’s nothing like standing at death’s door to remind you that life is fast and fragile, but if you have Jesus and the assurance of going home to be with Him at the end, you really have all you need.

As he spent his last days with us, my dad wanted all of us to sing hymns about heaven and seeing Jesus. These were those old songs that he had sung since he was a boy with words like, “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus,” the song said, “we’ll sing and shout the victory.” Or maybe some of you know this one: “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue . . . and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” Dad’s favorite, though, was an old hymn that concluded with these words, “And I shall see Him face to face and tell the story—saved by grace!”

Needless to say, these songs were sung with a few tears in our eyes. But underneath the tears was the solid and joyful confidence that he was moving on to a better place. Which made it easy to reply when someone said to me, “I hear you lost your dad”—“No, I know exactly where he is!”

I will never forget those last few days. They may have been the most significant hours I have ever spent with my dad. And the way he died reminded me of lessons he had tried to teach me since I was a boy. Watching my dad die stirred my heart afresh to live now for Jesus in a way that makes finally seeing him face-to-face a highly anticipated joy. Death for my dad was not a thing to be feared, but a door to all that is far better. He believed what Paul said when he wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

My heart was also stirred to think about living now for things that will last forever. I remember Dad telling me years ago, “Only one life,” he would say, “will soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will last!” Through his life, he had invested heavily in eternal things. And now he was about ready to reap the dividends. None of his money, property, or things meant anything on his deathbed. All he had was what he had sent on ahead—and that was a lot!

And being with my dad when he died also reminded me to build relationships now that make those who will stand around my bedside grateful that they knew me. Just before he went home, my dad looked up at me and said, “Joe, we’re pals, aren’t we?” I’m going to hang on to that memory for the rest of my life!

Which reminds me of what C. S. Lewis said when he wrote, “Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither!”

 

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves  Romans 12:19.

There are seasons when to be still demands immeasurably higher strength than to act. Composure is often the highest result of power. To the vilest and most deadly charges Jesus responded with deep, unbroken silence, such as excited the wonder of the judge and the spectators. To the grossest insults, the most violent ill-treatment and mockery that might well bring indignation into the feeblest heart, He responded with voiceless complacent calmness. Those who are unjustly accused, and causelessly ill-treated know what tremendous strength is necessary to keep silence to God.

Men may misjudge thy aim,
Think they have cause to blame,
Say, thou art wrong;
Keep on thy quiet way,
Christ is the Judge, not they,
Fear not, be strong.

St. Paul said, “None of these things move me.” He did not say, none of these things hurt me. It is one thing to be hurt, and quite another to be moved. St. Paul had a very tender heart. We do not read of any apostle who cried as St. Paul did. It takes a strong man to cry. Jesus wept, and He was the manliest Man that ever lived.

So it does not say, none of these things hurt me. But the apostle had determined not to move from what he believed was right. He did not count as we are apt to count; he did not care for ease; he did not care for this mortal life. He cared for only one thing, and that was to be loyal to Christ, to have His smile. To St. Paul, more than to any other man, His work was wages, His smile was Heaven.
–Margaret Bottome


Unlikely Friends

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the
calf and the lion and the yearling together. Isaiah 11:6

 

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Unlikely Friends

From: Our Daily Bread

Unlikely Friends

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together. Isaiah 11:6

My Facebook friends often post endearing videos of unlikely animal friendships, such as a recent video I watched of an inseparable pup and pig, another of a deer and cat, and yet another of an orangutan mothering several tiger cubs.

When I view such heartwarmingly unusual friendships, it reminds me of the description of the garden of Eden. In this setting, Adam and Eve lived in harmony with God and each other. And because God gave them plants for food, I imagine even the animals lived peacefully together (Genesis 1:30). But this idyllic scene was disrupted when Adam and Eve sinned (3:21–23). Now in both human relationships and the creation, we see constant struggle and conflict.

Yet the prophet Isaiah reassures us that one day, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together” (11:6). Many interpret that future day as when Jesus comes again to reign. When He returns, there will be no more divisions and “no more death . . . or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). On that renewed earth, creation will be restored to its former harmony and people of every tribe, nation, and language will join together to worship God (7:9–10; 22:1–5).

Until then, God can help us to restore broken relationships and to develop new, unlikely friendships.

Dear Father, help us to break down barriers and to seek to befriend others; and as we do, enable us to be bearers of the gospel of peace.

One day God will restore the world to perfect peace.

 

Jazmin Frank February 9, 2018
God Doesn’t Play with Your Heart
JAZMIN N. FRANK, COMPEL Member

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8 (ESV)

It’s okay, God. Just admit it. This is all a big joke.

I was standing in the cafeteria line, a sophomore in college, surrounded by hungry post-practice athletes. Loud conversations swirled around me, but the silent cry of my heart was louder.

Earlier that year, the Lord had given me a crazy promise. And dreamer that I was, with a bent toward faith in the impossible, I watched and waited for God to do His miraculous work.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Until that evening in the cafeteria when my heart was weary of all the waiting. I was convinced that because I hadn’t seen the fruit of the promise, God was just waiting for the right moment to tell me it was all a joke, and my faith had been in vain.

The line moved forward, and as I slid a slice of steaming pizza onto my plate, I heard a gentle whisper: “I don’t play with your heart.”

The weight of those words settled over me, echoing off the concave angles of my heart, as I nonchalantly fought back tears.

In that moment God reminded me that no matter how things appear, He is trustworthy.

He’s as worthy of my trust in this season of waiting as He was when Israel was waiting to enter the Promised Land.

After centuries of slavery and months in the desert, Israel was free; yet, they were convinced God had led them out of Egypt to die. Then, when they were right on the edge of receiving the promise, Israel turned back in fear and spent the next four decades wandering the desert.

As that generation died out, a new one rose up, and God again promised them that land, saying, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised Moses” (Joshua 1:3, ESV).

Despite the fact that Israel rejected God’s plan the first time, God’s Word still came about.

There are times when waiting on the Lord’s promises feels impossibly hard. And sometimes, like Israel, we give in to fear and turn a different direction.

But even then, God’s promises still stand true. God can do all things, and no purpose of His can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)

To this day, I’m still waiting on that promise. I’m still clinging to God through it with all that I am, trusting that He is good, and He keeps His Word. And when those days of doubt whisper that this is all some practical joke, I remember those words:

He doesn’t play with our hearts.

If He’s promised something, you can rest assured He will fulfill that promise. It might not happen how or when we expect, but God is faithful. And His Word stands forever.

Dear Lord, You know my heart. You know sometimes it’s really hard to believe what You’ve said when I don’t yet see it. Help me trust You. Help me trust what You’ve said is Truth, and it will come about just like You’ve said. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Well Done

From: Christian Broadcasting Network

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His feet bleeding from open blisters, and his hands and legs cramping almost beyond endurance, a young man reached the end of a three-day, 65-mile march. He carried 125 pounds of gear, slept no more than four hours a night, and had just enough food for two and a half meals. He had struggled his way through all kinds of obstacles both day and night. Yet, he had one more major challenge: to climb the rugged mountain in front of him.

He forced his mind to ignore the pain and focus on the goal, whispered a prayer to his Lord, and with all his remaining strength, began to climb. His body was pushed to the breaking point, yet still he climbed. At last, he reached the top and the moment he had been waiting for arrived. He had made it through the crucible.

The crucible is the last test a recruit must pass in Marine boot camp. It tests him physically, mentally and morally. The young recruits learn quickly that they must rely on one another to solve the problems and overcome the obstacles they are faced with. No one gets through it alone. Although at times it seems impossible to go on, the anticipation of the reward compels them forward.

At the top of the mountain, their drill instructor awaits them. Upon arrival, he presents these young recruits with their Marine Corps insignia – eagle, globe, and anchor; then shakes their hands and for the first time addresses them as Marines. Our grandson experienced this November 5, 2010, and as his drill instructor shook his hand he said, “I’m proud of you Wilkenson.” I’m not sure there are any words to describe the emotion our grandson felt at that moment, but this is one ceremony that moves even Marines to tears.

At times, we as God’s children can feel like we are in a spiritual crucible. The attacks of our enemy are vicious and brutal, often coming without warning. The journey seems long and full of obstacles and problems that we can’t deal with alone. Although we know our Lord has promised to be with us and to never give us more than we can bear, like these young recruits, we feel pushed beyond our limits.

The Marine Corps is turning young, inexperienced, undisciplined men and women into Marines. This is no easy task. It involves problems, challenges, pain, suffering, deprivation, and change. It takes determination and commitment on the part of the recruit to stick it out. The goal set before him, motivates him to continue. He wants to be a Marine.

Our Lord is conforming us to His image (Romans 8:28-29). This too involves problems, challenges, pain, suffering, loss, and many changes throughout our life. Commitment and discipline are required if we are to finish the course our Lord has set before us. We must yield our will to His, and in submissive obedience follow our Commander, just like those young recruits.

Our reward, however, will be much greater than receiving the Marine Insignia. We will receive crowns of glory from the nail-scarred hands of Jesus Christ, our Savior. The emotion in the young recruit as he heard his drill sergeant say he was proud of him was overwhelming. But can you imagine how we will feel when we stand face to face with Jesus and hear Him say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”? (Matthew 25:21,23)

We have one gigantic advantage over these young recruits. Our Commander is Almighty God and He goes with us giving us strength, guidance, and comfort on our journey. Therefore, let us determine with joy and anticipation even as Paul did, to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). We can do it!  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13