Tag Archives: Family

A Good Scare

1.  “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.” Isaiah 41:10

2.  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

3.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

4.  “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

5.  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

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A Good Scare

From: CBN, and John P. King, author

woman-watching-horror-movie

Let’s face it, whether you “celebrate” Halloween or not, this time of year everyone’s attention tends towards the spooky, creepy, and downright scary. I’ve heard some people say they like a good scare every now and then. Not so with me. I can do just fine without having the stuffing scared out of me, thank you very much.

I love the fact that the Bible tells us that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:10(NASB) Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NASB) 1 John 4:8 says, “… for God is love.” In fact, John went on to write, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” If we have given our lives to God, if we have found reconciliation with Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then we have nothing to fear from God. We have no fear of punishment, but the great expectation of living in the love of God which will drive fear from us.

Yet, with this in mind, I see an interesting story in Genesis 15. This is a powerful chapter telling a key part of the story of Abram/Abraham. The chapter begins with the Lord telling Abram “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” Again, we see the Lord’s encouragement to not fear. In his heartbreak, Abram pours out his soul reminding the Lord of the promise to give Abram an heir. A promise as yet unfulfilled as Abram and his wife, Sarah, continue to grow old.

God renews His promise to Abram, telling him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Genesis 15:6 says, “Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Abram’s simple faith and belief in the Lord is the kind of thing John was talking about: the wonderful loving relationship with the Lord that drives out fear.

The Lord goes on to instruct Abram to prepare a sacrifice. The offering on Abram’s part and acceptance of the offering on God’s part would be the ratifying moment of a great covenant between Abram and God. The Lord would forever be the God of Abram and his descendants, and Abram and his descendants would forever be God’s people. In this powerful moment, this ratifying and recognizing of this great covenant of friendship, grace, and love, an interesting thing happens; “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.” Gen 15:12 (NASB)

God Himself showed up to validate the covenant, and with Him came … terror? It reminds me of the scene where Isaiah received his call (Isaiah 6). The wonderful, glorious, loving, living God shows up and the first thing out of Isaiah’s mouth is, “Woe is me, for I am ruined.” Isaiah 6:5 (NASB) When John, yes the “There is no fear in love …” John, sees Jesus in Revelation 1, he confesses, as he writes, that he fell at Jesus’ feet “like a dead man.” Revelation 1:17 (NASB). What does Jesus do? He reaches out to the one who was known as the “one who Jesus loved,” touches him on the shoulder and says, “Do not be afraid.” Revelation 1:17 (NASB)

So what can we make of all this? Certainly, God does not want us to be “afraid” of Him. He does not want us to cower as if any moment He could squash us into jelly. However, we should never take for granted His Godhood. He is powerful. He is mighty. Stars fall from His fingertips. He creates worlds with the words from His mouth. He alone holds all of life in His hands. Should we not respect that? Should we not expect that if He shows up, we will react the same way these three wonderful men of God did? It makes me reflect on the phrase “a good scare.” I think I would like to have one after all. A Good Scare, and all that it implies.

Humble Beginnings

From: Our Daily Journey

Humble Beginnings
 Read: 

John 1:40-46
“Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

It’s estimated that Howard Schultz, until recently the executive chairman of Starbucks, is worth three billion dollars. One might assume that such a successful businessman had been born into wealth and privilege, but nothing could be further from the truth. Schultz was born and raised in Bayview, a notoriously dangerous housing project in New York City. But far from resenting his childhood neighborhood, he credits his upbringing with keeping him grounded and connected to those around him.

We can see a similar dynamic at work in John 1. Philip tells his friend Nathanael that he has met the Messiah, and that His name is Jesus (John 1:45). This news must have been shocking enough, but then Philip divulges an even more surprising fact: Jesus is from Nazareth! To which Nathanael replies disdainfully, “Nazareth? . . . Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Nathanael couldn’t imagine that the Messiah would come from such an insignificant and despised village.

As strange as that might seem, Matthew 2:23 reveals that this was no accident but a fulfillment of God’s plan. Jesus grew up in Nazareth as a declaration of the central role that humility would play in His life, a kind of geographic reflection of the fact that He was a humble servant who had come to serve. And so, Jesus’ ministry didn’t take place in spite of His humble circumstances, but really as a continuation and celebration of them (Matthew 21:5).

What an important reminder for us to not disdain the humble circumstances and seasons of our lives—as if they’re best forgotten and left behind. The humble circumstances of our past can remind us that humility is what Jesus desires to grow within us.

What Do You Think of Jesus?

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From: Get More Strength

“Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15

When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?”—He wasn’t having an identity crisis nor was He feeling insecure about His reputation. He passed out the quiz to see whether or not the disciples had come to grips with who He really was, or, if they too, like the rest of the crowds, had misperceived His true identity.

It’s a good quiz to take, because if you and I don’t perceive Jesus as He really is, we just may get our Christianity twisted and headed in the wrong direction. So ask yourself, “Who do I think Jesus is?”

There are lots of ways to look at the question: theologically, historically, culturally, redemptively, spiritually, or experientially. But for starters, let’s ask in terms of how you perceive Him as a person when He comes to mind. This is not a throwaway issue! How you envision Him has a lot to do with whether or not you’ll want to follow Him. And following Him is at the very heart of a fulfilling relationship with Him.

If you grew up in Sunday school world, you saw a lot of Sunday school papers with pictures of Jesus in a neatly pressed white robe, nice sandals, and a well-trimmed beard. It was easy to draw the conclusion that Jesus is a kind, softhearted, merciful, and deferring kind of guy. And, thankfully, He is all those things. But if that’s all He is to you, He won’t seem very compelling. You might think, “Nice guy, but I’m not sure I’d want to go on a fishing trip with Him!”

Yet a brief look at who found Him to be compelling will correct our often distorted view of Jesus. Rough fishermen like James, John, Peter, and Andrew dropped their nets to follow Him. These were guys who would have had fading tattoos on their bulging biceps, and rugged, sea-worn faces. Simon the Zealot, a member of the underground resistance force, was committed to give his life if necessary to overthrow the oppressive regime of Rome. He traded in his Uzis and fatigues to join the Jesus revolution. And Matthew, the ruthless tax collector, found Jesus a far more compelling option for life than continuing to get rich at other peoples’ expense. Women felt safe with Him and adoringly followed and supported Him.

So, take it from those who knew Him best. They gave up everything and followed Him to a whole new way of life. A life where the power of love is courageous enough to forgive; where the joy of generosity trumps the withering grip of greed; where others’ needs and interests capture the attention of our hearts; where cross-bearing is an honor; where the poor, marginalized, and oppressed find refuge and significance.

So, what do you think of Jesus?

Seeing Him as He really is will make you ready to drop “whatever” in order to follow Him. And, come to think of it, I’d love to go fishing with Him! I might just end up being quite different in a lot of good ways if I spent more time with Him!

A Positive Future With God

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Ephesians 4:29 

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Psalm 18:2 

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

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Invisible Influence

From: Our Daily Bread

Invisible Influence

Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19

On a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, I saw a masterpiece called The Wind. The painting showed a storm moving through a wooded area. Tall, thin trees leaned to the left. Bushes thrashed in the same direction.

In an even more powerful sense, the Holy Spirit is able to sway believers in the direction of God’s goodness and truth. If we go along with the Spirit, we can expect to become more courageous and more loving. We will also become more discerning about how to handle our desires (2 Tim. 1:7).

In some situations, however, the Spirit nudges us toward spiritual growth and change, but we respond with a “no.” Continually stonewalling this conviction is what Scripture calls “quench[ing] the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19). Over time, things we once considered wrong appear not to be quite as bad.

When our relationship with God seems distant and disconnected, this may be because the Spirit’s conviction has been repeatedly brushed aside. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to see the root of the problem. Thankfully, we can pray and ask God to show us our sin. If we turn away from sin and recommit ourselves to Him, God will forgive us and revive the power and influence of His Spirit within us.

God, show me how I have resisted Your Holy Spirit. Help me to listen when You speak. I want to be right with You again.

Yielding to the Holy Spirit leads to right living.

Into His Image

From: Our Daily Journey

Into His Image

Read:

James 4:1-12
Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law (James 4:11).

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” This sentiment from Anne Lamott often comes back to me in situations of potential conflict. If I find myself assuming God feels exactlythe same way I do about most situations, it’s safe to say my view of God is mixed with a good deal of myself! Only one Person has known the mind of God fully; we His followers always understand imperfectly (1 Corinthians 13:12).

This seems to be part of why Scripture places an equal emphasis on both holiness and humility. Although we’re each to strive to grow in our knowledge of God and His truth, we should always be hesitant to judge others, for our own sin may be causing us to hastily condemn (Matthew 7:1-3).

James saw this clearly, tracing believers’ conflicts to coveting and pride (James 4:1-6). Urging each of them to purify themselves and draw near to God (James 4:7-10), he cautioned that judging another unfairly disregarded God’s law (James 4:12), which required that any accusation be verified through fair investigation and the testimony of witnesses. Unfairly accusing someone could be the sin of slander, as well as giving ourselves God’s role as judge (James 4:11-12).

If we’re tempted to assume our anger and impatience is just, let’s pause to first search our hearts and mourn over our own sin (James 4:9). Through drawing near to God, we can begin to experience His wisdom, which is “peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others” (James 3:17). Then we can better discern whether to correct in a “spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). May we in faith continually turn to Him and be transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

The Key of the Greater Work

Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work. Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God’s work. In the teachings of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me, which produces the miracle of redemption in others, through the power of God. The way fruit remains firm is through prayer, but remember that it is prayer based on the agony of Christ in redemption, not on my own agony. We must go to God as His child, because only a child gets his prayers answered; a “wise” man does not (see Matthew 11:25).

Prayer is the battle, and it makes no difference where you are. However God may engineer your circumstances, your duty is to pray. Never allow yourself this thought, “I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly cannot be used where you have not yet been placed. Wherever God has placed you and whatever your circumstances, you should pray, continually offering up prayers to Him. And He promises, “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do…” (John 14:13). Yet we refuse to pray unless it thrills or excites us, which is the most intense form of spiritual selfishness. We must learn to work according to God’s direction, and He says to pray. “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38).

There is nothing thrilling about a laboring person’s work, but it is the laboring person who makes the ideas of the genius possible. And it is the laboring saint who makes the ideas of his Master possible. When you labor at prayer, from God’s perspective there are always results. What an astonishment it will be to see, once the veil is finally lifted, all the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you have been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.

Call On God Who Heals Us

  • Matthew 11:28

    28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

  • Philippians 4:19

    19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
  • Proverbs 4:20-22

    20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.

Psalm 30:2

2  LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
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Room 5020

From: Our Daily Bread

Room 5020

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done. Genesis 50:20

Jay Bufton turned his hospital room into a lighthouse.

The fifty-two-year-old husband, father, high school teacher, and coach was dying of cancer, but his room—Room 5020—became a beacon of hope for friends, family, and hospital workers. Because of his joyful attitude and strong faith, nurses wanted to be assigned to Jay. Some even came to see him during off-hours.

Even as his once-athletic body was wasting away, he greeted anyone and everyone with a smile and encouragement. One friend said, “Every time I visited Jay he was upbeat, positive, and filled with hope. He was, even while looking cancer and death in the face, living out his faith.”

At Jay’s funeral, one speaker noted that Room 5020 had a special meaning. He pointed to Genesis 50:20, in which Joseph says that although his brothers sold him into slavery, God turned the tables and accomplished something good: “the saving of many lives.” Cancer invaded Jay’s life, but by recognizing God’s hand at work Jay could say that “God intended it for good.” That’s why Jay could use even the ravages of cancer as an open door to tell others about Jesus.

What a legacy of unwavering trust in our Savior even as death was knocking at the door! What a testimony of confidence in our good and trustworthy God!

Lord, difficult things come into our lives so often. Please help us to trust You enough to see that nothing is beyond Your control. Help us to tell of Your love even in the tough times.

By God’s grace, we can have our best witness in the worst of times.

 

The Key to the Master’s Orders

 

The Key to the Master’s Orders

The Key to the Master’s Orders

By Oswald Chambers

The key to the missionary’s difficult task is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work— that is, not work as the word is commonly used today, which often results in the shifting of our focus away from God. The key to the missionary’s difficult task is also not the key of common sense, nor is it the key of medicine, civilization, education, or even evangelization. The key is in following the Master’s orders— the key is prayer. “Pray the Lord of the harvest….” In the natural realm, prayer is not practical but absurd. We have to realize that prayer is foolish from the commonsense point of view.

From Jesus Christ’s perspective, there are no nations, but only the world. How many of us pray without regard to the persons, but with regard to only one Person— Jesus Christ? He owns the harvest that is produced through distress and through conviction of sin. This is the harvest for which we have to pray that laborers be sent out to reap. We stay busy at work, while people all around us are ripe and ready to be harvested; we do not reap even one of them, but simply waste our Lord’s time in over-energized activities and programs. Suppose a crisis were to come into your father’s or your brother’s life— are you there as a laborer to reap the harvest for Jesus Christ? Is your response, “Oh, but I have a special work to do!” No Christian has a special work to do. A Christian is called to be Jesus Christ’s own, “a servant [who] is not greater than his master” (John 13:16), and someone who does not dictate to Jesus Christ what he intends to do. Our Lord calls us to no special work— He calls us to Himself. “Pray the Lord of the harvest,” and He will engineer your circumstances to send you out as His laborer.

 


Facing Life’s Worries With Truth
MAX LUCADO

 

Max Lucado October 16, 2017

From: Crosswalk.com

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37‑39 (NIV)

Everyone has assumptions about life.

Many are useful and constructive. We know the sun will rise and set each day. We assume storms will pass, and food is available.

Some assumptions, however, are toxic. Even worse, they are contrary to the truth. Unhealthy assumptions include false thoughts like these:

I’m unworthy. I don’t deserve to have good things happen to me.
People abandon me. 
When people come to know the real me, they leave.
It’s all my fault. I’m to blame for every bad thing that happens to me.
No one has my back, which makes me vulnerable. 
Something bad is going to happen.
The world feels dangerous.

Many false beliefs were formed in the early years of our lives when we did not have the ability to challenge them. So their roots run deep, and such false assumptions create an anxiety-ridden life.

God’s solution? Truth. Face worries with truth. Take “captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b, NIV). One way to do this is to correct faulty thinking with accurate thoughts:

I matter to God. He made me, knows me and has a plan for my life.
I am worthy of love. I’m not perfect, but I have abilities and God-given gifts.
I’m not responsible for all the bad things. I’ve made mistakes, but I am learning and growing, and, most of all, I am forgiven by God.
I’m protected. It is a dangerous world, but I serve a mighty God who knows and loves me.

Listen to yourself. Monitor your beliefs about yourself, about God and about the world. Don’t allow false assumptions to take up any space in your mind. Immediately treat them with truth.

I’m either my own worst critic or greatest cheerleader. Either I tear myself down or build myself up. The words I say can usher in fear or faith. I’ve learned to ask: Are you against you? Or are you for you?

The truth is, God is for you. He has cast His vote. In His opinion you’re worth the death of His Son. You are valuable, purposeful and important. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1b, NIV).

If God is for you, shouldn’t you be for you? I’ve learned it doesn’t make sense to be against myself if God isn’t. Calling myself dumb, ugly or poor … saying there is no solution, hope or promise in life. If I decide I have no talents, friends or future … these words have power.

Saying something often enough can become my version of the truth! Those offhand negative remarks aren’t harmless; they are toxic. They actually agree with the devil. They give him a foothold. “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4, NIV).

Hold fast to the promises of Scripture and speak truth. The apostle Paul modeled this for us in today’s key verse: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

Be for you! God is.

Creation’s Care

Job 12:7-10

7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. 
9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

Psalm 96:11-12

11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
 12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
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Creation Care

From: Our Daily Bread

Creation Care

The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind. Psalm 115:16

The “big browns” are spawning in the Owyhee River—brown trout beginning their fall nesting ritual. You can see them excavating their nests in the gravelly shallows.

Wise fishermen know that fish are spawning and try not to disturb them. They avoid walking on gravel bars where they might trample the eggs, or wading upstream from the nests where they might dislodge debris that can smother them. And they don’t fish for these trout, though it’s tempting to do so as they rest near their nests.

These precautions are part of an ethic that governs responsible fishing. But there is a deeper and a better cause.

The Scriptures stress the fact that God has given us the earth (Gen. 1:28–30). It is ours to use, but we must use it as those who love it.

I muse on the work of God’s hands: a partridge calling across a canyon, a bull elk bugling up a fight, a herd of antelope far off in the distance, a brook trout and its kaleidoscopic rose moles, a mother otter playing in a stream with her pups—I love all these things, for they have been given to me for my delight, out of my Father’s great love.

And what I love, I protect.

Heavenly Father, You have put us here to enjoy and ponder Your marvelous creation. May everything You have made remind us of Your goodness, love, and care.

Care for creation honors the Creator.

 

The Big Picture

From: Nina Keegan, author and CBN

autumntree

Have you ever tried to put together one of those giant jigsaw puzzles that has at least a thousand pieces? At first glance into the large box of tiny freeform pieces, it’s hard to imagine they will form a picture. One tiny random piece doesn’t look like much of anything on its own; but once you start putting them together, the formation of a beautiful picture begins to take shape. If even one piece is missing, the puzzle will be incomplete.

Puzzles are like life sometimes; except for one major difference, we get to see the end results of the puzzle before we begin the long toil of assembling it. The full picture of the completed puzzle is always on the box-top. We already know how it will turn out and we are not the least bit surprised by its ending. Even though one piece on its own does not look like much of anything, together with all its counterparts, a wonderful picture emerges.

I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will. Isaiah 46:10 HCSB

God is the creator of our great puzzle called life. Each one of us has our own unique box with an amazing picture on the top, The Big Picture — the picture God carefully designed for each of us. Only God himself knows what our finished portrait will look like. He is working diligently on our behalf, tirelessly arranging all of our puzzle pieces into a wonderful order of abundant blessings on a pathway of unspeakable joy.

When we are going through a tough time, we must remember that this is just one tiny piece of our puzzle, without it we would not be complete. We need all the pieces — good and bad, easy and difficult — to shape us and guide us on our uniquely individual paths. We may have to be uncomfortable for a bit. We may have to weather some unwelcome storms. But I guarantee you those times of difficulty are never wasted. We learn through times of uncertainty. Our faith is fortified and strengthened. We learn to relinquish control and let God take the reigns. He has the bird’s eye view. He has the miraculous ability to look down and see our entire timeline, start to finish, beginning to end and every single second in-between. He sees the whole puzzle at once. We see only the one tiny piece we seem to be stuck on right now. He sees exactly where that piece belongs.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ESV

This Scripture tells us we were created for good works that God has already prepared for us ahead of time. So no matter where we seem to be or what issues we may be facing, they will be used for good because God has already gone before us and prepared the way. He sent His beloved son to pay the price in advance for everything we could ever need.

We must put our focus and trust in Him. Our trials build faith in our wonderfully omniscient God. If we knew what God knows, we would never change a thing. We would see the magnitude of impossibilities we could never face without God going before us to clear the way and secure our footing.

Enjoy your life piece by piece. Do not worry about tomorrow today. Let God be God!

Run to win that which has already been won for you. No matter what things may look like, a new piece of the puzzle is coming. God is already searching in the box for the perfect piece with the answer you have been praying for. God always sees The Big Picture.

 

Battle Strategy

From: Our Daily Journey

Battle Strategy

Read:

2 Chronicles 20:1-24

You will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory (2 Chronicles 20:17).

At the height of an African government’s struggle with a terrorist rebel group, the president turned to the church for help. As people began to pray, an army chaplain declared that the war wouldn’t be won in battle, but through prayer. Thus began “Operation Gideon.” A team of intercessors gathered for several weeks of prayer and fasting. In time, a systematic breakdown of the rebel group’s influence occurred.

When Judah’s king Jehoshaphat received word that “a vast army from Edom [was] marching against [him]” (2 Chronicles 20:2), he “was terrified” and “begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help” (2 Chronicles 20:3-4). In response to the nation’s passionate plea for help, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon . . . Jahaziel son of Zechariah, a Levite [who declared], ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . Stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you’ ” (2 Chronicles 20:14-17).

Taking God at His word, Jehoshaphat “appointed singers to walk ahead of the army [into battle], singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. . . . At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.” Not a single enemy escaped (2 Chronicles 20:21-24).

Prayer might not always seem like the best strategy in your daily battles, but in reality it’s the most effective of all—for the battle and outcome belongs to God (1 Samuel 17:47). Turn your struggles over to Him, and praise Him for His powerful work in your life.

Held By God

 

  • Galatians 6:9

    9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
  • Joshua 1:9

    9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
  • Mark 10:27

    27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

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Held by God

From: Our Daily Bread

Held by God
Read: Psalm 131 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 43–44; 1 Thessalonians 2

I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Psalm 131:2

As I was nearing the end of lunch with my sister and her children one afternoon, my sister told my three-year-old niece, Annica, it was time to get ready for her nap. Her face filled with alarm. “But Aunt Monica did not hold me yet today!” she objected, tears filling her eyes. My sister smiled. “Okay, she may hold you first—how long do you need?” “Five minutes,” she replied.

As I held my niece, I was grateful for how, without even trying, she constantly reminds me what it looks like to love and be loved. I think sometimes we forget that our faith journey is one of learning to experience love—God’s love—more fully than we can imagine (Eph. 3:18). When we lose that focus, we can find ourselves, like the older brother in Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son, trying desperately to win God’s approval while missing out on all He has already given us (Luke 15:25–32).

Psalm 131 is one prayer in Scripture that can help us to “become like little children” (Matt. 18:3) and to let go of the battle in our mind over what we don’t understand (Ps. 131:1). Instead, through time with Him we can return to a place of peace (v. 2), finding the hope we need (v. 3) in His love—as calm and quiet as if we were children again in our mothers’ arms (v. 2).

Lord, we are so grateful for those in our lives who remind us what it means to love and be loved. Help us to be ever more deeply rooted in Your love.

Like children, we can learn to rest in the love of God.

 

The glorious habitation

From: Charles Spurgeon

“Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.” Psalm 90:1

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 4:13-16

Will you take my master’s house on a lease for all eternity, with nothing to pay for it, nothing but the ground rent of loving and serving him for ever? Will you take Jesus, and dwell in him throughout eternity, or will you be content to be a houseless soul? Come inside, sir; see, it is furnished from top to bottom with all you want. It has cellars filled with gold, more than you will spend as long as you live; it has a parlour where you can entertain yourself with Christ, and feast on his love; it has tables well stored with food for you to live on for ever; it has a drawing-room of brotherly love where you can receive your friends. You will find a resting room up there where you can rest with Jesus; and on the top there is a look-out, whence you can see heaven itself. Will you have the house, or will you not? Ah, if you are houseless, you will say, “I should like to have the house; but may I have it?” Yes; there is the key. The key is, “Come to Jesus.” But you say “I am too shabby for such a house.” Never mind; there are garments inside. As Rowland Hill once said:

“Come naked, come filthy, come ragged, come poor,
Come wretched, come dirty, come just as you are.”

If you feel guilty and condemned, come, and though the house is too good for you, Christ will make you good enough for the house. He will wash you, and cleanse you, and you will yet be able to sing with Moses, with the same unfaltering voice, “Lord, thou hast been my dwelling place throughout all generations.”

 

Children’s bread given to dogs

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’ Matthew 15:27

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 64:4–9

Instead of trying to make your case out to be better, believe in its thorough badness, and yet be of good cheer. You cannot exaggerate your sin, and even if you could, it would be wiser to err in that direction than the other. A man called at my house some time ago for charity; an arrant beggar, I have no doubt. Thinking that the man’s rags and poverty were real, I gave him a little money, some of my clothes, and a pair of shoes. After he had put them on and gone out, I thought, ‘Well, after all, I have done you a bad turn very likely, for you will not get so much money now as before, because you will not look so wretched an object.’ Happening to go out a quarter of an hour afterwards, I saw my friend, but he was not wearing the clothes I had given him, not he; why, I should have ruined his business if I could have compelled him to look respectable. He had been wise enough to slip down an archway, take all the good clothes off, and put his rags on again. Did I blame him? Yes, for being a rogue, but not for carrying on his business in a businesslike manner. He only wore his proper livery, for rags are the livery of a beggar. The more ragged he looked, the more he would get. Just so is it with you. If you are to go to Christ, do not put on your good doings and feelings, or you will get nothing; go in your sins, they are your livery. Your ruin is your argument for mercy; your poverty is your plea for heavenly alms; and your need is the motive for heavenly goodness. Go as you are, and let your miseries plead for you.

For meditation: The filthy rags of sin are the natural uniform of all human beings (Romans 3:23). The Lord Jesus Christ wore them spiritually on the cross in our place and in return offers you now his spotless robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10Zechariah 3:3–5), which is the Christian’s uniform and ticket to heaven. But you won’t even be able to gatecrash heaven (John 10:1), if you reject Christ’s righteousness and continue to wear the filthy rags of your sin (Matthew 22:11–13).

 

For My Own Sake

From: Sarah Limardo, author, and CBN

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When I really need to hear the voice of God in my life, I find myself escaping into the words of Isaiah. I’m intrigued by God’s words, His active speaking through dialogue, which always strikes me.

One morning, as I read my Bible before class, I stumbled across what is now my favorite verse, Isaiah 43:25, NIV, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

I stared at this verse as my heart dove out of my chest and into these words, deeper and deeper, and swaddled itself in the insane amount of intentional love I found there.

I tend to fall into that category of folks who know they’re forgiven and receive it but still can’t shake the “wretch like me” attitude. As I stared at this verse, God took that attitude, turned it on its head, and shook it until understanding wove itself through every thread of my heart.

I pictured God saying these words to me. Like He was suddenly sitting in my tiny room with me, leaning over my Bible and saying, “For my sake. Forgiving you is about Me, not you. It’s that want you near me. want to be with you.”

This verse comes right after God is telling the Israelites how they haven’t brought Him offerings and didn’t call on Him. Rather they have “burdened” Him with sins and “wearied” Him. (Isaiah 43:25)

How many times had I done the same? How many times had I told God with my mouth that I loved him, but done something contrary to what a love for God looked like? I’d stopped counting, and I was left wanting to prove the love I thought had been overshadowed by my sins. I wanted to draw close to the God I loved.

It was never about me. It’s about God’s love for me. It’s the great story of…everything. It was never about us.

I took my Bible with me everywhere in the days following. I couldn’t part from the love that kept echoing in my heart, “For my own sake.”

We see this same principle echoed throughout everything—God forgiving our sins for His sake because He made us and desires us. Nearly a chapter later, in Isaiah 44:23, NIV, Isaiah writes, “Sing for joy, your heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.”

Cast off that “wretch like me” attitude, because God has forgotten your sins, redeemed you, and loves you! He frees us to sing for joy and shout it out—we’re commanded to embrace this attitude of joy because we have such a strong foundation for it. If you’ve asked for forgiveness, He’s given it to you. So why not take hold of it?

Our redemption is something to be celebrated and enjoyed. Love the gift He’s given you!

Hard Times

Job 30:24

“Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand, Or in his disaster therefore cry out for help?

 
Psalm 57:1

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by.

Ecclesiastes 9:12

Moreover, man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them.

 

Revelation 6:7-8

 

When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

 

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Hard Times

From: Our Daily Journey

Hard Times

Read:

1 Kings 19:1-14
Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. . . . “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died” (I Kings 19:3-4).

Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, poet and hymn writer William Cowper, Mother Teresa, and contemporary author Ann Voskamp—each has been recognized for their devotion to Jesus. And each has also battled depression.

I’ve heard people say that followers of Christ can’t suffer from depression due to the joy we have in Jesus. Those who do, they say, suffer with it because of some sin. Others say depression can be prayed away if we simply have enough faith. But depression is complex and can be fueled by many factors including painful life circumstances, chemical imbalances, shame, and other challenges.

I speculate that the prophet Elijah suffered from at least one episode of depression. After he helped the widow at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-24), he challenged the prophets of Baal and was victorious over them (I Kings 18:18-40). He also prayed that God would send rain on the drought-stricken land, and God did. Yet on the heels of God’s mighty and spectacular deeds, Elijah grew afraid and depressed when Queen Jezebel sought revenge and vowed to kill him (I Kings 19:2-4). As a result, he fled to Mount Sinai where God met with him. Notice the loving-kindness of God. He didn’t scold Elijah for his despair, but like a nurturing parent He took care of him by providing food and drink while Elijah slept under a broom tree (I Kings 19:4-8).

Maybe you’ve suffered from depression or know someone who has. Maybe you feel isolated and are hopeless. Let me remind you—you’re not alone. God cares deeply for you. He wants you to be whole. Please consider seeking medical care and advice and telling trusted people what you’re going through. You don’t have to suffer alone.

 

Don’t Take Comfort in Fear!

From: Sarah Limardo, author, and CBN

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Over the weekend, my husband granted my seven-month-long wish to have a cat. Even though he doesn’t like cats, there’s something about me that just needs to love something furry and cute.

It seems like such a small thing, but I prayed for this kitten for months. I prayed that she would be happy and healthy, and that we could give her a good home she felt safe in. I was devoted to my pet before I even knew her.

I wanted a calico, and when I arrived at the pet store, there she was. She slept in her litter box and didn’t approach the cage door when I called. She stared at me, and something in my heart tugged. I loved her, so I brought her home and set her up with her own little space in the laundry room.

My cat wasn’t the happy cat I expected right off the bat. She’s happy, and thankfully doesn’t sleep in her litter box, but she seeks refuge behind the washing machine where we can’t reach her easily. I’ve resorted to climbing on top of the appliances to feed her, dropping one piece of food after another into her hungry jaws. I pet her head and she purrs, and stares at me when I pull my hand away, waiting for more. She’s an absolute sucker for affection, but she won’t come out to get it yet.

After a day and a half of trying to coax her out, I turned to my husband and said, “If only she knew it was okay to come out, she would see it’s warmer out here and she can have all the love she wants.”

God nudged me then. How many times had I resisted him while he patiently waited for me to step into his arms? How long had I left him calling to me while I stayed where I was comfortable and refused to step out into something better for me?

Revelation 3:20 says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (NLT)

I understand the Father’s love a little better now. Of all the times I’ve hidden with my pain and past hurt, staying where I knew I would be safe, he’s been there with more love in his heart than I realized. And he gently coaxed me out, and still does to this day, to show me that with him there is nothing but warmth, love, and a happy and healthy life. He is always here as a friend and a loving father. He’s already come to me—I just need to step out and greet him.

As I try to get my kitten to understand that there is nothing to fear because I love her, God impresses the same truth on my heart. There is no fear in His love. He says, “For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘don’t be afraid. I am here to help you” (Isaiah 41:13, NLT).

We shouldn’t be comfortable in our fear. God has so many good things for us, and we need only to step out and be vulnerable to a God who loves us more than we can imagine.

 

Individual Discouragement and Personal Growth

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Moses saw the oppression of his people and felt certain that he was the one to deliver them, and in the righteous indignation of his own spirit he started to right their wrongs. After he launched his first strike for God and for what was right, God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years. At the end of that time, God appeared to Moses and said to him, “ ‘…bring My people…out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go…?’ ” (Exodus 3:10-11). In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God.

We may have the vision of God and a very clear understanding of what God wants, and yet when we start to do it, there comes to us something equivalent to Moses’ forty years in the wilderness. It’s as if God had ignored the entire thing, and when we are thoroughly discouraged, God comes back and revives His call to us. And then we begin to tremble and say, “Who am I that I should go…?” We must learn that God’s great stride is summed up in these words— “I AM WHO I AM…has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). We must also learn that our individual effort for God shows nothing but disrespect for Him— our individuality is to be rendered radiant through a personal relationship with God, so that He may be “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We are focused on the right individual perspective of things; we have the vision and can say, “I know this is what God wants me to do.” But we have not yet learned to get into God’s stride. If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead.

The Good Shepherd

John 10:11
10  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness. 
12  The hired hand is not the shepherd, and the sheep are not his own. When he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf pounces on them and scatters the flock.…
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The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd

He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. Isaiah 40:11

I sat in the hospital room with my husband, waiting anxiously. Our young son was having corrective eye surgery and I felt the butterflies jostle in my stomach as I fretted and worried. I tried to pray, asking God to give me His peace. As I leafed through my Bible, I thought about Isaiah 40, so I turned to the familiar passage, wondering if anything fresh would strike me.

As I read, I caught my breath, for the words from so many years ago reminded me that the Lord “tends his flock like a shepherd” as He “gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (v. 11). In that moment my anxiety left me as I realized the Lord was holding us, leading us, and caring for us. That was just what I needed, Lord, I breathed silently. I felt enveloped in God’s peace during and after the surgery (which thankfully went well).

The Lord promised His people through the prophet Isaiah that He would be their shepherd, guiding them in their daily lives and giving them comfort. We too can know His gentle tending as we tell Him our anxious thoughts and seek His love and peace. We know that He is our Good Shepherd, holding us close to His heart and carrying us in His everlasting arms.

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. Thank You for the gift of Your sacrificial love and for the peace that passes all understanding.

Read Oswald Chamber’s thoughts on worry.

The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep.

 

Value Wise Counsel

From: Our Daily Journey

Value Wise Counsel

Read:

1 Kings 10:1-13
How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day, listening to your wisdom! (1 Kings 10:8).

I’ve been mentored by some wonderful leaders over the years. Their encouragement, challenges, criticism, and timely discipline have enabled me to grow and mature. From godly parents and inspirational teachers to leaders in church and the workplace, I’m immensely grateful for their wise counsel. It can be easy to criticize those in authority, but a wise friend once challenged me to prioritize learning from and valuing them.

If you could spend a day with a wise person, who would it be and what would you ask? King Solomon’s famous wisdom not only brought honor to God, it also allowed him to influence every nation on earth as kings sent their ambassadors to learn from him (1 Kings 4:29-33). When news of Solomon’s depth of understanding and abundant wealth reached the Queen of Sheba, she traveled a long distance to meet him and see if his wisdom was all she’d heard it was (1 Kings 10:1).

Her journey wasn’t in vain. She spoke with Solomon about many things, and he answered all her questions. Nothing was too difficult for him to explain to her. Overwhelmed (1 Kings 10:2-5), she gushed, “Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom is true! . . . How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day, listening to your wisdom!” (1 Kings 10:6-8).

What a blessing it is to have access to wise counsel! Just as the Queen of Sheba recognized the value of learning from the wise, may we never take those who challenge and inspire us for granted. God can use wise leaders to help us become who He created us to be. And if you’re in a position of authority but feel that you lack wisdom, then ask God, and He’ll provide what you need (James 1:5).

 

A Self-Imposed Fog

By: Kathy Cheek, author, CBN

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I read a devotional the other day on trusting God through the fog, the writer recounting a difficult drive down a foggy mountain road and trusting God to take her safely home.

I have not had that experience of driving down a foggy mountain road. And yet, recently … I created my own fog on a bright sunny day.

Nothing had changed. A blinding fog did not roll in and obscure my view.

I just took my eyes off what God can do and let circumstances overwhelm me with doubt and fear. I was not a friend to myself. I was a saboteur of my own journey.

For a while I let a thick fog swirl around me and swallow up my hope and faith and pull me into a dark place where discouragement filled my heart.

We all have those days when praying, waiting, and working toward something are met with discouragement. We often find we derail our confidence in the Lord with our own weakness and wrong thinking because for a while we take our eyes off of Him and instead let a fog of doubt and worry surround us. The fog comes rolling in when I take my eyes off of the Lord.

It is a miserable place to be when we feel like we have lost our way and can’t find a clear solution.

There are multiple possibilities for our discouragement. Here are just a few:

  • We become impatient because we have already waited a very long time for answers.
  • We might convince ourselves we have asked for too much or too big and back down from our asking.
  • We don’t see any signs of change in our difficult situation and hopelessness leads to great frustration.
  • Our task looks too complicated to complete and we feel like giving up.

We will all go through discouragement when faced with the above type scenarios. But will we let discouragement rule our lives or will we place our trust in God to work those things that we can’t comprehend? Will we remind ourselves how He has worked for our good in other difficult times?

When I realized that all the negativity I was experiencing was a product of my own doing and my reasons for discouragement were based on feelings and emotions run amuck, the fog began to lift and clear thinking prevailed. I stood my ground with faith and trust and let the sun break through all the fog.

When my self-imposed fog lifted and I experienced the fresh air of hope and faith once more, I truly felt a wave of energy surge through my body, heart, and soul. God’s indwelling spirit renewed me and I welcomed His faithfulness to me as His strength overcame my weakness and I felt strong and whole. The sky was blue again, the sun was shining, and all fog had lifted away.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

Practice Cheerful Hospitality

1 Timothy 5:10

having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.

Hebrews 13:2

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Isaiah 58:7

“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

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Cheerful Hospitality

Cheerful Hospitality

Read:

1 Peter 4:7-10
Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay (1 Peter 4:9).

After Mary and Jim married and moved into their first apartment, they decided to set aside a room in which to host others. I became a beneficiary of their warm hospitality on a teaching trip. They welcomed me, a stranger, into their home and showered me with love.

The practice of hospitality is central in Scripture. Jesus received hospitality from those He ministered to (Mark 2:15-1614:3Luke 7:36). Sisters Mary and Martha of Bethany opened their home to Jesus (Luke 10:38), and He probably stayed in their home each time He came to Jerusalem (Matthew 21:17Luke 21:37).

The apostle John cited an example of a believer who hosted traveling teachers. Although strangers to him, Gaius gave them a place to stay. He was commended for his cheerful and loving hospitality: “You are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God. For they are traveling for the Lord, and they accept nothing from people who are not believers. So we ourselves should support them so that we can be their partners as they teach the truth” (3 John 1:5-8).

We may not be missionaries or traveling Bible teachers. But we can partner with them and others who need our hospitality. Peter wrote, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other . . . . Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay” (1 Peter 4:8-9). And the apostle Paul urges us to “always be eager to practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13).

Our generous, loving God can provide what we need to show hospitality to those in need.

 

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Asking for Help

From: Timothy G Bishop and Deborah L Bishop, authors

After bicycling 300 miles in the prior four days on TheHopeLIne Tour of 2014, Debbie and I took a rest day. The following morning, we couldn’t wait to hop on I-90 to begin another day’s adventure. We’d discovered afternoons in Wyoming could bring lively thunderstorms, so an early start might help avoid trouble. Once we had oiled the chains, we were about to leave when suddenly I heard:

“Hey, Mister!”

I looked around and saw two boys approaching us, one of whom was walking a bicycle. As an elementary school teacher, Debbie estimated them to be fourth graders. The boy walking the bicycle had gotten himself into a pickle. He was carrying a cloth shopping bag with one bottle of water in it. The bag and bottle were caught in the front brake assembly of the bicycle.

“Can you get this bottle out for us?” he said with a tinge of panic in his voice.

I had never seen anything like it before. The water bottle was stuck fast against the rim and brake pad. No matter how hard they had tried, the boys weren’t able to pull it out.

I applied some token pressure to see what it might take to loosen the bottle, but it wasn’t going to come out without some brute force. Then came Plan B. I reached into the bag, unscrewed the bottle cap, and let some water out. Immediately, the bottle came free, and the bag came with it.

From my vantage point, however, we had a larger problem on our hands. The pressure from the water bottle plus the boys yanking on the bottle had misaligned the brake. One of its pads was rubbing against the wheel rim.

Now, I was panicking! Even though Debbie and I have cycled more than 10,000 miles across America, I’m not a good mechanic.

“Do you know anyone who knows how to fix bikes?” I asked.

“Our neighbor can help us with this. At least I can ride it now. Thanks for your help.”

I quickly deferred the repair job to this person I had never met before. I knew better than to trust my mechanical skills with a brake adjustment on someone else’s bicycle.

Everyone brings something unique to life. Each of us has skills that others lack. Eventually, all of us will encounter a problem that we cannot resolve on our own.

Responsibility and self-sufficiency are worthy traits, but God never meant for us to handle our burdens alone. Galatians 6:2 ESV says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Yet no one can come to another person’s aid unless the person in need is willing to ask for and accept help.

Asking for help requires humility. We’re acknowledging that someone else is either more capable or in a better position than we are to solve our problem. James 4:10NKJV offers a promise that makes it easier to ask for help: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Later that day, Debbie and I got ourselves into a pickle! A flat tire on the interstate cost us an hour. After lunch and a phone call, we faced a travel dilemma. We could try to beat the ominous clouds headed our way or wait out the storm.

We decided to go for it. Twenty miles later, adrenaline helped us race for safety amid lightning bolts and driving rain. We made it to a small town, stopped at a convenience store, and asked for help. A kind person came to our aid by offering us indefinite shelter from the storm.

 

God’s Silence— Then What?

By Oswald Chambers

God’s Silence— Then What?

 When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. —John 11:6

Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible— with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious— it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy— silence.

Wake-up Call

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:2
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Wake-Up Call!

From: Our Daily Bread

Wake-Up Call!
 During the years when I traveled frequently and stayed in a different city every night, I always scheduled a wake-up call when I checked into a hotel. Along with a personal alarm, I needed a jangling telephone to help get me out of bed and moving in the morning.

The book of Revelation contains a spiritual wake-up call in the apostle John’s letters to the seven churches in the province of Asia. To the church in Sardis he wrote this message from Jesus Himself: “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God” (Rev. 3:1–2).

In the midst of spiritual fatigue, we may fail to notice the lethargy that creeps into our relationship with God. But the Lord tells us to “remember . . . what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent” (v. 3).

Many people find that scheduling some extra time each morning to read the Bible and talk to the Lord in prayer helps them stay spiritually alert. It’s not a job but a joy to spend time with Jesus and know that He prepares us for whatever lies ahead that day.

Lord, enable us to hear and respond to Your wake-up call today.

Spending time with Jesus is a joy!

Ever Been Mad at God?

From: Brad Henry, author

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Have you ever been mad at God? Most of us have; because in a sense at times we lose the light to our path. We start to get into trouble in this life when we try to figure out where God is taking us. We get into a vicious cycle of “Since this happened God must be doing this” or “since I didn’t get this job this must be what He wants.” Satan loves when we try to figure out God because then our focus is on us and not others. Many problems in this life come from our own selfish desires.

If we could figure out God, He would not be God! So why do we spend countless hours fretting about our future? The farther we are from Jesus, the more control we desire. The closer we are to Jesus, the more we see His love for us. Sometimes we see wicked men succeed (in a worldly sense) and sometimes we see the righteous suffer (in a worldly sense). When we question this, we are trying to figure out God’s scales for justice. I have questioned God for many years. Why did He take my dad when I was 13? Why did I smoke that joint and it ruined many aspects of my life? Why did our son get Autism? Why? Why? Why? My problem and yours with God will always be an issue when we try to make this world heaven.

No wonder we are frustrated with the plans we see. We see injustice, but we don’t see behind the scenes. At Disney World, there is a whole city underneath the Magic Kingdom. People are changing clothes, making outfits, and doing all the work to make everything above ground go according to plan. I am sure it looks like chaos underneath, so on top all we see is a smoothly functioning theme park. In this life, we equate joy with being in control. We want to make sure we have all the parts and pieces going in the right direction as that will ensure safety for us.

No matter how much money you have, how secure your job, your health or your future – it can all evaporate in an instant; YES an instant.

The verse that follows is at the end of the book of Job. After all the questions and concerns, God finally answers Job and his friends. This is just part of what God says:

“Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct? Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind? Who is wise enough to count all the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven when the parched ground is dry and the soil has hardened into clods? Can you stalk prey for a lioness and satisfy the young lions’ appetites as they lie in their dens or crouch in the thicket? Who provides food for the ravens when their young cry out to God and wander about in hunger?” Job 38:35-41 NLT

Even though the lion hunts, God brings the lion its prey. Don’t ever be so arrogant that you think all your hard work, long hours, and playing politics will get you the next big deal or the next championship. We do what we can with the talents God gave us BUT the victory is the Lord’s and the Lord’s alone.

You can work 24 hours a day, give it all you can – and if God does not want it to happen, it won’t. If you want to get mad at God, then transfer that over to Satan who has twisted you into thinking that God does not love you. That is a lie of Satan; it is not from God. God is the only place you can turn to. Today, stop believing a lie that you are the master of your ship and in control of your destiny. All we are called to do is put our hand to the plow with our talents, but it is God and God alone who sends the rain. Oh, and by the way, STOP trying to make this life heaven. When you look to death and heaven as your reward, then nothing on this earth can steal your joy, nothing! That is true victory.

 

 

How Will I Know?

How Will I Know?

By Oswald Chambers

We do not grow into a spiritual relationship step by step— we either have a relationship or we do not. God does not continue to cleanse us more and more from sin— “But if we walk in the light,” we are cleansed “from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It is a matter of obedience, and once we obey, the relationship is instantly perfected. But if we turn away from obedience for even one second, darkness and death are immediately at work again.

All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. You will never open them through philosophy or thinking. But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. Let God’s truth work into you by immersing yourself in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know the truth of God is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you. You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things as clear as sunlight. Don’t say, “I suppose I will understand these things someday!” You can understand them now. And it is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming one of the “wise and prudent.” “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know…” (John 7:17).

Jesus Is The Acceptable Offering

I john 2: 1-2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate before the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.
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Image result for pictures of the atonementImage result for pictures of the atonement

Image result for pictures of the atonementImage result for pictures of the atonement

Image result for pictures of the atonementImage result for pictures of the atonement

 

Building on the Atonement

By Oswald Chambers

I cannot save and sanctify myself; I cannot make atonement for sin; I cannot redeem the world; I cannot right what is wrong, purify what is impure, or make holy what is unholy. That is all the sovereign work of God. Do I have faith in what Jesus Christ has done? He has made the perfect atonement for sin. Am I in the habit of constantly realizing it? The greatest need we have is not to do things, but to believe things. The redemption of Christ is not an experience, it is the great act of God which He has performed through Christ, and I have to build my faith on it. If I construct my faith on my own experience, I produce the most unscriptural kind of life— an isolated life, with my eyes focused solely on my own holiness. Beware of that human holiness that is not based on the atonement of the Lord. It has no value for anything except a life of isolation— it is useless to God and a nuisance to man. Measure every kind of experience you have by our Lord Himself. We cannot do anything pleasing to God unless we deliberately build on the foundation of the atonement by the Cross of Christ.

The atonement of Jesus must be exhibited in practical, unassuming ways in my life. Every time I obey, the absolute deity of God is on my side, so that the grace of God and my natural obedience are in perfect agreement. Obedience means that I have completely placed my trust in the atonement, and my obedience is immediately met by the delight of the supernatural grace of God.

Beware of the human holiness that denies the reality of the natural life— it is a fraud. Continually bring yourself to the trial or test of the atonement and ask, “Where is the discernment of the atonement in this, and in that?”

Misery Has Company

From: Our Daily Journey

Misery Has Company

Read:

Acts 3:1-26
This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate (Acts 3:13).

Peter’s healing of a crippled beggar drew a crowd, so he used the opportunity to tell them about the God who heals. He told them about Jesus, whom they had rejected and handed over to Pilate. “You rejected this holy, righteous one . . . . You killed the author of life” (Acts 3:14-15).

Peter knew what he was talking about. The same Greek word that is translated “rejected” was used by Jesus for Peter’s denial. “I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me” (John 13:38). Peter “broke down and wept” after his denial; and though Jesus later restored him, that moment of betrayal was seared in his memory (Mark 14:72).

I wonder what pangs of remorse Peter felt as he told the crowd they were guilty of the same offense. As he had denied his friend during His hour of need, so they had rejected Jesus and demanded His death. But perhaps Peter found solace in knowing the crowd was equally in need of the grace he had received. This is good to remember when we’re crushed by guilt. Yes, we should be ashamed. Yes, we deserve judgment. But we’re all guilty. We’re not alone.

And by His grace, God hasn’t left us alone. The very sin that led to Jesus’ death led Him to sacrifice His life for our salvation. Jesus bore our guilt and shame, “but God raised him from the dead”! (Acts 3:15). We need only “repent of [our] sins and turn to God” and our sins will be “wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send [us] Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20).

The next time we see Christ, we won’t reject Him but will welcome the One who rejected our rejection. Thanks be to God!

 

Karen Ehman October 9, 2017
Go Find Your Old Self
KAREN EHMANFrom: Crosswalk.com

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

I sat on my twin-sized bed, curled up in my lavender bedspread, sobbing until I felt I had no tears left. My 11-year-old self had her hopes once again dashed, causing a wave of grief that would only subside once exhaustion set in and sleep finally took over.

I was dealing again with the sorrow that came from being a child of divorce.

In the days before my parents’ divorce was final, there were times I spied a glimmer of hope that the court proceedings would be canceled, and my parents would stay married. But the glimmer soon faded when my dad packed his bags again and moved out to an apartment, leaving my dream in the dust.

That old bed became a familiar grieving ground. It held me when later I was left out of my circle of friends, overlooked for the starring role in the play, rejected by a crush I thought surely would notice me. Over the years, the four walls of my bedroom witnessed the heart-cries of a young girl trying desperately to navigate relationships and reality.

Toward the end of high school, I became connected to the little country church across the street. Its quaint, tall white steeple beckoned me to come in. Its friendly people did, too. Soon I was told the gospel story. How Christ took my place on the cross, paying the penalty for my sin and purchasing my way to heaven. I responded to the Spirit’s invitation and placed my trust in Jesus.

Becoming a believer didn’t change my circumstances. However, it did change my response to them.

As I spent time with my mentor from the church, Miss Pat, I saw where to take my sorrow, how to deal with my grief and find comfort in the security of God’s love. She had been through many of the same situations I found myself facing. She’d invite me into her home, pour me a cup of tea and offer me a homemade cookie. Her listening ear, loving advice and prayers of consolation helped me through many rough patches of life. Today, over three decades later, she remains a loving influence in my life.

Today’s key verse, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, is a picture of this very concept: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

As Miss Pat thought about the ways God had comforted her in the past, she reached out to me with that same comfort, helping me deal with the various situations life brought my way. She pointed me to the Father of compassion, the only One who completely understood my dilemmas and caused all my situations to work together for good, according to His purpose.

Today, as a mother of teenagers and young adults, I often find myself in a similar situation. My kitchen island is a sacred space, drawing others in who long to have someone help process life’s ups and downs. So, I bake cookies and pour a cup of coffee. I listen and I love. In many ways, I feel that in ministering to the people God sends my way, I am being like Miss Pat was to me. I am comforting others with the comfort I myself have received from Christ. I not only do this in my home, but I try to do it through my writing.

If we feel our life is lacking purpose, we have a very simple solution: Go find your old self and encourage her. Were you a lonely teenager? Reach out to one today. Were you once a stressed-out mother, drowning in diapers and laundry? Find such a mom today and help to lighten her load.

Go find your old self. Comfort them. Love them. Point them to Christ. When you do, you will find purpose in your past pain. And you’ll be an example to someone who just might keep the circle of comfort going.

Father, thank You for being my hope from the days of my youth until now. May I encourage others with the stories of Your faithfulness to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.