Tag Archives: finance

Real Joy!

Luke 15
6  comes home, and calls together his friends and neighbors to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ 
8  Or what woman who has ten silver coins and loses one of them does not light a lamp, sweep her house, and search carefully until she finds it?…

Image result for pictures of joyImage result for pictures of joy

Image result for pictures of joyImage result for pictures of joy
” Yes there is joy, real joy, wonderful joy when Jesus comes into your heart.”
Image result for pictures of angels singingImage result for pictures of angels singing
Image result for pictures of angels singingImage result for pictures of angels singing

Joy

From: Our Daily Bread

Joy
 
Read: Psalm 92 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 19–20; Matthew 18:21–35
 
 
I sing for joy at what your hands have done. Psalm 92:4

I’m fast approaching a new season—the “winter” of old age—but I’m not there yet. Even though the years are galloping by and sometimes I’d like to slow them down, I have joy that sustains me. Each day is a new day given me by the Lord. With the psalmist, I can say, “It is good to praise the Lord . . . proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night”! (Psalm 92:1–2). Even though my life has its struggles and the pain and difficulties of others sometimes overwhelm me, God enables me to join the psalmist in “[singing] for joy at what [His] hands have done” (v. 4). Joy for blessings given: family, friends, and satisfying work. Joy because of God’s wondrous creation and His inspired Word. Joy because Jesus loved us so much He died for our sins. And joy because He gave us the Spirit, the source of true joy (Romans 15:13). Because of the Lord, believers in Him can “flourish like a palm tree . . . [and] still bear fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:12–14).

What fruit is that? No matter our circumstances or season of life, we can be examples of His love through the life we lead and the words we say. There is joy in knowing and living for the Lord and telling others about Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for the joy that is ours through the Spirit.
God is the giver of joy.

 

Shanna Garcia January 26, 2018

When You’re STILL Suffering

From: Crosswalk.com

SHANNA GARCIA, COMPEL Member

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5b (ESV) Over the last two years, our family has been through incredibly hard things: a marriagerescued from the brink of failure, the physical death of several family members, and the miscarriage of our darling daughter Eilise. I have suffered like never before. In some ways, I am still suffering. Last April, my husband Robert and I had the privilege of spending time away together. We were able to come alongside people from across the United States who were also facing huge challenges and glean wisdom from many who’ve walked this path ahead of us. It was there, in the middle of nowhere among the trees and the nature trails, that the Lord so sweetly helped me better understand the words of His servant, David. He was no stranger to sorrow, and those words finally settled into my heart, soothing the very raw places. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5b). In the midst of my pain, I found myself questioning the legitimacy of this well-known Scripture. I cried out many times, “Sorrow is supposed to only last for a night, joy is supposed to come in the morning! That’s what Your Word says. So why is the pain dragging on? Why do Your children sometimes struggle for days, months or even years?” I’d forgotten what it’s like to watch the sunrise. I expected morning to come in an instant. I believed my sorrow should disappear altogether — and all at once. But that’s not how morning works. The sun doesn’t suddenly appear in the sky. The world doesn’t transition from dark to light abruptly. During the night of weeping, the darkness is overwhelming, suffocating and disorienting. And, more often than not, it gets darker before day breaks. Then, softly and subtly, things begin to change. The world is more grey than black. We begin to be able to make out the shapes of our surroundings. Our eyes begin to adjust and everything looks just a little bit different. As we lift our heads, we can distinguish the horizon. It turns a soft shade of pink and color creeps in to the world around us — still dull, but adding color nonetheless. Then pink turns to orange and the sky gets brighter and brighter. Faster and faster, things are changing. Before you realize it’s even happened, the sun becomes visible, the birds wake up and sing. The dull colors become sharp and crisp as radiant morning bursts forth and the day begins. The darkness of night becomes a thing of the past, just a memory. Weeping has been replaced with jubilant song, mourning turns to dancing, and sorrow at last gives way to joy. Yes, there will be reminders of what happened in the dark. But, once exposed to the light, these reminders have no power, and they cause no fear. In my own journey, the sun is almost out. So, let this be an encouragement for anyone who might still be hurting. Whether you’re in the darkest hour, or inching closer to sunrise, look for the grey. Then watch for the pink. I know you’d probably rather see the sun out right now, but there’s hope — even while it’s still dark. Adjust your eyes to see the small amounts of light that surround you. Knowing that morning always comes eventually, there’s hope that your joy will be fully restored, and you can delight in the small ways your world is brightening. Before we know it, like David, we’ll be able to say: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing …” (Psalm 30:11a, ESV). And we’ll be dancing in the sunshine. Heavenly Father, I long to honor You even in my suffering. Help me see Your faithfulness, even when my emotions seem tossed to and fro by grief. Allow me to feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit as I wait for my morning to dawn. And, let Your light shine through me so others would see Your goodness and the Name of Jesus would be made great. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Turn Your Idols into Dust

From:  Hannah Goodwyn, author

athena-statue-idol_SI.jpg

Jesus often spoke in parables to teach his followers truths about the way God sees us and how we should live. He also revealed visions and dreams to strong believers in order to warn or alert them. In the same way, God sometimes illustrates a point to me about His ways or my spiritual state based on a personal experience. Sitting in church this past Sunday, I felt the Holy Spirit quicken a recent memory of my visit to a museum where I encountered a gold-plated statue honoring the Greek goddess Athena. This moment became etched in my mind as God began to set the scene for what would be a powerful teaching lesson directly from His heart. Walking into the temple hall, I gazed at the altar. As I inched closer, I began to recognize the fierce look of the illuminated statue. Towering over me was a gold-encased figure that commanded my attention. Her shine was brilliant and her detail had to have been carved with careful hands. This golden woman brought such a terrible feeling upon me. I sensed myself honoring this idol with my silent respect. Standing before it, I was arrested, mesmerized by its enormity and grandeur. I was ignorant of the man who stood behind me. With a whisper, he seized my soul. It was Christ himself. With assurance in His eyes, He offered mercy. In tandem, we reached out our hands to the golden idol, turning it to dust. Immediately, I felt this overwhelming peace deep within me. As I reviewed these images, I realized that all too often we allow “idols” to replace God in our hearts. Instead of honoring the Lord with our energy, our desires, and our time, we invest them in worthless dreams and fleeting pleasures. Our culture also has created idols that many committed Christians glorify. Even the “American Dream” becomes a dangerous ideal when it consumes our lives. We are hounded by the desire to gain wealth so that we may find true fulfillment. Men and women alike give themselves to their careers to achieve “power” in the marketplace. Even beyond these seemingly legitimate ideals are the secret sins we feed with our pride – namely greed, gluttony, lust, and hatred. We build these idols because we find comfort in our greed, security in our possessions, and even power as we judge each other. Obeying the commandments God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai is central to our faith. His first two commands speak directly to our tendency as flawed people to turn away from our Savior.

You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected — even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those[a] who love me and obey my commands. (Exodus 20:3-6, NLT)

God is jealous for our affection. He doesn’t want half of your heart, but all of you. Our sins and false senses of security bring us no relief. As Habakkuk 2:18 states, idols are lifeless statues. These gods are made by our hands and can do nothing for us (Psalm 115:4-7). They only distract from the one True God. In the vision, God in the flesh was quick to forgive my idolatry. His mercy wiped away the mistakes I was making even in that moment.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)

Even in the midst of our darkness, Christ reaches out His hand of forgiveness. Grab hold of His grace and allow Him to turn the gods you’ve worshiped into ashes on the floor.

God Poured His Spirit On Us

Titus 3:3-8
[God] generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:6).
Image result for picture of tea poured from potImage result for picture of tea poured from pot
Image result for picture of tea poured from potImage result for picture of tea poured from pot

Image result for picture of tea poured from potImage result for picture of tea poured from pot
Image result for picture of tea poured from potImage result for picture of tea poured from pot

Poured Out

From: Our Daily Journey

Poured Out

Read:

Titus 3:3-8
[God] generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:6).

Water cascades from the top of the Taughannock Falls into a basin 215 feet below. The flow originates from an expansive trench in a wall of sedimentary rock. Trees fringe the top of the wall. During autumn, they adorn the scene with orange, yellow, and red. In the winter, the waterfall’s spray coats the surrounding rock with ice, turning everything a shimmering silver and white.

The powerful water pouring over the rocks of this impressive waterfall reminds me of the outpouring of God’s Spirit on His people when they receive salvation. Although we were once disobedient, misled, and slaves to our desires (Titus 3:3), “[God] generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:6). Alive in us, the Holy Spirit sparks new desires and frees us from sin’s power.

Beyond these life-altering benefits, the process by which we receive the Spirit teaches us something about who God is. Specifically, it shows us the triune nature of God, which many refer to as the Trinity. God the Father sent the Son Jesus to our world to endure for us the consequences for our sin (John 3:16). Through Christ’s Spirit inside us, believers are united with His resurrected life, giving us a new life (Titus 3:5).

Experiencing the way in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cooperate in salvation helps us understand theologian Charles Ryrie’s observation: “The whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the three persons [of the Trinity].” So, it’s oneGod who provides salvation. As Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV) reveals, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

May we celebrate the majesty of the three-in-one God as we experience His love and power.

The Last Word

From: Our Daily Bread

The Last Word

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart. Ecclesiastes 5:2

One day during a university philosophy class, a student made some inflammatory remarks about the professor’s views. To the surprise of the other students, the teacher thanked him and moved on to another comment. When he was asked later why he didn’t respond to the student, he said, “I’m practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.”

This teacher loved and honored God, and he wanted to embody a humble spirit as he reflected this love. His words remind me of another Teacher—this one from long ago, who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. Although not addressing how to handle an angry person, he said that when we approach the Lord we should guard our steps and “go near to listen” rather than being quick with our mouths and hasty in our hearts. By doing so we acknowledge that God is the Lord and we are those whom He has created (Ecclesiastes 5:1–2).

How do you approach God? If you sense that your attitude could use some adjustment, why not spend some time considering the majesty and greatness of the Lord? When we ponder His unending wisdom, power, and presence, we can feel awed by His overflowing love for us. With this posture of humility, we too need not have the last word.

Lord God, I want to honor You and I bow before You now in silence. Teach me how to pray and how to listen.

Carefully chosen words honor God.

 

Stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Peter 5:10).

In taking Christ in any new relationship, we must first have sufficient intellectual light to satisfy our mind that we are entitled to stand in this relationship. The shadow of a question here will wreck our confidence. Then, having seen this, we must make the venture, the committal, the choice, and take the place just as definitely as the tree is planted in the soil, or the bride gives herself away at the marriage altar. It must be once for all, without reserve, without recall.

Then there is a season of establishing, settling and testing, during which we must “stay put” until the new relationship gets so fixed as to become a permanent habit. It is just the same as when the surgeon sets the broken arm. He puts it in splints to keep it from vibration. So God has His spiritual splints that He wants to put upon His children and keep them quiet and unmoved until they pass the first stage of faith. It is not always easy work for us, “but the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after that ye have suffered awhile, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
–A. B. Simpson

There is a natural law in sin and sickness; and if we just let ourselves go and sink into the trend of circumstances, we shall go down and sink under the power of the tempter. But there is another law of spiritual life and of physical life in Christ Jesus to which we can rise, and through which we can counterpoise and overcome the other law that bears us down.

But to do this requires real spiritual energy and fixed purpose and a settled posture and habit of faith. It is just the same as when we use the power in our factory. We must turn on the belt and keep it on. The power is there, but we must keep the connection; and while we do so, the higher power will work and all the machinery will be in operation.

There is a spiritual law of choosing, believing, abiding, and holding steady in our walk with God, which is essential to the working of the Holy Ghost either in our sanctification or healing.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

Look Again and Think

January 27 

By Oswald Chambers

 Look Again and Think

A warning which needs to be repeated is that “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches,” and the lust for other things, will choke out the life of God in us (Matthew 13:22). We are never free from the recurring waves of this invasion. If the frontline of attack is not about clothes and food, it may be about money or the lack of money; or friends or lack of friends; or the line may be drawn over difficult circumstances. It is one steady invasion, and these things will come in like a flood, unless we allow the Spirit of God to raise up the banner against it.

“I say to you, do not worry about your life….” Our Lord says to be careful only about one thing— our relationship to Him. But our common sense shouts loudly and says, “That is absurd, I must consider how I am going to live, and I mustconsider what I am going to eat and drink.” Jesus says you must not. Beware of allowing yourself to think that He says this while not understanding your circumstances. Jesus Christ knows our circumstances better than we do, and He says we must not think about these things to the point where they become the primary concern of our life. Whenever there are competing concerns in your life, be sure you always put your relationship to God first.

“Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). How much trouble has begun to threaten you today? What kind of mean little demons have been looking into your life and saying, “What are your plans for next month— or next summer?” Jesus tells us not to worry about any of these things. Look again and think. Keep your mind on the “much more” of your heavenly Father (Matthew 6:30).

God is Holy, Holy, Holy

Hebrews 10:10
Then He adds, “Here I am, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. 
11 Day after day every priest stands to minister and to offer again and again the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.…
Image result for pictures of God's holinessImage result for pictures of God's holiness
Image result for pictures of God's holinessImage result for pictures of God's holiness

Image result for pictures of God's holinessImage result for pictures of God's holiness
Image result for pictures of God's holinessImage result for pictures of God's holiness

 

Holy, Holy, Holy

From: Our Daily Bread

Holy, Holy, Holy
Read: Revelation 4 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 14–15; Matthew 17

Day and night they never stop saying: “ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8

“Time flies when you’re having fun.” This cliché has no basis in fact, but experience makes it seem true.

When life is pleasant, time passes all too quickly. Give me a task that I enjoy, or a person whose company I love, and time seems irrelevant.

My experience of this “reality” has given me a new understanding of the scene described in Revelation 4. In the past, when I considered the four living creatures seated around God’s throne who keep repeating the same few words, I thought, What a boring existence!

I don’t think that anymore. I think about the scenes they have witnessed with their many eyes (v. 8). I consider the view they have from their position around God’s throne (v. 6). I think of how amazed they are at God’s wise and loving involvement with wayward earthlings. Then I think, What better response could there be? What else is there to say but, “Holy, holy, holy”?

Is it boring to say the same words over and over? Not when you’re in the presence of the one you love. Not when you’re doing exactly what you were designed to do.

Like the four creatures, we were designed to glorify God. Our lives will never be boring if we’re focusing our attention on Him and fulfilling that purpose.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!  Reginald Heber

The author of this article, Julie, is now worshiping her Lord in heaven.

A heart in tune with God can’t help but sing His praise.

 

God’s Goodness

From: Our Daily Journey

God’s Goodness
 Read: 

Genesis 2:1-23
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Some close friends recently went through a difficult season in which they struggled financially and emotionally. Yet when all was said and done, the trying time caused them to make positive changes to avoid catastrophe further down the line. Although it didn’t feel like it at the time, their challenge was an expression of God’s goodness.

Similarly, Adam and Eve were recipients of God’s goodness, even when the consequences for sin felt devastating. Adam had been created in perfect fellowship with his Creator and was residing in a place of unimaginable beauty. When he had no one to share his unique experience, God declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him” (Genesis 2:18). When Eve was created, Adam was ecstatic. “At last!” he exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!” (Genesis 2:23).

But after sin infiltrated paradise, closely followed by shame and fear (Genesis 3:1-10), Adam responded to God’s inquiry by pointing an accusing finger at Eve, stating, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:12). But although the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin were severe and defining, even in judgment God’s goodness shone through. There would be pain, but, He promised, from it would come new life (Genesis 3:16). And although there would be toil, it would yield fruit (Genesis 3:17-19).

In this fallen world, evidence of God’s goodness still abounds. Though, like Adam, we’re often tempted to point accusing fingers when things go awry, God never treats us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:10). Instead, He “gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:45).

 

Jehovah Rapha

 

From: Leah Adams, Author

 

In the 16th chapter of Exodus we find a passage of scripture that gives us a great deal of insight into our Jehovah Rapha. This name of God is proclaimed to the children of Israel by God through Moses at Marah. The caption in my study Bible for this passage of Scripture says “Bitter Waters Made Sweet”. Let’s take a look at Exodus 15:22-26 (NIV) and mine the treasures contained there:

“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What are we to drink?’ Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”’

The Israelites are thirsty and in need of water for themselves and their animals. When they come to Marah they find only bitter water to drink. In what became second nature to them, they began complaining to Moses about the scarcity of drinkable water. Moses called to the Lord and asked for help. God intervened, working through Moses and a piece of wood to provide sweet, refreshing water for the people.

It is at this point that the Lord seems to change the subject. Suddenly He begins talking to the Israelites about the diseases and plagues that He brought upon the Egyptians because of their affliction of the Hebrews. God is very clear with the Hebrew people concerning the actions that they must take to prevent the same kind of diseases and plagues from visiting them. If they will be obedient to Him, He will heal them of disease and be their Jehovah Rapha.

I believe the bitter water at Marah was symbolic of what was taking place in the hearts of the Hebrews. They had suffered terribly in Egypt and had been more than happy to leave the bondage that Pharaoh had inflicted upon them. However, when freedom was not as easy or pretty as they had hoped; when they had to rely on God completely for everything and circumstances were not what they desired, their hearts began to be filled with the diseases of bitterness and resentfulness. God knew their need for healing from bitterness and He longed to bring that healing to them. Unfortunately, in the very next chapter of Exodus, we find the Israelites longing to forsake ultimate freedom and return to Egypt. What in the world were they thinking?

Let’s apply this lesson to our hearts today. I invite you to join me as we allow Jehovah Rapha to examine our hearts. Are you and I more like the Israelites than we care to admit? When God doesn’t work in our lives in the way that we think He should, do we grow bitter? Do we begin to plan ways that we can make things happen through our own efforts? When God’s timing is different than we had hoped, do we harbor resentment against Him? How often do we look at people in our lives who do not seem to have the same struggles that we have and pose the question, “What did I do to make God mad at me? I am as good as they are.”

He is Jehovah Rapha-the Lord who heals you — and He longs to heal us of resentfulness, bitterness, and pride if we will but trust Him and walk before Him in obedience. Let’s allow Him to examine our hearts and heal us of the diseases that sin inflicts upon us.

True Hope

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Image result for pictures of hopeImage result for pictures of hope
Image result for pictures of hopeImage result for pictures of hope

Image result for pictures of hopeImage result for pictures of hope
Image result for pictures of hopeImage result for pictures of hope

True Hope

From: Our Daily Bread

True Hope
Read: Romans 5:1–11 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 12–13; Matthew 16

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:16

Not long ago I visited the Empire State Building with a friend. The line looked short—just down the block and around the corner. Yet as we entered the building, we discovered the line of people stretching through the lobby, up the stairs, and into another room. Every new turn revealed more distance to go.

Attractions and theme parks carefully route their crowds to make the lines seem shorter. Yet disappointment can lurk “just around the bend.”

Sometimes life’s disappointments are much more severe. The job we hoped for doesn’t materialize; friends we counted on let us down; the romantic relationship we longed for fails to work out. But into these heartbreaks, God’s Word speaks a refreshing truth about our hope in Him. The apostle Paul wrote, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame [or disappoint us], because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3–5).

As we place our trust in Him, through His Spirit, God whispers the truth that we are unconditionally loved and will one day be with Him—regardless of the obstacles we face. In a world that may often disappoint us, how good it is to know that God gives genuine hope.

Abba, Father, thank You that I can always trust in Your perfect, never-ending love.

In Christ, the hopeless find hope.

Leave Room for God

January 25 

By Oswald Chambers

 Leave Room for God

As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him— to give God “elbow room.” We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never expected Him to come? Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. The way to make room for Him is to expect Him to come, but not in a certain way. No matter how well we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that He may break in at any minute. We tend to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. Suddenly—God meets our life “…when it pleased God….”

Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come in as He decides.

 

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalms 23:4).

At my father’s house in the country there is a little closet in the chimney corner where are kept the canes and walking-sticks of several generations of our family. In my visits to the old house, when my father and I are going out for a walk, we often go to the cane closet, and pick out our sticks to suit the fancy of the occasion. In this I have frequently been reminded that the, Word of God is a staff.

During the war, when the season of discouragement and impending danger was upon us, the verse, “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord,” was a staff to walk with many dark days.

When death took away our child and left us almost heartbroken, I found another staff in the promise that “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

When in impaired health, I was exiled for a year, not knowing whether I should be permitted to return to my home and work again, I took with me this staff which never failed, “He knoweth the thoughts that he thinketh toward me, thoughts of peace and not of evil.”

In times of special danger or doubt, when human judgment has seemed to be set at naught, I have found it easy to go forward with this staff, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” And in emergencies, when there has seemed to be no adequate time for deliberation or for action, I have never found that this staff has failed me, “He that believeth shall not make haste.”
Benjamin Vaughan Abbott, in The Outlook

“I had never known,” said Martin Luther’s wife, “what such and such things meant, in such and such psalms, such complaints and workings of spirit; I had never understood the practice of Christian duties, had not God brought me under some affliction.” It is very true that God’s rod is as the schoolmaster’s pointer to the child, pointing out the letter, that he may the better take notice of it; thus He pointeth out to us many good lessons which we should never otherwise have learned.
Selected

“God always sends His staff with His rod.”

“Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deut.33:25).

Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well.

From: Mclaren

God’s Overpowering Purpose

Exodus 15:6

“Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.

 
 
2 Corinthians 9:8

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

 
Ephesians 3:20

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,

 
1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

(Here are pictures of the sea, of the wind, and the power of God to heal and forgive sins.)
Image result for pictures of sea wavesImage result for pictures of sea waves
Image result for pictures of people trying to walk in high windImage result for pictures of people trying to walk in high wind

Image result for jesus healingImage result for jesus healing

God’s Overpowering Purpose

January 24 

By Oswald Chambers

 God’s Overpowering Purpose

The vision Paul had on the road to Damascus was not a passing emotional experience, but a vision that had very clear and emphatic directions for him. And Paul stated, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). Our Lord said to Paul, in effect, “Your whole life is to be overpowered or subdued by Me; you are to have no end, no aim, and no purpose but Mine.” And the Lord also says to us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go…” (John 15:16).

When we are born again, if we are spiritual at all, we have visions of what Jesus wants us to be. It is important that I learn not to be “disobedient to the heavenly vision” — not to doubt that it can be attained. It is not enough to give mental assent to the fact that God has redeemed the world, nor even to know that the Holy Spirit can make all that Jesus did a reality in my life. I must have the foundation of a personal relationship with Him. Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to proclaim. He was brought into a vivid, personal, overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ. Acts 26:16 is tremendously compelling “…to make you a minister and a witness….” There would be nothing there without a personal relationship. Paul was devoted to a Person, not to a cause. He was absolutely Jesus Christ’s. He saw nothing else and he lived for nothing else. “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Casting Shadows

From: Get More Strength

No flesh should glory in His presence. —1 Corinthians 1:29

Legend has it that Michelangelo painted with a brush in one hand and a candle in the other to prevent his shadow from covering his masterpiece in progress.

That’s the kind of attitude we should adopt if we are serious about wanting to display the masterpiece of God’s glory on the canvas of our lives. Unfortunately, we tend to live in a way that draws attention to ourselves—our cars, our clothes, our careers, our position, our cleverness, our success. And when life is all about us, it’s hard for people to see Jesus in us. Jesus saved us to be reflections of His glory (Rom. 8:29), but when we live for ourselves, our shadow gets cast on the canvas of His presence in us.

When the believers in Corinth were feeling too full of themselves, Paul warned them “that no flesh should glory [boast] in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:29), and reminded them of what Jeremiah said, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31Jer. 9:24).

Think of your life as a canvas on which a picture is being painted. What would you rather have people see: the masterpiece of the presence of Jesus or the shadow of your own profile? Don’t get in the way of a great painting in progress. Live to let others see Jesus in you.

My life is a painting created by God,
And as such I’ve nothing to boast;
Reflecting the image of Christ to the world
Is what I desire the most. —Sper

A Christian’s life is the canvas on which others can see Jesus.

 

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson January 24, 2018
Use Your Superpowers
SHELLIE RUSHING TOMLINSON

From: Crosswalk.com

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NASB)

Although neither of us has ever “fessed up” to the ongoing competition, we both know it’s true: My best friend and I have been trying to outdo the other in the birthday celebration department for years.

I once threw Red a spur of the moment Minion birthday party for two. (Her given name is Rhonda, but I called her Red long before she and I got our respective auburn and brunette shades out of boxes.) I crept over and set up my impromptu celebration on Red’s back porch and it was all things Minion. I had Minion glasses, Minion wristbands, Minion balloons, Minion plates — you get the idea. I even had breakfast muffins with flaming Minion candles. I’m nothing if not thorough. (I have some interesting party pictures to prove it.)

And just last year, Red snuck over to my house at midnight and left a crockpot of roast and veggies plugged in on my back porch. I awoke to silly Happy Birthday pictures taped to my doors and the most extremely random cards and gifts, including a questionable set of Wonder Woman PJs. There will be no forthcoming pics of the Wonder Woman PJs, and yes, there’s a story there, but I’d rather use the superhero thread as a call to action for us today.

Did you know disciples of Christ are equipped with superhero powers?

It’s true. We can choose to plug into this otherworldly strength, or not.

Take someone whose words cut as often as they encourage. It’s difficult to respond to anyone who does that, but it’s even harder if that person professes to be a believer. Do I speak the truth? Well, I have a theory. This believer may be forgiven but doesn’t feel forgiven — and hence he or she struggles with forgiving. Instead of responding with grace, they injure with their tongues.

We tend to think such people don’t feel remorse for their spitefulness, but what if it’s just the opposite? What if they live in a self-made, self-maintained prison, punishing themselves for the past? And what if the bars of that cage grow stronger every time they give in to bitterness and lash out because it gives them yet another reason to hate themselves even more?

But, wait! What if those same bars get weaker when our response to their ugliness is more love and forgiveness … instead of responding in the same way they did? What if we’re the factor which determines if that person lives in self-hate or if they’re eventually fully healed? What if their response depends on you and me choosing to act from the new nature Christ gave us?

Jesus can do through us what we could never do in our own strength — if we’ll respond to others out of real-time devotion to Him.

Today’s key verse, Ephesians 4:32, reminds us, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Forgiving, loving and forgiving again is a superpower within our reach, if we rely on our ever-present Help. Now, go be a superhero. Somebody you know needs one.

Heavenly Father, our ability to forgive is limited, but Your ability to love and forgive through us knows no bounds. Help us remember to yield our stubborn wills to You in our earthly relationships that You might extend healing through us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A “Yes” Of Love

Pictures of People Helping People after a flood
Image result for pictures of flooded peopleImage result for pictures of flooded people
Image result for pictures of flooded peopleImage result for pictures of flooded people

Image result for pictures of flooded peopleImage result for pictures of flooded people
Image result for pictures of flooded peopleImage result for pictures of flooded people

A “Yes” of Love

From: Our Daily Bread

A “Yes” of Love

Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

On August 21, 2016, Carissa posted photos on social media of a devastating flood in Louisiana. The next morning she included a note from someone in the flooded area pleading for help. Five hours after that, she and her husband, Bobby, sent out a call for others to join them on their 1,000-mile trip to provide help. Less than twenty-four hours later, thirteen people were on their way to serve those whose homes had been severely damaged.

What motivates people to drop everything and drive seventeen hours to move appliances, do demolition work, and provide hope in a place they’ve never been before? It’s love.

Think about this verse, which she posted along with her call for help: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this” (Psalm 37:5). This is especially true when we follow God’s call to help. The apostle John said, “If anyone . . . sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17). It may be a daunting task—but we have God’s promise of help when we “do what pleases him” (v. 22).

When a need arises, we can honor God by being willing to offer a “yes” of love to what we sense He is asking us to do for others.

Lord, please open our eyes to the needs of others, open our hearts to those people, and open our hands so we can provide help in the time of need.

We show God’s love when we are willing to help others; we show His strength when we take on the task He gives us to do.

 

Image result for pictures of the ordinary

January 23, 2018

From: Crosswalk.com

When Life Feels Too Ordinary for God
KAITLIN GARRISON, COMPEL Member

John 15:5, 7, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (NIV)

Silence surrounded me as I stared blankly at my computer screen. My workplace was painfully quiet this particular Friday morning, allowing suppressed feelings of insignificance to resurface at a deafening decibel. It had been a long season of days like these — feeling extra ordinary, questioning God’s activity in the place He had me.

I whispered my daily doubt-filled prayer, “God, are You sure You can use me here?”

My prayer was suddenly interrupted by the roar of an engine charging through the parking lot.

“Oh great, it’s probably a disgruntled customer,” I mumbled under my breath.

To my surprise, a sweet older man I’d helped the day before hopped out of the truck and cheerily walked through the door. When I asked what brought him into the office, he grinned from ear-to-ear and held up a small bag of fresh tomatoes.

“I picked these this morning! I wanted to share them with you to thank you for taking such good care of me.”

Tears lined the edges of my eyelids as I thanked him for thinking of me. Little did he know, his sweet gesture spoke volumes to a soul that felt purposeless and overlooked. As he walked out the front doors, I believe the Lord whispered a much-needed word to my soul:

“You see, I can produce fruit in anything and in any place when you abide in Me.”

Many of us walk around crippled and discouraged by the lie that somehow God can’t produce fruit through us because our lives too ordinary. Being stuck in a rut of work, daily routines or raising kids can leave us feeling invisible, worthless and fruitless.

Consider Jesus’ words in John 15, verses 5 and 7, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Notice how Jesus doesn’t specify the places, circumstances or seasons in which He can produce fruit in us. The only condition is simply to remain in Him.

Oftentimes, we associate fruit production with meaningful productivity. When what we do feels valuable and prolific, it’s easy to equate our busyness for God as “fruit.” Yet in reality, it might have no eternal significance at all.

Jesus said apart from Him we can do nothing. Therefore, whenever we are abiding in Him, He can produce fruit anytime, anywhere and through any circumstance.

Friend, ask the Great I AM — the ultimate gardener — to show you His faithfulness in your day today.

Dear Lord, I ask You to provide divine opportunities and a deeper understanding of who You are. Don’t let me believe the lie that ordinary lives are fruitless. Empower me to cling to the truth that You, God, can use our ordinary lives to illustrate Your extraordinary power — even in the places we least expect it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Miraculous Interactions

From: Our Daily Journey

Miraculous Interactions

Read:

Matthew 27:45-56
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land (Matthew 27:45).

My best friend from college, now a missionary in France, stopped to see me during one of her furloughs. I remember her telling me that she had to leave by 4:00 p.m. As she prepared to depart, the wind started to pick up. Menacing clouds rolled in. She ran to her car, and we quickly waved our goodbyes. About five minutes later, the winds roared to life and shortly after, it grew dark as night. Concern for my friend’s safety gripped me as I surveyed the storm. I’d never seen anything like it—nearly pitch black during the daytime. Fortunately, my friend made it home safe.

That darkness I experienced that day reminds me of the shadow that fell over the earth as Jesus died (Matthew 27:45). Some scholars say the blackout occurred by means of a solar eclipse. Others maintain it really wasn’t dark when Jesus died but that the darkness was a metaphor for what was happening. Still others think that the darkness during the day Jesus died couldn’t have occurred. And, to be honest, up until the moment when I endured palpable darkness on what had been a sunny summer’s day, I couldn’t grasp the reality of Matthew 27:45.

That experience, coupled with the details of the darkness surrounding Jesus’ death on the cross, reminded me to find hope in God’s power. For there was not only darkness and an earthquake on the earth when Christ was on the cross, but signs of new life—the tearing of the curtain in the temple, and, after He drew His last breath, even resurrection of the dead (Matthew 27:51-52).

God is all-powerful over all He’s made. When we experience the darkness of a storm, the encouraging sign of a rainbow, or other displays of His creative work, may we pause to trust and worship Him!

 

It’s In The Attitude

Am I Looking To God?

January 22 

By Oswald Chambers

Am I Looking To God?

Do we expect God to come to us with His blessings and save us? He says, “Look to Me, and be saved….” The greatest difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and His blessings are what make it so difficult. Troubles almost always make us look to God, but His blessings tend to divert our attention elsewhere. The basic lesson of the Sermon on the Mount is to narrow all your interests until your mind, heart, and body are focused on Jesus Christ. “Look to Me….”

Many of us have a mental picture of what a Christian should be, and looking at this image in other Christians’ lives becomes a hindrance to our focusing on God. This is not salvation— it is not simple enough. He says, in effect, “Look to Me and you are saved,” not “You will be saved someday.” We will find what we are looking for if we will concentrate on Him. We get distracted from God and irritable with Him while He continues to say to us, “Look to Me, and be saved….” Our difficulties, our trials, and our worries about tomorrow all vanish when we look to God.

Wake yourself up and look to God. Build your hope on Him. No matter how many things seem to be pressing in on you, be determined to push them aside and look to Him. “Look to Me….” Salvation is yours the moment you look.

 

Can We Really Know God?

From: Carole O. Schryber

“Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” Exodus 6:6-7ESV

The judgment on the Egyptians was God’s way of demonstrating that He wanted a relationship with His people (the Israelites). God wanted them to know what He could and would do for them. He didn’t want them to just know of Him. He wanted them to know Him. There is a great distinction between knowing God exists and actually knowing Him.

If I were to show you a picture of my husband, John, you’d be able to recognize him if he came in the room. You might say, “That’s John Schryber.” You might even be able to recount certain things you’d heard about him—that he’s a lawyer, that he has three grown children, that he loves the St. Louis Cardinals! But you couldn’t say, “I knowJohn Schryber.” That would require more than seeing his picture and knowing a few facts about him. That would require having a relationship with him.

God’s desire was to have a relationship with the Israelites. If He intervened in their lives by rescuing them from bondage, and if He kept His covenant with them, they would begin to know Him in a personal way. They would want to worship and serve Him. Therefore, before every plague, God gave the pharaoh the reason He wanted them to be free. It wasn’t just to have a nice home, a prosperous life, and freedom from the pain of slavery. God said: “Let my people go so that they will serve Me.” In some translations of the Bible, it’s “so they will worship Me.”

God’s purpose for freedom was spiritual, not physical. It was to be in personal relationship with Him. By demonstrating His power and releasing them, His people would truly know Him as God and desire to be in His presence and serve Him. It was—and still is—God’s desire that we know Him, not just know of Him.

Today I Pray – Lord, I confess I’ve failed to take the time to really know You. Forgive me. I have faith that You will reveal Yourself if I will just seek You.

God Keeps His Promises

2 Peter 1:4

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Matthew 11:28-29

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

Isaiah 40:29-31

He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Image result for pictures of bible promisesImage result for pictures of bible promises
Image result for pictures of bible promisesImage result for pictures of bible promises

Image result for pictures of bible promisesImage result for pictures of bible promises
Image result for pictures of bible promisesImage result for pictures of bible promises

 

Promises, Promises

Promises, Promises

He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4

My youngest daughter and I have a game we call “Pinchers.” When she goes up the stairs, I’ll chase her and try to give her a little pinch. The rules are that I can only pinch her (gently, of course!) when she’s on the stairs. Once she’s at the top, she’s safe. Sometimes, though, she’s not in the mood to play. And if I follow her up the stairs, she’ll sternly say, “No pinchers!” I’ll respond, “No pinchers. I promise.”

Now, that promise may seem a little thing. But when I do what I say, my daughter begins to understand something of my character. She experiences my consistency. She knows my word is good, that she can trust me. It’s a little thing, keeping such a promise. But promises—or, keeping them, I should say—are the glue of relationships. They lay a foundation of love and trust.

I think that’s what Peter meant when he wrote that God’s promises enable us to “participate in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). When we take God at His Word, trusting what He says about Himself and about us, we encounter His heart toward us. It gives Him an opportunity to reveal His faithfulness as we rest in what He says is true. I’m thankful Scripture brims with His promises, these concrete reminders that “his compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22–23).

Lord, thank You so much for Your “great and precious promises.” Help us to recognize and to rest in what You say is true, that we might fully experience Your tender goodness.

God’s Word to us reveals His heart toward us.

 

Recall What God Remembers

By Oswald Chambers

 Recall What God Remembers

Am I as spontaneously kind to God as I used to be, or am I only expecting God to be kind to me? Does everything in my life fill His heart with gladness, or do I constantly complain because things don’t seem to be going my way? A person who has forgotten what God treasures will not be filled with joy. It is wonderful to remember that Jesus Christ has needs which we can meet— “Give Me a drink” (John 4:7). How much kindness have I shown Him in the past week? Has my life been a good reflection on His reputation?

God is saying to His people, “You are not in love with Me now, but I remember a time when you were.” He says, “I remember…the love of your betrothal…” (Jeremiah 2:2). Am I as filled to overflowing with love for Jesus Christ as I was in the beginning, when I went out of my way to prove my devotion to Him? Does He ever find me pondering the time when I cared only for Him? Is that where I am now, or have I chosen man’s wisdom over true love for Him? Am I so in love with Him that I take no thought for where He might lead me? Or am I watching to see how much respect I get as I measure how much service I should give Him?

As I recall what God remembers about me, I may also begin to realize that He is not what He used to be to me. When this happens, I should allow the shame and humiliation it creates in my life, because it will bring godly sorrow, and “godly sorrow produces repentance…” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

None of these things move me (Acts 20:24).

We read in the book of Samuel that the moment that David was crowned at Hebron, “All the Philistines came up to seek David.” And the moment we get anything from the Lord worth contending for, then the devil comes to seek us.

When the enemy meets us at the threshold of any great work for God, let us accept it as “a token of salvation,” and claim double blessing, victory, and power. Power is developed by resistance. The cannon carries twice as far because the exploding power has to find its way through resistance. The way electricity is produced in the powerhouse yonder is by the sharp friction of the revolving wheels. And so we shall find some day that even Satan has been one of God’s agencies of blessing.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

A hero is not fed on sweets,
Daily his own heart he eats;
Chambers of the great are jails,
And head winds right for royal sails.

–Emerson

Tribulation is the way to triumph. The valley-way opens into the highway. Tribulation’s imprint is on all great things. Crowns are cast in crucibles. Chains of character that wind about the feet of God are forged in earthly flames. No man is greatest victor till he has trodden the winepress of woe. With seams of anguish deep in His brow, the “Man of Sorrows” said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation”–but after this sob comes the psalm of promise, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The footprints are traceable everywhere. Bloodmarks stain the steps that lead to thrones. Sears are the price of scepters. Our crowns will be wrested from the giants we conquer. Grief has always been the lot of greatness. It is an open secret.

The mark of rank in nature.
Is capacity for pain;
And the anguish of the singer
Makes the sweetest of the strain.

Tribulation has always marked the trail of the true reformer. It is the story of Paul, Luther, Savonarola, Knox, Wesley, and all the rest of the mighty army. They came through great tribulation to their place of power.

Every great book has been written with the author’s blood. “These are they that have come out of great tribulation.” Who was the peerless poet of the Greeks? Homer. But that illustrious singer was blind. Who wrote the fadeless dream of “Pilgrim’s Progress”? A prince in royal purple upon a couch of ease? Nay! The trailing splendor of that vision gilded the dingy walls of old Bedford jail while John Bunyan, a princely prisoner, a glorious genius, made a faithful transcript of the scene.

Great is the facile conqueror;
Yet haply, he, who, wounded sore,
Breathless, all covered o’er with blood and sweat,
Sinks fainting, but fighting evermore
Is greater yet.

–Selected

My Help Comes From The Lord

1  A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?
 3  He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.…
Image result for pictures of my helpImage result for pictures of my help
Image result for pictures of my helpImage result for pictures of my help

Image result for pictures of my helpImage result for pictures of my help
Image result for pictures of my helpImage result for pictures of my help

My Help!

From: Our Daily Bread

My Help!

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2

For decades the renowned Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir has blessed multitudes through their soul-refreshing gospel songs. One example is their recording from Psalm 121 titled “My Help.”

Psalm 121 begins with a personal confession of faith in the Lord who brought all things into existence, and He was the source of the psalmist’s help (vv. 1–2). Just what did this mean? Stability (v. 3), around-the-clock care (vv. 3–4), constant presence and protection (vv. 5–6), and preservation from all kinds of evil for time and eternity (vv. 7–8).

Taking their cues from Scripture, God’s people through the ages have identified the Lord as their source of “help” through their songs. My own worship experience includes lifting my voice with others who sang a soulful rendition of Charles Wesley’s, “Father, I stretch my hands to Thee, no other help I know; if Thou withdraw Thyself from me, ah! whither shall I go.” The great reformer Martin Luther got it right when he penned the words, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.”

Do you feel alone, forsaken, abandoned, confused? Ponder the lyrics of Psalm 121. Allow these words to fill your soul with faith and courage. You’re not alone, so don’t try to do life on your own. Rather, rejoice in the earthly and eternal care of God as demonstrated in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. And whatever the next steps, take them with His help.

Father, how grateful we are that Scripture and song remind us that You are our source of help. Help me to not forget that this day.

The Maker of the universe is the helper of God’s people!

 

Arlene Pellicane January 19, 2018
To Be Happy Like God
ARLENE PELLICANE

From: Crosswalk.com

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

My mother isn’t exactly a singer, but she is totally a rejoicer. She is the happiest person I know, and I have many friends who would readily agree. Growing up, she filled my life with smiles and joy. You heard my mom’s laughter long before you saw her.

I know I’m extremely blessed to have a mom like this. Yet, regardless of your earthly parent’s personality, you have a heavenly Father who is joyful. Did you know God is a happy God?

In 1 Timothy 1:11, Paul writes to Timothy about “the glory of the blessed God.” This word blessed is translated as the common word for happy. Today’s key verse gives us more evidence of a joyful God. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

He saves. 
He takes delight in you. 
He rejoices. 
He sings.

Contrary to what some in pop culture today might have us think, this is hardly a description of a stern, hardhearted, severe, grumpy Savior. No, we serve a God who saves us from death … and then prepares a place in heaven for us to celebrate!

We can be glad right now, not because circumstances are perfect, but because our Father in heaven is perfect.

We can smile today, not because we feel like it, but because we are responding with our faces to the truth that God no longer rebukes us. He is for us, and He is singing over us.

Many nights, I lean over my youngest daughter’s bed, and I sing to her. I sing a short song from Scripture, and then I say, “I love you” and “Goodnight.” This is a time of joy and security for my little girl and for me, too. It’s a picture of how God lovingly, tenderly watches over us and sings, rejoicing over us.

We often pray things like, “Lord, make me more like You,” and that’s good. But I wonder if we can sometimes miss that being more like Jesus is becoming a happier person. Living with joy is a holy pursuit, not a frivolous, shallow quest.

The Gospels tell us parents brought their children to Jesus so He could bless them. The disciples didn’t want to pester Jesus with such unimportant business, but Jesus responded, “Let the little children come to me” (Luke 18:16b, NIV).

I imagine children loved being around Jesus because He had a twinkle in His eye and He made them feel welcome. How do children feel welcome? Usually with smiles, laughs and perhaps a little cluster of raisins. Children followed Jesus, which makes me think Jesus smiled and was friendly. Remember, it was a boy who gave up his lunch of five loaves and two fish to feed the 5,000. (John 6:9) That’s no small task for a growing boy!

Men and women, young and old, were drawn to Jesus. Joy is attractive. The more you put it on display, the more people want to be around you.

Can others see joy in your life? Don’t worry; you don’t have to be as demonstrative as my mom. We all have different personalities, yet we are all commanded to rejoice. Rejoice in your own way; just be sure to rejoice. In so doing, you become more like your Heavenly Father who loves to sing and rejoice over you.

Lord, I choose to rejoice in Your love for me today. Thank You for saving me and singing over me. I praise You because You can turn my mourning into joy and bring happiness out of grief. Fill me with joy today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stunned by Grace

From: Joe Stowell, and Get More Strength.org

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” Exodus 34:6

For all of us who think that God is the hammer guy of the Old Testament, think again! I’m just a little put out on the prevailing thought that God was brutal and ugly in the Old Testament and that thankfully Jesus arrived on the scene in the New Testament to rescue His reputation. Getting our attitudes about God straight is a big deal. It’s really hard to love and follow a God who is ruthless with His power and abusive in His relationships. It’s bad enough that some of us have dads like that, let alone a Father in heaven who perpetuates the problem.

So, here’s the good news. Take a deep breath. You don’t need to feel that way about God anymore! When the real God stands up in the Old Testament, His actions and attitudes consistently exhibit an unusual depth of grace in the face of deep offenses against Him and His law.

Take the sin of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:1-24. Talk about a time when it would have been really appropriate for God to pull the hammer out! God had given them everything they needed for life and satisfaction in a perfect environment. They blatantly conspired with God’s enemy and used God’s gift of the garden to serve their own selfish desires. And in the process they destroyed the gift of God as sin destroyed the garden and their lives, to say nothing of granting Satan access to the domain of God where he would continue his damaging ways right up to today.

If one of our kids had taken all that we had built up and all that we had given to them and in our face destroyed it all, well, my guess is that grace would be the last response to cross our minds. Annihilation, yes—grace, no!

But get a grip on this. Of those two options God chose grace.

  • The grace to walk back into the fallen, damaged garden and call them out of the bushes—not to hammer them, but to restore them.
  • The grace to replace the self-constructed, fig leaf cover-up of their sins with the sacrificial provision of the animal skins, pointing to the ultimate moment of grace when the sacrifice of Jesus would cover us with the permanent covering of the righteousness of Christ.
  • The grace to promise them that the day would come when the seed of woman would deal the death blow to Satan’s head.
  • The grace to expel them from the garden so that they would not eat of the tree of life and live forever in the bondage and brokenness of sin. He had something better in mind: heaven—where they could live forever liberated from the consequences of their own foolishness.
  • The remarkable stroke of grace to Cain who in a fit of jealous rage murdered his brother. After refusing to accept God’s gracious offer of a second chance and then killing his brother, God marked him so that others would not kill him and then upped the punishment by sevenfold against anyone who would ignore the mark and kill Cain (see Genesis 4:3-15).
  • The grace to reestablish a godly line in a deeply damaged world by the birth of Seth who started the legacy of those who would live by “calling on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26).

Getting to know the real God is a wonderful experience, especially if we are getting to know Him as a God of unusual grace. Why? Because we all deserve the hammer! I will never stop being grateful that I serve and love a God who manages my brokenness with the healing and restoring power of His grace.

By The Spirits Power

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Image result for pictures of the Spirit's powerImage result for pictures of the Spirit's power
Image result for pictures of the Spirit's powerImage result for pictures of the Spirit's power
Image result for pictures of the Spirit's powerImage result for pictures of the Spirit's power
Image result for pictures of the Spirit's powerImage result for pictures of the Spirit's power

 By the Spirit’s Power

By the Spirit’s Power

What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Zechariah 4:7

What do you do when there is a mountain in your way? The story of Dashrath Manjhi can inspire us. When his wife died because he was unable to get her to the hospital to receive urgent medical care, Manjhi did what seemed impossible. He spent twenty-two years chiseling a massive gap in a mountain so other villagers could get to the local hospital to receive the medical care they needed. Before he died, the government of India celebrated him for his achievement.

Rebuilding the temple must have looked impossible to Zerubbabel, one of the leaders of Israel who returned from exile. The people were discouraged, faced opposition from their enemies, and lacked resources or a big army. But God sent Zechariah to remind Zerubbabel that the task would take something more powerful than military strength, individual power, or man-made resources. It would take the Spirit’s power (Zechariah 4:6). With the assurance of divine aid, Zerubbabel trusted that God would level any mountain of difficulty that stood in the way of rebuilding the temple and restoring the community (v. 7).

What do we do when there is a “mountain” before us? We have two options: rely on our own strength or trust the Spirit’s power. When we trust His power, He will either level the mountain or give us the strength and endurance to climb over it.

What challenges stand in your way? How will you trust the power of God’s Spirit in your life? Share it on Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

Human power is inadequate to accomplish God’s purposes.

The God Who Gives

From: Our Daily Journey

The God Who Gives

Read:

1 Chronicles 29:10-17
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours (1 Chronicles 29:11).

Many organizations have benefited from the charitable donations of the Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation, which has funded college scholarships, universities, medical centers, and much more. When the head of the foundation, John Rogers, was asked for his motivation for giving, he said this: “You can’t take it with you. I am a custodian of the money God has given me.” This generous spirit was directly derived from the generosity of God Himself.

David made a similar connection in a prayer recorded in the book of 1 Chronicles. In chapter 29, the people of Israel were taking an offering to build the temple, collecting all the precious stones and materials they could muster. King David himself donated tons of silver and gold to its construction, which inspired others to give generously as well (1 Chronicles 29:3,6).

But immediately after this amazing moment of corporate generosity, David redirected all the attention to God (1 Chronicles 29:10), worshiping Him by saying, “Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!” (1 Chronicles 29:14). David reminded the people that even though it appeared they had given generously, God is ultimately the ruler and owner of all things. Acknowledging God’s ownership over all things once more—“This material we have gathered . . . comes from you!” (1 Chronicles 29:16)—David used this truth to inspire all the people of Israel to give generously.

As revealed in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), we don’t own anything. Instead, we’re God’s stewards, giving out of what He’s placed in our hands. So let’s give generously, knowing we’re simply passing on what God has lavished on us.

 

Vision and Darkness

By Oswald Chambers

 Vision and Darkness

Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand” (Isaiah 49:2). The saint’s duty is to be still and listen. There is a “darkness” that comes from too much light— that is the time to listen. The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10-11).

Do I trust at all in the flesh? Or have I learned to go beyond all confidence in myself and other people of God? Do I trust in books and prayers or other joys in my life? Or have I placed my confidence in God Himself, not in His blessings? “I am Almighty God…”— El-Shaddai, the All-Powerful God (Genesis 17:1). The reason we are all being disciplined is that we will know God is real. As soon as God becomes real to us, people pale by comparison, becoming shadows of reality. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.