Tag Archives: flights

Forsaken For Our Sake

Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34— as Jesus is hanging on the cross near death. So it says, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice,” — Amazing. How did he have any strength to do it with a loud voice? — “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” — the Aramaic form — “that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

 

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Forsaken for Our Sake

Forsaken for Our Sake

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Does having a friend nearby make pain more bearable? Researchers at the University of Virginia conducted a fascinating study to answer that question. They wanted to see how the brain reacted to the prospect of pain, and whether it behaved differently if a person faced the threat of pain alone, holding a stranger’s hand, or holding the hand of a close friend.

Researchers ran the test on dozens of pairs, and found consistent results. When a person was alone or holding a stranger’s hand while anticipating a shock, the regions of the brain that process danger lit up. But when holding the hand of a trusted person, the brain relaxed. The comfort of a friend’s presence made the pain seem more bearable.

Jesus needed comfort as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew what He was about to face: betrayal, arrest, and death. He asked His closest friends to stay and pray with Him, telling them that His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow” (Matt. 26:38). But Peter, James, and John kept falling asleep.

Jesus faced the agony of the garden without the comfort of a hand to hold. But because He bore that pain, we can be confident that God will never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Jesus suffered so that we will never have to experience separation from the love of God (Rom. 8:39). His companionship makes anything we endure more bearable.

Jesus, thank You for bearing the pain and isolation of the Garden of Gethsemane and the cross for us. Thank You for giving us a way to live in communion with the Father.

Because of God’s love, we are never truly alone.

 

Lysa TerKeurst April 13, 2017
Choosing Calling Over Comfort
LYSA TERKEURST

“Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’” John 21:15b (NIV)

Have you ever felt God stirring you to do something that’s terrifyingly outside of your comfort zone? Something completely opposite of what you think you want to do?

I confess that left to my own choosing, I want to take the safe, certain and comfortable route. And then Scriptures march right up to my limited perspective and challenge me to walk a path I’d never choose on my own.

A question forms in my heart. One that forces me to stop and reconsider the path that terrifies: Do you love Jesus and want Him more than anything else?

It’s this question the resurrected Jesus asked one of His disciples, Peter, at a crucial crossroads in Peter’s life. And gracious, do I ever relate to Peter.

He’d been following Jesus for years.

But then things got hard. Jesus was crucified, and Peter took his eyes off that hard path of continuing in ministry that he’d been called to. He went back to what felt safe, certain and comfortable … his original occupation of fishing.

When the resurrected Jesus appeared in the flesh, He ruined Peter’s justifications to stay safe. Peter’s destiny wasn’t to be a fisherman for the rest of his life. He was to be a shepherd of God’s people.

“… Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’” (John 21:15).

For Peter, the “these” Jesus referenced might have been the large number of fish he had just caught. Or “these” could have been anything else pulling Peter away from his calling. We all have our own “these” areas in life — things we sometimes choose over Jesus.

Thankfully, Jesus continues to invite us to a life of more. A life where we refuse to settle for less than all He’s called and designed us to do and to be.

That’s why I love the directives Jesus gives Peter in John 21:15-17. I find it fascinating that Jesus asks Peter to do three things which mirror how shepherds actually care for their sheep in Israel today.

Jesus commands Peter:

“FEED MY LAMBS” (John 21:15) — In the morning, the shepherd gets up early in the sheepfold and feeds the little lambs first. He would pick up the little lambs. He would hold them and check them to make sure they were OK. He would call them by name because he knew the lambs that intimately.

“TAKE CARE OF MY SHEEP” (John 21:16) — After feeding the lambs, the shepherd then carefully leads the sheep down to a place where they can be fed. He leads them and cares for them.

“FEED MY SHEEP” (John 21:17) — The last step once he’s fed the lambs, cared for the sheep and led them to a good pasture was to feed the sheep.

So why is it so important to note that Jesus is giving these directives to Peter?

I believe Jesus is trying to turn Peter from a quick-judging fisherman into a caring shepherd. Fishermen quickly judged and counted the fish they caught. They threw out the small fish because they’d have to pay more in taxes than the fish was actually worth. They would look at the fish and say, “This one’s in, this one’s out, this one’s in, this one’s out.” Unlike a shepherd, a fisherman would never pick up the fish, love the fish, make sure the fish is OK or name the fish.

Yes, Peter has finished his season of being a fisherman of fish. Jesus is asking Peter to love Him more than the life Peter has known. Now He is calling Peter to be a shepherd for the people.

Jesus is also asking us to love Him more than the life we’ve known. And just like He equipped Peter by sending His Holy Spirit to fill and empower Peter for his calling (Acts 2), He willingly equips us. We have the gift of His Holy Spirit inside us and His written Word to continually guide us.

Sweet friends, let’s not rush past how amazing it is that the Lord wants to work through us — even with all our fears and failings. Let’s not allow fear or comfort to convince us to stay stuck in our same old ways. Let’s simply say to Jesus, “Yes, Lord. I love You more than these,” and follow His lead.

Lord, my soul declares “yes” to You today. Even if my hands are trembling … even if my feet feel shaky on this new path … I say “yes.” I love You and I will live for You. Change me. Lead me. I’m Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Faith in the Fields

From: Our Daily Journey

Faith in the Fields

Read:

Matthew 9:35-38
The harvest is great, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37).

One day as I drove by a vineyard located several miles from my house, I noticed a sign that read: Fieldworkers needed. For just a moment I imagined myself hard at work, standing between rows of vines with the sun on my neck and sweat on my face. I could almost smell the fruit ripening in the summer heat and feel myself snapping clusters of grapes from beneath broad leaves.

My brief longing to be a part of a harvest reminded me of Jesus’ words, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). Jesus wasn’t talking about grapes. He was talking about people—Spirit-ripened people who were ready to receive the gift of eternal life but needed to hear how to do so (John 4:36).

I wonder if the disciples truly understood what Jesus meant by “the harvest is great.” Did they know that they would be meeting plenty of people who would respond to their message? Their time in the fields would yield a massive, bountiful harvest of changed lives.

As for the problem of so few workers, Jesus’ answer was simple. Pray. Instead of asking His followers to take too much work on themselves, He urged them to ask “the Lord who is in charge of the harvest . . . to send more workers into his fields” (Matthew 9:38). Even while they worked for His kingdom, Jesus wanted them to rest in God’s sovereignty and provision.

We aren’t responsible for whether or not the people we witness to receive Jesus as their Savior. They may reject the gift God offers. As we go out into the fields, however, we can remember that the One in charge of the harvest has equipped and empowered us by His Spirit to be His witnesses.

 

Contentment Is Being Close To God

Not everyone is truly content with with his or her life. Often times we are unsatisfied and seek more for what we don’t have and who we are. Through scripture however, we are commanded to be content with all we have in life. Use these Bible verses to remind you not of you don’t have and who you are not, but of what you do have, who you are, and who you can be.

  • Matthew 6:25-26

    25  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
  • Matthew 6:32-33

    32   For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
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Peace and Contentment

From: Our Daily Journey

Peace and Contentment

Read:

1 Kings 6:1-14
Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God (Deuteronomy. 8:11).

This year, I entered into a new age bracket—the forties. Unlike the unsettling twenties where many of life’s major decisions are often made (such as choosing a career or deciding who to marry) and the tumultuous thirties (where one may be establishing a career or working towards financial stability), for some the forties mean a time of greater peace. This has been true for me: I find my life settling into a new, calm state. I’m not sure how long this feeling will last, but for now at least, I’m enjoying peace and contentment.

In 1 Kings 6, the Israelites were also enjoying some peace and contentment. It was “480 years after the people of Israel [had been] rescued from their slavery in the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 6:1). During this period, the nation had gone from the unsettling years of wandering in the desert to establishing their nation in the Promised Land. Now, under Solomon’s rule, the people of Judah and Israel “were very contented, with plenty to eat and drink” and “all of Judah and Israel lived in peace and safety” (1 Kings 4:20,25).

During this time, Solomon “began to construct the Temple of the Lord” (1 Kings 6:1). Of this verse, one Bible teacher commented: “We ought to see the time of peace and prosperity as an opportunity to do great things for the Lord!”

That’s a good reminder for me. Instead of allowing my current bliss to lull me into complacency, I should seize this moment of peace to serve God and to use the resources He’s blessed me with for His kingdom.

Jesus tells us: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously” (Matthew 6:33). These words apply to all seasons of life—whether we have little or plenty. And should God bless us with more, may we enjoy His blessings as well as consider how we can use them for His glory.

Agents Of Change

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

If anyone cleanses himself . . . , he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. —2 Timothy 2:21

With 4 years of seminary under my belt, I walked into my first ministry with a long agenda. As a new pastor, I thought I was there to change that place. Instead, God used that place to change me.

The board members were supportive, but they relentlessly kept my feet to the fire in administrative details. I needed to learn how to work with lay leadership, how to be careful in my work, and how to dream with others.

We often think God has assigned us to change the world around us when in reality He is interested in changing us. Why? To make each of us “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21). God often uses the most unlikely people in the most unlikely places to teach us some of life’s most difficult lessons. And just when we think we’ve arrived, He is instructing us further.

Not long ago I entered a new season of ministry. I may be a “seasoned veteran,” but I’m still learning, still growing, and still amazed at how God continues to shape this vessel for His noble purposes.

If you want to be an agent of change, don’t resist the true Agent of Change. He has your best interest—and His—at heart!

What changes we would love to make
In others’ lives, for Jesus’ sake!
But first we must learn at His feet
The things that will make us complete. —Branon

Only when we are changed can we be agents of change.

 

Why Forgive?

Why Forgive?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34

When a friend betrayed me, I knew I would need to forgive her, but I wasn’t sure that I could. Her words pierced deeply inside me, and I felt stunned with pain and anger. Although we talked about it and I told her I forgave her, for a long time whenever I’d see her I felt tinges of hurt, so I knew I still clung to some resentment. One day, however, God answered my prayers and gave me the ability to let go completely. I was finally free.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith, with our Savior extending forgiveness even when He was dying on the cross. Jesus loved those who had nailed Him there, uttering a prayer asking His Father to forgive them. He didn’t hang on to bitterness or anger, but showed grace and love to those who had wronged Him.

This is a fitting time to consider before the Lord any people we might need to forgive as we follow Jesus’s example in extending His love to those who hurt us. When we ask God through His Spirit to help us forgive, He will come to our aid—even if we take what we think is a long time to forgive. When we do, we are freed from the prison of unforgiveness.

Lord Jesus Christ, through Your grace and power as You dwell in me, help me to forgive, that Your love will set me free.

Even on the cross, Jesus forgave those who hurt Him.

 

Love God With All Your Heart

Luke 10: 27

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

 

The Greatest Commandment  Deuteronomy 6:5
4“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!

5“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

6“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.…

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Amy Carroll April 10, 2017
Dear God, Give Me Your Heart
AMY CARROLL

From: Crosswalk.com

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes.’” Luke 19:41-42 (NIV)

In a dimly lit hotel room, woman after woman went around the circle sharing prayer requests. The intimacy of a women’s retreat had softened all of our hearts to a tender vulnerability.

One woman shared about the healing her child desperately needed. Another confided her heartbreak over a rift in her family. Several others asked us to pray for them to be able to forgive someone.

Finally, we came to a woman with tears streaming down her face. “I need you to pray for me to stop crying,” she explained. “My heart is so broken for those around me who don’t know Jesus. I’m overcome. I can barely function through the sorrow.”

The room seemed to fade as my mind wandered to an event that happened thousands of years ago — Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem before the Passover.

The beginning of the story found in Luke 19 is joyful. Jesus had sent two disciples ahead to get a colt for Him, fulfilling yet one more prophecy of the Messiah found in the Old Testament book of Zechariah. As Jesus rode along, the people lined the roads spreading their cloaks before Him.

On what we now call Palm Sunday, the crowd of disciples cried out:

“‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

“‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:38, NIV)

Yet in the midst of it all, Jesus wasn’t basking in this extravagant praise. Instead, He was overcome with sorrow:

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.’” (Luke 19:41-44, NIV)

Jesus was heartbroken, but not over the comparatively minor subjects that can dominate my emotions. His lament was over the fact that He was the long-awaited Savior, and the people had missed Him.

God had extended His hand of mercy and grace through Jesus, and the world turned away.

You and I live in the same kind of world today. It’s a world turning away from what Jesus offers — and what we so desperately need.

While He still extends peace, grace and forgiveness, sometimes I struggle to see my need for it. Or maybe somehow, I think I can earn goodness on my own. So I end up choosing sin over saving, self over a Savior. Jesus didn’t shed just a few tears over this rejection. The strong word “wept” expresses His deep grief for a lost world. I want more of that.

The woman’s soft crying brought me fully back into our prayer circle, and she repeated, “Please pray for me to stop crying.”

“I can’t,” I whispered. “Please pray for me to start crying. Pray for me to have a heart that’s tender and weeps over the lost like yours … and like Jesus’.”

This is the beginning of our Holy Week, just days from Easter, when we rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection and life. But before we rejoice, I want to pause for a moment to weep for this lost world, just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Let’s sob and mourn and wail. Let’s convert our grief into pleas to God for people to wake up and feel their need for an intimate relationship with a living God. He’s still in the business of bringing dead things to life.

Dear Jesus, I plead for You to give me Your grief over the people who have missed You and rejected You. This Easter, remind me just how much I need You. Help me see Your grace. Grant me that divine combination of sorrow and tenderness that points people to the cross and to new Life. Dear God, give me Your heart for my world, to see the desperate need for salvation we all have. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

The best of masters

From: Biblegateway.com

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” John 14:27

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28

It is the same with the world at this day. Everyone greets us in writing with a “Dear sir,” or a “My dear sir,” and concludes with “Yours very truly,” and “Yours sincerely.” We call all “friends,” and if we meet but casually we express the utmost anxiety with regard to one another’s health, and we carefully enquire after each other’s families; when perhaps we shall no sooner have passed by the person than we shall forget his existence, and certainly shall entertain no anxious thoughts with regard to his welfare, nor any loving remembrance of him. The world gives very largely when it gives compliments. Oh, what blessings would descend upon all our heads, if the blessings uttered could be blessings bestowed. Even when the “Good bye” is given, which translated means, “God be with you”—if that could be but true, and if God could be with us, in answer to that prayer, so little understood, how rich might we be! But alas! the way of the world is, “Be ye warmed and filled;” but it has not that which should warm, nor that which should fill. It is a world of words; high-sounding, empty, all-deceiving words. Now this is not so with Christ. If he says “Peace be with you,” his benediction is most true and full of sweet sincerity. He left his own peace in heaven, that he might give the peace which he enjoyed with his Father, to us in this world of sorrow, for thus he puts it, “My peace I give unto you.” Christ, when he blesses, blesses not in word only, but in deed. The lips of truth cannot promise more than the hands of love will surely give. He gives not in compliment. Furthermore, even when the world’s wishes of peace are sincere, what are they but mere wishes?

For meditation: Greetings and best wishes from the lips of a Christian should be modeled on Christ, not the world. Do you go in for the “polite lie” or are your concerns for others genuine (Philippians 2:20; 3 John 2)?

 

Complete and Effective Decision About Sin

From: Utmost.org

Complete and Effective Decision About Sin
 

Co-Crucifixion. Have you made the following decision about sin—that it must be completely killed in you? It takes a long time to come to the point of making this complete and effective decision about sin. It is, however, the greatest moment in your life once you decide that sin must die in you– not simply be restrained, suppressed, or counteracted, but crucified— just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be mentally and spiritually convinced, but what we need to do is actually make the decision that Paul urged us to do in this passage.

Pull yourself up, take some time alone with God, and make this important decision, saying, “Lord, identify me with Your death until I know that sin is dead in me.” Make the moral decision that sin in you must be put to death.

This was not some divine future expectation on the part of Paul, but was a very radical and definite experience in his life. Are you prepared to let the Spirit of God search you until you know what the level and nature of sin is in your life— to see the very things that struggle against God’s Spirit in you? If so, will you then agree with God’s verdict on the nature of sin— that it should be identified with the death of Jesus? You cannot “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin” (Romans 6:11) unless you have radically dealt with the issue of your will before God.

Have you entered into the glorious privilege of being crucified with Christ, until all that remains in your flesh and blood is His life? “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20).

Jesus On The Throne

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) 18  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

19  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,

20  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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Revelation 4:1-6

 

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. read more.

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Christ On The Throne

April 9

From: Through The Bible

Deuteronomy 17:18-20a (NIV) 18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left.

God did not intend for the people to choose a king, but He knew they would. That is why He gave them guidelines for this king to follow. The first was that the LORD pick the man, not the people. There were other guidelines for the king, but the one quoted above stands out. The king was to have a personal copy of the Law. In other words, he needs to have his own copy of the Bible. It is suppose to be with him, not just somewhere in the palace. It is suppose to be read every day by the king.

The reason God asks for this to be done is spelled out for us. It is so the king will revere God. When we read of God’s instruction, of His character, of His awesome works, we should respond with reverence for God. How was the king to lead His people in the ways of God if he did not read them himself? He was not to consider himself above the law, but subject to it like everyone else.

In Christ, God has made us kings and priests to Himself according to Revelation 1:6. Since God calls us kings, we need to do the same as the kings of old. Keep a copy of the Word. Read it daily. Revere God and follow carefully the words written there. Don’t think the word does not apply to you as well.

Remember: If you apply it to others, it applies to you.

Evening

April 9

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, Paul explained why Jesus was given all authority. He was obedient to the Father, even to the death of the cross. The authority that Satan took from Adam has been taken back by the second Adam, Christ Jesus. Not only does He have authority here upon earth, but in the heavenlies too. Jesus is Lord! That was the creed of the early church. He is Master over all. God gave Him that position because His humility and obedience showed that He was able to handle that authority. Omnipotence backs that authority. What He has declared will all come to pass in His perfect time.

With that authority, He gave His disciples a command that is referred to as the Great Commission. 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. A disciple is a learner. He sent them out to teach others what He commanded them. He commanded them to love God with their all and to love their neighbor as themselves. He commanded them to believe on the One that God sent, Jesus. He also commanded them to remain in Him and bear much fruit. Those are the basics of the simple things we are to do and teach. As we attempt to do that we find that is easier said than done. What do we need?

We need His presence in and through us! That is why this gospel ends with the promise that He will always be with us. We need His power, wisdom, strength and courage to live and teach what He taught. We need Him to be Lord over us as He lives in us. We have a precious promise in these words. We will be tempted to doubt them, but they are the unfailing words of the One who has been given all authority. Trust those words! Rely on them! He is with you!

Meditation: With God, nothing is impossible.

 

From: Streams In The Desert

All these things are against me  (Gen. 42:36).

All things work together for good to them that love God (Rom. 8:28).

Many people are wanting power. Now how is power produced? The other day we passed the great works where the trolley engines are supplied with electricity. We heard the hum and roar of the countless wheels, and we asked our friend, “How do they make the power?”

“Why,” he said, “just by the revolution of those wheels and the friction they produce. The rubbing creates the electric current.”

And so, when God wants to bring more power into your life, He brings more pressure. He is generating spiritual force by hard rubbing. Some do not like it and try to run away from the pressure, instead of getting the power and using it to rise above the painful causes.

Opposition is essential to a true equilibrium of forces. The centripetal and centrifugal forces acting in opposition to each other keep our planet in her orbit. The one propelling, and the other repelling, so act and re-act, that instead of sweeping off into space in a pathway of desolation, she pursues her even orbit around her solar centre.

So God guides our lives. It is not enough to have an impelling force–we need just as much a repelling force, and so He holds us back by the testing ordeals of life, by the pressure of temptation and trial, by the things that seem against us, but really are furthering our way and establishing our goings.

Let us thank Him for both, let us take the weights as well as the wings, and thus divinely impelled, let us press on with faith and patience in our high and heavenly calling.
–A. B. Simpson

In a factory building there are wheels and gearings,
There are cranks and pulleys, beltings tight or slack–
Some are whirling swiftly, some are turning slowly,
Some are thrusting forward, some are pulling back;
Some are smooth and silent, some are rough and noisy,
Pounding, rattling, clanking, moving with a jerk;
In a wild confusion in a seeming chaos,
Lifting, pushing, driving–but they do their work.
From the mightiest lever to the tiniest pinion,
All things move together for the purpose planned;
And behind the working is a mind controlling,
And a force directing, and a guiding hand.
So all things are working for the Lord’s beloved;
Some things might be hurtful if alone they stood;
Some might seem to hinder; some might draw us backward;
But they work together, and they work for good,
All the thwarted longings, all the stern denials,
All the contradictions, hard to understand.
And the force that holds them, speeds them and retards them,
Stops and starts and guides them–is our Father’s hand.

–Annie Johnson Flint

 

Hometown Hero

From: Get More Strength

“I heard the voice of many angels, numbering . . . ten thousand times ten thousand . . . “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’” Revelation 5:11-12

Chicago Cubs fans are the most optimistic people in baseball. It’s been over a century since their last World Series victory, yet we still pack Wrigley Field hoping that our boys in blue will pull through for us.

One of our past heroes, first baseman Derrek Lee, was placed on the disabled list early one season—a disappointment for me as I settled into my seat for a home game against the crosstown rival White Sox. The game was tied in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs and the bases loaded with Cubs. You could feel the tension as the crowd waited to see if their Cubbies could capitalize on the moment. Then, unexpectedly, out of the dugout came none other than “D-Lee” to pinch hit. The crowd went wild, and best of all, he didn’t disappoint. He connected with a 3-1 pitch for a grand-slam, and the place erupted in cheers as Lee circled the bases. In the stadium that day were people from all walks of life—celebrities, corporate tycoons, cabdrivers—but distinctions disappeared as they hailed their hero.

That picture of celebration, multiplied by thousands, helps us understand the scene in Revelation 5:1-14. Circling the throne of Jesus are people from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). But their differences are eclipsed in their united celebration of the One who is their focus—the Lamb of God. What a picture of worship! We were utterly without hope, lost in our sins, and unable to rescue ourselves. In that moment, Jesus came out of the dugout of our despair and, by His own blood, ensured victory over sin and death forever. No wonder the eternal song in heaven focuses on the worthiness of the Lamb who was slain. He is the ultimate hero and our eyes should be fixed on Him!

Ironically, in His own hometown Jesus was largely ignored by the crowd. I don’t want to be counted among them! For those of us focused on His ultimate work on the cross, our victory is sweet and the celebration is heartfelt.

There’s no comparison between Derek Lee emerging from the dugout and our champion Jesus who 2,000 years ago vacated an empty tomb to give you a part in His eternal victory over sin and death and hell!

Live to celebrate Jesus—our ultimate hometown hero!

Jesus Is Alive

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

 

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His Resurrection Destiny

From: Utmost.org

His Resurrection Destiny

Our Lord’s Cross is the gateway into His life. His resurrection means that He has the power to convey His life to me. When I was born again, I received the very life of the risen Lord from Jesus Himself.

Christ’s resurrection destiny— His foreordained purpose— was to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We never have exactly the same relationship to God that the Son of God has, but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life— a life He had never lived before He was God Incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before. And what His resurrection means for us is that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we will have a body like His glorious body, but we can know here and now the power and effectiveness of His resurrection and can “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Paul’s determined purpose was to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10).

Jesus prayed, “…as You have given Him authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him” (John 17:2). The term Holy Spirit is actually another name for the experience of eternal life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the deity of God who continues to apply the power of the atonement by the Cross of Christ to our lives. Thank God for the glorious and majestic truth that His Spirit can work the very nature of Jesus into us, if we will only obey Him.

“For God’s Sake!”

From: Our Daily Journey

“For God’s Sake!”

Read:

Joel 1:1-20
Lord, help us! . . . Even the wild animals cry out to you (Joel 1:19-20).

As I read the news account of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked Ecuador in 2016, the exclamation of one young man stood out: “For God’s sake, help me find my family!”

“For God’s sake . . .”

Those words can certainly be used wrongly—taking the Lord’s name in vain. Yet, while I have no way of knowing if the young man has a relationship with God, it occurred to me that we so often invoke His name when calamity strikes. And since we’re made in His image (Genesis 1:27), to cry out for the sake of others can truly be for His sake.

The plaintive cry of the young man reminds me of an exclamation from the lips of Joel: “Lord, help us!” (Joel 1:19). Judah, the prophet’s nation, had been decimated by two natural disasters—an overwhelming swarm of locusts had eaten everything in their path and a drought had turned what remained to dust (Joel 1:6,12). The physical destruction—mirroring the nation’s spiritual condition—was devastating (Joel 1:14-15).

Joel, whose name means “the Lord (Yahweh) is God,” had been called to deliver God’s solemn message to the people of Judah (Joel 1:1-2). A two-pronged response was prescribed: Cry in grief and call out to God for relief.

These two reactions can lead to help and restoration when we confront pain. Perhaps someone close to us has taken her last breath. Or we’ve witnessed the ruthless slaughter of innocents. Or the disease has returned . . .

In genuine mourning and heartfelt prayer, we can draw close to God whose love “never ends.” But we may need to “lie face down in the dust” to once again find “hope at last” (Lamentations 3:22,29). For our sake, God meets us in our suffering and leads us through the fire and rubble to the joy that lies ahead.

 

A Shepherd for Life

From: Our Daily Bread

A Shepherd for Life

God . . . has been my shepherd all my life to this day. Genesis 48:15

When my son changed grades in school he cried, “I want my teacher for life!” We had to help him realize that changing teachers is a part of life. We may wonder: Is there any relationship that can last a lifetime?

Jacob, the patriarch, found out there is one. After living through many dramatic changes and losing loved ones along the way, he realized there had been a constant presence in his life. He prayed, “May the God . . . who has been my shepherd all my life to this day . . . bless these boys” (Gen. 48:15–16).

Jacob had been a shepherd, so he compared his relationship to God as that of a shepherd and his sheep. From the time a sheep is born through its growth to old age the shepherd cares for it day and night. He guides it during the day and protects it during the night. David, also a shepherd, had the same conviction, but he highlighted the eternal dimension to it when he said, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23:6).

Changing teachers is a part of life. But how good it is to know that we can have a relationship for life. The Shepherd has promised to be with us every day of our earthly existence (Matt. 28:20). And when life here ends, we will be closer to Him than ever.

Father, I thank You for being the Shepherd of my life. I praise Your faithfulness.

God never abandons us.

Get Rid Of Painful Baggage

 

Rest for the Weary     Matthew 11:28
27  All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.

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

29  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.…

 

(People carrying luggage or baggage).

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Unloading the Baggage

From: Get More Strength

“Throw off anything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” Hebrews 12:1

I boarded the plane in Chicago with too much baggage. Not the kind of baggage you stow in the overhead compartment or squash under the seat in front of you. Not even the kind you check in at the airline desk. This was the kind of baggage that weighs your heart down and that, if carried around, leaves you emotionally and spiritually exhausted. An unexpected attack from a trusted friend had left me deeply upset and really confused about how to respond.

As the flight attendants went through their pre-flight checklist, I was lost in thought world thinking through all my options. Feeling betrayed and unjustly wronged, I had a long list of possibilities—the kind of responses that seemed very natural to my fallen heart—but they were the types of choices that were wrapped in the old revenge, self-protection, and “I don’t get mad, I just get even” kind of stuff.

As we taxied out to the runway, I knew I needed a second opinion. So I simply prayed, “God, I need you to talk to me. I desperately need your wisdom. You brought this into my life for a purpose, but I don’t know what to do next.”

As the plane climbed, I began to feel closer to God. Not physically closer (although praying above the clouds at 35,000 feet does lend a different perspective), but spiritually closer as He began to share His wisdom with me from Matthew 5. My natural thoughts and desires to fight back and demand my rights were replaced with Jesus’ instruction to “turn the other cheek,” to “go the extra mile,” to “bless those who curse me” (Matthew 5:38-48).

Of course, my human nature continued to argue for a while. “But, God, I’ll feel so weak. I’ll feel like a pushover, a weakling. I need to fight for myself.” The reality is, my pride wanted to keep the baggage. My ego wanted to hang on to the situation and try to deal with it through human, natural, flawed means. Trusting the Lord’s wisdom would mean that I no longer had control of the situation.

But God in His grace reminded me of the surrender of Christ on the cross. He drew me to the fact that, for Jesus, the path to glory was the path of surrender and letting go. The one who is the Lion of Judah is also the Lamb that was slain. And God drew me to that point of decision once again. Was I going to manage this situation to my advantage or was I going to release it, in trust and obedience, to Him?

I am thankful to say that when the plane landed in New York, I left some baggage on it. I walked through the terminal without the heaviness of heart that comes from fighting for my own rights. I headed for my hotel free of the weight of bitterness that the enemy was trying to stir up in my soul. God had renewed my strength and the weariness was gone.

Let me invite you to the privilege of waiting on the Lord. As Isaiah 40:28 reminds us, God never grows weary. His wisdom never runs out. His power, His might, and His truth are available and accessible to His children. You don’t need to walk another step with that load of fear, guilt, anger, bitterness, or confusion.

Check your carry-on baggage. Surrender it to Him and then seek His wisdom to strengthen and direct you.

It makes the journey so much more enjoyable!

 

Why We Lack Understanding

From: Utmost.org

Why We Lack Understanding

As the disciples were commanded, you should also say nothing until the Son of Man has risen in you— until the life of the risen Christ so dominates you that you truly understand what He taught while here on earth. When you grow and develop the right condition inwardly, the words Jesus spoke become so clear that you are amazed you did not grasp them before. In fact, you were not able to understand them before because you had not yet developed the proper spiritual condition to deal with them.

Our Lord doesn’t hide these things from us, but we are not prepared to receive them until we are in the right condition in our spiritual life. Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). We must have a oneness with His risen life before we are prepared to bear any particular truth from Him. Do we really know anything about the indwelling of the risen life of Jesus? The evidence that we do is that His Word is becoming understandable to us. God cannot reveal anything to us if we don’t have His Spirit. And our own unyielding and headstrong opinions will effectively prevent God from revealing anything to us. But our insensible thinking will end immediately once His resurrection life has its way with us.

“…tell no one….” But so many people do tell what they saw on the Mount of Transfiguration— their mountaintop experience. They have seen a vision and they testify to it, but there is no connection between what they say and how they live. Their lives don’t add up because the Son of Man has not yet risen in them. How long will it be before His resurrection life is formed and evident in you and in me?

 

Good Words

From: Our Daily Journey

Good Words

Read:

Romans 12:9-16
You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak (James 1:19).

In the summer of 2016, a two-year-old was snatched by an alligator as he waded into a lagoon at an amusement park resort. His father tried desperately, without success, to rescue the boy from the alligator. A frantic search for the child ensued, but tragically, a few days later, divers recovered the toddler’s lifeless body.

When news of what happened became public, some immediately took to social media to express sorrow and to offer condolences to the grieving family. But others accused the parents of irresponsibility and expressed cruel sentiments such as, “I would never let that happen to my child.” I was taken aback by the mean-spiritedness of some of those who commented on social media. They wasted no time in finding fault and in heaping scorn upon parents who were in the midst of grief and agony over the loss of their little one.

Since I’m on the care staff at my church, I’m often at the bedside of those who are sick or dying. I also visit those who have experienced other kinds of personal and familial crises. Even if the person or one of the family members I’m visiting is clearly at fault for a tragedy that occurred, I’ve learned that there’s a “time to be quiet and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). It goes hand in hand with James 1:19 where we’re told to be “quick to listen, slow to speak.”

I’m continually reminded that our attitudes and behaviors are to reflect those of Jesus—the One who does not “crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle” (Matthew 12:20). There’s a right time and a wrong time to dole out advice. In the meantime, may God give us the wisdom to “be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

 

Sitting Still

Streams in the Desert

Their strength is to sit still. (Isa. 30:7).

In order really to know God, inward stillness is absolutely necessary. I remember when I first learned this. A time of great emergency had risen in my life, when every part of my being seemed to throb with anxiety, and when the necessity for immediate and vigorous action seemed overpowering; and yet circumstances were such that I could do nothing, and the person who could, would not stir.

For a little while it seemed as if I must fly to pieces with the inward turmoil, when suddenly the still small voice whispered in the depths of my soul, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The word was with power, and I hearkened. I composed my body to perfect stillness, and I constrained my troubled spirit into quietness, and looked up and waited; and then I did “know” that it was God, God even in the very emergency and in my helplessness to meet it; and I rested in Him.

It was an experience that I would not have missed for worlds; and I may add also, that out of this stillness seemed to arise a power to deal with the emergency, that very soon brought it to a successful issue. I learned then effectually that my “strength was to sit still.”
–Hannah Whitall Smith

There is a perfect passivity which is not indolence. It is a living stillness born of trust. Quiet tension is not trust. It is simply compressed anxiety.

Not in the tumult of the rending storm,
Not in the earthquake or devouring flame;
But in the hush that could all fear transform,
The still, small whisper to the prophet came.
0 Soul, keep silence on the mount of God,
Though cares and needs throb around thee like a sea;
From supplications and desires unshod,
Be still, and hear what God shall say to thee.
All fellowship hath interludes of rest,
New strength maturing in each poise of power;
The sweetest Alleluias of the blest
Are silent, for the space of half an hour.
0 rest, in utter quietude of soul,
Abandon words, leave prayer and praise awhile;
Let thy whole being, hushed in His control,
Learn the full meaning of His voice and smile.
Not as an athlete wrestling for a crown,
Not taking Heaven by violence of will;
But with thy Father as a child sit down,

And know the bliss that follows His “Be Still!”
–Mary Rowles Jarvis

Peace With God gives Satisfaction

(True satisfaction come from a heart that is at peace with God. This allows us to know the peace of God).
Stand Firm in the Lord    Philippians 4:7
6   Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
8   Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.
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The Search For Satisfaction

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? —Isaiah 55:2

When it comes to jigsaw puzzles, we all know that to enjoy a satisfying outcome you need all the pieces. In many ways, life is like that. We spend our days putting it together, hoping to create a complete picture out of all the scattered parts.

Yet sometimes it seems like a piece is missing. Perhaps we’ve been pursuing the wrong pieces to the puzzle. Even though we may know that life without God at the center is a life that has lost the most important piece, do we live as though He isn’t particularly relevant? And even though we may attend church regularly, is He the throbbing center of our lives? Sometimes we grow accustomed to feeling distant from God. This makes it easier to sin, complicating the sense that something important is missing.

But no matter how far we may drift from God, He wants us near. He appealed to His people through the prophet Isaiah: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (Isa. 55:2).

If something is missing in your life, remember that God is the only One who can fully and abundantly satisfy you. Let Him complete the picture of your life.

The God-shaped void within our heart
Cannot be filled by treasure;
It’s only God who satisfies
In ways we cannot measure. —Sper

There’s a longing in every heart that only Jesus can satisfy.

 

What Lasts Forever?

From: Our Daily Bread

What Lasts Forever?

You remain the same, and your years will never end. Psalm 102:27

My friend, who had gone through many difficulties recently, wrote, “As I reflect on the past four semesters of student life, so many things have changed . . . . It is scary, really scary. Nothing stays forever.”

Indeed, many things can happen in two years—a career change, newfound friendship, illness, death. Good or bad, a life-altering experience may be lurking just around the corner, waiting to pounce! We simply don’t know. What great comfort, then, to know that our loving heavenly Father does not change.

The psalmist says, “You remain the same, and your years will never end” (Ps. 102:27). The implication of this truth is immense. It means that God is forever loving, just, and wise. As Bible teacher Arthur W. Pink so wonderfully states: “Whatever the attributes of God were before the universe was called into existence, they are precisely the same now, and will remain so forever.”

In the New Testament, James writes, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). In our changing circumstances, we can be assured that our good God will always be consistent to His character. He is the source of everything good, and everything He does is good.

It may seem that nothing lasts forever, but our God will remain consistently good to those who are His own.

Lord, You are the One who never changes, and You are so good to us. Calm our hearts today with the grace and peace that come only from You.

The One who holds the universe together will not let go of you.

 

Into the Dark Unknown

From: Our Daily Journey.org

Into the Dark Unknown

Read:

Job 4:12-15
Fear gripped me, and my bones trembled (Job 4:14).

At the outset of World War II, a man—who would eventually rescue 669 children from Nazi slaughter—helped two Jewish boys secure passage on a train escaping Czechoslovakia. After the war, the boys received a final letter from their parents who had died in a concentration camp.

Here are a few lines: The time has therefore come . . . for us to ask you to become good men. . . . You took a piece of your poor parents’ hearts with you. . . . [You have heard] about the hard fate of all our loved ones. We too will not be spared and will go bravely into the unknown, with the hope that we shall yet see you again when God wills. Don’t forget us, and be good.

We can only imagine the agony the parents experienced as they penned those lines and the boys’ convulsing sorrow as they read them. I have no words to assuage this grief.

I do know, however, that the Bible doesn’t ignore this kind of anguish. In a most distressing narrative, Scripture recounts how Job lost his children, his wealth, and his reputation as a God-fearing man (Job 1:14-19, 22:4-5). His ruin was so immense that when his friends came to visit him, they hardly recognized him (Job 2:12).

Though he endured much confusion and grief, Job refused to turn from his Creator. Although he would “curse the day of his birth,” he would not reject God even when his wife prodded him to do exactly that—to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Job believed God was present in the ruins as much as in the blessings (Job 1:21).

Like Job, many of us will face terrible sorrows, but God will be with us even there. We may face hardship and despair, and we may have no answers or consolation. But God is with us, even in the dark unknown (Romans 8:38-39).

God Is With Us

 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. —Galatians 2:20

God is like a co-pilot. Except, He is with us always and loves us eternally.

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Our Co-Pilot?

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. —Galatians 2:20

The bumper sticker “Jesus is my co-pilot” may be a well-intentioned sentiment, but it has always troubled me. Whenever I’m in the driver’s seat of my life, the destination is nowhere good. Jesus is not meant to be just a spiritual “co-pilot” giving directions every now and then. He is always meant to be in the driver’s seat. Period!

We often say that Jesus died for us, which of course is true. But there’s more to it than that. Because Jesus died on the cross, something inside of us died—the power of sin. It’s what Paul meant when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). We were essentially co-crucified with Him. With Jesus in the driver’s seat, the old destinations are off-limits. No more turning down the streets of self-centeredness, greed, or lust. No more off-road ventures into the swamp of pride or the ditch of bitterness. We were crucified with Him and He is at the wheel now! He died so that He alone can drive and define us.

So, if you’ve died and Christ lives in you, He’s not your co-pilot. Your joy is to let Him drive and define your life. There may be a few bumps in the road, but you can count on it—He’ll take you somewhere good.

Lord, I thank You for salvation,
For Your mercy, full and free;
Take my all in consecration,
Glorify Yourself in me. —Codner

Still at the wheel of your life? It’s time to let Jesus drive.

Kossi’s Courage

From: Our Daily Bread

Kossi’s Courage

You shall have no other gods before me. . . . You shall not bow down to them or worship them. Exodus 20:3, 5

As he awaited his baptism in Togo’s Mono River, Kossi stooped to pick up a worn wooden carving. His family had worshiped the object for generations. Now they watched as he tossed the grotesque figure into a fire prepared for the occasion. No longer would their choicest chickens be sacrificed to this god.

In the West, most Christians think of idols as metaphors for what they put in place of God. In Togo, West Africa, idols represent literal gods that must be appeased with sacrifice. Idol burning and baptism make a courageous statement about a new believer’s allegiance to the one true God.

As an eight-year-old, King Josiah came to power in an idol-worshiping, sex-obsessed culture. His father and grandfather had been two of the worst kings in all of Judah’s sordid history. Then the high priest discovered the book of the law. When the young king heard its words, he took them to heart (2 Kings 22:8–13). Josiah destroyed the pagan altars, burned the vile items dedicated to the goddess Asherah, and stopped the ritual prostitution (ch. 23). In place of these practices, he celebrated the Passover (23:21–23).

Whenever we look for answers apart from God—consciously or subconsciously—we pursue a false god. It would be wise to ask ourselves: What idols, literal or figurative, do we need to throw on the fire?

Lord, forgive us for those things we turn to that show our hearts are not focused on You. Show us what we need to give up, and replace it with the presence of Your Holy Spirit.

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21

Living Proverbially

From: Our Daily Journey

Living Proverbially

Read:

Proverbs 17:1-28
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength (Proverbs 17:22).

Deep in the African bush lives a missionary couple named Bob and Martha, who have served in Namalu (a village in Karomoja, Uganda) for more than fifteen years. Despite formidable challenges such as surrounding tribal conflicts, it is here that they’ve chosen to raise their children and joyfully lead a vibrant ministry.

In addition to their deep faith in Jesus, I believe some other reasons for their ability to persevere are their rich sense of humor and overall positive outlook on life. The remarkable duo live “proverbially,” with the type of good cheer, even temperament, sensibility, and loyalty described in Proverbs 17:22: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”

A recent post from Martha captures the spirit with which the couple faces challenges. Martha wrote from the capital city of Uganda, where she and her family had gone to stock up on groceries before returning to the bush, “Beautiful morning in Kampala, but it looks like Bob is down with malaria again, so the girls get to sleep in after all. Maybe I’ll catch up with a few pals around town.” She could see the silver lining even in her husband’s illness!

For more than a decade, the couple has loyally helped their Karamojong friends in their “time[s] of need” (Proverbs 17:17), providing love, support, and true compassion. They’ve maintained sensibility by keeping “their eyes glued on wisdom” (Proverbs 17:24), rather than letting the suffering they’ve witnessed cause them to lose heart.

Bob and Martha truly epitomize the beauty of serving God and others with passion and grace. Consider today how you can serve God and others with a “cheerful heart,” in the love and power He provides.

Jesus Christ Is God

Jesus Calms the Storm    Matthew 8:27
26  “You of little faith,” Jesus replied, “why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it was perfectly calm.
28   When Jesus arrived on the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met Him on their way from the tombs. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.…
What is the true identity of Jesus Christ? He is the Son of God. He is God the Son. He is God.
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Who Are You?

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. —Matthew 4:19

If someone were to ask, “Who are you?” my guess is that you would tell a little about yourself and what you do—“I’m an electrician” or “I’m a nurse.” But that’s not really who you are—it’s what you do. Which leads to the question, If what you do is who you are, who will you be when you stop doing what you’re doing?!

Who you are is found in your relationship to Jesus. And this sense of identity will drive your behavior. Take Matthew, for example. As a tax collector during the reign of the Roman Empire, his life was driven by greed. But everything changed the day Jesus showed up and invited Matthew to follow Him (Matt. 9:9). Suddenly Matthew had a whole new identity as a follower of Christ! And he wasn’t the only one. We also read about four fishermen in Matthew 4:18-25, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, who left their nets to follow Him.

Jesus is a compelling Person, and He is still looking for followers. He wants to make something of your life by giving you the identity of a follower of Jesus. It doesn’t mean giving up your career, but it does mean that you will do your work—and all of life—according to His will and ways.

So next time someone asks, “Who are you?” I hope you’ll answer, “I’m a follower of Jesus”!

If you are a follower of Jesus, that’s all the identity you need

 

His Word the Last Word

From: Our Daily Bread

His Word the Last Word

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 63:6–7

Dawson Trotman, a dynamic Christian leader of the mid-twentieth century and founder of The Navigators, emphasized the importance of the Bible in the life of every Christian. Trotman ended each day with a practice he called “His Word the last word.” Before going to sleep he meditated on a memorized Bible verse or passage, then prayed about its place and influence in his life. He wanted the last words he thought about each day to be God’s words.

The psalmist David wrote, “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings”  (Ps. 63:6–7). Whether we are in great difficulty or enjoying a time of peace, our last thought at night can ease our minds with the rest and comfort God gives. It may also set the tone for our first thought the next morning.

A friend and his wife conclude each day by reading aloud a Bible passage and daily devotional with their four children. They welcome questions and thoughts from each child and talk about what it means to follow Jesus at home and school. They call it their version of “His Word the last word” for each day.

What better way to end our day!

Thank You Father, for Your Word in our hearts and our minds—our last thought at night as we rest securely in You.

The Spirit of God renews our minds when we meditate on the Word of God.

 

Envy and Humility

From: Our Daily Journey

Envy and Humility

Read:

Acts 11:19-30
Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch (Acts 11:25-26).

The movie Amadeus depicts Antonio Salieri as a composer who couldn’t enjoy his gift because he happened to live at the same time as the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Salieri worked diligently to create a decent musical work, only to watch the impish Mozart sit down at the piano and play soaring music, seemingly off the top of his head. Salieri begged God for Mozart’s gift, but he believed that God gave him just enough talent to recognize the many ways he didn’t measure up.

Salieri’s jealousy had turned to envy. Jealousy says, “I want what you have.” Envy says, “If I can’t have what you have, then I don’t want you to have it.” Envy rejoices at others’ failures.

The book of Acts depicts Joseph as a gifted leader in the early church. Loved by all, the other apostles nicknamed him “Barnabas (which means ‘Son of Encouragement’)” (Acts 4:36). He happened to live at the same time as the greatest church leader of all time, the apostle Paul. Rather than feel threatened by this talented leader, Barnabas humbly served by his side.

When the Christians in Jerusalem weren’t sure they could trust the newly converted Saul, Barnabas “brought him to the apostles” and vouched for his story (Acts 9:26-27). When Barnabas was sent to encourage the believers in Antioch, he went and found Saul so they could lead together (Acts 11:22-26). And when Paul refused to take another chance on Mark, Barnabas decided to let Paul go on and lead without him. Barnabas saw potential in Mark and was willing to risk his reputation to lift him up (Acts 15:36-40).

How do we react when we see people who are better at whatever it is we do? May we seize the opportunity to praise God for their abilities and pray for their success.

Don’t Keep God’s Word A Secret

 If you had known…in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. —Luke 19:42

Image result for pictures of girls telling secretsImage result for pictures of girls telling secrets
Image result for pictures of girls telling secretsImage result for pictures of girls telling secrets
Image result for pictures of girls telling secretsImage result for pictures of girls telling secrets
Image result for pictures of girls telling secretsImage result for pictures of girls telling secrets

“If You Had Known!”

From: Utmost.org

Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly and the city was stirred to its very foundations, but a strange god was there– the pride of the Pharisees. It was a god that seemed religious and upright, but Jesus compared it to “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

What is it that blinds you to the peace of God “in this your day”? Do you have a strange god– not a disgusting monster but perhaps an unholy nature that controls your life? More than once God has brought me face to face with a strange god in my life, and I knew that I should have given it up, but I didn’t do it. I got through the crisis “by the skin of my teeth,” only to find myself still under the control of that strange god. I am blind to the very things that make for my own peace. It is a shocking thing that we can be in the exact place where the Spirit of God should be having His completely unhindered way with us, and yet we only make matters worse, increasing our blame in God’s eyes.

“If you had known….” God’s words here cut directly to the heart, with the tears of Jesus behind them. These words imply responsibility for our own faults. God holds us accountable for what we refuse to see or are unable to see because of our sin. And “now they are hidden from your eyes” because you have never completely yielded your nature to Him. Oh, the deep, unending sadness for what might have been! God never again opens the doors that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there are doors which we have shut– doors which had no need to be shut. Never be afraid when God brings back your past. Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God bringing its rebuke and sorrow to you. God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future.

A Heart of Compassion

From: Our Daily Bread

A Heart of Compassion

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Seven of us were attending a musical production at a crowded amusement park. Wanting to sit together, we tried to squeeze into one row. But as we did, a woman rushed between us. My wife mentioned to her that we wanted to stay together, but the woman quickly said, “Too bad,” as she and her two companions pushed on into the row.

As three of us sat one row behind the other four, my wife, Sue, noticed that the woman had an adult with her who appeared to have special needs. She had been trying to keep her little group together so she could take care of her friend. Suddenly, our irritation faded. Sue said, “Imagine how tough things are for her in a crowded place like this.” Yes, perhaps the woman did respond rudely. But we could respond with compassion rather than anger.

Wherever we go, we will encounter people who need compassion. Perhaps these words from the apostle Paul can help us view everyone around us in a different light—as people who need the gentle touch of grace. “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12). He also suggests that we “bear with each other and forgive one another” (v. 13).

As we show compassion, we will be pointing others to the One who poured out His heart of grace and compassion on us.

Your compassions never fail, Father. May we mirror Your heart by showing compassion to others.

Compassion is understanding the troubles of others.

 

We Are at War

From: Our Daily Journey

We Are at War

Read:

Ephesians 6:10-20
Put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm (Ephesians 6:13).

My great-grandfather was a Romanian sailor on the King Carol I warship during World War II. On October 10, 1941, he was one of twenty-one sailors who lost their lives when the ship hit a mine and sank near Varna, Bulgaria. Until the beginning of World War I, King Carol I had served as a cruise ship. Once the war started, the ship was transformed into a warship with guns and special armor for launching mines and grenades. While I’m proud and thankful for the legacy my great-grandfather left, I know that I am also engaged in war. It is a different kind of war—a spiritual one. Just as King Carol I was especially armored for war, I need to arm myself for the spiritual battles I face.

When we answered the call of Jesus to follow Him, we were transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Obviously, this infuriated the evil one. So it should be no surprise to us when Satan wants to steal our joy and peace and attempt to destroy God’s plan for our lives. The apostle Paul alerted the Ephesians that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against . . . mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Nevertheless, we don’t need to worry! God has already told us how to get ready for battle. Paul said to “put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil” (Ephesians 6:13). This verse does not imply that the time of evil might come, but states that it will come. We must expect it and be prepared so that “after the battle [we] will still be standing firm” (Ephesians 6:13).