Tag Archives: God.

Waiting

1 Corinthians 1:7

so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Corinthians 4:5

Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

Titus 2:13

looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,

Hebrews 9:28

so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

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Waiting

From: Our Daily Bread

Waiting
Read: Micah 5:2–4 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 45–46; 1 John 2
 
 

Bethlehem . . . out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel. Micah 5:2

“How much longer until it’s Christmas?” When my children were little, they asked this question repeatedly. Although we used a daily Advent calendar to count down the days to Christmas, they still found the waiting excruciating.

We can easily recognize a child’s struggle with waiting, but we might underestimate the challenge it can involve for all of God’s people. Consider, for instance, those who received the message of the prophet Micah, who promised that out of Bethlehem would come a “ruler over Israel” (5:2) who would “stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord” (v. 4). The initial fulfillment of this prophecy came when Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:1) —after the people had waited some 700 years. But some of the prophecy’s fulfillment is yet to come. For we wait in hope for the return of Jesus, when all of God’s people will “live securely” and “his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth” (Mic. 5:4). Then we will rejoice greatly, for our long wait will be over.

Most of us don’t find waiting easy, but we can trust that God will honor His promises to be with us as we wait (Matt. 28:20). For when Jesus was born in little Bethlehem, He ushered in life in all its fullness (see John 10:10)—life without condemnation. We enjoy His presence with us today while we eagerly wait for His return.

We wait, Father God, and we hope. We wait, dear Jesus, as we long for peace to break out. We wait, comforting Spirit, for all the world to experience Your love.

We wait for God’s promises, believing they will come true.

Displaced

From: Joe Stowell, Author

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9

Have you ever felt completely out of your comfort zone, totally removed from all that’s familiar? It’s the feeling of being displaced. We cherish familiar settings, places that we have grown accustomed to, places that are compatible to our relationships and lifestyle. In a fast-moving, mobile culture that pushes us from here to there like tumbleweeds, we long for a familiar environment to provide sanity and serenity. For most of us, displacement can be stressful and scary.

For some, displacement is more than a fear—it’s a reality. Many permanently displaced people walk the streets of our inner cities; some by their own doing, others through the winds of “fate.” In the marketplace, many find themselves displaced from jobs, and all the meaning and fulfillment they received from being productive in the workforce has suddenly disappeared. Throughout history, wars have displaced sons and daughters. Think of all who were displaced by Katrina. Cruel and oppressive regimes have spawned pilgrimages of millions who fled the tyranny of fear, leaving the comforts of their native land to move to unknown places.

Whatever the cause, displacement is an unwelcome and unsettling prospect. It almost always means loss and sacrifice.

That’s what strikes me about the wonder of what happened at Christmas. In order to rescue us from this fallen place, Jesus became a displaced person. He relinquished the privilege of reigning as Creator and King in order to incarcerate Himself in the body of a child. He spent 33 years walking on this planet rejected by His own, scoffed by His family, misunderstood by both political and religious leaders, and ultimately crucified. Why would He have voluntarily and so dramatically displaced Himself from the grandeur of His glory and all the marvelous perks of paradise to subject Himself to that?!

Some of us might willingly be displaced as an act of sacrifice if the cause were great enough. That’s why some leave family and friends to go to war. But, as Paul notes in Romans 5:7, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” Which makes the next verse all the more incredible. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8).

The stunning point of Christmas is that God considered my needs and the worth of my relationship to Him to be sufficient cause to endure the trials of displacement. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the apostle Paul wrote, “that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus displaced Himself to guarantee a permanent place where eternally I can be secure, safe, and satisfied without any fear of ever being displaced. I find it interesting that what I am longing for here can only be realized there. Thanks be to God, my permanent address is already assigned to me and, if you know Christ as Savior, so is yours.

Let’s not miss the wonder of what really happened at Christmas. Jesus Christ was the most significantly displaced person in history—and He did it willingly so that permanent displacement would never be our fear. What amazing love!

“Not by Might nor by Power”

By Oswald Chambers

 December 3, 2017

If in preaching the gospel you substitute your knowledge of the way of salvation for confidence in the power of the gospel, you hinder people from getting to reality. Take care to see while you proclaim your knowledge of the way of salvation, that you yourself are rooted and grounded by faith in God. Never rely on the clearness of your presentation, but as you give your explanation make sure that you are relying on the Holy Spirit. Rely on the certainty of God’s redemptive power, and He will create His own life in people.

Once you are rooted in reality, nothing can shake you. If your faith is in experiences, anything that happens is likely to upset that faith. But nothing can ever change God or the reality of redemption. Base your faith on that, and you are as eternally secure as God Himself. Once you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never be moved again. That is the meaning of sanctification. God disapproves of our human efforts to cling to the concept that sanctification is merely an experience, while forgetting that even our sanctification must also be sanctified (see John 17:19). I must deliberately give my sanctified life to God for His service, so that He can use me as His hands and His feet.

Strength For Committed Believers

The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9
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Food is meant to give us strength. God gives strength to all who are committed to HIm.
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Ham and Eggs

Ham and Eggs

The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

In the fable of the chicken and the pig, the two animals discuss opening a restaurant together. As they plan their menu, the chicken suggests they serve ham and eggs. The pig swiftly objects saying, “No thanks. I’d be committed, but you would only be involved.”

Although the pig didn’t care to put himself on the platter, his understanding of commitment is instructive to me as I learn to better follow God with my whole heart.

To protect his kingdom, Asa, king of Judah, sought to break up a treaty between the kings of Israel and Aram. To accomplish this, he sent personal treasure along with “silver and gold out of the treasuries of the Lord’s temple” to secure favor with Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram (2 Chron. 16:2). Ben-Hadad agreed and their joint forces repelled Israel.

But God’s prophet Hanani called Asa foolish for relying on human help instead of God who had delivered other enemies into their hands. Hanani asserted, “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (v. 9).

As we face our own battles and challenges, let’s remember that God is our best ally. He strengthens us when we’re willing to “serve up” a whole-hearted commitment to Him.

Lord, I want to rely on You more fully. Sometimes I see only what is around me. Please help me to look up and to trust You more.

When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time. Oswald Chambers

 

Christian Perfection

By Oswald Chambers

 Christian Perfection

It is a trap to presume that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do— God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself. The emphasis of holiness movements tends to be that God is producing specimens of holiness to put in His museum. If you accept this concept of personal holiness, your life’s determined purpose will not be for God, but for what you call the evidence of God in your life. How can we say, “It could never be God’s will for me to be sick”? If it was God’s will to bruise His own Son (Isaiah 53:10), why shouldn’t He bruise you? What shines forth and reveals God in your life is not your relative consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your genuine, living relationship with Jesus Christ, and your unrestrained devotion to Him whether you are well or sick.

Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship with God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life. When you obey the call of Jesus Christ, the first thing that hits you is the pointlessness of the things you have to do. The next thought that strikes you is that other people seem to be living perfectly consistent lives. Such lives may leave you with the idea that God is unnecessary— that through your own human effort and devotion you can attain God’s standard for your life. In a fallen world this can never be done. I am called to live in such a perfect relationship with God that my life produces a yearning for God in the lives of others, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God’s purpose is not to perfect me to make me a trophy in His showcase; He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He wants.

 

I Must Confess

From: CBN, and Gene Markland, Author

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How many times have we heard that confession is good for the soul? One of the first scriptures we are taught as new Christians is the Apostle John’s admonition,

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9NLT).

Virtually every religion urges confession of sin by one method or another. Even within the Christian Church, there are differences in methods and rituals. The important thing to remember is to open our self to God and not hold back.

I am reminded of the old hymn written by Elisha Hoffman in 1893, I Must Tell Jesus. One verse says: “I must tell Jesus all of my troubles, He is a kind, compassionate friend; If I but ask Him He will deliver, Make of my troubles quickly an end.”

Elisha Hoffman told how he came to write the hymn:

“During a pastorate in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, there was a woman to whom God permitted many visitations of sorrow and affliction. Coming to her home one day, I found her much discouraged. She unburdened her heart, concluding with the question, ‘Brother Hoffman, what shall I do? What shall I do?’ I quoted from the word, then added, ‘You cannot do better than to take all of your sorrows to Jesus. You must tell Jesus.’

For a moment she seemed lost in meditation. Then her eyes lighted as she exclaimed, ‘Yes, I must tell Jesus.’ As I left her home I had a vision of that joy-illuminated face … and I heard all along my pathway the echo, ‘I must tell Jesus … I must tell Jesus.'”

As Pastor Hoffman explained, this dear sister didn’t hold back. Confession goes beyond seeking forgiveness for our sins. Confession is a way of drawing close to God and developing an intimate personal relationship by sharing the private side of our lives with Him. If we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we do wrong. People struggle with secrets, and whether it is sin or thoughts of sin, the Lord Jesus welcomes our confession.

We should share our heart with Him, our whole heart. Just lay it out! He knows it all anyway, and if there is sin, He’ll forgive us. Or if we struggle with sin, He’ll help us to overcome it. Living the Christian life is a journey, not an arrival. Every step of the journey brings us closer to conforming to the image of Christ.

Holding back from Him stunts our spiritual growth. Letting go and confessing to God releases us into the vastness of His forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Give it up! We must forget about our pride and draw close to Him. We have His promise that when we draw close to Him, He will draw close to us.

The Bible also tells us to encourage ourselves in the Lord. Jesus said, “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours” (Mark 11:23-24 NLT). We can experience the power of the Word of God by confessing it into our lives.

Confess and receive the promises of God. We should remind ourselves that the Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13NLT).

And, “It is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:10 NLT). We should keep short accounts with God by confessing our sins, confessing our innermost thoughts, and confessing His word into our life.

I am still a work in progress myself … I must confess.

The Last Will Be First

The Last Will Be First
Read: Mark 9:33–37 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 40–41; 2 Peter 3

Those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:12

Recently I was among the last in line to board a large passenger jet with unassigned seating. I located a middle seat beside the wing, but the only spot for my bag was the overhead compartment by the very last row. This meant I had to wait for everyone to leave before I could go back and retrieve it.

I laughed as I settled into my seat and a thought occurred to me that seemed to be from the Lord: “It really won’t hurt you to wait. It will actually do you good.” So I resolved to enjoy the extra time, helping other passengers lower their luggage after we landed and assisting a flight attendant with cleaning. By the time I was able to retrieve my bag, I laughed again when someone thought I worked for the airline.

That day’s experience made me ponder Jesus’s words to His disciples: “Anyone who wants to be first, must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

I waited because I had to, but in Jesus’s “upside down” kingdom, there’s a place of honor for those who voluntarily set themselves aside to attend to others’ needs.

Jesus came into our hurried, me-first world not “to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). We serve Him best by serving others. The lower we bend, the closer we are to Him.

Loving Lord, help me to follow You into the needs of others and serve You there.

Jesus’s kingdom is upside-down.

 

Life from the Barren Places

From: Our Daily Journey

Life from the Barren Places

Read:

Luke 1:1-17
[Zechariah and Elizabeth] had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old (Luke 1:7).

My wife and I have numerous friends who’ve struggled to have a baby. They’ve endured multiple trips to doctors, different kinds of infertility procedures, and the grief of losing children to miscarriages. It’s obvious how painful this has been for them—how much it’s filled them with doubts about themselves and about the God who promises to care for us.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were familiar with similar sorrow. Scripture tells us that even though Zechariah and Elizabeth “were righteous in God’s eyes” and were “careful to obey all the Lord’s commandments and regulations,” they “had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive” (Luke 1:7). Sometimes we mistakenly believe our troubles are self-inflicted, the result of some character flaw or disobedience to God. But this good couple had been living as best they could and still . . . no children.

Luke adds an extra detail to make certain we know how desperate the situation was: “They were both very old” (Luke 1:7). They were well past the age when parents bear children, past the age when any sensible person would hold on to any hope. And yet, God promised a son. “God has heard your prayer,” the angel said (Luke 1:13).

What prayers are you desperate for God to hear? For a shattered relationship? A family on the brink?

Although not every disappointment or sadness receives the full healing and restoration we long for in this lifetime, God does promise that at the end of the story He will trample every kind of death. In fact, Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son (John the Baptist) arrived as the herald to God’s weary people (and to us), announcing that life was arriving in Jesus. His new life sprouts from our barren places.

 

Chrystal Evans Hurst December 1, 2017
The Danger of a Small Fire
CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

From: Crosswalk.com

“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” James 3:5 (NKJV)

We’d enjoyed a great holiday weekend — a great time with family, lots of time to fellowship and awesome food. I seasoned the meat. My husband grilled. The best part? Cooking over the coals outside meant no cleanup for me!

Early the next morning, my husband took out the trash. He gathered the dark rocks from the night before, threw them in a black plastic bag and put them out with the rest of the trash. He left for work, and I turned my focus to the business of starting yet another day of work, managing the home and school with the kids.

A couple hours later, my doorbell rang. My neighbor stopped by to tell me my trash can was smoking. I looked outside to check. She was right. There was a thin wisp of smoke rising. I called my husband to ask him if I should be concerned. He assured me all would be fine. I went back to focusing on my work and home and kids.

Not too long after, another neighbor knocked on the door and told me the same thing. I looked at the trash can again. Things looked the same. I reassured the concerned neighbor that my husband wasn’t worried, and the small cloud hovering over the container hadn’t changed much as the morning progressed.

An hour later, when one of my boys asked if I knew about the smoke in the front of our house, I flippantly reassured him that I did. He urged me to look again because the smoke was getting bigger.

I walked through my front door expecting to see the same dainty trail of smoke that I’d noticed all morning. Instead, I walked outside to find smoke billowing into the air. I made my way closer to the can to peer inside and was met with the sight of flames licking up and out of the container.

Fire!

I ran inside to grab my cell phone, call my husband and grab a bucket of water. By the time I made it back outside, the trash can was melting.

And the flames were much bigger than before.

I called the fire department.

Can I just say that I felt like an idiot, watching the big ol’ firetruck pull up in front of my house? In no time flat, they put out the fire and talked to me and my husband, who’d come home from work, about making sure coals are cool before disposing of them.

Such a small thing can cause a big problem.

James 3:5 reminds us that while our tongue is small, it can cause major damage if it’s not attended to or kept in check. “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!”

It’s tempting to think how we use our tongues is inconsequential. Our words may not appear to do much damage, so we aren’t more careful. We put our words into the world when we should hold our tongue and let our hearts or emotions cool down first. We ignore all indicators that tell us we might be setting something (or someone) on fire.

And when people try to tell us that we’ve hurt or offended them with our words or that our speech is not helpful, we hear them, but move on, unaware or indifferent to the smoldering danger that can destroy someone close to us.

I’m reminded today that my words have power. The power to heal and the power to hurt. Words are no small thing. May I encourage you to be careful how you use your tongue? Let’s choose blessing over cursing. Help over hurt. And choose to wait rather than rush the wrong words into the world.

Dear God, help me use my tongue in a way that honors You. I don’t want this small part of my body to cause damage in my own or in others’ lives. Help me be aware of the power of my tongue and use it to honor others and glorify You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Persisting In Doing Good

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise (Hebrews 10:23).
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Persisting in Doing Good

From: Our Daily Journey

Persisting in Doing Good

Read:

Hebrews 10:19-25
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise (Hebrews 10:23).

When people were engaged in a political spat on my friend’s Facebook page, my friend decided to turn the debate into something uplifting by suggesting that everyone who commented make a donation to the Uganda-based ministry I direct. What began as a contentious debate transformed into a collective act of generosity. In the process, hearts softened and—though political differences remained—those involved began speaking more kindly to one another.

In essence, my friend saw an opportunity to motivate others to love and acts of kindness, as encouraged in Hebrews 10:24. While his prompting produced positive results, as we take a closer look at Hebrews 10 we find the author was offering an even deeper exhortation to believers in Jesus.

Not only did he encourage the Hebrews to loving service (Hebrews 10:24), he also called them to persevere in their faith and to enter into a deeper relationship with the Savior. With confidence that they’d been cleansed of their sins by “the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19), the author explained that believers have received a new and living way to enter into worship and intimacy with God (Hebrews 10:20-22).

This relationship was the foundation for their behavior toward others. Before they could serve others, they were encouraged to “go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him” (Hebrews 10:22).

Jesus alone can cleanse us from a guilty conscience so we can freely serve others. No matter what’s happening in our world and what’s being contested in the public square, as we draw near to God, He will help us encourage one another in doing good for Him.

“By the Grace of God I Am What I Am”

By Oswald Chambers

 

The way we continually talk about our own inabilities is an insult to our Creator. To complain over our incompetence is to accuse God falsely of having overlooked us. Get into the habit of examining from God’s perspective those things that sound so humble to men. You will be amazed at how unbelievably inappropriate and disrespectful they are to Him. We say things such as, “Oh, I shouldn’t claim to be sanctified; I’m not a saint.” But to say that before God means, “No, Lord, it is impossible for You to save and sanctify me; there are opportunities I have not had and so many imperfections in my brain and body; no, Lord, it isn’t possible.” That may sound wonderfully humble to others, but before God it is an attitude of defiance.

Conversely, the things that sound humble before God may sound exactly the opposite to people. To say, “Thank God, I know I am saved and sanctified,” is in God’s eyes the purest expression of humility. It means you have so completely surrendered yourself to God that you know He is true. Never worry about whether what you say sounds humble before others or not. But always be humble before God, and allow Him to be your all in all.

There is only one relationship that really matters, and that is your personal relationship to your personal Redeemer and Lord. If you maintain that at all costs, letting everything else go, God will fulfill His purpose through your life. One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purposes, and yours may be that life.

 

Glynnis Whitwer November 30, 2017
Behold: A New Tradition for Christmas
ASHERITAH CIUCIU

From: Crosswalk.com

“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” John 1:29 (ESV)

“Perfect,” said the sweet little voice as she piped purple frosting and sprinkled glitter.

My young daughter was helping me put on the finishing touches for a family party the next day.

I had created a Pinterest board for inspiration but made the mistake of showing it to my little girl. She was instantly hooked, scrolling through the photos and studying them as closely as a marine biologist studies a rare coral species.

She scrolled the board during car rides and before bedtime; she searched for items to replicate pins; she regaled us with her enthusiasm over the most minute details.

She was obsessed.

The night before our party, she helped me decorate the table and make the appetizers, regularly consulting the inspirational board for guidance.

“Perfect,” she declared as she adjusted the napkins under the silverware.

“Perfect,” she sighed as she stepped back to admire the table, decked out in partyware.

“Not perfect,” she harumphed, walking into the living room strewn with toys and clothes. “Mama, this room is not perfect. Look!”

And I looked. It was nothing like the Pinterest-perfect images. We cleaned it up that night, but disappointment lingered — it failed to live up to the ideal my daughter had envisioned.

Because what you behold is what will take hold of you. We know this instinctively, but sometimes we can forget, especially during the busy Christmas season.

The Bible tells us about the importance of this very principle. When Jesus first walked onto the scene, John the Baptist introduced Him by saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b).

John wanted people to stop what they were doing to gaze at Jesus. In fact, the surrounding context in John 1:29-34 features a variation of the word “see” four times in just six verses. “Look,” John was saying. “See what’s in front of you.”

Behold.

Behold. It’s a word we don’t use very often, but one that’s rich with meaning. Behold means to see or observe, gaze at, contemplate.

We’re always beholding, even if we’re not aware of it.

We behold the shiny purses and glittering things in storefronts, believing somehow, “This will make me happy.”

We behold the number on the scale when holiday bites catch up with our waistline, groaning, “This will ruin me.”

We behold the Christmas family photo we posted, hoping to get more likes than her photo did, whispering, “This will validate me.”

Behold. Look at the wrong things, and they determine your life’s direction. But … train your gaze on the right things, and they’ll transform your heart’s affections. Because when you stop to behold Jesus, His beauty and majesty will captivate you.

Jesus’ arrival and mission consumed John — it was all he ever talked about. John declared, “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34, ESV). Because what you behold is what will take hold of you.

What things captivate us during the holiday season?

We’re bombarded by shiny things screaming for our attention. Christmas catalogs. Black Friday “deals.” Pinterest-ready cookie platters. Swoon-worthy party dresses. These and so much more fill our newsfeeds, our to-do lists, our conversations.

If we’re not careful, we can get so wrapped up in the external preparations for Christmas that we forget to unwrap the reality of Christmas.

It’s Jesus.

Behold.

The Lamb of God. The One who came to take away the sins of the world that we may find forgiveness and eternal life with God.

This Christmas pause to reflect: What’s taken a hold of you? Most likely, it’s the things you behold.

But take heart — it’s not too late to make a new tradition this holiday season, to take time each day to stop the holiday preparation frenzy and prepare your heart to celebrate Jesus.

Behold Him. Gaze upon His beauty. Rest in His presence. And share with others the things you discover about Him.

This Christmas season may we become women who behold Jesus.

Father God, open my eyes to behold Jesus in all His glory. May I stop being consumed with the holiday frenzy and become more captivated with You and the beauty of Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Confusion And Waiting

Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else? (Matthew 11:3).
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 Confusion & Waiting

From: Our Daily Journey

Confusion & Waiting

Read:

Matthew 11:1-11
Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else? (Matthew 11:3).

The novelist Flannery O’Connor once referred to faith as a way of walking in darkness, a determined insistence on moving forward even when we’re uncertain what lies ahead. It’s an insight that resonates with the experience of John the Baptist, who found himself in a situation in which the challenges he faced threatened to steal his faith and hope.

Shackled in a dingy cell, John, weary and disillusioned, sent messengers to Jesus to pose a vital question: “Are you the Messiah . . . or should we keep looking?” (Matthew 11:3). After proclaiming Jesus as the One sent from God, things had not gone as John had expected.

I imagine a flood of dark thoughts overwhelming John. I thought you were the one, Jesus. Why aren’t you doing what the Messiah is supposed to do? Why are we sitting here waiting again? Did I believe a lie?

Does it encourage you to know that someone so faithful, who knew the Scriptures and had such bold faith, who had even baptized Jesus, still had such fundamental doubts?

I love how Jesus didn’t unleash a theological lecture or scold the messengers for their questions. Instead, He told them to tell John what they’d seen: ”The blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5). Jesus told them to tell John they’d seen Him doing the very things the prophet Isaiah had promised God would do when He arrived (Isaiah 35:1-661:1-7).

So, no, John hadn’t believed a lie; God had indeed arrived.

Like John, we experience much waiting and much confusion. But we keep watching; we move into and through our uncertainty. We keep bringing our doubts and our hopes to Jesus—the One who will not fail us.

 

Grace Helped Me Forgive and Forget

From: CBN, and Kathy Carlton Willis, Author

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Have you ever experienced the heartache of betrayal—the loneliness of rejection? If you’ve ever had a hurt heart, you know how precious the pursuit of grace can be. I recently faced yet another zinger—a woman who zapped me because she thought she had to tell me a tidbit to flaunt something, knowing it would pick at a wound and upset me. As I asked God to show me what I was to learn from it, God whispered to me, “Grace, child. I want you to learn grace.”

He reminded me of the time He gave me an abundance of grace when there was no human possibility for working up self-sourced forgiveness and love. A deacon joined in a campaign to try to rid the church of us—the agenda was to vote out my husband as pastor. We learned they were known as the “preacher-eating church” in town because of their short turnaround time with pastors. At that point, Russ had been there the second longest of any pastor in their 50-year history. It was our time to go! But we were just getting started in our ministry there and had planned to be there for the long haul.

That entire experience required a lot of grace, more grace than I had at the time. Not that grace wasn’t available to me—God always provides an abundance of grace for the circumstances He allows us to face. I’m certain in my pain I messed up plenty, all on my own. But there’s one thing that I managed to get right, and that’s why I know it was a God thing. No way could this mere mortal have orchestrated it!

The deacon and his family owned a company in town and had a fleet of easily recognized vehicles. One day not long after we were voted out of the church, we drove by the hospital and saw one of their trucks in the parking lot. My first inclination was to pray. My second thought was, “Do they need someone to hold their hands? Who do they turn to in their time of medical need when they are in between pastors?” I voiced my concerns, and Russ explained the truck was there because the company was contracted to do work at the hospital—not because of an emergency or health problem.

Whew! I was so relieved. And then it hit me. That’s what grace feels like in an everyday situation. I was genuinely concerned for them. I loved them despite what they had done to us. I prayed for them. I cared. I’m not saying that as a brag on self but as a brag on God—and more specifically on God’s grace. It was a beautiful heart transaction—He had deposited into my spiritual checking account just what I needed for the occasion. No longer did I feel like that account was depleted. It didn’t have insufficient funds. There was an abundance of grace—more than enough for the situation.

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace (1 Peter 1:2 NLT).

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord (2 Peter 1:2 NLT).

The Supremacy of Jesus Christ

November 29 

By Oswald Chambers

 The Supremacy of Jesus Christ

The holiness movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them. There is nothing about them that needs the death of Jesus Christ. All that is required is a pious atmosphere, prayer, and devotion. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous. It did not cost the sufferings of God, nor is it stained with “the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:11). It is not marked or sealed by the Holy Spirit as being genuine, and it has no visual sign that causes people to exclaim with awe and wonder, “That is the work of God Almighty!” Yet the New Testament is about the work of God and nothing else.

The New Testament example of the Christian experience is that of a personal, passionate devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ. Every other kind of so-called Christian experience is detached from the Person of Jesus. There is no regeneration— no being born again into the kingdom in which Christ lives and reigns supreme. There is only the idea that He is our pattern. In the New Testament Jesus Christ is the Savior long before He is the pattern. Today He is being portrayed as the figurehead of a religion— a mere example. He is that, but He is infinitely more. He is salvation itself; He is the gospel of God!

Jesus said, “…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come,…He will glorify Me…” (John 16:13-14). When I commit myself to the revealed truth of the New Testament, I receive from God the gift of the Holy Spirit, who then begins interpreting to me what Jesus did. The Spirit of God does in me internally all that Jesus Christ did for me externally.

Lost

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10
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Lost

From: Get More Strength

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. A highly anticipated Christmas shopping trip to the mall with our kids and my parents took a dramatic turn for the worst as we suddenly realized that Matt, our five-year old, was nowhere to be found. With fears of kidnapping racing through our minds, we split up to search the mall for Matt. My assignment was the parking lot. In the grip of anxiety I made my way through the fresh fallen snow yelling, “Matt, Matt!” I have to tell you that I felt a little foolish. But being embarrassed by hollering in a parking lot was overshadowed by fears for my son and my need to find him.

But, after covering the territory, there was no sign of Matt. More concerned than ever, I went back into the mall to see if anyone else had spotted him. I was hoping beyond hope that either Martie or my mom had found him, but their search had turned up empty as well. Our sense of desperation was hitting new levels when my dad walked around the corner with Matt in hand. Overwhelmed with relief, we asked, “Hey, Dad, where did you find him?”

“At the candy counter,” he replied. “Little Matt had his hands behind his back and his eyes were right up at the level of the candy trays.” He didn’t even realize that he was lost! Nor did he have a clue about the kind of danger he was in.

Later I found myself reflecting on the experience and thinking that Matt reminded me of a lot of people who are without Christ as their Savior. Lost in the candy world of their lives, they have no idea of how lost they are or of the eternal danger they are in.

Today’s Scripture passage is actually the conclusion of the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. As a tax collector, Zacchaeus had immersed himself in the pursuit of possessions, prosperity, and power. By the world’s standards he was doing okay. Sure, he wasn’t terribly well liked, but he had a sense of purpose, was achieving his goals, and thought he had life pretty well figured out. But, entranced by the “candy” of his own gain, he was flat out lost.

Jesus searched him out! Going out of the way to call him down from his perch in a sycamore tree, Jesus invaded his life, invited Himself over for dinner, and rescued Zacchaeus from the danger of his self-indulgent, selfish, sinful life. When the Pharisees grumbled about Jesus spending time with a tax-collector, Jesus reminded them that His purpose on earth was “to seek and to save what was lost.”

That’s where you and I are before Christ finds us and rescues us. Our preoccupation with the stuff of this world—money, power, sex, comfort, and ease—numbs us to the very real dangers of life without Christ. Without Him we are dangerously lost—and don’t even know it.

Thankfully, a gracious, compassionate God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pursue us, find us, and rescue us. That’s the reality of what we celebrate at Christmastime. And, don’t forget, once we are safely His, He sends us to search for others who are lost in “candy” world. So let’s steer their hearts away from the stuff of this world and help them find the real joy of Christmas.

 

Glynnis Whitwer November 28, 2017
Someone Desperately Needs You Today
GLYNNIS WHITWER

From: Crosswalk.com

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

When my children were small, I distinctly remember thinking: I wish everybody didn’t need me so much.

As a mom of a baby, toddler and preschooler, every waking moment was filled with someone needing something. My children needed me to love them, feed them, change them, keep them safe, teach them, play with them and so much more. The demands left me grateful for the incredible blessings, but exhausted.

But then, things changed. The years skipped past, and now I find myself in a very different situation.

No one needs me like they once did.

It’s not just my kids (now grown), but we’re in a different church where I haven’t found my place. And I wonder, Does anyone need what I have to offer any more?

Recently, I had a little pity party about that. I was pulling weeds, feeling quite alone and cried out to the Lord about my thoughts. As tears streamed, the Lord spoke to my heart very tenderly. He showed me people do need me. In fact, they need me quite desperately.

First, my adult children still need me; it’s just different. They need me to cheer them on, not coach them like I used to.

My husband needs me to be his cheerleader, too.

My unsaved family needs to know the love of God, lived out through me.

Actually, everyone in my extended family needs love shown in practical ways.

My friends and co-workers, especially those going through hard times, need encouragement and support.

And then there are people I don’t know personally, but who read our devotions or First 5 teachings through Proverbs 31 Ministries. They desperately need to know God loves them. They need to know their life matters.

There are the people I interact with on a daily basis, and there are the people I may never meet. There are women around the world who need to know they are not forgotten.

This insight changed my heart. It took my eyes off myself and helped me place them where God wanted them all along: on others.

We read a very similar directive from the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:11“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

I wonder how many others might need encouragement today. Perhaps my single “sisters” wonder who needs their love. Perhaps my older sisters might wonder if they have anything left to give. Perhaps my sisters suffering from disability or illness feel unnecessary or they’re lacking value. Perhaps my sisters in faraway countries question if they were born in the wrong place to make a difference.

May I speak truth to your heart? Someone desperately needs you today!

They need you to go to their front door with a hug (and coffee), send a note, make a call, text, comment on social media. Some need to hear the life-saving good news of Jesus. An affirming word at work. Some need to be reminded they have value, and they have a profound purpose. Some need to be encouraged and prayed over and loved. Everyone needs to be treated kindly and with respect.

No matter our age or stage of life, we are all needed in Jesus’ kingdom. We need each other.

What kind of revolution could we start if we chose to think of ourselves as desperately needed? Could we open our eyes to the great needs around us and be representatives of Jesus to those others?

Would you join me today in looking at life differently? Would you join me in starting a revolution of Jesus’ love?

Lord, thank You for loving me first. You loved me when I had nothing to offer. As Your love fills me up, help me see others through Your eyes and be Your hands and feet in this world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Swipe Up

From: CBN, and Dr. Pam Morrison, author

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“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith …” Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV

We are in the age of the cell phone. Many people have them, and while they are wonderful, they can also be challenging to figure out.

Lately, I have had the problem of my battery wearing down swiftly. The phone battery can be charged up 100% first thing in the morning and then be down to 40-50% within an hour or two.  It is a “smartphone” so I know it is busy doing many things, but the battery drain has perplexed me.

I did what many of us do with challenges – I went to the internet to find an article on “cell phone battery drains too fast” and found a wonderful blog article by a very bright man (David Payette) who used to work for the company that makes my phone. Suggestion after suggestion revealed things I knew nothing about but I tried each remedy he named (and hoped I would remember it should I want to undo it!)

He came to a final point and said, “Do you know your apps may not actually be closed, even when you think you have closed them? They may still be running in the background without you knowing it and be a strong source of battery drainage.”

Wow! I wondered how you close an app more perfectly than just closing it. He said I needed to find the screen showing my last use of the app and “swipe up.” I did as he said and found several app screens. One by one, I swiped them upward brushing them off the phone screen, which he instructed would fully close them.

Later in the day, I was walking and felt the Holy Spirit draw this phone experience to mind and use it as a means to teach me. “You know,” He said, “When you feel you cannot hear Me or fully focus on Me, when you have trouble sleeping restfully at night, you are like your phone.”

I began to reflect on this simple thought and realized what the Spirit was teaching me – my preoccupation with worries about various things, my constant thoughts about troubles (when that happens), is similar to having a lot of open apps. My battery, that is my heart, zeal, energy, and hope, all get drained because heavy thoughts are all running in the background of my mind. I am trying to solve my problems on my own in those moments. I am focused on the negative and not on the Lord.

“Aha! Thank you, dear Spirit,” I thought to myself. I need to swipe my apps upward, that is I need to “cast all these cares upon Him because He cares for me.” 1 Peter 5:7NIV

The difficulties of life and our thoughts about them can become something we obsess about. In this state of mind, we run down, become weakened and weary. The writer of Hebrews said we should “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” And the writer’s advice was to accomplish this by “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV

In other words, it’s renewed faith that puts our eyes on Jesus. The beauty of this is that Jesus is the author (the giver) of faith and He perfects (grows it up) in us.  Our only task is to put our eyes on Him and take them off the troubles.  Putting our eyes on Him comes from prayer, praise and worship, community life in a good church, reading of the Word – and doing that all simply as His child.

Knowing Better

 If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely.  Romans 2: 12
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“I know I shouldn’t but I text everyday.” A lady told a group of friends. It only takes a second for disaster to happen. Don’t be the one to say, “I knew better than to text and drive.”  Whatever it may be Make Good Decisions.
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Knowing Better

From: Our Daily Bread

Knowing Better

When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 2 Kings 22:11

When we brought our adoptive son home from overseas, I was eager to shower him with love and provide what he had lacked over the preceding months, especially quality food, since he had a nutritional deficit. But despite our best efforts, including consulting specialists, he grew very little. After nearly three years, we learned he had some severe food intolerances. After removing those items from his diet, he grew five inches in just a few months. While I grieved at how long I’d unwittingly fed him foods that impaired his growth, I rejoiced at this surge in his health!

I suspect Josiah felt similarly when the Book of the Law was discovered after having been lost in the temple for years. Just as I grieved having unintentionally hindered my son’s growth, Josiah grieved having ignorantly missed God’s fullest and best intentions for His people (2 Kings 22:11). Although he is commended for doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord (v. 2), he learned better how to honor God after finding the Law. With his newfound knowledge, he led the people to worship again as God had instructed them (23:22–23).

As we learn through the Bible how to honor Him, we may grieve the ways we’ve fallen short of God’s will for us. Yet we can be comforted that He heals and restores us, and leads us gently into deeper understanding.

Thank You, God, for showing me how to live in a way that pleases You. I’m sorry for the ways I’ve not done that in the past. Help me to honor and obey You now.

God gives us a new start.

Restoration’s Promise

From: Our Daily Journey

Restoration’s Promise

Read:

Nahum 2:1-13
Even though the destroyer has destroyed Judah, the Lord will restore its honor. Israel’s vine has been stripped of branches, but he will restore its splendor (Nahum 2:2).

One day I had a strong desire to pray for a neighbor with whom I had a distant, broken relationship. I prayed, Jesus, if you want me to talk with him, have him come up to the front of his house in the next few minutes (he was in his backyard). Just thirty seconds later he came to the front of the house where we talked for the next thirty minutes! The joy of restoration now marks our growing friendship.

In Nahum’s day, the people of Judah were in a difficult “relationship” with a superpower named Assyria who was threatening to overpower them. Having already conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Assyrians plucked the king of Judah from Jerusalem and took him to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:10-11). This flexing of their military muscles made the people of Judah cower in fear.

But God gave Nahum a message of hope and future restoration: “Even though the destroyer has destroyed Judah, the Lord will restore its honor. Israel’s vine has been stripped of branches, but he will restore its splendor” (Nahum 2:2). The fruitfulness of a “vine” symbolized God’s blessing of His people (Isaiah 27:2-6). Though the vine had been “stripped” as He disciplined them, He also let them know that He would fight for and one day restore the nation. The “Lord of Heaven’s Armies” was with them (Nahum 2:13).

If you’re a believer in Jesus, God is with you. In the difficulties of this life—broken relationships, battles with sin, painful experiences—remember what Paul once wrote: “Christ lives within you” and the “Spirit gives you life” (Romans 8:10)—new creational life.

Today, seek to be part of His restorative work on earth—a work that will one day culminate with Him “making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).

 

Lauren Oquist November 27, 2017
Can I Be a Proverbs 31 Woman if I’m Single?
LAUREN OQUISTFrom: Crosswalk.com

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

When I accepted a position working for Proverbs 31 Ministries, I felt like a hypocrite.

In no way did I consider myself a “Proverbs 31 Woman.”

For the majority of my life, this “Wife of Noble Character” was an old-fashioned concept. To me, it was an impossible standard. A portion of Scripture I didn’t care to read, much less apply.

Even if I tried, how could I measure up? Not just how she wakes up before the sun rises, makes her own clothes and doesn’t eat carbs (if you count “the bread of idleness”). She’s married. Taking care of her kids. Running a household.

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12, NIV).

And here I am, a single 20-something, living in an apartment. I don’t even have a boyfriend, much less a husband and kids.

Does that mean I’m disqualified from this lofty standard of womanhood?

Maybe you’re single, too. Or married, and you still feel like you can’t measure up.

It’s easy to believe we can only become our best selves once we have our lives “together.”

For some of us, it’s getting married. For others, it’s having a house with a well-behaved family and a chocolate lab who never has accidents in the house. We may know in our mind a husband and kids don’t complete us, but our heart tells a different story.

However, if you read Proverbs 31 closely, none of the skills she has depend on her husband or kids. She has these skills because she exercises wisdomin everything she does.

The standards for a “virtuous wife” are the same standards for a virtuous woman — single or married. Here are a few character traits we see in Proverbs 31:10-31:

  1. Trustworthy (v. 11)
  2. A hard worker (v. 13,17, 27)
  3. Resourceful (v. 14,19, 22, 24)
  4. Makes good use of her time (v. 15,18)
  5. Good with money (v. 16)
  6. Generous (v. 20)
  7. She thinks ahead (v. 21)
  8. And, of course, she’s wise (v. 25)

It’s still overwhelming to look at this list. I don’t know if there’s one thing here I can say with confidence I’ve mastered.

But one of the most important things to remember is it’s not a prescription for us to fulfill, but a testimony of how God shapes us into His image. Not one woman in the Bible was perfect: Rahab and Mary Magdalene were prostitutes, Ruth was a widow from a pagan nation, the woman at the well was divorced five times, Mary was too young, Elizabeth was too old …

So what did they all have in common?

Proverbs 31:30 says: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

In Proverbs 1:7a, we find a similar declaration, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (NIV).

To fear the Lord is to feel the weight of His holiness as you love and obey Him. Think of the fear a child has of disappointing her parent — not because she’s scared of getting punished, but because she doesn’t want to displease someone she loves and respects.

This is what will characterize us as a “Proverbs 31 Woman”: our fear of the Lord. Our genuine desire, from the core of who we are, to please Him.

If I listed every character trait I aspire to have, I’d wind up with pages and pages. But without the fear of the Lord, none of these aspirations amount to anything. Why?

Because every good thing in my life will be a direct result of my relationship with God.

Proverbs 31 is not a job description for women, nor is it a shopping list for men. It’s an example of the abundance God gives us over time as we grow to know and love Him more. And as a single woman, it’s a good reminder that a husband and kids are not a prerequisite to receive all God has for me in this life.

Dear God, thank You for all Your blessings. There is so much I take for granted because I’m so busy wishing I had more. But You are more than enough. Thank You for all of the gifts and talents You’ve given me. I ask that You’d give me direction in using them for Your glory regardless of my circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God Knows

The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 
Exodus 3:7
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God Knows

From: Our Daily Bread

God Knows
Read: Matthew 6:1–4 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 27–29; 1 Peter 3

Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:4

When Denise met a hurting young woman in her church, her heart went out to her and she decided to see if she could help. Every week she spent time counseling her and praying with her. Denise became her mentor. However, some church leaders didn’t notice Denise’s efforts and decided to assign a church staff member to mentor the woman. No one, they commented, seemed to be taking care of her.

While she was not expecting any credit, Denise couldn’t help but feel a little discouraged. “It’s as if I wasn’t doing anything at all,” she told me.

One day, however, the young woman told Denise how grateful she was for her comfort. Denise felt encouraged. It was as if God was telling her, “I know you’re there for her.” Denise still meets with the woman regularly.

Sometimes, we feel unappreciated when our efforts don’t get recognized. Scripture, however, reminds us that God knows what we’re doing. He sees what others don’t. And it pleases Him when we serve for His sake—not for man’s praise.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus gave us an example by telling us to do our giving “in secret,” so that “your Father, who sees what is done . . . will reward you” (Matt. 6:4). We need not look to others for recognition and praise; we can take heart that God knows when we’re faithful in serving Him and others.

Lord, forgive me for the times when I crave others’ recognition and praise. Help me to serve for Your glory alone.

God sees everything we do for Him.

 

Gentleness and Respect

CBN, and Ken Barnes, author

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But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15 NIV

We must always be ready to defend the Gospel of Christ, but that does not give us the right to be harsh or disrespectful to people with different beliefs than ours.

“He is another one of those Moonies,” I said to myself with disdain. An Asian looking man had approached me in a parking lot and started to tell me what he believed. His literature indicated he was a follower of Sun Myung Moon, who founded the Unification Church, and whose beliefs were not consistent with orthodox Christian doctrine. Most Christians consider this group cultist. I impatiently waited for him to finish his spiel and then I let him have it. I told him in no uncertain terms that he was a part of a cult and I used scriptural proofs to validate my case.

I walked away thinking, “I guess I told him.” I was pretty sure I had defended the Gospel, but for some reason, I had a sense of unrest in my spirit. I pondered why I felt this way and it became apparent that I had not even come close to showing this man gentleness and respect.

I knew what I had to do. I searched the parking lot for this man. As I approached him, he must have been thinking, “Not this guy again.” I simply told him that I had talked to him in a way that Jesus would never have spoken. I asked him to forgive me for my attitude.

In our first encounter, it is interesting that all my theological arguments were like water off of a duck’s back. They are trained to counter these kinds of responses. But in our second interaction, he was visibly shaken. He had no comeback to a little bit of humility.

We should share the truth with people, but our theological truths need to be validated by the love and respect we show them. In my first little diatribe, it was all about me exposing my thoughts and beliefs. In the latter, I brought Jesus into the conversation which always speaks of the worth and value of the individual. I think, just maybe, this man saw past my words and saw my heart.

I learned two things that day. First, God can use our flaws for his good if we are willing to own up to them. Second, Christianity is more readily caught than taught. Yes, we need a proclamation of the good news, but without a corresponding demonstration of it, it becomes mere words.

As the poet, Emerson once said, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” Are we intent on just winning an argument or showing a little gentleness and respect when discussing the claims of the Gospel?

 

The Focal Point of Spiritual Power

By Oswald Chambers

 The Focal Point of Spiritual Power

If you want to know the power of God (that is, the resurrection life of Jesus) in your human flesh, you must dwell on the tragedy of God. Break away from your personal concern over your own spiritual condition, and with a completely open spirit consider the tragedy of God. Instantly the power of God will be in you. “Look to Me…” (Isaiah 45:22). Pay attention to the external Source and the internal power will be there. We lose power because we don’t focus on the right thing. The effect of the Cross is salvation, sanctification, healing, etc., but we are not to preach any of these. We are to preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). The proclaiming of Jesus will do its own work. Concentrate on God’s focal point in your preaching, and even if your listeners seem to pay it no attention, they will never be the same again. If I share my own words, they are of no more importance than your words are to me. But if we share the truth of God with one another, we will encounter it again and again. We have to focus on the great point of spiritual power— the Cross. If we stay in contact with that center of power, its energy is released in our lives. In holiness movements and spiritual experience meetings, the focus tends to be put not on the Cross of Christ but on the effects of the Cross.

The feebleness of the church is being criticized today, and the criticism is justified. One reason for the feebleness is that there has not been this focus on the true center of spiritual power. We have not dwelt enough on the tragedy of Calvary or on the meaning of redemption.

 

Focus On Grace

John 21:15-17
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time (John 21:17).
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Focus on Grace

Focus on Grace

Read:

John 21:15-17
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time (John 21:17).

A friend once asked me, “You’re never going to stop kicking yourself for that, are you?” He was referencing a relational fallout with a mutual friend that was largely my fault.

My gut instinct was to say, “Probably not!” That reaction is part of a lifelong coping mechanism called “sabotaging” that I sometimes use to “protect” myself. But it neverhelps! It only ends up hurting others and destroying what I most want and need.

So I looked my friend squarely in the eye and said, “I sure hope so!” It was a kinder, more hopeful response that signaled the presence of grace and a desire for a restored relationship with my estranged friend.

Peter knew what it was like to “kick himself” over hurting someone. Luke’s gospel account says that Peter ran off “weeping bitterly” after realizing he had denied knowing Jesus three times the night of His arrest (Luke 22:62).

Later, as the two met in a setting similar to the one where Jesus originally called Peter to follow Him (Luke 5:1-11), Jesus knew they had some unfinished business to address. Three times Christ asked him, “Do you love me?”—taking Peter back to those three shameful moments when he let Jesus down (John 21:15-17). He didn’t do this to rub Peter’s nose in his festering shame, but to bring healing by redirecting Peter’s focus to His love and grace.

Jesus sought to turn Peter’s attention away from the disgrace that consumed him and toward Him and His ways. It’s as if He said, “Peter, nothing you do can make Me love you less or more. Now pursue your calling in Me.”

Can’t stop kicking yourself over having hurt someone? Instead of shame, allow the deeper truth of Jesus’ love and grace to drive you to do the right and loving thing.

 

The Secret of Spiritual Consistency

By Oswald Chambers

 The Secret of Spiritual Consistency

When a person is newly born again, he seems inconsistent due to his unrelated emotions and the state of the external things or circumstances in his life. The apostle Paul had a strong and steady underlying consistency in his life. Consequently, he could let his external life change without internal distress because he was rooted and grounded in God. Most of us are not consistent spiritually because we are more concerned about being consistent externally. In the external expression of things, Paul lived in the basement, while his critics lived on the upper level. And these two levels do not begin to touch each other. But Paul’s consistency was down deep in the fundamentals. The great basis of his consistency was the agony of God in the redemption of the world, namely, the Cross of Christ.

State your beliefs to yourself again. Get back to the foundation of the Cross of Christ, doing away with any belief not based on it. In secular history the Cross is an infinitesimally small thing, but from the biblical perspective it is of more importance than all the empires of the world. If we get away from dwelling on the tragedy of God on the Cross in our preaching, our preaching produces nothing. It will not transmit the energy of God to man; it may be interesting, but it will have no power. However, when we preach the Cross, the energy of God is released. “…it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.…we preach Christ crucified…” (1 Corinthians 1:21, 23).

 

What You Should Have Done

From: Streams in the Desert

Take the arrows… Smite upon the ground. And he smote twice and stayed. And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou should  have smitten five or six times (2 Kings 13:18-19).

How striking and eloquent the message of these words! Jehoash thought he had done very well when he duplicated and triplicated what to him was certainly an extraordinary act of faith. But the Lord and the prophet were bitterly disappointed because he had stopped half way.

He got something. He got much. He got exactly what he believed for in the final test, but he did not get all that the prophet meant and the Lord wanted to bestow. He missed much of the meaning of the promise and the fullness of the blessing. He got something better than the human, but he did not get God’s best.

Beloved, how solemn is the application! How heartsearching the message of God to us! How important that we should learn to pray through! Shall we claim all the fullness of the promise and all the possibilities of believing prayer?
A. B. Simpson

“Unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

There is no other such piling up of words in Paul’s writings as these, “exceeding abundantly above all,” and each word is packed with infinite love and power to “do” for His praying saints. There is one limitation, “according to the power that worketh in us.” He will do just as much for us as we let Him do in us. The power that saved us, washed us with His own blood, filled us with might by His Spirit, kept us in manifold temptations, will work for us, meeting every emergency, every crisis, every circumstance, and every adversary.
The Alliance

The Heart’s True Home

John 15:9-17 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 
Image result for pictures of the heart of GodImage result for pictures of the heart of God

Image result for pictures of the heart of GodImage result for pictures of the heart of God

Image result for pictures of the heart of GodImage result for pictures of the heart of God
Image result for pictures of the heart of GodImage result for pictures of the heart of God

The Heart’s True Home

From: Our Daily Bread

The Heart’s True Home

[God] has . . . set eternity in the human heart. Ecclesiastes 3:11

We had a West Highland Terrier for a number of years. “Westies” are tough little dogs, bred to tunnel into badger holes and engage the “enemy” in its lair. Our Westie was many generations removed from her origins, but she still retained that instinct, put into her through years of breeding. On one occasion she became obsessed by some “critter” under a rock in our backyard. Nothing could dissuade her. She dug and dug until she tunneled several feet under the rock.

Now consider this question: Why do we as humans pursue, pursue, pursue? Why must we climb unclimbed mountains, ski near-vertical slopes? Run the most difficult and dangerous rapids, challenge the forces of nature? Part of it is a desire for adventure and enjoyment, but it’s much more. It’s an instinct for God that has been implanted in us. We cannot not want to find God.

We don’t know that, of course. We only know that we long for something. “You don’t know what it is you want,” Mark Twain said, “but you want it so much you could almost die.”

God is our heart’s true home. As church father Augustine said in that most famous quotation: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

And what is the heart? A deep void within us that only God can fill.

Help me, Lord, to recognize my deep longing for You. Then fill me with the knowledge of You. Draw me near.

Beneath all our longings is a deep desire for God.

 

The Red Notebook

From: Our Daily Journey

The Red Notebook

Read:

Malachi 3:6-18
A scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name (Malachi 3:16).

Since my children have been able to speak, I’ve recorded things they’ve said in a red notebook which now features a bent cover and curled page corners. A few times each year we read through the entries and reminisce about the (mostly) funny and (occasionally) insightful things the kids said as toddlers and young children. Some of the entries mark moments I still recall, but others would be lost forever if it weren’t for the “red notebook.”

The Old Testament prophet Malachi spoke about a book (or scroll) of remembrance. It contained the names of a group of people within the Jewish nation. God considered those people to be a special treasure because they “feared him and always thought about the honor of his name” (Malachi 3:16). They remained faithful when others decided it was useless to serve and obey Him.

The ones who abandoned God asked, “What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show [the Lord] that we are sorry for our sins? . . . For those who do evil get rich” (Malachi 3:14-15). This sense of disillusionment is familiar to many of us. Consistently serving God is often discouraging and it rarely leads to what we might desire. It can be frustrating when we face challenges though we’re striving to do what’s right.

How can we, like the people God treasured in Malachi’s day, honor Him? By submitting to His wisdom and guiding power. We can trust that, “[God] will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him” (Hebrews 6:10). If we truly know Him through His Son Jesus, our future with Him is secure. This means He will remember us in the life to come where we’ll enjoy His presence forever (Revelation 21:27).

 

Direction of Focus

Direction of Focus

By Oswald Chambers

This verse is a description of total reliance on God. Just as the eyes of a servant are riveted on his master, our eyes should be directed to and focused on God. This is how knowledge of His countenance is gained and how God reveals Himself to us (see Isaiah 53:1). Our spiritual strength begins to be drained when we stop lifting our eyes to Him. Our stamina is sapped, not so much through external troubles surrounding us but through problems in our thinking. We wrongfully think, “I suppose I’ve been stretching myself a little too much, standing too tall and trying to look like God instead of being an ordinary humble person.” We have to realize that no effort can be too high.

For example, you came to a crisis in your life, took a stand for God, and even had the witness of the Spirit as a confirmation that what you did was right. But now, maybe weeks or years have gone by, and you are slowly coming to the conclusion— “Well, maybe what I did showed too much pride or was superficial. Was I taking a stand a bit too high for me?” Your “rational” friends come and say, “Don’t be silly. We knew when you first talked about this spiritual awakening that it was a passing impulse, that you couldn’t hold up under the strain. And anyway, God doesn’t expect you to endure.” You respond by saying, “Well, I suppose I was expecting too much.” That sounds humble to say, but it means that your reliance on God is gone, and you are now relying on worldly opinion. The danger comes when, no longer relying on God, you neglect to focus your eyes on Him. Only when God brings you to a sudden stop will you realize that you have been the loser. Whenever there is a spiritual drain in your life, correct it immediately. Realize that something has been coming between you and God, and change or remove it at once.