Tag Archives: happiness

Determination To Do Good

 

Determination

From: Our Daily Bread
Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. —Ruth 1:16

During a television news report on the plight of refugees displaced from a war-torn country, I was struck by the words of a 10-year-old girl. Despite there being little possibility of returning to their home, she showed a resilient spirit: “When we go back, I’m going to visit my neighbors; I’m going to play with my friends,” she said with quiet determination. “My father says we don’t have a house. And I said we are going to fix it.”

There is a place for tenacity in life, especially when it is rooted in our faith in God and love for others. The book of Ruth begins with three women bound together by tragedy. After Naomi’s husband and two sons died, she decided to return to her home in Bethlehem and urged her widowed daughters-in-law to stay in their country of Moab. Orpah remained but Ruth vowed to go with Naomi, saying, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16). When Naomi saw that Ruth “was determined to go with her” (v.18), they began their journey together.

Stubbornness is sometimes rooted in pride, but commitment grows from love. When Jesus went to the cross, “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). From His determination to die for us, we find the resolve to live for Him.

My life, my love, I give to Thee,
Thou Lamb of God who died for me;
Oh, may I ever faithful be,
My Savior and my God! —Hudson
Love calls for commitment.

What To Do When Your Burden Is Overwhelming

From: My Utmost For HIs HIghest

Cast your burden on the Lord . . . —Psalm 55:22

We must recognize the difference between burdens that are right for us to bear and burdens that are wrong. We should never bear the burdens of sin or doubt, but there are some burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off. God wants us to roll them back on Him— to literally “cast your burden,” which He has given you, “on the Lord . . . .” If we set out to serve God and do His work but get out of touch with Him, the sense of responsibility we feel will be overwhelming and defeating. But if we will only roll back on God the burdens He has placed on us, He will take away that immense feeling of responsibility, replacing it with an awareness and understanding of Himself and His presence.

Many servants set out to serve God with great courage and with the right motives. But with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, they are soon defeated. They do not know what to do with their burden, and it produces weariness in their lives. Others will see this and say, “What a sad end to something that had such a great beginning!”

“Cast your burden on the Lord . . . .” You have been bearing it all, but you need to deliberately place one end on God’s shoulder. “. . . the government will be upon His shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). Commit to God whatever burden He has placed on you. Don’t just cast it aside, but put it over onto Him and place yourself there with it. You will see that your burden is then lightened by the sense of companionship. But you should never try to separate yourself from your burden.

Brand New

 From: Getmorestrength.org
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” Revelation 21:5

I love the smell of a new car. You open the door and, wow, there’s just something about it! If you were like me, you’d buy it just for the aroma. The problem is, soon after you get the car home, the smell’s gone, and all you’re left with are maintenance bills and a whole bunch of payments.

One time Martie and I obliterated any remnants of that “new car” smell on the way to a church dinner. It was one of those all-church affairs where everyone had to bring some food to share. Martie had cooked up a killer ham, complete with all the trimmings and lots of spiced up ham juice filling the bottom of the pan. The dish was perched in the back of the car and—you guessed it—I had to slam on the brakes. Ham juice sloshed all over the seat and the floor! The car never smelled the same again.

What happened to our car on the way to the potluck dinner is a clear reminder that all the stuff that is new and wonderful is headed toward the dumper. Everything starts with the sizzle of “new” only to become old and tatty. The latest piece of technological wizardry is outdated before you get it home from the store. Clothes get ripped, stained, or, even worse, go out of fashion! Our bodies are headed toward the grave and on the way accumulate sags, wrinkles, failing memories, and knees that refuse to cooperate. Nothing stays new. That’s the bad news.

But here’s the good news. God is in the enterprise of making all things new. Look at what the apostle John says in Revelation 21:1-27. He begins the chapter by assuring us that the day is coming when God will make all things new! And what He makes new will never grow old. There will be a new heaven and a new earth: A new place for us to live free of air pollution, flooded basements, peeling wallpaper, and leaky faucets. And, best of all, no global warming, just global glory from the throne of God!

Then John shares the glorious news that all the old things will be destroyed forever. Good riddance to this broken-down, decaying, worn-out world. And better yet, we will no longer have to deal with all the residuals of sin. There will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more pain. In fact, God Himself will wipe away all of our tears. As the text says, old things will pass away and all things will become new!

Just the thought of it makes me really glad to be a child of God. And to everyone who looks at followers of Christ as being old-fashioned and retro, they better think again. If anyone is all about the future and everything that is new, it’s us! But looking forward to all that is new in Jesus is not an excuse to hunker down and check out of interaction with this fading-away world. As Paul says, we are already new creations in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17) and are called to start living out our newness in our encounters with this fallen world. Love, forgiveness, generosity, compassion, justice, mercy, and righteousness are just a few of the new things that will last forever!

Belonging To God’s Family

 

Complete and Effective Dominion

From: My Utmost For HIs Highest

04
12
2014

Death no longer has dominion over Him. . . . the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God . . . —Romans 6:9-11

Co-Eternal Life. Eternal life is the life which Jesus Christ exhibited on the human level. And it is this same life, not simply a copy of it, which is made evident in our mortal flesh when we are born again. Eternal life is not a gift from God; eternal life is the gift of God. The energy and the power which was so very evident in Jesus will be exhibited in us by an act of the absolute sovereign grace of God, once we have made that complete and effective decision about sin.

“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you . . .” (Acts 1:8)— not power as a gift from the Holy Spirit; the power is the Holy Spirit, not something that He gives us. The life that was in Jesus becomes ours because of His Cross, once we make the decision to be identified with Him. If it is difficult to get right with God, it is because we refuse to make this moral decision about sin. But once we do decide, the full life of God comes in immediately. Jesus came to give us an endless supply of life— “. . . that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Eternal life has nothing to do with time. It is the life which Jesus lived when He was down here, and the only Source of life is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Even the weakest saint can experience the power of the deity of the Son of God, when he is willing to “let go.” But any effort to “hang on” to the least bit of our own power will only diminish the life of Jesus in us. We have to keep letting go, and slowly, but surely, the great full life of God will invade us, penetrating every part. Then Jesus will have complete and effective dominion in us, and people will take notice that we have been with Him.

 

April 12

You cannot detain the eagle in the forest. You may gather around him a chorus of the choicest birds; you may give him a perch on the goodliest pine; you may charge winged messengers to bring him choicest dainties; but he will spurn them all. Spreading his lofty wings, and with his eye on the Alpine cliff, he will soar away to his own ancestral halls amid the munition of rocks and the wild music of tempest and waterfall.
The soul of man, in its eagle soarings, will rest with nothing short of the Rock of Ages. Its ancestral halls are the halls of Heaven. Its munitions of rocks are the attributes of God. The sweep of its majestic flight is Eternity! “Lord, THOU hast been our dwelling place in all generations.”
–Macduff

***

“My Home is God Himself”; Christ brought me there.
I laid me down within His mighty arms;
He took me up, and safe from all alarms
He bore me “where no foot but His hath trod,”
Within the holiest at Home with God,
And bade me dwell in Him, rejoicing there.
O Holy Place! O Home divinely fair!
And we, God’s little ones, abiding there.

“My Home is God Himself”; it was not so!
A long, long road I traveled night and day,
And sought to find within myself some way,
Aught I could do, or feel to bring me near;
Self effort failed, and I was filled with fear,
And then I found Christ was the only way,
That I must come to Him and in Him stay,
And God had told me so.

And now “my Home is God,” and sheltered there,
God meets the trials of my earthly life,
God compasses me round from storm and strife,
God takes the burden of my daily care.
O Wondrous Place! O Home divinely fair!
And I, God’s little one, safe hidden there.
Lord, as I dwell in Thee and Thou in me,
So make me dead to everything but Thee;
That as I rest within my Home most fair,
My soul may evermore and only see
My God in everything and everywhere;
My Home is God.
–Author Unknown

The Case for Kindness

 From: Get more strength. org
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

A story I heard in the news a few years ago caught my attention. It was about an 85-year-old man who used to eat breakfast in a Kroger supermarket every morning. He was bossy, very particular, and even remarked that the female employees could stand to lose weight. A few weeks after the old man died of cancer, several of the shocked clerks received checks for $10,000 from his estate. Why? Even when the old man had been cranky and insulting, the staff waiting on him had treated him pleasantly and tried to cheer him up with a little tender care! They even went beyond the call of duty by taking turns to visit him in the hospital! Clearly, none of them expected anything in return.

There’s a word for what the Kroger staff extended to him—kindness. What a refreshing story in a world where kindness has become a lost commodity. But if you are a follower of Jesus, then kindness has to be what you dish out on a regular basis. After all, Paul wrote, “Be kind to one to another, tenderhearted” (Ephesians 4:32). And, it needs to be noted, kindness makes the list as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. Kindness is about thinking of others and extending our love and resources to meet their needs and concerns.

But, in case you’re thinking, Right, but what about me? Proverbs 11:17offers a fascinating twist on kindness. It says, “A kind man benefits himself”—which means that there is something in kindness for you!

Treating people with kindness keeps our hearts and attitudes running in the right direction. If we’re not careful, we can easily fall prey to selfishness and indifference in our dealings with people. Planning to be kind gets you out of the what will they do for me world and gets your heart in tune with what can I do for them? Intentional acts of kindness train our hearts to be loving and helpful, which is really a big benefit!

Acts of kindness to friends, spouses, and our children bless us with the privilege of better friendships and more fulfilling relationships. And, most importantly, kindness will make you a lot like Jesus, who was kind to you all the way to His death! Believe me, becoming like Jesus is a huge return on the investment.

Before you get concerned that you don’t have time to be kind, remember that kindness doesn’t always have to be a major event. It doesn’t take a lot of time to hold the door open for the mom with her arms full, or to smile at a senior citizen as you pass by on the sidewalk. Even if you only see the donut guy for 60 seconds each morning, if it’s your intention to bless him with an encouraging word or two or even a tip in the jar, he’ll remember you as friendly and generous. Maybe he’ll sense that you are different from his other customers and may even want to know what it is that makes you different—a wide open door to let him know that Jesus taught you to be kind!

And if you object because no one is ever kind to you, keep in mind that it may just be that they have never been blessed by you being kind to them! When you are kind, people usually look for ways to return the favor. It’s the boomerang effect. As Jesus taught, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).

Be kind, and watch the blessings flow!

Christ: Our Salvation

 

 

April 11

By Death We Live

“As dying and behold we live” (2 Cor. 6:9).

I had a bed of asters last summer, that reached clear across my garden in the country. Oh, how gaily they bloomed. They were planted late. On the sides were yet fresh blossoming flowers, while the tops had gone to seed. Early frosts came, and I found one day that that long line of radiant beauty was seared, and I said, “Ah! the season is too much for them; they have perished”; and I bade them farewell.

I disliked to go and look at the bed, it looked so like a graveyard of flowers. But, four or five weeks ago one of my men called my attention to the fact that along the whole line of that bed there were asters coming up in the greatest abundance; and I looked, and behold, for every plant that I thought the winter had destroyed there were fifty plants that it had planted. What did those frosts and surly winds do?

They caught my flowers, they slew them, they cast them to the ground, they trod with snowy feet upon them, and they said, leaving their work, “This is the end of you.” And the next spring there were for every root, fifty witnesses to rise up and say, “By death we live.”

And as it is in the floral tribe, so it is in God’s kingdom. By death came everlasting life. By crucifixion and the sepulchre came the throne and the palace of the Eternal God. By overthrow came victory.

Do not be afraid to suffer. Do not be afraid to be overthrown.

It is by being cast down and not destroyed; it is by being shaken to pieces, and the pieces torn to shreds, that men become men of might, and that one a host; whereas men that yield to the appearance of things, and go with the world, have their quick blossoming, their momentary prosperity and then their end, which is an end forever.
–Beecher

***

“Measure thy life by loss and not by gain,
Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth.
For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice,
And he who suffers most has most to give.”

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2014

From: Closed Doors, Open Windows, Mrs. Pamela M. Steiner.

Random Journal Day #2…”The SON has Risen!”

(Originally posted April 8, 2012)

As I mentioned last weekend, some of my blogging friends have started a “Random Journal Day” (see the Random Journal Day Link Up) on the weekends, where we are encouraged to pick an entry from a previous journal at random and share it with you…so I looked back through one of my old journals and happened upon a writing that is appropriate for today, Easter. This was originally written on May 3, 2001, but it is still and always will be a message for today.  So here goes:

Thursday, May 3, 2001, 6:55 a.m.
“I am sitting on my back porch, watching the sun rise.  It is magnificent in it’s glory and beauty.  At first I thought the clouds were going to overshadow it, but not so! 
Light has conquered darkness…the sun has risen!
Today’s reading in Psalms was Psalm 19:1-6~
‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
and rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
Its rising is from one end of heaven,
and its circuit to the other end;
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.’Yes, the true Light, Jesus, has conquered the darkness…the SON has risen!!!
Hallelujah to the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world!Now, I must go out into the world…and be Christ’s “Greatest Sacrament”to a lost and dying world.‘Lord, give me the time and the faith to BE and DO all YOU would have me BE and DO.  Amen.’
April 11, 2014 What if I Don’t Get Any More Tomorrows?
Tracie Miles From: Crosswalk.com

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog — it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James 4:14 (NLT)

Before the plane backed away from the gate, the flight attendant warned us: “It’s been a rough day in the air. Prepare yourself for tremendous turbulence.” Although I wanted to make a mad dash for the door, I simply tightened my seat belt and prayed for safety. Soon, her verbal warning became a reality.

The plane rocked back and forth, as if it were slamming into walls instead of fluffy clouds. It was a short, but difficult, flight and after several attempts at landing, we were diverted to another airport, adding hours to the trip.

During this extra time in the air, I did a lot of thinking about what was most important in my life. I didn’t really believe we would crash, but I couldn’t keep from wondering … What if the worst happens? What if I don’t get any more tomorrows?

I thought about my loved ones. What were my last words to them? Were they kind or harsh? Were they filled with love, or merely instructions to carry out during my absence? Did I hug everyone and tell them how much they meant to me? If I didn’t make it home, had I prepared my children spiritually and emotionally to handle life, trust God and walk in faith? Had I told my husband how much I appreciated him?

Was there anyone I needed to forgive? Were there people I had been meaning to call or visit but never took the time? Had my priorities and plans been in line with God’s will? Had I sought God’s insight about everything on my to-do list? Had I done all I could to bring glory to God? Would I be ready to meet Jesus face to face?

Although my heart knew God was in control, my mind and emotions ran wild as I peered out the oval window at the dark clouds hovering all around us.

In an effort to ignore the panicked voice over the intercom, I began searching my Bible for scriptures about how God knows the number of our days. The first verse I found was today’s key verse.

In the rest of chapter 4, James reprimands the people for their self-centered living. Their self-indulgent, judgmental and prideful ways caused arguments and quarrels. They were consumed with business profits and neglected to seek God’s insight.

They focused on their personal agendas instead of what actually mattered. They acted as if God didn’t exist, or didn’t matter, and pursued their own plans. They disregarded God’s control over their lives and the number of their days.

James then wrote these words that spoke truth into my heart, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog — it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:14).

That passage could have been written to me. Sometimes I focus on my own plans, ignoring that only God knows how long He will allow me to carry them out. Other times, I make plans without seeking God’s will and get distracted by lesser things, instead of what really matters.

James wanted his readers to remember God directs us to live with a holy perspective, knowing every breath we take is one more gift from God. We aren’t promised any tomorrows, so we need to live today with an eternal perspective.

I remained calm in the midst of the airborne chaos, but that time of reflection in the bumpy skies served as a great reminder not to take time for granted. I don’t want to assume I’ll always have another tomorrow, or another chance to love on those I love the most. From now on, I want to include God in my plans and serve Him as best I can.

Lord, forgive me for focusing on my own plans or neglecting to seek Your insight. Help me to never put off until tomorrow what You want me to do today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

There Is One That Is Great

 

  • There is one who is Great: Jesus Christ the Lord.
  • April 9, 2014

    Will I Ever Accomplish Something Great?
    Leah DiPascal

    From: Crosswalk.com“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

  • Have you ever thought to yourself, “God could never use me”? I have … many times. I spent years watching from the sidelines as some of my closest friends accomplished great things. Rewarding careers. Successful families. Thriving ministries.

If only I were smarter. If I could just meet the right people. If I had a little more courage. Then surely God would use me.

What did others have that I didn’t? I loved God. He loved me. So why wasn’t I on the approved-to-be-used-by-God list? What was the problem? Would my big moment to shine ever come?

I was under the false impression that if God chose me to accomplish great things for Him, it would include an elaborate theme with plenty of fanfare. Boy, was I wrong.

Sure, God certainly knows how to manifest grand and elaborate: A snow capped mountain range. A sunrise bursting with color. A field of wildflowers in full bloom. He even gives people tremendous platforms to fulfill His wondrous plans. People whose names we all know by heart.

God also chooses people like you and me to do great things for His glory. But sometimes our assignments look very different than we think they should. Although the world tends to focus on famous people, high positions and big platforms, God looks at the intent of the heart.

While admiring the successful journeys of others and wondering why God wasn’t choosing me, I overlooked something important. He was using me — as His masterpiece — to accomplish good things that were already planned for me years ago (Ephesians 2:10).

While I was dreaming up grand ideas, God was waiting for a grateful heart.

While I was longing for elaborate platforms, God was looking for a humble spirit.

While I was dreaming of success, God was watching for a willingness of obedience.

A grateful heart when diapers needed changing and toys were left all over the floor. A humble spirit when dirty clothes sat in piles waiting to be washed and dinner needed to be prepared. A willingness of obedience when God whispered to my heart “Apologize first and say you’re sorry.”

Looking back over the years I can now see that some of my greatest accomplishments happened within the simple walls of my own home. Serving my family in messy ways and being stretched beyond what I thought was my breaking point.

Saying “yes” when I wanted to say “no.” Helping with last-minute homework assignments. Holding little hands during bedtime prayers.

There was no sea of spectators. No cheers from the crowd. No standing ovations. Only a simple family, living life one day at a time, trying to do what was right in God’s eyes.

What great things has God chosen for you to do? Remember, you are His masterpiece, a one-of-a-kind creation, created to fulfill important plans no one else can do.

Are your God-given assignments wrapped in baseball caps and sneakers?

Are your grand moments filled with princess tiaras and bedtime stories?

As you tirelessly serve your family and sometimes wonder if anyone notices, be assured that God does. He sees you as His greatest asset! Your willingness to serve your family brings Him great joy.

And when will our big moment come? When we get to shine?

I imagine it will be one glorious day when we humbly kneel before our Heavenly Father and He lovingly speaks our names saying, “Well done my faithful daughter. You have accomplished great things in My Name.”

Lord, help me to accomplish all the plans You’ve chosen for me. Give me wisdom and discernment to know what path You’ve laid out for me to follow. Thank you for creating me as Your masterpiece and may I delight in You as I serve my family well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Hometown Hero

From: Getmorestrength.org
 

“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!

April 9

Don’t Fret

“Do not begin to be anxious” (Phil. 4:6, PBV).

Not a few Christians live in a state of unbroken anxiety, and others fret and fume terribly. To be perfectly at peace amid the hurly-burly of daily life is a secret worth knowing. What is the use of worrying? It never made anybody strong; never helped anybody to do God’s will; never made a way of escape for anyone out of perplexity. Worry spoils lives which would otherwise be useful and beautiful. Restlessness, anxiety, and care are absolutely forbidden by our Lord, who said: “Take no thought,” that is, no anxious thought, “saying what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?” He does not mean that we are not to take forethought and that our life is to be without plan or method; but that we are not to worry about these things. People know you live in the realm of anxious care by the lines on your face, the tones of your voice, the minor key in your life, and the lack of joy in your spirit. Scale the heights of a life abandoned to God, then you will look down on the clouds beneath your feet.
–Rev. Darlow Sargeant

***

It is always weakness to be fretting and worrying, questioning and mistrusting. Can we gain anything by it? Do we not unfit ourselves for action, and unhinge our minds for wise decision? We are sinking by our struggles when we might float by faith.

Oh, for grace to be quiet! Oh, to be still and know that Jehovah is God! The Holy One of Israel must defend and deliver His own. We may be sure that every word of His will stand, though the mountains should depart. He deserves to be confided in. Come, my soul, return unto thy rest, and lean thy head upon the bosom of the Lord Jesus.

Choose Life

 

Choose Life

From: Our Daily Bread
Choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love theLord your God, that you may obey His voice. —Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Bible in a Year:
1 Samuel 4-6; Luke 9:1-17

What is God’s will for my life? The question haunted me when I was growing up. What if I couldn’t find it? What if I didn’t recognize it? God’s will seemed like a needle in a haystack. Hidden. Obscured by lookalikes. Outnumbered by counterfeits.

But my view of God’s will was wrong because my view of God was wrong. God takes no pleasure in seeing us lost, wandering, searching. He wants us to know His will. He makes it clear, and He makes it simple. He doesn’t even make it multiple-choice. He gives just two choices: “life and good” or “death and evil” (Deut. 30:15). In case the best choice isn’t obvious, He even says which one to choose: “Choose life” (v.19). To choose life is to choose God Himself and obey His Word.

When Moses addressed the Israelites for the last time, he pleaded with them to make the right choice by observing “all the words of this law. . . . Because it is your life” (32:46-47). God’s will for us is life. His Word is life. And Jesus is the Word. God may not give a prescription for every decision, but He gave us a perfect example to follow—Jesus. The right choice may not be easy, but when the Word is our guide and worship is our goal, God will grant us the wisdom to make life-affirming choices.

Lord Jesus, we know that true wisdom comes
from leaning on You. Help us to trust in
You and to seek Your face and Your will
that we find in Your life-giving Word.
The evidence of God’s guidance can be seen more clearly by looking back than by looking forward.

 

The Collision of God and Sin

From:  My Utmost For His HIghest

. . . who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree . . . —1 Peter 2:24

The Cross of Christ is the revealed truth of God’s judgment on sin. Never associate the idea of martyrdom with the Cross of Christ. It was the supreme triumph, and it shook the very foundations of hell. There is nothing in time or eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable than what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross— He made it possible for the entire human race to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God. He made redemption the foundation of human life; that is, He made a way for every person to have fellowship with God.

The Cross was not something that happened to Jesus— He came to die; the Cross was His purpose in coming. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). The incarnation of Christ would have no meaning without the Cross. Beware of separating “God was manifested in the flesh. . .” from “. . . He made Him. . . to be sin for us. . .” (1 Timothy 3:16 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The purpose of the incarnation was redemption. God came in the flesh to take sin away, not to accomplish something for Himself. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the problems of both.

The Cross is not the cross of a man, but the Cross of God, and it can never be fully comprehended through human experience. The Cross is God exhibiting His nature. It is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God. But it is not a gate we pass right through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there.

The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.

The Search For Satisfaction

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

The Souls Payment – Jesus

 

Mind the Checks

Our Daily Bread

“And after the earthquake a fire; and after the fire a sound of gentle stillness” (1 Kings 19:12, RV margin.)

A soul, who made rapid progress in her understanding of the Lord, was once asked the secret of her easy advancement. She replied tersely, “Mind the checks.”

And the reason that many of us do not know and better understand Him is, we do not give heed to His gentle checks, His delicate restraints and constraints. His is a still, small voice. A still voice can hardly be heard. It must be felt. A steady, gentle pressure upon the heart and mind like the touch of a morning zephyr to your face. A small voice, quietly, almost timidly spoken in your heart, but if heeded growing noiselessly clearer to your inner ear. His voice is for the ear of love, and love is intent upon hearing even faintest whispers.

There comes a time also when love ceases to speak if not responded to, or believed in. He is love, and if you would know Him and His voice, give constant ear to His gentle touches. In conversation, when about to utter some word, give heed to that gentle voice, mind the check and refrain from speech. When about to pursue some course that seems all clear and right and there comes quietly to your spirit a suggestion that has in it the force almost of a conviction, give heed, even if changed plans seem highest folly from standpoint of human wisdom.

Learn also to wait on God for the unfolding of His will. Let God form your plans about everything in your mind and heart and then let Him execute them. Do not possess any wisdom of your own. For many times His execution will seem so contradictory to the plan He gave. He will seem to work against Himself. Simply listen, obey and trust God even when it seems highest folly so to do. He will in the end make “all things work together,” but so many times in the first appearance of the outworking of His plans,

“In His own world He is content
To play a losing game.”

So if you would know His voice, never consider results or possible effects. Obey even when He asks you to move in the dark. He Himself will be gloriously light in you. And there will spring up rapidly in your heart an acquaintanceship and a fellowship with God which will be overpowering in itself to hold you and Him together, even in severest testings and under most terrible pressures.
–Way of Faith

 

The bottom line

Ecclesiastes 7:1-4
Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart (Ecclesiastes 7:2).

Pray Psalm 23:1-6 to the Lord. What truth from this psalm will you lean on today?

List the enemies that Jesus has defeated for you. How might these victories encourage you in the problems you still face?

While in college, the great missionary Adoniram Judson lost his faith when he fell under the spell of Jacob Eames, a deist who believed that God never interferes in our lives. When he was on a trip, Judson stayed at a village inn next door to a man who was dying. The man’s groans kept Judson awake and he began to think about death. Was he ready to meet God? The next morning Judson learned that the man had died. He asked the innkeeper if he knew who the man was. “Oh yes. Young man from the college in Providence. Name was Eames . . . Jacob Eames.”

Judson was shaken. He realized that deism had failed Eames, just as it would fail him in his moment of death. The time was up for intellectual games. He needed to live for the One who had beaten death.

No one likes to think about death, but if we don’t talk about it we’ll have nothing to say when we talk about Jesus. Hebrews 2:14-15 explains that Jesus came to defeat death. He became a man so He could “break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”

If you have never feared dying, there’s little chance you’ve given your life to Jesus. Why would you? You aren’t troubled by the problem that He came to solve. But if you’ve been bothered by the thought of death—realizing that it’s the demonic intruder that has come to destroy you—then it’s likely you already know that your hope is found in Jesus alone. No one else even claims to have conquered death on your behalf. “Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Our Co-Pilot?

 Get More Strength.com

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.

Show Your Faith

 

people showing faith

The Way to Permanent Faith

My Utmost For His HIghest

Indeed the hour is coming . . . that you will be scattered . . . —John 16:32

Jesus was not rebuking the disciples in this passage. Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life. The disciples were scattered to their own concerns and they had interests apart from Jesus Christ. After we have the perfect relationship with God, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, our faith must be exercised in the realities of everyday life. We will be scattered, not into service but into the emptiness of our lives where we will see ruin and barrenness, to know what internal death to God’s blessings means. Are we prepared for this? It is certainly not of our own choosing, but God engineers our circumstances to take us there. Until we have been through that experience, our faith is sustained only by feelings and by blessings. But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life.

“. . . you . . . will leave Me alone.” Have we been scattered and have we left Jesus alone by not seeing His providential care for us? Do we not see God at work in our circumstances? Dark times are allowed and come to us through the sovereignty of God. Are we prepared to let God do what He wants with us? Are we prepared to be separated from the outward, evident blessings of God? Until Jesus Christ is truly our Lord, we each have goals of our own which we serve. Our faith is real, but it is not yet permanent. And God is never in a hurry. If we are willing to wait, we will see God pointing out that we have been interested only in His blessings, instead of in God Himself. The sense of God’s blessings is fundamental

“. . . be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Unyielding spiritual fortitude is what we need.

Crosswalk.com

I’m a Meddler
Lynn Cowell

“… aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (ESV)

I did it again. Stepped in to a situation that didn’t concern me. I told myself I was helping, but it wasn’t my place to speak up. As usual, it backfired.

Contemplating all that had happened that evening, Jesus spoke to me. Of course, not literally spoke to me, but He nudged my heart: You’re a meddler, Lynn, and you need to be done with it. When you meddle, you are not trusting. When you meddle, you are saying I can’t handle it. You know I can. So be done with it. No more.

I’m a meddler.

I like to say I’m a “fixer.” That’s what I have called it in the past, but truth is, that’s just a nicer way of putting it.

Not a gossiper. No, that is someone who intentionally separates and that’s not my heart. I want to help. Really I do.

I’m a meddler. Dictionary.com defines the verb “meddle” this way: “To involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwantedly.”

Without right or invitation. That’s what I do. Seeing an unhappy, unhealthy or unholy situation I listen to the whisper in my head. Since I see it, I think I’m instructed to do something about it.

But most often, I am not. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says “… aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.”

My place is to be quiet and pray. But I still prefer to fix, manipulate and get involved.

In other words, I meddle.

So, there you have it. Now that I see my actions for what they are, it’s my responsibility to change. And in order to change, I will have to slow down before I take action or open my mouth. I’ll have to ask myself: Are you meddling?

Will I be tempted to meddle? Every day. Will I mess up? I hope not, but it’s highly probable. I’m human. My desire, though, is to mind my own affairs and let Jesus get involved. I will ask Him for prayers to pray, not words to say.

This change is going to be hard. But I know Jesus is serious about not meddling. Proverbs 26:17 says, “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears” (ESV). In other words, meddling isn’t smart! And that is not what I want to be; I want to be wise.

Any other meddlers out there? Can you think of times when you got involved and you shouldn’t have? Especially when the thing Jesus wanted you to do was to pray — and only pray? Let’s pray for each other and ask Jesus to open our eyes to see and leave our troubles up to Him.

Jesus, I’m a woman who wants to be a fixer. But that’s not really my place; it’s Yours. Open my eyes before I step in, and empower me to resist the temptation to get involved. Teach me to pray instead, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

April 4

Alone In The Desert

“And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place” (Luke 9:10).

In order to grow in grace, we must be much alone. It is not in society that the soul grows most vigorously. In one single quiet hour of prayer it will often make more progress than in days of company with others. It is in the desert that the dew falls freshest and the air is purest.
–Andrew Bonar

***

“Come ye yourselves apart and rest awhile,
Weary, I know it, of the press and throng,
Wipe from your brow the sweat and dust of toil,
And in My quiet strength again be strong.

“Come ye aside from all the world holds dear,
For converse which the world has never known,
Alone with Me, and with My Father here,
With Me and with My Father not alone.

“Come, tell Me all that ye have said and done,
Your victories and failures, hopes and fears.
I know how hardly souls are wooed and won:
My choicest wreaths are always wet with tears.

“Come ye and rest; the journey is too great,
And ye will faint beside the way and sink;
The bread of life is here for you to eat,
And here for you the wine of love to drink.

“Then fresh from converse with your Lord return,
And work till, daylight softens into even:
The brief hours are not lost in which ye learn
More of your Master and His rest in Heaven.”

You Need To Know

 

“If You Had Known!”

From: My Utmost For His Glory

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

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 thisyour 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.

To The Rescue

From: getmorestrength.org

There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. —Luke 15:7

Martie and I recently traveled to some major cities in several countries. We were struck with how lost our world is and grieved over the millions who have never heard the message of the saving grace of Jesus. The thought of reaching our world for Christ felt overwhelming.

Until I remembered the story of the boy walking on a beach. Encountering hundreds of starfish dying under the heat of the burning sun, he started throwing them back into the sea. A passerby asked, “What are you doing?” “Saving their lives,” the boy replied. “Forget it,” the man said. “You can’t possibly save all these starfish.” “Right,” replied the boy, “but it makes a big difference to each one I do save.”

I love the boy’s perspective. When the wave of sin threw us onto the shore to die, God sent His Son to walk on the beach to rescue all who would repent. And, as Jesus told His listeners in Luke 15, each time someone is rescued, heaven throws a party. “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).

Has heaven rejoiced over your rescue? If so, join the ranks of those who reach other lost souls with the rescuing grace of Jesus.

Your love, O God, would spare no pain
To conquer death and win;
You sent Your only Son to die
To rescue us from sin. —M. Gustafson

When you’ve been rescued, you’ll want to rescue others.

 

Jesus weeps

From: Our Daily Journey

Luke 19:41-44
As [Jesus] came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep (Luke 19:41).

What is your response to God’s appeal in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 andHebrews 3:7-15?

How does the fact that Jesus wept affect your view of Him and His love for you? What will you do to bring honor and glory to Him this week?

It happens often at weddings. The mother of the bride can be seen quietly sobbing. Her tears are a fitting response to the coming of age of her daughter and the memories of the years she had nutured her.

The Jews were celebrating the coming of their long-awaited king (Luke 19:35-38). Yet Jesus was weeping, the second time He had wept openly. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus wept (John 11:35). Here He was crying audibly (Luke 19:41).

But why? His people had rejected Him. They sought political freedom. But Jesus came to deliver them from their sins and to offer them peace with God by way of the cross—not the crown.

Jesus looked at their past. God had raised many prophets, calling His people to repent. But they had killed the prophets (Luke 11:48Luke 13:34). Jesus looked at thepresent religiosity and piety that had accomplished little. The city was filled with pilgrims commemorating a sacred festival, but it was empty worship. Their temple had become a den of thieves (Luke 19:46). Jesus looked at the future. He saw the death, destruction, and devastation that would come to the people and city (Luke 19:43-44).

The Lord had lovingly and persistently pursued them, but they “were not willing!” (Luke 13:34 NIV). Jesus wept because His own people had rejected Him as their Messiah (Luke 19:14John 1:11). Israel had wasted and exhausted her opportunities. “Now it [was] too late” (Luke 19:42). “Because [they] did not accept [their] opportunity for salvation” (Luke 19:44), only the fearful prospect of judgment was in view. Forty years later, the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.

Jesus weeps for you if you haven’t received His free gift of salvation. But it’s not too late!

Grow In God’s Strength

Grow in His Strength
From: Streams In The Desert
“As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him” (Deut. 32:11, 12).Our Almighty Parent delights to conduct the tender nestlings of His care to the very edge of the precipice, and even to thrust them off into the steeps of air, that they may learn their possession of unrealized power of flight, to be forever a luxury; and if, in the attempt, they be exposed to unwonted peril, He is prepared to swoop beneath them, and to bear them upward on His mighty pinions. When God brings any of His children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count upon Him to deliver them.
–The Song of Victory

***

“When God puts a burden upon you He puts His own arm underneath.”

***

There is a little plant, small and stunted, growing under the shade of a broad-spreading oak; and this little plant values the shade which covers it, and greatly does it esteem the quiet rest which its noble friend affords. But a blessing is designed for this little plant.

Once upon a time there comes along the woodman, and with his sharp axe he fells the oak. The plant weeps and cries, “My shelter is departed; every rough wind will blow upon me, and every storm will seek to uproot me!”

“No, no,” saith the angel of that flower; “now will the sun get at thee; now will the shower fall on thee in more copious abundance than before; now thy stunted form shall spring up into loveliness, and thy flower, which could never have expanded itself to perfection shall now laugh in the sunshine, and men shall say, ‘How greatly hath that plant increased! How glorious hath become its beauty, through the removal of that which was its shade and its delight!'”

See you not, then, that God may take away your comforts and your privileges, to make you the better Christians? Why, the Lord always trains His soldiers, not by letting them lie on feather-beds, but by turning them out, and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. This is the way in which He makes them soldiers–not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made; but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets and roaring cannonades, not in soft and peaceful times. Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? Is He not developing in you the qualities of the soldier by throwing you into the heat of battle, and should you not use every appliance to come off conqueror?
–Spurgeon


You’ve Got A Friend

[Jesus said,] “I have called you friends.” —John 15:15
Bible in a Year:
Judges 16-18; Luke 7:1-30

One of the ironic consequences of the sweeping growth of social media is that we often find ourselves more personally isolated. One online article warns: “Those who oppose leading one’s life primarily or exclusively online claim that virtual friends are not adequate substitutes for real-world friends, and . . . individuals who substitute virtual friends for physical friends become even lonelier and more depressive than before.”

Technology aside, all of us battle with seasons of loneliness, wondering if anyone knows, understands, or cares about the burdens we carry or the struggles we face. But followers of Christ have an assurance that brings comfort to our weary hearts. The comforting presence of the Savior is promised in words that are undeniable, for the psalmist David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4).

Whether isolated by our own choices, by the cultural trends that surround us, or by the painful losses of life, all who know Christ can rest in the presence of the Shepherd of our hearts. What a friend we have in Jesus!

I’ve found a Friend; O such a Friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him. —Small
Those who know Jesus as their Friend are never alone.
No More Guilt-Induced Doubt
Renee SwopeFrom: Crosswalk.com

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

Mom said she’d be gone all day, and she encouraged me to come over and use her place to write. In a quiet house, hopefully, I could finalize my message outlines for our church women’s retreat.

We arranged plans for my mom to be home at 5 p.m. Then my husband, J.J., would come over at 5:30 p.m. with our boys. The children could stay with Grandma while J.J. and I went to a surprise party.

Mom’s quiet house was just what I needed to get into a good studying and writing zone. It was the perfect setting … until she came home two hours early!

She brought cement pavers in and set them on the floor. She walked out and returned to plop bags of groceries in the kitchen … right where I was studying.

Normally this would have been fine, but I wasn’t done and I got the message that my time was up. Panic set in!

Then, to make matters worse, as I put my notes away I knocked a water bottle over onto my laptop. My chest tightened with anxiety, and my eyes stung with tears. My perfect day was turning into the perfect storm.

After mopping up the mess, I started getting ready for the party and waited for my husband to arrive. He didn’t show up at 5:30, or 5:40. He wasn’t answering his cell phone, and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise party by being late. So, at 6:00, I decided to take Mom’s car and have him meet me there.

Just as I was leaving, he drove up. Surprisingly, he didn’t look a bit hurried. In fact, my then 6-year-old son got out of the car first, walked up to me and said, “Daddy told us you would be mad!”

That was an understatement! Frustrated and angry, I decided it was still a good idea for me to leave. But when I pulled out of the driveway, my husband waved for me to stop and asked, “Aren’t you going to wait for me?”

“No,” I snapped. “Because you’re acting like a [beep].”

My 8-year-old son walked up and said, “Mommy! You just called Daddy a [beep].”

Suddenly guilt-induced doubt made me start questioning everything, including speaking at the retreat. I’m not cut out for this. I’m not godly enough. I must have heard God wrong. I have no business teaching a message I can’t even live.

My husband and I ended up going to the party together, with our fake “everything is fine” smiles. But the next morning at church, I went straight to my women’s ministry director, confessed what happened and told her I needed to step down from being the retreat speaker.

Her response shocked me: “Renee, if you don’t need this message as much as the women attending, then you are not qualified to teach it. But because you need it as much as we do, you are. You’ve been appointed and you are anointed to do this.”

I had never experienced such a demonstration of God’s grace.

That response showed me what it looks like to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

It’s hard to believe God could use us when we’re such a mess, yet the Bible is filled with stories of men and women He used greatly — despite their downfalls.

I ended up speaking at the retreat and shared what had happened. Although I feared some women might judge me, they loved me, accepting that I’m not perfect.

Although guilt can make us give up on ourselves, God won’t. Instead, He offers to take what feels like destruction and use it for reconstruction in our journey with Him.

When we confess our wrong thoughts, words, and actions and receive God’s forgiveness, our hearts can be set free from guilt-induced doubt and filled with grace-infused confidence.

Lord, I come to You today to receive Your mercy and find Your grace to help me. Please replace my guilt-induced doubt with Your grace-infused confidence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

True Holiness Honors God

 

(People practicing their pursuit of holiness)

Will I Bring Myself Up to This Level?

From: My utmost for His Highest

. . . perfecting holiness in the fear of God —2 Corinthians 7:1

Therefore, having these promises. . . .” I claim God’s promises for my life and look to their fulfillment, and rightly so, but that shows only the human perspective on them. God’s perspective is that through His promises I will come to recognize His claim of ownership on me. For example, do I realize that my “body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” or am I condoning some habit in my body which clearly could not withstand the light of God on it? (1 Corinthians 6:19). God formed His Son in me through sanctification, setting me apart from sin and making me holy in His sight (see Galatians 4:19). But I must begin to transform my natural life into spiritual life by obedience to Him. God instructs us even in the smallest details of life. And when He brings you conviction of sin, do not “confer with flesh and blood,” but cleanse yourself from it at once (Galatians 1:16). Keep yourself cleansed in your daily walk.

I must cleanse myself from all filthiness in my flesh and my spirit until both are in harmony with the nature of God. Is the mind of my spirit in perfect agreement with the life of the Son of God in me, or am I mentally rebellious and defiant? Am I allowing the mind of Christ to be formed in me? (see Philippians 2:5). Christ never spoke of His right to Himself, but always maintained an inner vigilance to submit His spirit continually to His Father. I also have the responsibility to keep my spirit in agreement with His Spirit. And when I do, Jesus gradually lifts me up to the level where He lived-a level of perfect submission to His Father’s will— where I pay no attention to anything else. Am I perfecting this kind of holiness in the fear of God? Is God having His way with me, and are people beginning to see God in my life more and more?

Be serious in your commitment to God and gladly leave everything else alone. Literally put God first in your life.

 

He answered nothing (Mark 15:3).

There is no spectacle in all the Bible so sublime as the silent Savior answering not a word to the men who were maligning Him, and whom He could have laid prostrate at His feet by one look of Divine power, or one word of fiery rebuke. But He let them say and do their worst, and He stood in THE POWER OF STILLNESS–God’s holy silent Lamb.

There is a stillness that lets God work for us, and holds our peace; the stillness that ceases from its contriving and its self-vindication, and its expedients of wisdom and forethought, and lets God provide and answer the cruel blow, in His own unfailing, faithful love.

How often we lose God’s interposition by taking up our own cause, and striking for our defense. God give to us this silent power, this conquered spirit! And after the heat and strife of earth are over, men will remember us as we remember the morning dew, the gentle light and sunshine, the evening breeze, the Lamb of Calvary, and the gentle, holy heavenly Dove.
–A. B. Simpson

The day when Jesus stood alone
And felt the hearts of men like stone,
And knew He came but to atone
That day “He held His peace.”
They witnessed falsely to His word,
They bound Him with a cruel cord,
And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
They spat upon Him in the face,
They dragged Him on from place to place,
They heaped upon Him all disgrace;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
My friend, have you for far much less,
With rage, which you called righteousness,
Resented slights with great distress?

Your Saviour “held His peace.”
–L. S. P.

Are We Small Yet?

From: Getmorestrength.org
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” Philippians 2:3 NASBKids are great! Things that we take for granted are occasions for awe and wonder for them. And their perspectives are often convictingly right on.Take, for instance, the little girl who loved watching the planes that took off from a nearby airport as she played in her backyard. From her point of view, planes literally got smaller and smaller the farther they flew away. Which explains the strange thing she said to her dad after he decided to take her on a business trip. Soon after taking off, she turned to her dad and said, “Daddy, are we small yet?”

That’s a really important—and challenging—question to ask ourselves. There is something about us that doesn’t like feeling small. It starts early. Any kid worth his salt will gladly throw up his arms and do the “so big!” routine when you ask him, “How big are you?” We may stop throwing up our arms, but we never really grow out of wanting to be “so big” in other people’s eyes. It’s amazing how quickly life gets to be all about who’s got the nicest house, the best job, the coolest car, the highest degree, the biggest diamond, or the best office on the executive floor. We are quick to defend ourselves to keep ourselves looking good. We like to draw attention to our accomplishments and turn conversations to focus on us, and we find ourselves a little put out when we are not noticed or invited to hang out with the “in” crowd.

For most of us, life is about anything but making ourselves small. We are the tall “I” in the middle of our universe.

And that’s a problem.

In Philippians 2:3-11, Paul tells us that we need to stop living to advance ourselves and our own interests and instead start considering others as more important than ourselves. In fact, he says that we should do nothing from “empty conceit”—which literally means the puffing up of our nothingness. I love the graphic picture in that thought. No matter how big you puff up a zero, it’s still a zero!

And then he points us to Jesus who didn’t consider his “big” standing in heaven a thing to hang on to, but rather He humbled himself to care for our interests by becoming obedient to death on the cross. Think of that! Jesus thought of us and our needs as being more important than His own! He made himself small that we by His abundant mercy might become big in the riches of His grace.

Five Scriptural Prayers for Your Son
Brooke McGlothlinFrom: Crosswalk.com

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

He looks at me with a “heels dug in” kind of glare. I know if I said, “The sky is blue on a sunny day,” he would try to prove me wrong.

Sometimes, I don’t feel like we’re on the same team anymore, my son and I, and it breaks my heart.

On days like today, when he’s arguing with everything I say and trying his 8-year-old best to do things his way, it seems I’m fighting against him — like there’s a war going on in my house between me and my son — a distance between us I want to bridge no matter the cost.

I know from my education that this process of differentiation is pretty normal. Boys ache for independence from mama and feel ready to “boldly go where no man has gone before.” They want to be strong, assert their opinions and explore their own ideas.

Unfortunately, at my house, we’re currently living in the in-between season, where ideas abound before my son is mature enough to handle the responsibilities that go along with them.

And so we butt heads.

Sometimes, I’m tempted to let our circumstances tell me my son is the enemy — he’s the one I’m fighting. But then I remember Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

When the days of mothering grow long and make a girl weary, and when what you really want to do is lock your son in his room and throw away the key, it’s good to remember this:

Your son is not your enemy. But there is an enemy.

That’s right. Our sons have a real enemy, one that wants to steal, kill and destroy them (John 10:10). Thankfully that enemy, according to the Word of God, has an opponent who’s a force to be reckoned with.

You.

And me. And all moms who are willing to get on their knees and cry out for the hearts of their sons. James 5:16b says, “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with” (The Message).

The best way we can enter the battle for our sons is on our knees, so let’s start fighting for them right now. Here are five powerful prayers you can use today to fight for the heart of your son:

1. Create in my son a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within him (Psalm 51:10).
2. May my son walk after You, God, and fear You and keep Your commandments and obey Your voice. May he serve You and hold fast to You (Deuteronomy 13:4).
3. May my son be strong and courageous and not fear or be in dread, for it is You, Lord, our God, who goes with him. You will never leave him or forsake him (Deuteronomy 31:6).
4. May my son walk before You, God, as King David walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that You have commanded him, and keeping Your statutes and rules (1 Kings 9:4).
5. Like Timothy, may my son be an example to believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the tools of Your Word and prayer to fight the battle for our sons’ hearts. Help me see who our real enemy is when we are in a conflict. May You be glorified in all I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.