Tag Archives: Health

Life Beyond The Rituals

Leviticus 1:3-13

 

‘If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. ‘He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf. ‘He shall slay the young bull before the LORD; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall offer up the blood and sprinkle the blood around on the altar that is at the doorway of the tent of meeting. read more.

Leviticus 4:1-3

 

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If a person sins unintentionally in any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, and commits any of them, if the anointed priest sins so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD a bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed.

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Jesus Christ ended the law and ritual. He brought in the age of grace.
We are now free from the law and ritual.
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Life Beyond The Rituals

From: Get More Strength

“They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Mark 1:18

A royal dignitary was greeting residents at a nursing home, when he was surprised by the unresponsiveness of one woman who just sat there and stared at him. Finally, the dignitary asked, “Do you know who I am?”—to which the woman responded: “No. But that nurse over there helps us with those kinds of things.”

Many people are confused about who Jesus is. But through His Word,  God helps us know and enjoy the real Jesus. You will find Him wonderfully compelling. Tough fishermen, tax collectors, and zealots gave up everything to follow Him (Mark 1:18). Women felt safe with Him. Crowds stood in awe of His power and authority.

Jesus is not content to be just our “fire insurance,” saving us from eternal punishment in hell. Rather, He wants us to know Him for who He really is, and He desires to connect with us on a deeper, more personal level.

If you are weary of a religion that is about rules and regulations, then welcome to life beyond the rituals. Welcome to a relationship in which you can find companionship, comfort, wisdom, and reality. Welcome to the wonderful privilege of getting to know Jesus and the joy of following Him.

Get to know Him—and you’ll grow to love Him more and more each day.

Which of all our friends, to save us,
Could or would have shed their blood?
But our Jesus died to have us
Reconciled in Him to God.  —Newton

To know Jesus is to love Jesus

 

 

Complete—Yet Under Construction

From: Our Daily Journey

Complete—Yet Under Construction

 

Read:

Ephesians 3:14-21
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong (Ephesians 3:17).

As my mom and I entered the indoor prayer garden our church recently built, I suddenly felt the sweet peace and presence of the Holy Spirit. The room had plants, a paved walkway with Scriptures displayed, a small waterfall, and a lit cross on the wall. In contrast to this peaceful, awe-inspiring sanctuary, just outside we could see contractors working on a different part of the building—with dust, tools, noisy machines, and everything else one might expect to find at a construction site.

I realized then that the part of the building under construction and the prayer garden were both reflections of my own journey with Jesus—the one a picture of the work in progress I am today, the other an image of my future transformation. They brought to mind the apostle Paul’s prayer for Ephesian believers to grow to be “complete, with all the fullness of life and power” that come from God (Ephesians 3:19). Through His Spirit, God would provide the “glorious, unlimited resources” they needed, and Jesus would build His home in their hearts (Ephesians 3:16).

And this growth is available to all believers today as well. As we receive what is needed from the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:15), our “roots will grow down into God’s love” as we grow to understand and experience it more deeply (Ephesians 3:17). This love is deep enough to fill and strengthen any heart (Ephesians 3:18).

Although we’re still under construction, through Jesus’ work we are also already “complete through [our] union with Christ” (Colossians 2:10). Through the power of the Spirit, may we continue to grow in understanding and experiencing the infinite love of our personal God and living it out in every area of our lives.

 

Why Did Lucifer Fall?

From: CBN, and Author: Nina Keegan

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Why did Lucifer fall? The answer to that? Nobody knows exactly. Was there an altercation? Did he start a fight he could never win? I guess we could all imagine for a moment.

Lucifer was beautiful, anointed, and had the keys to the enormity of all blessings and favor of Heaven at his fingertips. How and why did something change so audaciously in him? How was his heart so hardened to God, the one he had long worshipped and praised?

A desire for self-recognition, perhaps a pride and arrogance, won in the battle of his mind and he decided to become his own God. He desired praise. He longed to be worshipped.

So with that, and I imagine quite swiftly, he was banished from Heaven, hurled out of the Kingdom, and forever exiled from eternal blessings; leaving all wisdom, peace, joy, favor, and love behind.

He tumbled (imagine the feeling of free-falling at lightning speed into the deep abyss) and he took with him one-third of the angels (now demons) to wreak havoc on all mankind.

There was no do-over, no Let’s rethink this. He made his choice — done!

Scary to think what choices we may want to rethink. We never know the day we will be called home, Judgment day, when we will give an account for all of our decisions and sins.

Now, because of Lucifer’s (Satan’s) choice, we too are left with choices and pathways of good or evil. They seem to line up incessantly for our choosing.

We continually need God’s wisdom to decipher His voice, His plan, His purpose for us, and our destinies in Him.

There is evil in this world. It’s everywhere. People are hurt, suffering, in despair, and living in all types of trauma and tragedy. The heaviness of it all can most assuredly plague us, burden us, and cover us in anxiety and fear.

The warfare we must fight and contend with will ultimately serve a purpose as to who we are in Christ. We have authority over all evil through the blood of Jesus and His finished work on the cross. We are ultimately so much greater with He who is in us than he who has been unleashed to spread evil in the world. God’s so much bigger. He’s so capable and His palms are steadfastly carrying us, plucking us out of harm’s way, and setting us so lovingly back onto His glorious path.

No matter what it looks like, what the enemy means for harm will only cause our promotion. He has to repay us for all he has stolen. We will reap a multitude of days steeped in unbridled joy for days we have spent in sorrow.

Declare victory. Remember who had the authority to kick who out of Heaven.

God won then. God wins now. Receive your victory in Him!

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. “Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?’ Isaiah 14:12-17(NKJV)

Pursing Happiness

Psalm 113:9

He makes the barren woman abide in the house As a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD!

Proverbs 23:24

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.

2 Corinthians 7:13

For this reason we have been comforted And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.

1 Kings 4:20

Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance; they were eating and drinking and rejoicing.

Luke 1:14

“You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.

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Happiness comes from a right relationship with God. 

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The Pursuit of Happiness

From: Get More Strenth

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:3

The movie The Aviator portrays the fascinating life of Howard Hughes. In the 1930s and 40s, he wowed the public with his brilliant advances in aviation technology and became the wealthiest man in America. He seemed to have everything a man could want. Yet he was surprisingly miserable and plagued by several mental disorders later in life that rendered him a paranoid recluse until the day he died.

His life is a reminder that when it comes to happiness, money is not the answer. This news isn’t new. Most of us would agree that money is not a ticket to happiness—yet we act like we believe it is.

Things like the lure of a better investment or a cash windfall of some kind, or the feeling that if I only had enough to buy that desired product, pull our hearts toward living for cash. We are like wanderers who crawl across the desert of life from one material mirage to another and wonder why we don’t feel happy.

In Psalm 1:1-6, before the psalmist tells us where to find the kind of happiness that God offers, we are told where not to find it. Hanging out with ungodly friends, listening to the advice of self-help books and horoscopes, and conforming to the cultural input around us all lead down dead-end streets. One of those major dead ends is “get-rich-and-be-happy” street. Unfortunately, ungodly influence doesn’t come only from people “out there.” It has subtly seeped into our church conversations with Christian friends, and it occasionally can come from unlikely places such as pulpits and church publications. Think of how easily bad advice has polluted your thoughts, distracted your focus, and diminished your sense of happiness. If your pursuit in life is material success, remember, it didn’t work for Howard Hughes, and you can bet that it won’t work for you either.

Here’s a great alternative. The psalmist affirms that the truly blessed life finds its joy and satisfaction in living by the words and ways of God. There is no greater happiness than the sense of a clear conscience, the confidence of being loved and led by God, and the wealth of knowing that life is being lived in the safety of God’s law. Reject the bad advice that God’s rules are divine handcuffs and rejoice that his “commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3) but a source of blessedness and joy (Joshua 1:8).

Looking for true happiness? Delight in the law of the Lord and live by the principles of His Word!

 

A Father’s Love

From: Our Daily Journey

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Read:

Matthew 3:13-17
A voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy” (Matthew 3:17).

Soccer fans around the world are known for being passionate about their teams, but Boca Juniors, a team from Argentina, may have some of the most enthusiastic followers. Besides typical expressions of support like jerseys, colorful wigs, and face paint, entire stadiums of Boca Juniors fans will even go so far as to set off fireworks simultaneously in an amazing pyrotechnic display, all to communicate one simple fact: “We love our team!”

This “over-the-top” display of loyalty reminded me of the lavish way God the Father expressed His love during Jesus’ baptism. After Jesus emerged from the waters of the Jordan River, the heavens opened up and the Spirit of God in the form of a dove descended and settled on Jesus (Matthew 3:16). This in itself would have been an amazing sign of God’s favor. But the Father wasn’t satisfied with this remarkable display. Like an earthly father who simply can’t contain his pride, He declared from the heavens, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy” (Matthew 3:17). The Father seemed to pull out all the stops to declare His passionate love.

This moment provides an important reminder of God’s character. It can be easy to slip into the perception that God is cold, distant, and judgmental. We may even view Him as surveying all of creation with His arms crossed, just waiting for us to slip up. But Matthew 3 reveals the true nature of our Father: He loves His children and affectionately displays His love in every way possible!

Even more amazing is the fact that because of the work of Jesus, believers are now part of God’s family (Romans 8:14). Our heavenly Father feels the same way about us as He does for His Son! (1 John 3:1).

 

 

The Place of Exaltation

The Place of Exaltation

By Oswald Chambers

We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain, when we have seen things from God’s perspective and have wanted to stay there. But God will never allow us to stay there. The true test of our spiritual life is in exhibiting the power to descend from the mountain. If we only have the power to go up, something is wrong. It is a wonderful thing to be on the mountain with God, but a person only gets there so that he may later go down and lift up the demon-possessed people in the valley (see Mark 9:14-18). We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life— those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength. Yet our spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mountain. We feel that we could talk and live like perfect angels, if we could only stay on the mountaintop. Those times of exaltation are exceptional and they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware to prevent our spiritual selfishness from wanting to make them the only time.

We are inclined to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching. In actual fact, it is to be turned into something even better than teaching, namely, character. The mountaintop is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a terrible trap in always asking, “What’s the use of this experience?” We can never measure spiritual matters in that way. The moments on the mountaintop are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.

The Assigning Of The Call

 

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.     2 Thessalonians 2:14 

 

 

Pictures of God calling Samuel.   Scripture is l Samuel 

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The Assigning of the Call

By Oswald Chambers

We take our own spiritual consecration and try to make it into a call of God, but when we get right with Him He brushes all this aside. Then He gives us a tremendous, riveting pain to fasten our attention on something that we never even dreamed could be His call for us. And for one radiant, flashing moment we see His purpose, and we say, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. Yet God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to use to crush us. We say, “If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way, then I wouldn’t object!” But when He uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object. Yet we must never try to choose the place of our own martyrdom. If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed—you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.

I wonder what finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you? Have you been as hard as a marble and escaped? If you are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you anyway, the wine produced would have been remarkably bitter. To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service. We have to be placed into God and brought into agreement with Him before we can be broken bread in His hands. Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.

 

Stand-Out Love

From: Our Daily Journey

Stand-Out Love

Read:

John 13:31-38
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples (John 13:35).

In 1988, François Pasquier returned to France after spending time away from his homeland. Hoping to reconnect with his friends, he invited them to a picnic in a public park. Pasquier asked everyone to wear white so that they could identify one another. The dinner was a success, and the guests decided to reconvene the following year with more friends. Diner en Blanc has now grown to an annual dinner party of some 10,000 attendees. People still dress in white so they will stand out from those not attending the dinner.

Jesus also wanted His disciples to be noticeably different from the people around them—but because of their care for each other. Shortly before His crucifixion, He told them, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). The kind of love Jesus was describing wasn’t merely brotherly love, it was something more—steady, unconditional, agape (the highest form of) love.

This kind of love naturally stands out from the world because it doesn’t make sense. It embraces people regardless of their friendliness or merit and doesn’t let go. Ever. It continually thinks well of people and lets that kind regard morph into words and actions that benefit them. This is the love Jesus showed to His disciples. He said, “Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34).

Believers today can be sure that Jesus loves us with a persistent, wonderful affection. If we unleash that kind of love on our Christian brothers and sisters (as well as those who don’t know Jesus!), we’ll raise eyebrows in a world filled with indifference and animosity. Hopefully, those who notice will hear God’s call to join His family and experience true love.

 

Carbonated Christians

From: CBN, and author: Jean S. Wilund

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I can’t explain why he did it, but my friend Cary set off an eruption in the middle of class, and I got blamed. To be fair, it was my ice-cold can of soda spraying an outrageous fountain into the air, but it was Cary’s hand that stabbed it with his pencil as it lay sideways on my desk. A shower of soda rained on my head along with shock and disbelief. How could so much soda come out of one little can?

Christians aren’t much different. Serious power in a small package. Carbonated Christians.

God’s Spirit lives in Christians and gives us the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. That’s infinitely more power than a can of flavored sugar water infused with carbon dioxide and placed into a freezer for an hour – like I’d done with my can of soda that morning.

I’d placed my soda into the freezer hoping to make it stay cold longer. We hadn’t reached the lesson in Science class about when water in soda freezes it expands and pushes the carbon dioxide out. Or at least it tries. Unbeknownst to me, I’d walked into my classroom with a can of supercharged pressure, desperate for a way of escape. Eager for Cary and his pencil.

As Christians spend time studying the Bible and coming to know God and his character, our faith expands. We become carbonated Christians walking with more power than we ever imagined. Outrageous power to forgive the unforgivable, stand bravely in the face of fear, and love our enemies. Passion to reach out to the lost despite intense shyness. An overwhelming desire to put others first and the strength to pray instead of panic when our nightmare comes true.

If it feels like your faith is flat, supercharge it with time at God’s feet. Let his Word work in you to infuse your faith and explode it into a cascading fountain of power and trust.

Nothing we imagine will exceed what God is able to do according to the power of his Spirit at work in us. His Spirit transforms us into us carbonated Christians.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 NIV

 

Fresh Faith

The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

 

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Childlike faith is our goal. For such is the Kingdom of Heaven.
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Fresh Faith

From: Our Daily Bread

Fresh Faith
Read: John 20:24–29 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 7–8; Ephesians 2

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

When our son was struggling with heroin addiction, if you had told me God would one day use our experience to encourage other families who face these kinds of battles, I would have had trouble believing it. God has a way of bringing good out of difficult circumstances that isn’t always easy to see when you are going through them.

The apostle Thomas also didn’t expect God to bring good out of the greatest challenge of his faith—Jesus’s crucifixion. Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus came to them after the resurrection, and in his deep grief he insisted, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were . . . I will not believe” (John 20:25). But later, when Jesus appeared to all the disciples together, out of the dust of Thomas’s doubts God’s Spirit would inspire a striking statement of faith. When Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28), he was grasping the truth that Jesus was actually God in the flesh, standing right in front of him. It was a bold confession of faith that would encourage and inspire believers in every century that followed.

Our God is able to inspire fresh faith in our hearts, even in moments when we least expect it.  We can always look forward to His faithfulness. Nothing is too hard for Him!

Thank You, Lord, that Your love is stronger than our greatest difficulties—even our worst doubts or fears!

God can change our doubts into bold statements of faith.

 

 

The King for Everyone

From: Our Daily Journey

The King for Everyone

Read:

Psalm 97:1-9
The Lord is King! Let the earth rejoice! (Psalm 97:1).

After every election, whether for British parliament or Venezuelan president or US Congress, there are always winners and losers. Supporters of victorious candidates feel vindicated and triumphant, while supporters of losing candidates feel rebuffed and defeated. Politics, bound as it is to flawed arrangements of power, always divides people. It always pits one’s hopes and visions for the future against the hopes and visions of another.

The psalmist tells us, however, that God’s rule over the world is entirely different. His rule isn’t good for only a select few but rather for the entire world. God’s rule gives the whole earth a reason for jubilation (Psalm 97:1). Although God is ruling now, He’s still working to fully overthrow evil. But someday every inch of creation and every person will experience joy. No one left out; nowhere left out. Even “the farthest coastlands [will] be glad” (Psalm 97:1).

Yet it’s not precisely correct to say that everyone will rejoice. Those who oppose the King’s goodness, integrity, and truth will find their plans thwarted because “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Psalm 97:2). Whoever stands opposed to justice, opposed to God’s good rule reaching out to everyone, will be toppled (Psalm 97:3). Evil must be deposed so that our God of healing and hope can be “supreme over all the earth” (Psalm 97:9).

So with evil dismantled, and God as King over the world, everyone everywhere can breathe easy. Our God isn’t a tribal God but the Creator of every ethnicity, every nationality, every person. Whether we’re rich or poor, influential or unnoticed, successful or barely holding things together—whoever we are, when God is our king, it’s reason to celebrate!

 

 

The Awareness of the Call

 

The Awareness of the Call

By Oswald Chambers

We are inclined to forget the deeply spiritual and supernatural touch of God. If you are able to tell exactly where you were when you received the call of God and can explain all about it, I question whether you have truly been called. The call of God does not come like that; it is much more supernatural. The realization of the call in a person’s life may come like a clap of thunder or it may dawn gradually. But however quickly or slowly this awareness comes, it is always accompanied with an undercurrent of the supernatural— something that is inexpressible and produces a “glow.” At any moment the sudden awareness of this incalculable, supernatural, surprising call that has taken hold of your life may break through— “I chose you…” (John 15:16). The call of God has nothing to do with salvation and sanctification. You are not called to preach the gospel because you are sanctified; the call to preach the gospel is infinitely different. Paul describes it as a compulsion that was placed upon him.

If you have ignored, and thereby removed, the great supernatural call of God in your life, take a review of your circumstances. See where you have put your own ideas of service or your particular abilities ahead of the call of God. Paul said, “…woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” He had become aware of the call of God, and his compulsion to “preach the gospel” was so strong that nothing else was any longer even a competitor for his strength.

If a man or woman is called of God, it doesn’t matter how difficult the circumstances may be. God orchestrates every force at work for His purpose in the end. If you will agree with God’s purpose, He will bring not only your conscious level but also all the deeper levels of your life, which you yourself cannot reach, into perfect harmony.

The Day I Couldn’t Pray

Psalm 147:3 

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Isaiah 40:1 

“‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God.”

Matthew 5:4 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Matthew 11:28 

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

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When you feel you can’t pray remember that God knows your heart and mind. He knows how you are hurting and is helping already.
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The Day I Couldn’t Pray

From: Our Daily Bread

The Day I Couldn’t Pray
Read: Romans 8:22–26 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 5–6; Ephesians 1

The Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

In November 2015, I learned I needed open-heart surgery. Surprised and a little shaken, I was naturally drawn to think about the possibility of death. Were there relationships I needed to mend? Were there financial matters I needed to attend to for my family? Was there work that could be done ahead of time? And what about work that couldn’t wait; who should I hand that off to? It was a time to both act and pray.

Except I couldn’t do either.

My body was so weary and my mind so fatigued that even the simplest of tasks seemed beyond my strength. Perhaps most surprising, when I tried to pray, my thoughts would drift to the discomfort, or the shallow breathing caused by the damaged heart made me fall asleep. It was frustrating. I couldn’t work and I couldn’t even ask God to let me live so I could spend more time with my family!

The inability to pray troubled me most. But as with all other human needs, the Creator knew this was happening to me. I would eventually recall He made two preparations for such occurrences: the prayer of the Spirit for us when we can’t pray (Rom. 8:26), and the prayer of others on our behalf (James 5:16; Gal. 6:2).

What a comfort it was to know that the Holy Spirit was even then raising my concerns before the Father. What a gift also to hear from friends and family as they prayed for me. Then came another surprise: As my friends and family asked me what to pray for, it became clear that my answers to them were also being heard by God as prayers. What a gift it is in a time of uncertainty to be reminded God hears our heart even when we think we can’t call out to Him.

 God never leaves the voices of His children unheard.

 

 

Lysa TerKeurst September 28, 2017
When God Isn’t Answering Our Prayers
LYSA TERKEURSTFrom: Crosswalk.com

“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2 (NIV)

When God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers it can be hard. Sometimes, downright awful.

One minute I’m determined to trust God.

In the next, I feel myself slipping. The “why” questions tumble in so hard. My heart hurts. My eyes leak.

Ever been there?

I don’t want to oversimplify what to do in these times. I know from prayer requests I’ve received over the years many of us are facing really tough issues. Situations where the answers aren’t easy or clear cut.

But I have discovered a few things that help me when God seems silent …

* Press in to God when you want to pull away.

When I really want to hear from God but He seems silent, I sometimes find I want to disengage from my normal spiritual activities. Skip church. Put my Bible on my shelf. And let more and more time lapse between prayers.

But our key verse, Psalm 61:2, reminds us that the best thing we can do when our hearts are growing faint is to call out to God, not pull away from Him: “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

The Bible also promises we will find God if we seek Him with all our heart. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV). All my heart includes the parts that are broken. Bring it all to God.

He can handle your honesty and will respond. But we have to position ourselves to go where truth is. Go to church. Listen to praise music. Read verses. Memorize verses. And keep talking to God.

* Praise God out loud when you want to get lost in complaints.

In the midst of what you’re facing, find simple things for which to praise God. I don’t mean thank Him for the hard stuff. I mean thank Him for the other simple, good things still in the midst. A child’s laugh. A bush that blooms. The warmth of a blanket. The gift of this breath and then the next.

Psalm 40:3 reminds me God will give me a new song when I make praise the habit of my heart and mouth: “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him” (NIV).

* Put yourself in the company of truth.

That friend who speaks truth? Listen to her. Stay connected to her. Let her speak truth into your life, even when you’re tired of hearing it. Stand in the shadow of her faith when you feel your own faith is weak. Let her lead you back to God time and time again.Proverbs 12:26a reminds us: “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor …” (ESV).

It’s okay to feel hurt and confused. Our God is big enough to handle our honest feelings. But don’t let your feelings lead you away from God or away from His truth. Press into Him. Praise Him. And put yourself in the company of truth.

As you stay with God in these ways, you’ll become ready to receive His answer when it comes.

Dear Lord, thank You for hearing every “why” my heart sends up to You. Forgive me when I retreat from You and Your Word. I want to trust You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Perfect Plans

From: Our Daily Journey

Perfect Plans

Read:

Isaiah 45:1-13
So all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other (Isaiah 45:6).

The rejection letter I received from the university’s registrar sent me spiraling into shock and disbelief. In the midst of my sadness and confusion, I was grateful that one of my cousins had encouraged me to apply to another school. Fortunately, I was accepted by that university. While I didn’t understand why I was unable to attend my dream school, I recognized that God wasn’t surprised. He knew everything about my situation and had my best in mind.

Years before the birth of King Cyrus, the prophet Isaiah declared, “This is what the Lord says to Cyrus, his anointed one . . . . I will go before you . . . and level the mountains. . . . I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one” (Isaiah 45:1-4).

Since God had declared that He was “the God of Israel” (Isaiah 45:3), His actions through a foreign king may have seemed unusual. Even more surprising would have been the idea that God was using this foreign power to bring about something good for His chosen people. Yet God dispels any doubts with this unequivocal declaration, “I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God” (Isaiah 45:5-6).

The university I attended ending up providing me with connections that laid a solid foundation for my career. What made no sense to me at the time became a shining example of God working out His purposes for my good and His glory. We can rest in His perfect plans.

The Webs Of Life

Job 8:14

Whose confidence is fragile, And whose trust a spider’s web.

 

Proverbs 30:28

The lizard you may grasp with the hands, Yet it is in kings’ palaces.

Isaiah 59:5

They hatch adders’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth.

Job 27:18

“He has built his house like the spider’s web, Or as a hut which the watchman has made.

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Don’t Allow Yourself To Be Caught In One Of Life’s Webs.
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The Webs of Life

From: Author, Missy Butler

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Fall. The cool breezes of autumn cause us to reach for our favorite sweater, as we step outdoors to take a brisk walk in the crisp, clean air. The smell of burning leaves always reminds me of my childhood, with thoughts of flickering fireplaces and large mugs of hot chocolate, topped with a big ole melting marshmallow.

Another not so fond memory of autumns past, was one of me riding along on my bicycle, minding my own business, when suddenly I would find myself plowing head-long, face-first, into the middle of a large sticky spider web! Oh, how I hated that! With arms flailing and lips sputtering, I would attempt to peel off the remnants of what used to be Madame Spider’s abode as she would have no other choice but to now come along for the ride, and I just knew that her little eight-legged self was creeping along somewhere in the vicinity of my shoulders.

For some unknown reason, I have found myself very intrigued (again) with spider webs. I happened to spot one the other morning as I was heading out for my usual morning bike ride with my favorite Labrador companion, Champ. It was still dark and the moon was shining at just the right angle where I could see the reflection of the silk woven web. I was amazed at how perfectly concentric its design was.

A few seconds later, I was stunned, as I witnessed a very large fluttering butterfly come out of nowhere and rapidly plunge head-long into the center of its web. The poor butterfly frantically began to struggle only to find itself being wrapped tighter with each panicky movement. I instinctively lowered my bike and walked over and with both hands, reached in, and as gently as I could, cupped my palms around her and slowly pulled her out. I released her into the moonlight and watched as she hastily flew away.

Immediately, I thought of God’s own hands and how they had lovingly reached down into my own web of impending death. I recalled those web-like sticky fibers of sin that had wrapped themselves around my mind and heart so tightly, just waiting for me to die a slow death. I desperately tried to free myself from the bondage of sin, but could not. He came along at just the right moment and cupped his palms around me and set me free.

Today, I am that butterfly and I now soar in my new-found freedom, knowing full well just what I have been rescued from. I rejoice in the liberty that He has given me by way of my salvation. The very same palms that were nailed to a cruel cross, one day lovingly reached down into my own web of sin and forever set me free.

Will you allow Him to do the same for you? He understands how we so readily fall prey to the enemy of our soul, and He longs to release us from the entanglement of sin. Stop trying to release yourself, and let Him reach down and set you free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galations 5:1).

Always on Duty

From: Our Daily Journey

Always on Duty

Read:

Galatians 6:1-10
Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith (Galatians 6:10).

Julie Stroyne, a trauma nurse, had just gotten married and immediately after the reception was walking with her wedding party in downtown Pittsburgh. Suddenly she spotted an unconscious woman on a bench. Still in her wedding dress, Stroyne kicked off her shoes and jumped into action in an effort to save the woman’s life. It didn’t matter that she was celebrating her wedding. As a nurse, she was ready to serve.

The apostle Paul says that all believers in Jesus should be ready as well. He wanted those who have received salvation to know that “whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

Yes, we have a special responsibility to other believers (Galatians 6:2). Doing good to those who are in the family of God demonstrates His faithfulness to His people. Like a loving home, family members’ needs are to be met first—followed by friends and neighbors.

Members of the Galatian church to whom Paul wrote didn’t receive help from local civic leaders. The only source of aid for struggling believers was the generosity of other believers. So as the individual Galatian believers had opportunity to do good, they were to do so to everyone. Paul reminded them that no matter the disruptive circumstances, the constant inconveniences, or changing locations, they were always on duty, and shouldn’t “give up” helping others (Galatians 6:9).

Like medical professionals, followers of Jesus are always on duty. Therefore, the time for doing good is anytime. God is always orchestrating fresh opportunities for us to assist those who are in need. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes so we can see where and to whom He wants us to do good today.

Sticking Up for Jesus

From: Get More Strenght

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Recently, I read a disturbing quote from a pastor of a large church in California. He said, “I used to believe that we should ask Muslims to accept Christ as their Savior. But I don’t believe that any more. I’ve sensed the presence of God with Muslims, and I’ve come to believe that it’s wrong to try to talk them into becoming Christians.”

I don’t know why he changed his mind, but caving in on what Jesus has clearly said, is a betrayal of Jesus Himself. Jesus came to make a way to God by removing the one barrier that blocks everyone’s path to God—the barrier of sin. This meant that He had to die in our place to pay the price of sin. Without His sacrifice, there is no other way. Let’s face it; if there were other ways to God, then He didn’t need to die. It’s ludicrous to believe that His Father would send Him through the agony of the cross if it were only another religious option. To deny that He is the way is to deny Jesus.

But let’s get personal about this. While it’s easy to “be out” on a West Coast pastor who has bailed on the message of Jesus, we ourselves find it hard to tell people at the water cooler that we believe He is the only way. There are probably a lot of reasons why we tend to fudge on the issue: keeping culturally respectable, not appearing to be to the right of Attila the Hun, or just not wanting to seem intolerant or bigoted all stack up as pretty good reasons to duck when the subject is raised.

But at some point, we have to make up our mind about whether any of these pressures are worth betraying Jesus for.

Judas did it for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 27:1-5). And, to be candid about it, he had some pretty good reasons to bail. If he had stuck it out with the unpopular Jesus, he would suffer (as Jesus had told His disciples), be thrown out of synagogues, and perhaps even die for the cause. On the other hand, betraying Christ would bring him acceptance from the “powers that be,” safety, and security by aligning himself with the big guys—and some extra cash besides. Being like Judas is always an option. But let’s remember that he was no hero. When was the last time you heard of parents naming their newborn son Judas?

All I’m trying to say is that sticking up for Jesus against heavy odds is always tough. But it’s always right. Perhaps we have misunderstood the nature of being a follower of Jesus: We are to take up our cross and follow Him. Paying a price for Him comes into clear perspective when we remember the phenomenal price He paid for us.

I’m not asking you to be obnoxious about it, just humbly clear. And by the way, is there anything compelling about your life that would back up the words that Jesus is the way? Are you wonderfully different because Jesus is the way? Do people at the water cooler know that you are trustworthy, forgiving, fair and honest, joyful, and quick to speak a good word about others?

It’s always easier to speak up for Jesus when we have already shown up for Jesus.

From Empty To Full

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Things that are empty.
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From Empty to Full

From: Our Daily Bread

From Empty to Full
Read: 2 Kings 4:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 1–2; Galatians 5

When all the jars were full . . . the oil stopped flowing. 2 Kings 4:6

A popular children’s book tells the story of a poor, country boy who took off his cap to honor the king. An identical hat appeared instantly in its place on his head, inciting the king’s anger for what appeared to be disrespect. Bartholomew removed hat after hat while being escorted to the palace for punishment. Each time, a new one appeared in its place. The hats grew increasingly fancy, bearing precious jewels and feather plumes. The 500th hat was the envy of King Derwin, who pardoned Bartholomew and purchased the hat for 500 pieces of gold. At last, Bartholomew’s head was bare; he walked home with freedom and money to support his family.

A widow came to Elisha in financial distress, fearing her children would be sold into slavery to pay her debts (2 Kings 4). She had no assets other than a jar of oil. God multiplied that oil to fill enough borrowed jars to settle the debts plus care for their daily needs (v. 7).

God provided financially for the widow in much the same way He provides salvation for me. I am bankrupted by sin, but Jesus paid my debt—and offers me eternal life as well! Without Jesus, we are each like the poor, country boy with no means to pay our King for our offenses against Him. God miraculously supplies the extravagant ransom for us, and ensures that those who trust in Him will have life abundant forever.

Thank You, Lord, for paying my debt through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I had nothing; You paid it all for me.

Jesus’s sacrifice pays for our spiritual debt.

The “Go” of Reconciliation

By Oswald Chambers

This verse says, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you….” It is not saying, “If you search and find something because of your unbalanced sensitivity,” but, “If you…remember….” In other words, if something is brought to your conscious mind by the Spirit of God— “First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24). Never object to the intense sensitivity of the Spirit of God in you when He is instructing you down to the smallest detail.

“First be reconciled to your brother….” Our Lord’s directive is simple— “First be reconciled….” He says, in effect, “Go back the way you came— the way indicated to you by the conviction given to you at the altar; have an attitude in your mind and soul toward the person who has something against you that makes reconciliation as natural as breathing.” Jesus does not mention the other person— He says for you to go. It is not a matter of your rights. The true mark of the saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.

“…and then come and offer your gift.” The process of reconciliation is clearly marked. First we have the heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, then the sudden restraint by the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit, and then we are stopped at the point of our conviction. This is followed by obedience to the Word of God, which builds an attitude or state of mind that places no blame on the one with whom you have been in the wrong. And finally there is the glad, simple, unhindered offering of your gift to God.

 

Crossing Cultural Divides

From: Our Daily Journey

Crossing Cultural Divides

Read:

Ruth 2:1-18 
I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done (Ruth 2:11-12).

The Institute of International Education revealed that more than one million international students studied in US universities and colleges during the 2015-16 academic year. As a former international student myself, I know how difficult it is to enter a different culture, to learn to communicate in another language, and to experience culture shock and homesickness. I also know how wonderful it feels to be welcomed and loved by believers in Jesus from a local community.

The story of Ruth is a beautiful illustration of God’s people caring for outsiders. Ruth was a foreigner in Israel who had traveled from her homeland of Moab to the land of Israel (Ruth 1:6-7). Although her circumstances were different from an international student, she had taken a huge risk to travel with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to her homeland and join her people (Ruth 1:16). Moreover, Ruth was a citizen of a nation that had experienced hostility with Israel in the past. So the potential for her to be treated badly was even greater than for some foreigners.

Yet God was aware of her situation. Each step of the way He placed the right people in her path so that Ruth would be welcomed and loved. Upon her arrival, Ruth worked hard gathering grain in the fields owned by Boaz. He was a wealthy man and also a relative of Ruth’s deceased father-in-law. He showed amazing kindness and hospitality to Ruth even though she was a foreigner (Ruth 2:8-10).

Immigrants, refugees, and international students with many needs and challenges are present in our communities. As God provides for us, may we use this God-given opportunity to show the same kindness and hospitality that Boaz showed Ruth.

Removing The Barriers

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-4

 

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

 
Ephesians 2:14

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,

Isaiah 59:2

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Mark 16:4

Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.

 

(Refusing To Listen Is One Of The Barriers We Must Overcome).

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Removing the Barriers

From: Our Daily Bread

Removing the Barriers

He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. Philemon 1:16

I saw Mary every Tuesday when I visited “the House”—a home that helps former prisoners reintegrate into society. My life looked different from hers: fresh out of jail, fighting addictions, separated from her son. You might say she lived on the edge of society.

Like Mary, Onesimus knew what it meant to live on the edge of society. As a slave, Onesimus had apparently wronged his Christian master, Philemon, and was now in prison. While there, he met Paul and came to faith in Christ (v. 10). Though now a changed man, Onesimus was still a slave. Paul sent him back to Philemon with a letter urging him to receive Onesimus “no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother” (Philem. 1:16).

Philemon had a choice to make: He could treat Onesimus as his slave or welcome him as a brother in Christ. I had a choice to make too. Would I see Mary as an ex-convict and a recovering addict—or as a woman whose life is being changed by the power of Christ? Mary was my sister in the Lord, and we were privileged to walk together in our journey of faith.

It’s easy to allow the walls of socio-economic status, class, or cultural differences to separate us. The gospel of Christ removes those barriers, changing our lives and our relationships forever.

Dear God, thank You that the gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives and relationships. Thank You for removing the barriers between us and making us all members of Your family.

The gospel changes people and relationships.

 

Never Give Up

From: Our Daily Journey

Never Give Up

Read:

Luke 18:1-8
Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up (Luke 18:1).

Unlike mystery novels where you never know who the villain in the story is until the final pages, in Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow, we’re clued in right at the beginning that the judge is a shady character. Jesus sets the stage by informing us that there “was a judge in a certain city . . . who neither feared God nor cared about people” (Luke 18:2). This judge didn’t waste a moment thinking about God or about anybody other than himself. He was selfish, small-minded, and power-hungry.

Jesus introduces us to another character, however, a widow who was destitute and who came to the judge’s court day after day. She repeatedly asked him for a ruling against someone who had wronged her. Time and again, the judge rebuffed her. Yet the widow refused to take no for an answer. Finally the exhausted judge decided he’d had enough. “I don’t fear God or care for people,” the judge admitted, “but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!” (Luke 18:4-5).

And this is where Jesus drives His point home: If a judge as awful and evil as this can be moved to intervene, then think about how much more powerfully God’s heart and strength will move on your behalf (Luke 18:6). If even this scoundrel finally helps the poor woman, how much more, Jesus asks, can we trust that “God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?” (Luke 18:7).

Keep praying, Jesus insists. Keep bringing your entire heart to God. Bring your hopes and disappointments, your desires and needs, your confusion, your dismay, your brokenness. Keep praying, and never give up. Your God hears you and He will answer.

 

Fight Like a Saint

From: CBN, and Rev. Pam Morrison, author

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“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

We raised our children for many years on a large piece of land that had once been farm property. We built a home, put in a garden, and created a pond behind the house.

The pond had a dock and the Extension Service helped us to stock the pond with bass, catfish, and blue gill. The kids loved to fish. One time our daughter caught two fish on one lure!

But with the joy, came some issues. One of them was algae growth. Oh my, it was concerning to see the green “globs” increase and threaten to overtake our beautiful fishing spot.

My husband went to the feed store and talked with one of the men there. He recommended a product that, with just a small amount poured into the water, could swiftly destroy the algae.

The product was amazing. Within short order, every bit of algae was gone. No more masses of green organisms choking the pond. The water was clear and pristine again.

I thought of this recently in relationship to ministering to people with difficult emotional problems. I spend time with recovering addicts, helping them to get free. The life they have led, the pain experienced through personal choices, and the harsh things that have been done to them often result in a spectrum of spiritual attacks on their minds. Feelings of rejection, shame, isolation, abandonment by God and others, and many more distorted thoughts threaten to suffocate the clear living water of the Spirit and the presence of Christ for them.

Just as the algae attempted to overcome the clear water of our pond, so these thoughts, alien to God’s thoughts, threaten to suffocate the hearts and minds of people oppressed by them. Even many mature Christians struggle.

But we have a “product” too, that can, even with a small amount, slip into the clouded waters of our thoughts and eat away the lies. That product is the word of God. The Lord has reminded me recently that though it is unpleasant to have to do spiritual warfare and get up and fight yet again, the truth of the matter is the One who will really do the fighting is Him. When we feel beset by cloudy, hurtful, or unhealthy feelings, all we need to do is run to His arms, pick up the Word, and once again drop some of it into our circumstances. So we decree:

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

“I am accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:6

“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

I say, “I am loved and I belong to God. I am righteous in God’s sight always as a believer in Christ Jesus.” These new, true thoughts begin to consume and drive out the lies.

When we just put a drop of truth into our minds by decreeing the Word instead of giving into the relentless attack from the enemy, (which we think is simply our emotions) the waters of our mind’s thinking begin to clear.  God fights for us and we get back up on our feet, reinvigorated, hope restored.

Fight like a saint!!

Be Angry But Sin Not

 

Key verse: “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, Ephesians 4:26

Psalms 7:11 (KJV) God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

1 Kings 11:9,10 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded.

2 Kings 17:18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.

Mark 3:4,5 And he [Jesus] said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

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Anger Management

From: Our Daily Bread

Anger Management

In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26

As I had dinner with a friend, she expressed how fed up she was with a particular family member. But she was reluctant to say anything to him about his annoying habit of ignoring or mocking her. When she did try to confront him about the problem, he responded with sarcastic remarks. She exploded in anger at him. Both parties wound up digging in their heels, and the family rift widened.

I can relate, because I handle anger the same way. I also have a hard time confronting people. If a friend or family member says something mean, I usually suppress how I feel until that person or someone else comes along and says or does something else mean. After a while, I explode.

Maybe that’s why the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:26 said, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Providing a time limit on unresolved issues keeps anger in check. Instead of stewing over a wrong, which is a breeding ground for bitterness, we can ask God for help to “[speak] the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).

Got a problem with someone? Rather than hold it in, hold it up to God first. He can fight the fire of anger with the power of His forgiveness and love.

Heavenly Father, please guard us from uncontrolled anger. May the words that we speak bring honor to You.

 

Honor by Example

From: Our Daily Journey

Honor by Example

Read:

1 Timothy 4:6–5:2
Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8).

Darkness wrapped the jet in a quiet comfort, while a few reading lights remained on. Though it was late in the evening and passengers were trying to sleep, the loud chatter of two young women could be heard above the hum of the plane’s engine. Suddenly, an older woman seated in front of them turned around and sharply exclaimed, “Would you two be quiet!” Taken aback, they looked around to see who had heard and began laughing disrespectfully. Turning to glare once more, the disrupted sleeper settled back in her seat.

Both parties could have been more civil. Impatience. Self-centeredness. Entitlement. Each of these qualities can cause us to treat others badly. Whether masked by artificially polite behavior or displayed in outright contempt, the struggle to honor others is evident in our world.

We too can feel unrelenting pressure to demand what culture says is within our rights. Those who’ve been changed by Jesus’ love, however, realize our motivation, though lived out in this world, comes from heaven. The temptation to dishonor should be met by the reality that our hope is “in the living God” who saves (1 Timothy 4:10). Godliness—living out thoughts, actions, and words that reflect Christ’s own—flows from Him and sets the path for us to honor Him.

Even the tendency toward dishonor that all too often accompanies generational differences can be overcome with our decision to live and speak in love, faith, and purity (1 Timothy 4:121 Timothy 5:1-2). Paul’s words to Timothy remind us honoring others must be prominent in our interactions, not only because we bear the image of God but because the world is watching us (1 Timothy 4:16). May we reveal Jesus as He provides what we need to treat others with respect.

 

Keep Hanging On

From: CBN, and author:  Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D.

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Sometimes I wonder why the farmer in Jesus’s parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-20 wasted so much seed on sub-prime acreage. The stony portion of the field, for example, wasn’t a place that just needed a little rock removal. It was “ground where a quite thin surface of earth covers a rock,” according to the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.* In other words, those seeds fell on nothing more than a slab of dusty bedrock.

God’s promises have fallen on similar “tillage” in my heart where I despaired of ever producing a harvest. But even mountains manage to grow a crop of towering pines on nothing more than granite when seeds persist long enough to push through rock. I’ve found, even where my heart feels stony, I can still get it to yield something fruitful.

When we were putting our children through college, my financial faith felt as tenuous as a root trying to survive on a boulder. Our savings never seemed to match the requirements for getting them to graduation.

I held scriptures of God’s faithfulness to provide for us in my heart—promises such as 2 Corinthians 9:10-11Philippians 4:19, and many more. Though the word was sown in me, however, reality constantly threatened to break my hold on trust. Tomorrow’s fees were always looming over today’s inadequate bank account.

Growing Faith Bit by Bit

My faith wasn’t big or strong enough to believe for all the expenses at once, but I kept it alive by trusting God for one day’s bills at a time. When worry lifted its head, I refreshed myself daily (even hourly) by recalling those words of faithfulness, and they consoled and encouraged my heart like dewfall on dry roots.

Day by day, I marveled at how He met our needs. Sometimes a tax rebate arrived just in time. Sometimes a gift appeared in our mailbox. Sometimes there was an unexpected pay increase.

Money seemed to pass through our bank account more than it collected there, so I’m still not sure how it happened, but the bills were paid and both children graduated without going into debt. All the time I felt like the farmer in Mark 4:26-29. I didn’t know how, but the ground seemed to be producing all by itself; first the sprout, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. One thing I do know—my faith that God will provide for us is stronger than ever because my roots had time to go deep.

Faith sometimes takes hold slowly, like roots growing on rocky ground. Keeping His word fresh in our minds, like moisture consistently applied, keeps it alive. Stone-bound seeds kept moist long enough to grow roots attain a remarkable power. They slowly and steadily push against the rock as they grow, until they penetrate then crack it. Under that tiny but consistent pressure, the stone gradually crumbles and becomes the very soil the roots need.

God sows His seed where He wills—even where logic says it should not grow at all. If we will lay hold of His words and cling to them as to great treasure, those words will at last produce a harvest—sometimes thirty, sometimes sixty, and sometimes a hundred fold.

Belief In Christ Redeems Your Soul

 II Corinthians 5: 16-21

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:a The old has gone, the new is here!

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

21 God made him who had no sin to be sinb for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

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God is a great accountant. He keeps detailed records of all bad and good. God knows that we are weak. So, He offers us a full pardon. The pardon makes us completely without sin if we believe in His Son. The result is complete peace with God, and eternity in Heaven.

John 3:16 ” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Ugh, Yes, But . . .

From: Our Daily Journey

Ugh, Yes, But . . .

Read:

Psalm 130:1-8
Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? (Psalm 130:3).

I winced the moment I said it. I meant to be funny, but it came out mean. My comment sagged heavy on my heart when I went to bed and was still draped there when I awoke. I thought, My motives were pure, but my words were clumsy. Such self-talk purchased momentary relief, but soon enough the pain of my words began to haunt my heart again. After twenty-four hours of trying to let myself off the hook, I finally admitted what I had known all along. What I said was wrong. I had been a jerk.

Immediately a wave of relief washed over my head and down to my toes. I understood the rhetorical question of Psalm 130:3, “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive?” Answer: No one. As Paul later declared, “Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).

Almost everyone. Psalm 130:3 may have begun as a rhetorical question, but it didn’t end there. If God kept a record of sins, “Who, O Lord, could ever survive?” Only one person: our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus obeyed God fully and so He could offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. His death and resurrection are the reason we can rejoice in this verse from Psalm 130, “But you offer forgiveness” (Psalm 130:4).

I still often want to make myself look better than I am, but this psalm is teaching me a better way to respond to my sin. I’m learning to say Ugh, that’s ugly, then Yes, that’s what I am on my own, apart from Christ. But that’s no longer who I am. I am now a saint, made holy by the blood of Jesus. So, by God’s grace, my sin has become an excuse to celebrate my new identity. I’m a child of God, forgiven in Jesus. “I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him” (Psalm 130:5).

 

What To Renounce

Utmost.org

What To Renounce

Have you “renounced the hidden things of shame” in your life— the things that your sense of honor or pride will not allow to come into the light? You can easily hide them. Is there a thought in your heart about anyone that you would not like to be brought into the light? Then renounce it as soon as it comes to mind— renounce everything in its entirety until there is no hidden dishonesty or craftiness about you at all. Envy, jealousy, and strife don’t necessarily arise from your old nature of sin, but from the flesh which was used for these kinds of things in the past (see Romans 6:19 and 1 Peter 4:1-3). You must maintain continual watchfulness so that nothing arises in your life that would cause you shame.

“…not walking in craftiness…” (2 Corinthians 4:2). This means not resorting to something simply to make your own point. This is a terrible trap. You know that God will allow you to work in only one way— the way of truth. Then be careful never to catch people through the other way— the way of deceit. If you act deceitfully, God’s blight and ruin will be upon you. What may be craftiness for you, may not be for others— God has called you to a higher standard. Never dull your sense of being your utmost for His highest— your best for His glory. For you, doing certain things would mean craftiness coming into your life for a purpose other than what is the highest and best, and it would dull the motivation that God has given you. Many people have turned back because they are afraid to look at things from God’s perspective. The greatest spiritual crisis comes when a person has to move a little farther on in his faith than the beliefs he has already accepted.

 

Battleground of the Mind

From: CBN, and author: Missey Butler

After my initial conversion to Christianity, it didn’t take long for me to realize that an inner war had been declared and that my mind was where the heaviest skirmishes were taking place.

The ground force troops had been released when I began to recognize that if I was ever going to see victory over my flesh, it would have to first be won in the battlefront of my thinking. The word tells us, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he …” Proverbs 23:7 KJV

I immediately jumped into the foxhole of truth that I found in Galatians 2:20 NIV: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

That hand grenade of a verse had become my John 3:16, if you will, as far as grounding me in the reality that until I die spirituality, no real life was ever going to come forth.

“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24 NIV

I once heard a well-known man of God describe to an audience his early morning ritual. He stated that the very first thing he does after shutting off the alarm is he stands up, stretches, thanks God for a new day, and then… HE DROPS DEAD!

Of course, the audience roared with laughter. Then he quipped, “No, really, I am dead serious!” More laughter ensued. After the hilarity had finally subsided and all eyes were “ten hup” to the wisdom of his next statements, like a good soldier of the Lord, he began to strategically take us through the process of daily mortification of the flesh. The first rules of engagement include the following:

1. Announce that your carnal mind has been declared DOA (dead on arrival).

2. You’ll now be reporting to a new commander in chief from this point on.

3. Never forget, the battles are won and lost in the arena of your mind.

I now faithfully report to my commanding officer every morning. And I’m proud to say I am gaining more and more ground over the lies of the enemy. Some days I find myself dying a thousand deaths within a 24-hour day. This carnal mind does not die easily, but it has to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ.

So now, every morning, I hear the reveille of God’s bugle as He wakes me up to the reality that, yes, the battle is on, but THE WAR HAS ALREADY BEEN WON. I simply stand in an unwavering faith, believing that it is no longer I who lives, but Christ living in me. As Romans 8:37 says, I am more than a conqueror!