Tag Archives: holy

Are You Being Prepared?

Ezekiel 38:7

“Be prepared, and prepare yourself, you and all your companies that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them.

 
John 14:3

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Proverbs 21:31

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

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Are You Being Prepared?

From: Our Daily Bread

Are You Being Prepared?

The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and . . . the bear will rescue me. 1 Samuel 17:37

I worked at a fast-food restaurant for over two years in high school. Some aspects of the job were difficult. Customers verbalized their anger while I apologized for the unwanted slice of cheese on the sandwich I didn’t make. Soon after I left, I applied for a computer job at my university. The employers were more interested in my fast-food experience than my computer skills. They wanted to know that I knew how to deal with people. My experience in unpleasant circumstances prepared me for a better job!

Young David persevered through an experience we might well call unpleasant. When Israel was challenged to send someone to fight Goliath, no one was brave enough to step up to the task. No one but David. King Saul was reluctant to send him to fight, but David explained that as a shepherd he had fought and killed a lion and a bear for the sake of the sheep (1 Sam. 17:34–36). Confidently he stated, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and . . . the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (v. 37).

Being a shepherd didn’t earn David much respect, but it prepared him to fight Goliath and eventually become Israel’s greatest king. We may be in difficult circumstances, but through them God might be preparing us for something greater!

Lord, help me to hold on during the unpleasant times in my life knowing that You may be preparing me for something greater.

God uses present circumstances to prepare us for the future.

 

 

My Life’s Spiritual Honor and Duty

From: Utmost.org

My Life’s Spiritual Honor and Duty

I am not a superior person among other people— I am a bondservant of the Lord Jesus. Paul said, “…you are not your own…you were bought at a price…” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul sold himself to Jesus Christ and he said, in effect, “I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the gospel of Jesus; I am free only that I may be an absolute bondservant of His.” That is the characteristic of a Christian’s life once this level of spiritual honor and duty becomes real. Quit praying about yourself and spend your life for the sake of others as the bondservant of Jesus. That is the true meaning of being broken bread and poured-out wine in real life.

 

Getting Away From It All

From: Get More Strength.com

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3

A pastor friend of mine was telling another pastor about the long-awaited vacation that he and his family were preparing for. The other pastor immediately replied, “Vacation? I never take a vacation. Satan doesn’t take a vacation and neither do I!”

To which my friend wisely retorted, “Well, that’s all right. Satan has never been my example!”

In the summer when school is out and the sun is shining, our thoughts turn toward vacation. And that’s a good thing! We were wired with an innate need to take a break from our usual pace and spend some time being refreshed and recharged.

But for some reason, we sometimes seem apologetic about taking time off or needing a change of pace for a little while. It may be that our internal understanding of a real “work ethic” demands that we feel a little guilty about time that we’re not being “productive” or “efficient.” Or maybe we are concerned that those projects and clients we have been carefully nurturing along will fall to pieces if we put them on hold for a week or two. Maybe we are distorting Paul’s words to the Ephesians, resisting vacations and working nonstop so that we can “make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

If that’s your brain strain, then let me put a biblical stop to that train of thought and provide you with three solid, straight-from-Scripture reasons to enjoy a guilt-free, refreshing time away from your usual pace of work this summer.

Reason number one: it’s commanded in Scripture. The fourth commandment tells us to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). That means more than just going to church on Sunday. The principle of “Sabbath”—rooted in God’s example through creation of resting on the seventh day—intertwines with the Old Testament law code.

There were not only to be days of Sabbath, but week-long festivals scattered throughout the Jewish seasons. In fact, there were Sabbath yearsin their calendar! God’s loving command was intended to pull His people aside for rest so they would be reminded that all good things come from Him . . . not from their frantic efforts at work.

A second reason why it’s a good idea to take a well-deserved break is that your body and spirit need it. I love the picture that David paints for us in Psalm 23:1-6 of a shepherd leading his sheep to a place of refreshment and rest. We are finite, fallible, limited creatures, and without rest we’ll find that burnout and exhaustion eventually take their toll. Our ability to be gracious, loving, and patient will be a casualty of our compulsive work habits. Fatigue and weariness will leave us vulnerable to temptation. And most disturbingly, our intimacy with the Lord will suffer as our time with Him becomes perfunctory at best, and nonexistent at worst. All that can be avoided if we allow our Good Shepherd to restore our soul with times of rest in green pastures and with seasons of refreshment beside quiet waters.

And just in case we need another reason to put our feet up and relax now and then, remember that Jesus did it! He often withdrew from the crush of the crowds to seasons of prayer and rest. During a storm on the Sea of Galilee He was sound asleep in the boat (Mark 4:38). And we are told that while on a trip from Judea to Galilee “Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well” (John 4:6). There were always more people to heal, more messages to preach, and more places to go, but Jesus displayed the importance of rest.

So, whether it’s a weekend of camping, a day at the pool, or a week away with close friends or family members, turn off the cell-phone, close the computer, and get away! There’s no good reason not to!

Face To Face With Jesus

1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

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Face to Face

From: Our Daily Bread

Face to Face

The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Exodus 33:11

Although the world is connected electronically like never before, nothing beats time together in person. As we share and laugh together, we can often sense—almost unconsciously—the other person’s emotions by watching their facial movements. Those who love each other, whether family or friends, like to share with each other face to face.

We see this face-to-face relationship between the Lord and Moses, the man God chose to lead His people. Moses grew in confidence over the years of following God, and he continued to follow Him despite the people’s rebelliousness and idolatry. After the people worshiped a golden calf instead of the Lord (see Ex. 32), Moses set up a tent outside of the camp in which to meet God, while they had to watch from a distance (33:7–11). As the pillar of cloud signifying God’s presence descended to the tent, Moses spoke on their behalf. The Lord promised that His Presence would go with them (v. 14).

Because of Jesus’s death on the cross and His resurrection, we no longer need someone like Moses to speak with God for us. Instead, just as Jesus offered to His disciples, we can have friendship with God through Christ (John 15:15). We too can meet with Him, with the Lord speaking to us as one speaks to a friend.

Face to face! O blissful moment! Face to face—to see and know; face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ who loves me so! Carrie E. Breck

We can speak to the Lord as a friend.

 

Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

From: Our Daily Journey

Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

This verse reveals the humiliation of being a Christian. In the natural realm, if a person does not hit back, it is because he is a coward. But in the spiritual realm, it is the very evidence of the Son of God in him if he does not hit back. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but you must make it an opportunity to exhibit the Son of God in your life. And you cannot imitate the nature of Jesus— it is either in you or it is not. A personal insult becomes an opportunity for a saint to reveal the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not, “Do your duty,” but is, in effect, “Do what is not your duty.” It is not your duty to go the second mile, or to turn the other cheek, but Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will always do these things. We will not say, “Oh well, I just can’t do any more, and I’ve been so misrepresented and misunderstood.” Every time I insist on having my own rights, I hurt the Son of God, while in fact I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I will take the blow myself. That is the real meaning of filling “up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24). A disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor.

Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself. We are always looking for justice, yet the essence of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is— Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

 

Chrystal Evans Hurst July 14, 2017
The Wild Ride of Faith
CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

From: Crosswalk.com

“… the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4 (NIV)

On a recent trip to an amusement park, my boys and I decided to try out a new roller coaster. Well, it was new for them. I’d experienced it before and knew it was the perfect ride for my boys: One is a thrill-seeker, one is a thrill-avoider and one sits somewhere in between.

We approached the line and waited patiently for our turn. My thrill-avoider slowly became apprehensive about getting on the ride. He had time to wonder how fast the ride would go, how far the drops would be and how many sharp curves he would encounter. In other words, he had a long wait full of worry.

The closer we got to the front of the line, the more anxious he became. He started asking me for a way out — some way to avoid venturing into the unknown. I felt like a terrible mom, but I decided he would just have to go. We’d already waited so long, and it wouldn’t be fair to his brothers.

But here’s the other reason I made him get on the ride. I knew it wasn’t that bad. As a roller coaster-lover, I knew this ride was rather mild, and he would be just fine once he experienced the ups and downs for himself.

I knew he’d be okay.

He didn’t believe me.

As we approached the front of the line, the people behind us could see my son was visibly shaken and averse to moving forward. I assumed they secretly thought I was an awful mom. To my surprise, one of the ladies leaned toward my son and said, “Don’t be scared. I was afraid the first time I rode it, but it was super fun!”

Her encouragement kept him moving forward.

When it was our turn to ride, the park employee who controlled the ride noticed my son’s nervousness. He left his post and bent down to comfort my son, reassuring him that he would love the ride.

My son seemed a bit calmer. Resolved that the ride was imminent, he reached over and asked me to hold his hand throughout our journey.

More often than I care to admit, I find myself in line for something in life I’m unsure about. I anticipate the ride will be rougher than I want — too much for me to handle.

And I want out.

I worry. I whine. I cry. I beg God to get me out of the line. I’m apprehensive and anxious about the direction things are headed and I let the world know it.

But here’s what I’ve learned: While God may not always remove me from my circumstances, He is always with me.

He knows I’ll be okay.

I don’t always believe Him — particularly when I ruminate about all the things that could go wrong. Thankfully, God doesn’t let my apprehension or anxiety about my future stop me from embarking on rides I might otherwise avoid.

God doesn’t place me in situations where I will be tempted beyond what I can bear. He also ensures that when I’m feeling weak, I can hold on to Him, take comfort in His presence and trust in His strength to get me through. God, in His loving care, often places people in my path who’ve been on the ride I face and can encourage me to move forward.

We rode the ride that day, and my son screamed the whole time. He was that kid who hollered his brains out. But you know what? As we got out of our seats and made our way through the exit, he had a huge smile on his face. He’d enjoyed the ride. He even asked to ride again.

I’ve been walking with God long enough to know that building my faith often requires unexpected rides that may leave me feeling worried and unsettled. I’ve also learned that God can be trusted. He will hold my hand and be with me the entire way. And while the ride may seem wild at times — building my faith is the ride of a lifetime. And it’s one ride I’m learning to enjoy.

Dear Father, sometimes I struggle to have confidence when I encounter a wild ride of faith. Please help me to believe that You are with me to walk boldly forward, even when it’s toward the unknown. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God Sees You

II Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

 

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God Sees You

From: Our Daily Journey

God Sees You

Read:

Genesis 16:1-16
She said, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).

Susan had suffered one disappointment after another, and she was feeling disillusioned with God. She asked me and another friend to pray with her, and we gladly did. I’ll never forget my friend’s prayer, “Lord, let Susan know You love her—that You see her.” The next day Susan thanked us for our prayers. She said she’d been feeling invisible, and our prayers helped her to feel visible again. She knew afresh that God saw her.

This really is the key, isn’t it? The toughest part of any trial is wondering how much we and our problems matter to others. We can endure most anything when we know we count—that we’re seen.

The story of Hagar is a powerful illustration of this. Hagar had been abused by the first family of our faith. Sarai had forced her to become a subordinate wife to Abram to give them a child through her and then became jealous when Hagar became pregnant and stopped respecting her. Perhaps her pregnancy made her see herself as more than a slave. In response, “Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away” (Genesis 16:6).

But an angel found Hagar in the wilderness and told her to name her son “Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’)”, because “the Lord . . . heard [her] cry of distress” (Genesis 16:11). Although the path ahead wouldn’t be easy, Hagar now knew God would not abandon her. She called Him El-roi, which means, “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).

What difficulty has you wondering whether you matter to God? The One who heard Hagar’s cries in the desert also has His eyes locked on you. He knows where you are and what pain you’re enduring. The road ahead may be difficult, but you’ll walk every step in full view of El-roi, the God who sees you.

 

Intimate Details

From: Our Daily Bread

Intimate Details
Read: Psalm 139:1–18 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 7–9; Acts 18

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:2

The universe is astonishingly grand. Right now the moon is spinning around us at nearly 2,300 miles an hour. Our Earth is spinning around the sun at 66,000 miles an hour. Our sun is one of 200 billion other stars and trillions more planets in our galaxy, and that galaxy is just one of 100 billion others hurtling through space. Astounding!

In comparison to this vast cosmos, our little Earth is no bigger than a pebble, and our individual lives no greater than a grain of sand. Yet according to Scripture, the God of the galaxies attends to each microscopic one of us in intimate detail. He saw us before we existed (Ps. 139:13–16); He watches us as we go about our days and listens for our every thought (vv. 1–6).

It can be hard to believe this sometimes. This tiny “pebble” has big problems like war and famine, and we can question God’s care in times of personal suffering. But when King David wrote Psalm 139 he was in the midst of crisis himself (vv. 19–20). And when Jesus said God counts each hair on our heads (Matt. 10:30), He was living in an age of crucifixion. Biblical talk of God’s caring attention isn’t a naïve wish. It is real-world truth.

The One who keeps the galaxies spinning knows us intimately. That can help us get through the worst of times.

Father God, Your eye is on me as much as it is on the stars in the sky. Thank You for Your love, Your care, Your attention.

The God of the cosmos cares for us intimately.

 

We Are Secure

Security is a word that is in the news now. There are insecurities on every front. The stock market is not secure. The political situation around the world is not secure.

In his letter to the Ephesian believers, Paul gave us a reason for our security as Christians:

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

There are two things Paul mentions that lead to our security. He first mentions the part we play, and then he explains the role of the Holy Spirit.

We have responsibility for listening to God and believing what He says. “You heard the word of truth” implies that we process what we hear and allow it to reshape our entire perception of what life means. Our faith comes from our hearing what God says. Romans 10:17 describes how important it is that we hear:

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

We not only listen to what God says, but we believe His Word. In1927, the wife of Scottish preacher Arthur Gossip died suddenly. When he returned to the pulpit, he preached a sermon entitled “When Life Tumbles In, What Then?” With his life suddenly interrupted by the tragic and unexpected death of his wife, Gossip went on to explain that during this darkest period of his life he needed his faith more than ever. He said to his congregation, “You people in the sunshine may believe the faith, but we in the shadow must believe it. We have nothing else.” Faith isn’t just for sunny days, we can believe during the tough times as well.

God responds to us when we hear and believe. “You were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” The Holy Spirit seals us and guarantees our redemption.

The idea of sealing means that there is security. Something that is sealed can’t be opened and changed. What God has promised will never be altered. The Holy Spirit guarantees that.

Some people think they will not survive the responsibilities of serving Jesus. That is not true. The Holy Spirit marks us as belonging to Him, and that’s the greatest blessing we could ever imagine. The Holy Spirit is evidence that we belong to God and that means we come under His divine protection. He protects what is His.

The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that God will watch over us. When difficult times threaten to overwhelm us, God will not abandon us. He will come to our rescue. How do we know that? We have heard the Word of Truth and we believe it. That means that the Holy Spirit has come alongside us to secure our safety and our final destiny.

Approaching God

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Hebrews 4:16

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 
Ephesians 2:18

for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

James 4:8

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Romans 5:1-2

 

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

Approaching God

Approaching God

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. Psalm 73:28

A woman desiring to pray grabbed an empty chair and knelt before it. In tears, she said, “My dear heavenly Father, please sit down here; you and I need to talk!” Then, looking directly at the vacant chair, she prayed. She demonstrated confidence in approaching the Lord; she imagined He was sitting on the chair and believed He was listening to her petition.

A time with God is an important moment when we engage the Almighty. God comes near to us as we draw near to Him in a mutual involvement (James 4:8). He has assured us, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). Our heavenly Father is always waiting for us to come to Him, always ready to listen to us.

There are times when we struggle to pray because we feel tired, sleepy, sick, and weak. But Jesus sympathizes with us when we are weak or face temptations (Heb. 4:15). Therefore we can “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” (v. 16).

Lord, thank You that I can pray to You in all places at all times. Put the desire to come near to You in my heart. I want to learn to come to You in faith and in confidence.

God is everywhere, is available every time, and listens always.

 

Spiritual Decay

From: Our Daily Journey

Spiritual Decay

Read:

Deuteronomy 30:1-20
The Lord your God will delight in you if you obey his voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 30:10).

Recently, I heard a sermon that touched on the second law of thermodynamics. I now understand a scientific principle and have been reminded of an important spiritual one!

The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy (disorder) always increases with time. In a closed system—a system with no outside influence preventing deterioration—quality always worsens as the clock unwinds. In the same way, when our Christian lives become disengaged from actively seeking God, we’ll naturally descend into increasing spiritual chaos and decay.

The story of the Israelites provides a powerful example of this principle. The Israelites were regularly warned of the consequences of excluding God from their lives (Leviticus 26:14-46Deuteronomy 28:15-68). They persisted in their rebellion, however, which ultimately led to spiritual decay and judgment through exile in Babylon (Deuteronomy 30:1). Only a genuine heart change and a commitment to reengage fully with God by “[turning] to the Lord [their] God with all [their] heart and soul” could restore their fortunes and enable them to live abundant lives (Deuteronomy 30:10, also Deuteronomy 30:2-6). When we retreat from fully following God, we gradually slip into spiritual decline; but when we live connected to Him, we stem the destructive slide and enjoy a grace-filled life (Deuteronomy 30:11-20).

In our fallen nature, we have a tendency to drift away from God. Our noisy world and busy schedules often drown out His warnings of spiritual drift and decay. But when we connect to the influence of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), we’re able to steer clear of spiritual decay and keep growing in our walk with God. The Spirit provides what we need to continue to grow and mature in Jesus!

 

Carey Scott July 12, 2017
How to Create an Uncommon Hunger for God
CAREY SCOTT

From: Crosswalk.com

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 (NASB)

I was about to lose it.

We were going around the circle giving updates about the spiritual condition of our hearts — something I usually love to do. As a deep-waters kind of girl, I’m always ready to dive right in to feelings. But it had gone on for hours, and there was bacon waiting for us. Bacon.

And as it was now approaching noon, and brunch was in smelling distance, my deep waters were drying up. I was becoming hangry.

The Urban Dictionary defines “hangry” as being so hungry that the lack of food causes anger or frustration. Spot on, isn’t it? Can you remember a time you were so hungry you yelled at someone you love, rolled your eyes at your spouse, used choice words on the driver who cut you off or thought mean things toward someone at work? Your need for sustenance can really turn your happy into hanger.

I think we can become hangry on a spiritual level, too. Our hearts will long for the kind of nourishment only God can provide, and we’ll struggle to navigate life’s ups and downs until our spiritual hunger is tamed. As we read in Matthew 5:6, Jesus reminds us God will not only bless us for feeling hangry for Him, but He will also satisfy that need to the fullest.

A wise friend once told me that hankering for a taste of the Holy Spirit was better than feasting on our favorite foods. (Honestly, it’s hard to imagine anything yummier than queso and chips from my favorite Texas food chain.)

But over and over and over, God reminds me He will satisfy and fill me up even moreand even better than anything the world can offer.

And while foods like queso can tame our tummy, the only way to satisfy our soul is to feast on God’s Word.

You and I were created to hunger after God more than anything the world offers. It’s an uncommon choice — an ability God baked into the heart of every believer. But it’s an intentional decision we must choose daily.

It means when bad news comes, we get on our knees and pray. We take our pain and fear to Him first. We put God at the top of our to-do lists, not the bottom. It means we don’t treat Him like leftovers, something we reluctantly grab when nothing else satisfies.

Relying on anything other than God to feed our souls will keep us in an ordinary, common relationship with Him. Instead of embracing His power, strength and wisdom, we settle for the world’s morsels. Unless we choose to feast on God’s promises, we’ll spiritually starve ourselves.

Having an uncommon hunger for God is something we have to cultivate. It’s something we can ask Him to give us.

Let’s want God more than anyone or anything. And let’s live in such a way that others see the Father because of it. Yes, I am giving us all permission to be that crazy Jesus-girl.

Because when we do, we’re choosing to be an uncommon woman. And the world needs our lives to shine God’s hope, now more than ever.

Dear Lord, help me want You above anything else. It’s so easy to get “hangry” for the wrong things and look to the world to satisfy my needs or heal my heart. But in doing so, I’m forgetting that You are my provider. You are ready and willing and able to be my all. Help me choose You! I don’t want to live a common life; I want to thrive as an uncommon woman. Forget the world. I want You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Give In To God’s Will

 

 

Rest for the Weary   Matthew 11:28

27   All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. 

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

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

 

 

Giving in to Jesus

Giving in to Jesus
Read: James 4:6–10 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 1–3; Acts 17:1–15

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11

They call it “The Devil’s Footprint.” It’s a foot-shaped impression in the granite on a hill beside a church in Ipswich, Massachusetts. According to local legend the “footprint” happened one fall day in 1740, when the evangelist George Whitefield preached so powerfully that the devil leaped from the church steeple, landing on the rock on his way out of town.

Though it’s only a legend, the story calls to mind an encouraging truth from God’s Word. James 4:7 reminds us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

God has given us the strength we need to stand against our adversary and the temptations in our lives. The Bible tells us that “sin shall no longer be your master” (Rom. 6:14) because of God’s loving grace to us through Jesus Christ. As we run to Jesus when temptation comes, He enables us to stand in His strength. Nothing we face in this life can overcome Him, because He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33).

As we submit ourselves to our Savior, yielding our wills to Him in the moment and walking in obedience to God’s Word, He is helping us. When we give in to Him instead of giving in to temptation, He is able to fight our battles. In Him we can overcome.

Lord Jesus, I give my will to You today. Help me to stay close to You in every moment, and to love You by obeying You.

The prayer of the feeblest saint . . . is a terror to Satan. Oswald Chambers

 

Creation Teaching

From: Our Daily Journey

Creation Teaching

Read:

Psalm 19:1-14
They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world (Psalm 19:3-4).

We recently moved to my husband’s hometown, a city that features a beautiful metro park system. Every day, prior to work and after dropping off two of our three young daughters at school, we take a brief hike together. My husband straps our baby onto his back in a backpack-like contraption, and off we go!

Along with the trees, river, and streams, we see wild turkeys, countless deer (including fawns and their parents), herons, goldfinches, cardinals, woodpeckers, squirrels, and chipmunks. We also relish seeing turtles of all sizes sunning themselves on the trunks of fallen trees in a bog.

As we hike through the nature preserves, I remind myself to look up. For indeed, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word . . . . Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world” (Psalm 19:1-4). If I’m outside at night, I intentionally gaze up at the stars in hopes of getting to know God a little better (Psalm 19:2). If I can’t go outside, I look out the window to catch a glimpse of His creation.

Spending time in nature nurtures our spiritual growth. As Paul notes, creation—animals, birds, the sky, the earth, the trees, the plants, and the fish—reveal aspects of God’s nature (Romans 1:20). Theologians call this truth general revelation.

Spending time in creation definitely does reveal the natural world’s compelling testimony about our Creator. As Jesus taught, it’s important for us to note the flowers of the field, for they reflect God’s love and provision for us (Matthew 6:28-30).

 

Sharon Jaynes July 11, 2017
When You Don’t Like the Story God is Writing
SHARON JAYNES

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

If it were up to me, I would have scripted some of life’s stories differently. So many tragedies have struck people near and dear to me that if I were the writer, they would have been changed.

Fortunately, I’m not the author, because each of these women impact thousands upon thousands of women all over the world with her powerful stories of God’s redemption. God turned their pain into purpose, their misery into ministry and their devastation into anointed messages of hope and restoration. Sudden glories fill and spill from each of their lives.

Their journeys have led them through dark valleys and back out into the light on the other side.

But if I had to decide?

My second child would not have passed away before she was born. Carol’s son would not be in prison. Linda’s daughter would not be a quadriplegic. Barbara’s daughter would not be bipolar. Patty’s 21-year-old daughter would not have been in a fatal car accident. Jennifer’s husband would not have succumbed to a brain tumor.

Difficult times are pregnant with glory moments — moments when we see God’s plan just waiting to be birthed in the lives of those willing to labor through the pain. The key is not to allow bitterness and anger to make our hearts infertile to God’s gifts.

One way to avoid the darkening of the soul is by constant communication seasoned with thanksgiving — a continual acknowledgement of God’s presence.

After my husband and I graduated from college, we moved to Charlotte so he could open a new business. But after we moved, the man who was to be his business partner changed plans.

“Sorry, Steve,” he said. “I’ve changed my mind. Good luck, son.”

I was so upset. OK, I was flat-out angry. Angry with the potential partner. Angry with God. We had prayed, fasted and felt this was where God was leading us. We had no money. No job. And school debt.

Three months later, a situation opened up that was far better than our original plan. It wasEphesians 3:20 in action: “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 …”

Well, why didn’t God do that in the first place? Why didn’t He lead us directly to that second opportunity when we did all that praying and seeking? He could have.

But He is far more interested in developing our character than in doling out a life of comfort and ease. C.S. Lewis notes: “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable. Think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”

That’s where Proverbs 3:5-6 comes in: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

We are ever the students. He is the teacher still. Trials rip away the flimsy fabric of self-sufficiency and become the raw material for God’s miracles in our lives. And those miracles are moments of sudden glory.

Oh that we would trust Him even if the twists and turns never make sense this side of heaven. That’s what trusting God is all about. As we live and move and have our being in Him, life’s dark places are simply opportunities to trust that God knows the way — and the perfect time to hold on tight.

Especially since He’s still writing the story.

Father, thank You for always knowing and doing what is best for me. Forgive me when I don’t trust You but think my way is best. I know that You have wonderful surprises in store for me when I simply trust You in all things. Thank You for being the Teacher. Help me to be a good student of Your Truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Restoration Of Everything Satan Took

Satan, death, hell, the sea, and anything else will have to give all souls within them back to God. So, everything taken will be restored at the judgment.

The Final Judgment        Revelation 20:13

12  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. And there were open books, and one of them was the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their deeds, as recorded in the books.

13  The sea gave up itsdead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead,and each one was judged according to his deeds.

14  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire.…

Restoration of Everything Satan Took

From: CBN, By: Martha Noebel

Prophecies for the future are already beginning to come to the body of Christ. Last night at a prayer meeting at the church I attend, the pastor shared that he believed God was calling the year ahead as the year of “rest.”

Resting sounded like a wonderful thing to do. But since we should be preparing for the end-times, I didn’t understand how we had the time to spare by doing nothing.

Then the Lord spoke to my heart this acronym:

Restoration of
Everything
Satan
Took

Wow! The picture of getting back all that the enemy has stolen from us would certainly line up with progress in spite of the lack of struggle. I could not help but think of the world striving and realized that with rest … all striving would cease. We could see God prospering us financially, spiritually, physically, and know that in every area of our lives, we would know victory.

I pictured our churches filling up without the gimmicks we are using to attract the lost. Away with the free turkey if you visit. Away with the competition to come up with the sharpest looking church Website. And away with the yard sales, candy sales, etc. in order to raise money for various church building projects.

God is going to give back to the church all that Satan took. He has robbed us of our finances, lured our loved ones into sin, and tried to weaken us in our physical bodies. But the Lord is saying, “Enough!”

Here is a promising scripture:

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. Isaiah 58:11-12 NIV

The Lord has promised to guide, satisfy, prosper, refresh, rebuild, raise up, repair, and restore his people. The church of the future will be a mighty church that will be able to do more and will not have to try so hard for the results.

This sounds unbelievable I know, but I believe it. Our God is a God of increase and blessing. He will hear and answer our prayers as we declare what He says about things and then we begin believing it.

Why don’t you join me in trusting God for many surprising miracles in the future? Let’s see what great and mighty works He will do if we let Him.

Getting Away with It

From: Our Daily Bread

Getting Away with It

By faith Abel still speaks. Hebrews 11:4

In June 2004, at a Vancouver art gallery, Canadian cross-country skier Beckie Scott received an Olympic gold medal. That’s interesting, because the Winter Olympics had been held in 2002—in Utah. Scott had won bronze behind two athletes who were disqualified months later when it was learned they had used banned substances.

It’s good that Scott eventually received her gold, but gone forever is the moment when she should have stood on the podium to hear her country’s national anthem. That injustice couldn’t be remedied.

Injustice of any kind disturbs us, and surely there are far greater wrongs than being denied a hard-won medal. The story of Cain and Abel shows an ultimate act of injustice (Gen. 4:8). And at first glance, it might look like Cain got away with murdering his brother. After all, he lived a long, full life, eventually building a city (v. 17).

But God Himself confronted Cain. “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground,” He said (v. 10). The New Testament later recorded Cain as an example to avoid (1 John 3:12; Jude 1:11). But of Abel we read, “By faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead” (Heb. 11:4).

God cares deeply about justice, about righting wrongs, and about defending the powerless. In the end, no one gets away with any act of injustice. Nor does God leave unrewarded our work done in faith for Him.

Father, as Your Son taught us to pray, we ask that Your kingdom will come, Your will be done to change this broken world. Thank You for redeeming us.

Sin will not ultimately be judged by the way we see it, but by the way God sees it.

 

 

The Spiritually Lazy Saint

From: Utmost.org

The Spiritually Lazy Saint

We are all capable of being spiritually lazy saints. We want to stay off the rough roads of life, and our primary objective is to secure a peaceful retreat from the world. The ideas put forth in these verses from Hebrews 10 are those of stirring up one another and of keeping ourselves together. Both of these require initiative— our willingness to take the first step toward Christ-realization, not the initiative toward self-realization. To live a distant, withdrawn, and secluded life is diametrically opposed to spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it.

The true test of our spirituality occurs when we come up against injustice, degradation, ingratitude, and turmoil, all of which have the tendency to make us spiritually lazy. While being tested, we want to use prayer and Bible reading for the purpose of finding a quiet retreat. We use God only for the sake of getting peace and joy. We seek only our enjoyment of Jesus Christ, not a true realization of Him. This is the first step in the wrong direction. All these things we are seeking are simply effects, and yet we try to make them causes.

“Yes, I think it is right,” Peter said, “…to stir you up by reminding you…” (2 Peter 1:13). It is a most disturbing thing to be hit squarely in the stomach by someone being used of God to stir us up— someone who is full of spiritual activity. Simple active work and spiritual activity are not the same thing. Active work can actually be the counterfeit of spiritual activity. The real danger in spiritual laziness is that we do not want to be stirred up— all we want to hear about is a spiritual retirement from the world. Yet Jesus Christ never encourages the idea of retirement— He says, “Go and tell My brethren…” (Matthew 28:10).

Be Joyful And Show Mercy

Acts 24:10

When the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded: “Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense,

2 Corinthians 9:7

Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Romans 12:8

or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Psalm 68:3

But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; Yes, let them rejoice with gladness.

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A Joyful Heart

From: Our Daily Bread

A Joyful Heart

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Psalm 100:1

My granddaughter’s favorite tune is one of John Philip Sousa’s marches. Sousa, known as “The March King,” was a US composer in the late nineteenth century. Moriah isn’t in a marching band; she’s only twenty months old. She just loves the tune and can even hum a few notes. She associates it with joyful times. When our family gets together, we often hum this song along with claps and other boisterous noises, and the grandchildren dance or parade in circles to the beat. It always ends in dizzy children and lots of laughter.

Our joyful noise reminds me of the psalm that implores us to “worship the Lord with gladness” (Ps. 100:2). When King Solomon dedicated the temple, the Israelites celebrated with praises (2 Chron. 7:5–6). Psalm 100 may have been one of the songs they sang. The psalm declares: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. . . . Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (vv. 1-2, 4). Why? “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever”! (v. 5).

Our good God loves us! In grateful response, let’s “shout for joy to the Lord”! (Ps. 100:1).

Dear Lord, give us thankful hearts to praise You, because You are good and all that You do is good. Your love endures forever!

Praise is the overflow of a joyful heart.

 

 

Come Apart

From: Our Daily Journey

Come Apart

Read:

Mark 6:7-1230-32
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31).

During a particularly tense period at work, I found that the stress was making it difficult to concentrate. My mind was constantly racing, and I struggled to focus even on Bible study and prayer. I had to learn to deliberately separate and guard my heart from prevailing winds—wherever they came from.

Jesus understood the importance of taking steps to preserve our mental well-being. In the midst of a bustling public ministry that included miracles such as restoring eyesight, healing the sick, and raising the dead, He “often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer” (Luke 5:16).

He also taught His disciples to rest. When the disciples came back from proclaiming His message (Mark 6:7,12), they were eager to tell Jesus about everything they’d done and taught (Mark 6:30). After all, they’d preached repentance, cast out demons, and healed many sick people. Jesus listened to them, but then said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He did this because He knew they needed rest: “There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31).

David offers another example of intentionally caring for ourselves in the middle of anxiety. In Psalm 131:1-2, King David stated that he didn’t “concern [himself] with matters too great for [him]. . . . Instead, [he] calmed and quieted [himself], like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.” David illustrated the intentionality of calming and quieting our minds by choosing not to dwell on disquieting matters, but rather settling our minds by putting our “hope in the Lord” (Psalm 131:3).

May we too learn to come apart from the bustle and busyness of life and refresh ourselves in Jesus.

 

 

Will You Examine Yourself?

From: Utmost.org

Will You Examine Yourself?

Do you have even the slightest reliance on anything or anyone other than God? Is there a remnant of reliance left on any natural quality within you, or on any particular set of circumstances? Are you relying on yourself in any manner whatsoever regarding this new proposal or plan which God has placed before you? Will you examine yourself by asking these probing questions? It really is true to say, “I cannot live a holy life,” but you can decide to let Jesus Christ make you holy. “You cannot serve the Lord…”— but you can place yourself in the proper position where God’s almighty power will flow through you. Is your relationship with God sufficient for you to expect Him to exhibit His wonderful life in you?

“The people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the Lord!’ ” (Joshua 24:21). This is not an impulsive action, but a deliberate commitment. We tend to say, “But God could never have called me to this. I’m too unworthy. It can’t mean me.” It does mean you, and the more weak and feeble you are, the better. The person who is still relying and trusting in anything within himself is the last person to even come close to saying, “I will serve the Lord.”

We say, “Oh, if only I really could believe!” The question is, “Will I believe?” No wonder Jesus Christ placed such emphasis on the sin of unbelief. “He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). If we really believed that God meant what He said, just imagine what we would be like! Do I really dare to let God be to me all that He says He will be?

Without Faith You Can’t Please God

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 

Ephesians 5:8-10

 

for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:9

Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

Galatians 6:8

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

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 (pictures of people who are pleased)

 

Pleasing Him

From: Get More Strength

“So we make it our goal to please him.” 2 Corinthians 5:9

It may not always seem like it, but children really do want to please their parents. Just picture the little boy who beams with pleasure when his mom proudly puts the crayon-scribbled picture up on the fridge! Or the little girl who immediately looks up into the bleachers to see if Dad saw her first hit in softball.

Sadly, when we grow up without feeling the joy of parental affirmation, we often end up with misdirected drives to perform and please someone, somewhere, somehow. As a result, it’s possible to become twisted by unhealthy addictions to work or by immoral relationships. This tendency may even leave us spiritually weak and unprincipled, willing to violate biblical standards if it means we can please someone who is leading us down the wrong path.

This intrinsic drive to please the significant people in our lives ultimately reflects the fact that we were built to bring pleasure to someone outside of ourselves—namely our Creator God. I can’t think of a higher satisfaction in life than knowing that He indeed is pleased with me, knowing that I am right with Him and that He delights in my love for Him. And just in case you have always pictured God as being hard to please—perhaps like some people you know—think again. The psalmist tells us, “the Lord takes delight in his people” (Psalm 149:4). In Romans 12:1, we learn that He is literally pleased when we offer our bodies as “living sacrifices,” and the writer of Hebrews assures us that when we offer a “sacrifice of praise” as well as the sacrifice of doing good and sharing with others, we can know the joy of pleasing God (Hebrews 13:15-16). This joy is not a surreal, head-in-the-clouds experience nor a short-lived, down-sided thrill package that our world offers based on self-indulgence. Rather, it is the long-term sense of stability and “all-rightness” that comes from a life bent on obedience to our heavenly Father and knowing that He delights in our cooperation with His will and ways.

Paul makes it clear that pleasing God also involves a commitment to serve those around us, looking to Jesus as our example. “Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself” (Romans 15:2-3). When our time and energy is self-directed, focused only on our own welfare and pleasure, we miss the joy of serving others as a way of bringing pleasure to our heavenly Father. And, by the way, He never intended pleasure to be a goal of our lives, but rather a by-product of significant and constructive pursuits.  It comes from fulfilling what we were built to do in terms of serving Him. It’s the joy of bringing happiness to others and knowing that when that is happening, God is pleased with us.

Take a tip from Paul. Make it your life pursuit to be busy pleasing the One who loves to be pleased with you!

 

Comforted To Comfort

From: Our Daily Journey

Comforted To Comfort

Read:

2 Corinthians 1:3-7
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:4).

“Pastor, the results came out positive. My wife has breast cancer.” When a congregation member broke this news to me one Sunday morning, I was speechless. What could I possibly say to comfort my friend in light of this bitter news? After a moment of silence, I quickly remembered the words that most comforted me when my own wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. And so with a level voice, I replied, “I want you to know that I’m here for both of you, no matter what.” He wore the same expression of gratitude that I had worn years before when a friend encouraged me with those identical words.

What a blessing it is to read in 2 Corinthians 1:3 that “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.” Most of us know this is true and have experienced this comfort firsthand. But that’s not the end of the story. What we often overlook is that after we receive the comfort of God, we are to pass that same comfort on to others who are suffering: “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others” (2 Corinthians 1:4). The comfort of God isn’t the end of the process. We’re blessed by God so that we might be a blessing to others.

I have to admit that I often view the comfort of God selfishly—as a special gift that God grants to me so that I alone might be strengthened in the midst of hardship. But when I do this, I’m limiting the full power of God’s consolation. The comfort of God is so abundant and powerful that not only does it encourage me in my own time of need, but it also equips me to become a comforter to others. By God’s love and power, may we be comforters today.

 

July 8

From: Through TheBible

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NIV) 15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. 16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

When the king of Aram warred against Israel, Elisha sent word to the king of Israel informing him of the places Aram’s army would camp. The king of Aram thought one of his generals was a spy. When he learned it was the prophet Elisha that knew by Divine power what his plans were, he surrounded the city to capture Elisha.

The servant of Elisha got up that morning and saw the army surrounding the city in wait for them. He was scared, but Elisha wasn’t. Elisha could see in the spirit. That is why he knew where the enemy camped. That is why he knew he did not need to fear. Then Elisha asked God to let his servant see what he could see. There in the hills around them was a much greater army, a spiritual army. The hills were full of horses with chariots of fire.

If we look in the carnal realm, we see only what looks to be too great for us. Enemies seem to have the upper hand. Situations look impossible. Odds appear to be too great. But if we will let God open our eyes of faith so that we can see in the spirit, we will see resources that our enemy has no idea we have.

Elisha single handedly (through the power of God) captured this army. That is because one person and God are a majority. It doesn’t matter how great the numbers are against you, as long as God is on your side and you are listening to and obeying Him.

Prayer: Lord, open my eyes, so that I can see the reality of the spiritual realm.

Evening

July 8

John 17:17-19 (NIV) 17Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

In John 15, Jesus said the disciples were already cleaned (or pruned) by the Word. He prayed to the Father to use the Word to sanctify them. Sanctify means to set apart for a special use. As we read on in the prayer, we see that this definition of ‘sanctify’ goes with the thoughts that followed.

Jesus then prayed that as He was sent into the world, so He was sending them into the world. They were to be light in the midst of darkness, lambs sent out among wolves. They were to carry the convicting message of light and life to people that often do not want to hear, and like Jesus, they would die for their faith.

Following this understanding of the word ‘sanctify’, we would then read the next verse to say that Jesus set Himself apart that they might be truly set apart. Without His sacrifice on the cross, there is no possibility that we could be set apart. Without His complete purity bearing our sin we would never have been able to receive the Spirit that sets us apart and anoints us to go into the world as He went into the world.

In a similar way, our commitment to purity and faithfulness affects those to whom we minister. Of course we do not provide the sacrifice for sin; only Christ can do that. But we do set a living example that encourages them to walk down this path. As you allow the word of God to cleanse and purify your life, you encourage others that there is hope. You give them inspiration to allow the Word to do the same in them. It is not just for your sake alone that the Word is sanctifying your life. Everyone in the body affects all the others that are connected. To choose to compromise not only affects you, but all others in the body. Your commitment to this growing process of sanctification affects others more than you realize.

Consider: Allow the truth, the Word, to sanctify you.

The Ultimate Good

john 15: 9-14       No Greater Love
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 
10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
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The Ultimate Good

From: Our Daily Bread

The Ultimate Good

I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:8

As I was growing up in Jamaica, my parents raised my sister and me to be “good people.” In our home, good meant obeying our parents, telling the truth, being successful in school and work, and going to church . . .  at least Easter and Christmas. I imagine this definition of being a good person is familiar to many people, regardless of culture. In fact, the apostle Paul, in Philippians 3, used his culture’s definition of being good to make a greater point.

Paul, being a devout first-century Jew, followed the letter of the moral law in his culture. He was born into the “right” family, had the “right” education, and practiced the “right” religion. He was the real deal in terms of being a good person according to Jewish custom. In verse 4, Paul writes that he could boast in all of his goodness if he wanted to. But, as good as he was, Paul told his readers (and us) that there is something more than being good. He knew that being good, while good, was not the same as pleasing God.

Pleasing God, Paul writes in verses 7–8, involves knowing Jesus. Paul considered his own goodness as “garbage” when compared to “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.” We are good—and we please God—when our hope and faith are in Christ alone, not in our goodness.

Dear God, as I seek to live a good life, help me remember that knowing Jesus is the way to ultimate goodness.

We are good—and we please God—when our hope and faith are in Christ alone, not in our goodness.

 

Love Them with Me

From: Our Daily Journey

Love Them with Me

Read:

Psalm 12:1-8

I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do (Psalm 12:5).In March 2007, I was standing in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in northern Uganda gazing at hundreds of young refugees who were staring back at me. As I looked into their eyes, saw their malnourished frames, and witnessed their deplorable living conditions, the Holy Spirit filled me in a way I’d never experienced before. I sensed God was telling me, “I love these children. I love them!” And then, it was as if He extended this invitation: “Come love them with me.”

So I did just that. I moved to East Africa and—through both the beautiful and gut-wrenching journey of walking with victims of war and with children who’d been orphaned or abandoned—witnessed the glorious truth of Psalm 12 that “the Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace” and that He sees, He hears, He cares, and He shows up (Psalm 12:6). In His words: “I have seen the violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor” (Psalm 12:5).

Though much of the world overlooks and even dismisses the impoverished, the refugees, the widowed, and the otherwise marginalized, God doesn’t. To the contrary, in response to cries to Him for help, He says, “I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do” (Psalm 12:5). His compassionate heart is revealed in the ways He moves to “protect the oppressed” (Psalm 12:7).

Whether we’re struggling through our own pain or weighed down by the suffering of others, we can take comfort in God’s sure promises in Psalm 12 to be with and deliver the oppressed. Even if we can’t easily see how, we can rest assured that our God isworking to rescue the poor—perhaps even using us as part of His loving, restoring work.

 

 

No Small Thing

From: CBN, Rev. Pam Morrison

penny

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. Luke 21:1-2

Introducing the Devotion book God Calling, A.J. Russell wrote:

There is a legend that the praise for building the Cathedral of St. Sofia was not given to the Emperor Constantine but to Euphrasia, a poor widow who drew from her mattress “a wisp of straw and gave it to the oxen” that drew the marble from the ships. That was all, she did nothing more. 1

With those words, he reminds us of the phrase from Zechariah 4:10, “Who despises the day of small things?”

Well, plenty of us do.

I have often heard Christians console someone when a great setback has occurred by saying, “Ah, it’s because God has a greater plan for you.”

Or, if someone is discouraged about their present work or ministry, they will say, “I KNOW God has a bigger plan for me. I keep praying for Him to send it.”

These may seem to be harmless messages of encouragement, but is that the witness of scripture that something bigger and better is always waiting down the road for the faithful? Our Savior came to us as a poor man, not as a king. He was terribly unimpressed with the Temple and all its glitz, but deeply concerned with people, often one at a time. Why do we think our road should be paved while His was rutted, or that this necessarily brings Life?

For us to think we must achieve something big in the eyes of the world in order to matter is to deny the beautiful truth of Luke 21:1-2. In a magnificent Temple complex, filled with milling worshipers, some rich, Jesus saw a widow.

The word for “saw” often means a deeper kind of seeing – knowing, perceiving, grasping.  Jesus saw this inconsequential woman, and not only His attention, but His praise adorned her – not others.

This is such an important concept. Too many of us get caught up in future and grand thinking.  “The Lord is going to give me a great ministry down the road.  Then I will matter to Him and to others.”  We may not think it just that way, but is that why our hearts can reject our daily service as only a prelude to the “real thing?”

The danger in being caught up in “some day I will do a great thing for God” is that we may miss the frequent and daily opportunities to serve Him which, by the way, may make an extraordinary impact for the Kingdom.

The Lord impressed this thought upon my heart recently through a painful, 25 year old memory. Years ago, we rescued a puppy from the woods and he became a beloved, but persistently playful pet. Always, he was “on the move.” I was aspiring to grow in my musical ability, practicing piano constantly, dreaming of being so much more than the “ordinary” piano teacher I thought I was. There was no harm in striving for excellence.  It’s just that one day, for the umpteenth time, our young dog banged my leg with his rubber chicken, inviting me to play while I was trying to memorize a difficult piece. Annoyed, I put him outside. Stray dogs engaged him to run and that day we lost him as he was hit by a car.

The Lord reminded me that my devastation was not only due to losing my pet, but also to regret because I was striving so hard to matter to somebody that I could not stop to play with the sweet dog He had put in my life. Through this wisp of a memory, He pointed to other ways I still strain to earn value. “You don’t have to perform to be loved,” I felt Him say. “You are safe. Trust Me. Let Me love you and out of the overflow, give. No matter how small your daily gifts may seem, I see them and a chorus of praise rises up over each one.”

We must remember this in our walk with Jesus. If we fix our eyes on being noticed by people, on achieving greatness, we will probably miss the multiple opportunities to minister that He puts right under our noses. It isn’t that excellence or that growth of ministries is unimportant, it’s that our Lord is one who delights in “two small coins” given in love.

Going First

1 John 2:15-17

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides for ever.

Going First

From: Our Daily Bread

Going First
Read: 1 John 4:7–21 | Bible in a Year: Job 32–33; Acts 14

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

We worked patiently to help our son heal and adjust to his new life with our family. Trauma from his early days in an orphanage was fueling some negative behaviors. While I had enormous compassion for the hardships he experienced in his early days, I felt myself begin to withdraw from him emotionally because of those behaviors. Ashamed, I shared my struggle with his therapist. Her gentle reply hit home: “He needs you to go first . . . to show him he’s worthy of love before he’ll be able to act like it.”

John pushes the recipients of his letter to an incredible depth of love, citing God’s love as both the source and the reason for loving one another (1 John 4:7, 11). I admit I often fail to show such love to others, whether strangers, friends, or my own children. Yet John’s words spark in me renewed desire and ability to do so: God went first. He sent His Son to demonstrate the fullness of His love for each of us. I’m so thankful He doesn’t respond as we all are prone to do by withdrawing His heart from us.

Though our sinful actions don’t invite God’s love, He is unwavering in offering it to us (Rom. 5:8). His “go-first” love compels us to love one another in response to, and as a reflection of, that love.

Thank You, Lord, for loving me in spite of my sin. Help me to “go first” in loving others.

God loved us first so we can love others.

You Are What You Think

From: Get More Strength

“Or he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.” Proverbs 23:7

I don’t know about you, but some nights I can’t shut down my mind—it races back through the day, scanning my mental hard drive, opening conversation files, viewing jpegs of people’s faces I’ve encountered, and revisiting deleted messages—some good, some bad. Our minds are like a Pentium processor, a powerful piece of technology. In fact, according to God, how you think is really what makes you, you.

One wise king wrote: “As [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV).What you think about is a wide-open window to what you really believe, trust in, worry about, and even worship. And not everybody has programmed their minds to think alike. Some think truth is relative. Which means that for them there are no absolute truths, so whatever works is just fine—nothing is ever always right or always wrong. Others think that there is no real truth and that truth comes in many shapes and colors. That’s pluralism—many truths exist, and as long as you don’t make me choke on your truth, I won’t force you to swallow mine.

If there is no truth and there are no absolutes, then everybody can do whatever they want to do—welcome to the party with no rules! But you and I know that, ultimately, thoughts managed by relativistic, pluralistic software lead to a zigzagging, crazy, self-seeking, dead-end life where everybody loses, including you.

Thankfully you don’t need to settle for software that doesn’t deliver what it promised. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). How solid is that? That takes the punch out of both lines of thinking. Here’s the deal: What you think about you, God, the world, your spirituality or lack of it, sex, gay marriage, religion, or anything else, really makes you who you are. Jesus simply says, “When you’re ready to think like God thinks about all of life, download my Word—I am the way and the truth.”

It’s time to reboot! Install the truth of God’s Word onto the hard drive of your mind. He’ll scan the files of your thoughts, motives, and attitudes and make them completely new. As Paul said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind!” (Romans 12:2)

And in case you’re still not convinced, remember that God has warned us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 16:25). Just because it seems right, doesn’t make it right. Check every thought by the truth that Jesus offers, and when in doubt search His Word.

 

Imitate My Father

From: Our Daily Journey

Imitate My Father

Read:

Leviticus 19:33-34
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love (Ephesians 5:1-2).

The idea of immigrants competing with locals for jobs is a political hot potato in many countries. Some citizens resent the newcomers because they perceive them as stealing jobs, competing for scarce services, and causing overcrowding. With unfamiliar customs and languages, the immigrants are sometimes accused of disturbing and even threatening the social fabric of the native born. So how should believers in Jesus respond to the aliens living in their midst?

Fresh out of Egypt, God commanded His people to be kind to foreigners. He told them, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them” (Leviticus 19:33 NIV), because, ”You were once foreigners living in Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34). They were to remember how they too were mistreated as aliens (Exodus 23:9Deuteronomy 10:19).

But that’s not all. God expects us to be proactive—to “treat [the foreigners] like native-born, and love them as you love yourself” (Leviticus 19:34). We’re to treat foreigners as locals, not outsiders. As Jesus said, “I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home” (Matthew 25:35). That’s grace!

God gives us a compelling motivation to reach out in this way. “I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34). Our God “is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation” (Psalm 145:9). God “shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. So you, too, must show love to foreigners” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).