Tag Archives: keep

Be Ready To Serve When Called

 

Acts 21:13

Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Ephesians 4:11-12

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

 

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460 × 460 – act.org
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Readiness

From: Utmost.org

When God speaks, many of us are like people in a fog, and we give no answer. Moses’ reply to God revealed that he knew where he was and that he was ready. Readiness means having a right relationship to God and having the knowledge of where we are. We are so busy telling God where we would like to go. Yet the man or woman who is ready for God and His work is the one who receives the prize when the summons comes. We wait with the idea that some great opportunity or something sensational will be coming our way, and when it does come we are quick to cry out, “Here I am.” Whenever we sense that Jesus Christ is rising up to take authority over some great task, we are there, but we are not ready for some obscure duty.

Readiness for God means that we are prepared to do the smallest thing or the largest thing— it makes no difference. It means we have no choice in what we want to do, but that whatever God’s plans may be, we are there and ready. Whenever any duty presents itself, we hear God’s voice as our Lord heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with the total readiness of our love for Him. Jesus Christ expects to do with us just as His Father did with Him. He can put us wherever He wants, in pleasant duties or in menial ones, because our union with Him is the same as His union with the Father. “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22).

Be ready for the sudden surprise visits of God. A ready person never needs to get ready— he is ready. Think of the time we waste trying to get ready once God has called! The burning bush is a symbol of everything that surrounds the person who is ready, and it is on fire with the presence of God Himself.

 

And he shall bring it to pass (Ps. 37:5).

I once thought that after I prayed that it was my duty to do everything that I could do to bring the answer to pass. He taught me a better way, and showed that my self-effort always hindered His working, and that when I prayed and definitely believed Him for anything, He wanted me to wait in the spirit of praise, and only do what He bade me. It seems so unsafe to just sit still, and do nothing but trust the Lord; and the temptation to take the battle into our own hands is often tremendous.
We all know how impossible it is to rescue a drowning man who tries to help his rescuer, and it is equally impossible for the Lord to fight our battles for us when we insist upon trying to fight them ourselves. It is not that He will not, but He cannot. Our interference hinders His working.
–C.H.P.
Spiritual forces cannot work while earthly forces are active.
It takes God time to answer prayer. We often fail to give God a chance in this respect. It takes time for God to paint a rose. It takes time for God to grow an oak. It takes time for God to make bread from wheat fields. He takes the earth. He pulverizes. He softens. He enriches. He wets with showers and dews. He warms with life. He gives the blade, the stock, the amber grain, and then at last the bread for the hungry.
All this takes time. Therefore we sow, and till, and wait, and trust, until all God’s purpose has been wrought out. We give God a chance in this matter of time. We need to learn this same lesson in our prayer life. It takes God time to answer prayer.
–J. H. M.

 

Exposition of the doctrines of grace (2. Introduction to evening session)

Suggested Reading: Ezekiel 37:1–14

There are some who say, ‘To what purpose after all, is your inviting any to come, when the Spirit of God alone constrains them to come; and why, especially, preach to those whom you believe to be so depraved that they cannot and will not come?’ Just so, this is a serious difficulty to everything except faith. Do you see Ezekiel yonder; he is about to preach a sermon. By his leave, we will stop him. ‘Ezekiel, where are you about to preach?’ ‘I am about,’ says he, ‘to preach to a strange congregation—dead, dry bones, lying in a mass in a valley.’ ‘But, Ezekiel, they have no power to live.’ ‘I know that,’ says he. ‘To what purpose, then, is your preaching to them? If they have no power, and if the breath must come from the four winds, and they have no life in themselves, to what purpose do you preach?’ ‘I am ordered to preach,’ says he, ‘commanded;’ and he does so. He prophesies, and afterwards mounting to a yet higher stage of faith, he cries, ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ And the wind comes, and the effect of his ministry is seen in their life. So we preach to dead sinners; so we pray for the living Spirit. So, by faith, do we expect his divine influence, and it comes, not from man, nor of man, nor by blood, nor by the will of the flesh, but from the sovereign will of God. But notwithstanding it comes instrumentally through the faith of the preacher while he pleads with man—‘as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.’

For meditation: The necessary ingredients for a work of salvation are a dead sinner, a loving Father, a crucified and risen Saviour, a life-giving Spirit, and last, but by no means least, the faithful communication of the Gospel. Without it how shall people hear, believe in the Lord and call on him (Romans 10:14)? Remember the God-ordained route to saving faith (Romans 10:17).

Part of nos. 385–8
18 April (Spoken on 11 April 1861), Charles Spurgeon

 

How Is This Woman a Model for Today? (Proverbs 31:16–25)

This wife of noble character was productive and ingenious—so much so that she can be intimidating to women who seek to follow her example. But while everyone can benefit from her example of initiative and hard work, the main lesson she offers us relates to her outlook rather than her output.

All of this woman’s qualities and accomplishments grew out of her fear of the Lord (v. 30). Fearing God was her central virtue, and this attitude toward God is as crucial for today’s women as it was for women then. The fear of the Lord not only undergirds our growth in wisdom but also draws us to the grace of Jesus, the one who forgives our sin and equips us for righteous living.

This woman’s life was dedicated to service to others: her husband, her children, her servants (v. 15) and the poor and needy (v. 20). She served them with eagerness (v. 13), resourcefulness (v. 16), and strength (v. 17,25). She was neither hindered nor demeaned by serving others. Rather, she was fulfilled by it, because godly service is the source of true nobility.

Taken from NIV Quest Study Bible

©2014 HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Be Content With What You Have

 

James 3:14

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

 

 Do Not Envy or BE Covetous   

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All or Nothing?

From: Utmost.org

Have you ever had a crisis in your life in which you deliberately, earnestly, and recklessly abandoned everything? It is a crisis of the will. You may come to that point many times externally, but it will amount to nothing. The true deep crisis of abandonment, or total surrender, is reached internally, not externally. The giving up of only external things may actually be an indication of your being in total bondage.

Have you deliberately committed your will to Jesus Christ? It is a transaction of the will, not of emotion; any positive emotion that results is simply a superficial blessing arising out of the transaction. If you focus your attention on the emotion, you will never make the transaction. Do not ask God what the transaction is to be, but make the determination to surrender your will regarding whatever you see, whether it is in the shallow or the deep, profound places internally.

If you have heard Jesus Christ’s voice on the waves of the sea, you can let your convictions and your consistency take care of themselves by concentrating on maintaining your intimate relationship to Him.

 

APRIL 17, 2015From: CrosswalkThe Cure for Envy
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)

I was a member of a professional association for just two weeks when I attended their national convention. Since my name badge didn’t sport a single special ribbon, people barely glanced at me.

Alone in my hotel room, I ended each day in tears, feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. I told myself I wasn’t envious. Simply, uh … discouraged.

Years passed, and doors began to swing open. Ribbons dangled from my name badge, and people smiled in my direction.

Soon I found myself dealing with a new set of feelings. How come she’s moving ahead faster than I am, Lord? Why did they honor her instead of me? I wasn’t jealous, of course. Merely, uh … competitive.

The awful truth revealed itself one rainy morning when I received an announcement from a colleague who’d been blessed with an opportunity I was convinced should have been mine. I tossed her letter across the room in an angry huff. “It’s not fair, Lord!”

His response was swift. “Have I called you to succeed or to surrender, Liz?”

Groan. Clearly, jealousy and envy were alive and well in my jade-green heart. When I reached out to my writing and speaking sisters — women who love and serve the Lord — I discovered they, too, wrestled with this issue. One said, “I understand competition in the secular marketplace. But I grieve over it in the body of Christ. What are we doing, setting one person’s work above another, if not absorbing the world’s way of doing things?”

Her words echo the Apostle Paul’s: ” … For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?” (1 Corinthians 3:3b, NIV). Sadly, we are.

Today’s verse reminds us that envy takes a toll: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30). For all of us who struggle, here’s the way out:

Confess. Healing begins when we acknowledge that envy is a sin: “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth” (James 3:14, NIV). Humble admission is the single best antidote for prideful ambition.

Avoid comparison. Consider the words of Jesus, when Peter fretted over John’s place in Jesus’ ministry, and asked, “‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘ … what is that to you? You must follow me’” (John 21:21b, 22b, NIV).

Rejoice. Feeling overlooked? Look up and celebrate with others. Send an email or text on the spot, and chase away those negative feelings. “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15a, NIV).

Be patient. Many a career or ministry has collapsed under too much, too soon. Embrace the tasks you’ve been given, rather than longing for something bigger, better or faster. Success isn’t money or fame — it’s love for one another. By definition, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV).

Befriend your rival. As one of our sisters explained, “A woman was brought in on a fast track executive management program at my corporation. At our first meeting, I thought, ‘Well, here’s my rival.’ Then I heard God say, ‘She is smart, energetic and sharp — just like you. You could become best buddies.’” And, they did.

Count the cost. Behind every successful woman is a host of sacrifices we never see. The truth? We’re seldom jealous of all the work a person does — just the outcome. Whether building a tower or building a career, the Bible cautions us, ” … Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money” — or time or energy — “to complete it” (Luke 14:28b, NIV).

Lean on the Lord. He stands ready, willing and able to overcome our weaknesses through the power of His Spirit. “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11, NIV).

 

The Hand of the Lord

From: Streams in the Desert

The hand of the Lord hath wrought this (Job 12:9).

Several years ago there was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the world’s history. It was presented to the King of England to blaze in his crown of state. The King sent it to Amsterdam to be cut. It was put into the hands of an expert lapidary. And what do you suppose he did with it?
He took the gem of priceless value, and cut a notch in it. Then he struck it a hard blow with his instrument, and lo! the superb jewel lay in his hand cleft in twain. What recklessness I what wastefulness! what criminal carelessness!
Not so. For days and weeks that blow had been studied and planned. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, its defects, its lines of cleavage had all been studied with minutest care. The man to whom it was committed was one of the most skillful lapidaries in the world.
Do you say that blow was a mistake? Nay. It was the climax of the lapidary’s skill. When he struck that blow, he did the one thing which would bring that gem to its most perfect shapeliness, radiance, and jewelled splendor. That blow which seemed to ruin the superb precious stone was, in fact, its perfect redemption. For, from those two halves were wrought the two magnificent gems which the skilled eye of the lapidary saw hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.
So, sometimes, God lets a stinging blow fall upon your life. The blood spurts. The nerves wince. The soul cries out in agony. The blow seems to you an apalling mistake. But it is not, for you are the most priceless jewel in the world to God. And He is the most skilled lapidary in the universe.
Some day you are to blaze in the diadem of the King. As you lie in His hand now He knows just how to deal with you. Not a blow will be permitted to fall upon your shrinking soul but that the love of God permits it, and works out from its depths, blessing and spiritual enrichment unseen, and unthought of by you.
–J.H. McC.
In one of George MacDonald’s books occurs this fragment of conversation: “I wonder why God made me,” said Mrs. Faber bitterly. “I’m sure I don’t know what was the use of making me!”
“Perhaps not much yet,” said Dorothy, “but then He hasn’t done with you yet. He is making you now, and you are quarrelling with the process.”
If men would but believe that they are in process of creation, and consent to be made–let the Maker handle them as the potter the clay, yielding themselves in resplendent motion and submissive, hopeful action with the turning of His wheel–they would ere long find themselves able to welcome every pressure of that hand on them, even when it was felt in pain; and sometimes not only to believe but to recognize the Divine end in view, the bringing of a son unto glory.
“Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.”

 

Today’s Devotions

From: Through the Bible

Morning

April 17

Joshua 1:9 (NIV) 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Two times in this chapter and once from the mouth of Moses, Joshua has heard, “Be strong and courageous”. See yesterday’s morning devotional and Deut 31:23 Sometimes we need to hear it from God personally to really have faith. What a word this is for us when there is a change in leadership or we begin to be called to lead. Why should we never be terrified or discouraged? The LORD our God is with us wherever we are.

Here we see two tools of the enemy, fear or terror, and discouragement. Today we often label discouragement as depression. If Satan can get you to forget about God’s omnipotence and omnipresence, then he has a position from which he can resist God in you. When we realize that is a lie, our faith in who God has been and is today, enables God in us to be Satan’s worse nightmare, an unbeatable foe. It takes faith in God to receive the enabling.

Discouragement is a tough battle to fight. Moses succumbed to it at times. Joshua would surely face situations that on the surface would look discouraging. Certainly every one of us does. We need to respond with eyes that see the spiritual realm. There, all things work together for good, and even the defeats are steps forward. Only eyes of faith that see God with us, working through the difficulty, can claim this positive attitude that keeps us strong and courageous. Are you faced with discouragement? Open your spiritual eyes and see past the difficulty to God in you working good things into your life.

Consider: Am I seeing with eyes of faith?

Evening

April 17

Mark 12:35-37 (NIV) 35While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David? 36David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”‘ 37David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?” The large crowd listened to him with delight.

After answering all the trick questions presented to Him with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, Jesus had a question for those who inquired of Him. Jesus referred to one of His most quoted passages, Psalms 110:1. They all knew that the Scripture plainly taught that the Messiah would descend from David. The prophecies declared this One would reign forever. Then He reminded them that the Scriptures are written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. To these points they could all agree. Now He springs the trap on them. Unlike the traps they were setting for Him, His trap is intended to bring them life. Their questions were designed to bring accusation. His questions were designed to bring revelation. This is a good tool of discerning our own heart and the intent of others. Ask yourself if your desire in asking a question is to bring life or to find fault.

The word translated ‘Lord’ is from two different words. An expanded translation in contemporary language would be, The Eternal One said to my Master… If David called Him Master, how can He be his son? The Jews saw a father as superior to his son. The question is then, how can a son of a man be the man’s master? Now it is the Pharisees that are on the spot. They cannot answer. They have no idea how that could be. There is only one way it could be, incarnation. The Word became flesh through the womb of a woman descended from David. Jesus was all God and all man, but without sin. Jesus is David’s Master and his descendent. Through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, David heard the Father ask His only begotten Son, Jesus, to sit at His right hand until all His enemies were put under His feet.

The people listened with delight. The religious leaders had pushed them around with their interpretations of God’s Word. Now they are silent, unable to answer questions about the Word. They did not respond with a desire to understand but with a plot to murder the One that understood the Word better than they.

Consider the divine wisdom with which Jesus answered His critics.

Even The Mountains Obey God’s Voice

 

Psalms 125:2

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the LORD surrounds His people From this time forth and forever.

Psalms 11:1

In the LORD I take refuge; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain;

Psalms 90:2

Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

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Can You Come Down From the Mountain?

From: Utmost.org

We all have moments when we feel better than ever before, and we say, “I feel fit for anything; if only I could always be like this!” We are not meant to be. Those moments are moments of insight which we have to live up to even when we do not feel like it. Many of us are no good for the everyday world when we are not on the mountaintop. Yet we must bring our everyday life up to the standard revealed to us on the mountaintop when we were there.

Never allow a feeling that was awakened in you on the mountaintop to evaporate. Don’t place yourself on the shelf by thinking, “How great to be in such a wonderful state of mind!” Act immediately— do something, even if your only reason to act is that you would rather not. If, during a prayer meeting, God shows you something to do, don’t say, “I’ll do it”— just do it! Pick yourself up by the back of the neck and shake off your fleshly laziness. Laziness can always be seen in our cravings for a mountaintop experience; all we talk about is our planning for our time on the mountain. We must learn to live in the ordinary “gray” day according to what we saw on the mountain.

Don’t give up because you have been blocked and confused once— go after it again. Burn your bridges behind you, and stand committed to God by an act of your own will. Never change your decisions, but be sure to make your decisions in the light of what you saw and learned on the mountain.

What’s In The Name?

From: Getmorestrength.org

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” Exodus 20:7

There are a lot of fun events associated with being a pastor. And while great food at church dinners and getting invited to cool events with people in your church are near the top of the list, there may be nothing that quite compares to sharing some great moments with people — like the birth of babies. But in the joy of it all, there is a problem.

When you arrive at the hospital, you encounter a weary, but thrilled, couple who hand you this tightly wrapped little bundle and then impose on you a serious ethical dilemma. Of course, you are supposed to say, “Oh, my goodness, what a pretty little girl,” or “What a handsome little boy!” The reality is that I’ve never seen a child fresh out that looks anything like handsome or pretty. (Come to think of it, I have seenthree really beautiful babies.)

But once I get past the ethical dilemma by saying something like, “My, isn’t she precious,” the conversation ultimately morphs into an easier realm of interaction regarding the child’s name: “What’s the baby’s name?” . . . “That’s a great name. What does it mean?” The answers vary:

“Oh, it’s his grandfather’s name.”

“Her name means ‘Father’s delight’” or,

“We have no idea; we just chose it from a baby book!”

For most of us, names are relatively insignificant. They are easily changed into nicknames and serve basically to distinguish us from Bob or Ted. But if we look at God’s view of names in the same way, we may have trouble understanding what the big deal is about God’s name. Why would He include the importance of His name in His top-10 list of “Thou Shalt Nots”? How could diminishing His name rank up there with murder, stealing, and adultery?

It doesn’t take much digging through the Bible to realize that names are important to God. Think about Genesis, when God was often giving new names to the main characters—Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel. Each change signaled a statement from God about that individual’s character and his or her place in His plan. It wasn’t about God giving a nickname, it was about God assigning identity and worth to these individuals through the meaning of their name.

Most importantly, names are one of God’s key means of revealing His own identity and worth. He reveals His identity when He tells Moses that He is named “Yahweh,” which means, “I Am.” It means that He is eternally existent. He also identifies Himself as “Elohim,” the Almighty God, the God of great power. His names are who He is, not just what we call Him.

God’s names also describe His worth. You may be familiar with names like “Jehovah-Jireh,” meaning that He is the God who will provide. Or “El-Shaddai,” which means that He is completely sufficient. There are, in fact, 210 different names of God throughout Scripture, adding incredible richness and depth to our understanding of God’s identity, worth, and character.

Which is exactly why He takes it so seriously when we degrade His name by using it as though it weren’t sacred and lowering it to mere casual conversation as though it were ordinary. The exclamation, “Oh my God” should be an urgent prayer, not a verbal exclamation point. When we lower the name of God to drag it through a moment of anger or to use it to intimidate or manipulate, we have taken God Himself and lowered Him from His holy position. His name is intrinsically locked into who He is and what He is like. To put it simply, when we hit on His name, we have hit on Him. No wonder He is offended.

So, what’s in a name?  If you’re talking about God, the answer iseverything!

 

Abraham Had Faith and Obedience

From: Streams in the desert

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed” (Heb. 11:8).

Whither he went, he knew not; it was enough for him to know that he went with God. He leant not so much upon the promises as upon the Promiser. He looked not on the difficulties of his lot, but on the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, who had deigned to appoint his course, and would certainly vindicate Himself. O glorious faith! This is thy work, these are thy possibilities; contentment to sail with sealed orders, because of unwavering confidence in the wisdom of the Lord High Admiral; willinghood to rise up, leave all, and follow Christ, because of the glad assurance that earth’s best cannot bear comparison with Heaven’s least.
–F. B. M.
It is by no means enough to set out cheerfully with your God on any venture of faith. Tear into smallest pieces any itinerary for the journey which your imagination may have drawn up.
Nothing will fall out as you expect.
Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no fear, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.
The day had gone; alone and weak
I groped my way within a bleak
And sunless land.
The path that led into the light
I could not find! In that dark
night God took my hand.
He led me that I might not stray,
And brought me by a new, safe way
I had not known.
By waters still, through pastures green
I followed Him–the path was clean
Of briar and stone.
The heavy darkness lost its strength,
My waiting eyes beheld at length
The streaking dawn.
On, safely on, through sunrise glow
I walked, my hand in His, and lo,
The night had gone.
–Annie Porter Johnson

Morning

From: Charles Spurgeon, and Biblegateway

“The precious blood of Christ.”
1 Peter 1:19

Standing at the foot of the cross, we see hands, and feet, and side, all distilling crimson streams of precious blood. It is “precious” because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. By it the sins of Christ’s people are atoned for; they are redeemed from under the law; they are reconciled to God, made one with him. Christ’s blood is also “precious” in its cleansing power; it “cleanseth from all sin.” “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Through Jesus’ blood there is not a spot left upon any believer, no wrinkle nor any such thing remains. O precious blood, which makes us clean, removing the stains of abundant iniquity, and permitting us to stand accepted in the Beloved, notwithstanding the many ways in which we have rebelled against our God. The blood of Christ is likewise “precious” in its preserving power. We are safe from the destroying angel under the sprinkled blood. Remember it is God’s seeing the blood which is the true reason for our being spared. Here is comfort for us when the eye of faith is dim, for God’s eye is still the same. The blood of Christ is “precious” also in its sanctifying influence. The same blood which justifies by taking away sin, does in its after-action, quicken the new nature and lead it onward to subdue sin and to follow out the commands of God. There is no motive for holiness so great as that which streams from the veins of Jesus. And “precious,” unspeakably precious, is this blood, because it has an overcoming power. It is written, “They overcame through the blood of the Lamb.” How could they do otherwise? He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus, fights with a weapon which cannot know defeat. The blood of Jesus! sin dies at its presence, death ceases to be death: heaven’s gates are opened. The blood of Jesus! we shall march on, conquering and to conquer, so long as we can trust its power!

Evening

“And his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”
Exodus 17:12

So mighty was the prayer of Moses, that all depended upon it. The petitions of Moses discomfited the enemy more than the fighting of Joshua. Yet both were needed. So, in the soul’s conflict, force and fervour, decision and devotion, valour and vehemence, must join their forces, and all will be well. You must wrestle with your sin, but the major part of the wrestling must be done alone in private with God. Prayer, like Moses’, holds up the token of the covenant before the Lord. The rod was the emblem of God’s working with Moses, the symbol of God’s government in Israel. Learn, O pleading saint, to hold up the promise and the oath of God before him. The Lord cannot deny his own declarations. Hold up the rod of promise, and have what you will.

Moses grew weary, and then his friends assisted him. When at any time your prayer flags, let faith support one hand, and let holy hope uplift the other, and prayer seating itself upon the stone of Israel, the rock of our salvation, will persevere and prevail. Beware of faintness in devotion; if Moses felt it, who can escape? It is far easier to fight with sin in public, than to pray against it in private. It is remarked that Joshua never grew weary in the fighting, but Moses did grow weary in the praying; the more spiritual an exercise, the more difficult it is for flesh and blood to maintain it. Let us cry, then, for special strength, and may the Spirit of God, who helpeth our infirmities, as he allowed help to Moses, enable us like him to continue with our hands steady “until the going down of the sun;” till the evening of life is over; till we shall come to the rising of a better sun in the land where prayer is swallowed up in praise.

Pay Close Attention To God’s Word

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The Failure To Pay Close Attention

From: Utmost.org

Asa was not completely obedient in the outward, visible areas of his life. He was obedient in what he considered the most important areas, but he was not entirely right. Beware of ever thinking, “Oh, that thing in my life doesn’t matter much.” The fact that it doesn’t matter much to you may mean that it matters a great deal to God. Nothing should be considered a trivial matter by a child of God. How much longer are we going to prevent God from teaching us even one thing? But He keeps trying to teach us and He never loses patience. You say, “I know I am right with God”— yet the “high places” still remain in your life. There is still an area of disobedience. Do you protest that your heart is right with God, and yet there is something in your life He causes you to doubt? Whenever God causes a doubt about something, stop it immediately, no matter what it may be. Nothing in our lives is a mere insignificant detail to God.

Are there some things regarding your physical or intellectual life to which you have been paying no attention at all? If so, you may think you are all correct in the important areas, but you are careless— you are failing to concentrate or to focus properly. You no more need a day off from spiritual concentration on matters in your life than your heart needs a day off from beating. As you cannot take a day off morally and remain moral, neither can you take a day off spiritually and remain spiritual. God wants you to be entirely His, and it requires paying close attention to keep yourself fit. It also takes a tremendous amount of time. Yet some of us expect to rise above all of our problems, going from one mountaintop experience to another, with only a few minutes’ effort.

APRIL 15, 2015

From: Crosswalk.com

The Danger of an Empty Heart
LYNN COWELL

“You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16 (NIV)

I’ve come to the realization that every choice I make is actually a trade.

Some trades are good. On the days I trade a half hour of sleep for extra time with Jesus in God’s Word … that’s a great trade. The time I chose to keep dusting as my daughter shared her heart with me … that was a horrible trade. Taking care of my body or indulging in a little more dessert? It’s all about what trade I will make.

There’s a guy in the Bible, not much different than me, who also made a trade. His name was Esau, and the story of his dealings are found in Genesis 25.

Esau was the twin brother of Jacob. Esau, like me, was an outdoorsy type. Jacob, unlike me, liked to hang out in the kitchen.

One day, after being out in the open country, Esau returned home exhausted and famished to find Jacob cooking some stew. He said, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew!” (Genesis 25:30, NIV).

Jacob, being the conniving type, saw an opportunity to play let’s-make-a-deal with his older brother. He made a proposition, “First, sell me your birthright” (Genesis 25:31, NIV).

According to Jewish tradition, fathers gave the birthright to the firstborn son. The eldest would receive the title of the family name (maybe something like the way royalty passes on the family title) and a double portion of his father’s inheritance.

Maybe Esau thought Jacob’s proposition was a lighthearted toss, so he threw back an exaggerated, sarcastic response: “Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32, NIV)

That’s all it took. He swore an oath and got his bowl of stew.

Some trade.

When I first read this account I thought: Really? Give away all of your rights for a bowl of stew?

What would possess Esau to make such an uneven exchange?

Take a closer look at the word describing Esau’s condition: famished. Extremely hungry, starving, empty, hollow. I think Esau’s condition had a lot to do with his decision. Past the point of being hungry, he was empty.

Hollow.

If Esau would have grabbed a snack while waiting for the meal preparation, he could have been sated until all was ready. The temptation to give up the best of later for the quick fix of now wouldn’t have had such a tantalizing pull.

Esau and I are a lot alike. When I’m “hungry” — whether that looks like loneliness, fear or tiredness — I can make some unwise decisions. When my heart is empty, I can make an unequal trade out of desperation. In this condition, I am tempted to:

Make quick decisions
Speed had everything to do with Esau’s choice. He wanted his problem fixed now! It wasn’t hard for Jacob to manipulate a man who wouldn’t wait.

Exaggerate my condition
Esau told his brother he was about to die. Someone who has been out in the open country all day doesn’t seem to be at death’s door.

Make unwise decisions
Esau gave up the best of what he had for a bowl of stew.

What’s the trade you’re facing? Does it have to do with how you spend your time, invest in relationships, or take care of yourself? Maybe you find yourself trading intimacy with your husband for a romance novel? Sacrificing financial freedom for “having it all”? Bypassing time with your kids for the project at work? The trade presents itself in many different ways.

Today’s key verse in Psalm 145:16 tells us, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” Jesus will satisfy our hungers and allow us to see the truth of the trade if we turn to Him. Then, we can see the exchange for what it is.

What trades are you tempted to make today? Let’s learn from Esau. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is worth the trade if it means giving up God’s very best.

 

Trusting God’s Word

From: streams in the Desert

I trust in thy word” (Ps. 119:42).

Just in proportion in which we believe that God will do just what He has said, is our faith strong or weak. Faith has nothing to do with feelings, or with impressions, with improbabilities, or with outward appearances. If we desire to couple them with faith, then we are no longer resting on the Word of God because faith needs nothing of the kind. Faith rests on the naked Word of God. When we take Him at His Word, the heart is at peace.
God delights to exercise faith, first for blessing in our own souls, then for blessing in the Church at large, and also for those without. But this exercise we shrink from instead of welcoming. When trials come, we should say: “My Heavenly Father puts this cup of trial into my hands, that I may have something sweet afterwards.”
Trials are the food of faith. Oh, let us leave ourselves in the hands of our Heavenly Father! It is the joy of His heart to do good to all His children.
But trials and difficulties are not the only means by which faith is exercised and thereby increased. There is the reading of the Scriptures, that we may by them acquaint ourselves with God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
Are you able to say, from the acquaintance you have made with God, that He is a lovely Being? If not, let me affectionately entreat you to ask God to bring you to this, that you may admire His gentleness and kindness, that you may be able to say how good He is, and what a delight it is to the heart of God to do good to His children.
Now the nearer we come to this in our inmost souls, the more ready we are to leave ourselves in His hands, satisfied with all His dealings with us. And when trial comes, we shall say:
“I will wait and see what good God will do to me by it, assured He will do it.” Thus we shall bear an honorable testimony before the world, and thus we shall strengthen the hands of others.
–George Mueller

 

The parable of the sower

From: Charles Spureon

“A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:5-8

Suggested Further Reading: Colossians 1:1-10

The ground was good; not that it was good by nature, but it had been made good by grace. God had ploughed it; he had stirred it up with the plough of conviction, and there it lay in ridge and furrow as it should be. And when the Gospel was preached, the heart received it, for the man said, “That’s just the Christ I want. Mercy!” said he, “it’s just what a needy sinner requires. A refuge! God help me to fly to it, for a refuge I sorely want.” The preaching of the gospel was the vital thing which gave comfort to this disturbed and ploughed soil. Down fell the seed; it sprung up. In some cases it produced a fervency of love, a largeness of heart, a devotedness of purpose, like seed which produced a hundredfold. The man became a mighty servant for God, he spent himself and was spent. He took his place in the vanguard of Christ’s army, stood in the hottest of the battle, and did deeds of daring which few could accomplish,—the seed produced a hundredfold. It fell in another heart of like character;—the man could not do the most, still he did much. He gave himself, just as he was, up to God, and in his business he had a word to say for the business of the world to come. In his daily walk, he quietly adorned the doctrine of God his Saviour,—he brought forth sixtyfold. Then it fell on another, whose abilities and talents were but small; he could not be a star, but he would be a glow-worm; he could not do as the greatest, but he was content to do something, even though it were the least. The seed had brought forth in him tenfold, perhaps twentyfold.

For meditation: Quantity of fruit is desirable, but quality of fruit is essential—fruit that has gone mouldy is useless. The Lord Jesus Christ is looking for fruit in quantity and fruit which lasts (John 15:5,16).

Sermon no. 308
15 April (1860)

 

Inward Assurance (Isaiah 32:17)

In the Old Testament, the words confidence and assurance are different forms of the same Hebrew word. Isaiah adds the concept of quietness, “In quietness and trust” (Isa 30:15) we find our strength. Isaiah also tells us that “quietness and confidence” are the effect of righteousness (Isa 32:17). In the New Testament, the Greek words translated “full riches of complete understanding” (Col 2:2) and “convinced” (Ro 8:38) convey the same idea as similar words in the Old Testament.

Assurance is not based on optimism about your own abilities. Rather it is an inward peace based on God’s righteous work in you. Such confidence is not self-confidence, for that would be false security and reliance on something unreliable (Pr 14:16; Jer 9:23–24). Scripture states that those who have confidence in their own strength (Isa 30:12), beauty (Eze 16:15) or righteousness (Eze 33:12) are to be considered fools (Pr 28:26).

True confidence—rooted in the Lord’s capabilities and his relationship with his children—is a quiet strength that brings rich reward (Heb 10:35–36), a lasting security that is fully satisfying.

Taken from The Woman’s Study Bible

©2014 HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Meeting Christ In The Air

 

1 Thessalonians 4:16 – For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Revelation 3:10 – Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

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Matthew 24:29-31 – Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Matthew 24:42 – Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

 

Inner Invincibility

From: Utmost.org

“Whom the Lord loves He chastens…” (Hebrews 12:6). How petty our complaining is! Our Lord begins to bring us to the point where we can have fellowship with Him, only to hear us moan and groan, saying, “Oh Lord, just let me be like other people!” Jesus is asking us to get beside Him and take one end of the yoke, so that we can pull together. That’s why Jesus says to us, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). Are you closely identified with the Lord Jesus like that? If so, you will thank God when you feel the pressure of His hand upon you.

“…to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29). God comes and takes us out of our emotionalism, and then our complaining turns into a hymn of praise. The only way to know the strength of God is to take the yoke of Jesus upon us and to learn from Him.

“…the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Where do the saints get their joy? If we did not know some Christians well, we might think from just observing them that they have no burdens at all to bear. But we must lift the veil from our eyes. The fact that the peace, light, and joy of God is in them is proof that a burden is there as well. The burden that God places on us squeezes the grapes in our lives and produces the wine, but most of us see only the wine and not the burden. No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God living within the human spirit; it creates an inner invincibility.

If your life is producing only a whine, instead of the wine, then ruthlessly kick it out. It is definitely a crime for a Christian to be weak in God’s strength.

 

No Hassles At The Border

From: Getmorestrength.org

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20

American citizens flying to and from neighboring nations like Canada and Mexico used to get by with carrying a birth certificate or, in some cases, just a driver’s license as a travel document. Not anymore! Now we’re all required to carry a valid US passport. Without that document, you don’t get out, and you don’t get back in.

You know, a passport is an interesting little book. In the opportunities I have had to travel internationally, I’ve noticed that your passport and the visa stamped inside dramatically impacts your arrival experience. If you’re arriving in your home country, your passport usually enables you to bypass the long lines of visitors. Instead of a series of questions when I land back in the States, I’ve often been greeted by a hearty “Welcome home!” from the immigration officials.

But that’s not always true when you’re away from home. A friend of mine, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, has often traveled in countries closed to the gospel. He has some very interesting stories of how, upon arrival in these countries, he is usually hassled and questioned extensively because the guards think he’s an agent for the CIA or, better yet, a Bible smuggler! Well, after an excruciating experience at a border crossing, he said to me, “You know what I love, Joe? I love the thought that when I get to heaven . . . with Jesus on my passport, there will be no hassles at the border.”

Wow, what a great thought! Over and over again in Scripture we are reminded that, although this world is our temporary home, we’re not to get too comfortable here. Our true home is in heaven where our citizenship resides. You may be hassled at work, with friends, or on a trip to a third-world country, but when you get home, Jesus guarantees no hassle at the border!

In Paul’s day, citizenship was a huge deal. In the Roman Empire there were major privileges linked with being a Roman citizen. Things like land ownership, access to the judicial system, and protection from certain punishments all depended on your status as a citizen. Paul, as a Roman citizen, occasionally tapped into these advantages for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, but he certainly didn’t depend on them. His encounter with Christ had changed everything, to the extent that he said, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). He knew that his new status as a citizen of heaven carried far greater joys and privileges!

You and I are invited to that same privilege. We can have the assurance that delights both Paul and my friend Dr. Lutzer. We can look forward to being welcomed into our true home, based not on our attempt at good works or our earthly accomplishments, but based on a spiritual passport stamped with the finished work of Jesus Christ.

So I guess it begs the question, doesn’t it? Is Jesus on your passport? Do you know that for sure? He died for you to guarantee a smooth entry into heaven. In fact, He’s now preparing a place for you, the Bible says, and will one day come back to check passports and take you home with Him (John 14:1-4). And here’s the good news: When you get there, with Jesus on your passport there will be no hassles at the border. Just a hearty, “Welcome home!”

 

Meeting The Lord In The Air

From: Streams in the Desert

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

It was “very early in the morning” while “it was yet dark,” that Jesus rose from the dead. Not the sun, but only the morning-star shone upon His opening tomb. The shadows had not fled, the citizens of Jerusalem had not awaked. It was still night–the hour of sleep and darkness, when He arose. Nor did his rising break the slumbers of the city. So shall it be “very early in the morning while it is yet dark,” and when nought but the morning-star is shining, that Christ’s body, the Church, shall arise. Like Him, His saints shall awake when the children of the night and darkness are still sleeping their sleep of death. In their arising they disturb no one. The world hears not the voice that summons them. As Jesus laid them quietly to rest, each in his own still tomb, like children in the arms of their mother; so, as quietly, as gently, shall He awake them when the hour arrives. To them come the quickening words, “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust” (Isa. 26:19). Into their tomb the earliest ray of glory finds its way. They drink in the first gleams of morning, while as yet the eastern clouds give but the faintest signs of the uprising. Its genial fragrance, its soothing stillness, its bracing freshness, its sweet loneliness, its quiet purity, all so solemn and yet so full of hope, these are theirs.
Oh, the contrast between these things and the dark night through which they have passed! Oh, the contrast between these things and the grave from which they have sprung! And as they shake off the encumbering turf, flinging mortality aside, and rising, in glorified bodies, to meet their Lord in the air, they are lighted and guided upward, along the untrodden pathway, by the beams of that Star of the morning, which, like the Star of Bethlehem, conducts them to the presence of the King. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
–Horatius Bonar
“While the hosts cry Hosanna, from heaven descending,
With glorified saints and the angels attending,
With grace on His brow, like, a halo of glory,
Will Jesus receive His own.”
“Even so, come quickly.”
A soldier said, “When I die do not sound taps over my grave. Instead, play reveille, the morning call, the summons to arise.”

The last census

From: Charles Spurgeon, Biblegateway

‘The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there.’ Psalm 87:6

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 20:11–15

The matters with which the census shall have to do will be decisive. Perhaps, my hearer, your name could not be written today among the regenerate, but there is hope yet, and we trust by God’s grace before you leave here you may have a portion among the sanctified. If we could take today the number of God’s people, at present converted, I thank God that before another hour it would be imperfect, for there would have been others added to the visibly called of God. But the last census shall be decisive. To its number none shall be added; from its multitude none subtracted. Once let that be taken, and the angel shall cry in heaven, ‘He that is holy, let him be holy still;’ and his voice shall reverberate to hell, but other words shall he sound there, ‘He which is filthy, let him be filthy still.’ That shall be decisive, the last polling of the people, the last counting of the jewels and casting away of the counterfeits, the last bringing in of the sheep and banishment of the goats. This makes it all-important that you and I should know today whether, when the Lord ‘writeth up the people,’ it shall be said ‘that this man was born there.’ Oh that we were wise to look into futurities! We are so short sighted we see so small a distance. We only see time and its trickeries, its paint, its gilt. Oh that we were wise that we understood this, that we would remember our latter end! So, come the census day when it may, we may each have our name written beneath our Lord the Lamb in some humble place among the chosen of the Lord our God.

For meditation: While voting at an election may be voluntary, registration before a certain date at a census is compulsory and failure to do so is a punishable offence. God has commanded all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) and trust in the Saviour. Failure to register and be found in Christ (Philippians 3:9) will spell disaster (Revelation 20:15).

N.B. This sermon followed the taking of the 1861 census during the previous week.

Sermon no. 382
14 April (1861)

 

Confidence Builder (Psalm 94:14)

It is heartbreaking to see your child get rejected. Little children are innocent and trusting. They believe the best and can’t imagine that someone would not want them around.

Life has a way of teaching some hard lessons in this area. That’s why it will be critical to help your child know they won’t always be welcomed and will face rejection at some point in their life.

It’s also important they understand it might be the result of something they did, but more likely it will be another person who is causing that action. This will be a delicate conversation. Some children will handle it easily, but for others it could jumpstart low self-esteem issues. The ultimate goal is for your child to be secure in who they are, and in those moments when they sense rejection, not to take it personally. That is accomplished by reminding them to put their confidence in who they are in Christ.

Parenting Principle

Remember, if you are rejected, it is not by God.

Points to Ponder

  • When have you felt a time of begrudging and how did you handle it?
  • How can you continue to help your children prepare for these inevitable moments of rejection that are a natural part of life?
  • When have you ever made others feel like you were rejecting them?

Taken from Once a Day Nurturing Great Kids

©2014 HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Let Jesus Help With Your Burdens

 

People Carrying Heavy Loads

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What To Do When Your Burden Is Overwhelming

From: Utmost.org

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

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

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

 

APRIL 13, 2015

From: Crosswalk.com

What Does Real Love Look Like?
NICKI KOZIARZ

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40 (ESV)

She’s a name-dropper.

The kind of woman who always needs the world to know what famous person tweeted at her, liked her post or followed her on Instagram. She’s always at the important meetings, the ones where the people in charge see her. And she schedules lunches and coffee dates with people who can take her career further.

We all know this woman. She’s our neighbor. Our co-worker. Our ministry leader. She’s everywhere.

And maybe, at times, there’s a little bit of this woman in each of us.

The world tells us in order to go higher we must surround ourselves with people who will take us higher. Our mommas taught us at a young age we will become like those we keep close. And in high school we grouped together with people who were like-minded.

While I understand the importance of keeping company with the right kind of people, I see Jesus taking a different approach at times as I study His life in the Bible.

It’s true Jesus had good friends like His disciples, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. But as I look closely at the steps of Jesus, I see He invested a lot of His time into the “least of these:” the poor, the hungry, the broken, the weak and the people who had absolutely nothing to offer Him.

Jesus always had a genuine concern and focus on people in need.

If we are always surrounding ourselves with the “best of these,” how will we ever truly learn to love the least of these?

It’s an honest question to reflect on as we go about our days, make our schedules and choose where to invest our energy. But I don’t really know if in Jesus’ eyes this concept of serving the least of these is optional.

Do I always get this right? Goodness no.

My excuses for a lack of service to those in need are shameful:

  • I’m too busy.
  • I already give so much.
  • I don’t have what they need.
  • I forgot.

God blesses us so that we may bless others. May we be compelled to take our eyes off ourselves and turn our heads to the right and to the left. Let us see those around us in need and give whatever we have to bless them.

Here are three ways to do this right now:

    1. Spend time with someone who has nothing to give back to you.

 

    1. Ask God if there’s anything you have in your possession that could bless someone else. Maybe it’s a coat, a pair of shoes, a purse, jewelry … what can you give up to bless another?

 

  1. Write a note of encouragement to someone who is down, sick or weary. Tell her specific things you are praying over her life.

We don’t always need to be with the “best of the best.” There is life, love and opportunities to expand our souls if we will humble ourselves and become just a little bit more like Jesus today and serve the least of these.

 

April 13

From: Back to the Bible

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV) 19This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Blessings and life or curses and death, those are our choices. There is no middle ground. We must choose one or the other. Heaven and earth will bear witness to the choice we make. Our choice is visible to all created realms.

It is a wonder that Almighty God gives us such a privilege. Considering the horrible consequences to others if we make the wrong choice. It is a wonder that we get to choose at all. But God is not after robots. He wants relational, volitional creatures. He is looking for those who will desire Him and His goodness of their own free will.

In these verses we find that the choice of life that we make effects our children, our love for God, our ability to hear His voice, and our endurance in the faith. It effects the length of our lives. When the choice is laid out so clearly, and the consequences made so plain, who would choose curses and death? Sadly many still do. It is easy to believe the lie that other things can deliver these benefits to our lives, when that choice lines up with our fleshly desire.

The LORD is our life. We may think our life is wrapped up in things and family and friends, but all those are from the LORD. He is life itself. He breathed into us the breath of life.

Meditation: Have I recognized that Jesus is life?

Evening

April 13

Mark 5:27-29 (NIV) 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering

There is more going on here than meets the Western eye. This woman had a case of perpetual bleeding. Not only was it debilitating, but according to the Jewish law she was considered unclean and supposed to shout out that fact when she was in public. Jesus was in a packed crowd, but this woman was desperate. She had spent her living on doctors that had not helped her. She had gone without human contact for years and was physically and emotionally drained. Jesus was her last hope.

The Jews had the idea that when the Messiah came, the tassel that hung from the corner of His cloak would heal those who touched it. It is not clear in Mark that this is what she was touching, but the word is clear in Matthew. It is the word that is translated ‘hem’ or ‘tassel’ in NIV. Jesus told the Pharisees that they made this part of their garments long. (Matthew 23:5) It is as if they were saying, “Perhaps I am the Messiah.” When the woman thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed”, she was expressing her conviction that Jesus was the Messiah.

Many people were touching Jesus in that crowd, jostling up against Him. Jesus stopped and said that someone had touched Him. He perceived power flow from Him. What was the difference between this woman’s touch and the crowds’ touch? She had faith. Faith grounded her like a lightening rod. Everyone else was insulated by unbelief. The believing touch drew the power that made her whole.

Remember: When you go to Jesus in prayer, reach out in faith and touch Him. Pound your lightening rod of faith deep into the earth, grab hold and with the other hand touch the Savior. Then, look out! The power will flow.

 

Dream Weaver (Daniel 2:24–30)

As you approach the king’s throne, a swarm of whispers fills the room.

“Who does she think she is?” “She’ll never be able to do it.”

Striding steadily forward, and struggling with your own self-doubts, you wonder, “Will all these gawking eyes witness an execution or a miracle today?”

While these thoughts took place in your imagination, a similar situation occurred in Daniel’s reality. He stood face-to-face with an unpredictable despot, King Nebuchadnezzar, who had murdered many of Daniel’s family and friends during their exile in Babylon. Now Daniel’s own life was in danger (along with all the other scholars and key advisers of the nation) unless someone—anyone—could interpret the king’s strange dream. Daniel’s life depended upon being able to do what no one had been able to do—not even the king’s “wise men.”

Talk about stress. Daniel faced a seemingly impossible and dangerous circumstance requiring the utmost wisdom and bravery. Not only had he been exiled to Babylon (modern-day Baghdad), but now he faced an even more pressing drama.

How did Daniel handle this super-dramatic, high-stress situation? He coped with it by cultivating a close relationship with God and depending on God for wisdom and power (verses 20–23). When the drama heated up and he was asked if he could interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel did not talk himself up. He humbly responded, “No [one] can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (verses 27–28). Daniel invited God into his drama.

In the course of our lives, we’re sometimes called to deal with stressful or uncomfortable situations. You may work as the only female in your church’s leadership; you may care for your aging in-laws, who have never thought you were good enough for their son. No matter what the situation, the best way to handle it with grace and wisdom is to invite God to direct the circumstance. Let him weave your way through with his wisdom. Lean on his strength. Rely on his insights. You may not feel like you can handle the stress, but with God’s help, you can.

Taken from NIV Women’s Devotional Bible

©2014 HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Jesus Conquering Temptation

 

Pictures From Shutterstock

The Temptation of Jesus. 1) Le Sainte Bible: Traduction nouvelle selon la Vulgate par Mm. J.-J. Bourasse et P. Janvier. Tours: Alfred Mame et Fils. 2) 1866 3) France 4) Gustave Doré - stock photo
Temptation of Christ on desert - drawing - stock photo
The Temptation of Jesus - Picture from The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments books collection published in 1885, Stuttgart-Germany. Drawings by Gustave Dore. - stock photo
Barcelona - temptation of Christ from church Sagrad cor de Jesus - stock photo

Complete and Effective Dominion

From: Utmost.org

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

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

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

Jesus Lead By The Spirit

From: Streams in the Desert

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned From Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil (Luke 4:1-2).

Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost, and yet He was tempted. Temptation often comes upon a man with its strongest power when he is nearest to God. As someone has said, “The devil aims high.” He got one apostle to say he did not even know Christ.
Very few men have such conflicts with the devil as Martin Luther had. Why? Because Martin Luther was going to shake the very kingdom of hell. Oh, what conflicts John Bunyan had!
If a man has much of the Spirit of God, he will have great conflicts with the tempter. God permits temptation because it does for us what the storms do for the oaks–it roots us; and what the fire does for the paintings on the porcelain–it makes them permanent.
You never know that you have a grip on Christ, or that He has a grip on you, as well as when the devil is using all his force to attract you from Him; then you feel the pull of Christ’s right hand.
–Selected
Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces. God hath many sharp-cutting instruments, and rough files for the polishing of His jewels; and those He especially loves, and means to make the most resplendent, He hath oftenest His tools upon.
–Archbishop Leighton
I bear my willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord’s workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most.
–C. H. Spurgeon

Morning

From: Charles Spurgeon, Biblegateway.com

“My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”
Psalm 22:14

Our blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Deep depression of spirit is the most grievous of all trials; all besides is as nothing. Well might the suffering Saviour cry to his God, “Be not far from me,” for above all other seasons a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness. Believer, come near the cross this morning, and humbly adore the King of glory as having once been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than any one among us; and mark his fitness to become a faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Especially let those of us whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of our Father’s love, enter into near and intimate communion with Jesus. Let us not give way to despair, since through this dark room the Master has passed before us. Our souls may sometimes long and faint, and thirst even to anguish, to behold the light of the Lord’s countenance: at such times let us stay ourselves with the sweet fact of the sympathy of our great High Priest. Our drops of sorrow may well be forgotten in the ocean of his griefs; but how high ought our love to rise! Come in, O strong and deep love of Jesus, like the sea at the flood in spring tides, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash out all my cares, lift up my earth-bound soul, and float it right up to my Lord’s feet, and there let me lie, a poor broken shell, washed up by his love, having no virtue or value; and only venturing to whisper to him that if he will put his ear to me, he will hear within my heart faint echoes of the vast waves of his own love which have brought me where it is my delight to lie, even at his feet forever.

Evening

“The king’s garden.”
Nehemiah 3:15

Mention of the king’s garden by Nehemiah brings to mind the paradise which the King of kings prepared for Adam. Sin has utterly ruined that fair abode of all delights, and driven forth the children of men to till the ground, which yields thorns and briers unto them. My soul, remember the fall, for it was thy fall. Weep much because the Lord of love was so shamefully ill-treated by the head of the human race, of which thou art a member, as undeserving as any. Behold how dragons and demons dwell on this fair earth, which once was a garden of delights.

See yonder another King’s garden, which the King waters with his bloody sweat–Gethsemane, whose bitter herbs are sweeter far to renewed souls than even Eden’s luscious fruits. There the mischief of the serpent in the first garden was undone: there the curse was lifted from earth, and borne by the woman’s promised seed. My soul, bethink thee much of the agony and the passion; resort to the garden of the olive-press, and view thy great Redeemer rescuing thee from thy lost estate. This is the garden of gardens indeed, wherein the soul may see the guilt of sin and the power of love, two sights which surpass all others.

Is there no other King’s garden? Yes, my heart, thou art, or shouldst be such. How do the flowers flourish? Do any choice fruits appear? Does the King walk within, and rest in the bowers of my spirit? Let me see that the plants are trimmed and watered, and the mischievous foxes hunted out. Come, Lord, and let the heavenly wind blow at thy coming, that the spices of thy garden may flow abroad. Nor must I forget the King’s garden of the church. O Lord, send prosperity unto it. Rebuild her walls, nourish her plants, ripen her fruits, and from the huge wilderness, reclaim the barren waste, and make thereof “a King’s garden.”

Breaking Bread With Jesus (Mark 2:13–22)

From: Biblegateway

Jesus feasted while John fasted. Whereas John’s call to conversion was essentially linked to penitential practices, the call of Jesus is fundamentally connected to being a table companion, eating and drinking with Jesus in whom God’s merciful manner with sinners is manifested. Breaking bread with Jesus was a festive celebration of good fellowship in which there was salvation. Asceticism was not only inappropriate but unthinkable in the presence of the Bridegroom.

This remarkable passage illuminates the extraordinary enchantment cast by the Carpenter-Messiah. The ragamuffins discovered that sharing a meal with him was a liberating experience of sheer joy. He freed them from self-hatred, exhorted them not to confuse their perception of themselves with the mystery they really were, gave them what they needed more than anything else—encouragement for their lives—and delivered reassuring words such as, “Do not live in fear, little flock; don’t be afraid; fear is useless, what is needed is trust; stop worrying; cheer up—your sins are all forgiven” [paraphrase]. Small wonder that the evangelist Mark preserved this memory of Jesus with the utmost care.

Taken from NIV Ragamuffin Bible

©2014 HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Jesus Frees Us From Guilt’s Prison

 

Jesus Christ was sent into this world to rescue us from the prison of guilt.

 

Hebrews 10:1-4

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.

 

When a person is truly repentant, he is freed from all unrighteousness.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9

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Complete and Effective Divinity

From: Utmost.org

Co-Resurrection. The proof that I have experienced crucifixion with Jesus is that I have a definite likeness to Him. The Spirit of Jesus entering me rearranges my personal life before God. The resurrection of Jesus has given Him the authority to give the life of God to me, and the experiences of my life must now be built on the foundation of His life. I can have the resurrection life of Jesus here and now, and it will exhibit itself through holiness.

The idea all through the apostle Paul’s writings is that after the decision to be identified with Jesus in His death has been made, the resurrection life of Jesus penetrates every bit of my human nature. It takes the omnipotence of God— His complete and effective divinity— to live the life of the Son of God in human flesh. The Holy Spirit cannot be accepted as a guest in merely one room of the house— He invades all of it. And once I decide that my “old man” (that is, my heredity of sin) should be identified with the death of Jesus, the Holy Spirit invades me. He takes charge of everything. My part is to walk in the light and to obey all that He reveals to me. Once I have made that important decision about sin, it is easy to “reckon” that I am actually “dead indeed to sin,” because I find the life of Jesus in me all the time (Romans 6:11). Just as there is only one kind of humanity, there is only one kind of holiness— the holiness of Jesus. And it is His holiness that has been given to me. God puts the holiness of His Son into me, and I belong to a new spiritual order.

 

APRIL 10, 2015

From: Crosswalk.com

The One Sin I Thought was Unforgivable
TRACIE MILES

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (NLT)

The event speaker spoke the one word I didn’t want to hear. She said the one word that elicited painful memories, shame and regret. One word that left me weeping silently in the pew, hoping no one would notice my brokenness.

My eyes were closed, but I sensed God’s eyes were wide open and focused directly on me. Part of me felt afraid and confused, but a bigger part of me felt peace in light of the gift God was offering.

Amid the flood of hot tears that burned in my swollen, tightly shut eyes, I pleaded with God for His forgiveness of the one sin — the one word — that I felt was unforgivable. I meekly, humbly and reluctantly dared to ask God, once again, the prayer I had uttered so many times, yet never believed could be answered.

Could You … would You … possibly … forgive me for that, Lord? Really?

If You could forgive others for their sins, could You maybe, just maybe, forgive me too?

If You can still love them, despite their pasts, can You love me too?

Will You still love me, God?

I felt like a little girl sitting at her daddy’s feet, asking forgiveness for not listening to his words of instruction, and longing for him to scoop her up and reassure her of his love. My heart was gaping wide, and I waited, anxious for God to fill me with all the things I never thought I deserved to ask for, much less receive.

I felt sure God was wondering if I were a broken record instead of a broken soul. I had asked for His forgiveness for 14 years, never feeling worthy of it and never expecting Him to actually grant it. But this time, in this place, I actually believed I was forgiven.

I felt the lightness and freedom of a prisoner set free. Joy caught in my throat, and I could hardly swallow. The unbearable, heavy burden of my shame, regret, sorrow and haunting memories were all lifted the moment I embraced God’s promise that ALL sins are forgivable through Christ. Including mine.

Abortion. The one word that made my heart shudder — that was a tragic choice made by a scared 19-year-old. And unfortunately, statistics show that more than 56 million U.S. women may have shuddered at that one word as well, since abortion became legal in America.

Yet despite the reasons we made bad choices, God longs to offer forgiveness. The enemy doesn’t want us to believe that truth. He wants to keep us in bondage to shame and secrecy … to prevent us from living as a testament of God’s grace and power over sin. As our key verse notes, Scripture states quite the opposite: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

The “one word” you dread might be very different from mine, but God can free you from whatever keeps you from embracing how much you are adored by Christ. Might today be the day you learn to fly in the freedom of His forgiveness and peace?

Father, You know the “one word” that makes me shudder. Forgive me and cleanse my heart. Fill me with overwhelming peace and acceptance of that gift. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 1:7, “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” (NLT)

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

Psalm 34:5, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (NIV)

 

From: Streams in the Desert

What I tell you in the darkness, speak ye in the light” (Matt. 10:27).

Our Lord is constantly taking us into the dark, that He may tell us things. Into the dark of the shadowed home, where bereavement has drawn the blinds; into the dark of the lonely, desolate life, where some infirmity closes us in from the light and stir of life; into the dark of some crushing sorrow and disappointment.
Then He tells us His secrets, great and wonderful, eternal and infinite; He causes the eye which has become dazzled by the glare of earth to behold the heavenly constellations; and the car to detect the undertones of His voice, which is often drowned amid the tumult of earth’s strident cries.
But such revelations always imply a corresponding responsibility–‘that speak ye in the light–that proclaim upon the housetops.”
We are not meant to always linger in the dark, or stay in the closet; presently we shall be summoned to take our place in the rush and storm of life; and when that moment comes, we are to speak and proclaim what we have learned.
This gives a new meaning to suffering, the saddest element in which is often its apparent aimlessness. “How useless I am!” “What am I doing for the betterment of men?” “Wherefore this waste of the precious spikenard of my soul?”
Such are the desperate laments of the sufferer. But God has a purpose in it all. He has withdrawn His child to the higher altitudes of fellowship, that he may hear God speaking face to face, and bear the message to his fellows at the mountain foot.
Were the forty days wasted that Moses spent on the Mount, or the period spent at Horeb by Elijah, or the years spent in Arabia by Paul?
There is no short cut to the life of faith, which is the all-vital condition of a holy and victorious life. We must have periods of lonely meditation and fellowship with God. That our souls should have their mountains of fellowship, their valley of quiet rest beneath the shadow of a great rock, their nights beneath the stars, when darkness has veiled the material and silenced the stir of human life, and has opened the view of the infinite and eternal, is as indispensable as that our bodies should have food.
Thus alone can the sense of God’s presence become the fixed possession of the soul, enabling it to say repeatedly, with the Psalmist, “Thou art near, 0 God.”
–F. B. Meyer
“Some hearts, like evening primroses, open more beautifully in the shadows of life.”

Providence

From: Charles Spurgeon

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 16:6-10

I shall always regard the fact of my being here today as a remarkable instance of providence. I should not have occupied this hall probably, and been blessed of God in preaching to multitudes if it had not been for what I considered an untoward accident. I should have been at this time studying in College, instead of preaching here, but for a singular circumstance which happened. I had agreed to go to College: the tutor had come to see me, and I went to see him at the house of a mutual friend; I was shown by the servant into one drawing-room in the house, he was shown into another. He sat and waited for me two hours; I sat and waited for him two hours. He could wait no longer, and went away thinking I had not treated him well; I went away and thought he had not treated me well. As I went away this text came into my mind, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.” So I wrote to say that I must positively decline; I was happy enough amongst my own country people, and got on very well in preaching, and I did not care to go to College. I have now had four years of labour. But, speaking after the manner of men, those who have been saved during that time would not have been saved, by my instrumentality at any rate, if it had not been for the remarkable providence turning the whole tenor of my thoughts, and putting things into a new track. You have often had strange accidents like that. When you have resolved to do a thing, you could not do it anyhow; it was quite impossible. God turned you another way, and proved that providence is indeed the master of all human events.

For meditation: God is never taken by surprise or inconvenienced by accidents. He puts his people in the right place at the right time (Esther 4:14).

note: Spurgeon commenced this sermon with an account of an event at Halifax the previous Wednesday (7 April) during a snow storm. He preached in a wooden structure to thousands in the afternoon and evening. With only a hundred people left to exit, some flooring collapsed, injuring a couple. Three hours later the whole building collapsed. Had it not been for a fast thaw, there could have been a catastrophe.

Sermon no. 187
11 April (1858)

God Cares When You Feel Worthless (Psalm 139:16–17)

From: Biblegateway.com

How precious children are to us. Modern technology allows us to see those little feet and tiny hands and beating heart while the baby is still in the womb. But we also see with our mind’s eye as we dream about what God has in store for these little people. We don’t know the future, but what a precious promise it is to know that God does. As we walk day by day with them, guiding them, protecting them and watching with wonder as they grow, we entrust them to God who knows every moment. We don’t know where our children will go in life, but he does. We don’t know how God will use them, but he does. We don’t know what they will accomplish for God’s kingdom, but he does.

We can also understand how precious we are to God. What value he places on each of us. God knew us before we were born. He knew every day of our lives before our lives even began. May we understand the promise of God’s knowledge of the future and take comfort in it.

God’s Promise to Me

  • I knew you before you were born. Every day of your life is known to me.
  • I think about you more than you know. Don’t worry; you are safe in my hands.

My Prayer to God

Lord, you created me for a purpose. Every day of my life was recorded in your book and laid out before my life even began. I choose to take comfort in this knowledge. May I understand the depth of your love for me all the days of my life.

Taken from Once a Day Bible Promises

©2014 HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Love God As You Are Loved

 

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Loving God

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. —1 John 4:11

Early in our marriage, I thought I knew the ultimate shortcut to my wife’s heart. I arrived home one night with a bouquet of a dozen red roses behind my back. When I presented the flowers to Martie, she thanked me graciously, sniffed the flowers, and then took them into the kitchen. Not quite the response I had expected.

It was an introductory lesson in the reality that flowers are not my wife’s primary language of love. While she appreciated the gesture, she was mentally calculating the cost of an expensive bouquet of flowers—a budget breaker for a young couple in seminary! And as I’ve discovered through the years, she is far more interested in my time and attention. When I devote myself to her in an uninterrupted and attentive way, that’s when she really feels loved.

Did you ever wonder how God wants us to show that we love Him? We get a clue when we read, “He who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:21). It’s that simple. One of the primary ways we show our love for God is by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we genuinely love each other, it brings pleasure to our heavenly Father.

So watch for opportunities to tell Jesus that you love Him. He’s infinitely worth whatever it costs.

All those who say they love the Lord
But don’t love one another,
Should question the relationship
They have with God the Father. —Sper

To show your love for God, share your love with others.

 

Working Together For Good

From: Streams in the Desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Annie Johnson Flint

A promise for us and for our children

From: SPURGEON AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE

‘I will pour water upon him that is thirsty … I will pour my spirit upon thy seed … and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses, One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob.’ Isaiah 44:3–5

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 2:1–21

The thirsty land shall be springs of water. O my brethren, when the Holy Spirit visits a man, what a difference is made in him! I know a preacher, once as dull and dead a man as ever misused a pulpit; under his slumbering ministrations there were few conversions, and the congregation grew thinner and thinner, good men sighed in secret, and the enemy said, ‘Aha! so would we have it.’ The revival came, the Holy Spirit worked gloriously, the preacher felt the divine fire and suddenly woke up to energy and zeal. The man appeared to be transformed; his tongue seemed touched with fire; elaborate and written discourses were laid aside, and he began to talk out of his own glowing heart to the hearts of others. He preached as he had never done before; the place filled; the dry bones were stirred, and quickening began. Those who knew him once so elegant, correct, passionless, dignified, cold, lifeless, and unprofitable, asked in amazement, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’ The Spirit of God is a great wonder-worker. You will notice certain church members; they have never been good for much; we have had their names on the roll, and that is all: suddenly the Spirit of God has come upon them, and they have been honoured among us for their zeal and usefulness. We have seen them here and there and everywhere diligent in the service of God, and foremost in all sorts of Christian labour, though before you could hardly get them to stir an inch. I would then that the quickening Spirit would come down upon me, and upon you, upon every one of us in abundance, to create men valiant for truth and mighty for the Lord. O for some of the ancient valour of apostolic times.

For meditation: This abundant watering is carried out by the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer (John 7:37–39; Romans 5:5; Titus 3:5–6). Are you overflowing or not really thirsty enough?

Sermon no. 564
10 April (1864)

 

Who Can Stand? (Deuteronomy 9:1–6)

She stares down at us from the wide screen or up from the magazine or across the sanctuary. She’s the “perfect” woman. She’s tall. She’s willowy. She always knows just the right thing to say . . . and when to say it. She’s the perfect host. She is involved in every committee. She’s the picture of who the world says we should be. We feel like the Israelites felt about the Anakites: “Who can stand up against that?”

No doubt the Hebrew nation trembled in their sandals at the thought of facing the mighty Anakites. However, God promised to be more than an ally to his people. He didn’t just say, “I will go with you to conquer the enemy.” Instead, he promised to go ahead of them. He promised to lead the charge into battle. God would conquer and take the land on their behalf. Of course, God kept his word. The Anakites were destroyed.

As believers, we’re not really at war with “perfect” women. When you put yourself in their high-heeled sandals, you realize they have their own insecurities: Do people like me for me? Am I a slave to my looks? Opposition and uncertainties loom in every woman’s heart. Do we really have to squeeze into the culture’s mold to fit in? To be respected? To have the right career? To matter? So many times our internal struggles are the real giants we must conquer. Conquering the heart and mind are the front line of the battle of faith.

When uncertainties about who you are make you feel small, remember that God is more than just a friendly ally. He is a trusted warrior who will go out ahead and battle your giants. As you grow in your faith and in grace, he will conquer your insecurities about your looks and abilities as you grow to realize that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). He will conquer your lack of confidence in conversation by giving you the proper words to say through his Holy Spirit. He will fill you with security by giving you his righteousness. Then, when you’ve walked through the challenge, you’ll know it was God who won the war, and you can give him all the glory.

What personal battles are causing your stomach to tie up in knots? What giant challenges are stopping you dead in your tracks? Rest assured; God will go before you to devour your doubts.

Taken from NIV Women’s Devotional Bible

©2014 HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Jesus Is The Ultimate Hero

Jesus Is The Ultimate Hero Of All That Are Being Saved

Romans 10:9-10

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

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Have You Seen Jesus?

From: Utmost.org

Being saved and seeing Jesus are not the same thing. Many people who have never seen Jesus have received and share in God’s grace. But once you have seen Him, you can never be the same. Other things will not have the appeal they did before.

You should always recognize the difference between what you see Jesus to be and what He has done for you. If you see only what He has done for you, your God is not big enough. But if you have had a vision, seeing Jesus as He really is, experiences can come and go, yet you will endure “as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). The man who was blind from birth did not know who Jesus was until Christ appeared and revealed Himself to him (see John 9). Jesus appears to those for whom He has done something, but we cannot order or predict when He will come. He may appear suddenly, at any turn. Then you can exclaim, “Now I see Him!” (see John 9:25).

Jesus must appear to you and to your friend individually; no one can see Jesus with your eyes. And division takes place when one has seen Him and the other has not. You cannot bring your friend to the point of seeing; God must do it. Have you seen Jesus? If so, you will want others to see Him too. “And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either” (Mark 16:13). When you see Him, you must tell, even if they don’t believe.

O could I tell, you surely would believe it!
O could I only say what I have seen!
How should I tell or how can you receive it,
How, till He bringeth you where I have been?

 

Hometown Hero

From: Getmorestrength.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live to celebrate Jesus—our ultimate hometown hero!

 

All These Things

From: Streams in the Desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Annie Johnson Flint

 

 

April 9

From: Through the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

Evening

April 9

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

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

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

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

Meditation: With God, nothing is impossible.