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God Loves People Who Help

 

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The Right Kind of Help

From: Utmost.org
12
20
2014
And I, if I am lifted up…will draw all peoples to Myself. —John 12:32
Very few of us have any understanding of the reason why Jesus Christ died. If sympathy is all that human beings need, then the Cross of Christ is an absurdity and there is absolutely no need for it. What the world needs is not “a little bit of love,” but major surgery.

When you find yourself face to face with a person who is spiritually lost, remind yourself of Jesus Christ on the cross. If that person can get to God in any other way, then the Cross of Christ is unnecessary. If you think you are helping lost people with your sympathy and understanding, you are a traitor to Jesus Christ. You must have a right-standing relationship with Him yourself, and pour your life out in helping others in His way— not in a human way that ignores God. The theme of the world’s religion today is to serve in a pleasant, non-confrontational manner.

But our only priority must be to present Jesus Christ crucified— to lift Him up all the time (see 1 Corinthians 2:2). Every belief that is not firmly rooted in the Cross of Christ will lead people astray. If the worker himself believes in Jesus Christ and is trusting in the reality of redemption, his words will be compelling to others. What is extremely important is for the worker’s simple relationship with Jesus Christ to be strong and growing. His usefulness to God depends on that, and that alone.

The calling of a New Testament worker is to expose sin and to reveal Jesus Christ as Savior. Consequently, he cannot always be charming and friendly, but must be willing to be stern to accomplish major surgery. We are sent by God to lift up Jesus Christ, not to give wonderfully beautiful speeches. We must be willing to examine others as deeply as God has examined us. We must also be sharply intent on sensing those Scripture passages that will drive the truth home, and then not be afraid to apply them.
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Don’t Just Celebrate…Imitate!

Dec
20
2014
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.” Ephesians 5:1

I can still remember my dad standing there, coat on and hat in hand on Christmas afternoon asking me, “Joe, do you want to come with me?” His question made me uncomfortable because I knew I should say yes, but being deep into playing with my Christmas presents, going with him was not my idea of a great way to spend Christmas afternoon.

My idea of Christmas was a time to celebrate Christ’s birth by giving and getting gifts, eating some of Mom’s all-time best cooking, and lots of play time with my new toys!

My dad liked all that kind of stuff too. But every year he had something else in mind. He knew that Christmas was more than a celebration of Christ’s birth. For him, the spirit of Christmas had a deeper meaning. He knew that the highest form of honoring Jesus is more than celebration—it’s imitation.

In fact, seeing Christmas as merely celebration can have a selfish bent to it. It can end up being primarily about days off from work, parties, family, friends, games, football, gifts, and lots of great food. But imitation—not celebration—pays a higher compliment to the one whose life we celebrate.

For Jesus, Christmas was not warm, convenient, or comfortable. In our modern-day materialized blur of Christmas, we must keep reminding ourselves that the birth of Jesus put into motion the central act of God’s redemptive plan, and it came at a cost. Not only did Jesus temporarily relinquish the glorious privileges of heaven, He ultimately gave His life on a blood-stained cross where His sinless body bore the weight of my sin—and yours. Jesus presented our world with a costly redemptive gift. Which is precisely why my dad was on his way out the front door.

His mission? To visit an elderly widow who lived down the street. With no children and no family, she spent every holiday alone. And every Christmas my dad, in the midst of celebration, gave the gift of himself, sharing a few moments of companionship to help ease her lonely heart.

I learned a valuable lesson from my dad. Around all of our lives there are people who long for a touch from heaven through some caring, even sacrificial, act of love on their behalf. Who are the people you could call on Christmas day? Check your party lists. Is there someone who will go nowhere if not invited by you?

Indelibly etched on my memory are those two or three times when I stood up from my toys, grabbed my coat, put my hand in Dad’s, and walked down the street to spend an hour imitating Christ’s gift of Himself.

This year, let’s do more than celebrate Christ. Let’s honor Him by imitating the grace of His selfless and sacrificial love for us.

 

Closed Doors, Open windows

By: Pamela Mursch Steiner

Advent Thoughts: Today I Choose JOY!
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
to preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
and the day of vengeance of our God;

To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of JOY for mourning,
The garment of PRAISE for the
spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord,
that He may be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:1-3

As most of you who have followed this blog the past few months know, I have been working through the grieving process since the passing of our son this past May. Most of the time I seem to be doing just fine, continuing to go through the motions of life every day. There have been some difficult days, and there have been some wonderful days.

Particularly as we have approached the Christmas season, there have been waves of grief come over me from out of the blue…totally unexpected and catching me off guard. I expressed my feelings to friends and family, sharing my frustration with attempting to Christmas shop and send out our usual Christmas letter. I have felt locked up inside, unable to render enough energy to handle these basic functions of preparing for Christmas. Most people have responded with love, compassion and understanding…helping to relieve the pressure that was building inside and freeing me to not cave in to the expectations of the season by doing more than I was capable of doing.

Others attempted to remind me that I should think about the family that I still have here and not spoil Christmas by my lack of participation. This was done in a spirit of good will and encouragement, and I understand where they are coming from, but as I tried to explain…this is not something I am doing deliberately. It is something that is occurring from ‘out of the blue’, totally unannounced or expected. Not something I can control….it is grief…pure and simple…well, maybe not so simple…rather complicated when you think about it.

However, as I read these verses today, I recognize what Christ came to earth to do for us ..especially in the verses that say:

“To COMFORT all who mourn,
To CONSOLE those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
the oil of JOY for mourning,
The garment of PRAISE for the
spirit of heaviness…”

and remarkably, that has given me “COMFORT”, JOY, and a GARMENT OF PRAISE!” It has unlocked something inside so that I am able to CHOOSE JOY in place of the mourning. I am deliberately choosing to put on that “garment of praise” and rise above the “spirit of heaviness” that has been pulling me down. That is not to say that there won’t still be times when the grief will hit me, but claiming God’s Word gives me the strength to stand up against the sorrow and not allow it to drag me down.

This reminds me of another one of our Christmas Carols:
“God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” (click here to hear)

“God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ, our Savior,
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r,
When we were gone astray.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!”

And may the Lord be glorified as we preach these “good tidings” of comfort and joy everywhere!

 

 

Through The Bible

Morning

December 20
Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV) 2″This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it–the LORD is his name: 3’Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
Are you in turmoil about a situation in your life? Is it hard to understand the reasons and purposes God has for you at present? Does it seem that God has removed His hand from your circumstances? Ask the Creator who formed you. Go to the One who knows all things and has all things in His hands. Listen to His word as He speaks to you. It declares that He works all things together for good to those who love Him, who are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28)

Call out to Him and He will answer. He doesn’t say He might. He doesn’t say when, but He will answer. Our problem is that we cannot see all the factors and events of the future. They are all present before God. They are unsearchable to us, but they are the work of His hand. Your loving Father invites you to ask Him. He will not reveal them to us unless we ask. He will reveal parts of His great plan, and we will see parts of the great puzzle of life fall into place.

His revelation will not always give us complete understanding, but it will give us peace knowing He is on the throne of heaven, ordering all things, and working out all things for our good. He is always at work. Watch for His hand. When things don’t make sense, call out to Him.

Consider: Need His phone number? Try Jeremiah 33:3.
Evening
December 20
1 John 4:16,18-19 (NIV) 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19We love because he first loved us.
Love is the first in the list of the fruits of the Spirit. It is not that what we so often call love is all that God is. God is not a sentiment or emotion. Love is one of the attributes of God, just one of the fruits of the Spirit, though it is first and foremost. It is like saying, “Bob is friendly.” It doesn’t mean that all friendliness is Bob. The difference is when we see genuinely unselfish love, perfect love, we know that it came from God.

In this perfect love that is a part of the very nature of God, there is no fear. You realize that the One who is over all things will see you through whatever comes into your life. Like a child in the arms of their strong father, we are safe and secure. If trouble should come through the door, Daddy will deal with it. If I have done something wrong, Daddy might discipline me, but never too harshly, for He loves me.

If we fear, we have not discovered the fullness of His love. We are still anxious about what He will bring our way. We wonder if He won’t get fed up with us and send us away. But when we see the extent of His love, we will never fear these things. That is where we find peace in the midst of a storm. The more we see that unconditional love, the more we love Him in return. Love begets love. You can’t help but love someone who loves you so unconditionally.

Consider: If you want to love Him more, think about the extent of His love for you.

You Are The Temple

 

You Are The Temple Of God

 

King James Bible
Know ye not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Pictures of Jesus teaching In The temples

  • Jesus in the SynagogueIn the Synagogue
  • Boy Jesus in the Temple Boy Jesus in the Temple With the Doctors
  • Marks of a PhariseeChrist Teaching As a Child
  • Boy Head of ChristThe Trip to Jerusalem
  • Christ's Visit to Nazareth
    • Widow's Mite
    • Jesus Teaches Daily in the Temple

      pictures from Salt Life

“The Temple of the Holy Spirit”

From: Utmost.org

I am accountable to God for the way I control my body under His authority. Paul said he did not “set aside the grace of God”— make it ineffective (Galatians 2:21). The grace of God is absolute and limitless, and the work of salvation through Jesus is complete and finished forever. I am not being saved— I am saved. Salvation is as eternal as God’s throne, but I must put to work or use what God has placed within me. To “work out [my] own salvation” (Philippians 2:12) means that I am responsible for using what He has given me. It also means that I must exhibit in my own body the life of the Lord Jesus, not mysteriously or secretly, but openly and boldly. “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection . . .” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Every Christian can have his body under absolute control for God. God has given us the responsibility to rule over all “the temple of the Holy Spirit,” including our thoughts and desires (1 Corinthians 6:19). We are responsible for these, and we must never give way to improper ones. But most of us are much more severe in our judgment of others than we are in judging ourselves. We make excuses for things in ourselves, while we condemn things in the lives of others simply because we are not naturally inclined to do them.

Paul said, “I beseech you…that you present your bodies a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1). What I must decide is whether or not I will agree with my Lord and Master that my body will indeed be His temple. Once I agree, all the rules, regulations, and requirements of the law concerning the body are summed up for me in this revealed truth-my body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit.”

 

Streams In The Desert

O Lord , I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps (Jer. 10:23).

Lead me in a plain path (Ps. 27:11).

Many people want to direct God, instead of resigning themselves to be directed by Him; to show Him a way, instead of passively following where He leads.
–Madame Guyon

I said: “Let me walk in the field”;
God said: ‘Nay, walk in the town”;
I said: “There are no flowers there”;
He said: “No flowers, but a crown.”
I said: “But the sky is black,
There is nothing but noise and din”;
But He wept as He sent me back,
“There is more,” He said, “there is sin
I said: “But the air is thick,
And fogs are veiling the sun”;
He answered: “Yet souls are sick,
And souls in the dark undone.”
I said: “I shall miss the light,
And friends will miss me, they say”;
He answered me, “Choose tonight,
If I am to miss you, or they.”
I pleaded for time to be given;
He said: “Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in Heaven
To have, followed the steps of your Guide.”
I cast one look at the fields,
Then set my face to the town;
He said: “My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?”
Then into His hand went mine,
And into my heart came He;
And I walk in a light Divine,

The path I had feared to see.
–George MacDonald

 

Hello? Anyone Home?

Thursday, August 7, 2014 (4:52 am)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

You know how sometimes we get a phone call from someone who didn’t intend to dial us? And what do we usually say? Sorry, you have the wrong number.

Well, here’s a bit of food for thought. What if it’s not the wrong number they just dialed? What if they actually dialed the right number, only they didn’t know it?? Some of you may think it’s a little radical but my wife answered a phone call like that … and over an hour later, they were still talking about the Lord. This young man got an earful and boy was he ever touched.

God is everywhere and He is in everything. Nothing happens that He didn’t know from the beginning of time. We need to be ready to jump on an opportunity to share His goodness even though in the natural it might seem a little strange — forget natural! We need to be operate in the supernatural!!

We need to learn to expect the supernatural with the Lord. He doesn’t always work in the way we think He should. Let’s open our minds and our hearts to what He is doing.

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Jonah 1:14, 16 Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.”

Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows.

While most read the story of Jonah focusing on Jonah’s journey, I want to pause and examine the lives of the pagan sailors. What a journey they were on! We see the hand of God touching them providentially through Jonah’s disobedience. Talk about God bringing good from evil. Here He draws them into a desperate sea voyage and almost incidentally reveals to them the impotence of their gods, who have no power whatsoever to stop the deadly storm. In their total helplessness the God of Heaven then introduces Himself through his runaway prophet. And suddenly, the sailors are crying out to YHVH.

They are not crying out to their gods any longer – but now are crying to the true God of Israel.

And God performs a miracle for them, when Jonah is tossed into the sea, the storm suddenly calmed… and the amazing miracle evokes what sounds like prophesying, as they offer sacrifices and vows in worship to YHVH. “For You, O Lord, have done as you pleased!” The whole crew is converted. So, while Jonah is fish food – there’s a revival happening on board.

And now these wonder struck sailors have quite a fish story to tell in all their subsequent travels concerning the wayward prophet who disappeared beneath the waves as his God stilled the perfect storm. And the Lord has a boat full of newborn missionaries heading to Tarshish…

Our God desires all people throughout the world to hear His message. His providence is such that anywhere His servants find themselves becomes a place and a moment of opportunity for Him. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; [2 Timothy 4:2] Even Jonah’s gross disobedience didn’t stop the Lord from using him as a testimony. We need to be aware of who we are and what we carry for Yeshua (Jesus). His love and faithfulness to us is such that even our discipline can become a vehicle for expressing His love to the world.

Haven’t you forgotten something?

Monday, March 24, 2014 (7:50 am)

Psalms 111:4 He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

A farmer was showing his visiting citydwelling friend around his farm. “Watch this!” he said. He gave a whistle and his little dog came running from the house, herded the cattle into the corral, then latched the gate with her paw. “Wow, that’s some dog — what’s her name?” The forgetful farmer thought for a minute and then asked, “What do you call that red flower that smells good and has thorns on the stem?” “A rose?” “That’s it!” The farmer turned to his wife. “Hey Rose, what do we call this dog?”

Funny how we forget things, isn’t it? But I’m not so sure God finds it all that funny! When we read about the children of Israel and their journeys through the wilderness for forty years, we see how God provided wonderful miracles for them, feeding them daily with manna, guiding them by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, parting the Red Sea!

How is it, then, that they became so very hard hearted toward Him? Over time, I think those miracles just became commonplace and they began to take them for granted!

But then again when I look back on my life, I can’t really blame them. It happens to the best of us! God has done miracles in our lives and I’m sure he’s done many in each of yours as well! But we still get anxious when things aren’t going quite the way we hoped, don’t we?

Recall a miracle of God in your life. Remember the joy you felt? We need to relive that joy today! The miracle of God’s new birth in us and the many other miracles God has done are not ones to be quickly forgotten. We need to relive them daily!

We never want to become cold toward God! Let’s spend some time remembering the miracles He has done in our lives and strive to trust Him for the trials we face today!

Christ Brings Faith And Triumph

 

Pictures of Faith And Triumph

faith - cross silhouette and the clouds at sunsetFaith word made by leter pieces
God Nametag Introduction Welcome to Religious Faith - A...faith, happy child with arms raised
Devotion Faith Young christian woman praying against her sin...Loss of faith religion, illustrated by broken christian...
faith and trust - faith in god follow jesus and say your...Joy and Faith - Woman in nature with arms and heart lifted...
faith - whimsical drawing of the word FAITH isolated on...Leap of faith - Illustration of a person getting ready to...
Faith road signPlanting Seeds of Faith - A religious concept photo that...
faith - Happy little kids climbing over the word FAITHFaith - Inspirational stone surrounded by sand ripples Zen...
faith conceptual door - faith red word conceptual door with...faith - special black and white toned photo fx, focus point...

Test of Faithfulness

From: Utmost.org

It is only a faithful person who truly believes that God sovereignly controls his circumstances. We take our circumstances for granted, saying God is in control, but not really believing it. We act as if the things that happen were completely controlled by people. To be faithful in every circumstance means that we have only one loyalty, or object of our faith— the Lord Jesus Christ. God may cause our circumstances to suddenly fall apart, which may bring the realization of our unfaithfulness to Him for not recognizing that He had ordained the situation. We never saw what He was trying to accomplish, and that exact event will never be repeated in our life. This is where the test of our faithfulness comes. If we will just learn to worship God even during the difficult circumstances, He will change them for the better very quickly if He so chooses.

Being faithful to Jesus Christ is the most difficult thing we try to do today. We will be faithful to our work, to serving others, or to anything else; just don’t ask us to be faithful to Jesus Christ. Many Christians become very impatient when we talk about faithfulness to Jesus. Our Lord is dethroned more deliberately by Christian workers than by the world. We treat God as if He were a machine designed only to bless us, and we think of Jesus as just another one of the workers.

The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us. God calls us to His service and places tremendous responsibilities on us. He expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part. God wants to use us as He used His own Son.

DECEMBER 18, 2014From: Crosswalk

I’m Worried About My Child’s Future
LYSA TERKEURST

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

Have you ever felt pressured to ensure your child’s success in school because you thought it meant success in life?

A couple of years ago I overheard my daughter Hope telling a friend she was glad I didn’t get all worked up over grades. Not trying to be nosey but totally wanting to be nosey, I kept listening.

She explained that she and her siblings were expected to do their best, but in the end, as long as they worked hard, my husband Art and I were okay with whatever grade they received.

For the most part, that’s right.

This hasn’t always been the case. When Hope started kindergarten, I felt compelled to help her succeed. I felt enormous pressure because I believed success in school meant success in life, and I wanted to set my child up for success.

She was a bright and articulate child. But all through kindergarten, she couldn’t read.

Then came first grade. All of the other kids in her class were reading with ease. Not my daughter. I panicked. I had her tested. I worried constantly that I must be doing something wrong as her mother.

In the end, it was a readiness issue. When she was ready, she starting reading.

Then along came my next child, who was reading at 4 years old. Finally I’d done something right, I reasoned.

But then child number three came along, and she was my slowest reader yet.

Through all of this, God started to untangle the misperception that success in school determines success in life, and as a parent, it is up to me to push, plead, demand and determine my child’s future.

Slowly, I realized God has a plan for each of my kids. As long as I’m depending on the Lord to guide me as a parent, nothing I do or don’t do will mess up their futures. I’m reassured of this with our key verse, Proverbs 16:9, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”

As their parent, it’s my job to guide them, but worldly success shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. My guiding should focus on leading them into a relationship with God, where He’ll make their path straight, no matter what their grades are.

This revelation has provided such freedom.

I can celebrate when one of my kids excels in a subject, trusting that particular success is needed for whatever God intends for them in life. If, however, a child struggles and can’t grasp a certain subject — well, that’s also part of God’s direction.

Of course, working hard, doing your best and being a conscientious student is important. But in our home, grades are not the ultimate determination of success.

This child may never make marks in school that the world esteems, but giving her freedom to excel as God has designed her is already paying off. She has an eternal perspective that’s more valuable for her future than any academic accolades.

I’m convinced her struggles in school are actually God’s way of keeping her on the path He’s had for her since she was conceived. Hope was conceived only four months into our very rough start of a marriage. Art and I were two broken sinners thrust into the responsibility of trying to raise a child.

The day Hope was born I saw God like never before. His tender grace was handed to me wrapped in a pink blanket with eyes so wide, so blue, they were a sea of forgiveness forever staring back at me.

I’d never physically touched God until that day. And maybe for the first time in my entire life, His hope rushed inside of me and started rearranging and redeeming my brokenness.

Hope.

We named her Hope.

Now, we won’t talk about the conversations I had with God when His Hope kept me up in the middle of the night for months after that. And we will save the story of how His Hope has always felt it was beneath her to be the child, and she would put her hands on her toddler hips and tell me not to boss her.

We’ll save those stories for another day.

But I’ll never forget an e-mail I got from His Hope while she was on a mission trip. Hope was walking the broken roads of Ethiopia navigating poverty her mind couldn’t quite process. She bumped into sheep and a woman whose house was made of cardboard and ripped bed sheets.

Hope’s steps were steady, though her heart felt shaky as she loved on 30 kids dying of AIDS in a forgotten orphanage on the forgotten outskirts of town.

She wrote to say, “Mom, I’ve fallen in love. The kids rushed at me when I walked in and I tried to hold all 30 of them at one time.”

His Hope.

From a broken mama. Into a broken world. His Hope is still going forth like only His Hope can.

All that to say, yeah — I don’t get all worked up over grades anymore. Trusting God’s plan is the only secret I know in the gentle art of not freaking out.

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Rend your heart, and not your garments.”
Joel 2:13

Garment-rending and other outward signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel true repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Men will attend to the most multiplied and minute ceremonial regulations–for such things are pleasing to the flesh–but true religion is too humbling, too heart-searching, too thorough for the tastes of the carnal men; they prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. Outward observances are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up: but they are ultimately delusive, for in the article of death, and at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness all religion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every form of worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of heaven.

Heart-rending is divinely wrought and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of and believed in, but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating, and completely sin-purging; but then it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled spirits are unable to receive; and it is distinctly discriminating, for it belongs to the elect of God, and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts, but they are naturally hard as marble: how, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary: a dying Saviour’s voice rent the rocks once, and it is as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us hear the death-cries of Jesus, and our hearts shall be rent even as men rend their vestures in the day of lamentation.

OUR DELIVERER BY WARREN WIERSBE

Read Psalm 140:1-13

King David was going through another battle. He needed deliverance from an attacking enemy. “Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips. Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men” (vv. 1-4). David’s enemies had hidden snares to trap him.

What do you do when you face this situation–when evil, violent, lying people are busy setting traps for you? Remember that God hears you. “I said to the Lord: ‘You are my God; hear the voice of my supplications, O Lord”‘ (v. 6). God also strengthens you. “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle” (v. 7). If you have to do battle against the Enemy today, let God outfit you in the armor you need. Finally, God vindicates you. David prayed that God would vindicate him and that his enemies’ own sins would destroy them.

David concluded by giving thanks to the Lord. “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor. Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence” (vv. 12,13). The battle over, he said, “One day I am going to dwell in Your presence, where there will be no more lying, slandering, battling, fighting or sinning.” We will enjoy the peace of God forever.

* * *
If you are a believer, God has already delivered you from the penalty of sin. Today He works to deliver you from sin’s effects. Perhaps enemies are slandering your reputation. Call upon the Lord for help. He will hear you, strengthen you and vindicate you. Let Him give you the victory today.

A SYMBOL OF DISASTER BY WOODROW KROLL

1 Kings 9:6-7But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight. Israel will be a proverb and a byword among all peoples.”A Symbol of Disaster

In his book Present Day Parables, J. Wilbur Chapman, a late 19th-century evangelist, tells of a town where the name of Christ was never mentioned except in profanity. The citizens hung Christ in effigy in the streets. Then the town was destroyed by fire. They tried to rebuild, but an Indian massacre occurred. They tried to build again, and it was partially destroyed by fire. At last, after much bloodshed and multiple disasters, the citizens sent to the American Home Missionary Society and asked, “Can you send us a minister of Jesus Christ?” Only after Christ came to that town did the people have peace and a degree of prosperity.

God warned Solomon the same would happen to his kingdom if he or his descendants should ever turn from following Him. Not only would He remove Israel from the land, but the consequences would be so dramatic that all the nations around her also would be amazed at what happened. The people would become a symbol of disaster to warn others who might be so foolish.

Israel should be a reminder to every Christian of the dire consequences of leaving God out of our lives. As the descendants of Solomon suffered in the ways God warned them, so believers can experience much pain and loss when they live in disregard to His will and His ways.

Don’t forget God. Remember to include Him in the daily routine of your life. Don’t just take Him with you to church; take Him to the mall, to the classroom, to the health club. Ask for His guidance in every decision you make, big and little, and look for His hand in every turn of life. When He fills your life, it is full indeed.

We let God down when we leave Him out.

 

Simposious Is Back

 

Simposious Is Back

Apparently, Simposious was a casualty of a cyber attack on Word Press. Thanks to good engineers the site is saved and Back for its readers. Thank you for your patience.

 

Redemption— Creating the Need it Satisfies

From: Utmost.org

The gospel of God creates the sense of need for the gospel. Is the gospel hidden to those who are servants already? No, Paul said, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe…” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). The majority of people think of themselves as being completely moral, and have no sense of need for the gospel. It is God who creates this sense of need in a human being, but that person remains totally unaware of his need until God makes Himself evident. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7). But God cannot give until a man asks. It is not that He wants to withhold something from us, but that is the plan He has established for the way of redemption. Through our asking, God puts His process in motion, creating something in us that was nonexistent until we asked. The inner reality of redemption is that it creates all the time. And as redemption creates the life of God in us, it also creates the things which belong to that life. The only thing that can possibly satisfy the need is what created the need. This is the meaning of redemption— it creates and it satisfies.

Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). When we preach our own experiences, people may be interested, but it awakens no real sense of need. But once Jesus Christ is “lifted up,” the Spirit of God creates an awareness of the need for Him. The creative power of the redemption of God works in the souls of men only through the preaching of the gospel. It is never the sharing of personal experiences that saves people, but the truth of redemption. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

 

 

Pictures Reminding Us Of Christs’ Birth

 

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  • Isaiah 7:14

    Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
  • Luke 1:30-35

    But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
birth of christ : Christmas Crib. Figures of Baby Jesus, Virgin Mary and St. Joseph on white background.birth of christ : Angel protect a Holy Familydownload (81)
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birth of christ : Printbirth of christ : Cartoon nativity scene with holy family download (37)
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birth of christ : Vector illustration of the holy family of the nativity or birth of Jesus created as stained glass  Illustrationbirth of christ : Biblical scene - birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. download (45)
birth of christ : Nativity scene is a depiction of the birth of Jesus as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.birth of christ : Christmas Nativity Scene Stock Photo
birth of christ : christmas globe with nativity scene over blue background. vector Illustrationdownload (45)download (46)
  • Matthew 1:18-25

    This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”  When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Be The Reason Someone Smiles Today

  • Today I Will Be HappySome people
  • Smile, happy looks good on youYou deserve to be happy
  • You deserve happinessSomeday there will be happiness again
  • The sun will shine againbeing happy
  • Happiness is Hot ChocolateLets be happy
  • life is too shortBe the reason someone smiles today
  • To hell with anything that doesnt make me happyYou get more beautiful everyday
  • Waiting for someone else to make you happy

Individuality

From: Utmost.org

Individuality is the hard outer layer surrounding the inner spiritual life. Individuality shoves others aside, separating and isolating people. We see it as the primary characteristic of a child, and rightly so. When we confuse individuality with the spiritual life, we remain isolated. This shell of individuality is God’s created natural covering designed to protect the spiritual life. But our individuality must be yielded to God so that our spiritual life may be brought forth into fellowship with Him. Individuality counterfeits spirituality, just as lust counterfeits love. God designed human nature for Himself, but individuality corrupts that human nature for its own purposes.

The characteristics of individuality are independence and self-will. We hinder our spiritual growth more than any other way by continually asserting our individuality. If you say, “I can’t believe,” it is because your individuality is blocking the way; individuality can never believe. But our spirit cannot help believing. Watch yourself closely when the Spirit of God is at work in you. He pushes you to the limits of your individuality where a choice must be made. The choice is either to say, “I will not surrender,” or to surrender, breaking the hard shell of individuality, which allows the spiritual life to emerge. The Holy Spirit narrows it down every time to one thing (see Matthew 5:23-24). It is your individuality that refuses to “be reconciled to your brother” (Matthew 5:24). God wants to bring you into union with Himself, but unless you are willing to give up your right to yourself, He cannot. “…let him deny himself…”— deny his independent right to himself. Then the real life-the spiritual life-is allowed the opportunity to grow.

 

Breaking The Spin Cycle

From: Getmorestrength.org

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

“[Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. . . . He is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44

Politicians are adept at “spinning” the details of a story to advance their own agenda. During a political campaign, spin doctors massage stories to ensure that their candidate is cast in a positive light—often at the expense of the truth. This leaves us with serious questions about what the real truth is.

According to Jesus, Satan is the “spin doctor” of hell—the master deceiver who “speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar” (John 8:44). He casts himself as the one who wants to give us unfettered freedom and pleasure, carefully masking his plan to steal, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10). He even spins the loving laws of God by claiming that God’s boundaries are restrictive, simply intended to take all the fun out of living. When we buy into Satan’s damaging lies, we will eventually find ourselves empty and broken—sidelined in our journey with God.

Thankfully, Jesus warns us. He says that Satan is the father of lies. And we know Satan is lying when what he tells us contradicts God’s Word. Jesus, on the other hand, is the truth (John 14:6). So, when it comes to sorting out the spin, our only defense against the spin doctor of hell is to listen constantly for the voice of Jesus as we pray and study His Word. And that’s the truth!

The devil is crafty, deceptive, and sly;
He cleverly tricks us to swallow his lie.
But his cunning methods we’re sure to discern
If we make God’s warnings our daily concern. —D. De Haan

God’s truth stops the spin of Satan’s lies.

 

Streams In The Desert

Attention! Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who serve in the Lord’s temple during the night. May the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion!—Ps 134:1,3
Strange time for adoration, you say, to stand in God’s house by night, to worship in the depth of sorrow —it is indeed an arduous thing. Yes, and therein lies the blessing; it is the test of perfect faith. If I would know the love of my friend I must see what it can do in the winter. So with the Divine love. It is easy for me to worship in the summer sunshine when the melodies of life are in the air and the fruits of life are on the tree. But let the song of the bird cease and the fruit of the tree fall, and will my heart still go on to sing? Will I stand in God’s house by night? Will I love Him in His own night? Will I watch with Him even one hour in His Gethsemane? Will I help to bear His cross up the dolorous way? Will I stand beside Him in His dying moments with Mary and the beloved disciple? Will I be able with Nicodemus to take up the dead Christ? Then is my worship complete and my blessing glorious. My love has come to Him in His humiliation. My faith has found Him in His lowliness. My heart has recognized His majesty through His mean disguise, and I know at last that I desire not the gift but the Giver. When I can stand in His house by night I have accepted Him for Himself alone.
—George Matheson
“My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God; 
’Tis His to lead me there, not mine, but His
’At any cost, dear Lord, by any road!’
“So faith bounds forward to its goal in God, 
And love can trust her Lord to lead her there; 
’Upheld by Him, my soul is following hard 
Till God hath full fulfilled my deepest prayer.
“No matter if the way be sometimes dark, 
No matter though the cost be ofttimes great, 
He knoweth how I best shall reach the mark, 
The way that leads to Him must needs be straight.
“One thing I know, I cannot say Him nay; 
One thing I do, I press towards my Lord; 
My God my glory here, from day to day, 
And in the glory there my Great Reward.”

December 11

Through the Bible

Jeremiah 6:13-15 (NIV) 13“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. 14They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. 15Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD.

God’s cry against the people was that there could not be found one righteous in Judah. He declared that Israel was not as bad as Judah had become. The passage today lists some of the specific sins they were guilty of. It is hard for us to relate to the idolatry, worshipping carved images, but we can readily relate to the greed for gain. The greed for gain had permeated the entire nation from the beggar to the king. When our eyes turn from God to the things that He has made, we seek security in possessions. We should be looking to God who is the giver of all good things. Instead we trust in His gifts and focus on how to attain them.

The prophets and priests were all practicing deceit. The very ones people looked to for truth were deceiving the people in the name of God. In this generation we have seen a number of big name religious personalities who were caught in their deceit. How many more go uncaught? Only God knows. Consider their way of life and the fruits of the Spirit in their lives, not just their ability to impress you.

The religious leaders preached peace when destruction was coming upon them. When they should have been preaching conviction of sin, they taught that everything was fine. The heartbreaking thing is that it did not even bother their conscience. They had done it for so long that their hearts were hardened against God. A comfortable today was their only goal. They were about to face judgment.

Consider: God cannot ignore evil that goes unrepented in any nation, group, or individual.

Evening

December 11

2 Peter 3:3-4, 8-9 (NIV) 3First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

The previous chapter predicted that false teachers would come, driven by a desire for pleasure and money. In this chapter, Peter warns that scoffers would also come in the last days. This began in earnest about 150 years ago. We refer to it as the age of skeptical criticism. “Scoffers” is more to the point.

They argue that the world is on a slow and steady progressive path of evolutionary advancement. Now, science is showing that cataclysmic events did occur in the earth’s history. The earth did not slowly progress with only gradual changes but has had a violent past with sudden changes. Still, man feels more comfortable to think of things going on with only gradual change if any. The return of Christ is the farthest thing from their mind. Theories of alternate interpretation have developed to put it out of the realm of drastic change.

Peter warns us that it is the patience and love of God that keeps Jesus’ return from taking place sooner. God’s time and our time are quite different. These last two thousand years are merely two days to Him. His chief concern is the repentance of mankind. “Behold, I come quickly!” Jesus said that just two days ago in God’s perception of time. He is coming again, and that will bring a drastic and sudden change to all creation.

Consider: Whether He comes today or you live to 100 years of age, our time to invest in eternity is short. The scoffers’ argument is shortsighted and blind to the love of God.

Through Jesus, Good Things Are Coming

 

Chin-up, Look up, Help’s On The Way, You Are Not Forgotten, Someone Needs You So Don’t Give Up, You Are Not Alone

Sincere Words Of Encouragement Can Really Help The Discouraged

 

The Offering of the Natural

From: Utmost.org

Paul was not dealing with sin in this chapter of Galatians, but with the relation of the natural to the spiritual. The natural can be turned into the spiritual only through sacrifice. Without this a person will lead a divided life. Why did God demand that the natural must be sacrificed? God did not demand it. It is not God’s perfect will, but His permissive will. God’s perfect will was for the natural to be changed into the spiritual through obedience. Sin is what made it necessary for the natural to be sacrificed.

Abraham had to offer up Ishmael before he offered up Isaac (see Genesis 21:8-14). Some of us are trying to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God before we have sacrificed the natural. The only way we can offer a spiritual sacrifice to God is to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1). Sanctification means more than being freed from sin. It means the deliberate commitment of myself to the God of my salvation, and being willing to pay whatever it may cost.

If we do not sacrifice the natural to the spiritual, the natural life will resist and defy the life of the Son of God in us and will produce continual turmoil. This is always the result of an undisciplined spiritual nature. We go wrong because we stubbornly refuse to discipline ourselves physically, morally, or mentally. We excuse ourselves by saying, “Well, I wasn’t taught to be disciplined when I was a child.” Then discipline yourself now! If you don’t, you will ruin your entire personal life for God.

God is not actively involved with our natural life as long as we continue to pamper and gratify it. But once we are willing to put it out in the desert and are determined to keep it under control, God will be with it. He will then provide wells and oases and fulfill all His promises for the natural (see Genesis 21:15-19).

 

Wonders Of The Heart

From: Our Daily Bread

Our heart beats about 100,000 times every day, pumping blood to every cell in our bodies. This adds up to about 35 million beats a year and 2.5 billion beats in an average lifetime. Medical science tells us that every contraction is similar to the effort it would take for us to hold a tennis ball in our palm and give it a good hard squeeze.

Yet as amazing as our heart is, it is only one example of a natural world that is designed to tell us something about our Creator. This is the idea behind the story of a man named Job.

Broken by a series of mounting troubles, Job felt abandoned. When God finally spoke, He didn’t tell Job why he was suffering. Nor did the Creator tell him that someday He would suffer for Job. Instead, He drew Job’s attention to a series of natural wonders that are always whispering to us—and sometimes shouting—about a wisdom and power far greater than our own (Job 38:1-11).

So what can we learn from the complexity of this hardworking muscle, the heart? The message may be similar to the sound of waves coming to shore and stars quietly shining in the night sky. The power and wisdom of our Creator give us reason to trust Him.

Lord, we are Yours, You are our God;
We have been made so wondrously;
This human frame in every part
Your wisdom, power, and love we see. —Anon.
When we reflect on the power of God’s creation, we see the power of His care for us.

Insight

The experiences of Job are among the most heartrending found anywhere in the Scriptures. The loss of his children, wealth, and health drove him to question the purposes of God and wonder why He was silent. Then, in Job 38, God finally responded. And when He did, He didn’t offer Job answers—He offered Himself. The reminders of God’s greatness and power are not to be seen as cold or heartless, but as legitimate cause to put our trust in Him, even when we suffer and don’t know why.

Chin Up!

From: Getmorestrength

“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” Ephesians 2:4-5

One of my all-time favorite kid’s stories is Charlotte’s Web, starring Charlotte the barnyard spider and Wilbur the pig. The farmer’s daughter, Fern, loved Wilbur and adopted him as her pet—until he was too big for the house and had to move to the barn. Wilbur missed Fern and felt sad about being away from her. Just when he thought things couldn’t get worse, the mother hen came on the scene.

She told Wilbur that her purpose in life was to lay eggs for people to eat, and the cow’s purpose was to give milk for the people to drink. Then came the real stinger: “Hey, Wilbur, do you know what your purpose is? Bacon!”

Needless to say, the hen was not a very encouraging friend!

Thankfully, Wilbur had a true friend. When Charlotte the spider found him wallowing in the muck of despair, she encouraged him with a resounding “Chin up, Wilbur!” She wove beautiful webs over his pen with words that made him feel loved and important. The webs attracted media publicity, and people from all over the area came to marvel at this “special pig.” When it was time for the county fair, Wilbur feared again for his life and asked Charlotte to weave one more web. She knew that she had only one more web to weave and that then she would die. But out of her love for Wilbur, she wove the most spectacular web yet to prove how special he was. The townspeople were so taken with the web that Wilbur’s impending death was no longer an issue.

I love the biblical parallels in this story. The most significant one being that Charlotte gave her life to save Wilbur’s. Not only that—but she made him a special pig!

Most of us can probably identify with Wilbur at some point. All of us face problems in life when we desperately need someone to come along and encourage us—a “chin up” friend. But, at the end of it all, before God we are all losers at heart and deserve to die as the penalty for our sin. Yet God in His grace died to save us from eternal death and condemnation. And, as though that weren’t enough, He makes us children of the King and fills us with hope and confidence regardless of life’s threats. Jesus is a friend for the doomed! We can either mope around our little barnyard of life, or we can get our chin up and believe that our friend Jesus is making something special of our lives.

Next time you’re feeling down in the dumps, rejoice in the fact that you have been rescued from the grave, promised eternal life, and are a child of the King.

Now that’s a “chin up” thought that can keep you going with hope and strength!

 

DECEMBER 10, 2014From: CrosswalkShame On Me, Again
VICKIE COURTNEY

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (ESV)

It happened suddenly and without warning.

One minute I was sitting in a booth, laughing over a cup of coffee with my youngest son on his college campus (which just so happens to be my alma mater). The next minute, I’m driving away from my old college stomping grounds when the mere sight of a corner drugstore triggers a painful reminder of my past.

It just so happened to be the same corner drugstore that one of my roommates and I ducked into late one night under a cloak of darkness to purchase a pregnancy test. She was late and had assumed the worst. It turned out it was negative, but it just as easily could have been me purchasing the test.

In fact, at age 17 it had been me, which is what triggered my sudden feelings of shame that day. Back then, I was the one taking a pregnancy test, only my results were positive. This, in turn, led to my decision to terminate the pregnancy. I’ve spoken openly about this part of my past and have been walking in victory for many years, but every so often, the feelings of shame still come.

And that’s what shame does. It shows up uninvited to steal your joy and accuse your soul.

Dictionary.com defines shame as “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.”

We avoid talking about shame because it is messy.

We see the earliest account of shame in the immediate aftermath of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden (Genesis 3). Prior to their sin, Scripture tells us they were both naked and unashamed. One chapter later they are sewing fig leaves together and playing a game of hide-and-seek with God. With that one forbidden bite came our first bitter taste of shame.

Like Adam and Eve, our human instinct is to hide our shame. We attempt to cover it with modern-day fig leaves, ranging from addictions to breakneck busyness. We bury our shame beneath perfectionism, good deeds, and yes, even ministry service. Been there. Done that.

Some people are more prone to experiencing feelings of shame, while others seem better equipped to avoid its sting with a healthy understanding of guilt and grace. Those who grew up in households where shame was a mainstay of the family diet will often turn around and serve it in their own families, passing it down from generation to generation.

Shame is not the same as guilt. Guilt says, “What you did was bad.” Shame says, “What you did was bad, so therefore, you are a bad person.”

Shame is not the same as regret. Regret says, “If I could go back and do things differently, I’d do this … or that.” Shame says, “I’ll never get it right. I’m a failure.”

Shame is not the same as embarrassment. Embarrassment says, “Everyone experiences embarrassing moments.” Shame says, “Yet another reminder that I’m a loser, and nothing will change that fact.”

Guilt is always connected to behavior, while shame is always connected to identity. While guilt draws us toward God, shame sends us away from God.

We can’t completely abolish painful reminders of shame that show up uninvited on the doorsteps of our souls, but we can refuse to answer the door.

And that’s exactly what I did that day driving past the drugstore when the old shame tapes began to play. I hit the “eject” button and boldly declared out loud today’s key verse,“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Over and over, I proclaimed it until, once again, I believed it. I showed shame the door. And you can, too.

Heavenly Father, when feelings of shame pay me an unexpected visit, help me immediately usher them out by declaring Your unfailing love and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (NIV)

Show Compassion Like Jesus

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

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Matthew 14:14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

The Opposition of the Natural

From: Utmost.org

The natural life itself is not sinful. But we must abandon sin, having nothing to do with it in any way whatsoever. Sin belongs to hell and to the devil. I, as a child of God, belong to heaven and to God. It is not a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my right to myself, my natural independence, and my self-will. This is where the battle has to be fought. The things that are right, noble, and good from the natural standpoint are the very things that keep us from being God’s best. Once we come to understand that natural moral excellence opposes or counteracts surrender to God, we bring our soul into the center of its greatest battle. Very few of us would debate over what is filthy, evil, and wrong, but we do debate over what is good. It is the good that opposes the best. The higher up the scale of moral excellence a person goes, the more intense the opposition to Jesus Christ. “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh….” The cost to your natural life is not just one or two things, but everything. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself…” (Matthew 16:24). That is, he must deny his right to himself, and he must realize who Jesus Christ is before he will bring himself to do it. Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.

The natural life is not spiritual, and it can be made spiritual only through sacrifice. If we do not purposely sacrifice the natural, the supernatural can never become natural to us. There is no high or easy road. Each of us has the means to accomplish it entirely in his own hands. It is not a question of praying, but of sacrificing, and thereby performing His will.

Reliable Grace

From: Getmorestrength

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.” Romans 12:17

Do you ever pay much attention to bumper stickers? I find them fascinating! You can be driving along and in one minute see a sticker that says, “My child is an honor roll student at So-and-So Middle School,” and then turn the corner and see another car sporting the bumper sticker, “My child beat up your honor roll student”! Paul Harvey tells a great story about a car with two stickers decorating its back bumper. On the left side, were the words: “Jesus is coming!” On the right: “Escape to Wisconsin.”

Often, bumper stickers tell others where your loyalties are. Your choice of automotive adornment may declare your allegiance to a favorite sports team, a chosen political candidate, or a specific issue or cause. The sticker proclaims that you are committed enough to the cause, issue, team, or individual, that you are willing to let even perfect strangers know where you stand.

Even in the church-world, we have gotten into the bumper sticker thing. Options range from a simple fish, to a cross, to a clever slogan (such as “Warning: In Case of Rapture this Car Will Be Unmanned”). It might be a fun way to proclaim your loyalty to Christ, but I’m not sure that pithy comments on a car bumper are what’s needed to effectively communicate God’s grace to a world that is mired in sin and hopelessness.

In today’s text, after the apostle Paul instructs us to submit ourselves as living sacrifices to God (the only appropriate response to God’s mercy and grace), he spends the rest of Romans 12:9-21 talking about how that allegiance to God shows up in the life of a Christian. He gets right down to the heart of what sets us apart. In essence, he says that as Christians our lives should be marked by “reliable grace” toward others.

What do we mean by reliable grace? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a definition: “Reliable grace is the predictable action of abundant kindness, regardless. . . even to the most undeserving offender.” It means that people can count on you to pour out grace—active, predictable kindness—into their lives. It is unconditional and available even to the most undeserving of offenders. Anybody have an undeserving offender in your life? Your boss? Your spouse? Your boyfriend? Your kids? That’s your target. More than a bumper sticker, more than a fish or a cross on your car, more than a T-shirt or a WWJD bracelet, we demonstrate our loyalty to Jesus by extending His reliable grace to others.

You see, His reliable grace and abundant kindness has been poured out on undeserving offenders like you and me. So extending it to others opens up opportunities to talk about the real source of grace. God has asked us to proclaim the goodness of God’s forgiveness and mercy, but that can only be done in the context of our own extension of grace and mercy.

So today, look for moments to extend “reliable grace” to the people in your life. When you do, your loyalty and allegiance to Jesus will be more on display than if you had a bumper sticker emblazoned across your forehead.

What to Do Until the Stars Fall

 From: Getmorestrength

“Accept what I say… I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” Proverbs 4:10-12

My biology professor, Max Dowell, was an unapologetic southerner with a drawl as thick as deep-South molasses. And while I’m sorry to admit that I don’t remember a whole lot of biology (I never was much for the Latin names of frogs and the smell of formaldehyde), I don’t think I’ll ever forget the professor who probably had the words to “Dixie” scrawled on his boxer shorts.

Having grown up in New Jersey, I needed to listen carefully in class since his accent seemed like a whole different dialect to me. But through all the cross-cultural stuff, there is one thing he frequently said that has stuck. I even find myself repeating it with a southern twang of my own. What it had to do with biology I’ll never know, but periodically he would come out with the phrase, “Do right ’till the stars fall!”

We’d all agree that “Do right” is a terrific piece of advice. But coming to grips with that advice may be a challenge. I usually feel pretty good about what I do. And I rarely think I am wrong. But my best-intentioned moves in life are more like ready, fire, aim, instead of well-thought-through strategies on how to do what is truly right. Emotions have a way of pulling the trigger before I fully think the moment through. Rationalizations and excuses have a way of fogging my perspectives so that things that are clearly wrong look like pretty good options. Admittedly, most of the twisted and lame moments of my life have been a direct-connect to times when I have not done what is right. Times when I’ve said the wrong thing, expressed the wrong attitude, caved in to wrong thoughts and desires—and the list goes on. And if you are honest with yourself, you’re thinking that you have the same “Why did I ever do that/say that?” regret now and then as well.

We need help!

God clears the air by reminding us that, if left to ourselves, we are a risk to most anything or anyone nearby! So, admitting our tendency to repeated misfires is a good beginning. But where do we go from there? Embrace the wonderful fact that His will and ways are always right. When we take our clues from Him, we start being right more often than we’re wrong as we measure all we do by His will and His Word. He is right about forgiveness, generosity, patience, tolerance, humility, and giving our boss a good day’s work. In fact He is right about everything! That’s why He is a righteous God.

We nicknamed our professor “Do Right Dowell.”

I wonder if anyone would give you a compliment like that? Try living in such a way to give them a chance!

 

Father and Friend

From: Getmorestrength

“You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14

A short clip on the evening news recently featured a suburban high school’s attempt to address the spiraling epidemic of teenage drinking. The reporter attended a parents’ forum at the school and then spotlighted reactions from the parents after the session. One mother had it right when she said, “I was reminded that I cannot be my child’s friend right now. I have to be my child’s parent. One day we will be friends, but for now, I’ve got to be the parent.”

Ever since I heard that, her comment has been Velcroed to my brain. Not just in terms of parenting, but in terms of our relationship with God. Quite frankly, most of us would rather think of God as our friend rather than our parent. Thinking of Him as our buddy, or as the one who “has our back,” has a nice ring to it. And there’s nothing wrong with that perspective. He actually welcomes us to a friendship with Him. In John 15:14, He says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” But it’s more than just friendship; it’s the obedience part as well.

In fact, it’s not until we understand and appreciate the parental authority of God the Father in our lives by heeding His instruction and seeking to align our ways with His, that we will ever understand the true joy of being His friend.

But we need to be careful here. Even our thoughts about God as Father can be a little out of whack. We like the idea of a benevolent Father who supplies our needs, who protects us, and who loves to give us good gifts. And while all those things are true, let’s not forget that it’s the parenting of God that puts protective boundaries in place through His law. It’s the gracious parenthood of God that provides warnings along the way when we choose to turn away from God’s commands. Then, when necessary, it’s His loving discipline that reproves and corrects us—even painfully, if necessary—to draw us back to Him and to His good and perfect will.

Let’s face it, no one really likes discipline. We don’t want to be corrected. It’s not pleasant. But where would we be without it? Most of us, when we look back across the landscape of our lives can see numerous times when discipline was necessary to get us back on the right track. As the writer of Hebrews advised: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves . . . . Endure hardship as discipline” (Hebrews 12:5-7). But here’s the good news: “Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

Just as parents look forward to the day when the reproof, correction, and discipline of parenting give way to companionship and friendship with their kids, it’s no different with our heavenly Father. Our humble response to His correction and discipline will allow us to enjoy more and more of His friendship. So the question is: When God thinks of you, does He say, “I look forward to the day when I can be her friend, but for now I have to be her parent”—or, have you matured to the point where you are enjoying God as your friend? If I hear Jesus correctly, glad and grateful obedience is the key!

God Does Not Have Favorites

Deuteronomy 10:17
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

Job 34:19
who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?

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The Impartial Power of God

From: Utmost .org

We trample the blood of the Son of God underfoot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only reason for the forgiveness of our sins by God, and the infinite depth of His promise to forget them, is the death of Jesus Christ. Our repentance is merely the result of our personal realization of the atonement by the Cross of Christ, which He has provided for us. “…Christ Jesus…became for us wisdom from God— and righteousness and sanctification and redemption…” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Once we realize that Christ has become all this for us, the limitless joy of God begins in us. And wherever the joy of God is not present, the death sentence is still in effect.

No matter who or what we are, God restores us to right standing with Himself only by means of the death of Jesus Christ. God does this, not because Jesus pleads with Him to do so but because He died. It cannot be earned, just accepted. All the pleading for salvation which deliberately ignores the Cross of Christ is useless. It is knocking at a door other than the one which Jesus has already opened. We protest by saying, “But I don’t want to come that way. It is too humiliating to be received as a sinner.” God’s response, through Peter, is, “… there is no other name…by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). What at first appears to be heartlessness on God’s part is actually the true expression of His heart. There is unlimited entrance His way. “In Him we have redemption through His blood…” (Ephesians 1:7). To identify with the death of Jesus Christ means that we must die to everything that was never a part of Him.

God is just in saving bad people only as He makes them good. Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong. The atonement by the Cross of Christ is the propitiation God uses to make unholy people holy.

DECEMBER 8, 2014

The Day God’s Extraordinary Interrupted My Ordinary
WENDY BLIGHT

From: Crosswalk

“The Angel of the LORD appeared to him …, ” Judges 6:12a (NLT)

Another day of errands. Same cycle every week. Grocery store. Gas station. Dry cleaners. Target.

I dread errand days. I whine about the fun and exciting things I can’t do because of the mundane tasks I have to do.

But one particular week, God interrupted my ordinary with the extraordinary. You know, one of those moments when it seems God speaks directly to you … as if He has heard the banter in your head and addresses it head on?

I was studying about Gideon, a warrior from the Old Testament who also became a Judge over Israel. We initially meet him in the midst of his mundane in Judges chapter 6, when “The Angel of the LORD appeared to him …,” (Judges 6:12a).

No thunder. No lightning. No pomp. No circumstance. Very quietly, the Angel of the Lord came to speak to Gideon in the midst of his ordinary tasks on an ordinary day.

Gideon’s story remained heavy on my heart. Do I look for God in the midst of my ordinary? No, I don’t. I just want the mundane over so I can get on with my day.

Yet, I want to experience the extraordinary! But I look for it in the grandiose, the uncommon, the bigger-than-life. So, I prayed for a Gideon moment: God will You show up in my mundane? I want to see You. I want to experience You in my ordinary tasks on an ordinary day.

God answered that very day, but not in the form of an angel. In the form of a 7-year-old boy.

While checking out at Target, I noticed a young boy standing behind me, proudly toting a HUGE Nerf toy (almost as big as he was) and tightly gripping a handful of gift cards. I learned his name was Luke. I asked Luke if the toy was for him. Shyly, he shook his head yes. It was for his birthday. His mom said he received some gift cards and was spending them all on this one item!

God met me right there in the checkout lane, in that shy smile, and moved my heart to give and my mouth to speak. I asked Luke’s mom if I could buy his gun as a birthday present.

In that moment, I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking. It didn’t make logical sense to offer this to a child I didn’t know. I just knew God was calling me to do it — and I obeyed.

A huge grin spread across Luke’s face. “Really?” he asked. I nodded my head yes and suggested that he could then spend his gift cards on something else. Tears leaked from his mama’s eyes as I shared my prayer that morning.

I stopped by customer service, and as I turned toward the door to leave, Luke’s dad, with Luke by his side, stopped to say thank you. But it wasn’t the thank you for the gift that touched my heart. It was the words that followed, thanking me for the lesson Luke learned.

Luke decided that instead of spending all his gift cards on another new toy, he would only spend four so that he could give one away.

I’m so grateful God spoke to me in His Word that day. I’m grateful that “word” led me to pray a Gideon prayer … for God to meet me in the ordinary to experience the extraordinary. I’m grateful God answered that prayer. And I’m so grateful that in meeting me, God also met Luke.

And somewhere in this city, another little boy on another ordinary day will meet an extraordinary God through a tender-hearted little boy named Luke.

Will you join me in praying a Gideon prayer … for God to interrupt your ordinary tasks on an ordinary day to intervene in an extraordinary way? Let’s invite Him to open our spiritual eyes so that we can see Him more clearly than ever before.

 

Streams in the Desert

Put on as the elect of God, kindness (Col. 3:12).

There is a story of an old man who carried a little can of oil with him everywhere he went, and if he passed through a door that squeaked, he poured a little oil on the hinges. If a gate was hard to open, he oiled the latch. And thus he passed through life lubricating all hard places and making it easier for those who came after him. People called him eccentric, queer, and cranky; but the old man went steadily on refilling his can of oil when it became empty, and oiled the hard places he found.

There are many lives that creak and grate harshly as they live day by day. Nothing goes right with them. They need lubricating with the oil of gladness, gentleness, or thoughtfulness.

Have you your own can of oil with you? Be ready with your oil of helpfulness in the early morning to the one nearest you. It may lubricate the whole day for him. The oil, of good cheer to the downhearted one–Oh, how much it may mean! The word of courage to the despairing. Speak it. Our lives touch others but once, perhaps, on the road of life; and then, mayhap, our ways diverge, never to meet again.

The oil of kindness has worn the sharp, hard edges off of many a sin-hardened life and left it soft and pliable and ready for the redeeming grace of the Saviour. A word spoken pleasantly is a large spot of sunshine on a sad heart. Therefore, “Give others the sunshine, tell Jesus the rest.”

We cannot know the grief
That men may borrow;
We cannot see the souls
Storm-swept by sorrow;
But love can shine upon the way
Today, tomorrow;
Let us be kind.
Upon the wheel of pain so many weary lives are broken,
We live in vain who give no tender token.
Let us be kind.

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love” (Rom. 12:10).

 

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.”
Revelation 3:4

We may understand this to refer to justification. “They shall walk in white;” that is, they shall enjoy a constant sense of their own justification by faith; they shall understand that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them, that they have all been washed and made whiter than the newly-fallen snow.

Again, it refers to joy and gladness: for white robes were holiday dresses among the Jews. They who have not defiled their garments shall have their faces always bright; they shall understand what Solomon meant when he said “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart. Let thy garments be always white, for God hath accepted thy works.” He who is accepted of God shall wear white garments of joy and gladness, while he walks in sweet communion with the Lord Jesus. Whence so many doubts, so much misery, and mourning? It is because so many believers defile their garments with sin and error, and hence they lose the joy of their salvation, and the comfortable fellowship of the Lord Jesus, they do not here below walk in white.

The promise also refers to walking in white before the throne of God. Those who have not defiled their garments here shall most certainly walk in white up yonder, where the white-robed hosts sing perpetual hallelujahs to the Most High. They shall possess joys inconceivable, happiness beyond a dream, bliss which imagination knoweth not, blessedness which even the stretch of desire hath not reached. The “undefiled in the way” shall have all this–not of merit, nor of works, but of grace. They shall walk with Christ in white, for he has made them “worthy.” In his sweet company they shall drink of the living fountains of waters.

Evening

“Thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.”
Psalm 68:10

All God’s gifts are prepared gifts laid up in store for wants foreseen. He anticipates our needs; and out of the fulness which he has treasured up in Christ Jesus, he provides of his goodness for the poor. You may trust him for all the necessities that can occur, for he has infallibly foreknown every one of them. He can say of us in all conditions, “I knew that thou wouldst be this and that.” A man goes a journey across the desert, and when he has made a day’s advance, and pitched his tent, he discovers that he wants many comforts and necessaries which he has not brought in his baggage. “Ah!” says he, “I did not foresee this: if I had this journey to go again, I should bring these things with me, so necessary to my comfort.” But God has marked with prescient eye all the requirements of his poor wandering children, and when those needs occur, supplies are ready. It is goodness which he has prepared for the poor in heart, goodness and goodness only. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”

Reader, is your heart heavy this evening? God knew it would be; the comfort which your heart wants is treasured in the sweet assurance of the text. You are poor and needy, but he has thought upon you, and has the exact blessing which you require in store for you. Plead the promise, believe it and obtain its fulfilment. Do you feel that you never were so consciously vile as you are now? Behold, the crimson fountain is open still, with all its former efficacy, to wash your sin away. Never shall you come into such a position that Christ cannot aid you. No pinch shall ever arrive in your spiritual affairs in which Jesus Christ shall not be equal to the emergency, for your history has all been foreknown and provided for in Jesus.

Practice Gratitude For Christ

 

Repentance

From: Utmost.org

Conviction of sin is best described in the words:

My sins, my sins, my Savior,
How sad on Thee they fall.

Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin (see John 16:8). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person’s conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not that person’s relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God— “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight…” (Psalm 51:4). The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy. He proves he is forgiven by being the opposite of what he was previously, by the grace of God. Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, “I have sinned.” The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes— a reflex action caused by self-disgust.

The entrance into the kingdom of God is through the sharp, sudden pains of repentance colliding with man’s respectable “goodness.” Then the Holy Spirit, who produces these struggles, begins the formation of the Son of God in the person’s life (see Galatians 4:19). This new life will reveal itself in conscious repentance followed by unconscious holiness, never the other way around. The foundation of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a person cannot repent when he chooses— repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for “the gift of tears.” If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.

 

Upside Down Toast

From: Get More Strength

“Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near’.” Matthew 4:17

Have you ever made a piece of toast, slathered it with butter and strawberry jam, and just as you’re about to take the first delicious bite, you drop it on the floor? I’m embarrassed to say this has happened to me more than once, and the toast inevitably lands facedown! Who wants upside-down toast for breakfast?

It may be a silly illustration, but it makes me think that we are like upside-down toast. We are fallen creatures, born with the DNA of hell. Our first instincts in most situations are usually wrong. Our responses are almost always self-serving. And it’s not until God picks us up that we can begin to realize His lofty purposes and plans to turn our upside-down life right-side up.

In Matthew 4:1-21, we learn about the early days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. His first sermon was simple: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). For hundreds of years, God’s people had been “living in darkness . . .  [in] the shadow of death” (Matthew 4:16). Jesus came to rescue them and us from our fallen, messed-up existence. What was the first step to recovery? You guessed it—repentance.

Repentance is not a “how to turn your life right-side up” method of self-improvement. When Jesus pleaded repentance, He wasn’t offering a good idea or a cool suggestion. It’s important to keep in mind that the Greek word for “preach” in this text means “to herald,” or to proclaim with authority. In the days before e-mail and Instant Messenger, a “herald” would travel from village to village to proclaim the king’s edicts. The herald did not form discussion groups to poll the opinion of the people. Rather, he authoritatively proclaimed the message of the king.

None could be more authoritative than Jesus Himself. When the King of kings traveled through the villages preaching, His message came with the highest authority, and as such we would do well to take it seriously—to repent of our fallen ways and to yield our upside-down instincts to the right-side-up ways of His kingdom.

Repentance is never an enjoyable experience, but vulnerability is the key to victory. When we allow the Savior to pick us up and reveal the mess we’ve made of ourselves, it’s only then that we can begin to live a useful, productive life that brings pleasure to our heavenly Father.

You may be like upside-down toast, but the good news is in Jesus Christ you don’t have to stay that way!

 

From: Streams in the Desert
Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts. And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hands” (2 Kings 3:16-18).

To human thinking it was simply impossible, but nothing is hard for God. Without a sound or sign, from sources invisible and apparently impossible, the floods came stealing in all night long; and when the morning dawned, those ditches were flooded with the crystal waters, and reflecting the rays of the morning sun from the red hills of Edom.

Our unbelief is always wanting some outward sign. The religion of many is largely sensational, and they are not satisfied of its genuineness without manifestations, etc.; but the greatest triumph of faith is to be still and know that He is God.

The great victory of faith is to stand before some impassable Red Sea, and hear the Master say, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord,” and “Go forward!” As we step out without any sign or sound–not a wave-splash–and wetting our very feet as we take the first step into its waters, still marching on we shall see the sea divide and the pathway open through the very midst of the waters.

If we have seen the miraculous workings of God in some marvelous case of healing or some extraordinary providential deliverance, I am sure the thing that has impressed us most has been the quietness with which it was all done, the absence of everything spectacular and sensational, and the utter sense of nothingness which came to us as we stood in the presence of this mighty God and felt how easy, it was for Him to do it all without the faintest effort on His part or the slightest help on ours.

It is not the part of faith to question, but to obey. The ditches were made, and the water came pouring in from some supernatural source. What a lesson for our faith!

Are you craving a spiritual blessing? Open the trenches, and God will fill them. And this, too, in the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected ways. Oh, for that faith that can act by faith and not by sight, and expect God to work although we see no wind or rain.
–A. B. Simpson

 

December 7

From: Through the Bible

Isaiah 62:1, 6-7 (NIV) 1For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.

6I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, 7and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.

The Lord desires our constant intercession. He asks us to pray without ceasing. Regardless of how you interpret Zion and Jerusalem, we are not to remain silent. We need to share the great love of our God until so many enter the Kingdom of God that righteousness shines like the dawn and their salvation like a blazing torch. The more an area is converted and sharing their life’s example, the more the Spirit of God dominates that area. People can’t help but come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, because He works through the prayers of God’s people.

The LORD pleads with us to never rest from intercession. He wants us to give Him no rest, but to bombard heaven with requests for salvation and the transformation of lives.

One day the heavenly city will be established in Jerusalem. The world will come to worship on bended knee, confessing Jesus as LORD. Peace and righteousness will be the order of the Kingdom, but until that day comes keep praying. Keep interceding for the lost. Keep heaven busy with your prayer requests. Don’t be silent! Don’t let entertainment, or any distraction, steal your time with God. It has eternal value. Pray!

Consider: How does this verse apply to you and your city?

Evening

December 7

1 Peter 5:2-4 (NIV) 2Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Peter is addressing the elders that read the letter to the local church. You will find that the New Testament always addresses elders in a city in the plural. The elders were the overseers of each church. They are to serve willingly, not out of obligation. Shepherding a congregation has many difficulties. It isn’t a job that was readily desired, for it means going above and beyond in service. It means a life that exemplifies the life of Christ.

The elders are not chosen for their status in life. Some might come from a low-income level and find the financial support of the believers to be more than they made in their former employment. Usually they end up living on substantially less income. Finances should never be a factor in whether they accept a call or not. From rich or poor backgrounds, elders should serve because God wants them to. An elder’s chief desire should be to please the Lord.

The elders are not to throw their weight around in an authoritarian way. In everything, they should be an example to the flock. Even when discipline is necessary, they should do it with love and gentleness. For this life of service and sacrifice, there is a promise to look forward to. The Chief Shepherd will give the faithful ones a crown of glory that will never fade.

Consider: Are you praying for your shepherds? It is easy to criticize their service, but would you want their job? They must answer to the Chief Shepherd. Help them be willing servants by your encouragement and prayers. What does a good sheep do?