Tag Archives: marriage

Don’t Judge People

Matthew 7

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

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Finger Pointer’s Anonymous

From: Get More Strength

A glass of wine or not a glass of wine? To dance or not to dance? To work on Sunday or not to work on Sunday? To play cards or not to play cards? Or, in some places, to play dominoes or not to play dominoes?!

Let’s face it, we tend to feel strongly about our personal preferences regarding what Christians should and should not do. And, when others violate our spiritual preferences, the finger-pointing begins!

This is nothing new for Christians. Paul had to address the subject of preferences with the early believers in Rome who were troubled by a few issues. Believers who had been saved out of Judaism wondered what to do about the holy days prescribed in the Old Testament and the keeping of certain strict Sabbath rules. With their newfound freedom in Jesus, they didn’t know what to do with the ceremonial laws concerning “unclean” meat, not to mention the meat offered to idols in the pagan temples of their day.

In the face of conflicting preferences, note that Paul doesn’t take sides. Rather, he says, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). Paul continued, “He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God” (Romans 14:6). Simply put, each of us should be convinced that what we are doing can be done to please the Lord.

Before you start thinking that this doesn’t apply to us because we don’t deal with these particular issues today, think again. The issues are different, but the lesson is the same: Each of us is individually accountable to God for our actions. Which, by the way, means that no one is accountable to—you guessed it—you for what they do or don’t do.

When we think that our point of view on personal preferences is the only point of view, we start finger-pointing and end up violating God’s call for us to reject a judgmental spirit. Often without even realizing it, we hold our preferences as standards of biblical spirituality. If thoughts like, He can’t be too serious about God—just look at his car! or, I can’t believe she watches that TV program! have ever crossed your mind, you know what I’m talking about!

So what’s the solution?

Take Paul’s exhortation to heart and “stop passing judgment on one another” (Romans 14:13).  Some matters of personal preference are just that—personal, which means that it’s between that person and God. Paul called them “disputable matters” (Romans 14:1)—referring to issues that are not clearly outlined in Scripture as right or wrong. Rather than using our preferences as a spiritual whipping post, we must give room for others to express a different opinion and to love them as Jesus does. And, Paul tells us, “make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way” (Romans 14:13). When we know that something we feel is okay might endanger another’s walk with Jesus, then it’s up to us to love them enough to yield our preferences for the sake of their well-being.

And that’s the bottom line: love. It’s the glue that keeps us together when we face “disputable matters.” Next time you feel your grip tighten around a matter of personal preference, think about Romans 14:13. Stop passing judgment and make up your mind about what really matters—and hopefully love will win out every time!

Dysfunctional

From: Our Daily Bread

Dysfunctional

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

The word dysfunctional is often used to describe individuals, families, relationships, organizations, and even governments. While functional means it’s in proper working order, dysfunctional is the opposite—it’s broken, not working properly, unable to do what it was designed to do.

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul begins by describing a spiritually dysfunctional humanity (1:18–32). We are all part of that rebellious company: “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. . . . For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:12, 23).

The good news is that “all are justified freely by [God’s] grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus . . . to be received by faith” (vv. 24–25). When we invite Christ into our lives and accept God’s offer of forgiveness and new life, we are on the path to becoming the person He created us to be. We don’t immediately become perfect, but we no longer have to remain broken and dysfunctional.

Through the Holy Spirit we receive daily strength to honor God in what we say and do and to “put off [our] old self . . . to be made new in the attitude of [our] minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:22–24).

Lord, in our dysfunctional lives we turn to You for restoration and strength. Thank You for Your amazing grace and love!

Drawing close to Christ helps us to live as He designed us.

Together Forever

From: Our Daily Journey

Together Forever

Read:

Joshua 2:1-24
You must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members . . . must be here inside the house (Joshua 2:18).

A Chinese translator told a visiting theologian that her Buddhist parents admired the teachings of Jesus, but they were offended by the idea that someone had to believe in Him to be saved. They worried that their Christian daughter now believed her ancestors were in hell. The translator said, “Revering my ancestors means much to me, and I want to assure my parents that I do not want to dishonor my family heritage. So please tell me what I, as a Christian, can say to my parents about this.”

This profound question haunts many believers who feel torn between Jesus and their family. We can find help in the story of Rahab, who recognized her only hope was found in “the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below” (Joshua 2:11). She begged the spies to save both her and her family when God used Israel to judge her sinful city (Joshua 2:12-13). The spies told her to mark her house by hanging a scarlet rope from her window. Then all the family that gathered in her house would be saved.

One thing Rahab’s story reveals is that God loves our families. He sent Jesus to die for them, perhaps symbolized by the scarlet rope in the story (Joshua 2:18). We can’t say with certainty where our ancestors are—only God knows their destinies. We do know, however, that God commands us to honor our fathers and mothers, so we can readily honor our ancestors just as they deserve (Exodus 20:12).

It’s impossible for us to fully know or understand the futures of those in the past, but we can speak for God today. May we lovingly encourage our family members to join us in the house with the scarlet cord. Our loving God allows us to be united in Him by faith in Jesus—the only One who will keep us together forever.

 

The Life To Know Him

From: Utmost.org

The Life To Know Him

The disciples had to tarry, staying in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost, not only for their own preparation but because they had to wait until the Lord was actually glorified. And as soon as He was glorified, what happened? “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). The statement in John 7:39— “…for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified”— does not pertain to us. The Holy Spirit has been given; the Lord is glorified— our waiting is not dependent on the providence of God, but on our own spiritual fitness.

The Holy Spirit’s influence and power were at work before Pentecost, but He was not here. Once our Lord was glorified in His ascension, the Holy Spirit came into the world, and He has been here ever since. We have to receive the revealed truth that He is here. The attitude of receiving and welcoming the Holy Spirit into our lives is to be the continual attitude of a believer. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive reviving life from our ascended Lord.

It is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit that changes people, but the power of the ascended Christ coming into their lives through the Holy Spirit. We all too often separate things that the New Testament never separates. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an experience apart from Jesus Christ— it is the evidence of the ascended Christ.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit does not make you think of time or eternity— it is one amazing glorious now. “This is eternal life, that they may know You…” (John 17:3). Begin to know Him now, and never finish.

Jesus Can Calm Life’s Storms

Luke 8:22-25

 

Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm

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Navigating Rough Waters

From: Our Daily Bread

Navigating Rough Waters

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. 1 Chronicles 28:20

I was enjoying the start of my first whitewater rafting experience—until I heard the roar of the rapids up ahead. My emotions were flooded with feelings of uncertainty, fear, and insecurity at the same time. Riding through the whitewater was a first-rate, white-knuckle experience! And then, suddenly, it was over. The guide in the back of the raft had navigated us through. I was safe—at least until the next set of rapids.

Transitions in our lives can be like whitewater experiences. The inevitable leaps from one season of life to the next—college to career, changing jobs, living with parents to living alone or with a spouse, career to retirement, youth to old age—are all marked by uncertainty and insecurity.

In one of the most significant transitions recorded in Old Testament history, Solomon assumed the throne from his father David. I’m sure he was filled with uncertainty about the future. His father’s advice? “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. . . . For the Lord God, my God, is with you” (1 Chron. 28:20).

We’ll have our fair share of tough transitions in life. But with God in our raft we’re not alone. Keeping our eyes on the One who is navigating the rapids brings joy and security. He’s taken lots of others through before.

 God guides us through the rapids of change.

 

Thinking of Prayer as Jesus Taught

From: Utmost.org

Thinking of Prayer as Jesus Taught

Our thinking about prayer, whether right or wrong, is based on our own mental conception of it. The correct concept is to think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues “without ceasing”; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops. And we are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect oneness with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life of the saint. Beware of anything that stops the offering up of prayer. “Pray without ceasing…”— maintain the childlike habit of offering up prayer in your heart to God all the time.

Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer. He had the unlimited certainty of knowing that prayer is always answered. Do we have through the Spirit of God that inexpressible certainty that Jesus had about prayer, or do we think of the times when it seemed that God did not answer our prayer? Jesus said, “…everyone who asks receives…” (Matthew 7:8). Yet we say, “But…, but….” God answers prayer in the best way— not just sometimes, but every time. However, the evidence of the answer in the area we want it may not always immediately follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer?

The danger we have is that we want to water down what Jesus said to make it mean something that aligns with our common sense. But if it were only common sense, what He said would not even be worthwhile. The things Jesus taught about prayer are supernatural truths He reveals to us.

 

Reflections of Marriage

From: Our Daily Journey

Reflections of Marriage

Read:

1 Corinthians 7:8-35
[Jesus] gave up his life for the [church], to make her holy and clean (Ephesians 5:25-26).

Our pastor read this verse during a sermon: “It’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:8). Quite happily wed himself, he followed the reading by saying, “Marriage complicates things.” Seconds later, a masculine voice emitted a long exaggerated “Aaaaamen.” The congregation broke into laughter.

In some cases, marriage can make life more complicated. Paul pointed out that people who are married need to think about their “earthly responsibilities” and how to please their spouses (1 Corinthians 7:33-34). A married person needs to consider his or her spouse in things such as spending money, making meals, or organizing a home environment.

As an alternative to marriage, Paul suggested that unmarried people could choose to remain single. This would protect a person from becoming overly focused on things other than ministering for Christ. Specifically, Paul said, “I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking about how to please him” (1 Corinthians 7:32).

While there are advantages to being single, there are also merits to being married. Married couples have an outlet for their physical passion (1 Corinthians 7:9). In addition, a healthy marriage provides for the foundation of a family in which both parents can nurture and lovingly equip their children to grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Marriages are happiest when they mirror the mutual benefits and consistent faithfulness reflected in the relationship between Jesus and the church. Symbolically, believers are the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-26). In this role, we receive the promise of Jesus’ never-ending protection, provision, and love.

Be Ready To Show Mercy

Luke 10: 25-37   The Good Samaritan Story

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

(Which one of these three showed Mercy)

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( Pictures of people passing by)

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Passing By

From: Our Daily Journey

Passing By

Read:

Luke 10:30-37
He also passed by on the other side (Luke 10:32).

During a political election year, a tow truck driver was called to assist a woman who was stranded with a broken-down vehicle. But the truck driver, upon seeing a bumper sticker on the car for a candidate he disliked, informed the motorist that he wouldn’t help her and drove away. His actions remind me how we sometimes choose to ignore those who need our help.

Jesus told the parable of a “Jewish man . . . traveling from Jerusalem” who was “attacked by bandits.” They stripped the man naked, “beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road” (Luke 10:30). One would have thought help had arrived when a priest happened along the way. But the priest “crossed over to the other side of the road and passed him by” (Luke 10:31). As the heat of the day grew fierce and the bleeding man’s wounds festered, a temple assistant also traveled by the scene of the crime. He too “passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:32).

Next a Samaritan came along, the last person you would ever expect to help a Jew (the two people groups did not get along). Yet the “Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged him. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn” (Luke 10:34). The Samaritan paid for medical care out of his own pocket and made provision for everything the suffering man might need. “Which of these three would you say was a neighbor?” Jesus asked. Of course, the neighbor was the one who demonstrated tangible mercy. “Go and do the same,” Jesus said (Luke 10:36-37).

There are many ways to offer mercy to others, whether by a prayer, a conversation, or a gift. When we see a need, may we meet it as God provides. Let’s choose to do something other than pass by.

The Remedy for Jealousy

From: Our Daily Bread

The Remedy for Jealousy

So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.  1 Samuel 18:9 nlt

I gladly agreed to babysit my grandkids while their parents went out for the evening. After hugs, I asked the boys what they did over the weekend. (Both had separate adventures.) Bridger, age three, recounted breathlessly how he got to stay overnight with his aunt and uncle—and he had ice cream and rode a carousel and watched a movie! Next it was five-year-old Samuel’s turn. When asked what he did, he said, “Camping.” “Did you have fun?” I asked. “Not so much,” he answered forlornly.

Samuel experienced the age-old feeling of jealousy. He forgot how much fun he had camping with his dad when he heard his brother excitedly tell about his weekend.

All of us can fall prey to jealousy. King Saul gave in to the green-eyed monster of jealousy when the praise David received exceeded his: “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” (1 Sam. 18:7 nlt). Saul was outraged and “from that time on . . . kept a jealous eye on David” (v. 9 nlt). He was so incensed he tried to kill David!

The comparison game is foolish and self-destructive. Someone will always have something we don’t or enjoy experiences different from ours. But God has already given us many blessings, including both life on this earth and the promise of eternal life to all who believe. Depending on His help and focusing on Him in thankfulness can help us to overcome jealousy.

Lord, You have given us life and the promise of life eternal if we trust in You as our Savior. For that—and so many other blessings—we give You praise!

The remedy for jealousy is thankfulness to God.

 

The Good or The Best?

From: Utmost.org

The Good or The Best?

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and physically gratifying possibilities will open up before you. These things are yours by right, but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you. This is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice.

Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight. The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. In this passage, it would seem that the wisest thing in the world for Abram to do would be to choose. It was his right, and the people around him would consider him to be a fool for not choosing.

Many of us do not continue to grow spiritually because we prefer to choose on the basis of our rights, instead of relying on God to make the choice for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eyes focused on God. And God says to us, as He did to Abram, “…walk before Me…” (Genesis 17:1).

Transformed Into His Image

Ephesians 4:22-24

 

that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

 

II Corinthians 3: 18
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
We are being transformed into his image.
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Lookalikes

From: Our Daily Bread

Lookalikes

We all . . . are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

They say we all have one: Doppelgangers some call them. Lookalikes. People unrelated to us who look very much like us.

Mine happens to be a star in the music field. When I attended one of his concerts, I got a lot of double takes from fellow fans during intermission. But alas, I am no James Taylor when it comes to singing and strumming a guitar. We just happen to look alike.

Who do you look like? As you ponder that question, reflect on 2 Corinthians 3:18, where Paul tells us that we “are being transformed into [the Lord’s] image.” As we seek to honor Jesus with our lives, one of our goals is to take on His image. Of course, this doesn’t mean we have to grow a beard and wear sandals—it means that the Holy Spirit helps us demonstrate Christlike characteristics in how we live. For example, in attitude (humility), in character (loving), and in compassion (coming alongside the down and out), we are to look like Jesus and imitate Him.

As we “contemplate the Lord’s glory,” by fixing our eyes on Jesus, we can grow more and more like Him. What an amazing thing it would be if people could observe us and say, “I see Jesus in you”!

Lord, help us to gaze on You, to study You, to know You. Transform us into Your image by what we say, how we love others, and how we worship You. May others see Jesus in us.

Love is the family resemblance the world should see in followers of Christ.

 

Mercy’s Call

From:Our Daily Journey

Mercy’s Call

Read:

Exodus 9:13-33
“I have sinned,” [Pharaoh] confessed. . . . “Please beg the Lord to end this terrifying thunder and hail. . . . I will let you go” (Exodus 9:27-28).

The deluge of rain reduced visibility to almost nil, forcing me and other drivers on the road to inch forward. As my usual twenty-minute commute stretched to well over an hour, I offered up prayers for God’s protection over us as I begged for the rain to cease.

Fear amid trying circumstances will often drive people to call out to God. When, by divine power, a powerful hailstorm struck Egypt (Exodus 9:24-25), Pharaoh swallowed his pride and begged the God of Moses for relief. God relented, bringing a halt to the thunder and hail. But “when Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail and thunder had stopped, he and his officials sinned again, and Pharaoh became stubborn. Because his heart was hard, Pharaoh refused to let the people leave, just as the Lord had predicted through Moses” (Exodus 9:34-35).

If God knew what Pharaoh’s response would be, why did He answer Moses’ prayer to stop the rain? Earlier in the chapter, we read that once Moses announced the next plague of hail, some of Pharaoh’s officials who feared God hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside for protection (Exodus 9:20). This is the first instance recorded where Egyptians responded directly to God’s word through Moses. Then we see that upon Pharaoh’s eventual release, the Israelites didn’t leave Egypt alone; they were accompanied by others who had witnessed God’s work and chose to believe (Exodus 12:37-38).

It’s possible God took these people, outsiders to Israel, into consideration in not unleashing the full potential of the plagues. His actions demonstrate mercy and compassion in the midst of correction. God still shows mercy to those who turn to Him in love and obedience. Call out to Him today!

 

The Delight of Despair

From: Utmost.org

The Delight of Despair

It may be that, like the apostle John, you know Jesus Christ intimately. Yet when He suddenly appears to you with totally unfamiliar characteristics, the only thing you can do is fall “at His feet as dead.” There are times when God cannot reveal Himself in any other way than in His majesty, and it is the awesomeness of the vision which brings you to the delight of despair. You experience this joy in hopelessness, realizing that if you are ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God.

“He laid His right hand on me…” (Revelation 1:17). In the midst of the awesomeness, a touch comes, and you know it is the right hand of Jesus Christ. You know it is not the hand of restraint, correction, nor chastisement, but the right hand of the Everlasting Father. Whenever His hand is laid upon you, it gives inexpressible peace and comfort, and the sense that “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27), full of support, provision, comfort, and strength. And once His touch comes, nothing at all can throw you into fear again. In the midst of all His ascended glory, the Lord Jesus comes to speak to an insignificant disciple, saying, “Do not be afraid” (Revelation 1:17). His tenderness is inexpressibly sweet. Do I know Him like that?

Take a look at some of the things that cause despair. There is despair which has no delight, no limits whatsoever, and no hope of anything brighter. But the delight of despair comes when “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells…” (Romans 7:18). I delight in knowing that there is something in me which must fall prostrate before God when He reveals Himself to me, and also in knowing that if I am ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God. God can do nothing for me until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do the impossible.

Defending God

 

Jesus Standing Before Pilate      John 18: 36

35   “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed You over to me. What have You done?”

36   Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world; if it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jews. But now, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

37  “Then You are a king?” Pilate said. “You say that I am a king,” Jesus answered. “For this reason I was born and have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice.”…

 

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Defending God

From: Our Daily Bread

Defending God

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

The anti-God bumper stickers covering the car seized the attention of a university professor. As a former atheist himself, the professor thought perhaps the owner wanted to make believers angry. “The anger helps the atheist to justify his atheism,” he explained. Then he warned, “All too often, the atheist gets exactly what he is looking for.”

In recalling his own journey to faith, this professor noted the concern of a Christian friend who invited him to consider the truth of Christ. His friend’s “sense of urgency was conveyed without a trace of anger.” He never forgot the genuine respect and grace he received that day.

Believers in Jesus often take offense when others reject Him. But how does He feel about that rejection? Jesus constantly faced threats and hatred, yet He never took doubt about His deity personally. Once, when a village refused Him hospitality, James and John wanted instant retaliation. “Lord,” they asked, “do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54). Jesus didn’t want that, and He “turned and rebuked them” (v. 55). After all, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).

It may surprise us to consider that God doesn’t need us to defend Him. He wants us to represent Him! That takes time, work, restraint, and love.

Lord, when we are confronted with hate, help us not to be haters but to respond as Your Son did: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

The best way to defend Jesus is to live like Him.

 

Our Careful Unbelief

From: Utmost.org

Our Careful Unbelief

Jesus summed up commonsense carefulness in the life of a disciple as unbelief. If we have received the Spirit of God, He will squeeze right through our lives, as if to ask, “Now where do I come into this relationship, this vacation you have planned, or these new books you want to read?” And He always presses the point until we learn to make Him our first consideration. Whenever we put other things first, there is confusion.

“…do not worry about your life….” Don’t take the pressure of your provision upon yourself. It is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief; worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never anything but those details that worry us. Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the Word He puts in us? Is it the devil? No— “the cares of this world” (Matthew 13:22). It is always our little worries. We say, “I will not trust when I cannot see”— and that is where unbelief begins. The only cure for unbelief is obedience to the Spirit.

The greatest word of Jesus to His disciples is abandon.

 

Something More Powerful

From: Our Daily Journal

Something More Powerful

Read:

Galatians 2:11-21
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

When France’s ministry of health realized that 17.8 percent of French women smoked while pregnant, they came up with a plan. For a trial period of thirty-six months, seventeen French hospitals paid women up to 300 euros to stop smoking during their pregnancies. Of the 612 participants, 22.5 percent of the women gave up their cigarettes.

The ministry of health was interested in the health of babies, but also wanted to see whether financial incentives would help women quit addictions. They obviously did!

Paul told the Galatians that they had something more powerful than financial motivation to curb an old “habit”—they had the very power of Christ. Since attempting to gain acceptance with God through the law would only lead to condemnation (Galatians 2:19), their only hope for salvation and daily freedom was union with Jesus in His death and resurrection (Galatians 2:20).

Christ wasn’t a sinner or a criminal, but in taking on the sins of humanity, He died like one. When Paul placed his faith in the crucified Jesus, his sinful desires were crucified as well. His selfish heart came to a decisive end, and his personal interests no longer controlled his life. Consequently, Jesus gave him a new heart and a new life fully empowered by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit: “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Rewards can motivate us to do better, but willpower alone will fail to consistently change lives. Believers have something more powerful—the manifestation of God’s love through the cross of Jesus. When we yield to the power of the cross and exercise daily faith in the Son of God, the indwelling Spirit releases His power—resurrection power that enthrones Christ in our lives.

Speak Out For Righteousness

Simon Peter found his voice for righteousness and preached strongly being empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2: 14-42
22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene[b]by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.
23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when
Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed
him.
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Speak up and find your voice for what is righteous.

Speak Up!

From: Get More Strength

“If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” 2 Kings 5:3

If you’re like most people, you think that when God does something important, He uses important people to get it done—people like John Stott, Billy Graham, or Joni Eareckson Tada. The rest of us just fill space until Jesus comes. But that’s not true.

Most often in Scripture, we see that God uses ordinary folk to get things done. Just take a look at the unlikely prophets of the Old Testament and the disciples of the New Testament.

The girl in 2 Kings 5 was just an ordinary servant. Yet she bravely suggested that Naaman go to the prophet of Israel for healing. What sounds like a simple request was actually a bold suggestion. For Naaman to go to Israel, it would mean turning his back on the local pagan gods, inviting criticism from his countrymen for putting the military might of his nation at risk.

This nameless servant could have paid a steep price for making a suggestion like that, but she knew where the true source of healing was. Because of her deep concern for Naaman’s well-being, she courageously put herself at risk to direct him to that source—the one and only living God.

Like this young servant girl, let’s be willing to be used by God to guide family and friends to the true source of hope and healing.

God can take a lowly vessel,
Shape it with His mighty hand,
Fill it with a matchless treasure,
Make it serve a purpose grand.  —Bosch

God is looking for ordinary people to do extraordinary work.

 

The Explanation For Our Difficulties

From: Utmost.org

The Explanation For Our Difficulties

If you are going through a time of isolation, seemingly all alone, read John 17 . It will explain exactly why you are where you are— because Jesus has prayed that you “may be one” with the Father as He is. Are you helping God to answer that prayer, or do you have some other goal for your life? Since you became a disciple, you cannot be as independent as you used to be.

God reveals in John 17 that His purpose is not just to answer our prayers, but that through prayer we might come to discern His mind. Yet there is one prayer which God must answer, and that is the prayer of Jesus— “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22). Are we as close to Jesus Christ as that?

God is not concerned about our plans; He doesn’t ask, “Do you want to go through this loss of a loved one, this difficulty, or this defeat?” No, He allows these things for His own purpose. The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical and fault-finding, and more insistent on our own way. The things that happen either make us evil, or they make us more saintly, depending entirely on our relationship with God and its level of intimacy. If we will pray, regarding our own lives, “Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42), then we will be encouraged and comforted by John 17, knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom, accomplishing what is best. When we understand God’s purpose, we will not become small-minded and cynical. Jesus prayed nothing less for us than absolute oneness with Himself, just as He was one with the Father. Some of us are far from this oneness; yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him— because Jesus prayed, “…that they all may be one….”

 

United in Prayer

From: Our Daily Journey

United in Prayer

Read:

John 17:20-26
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me (John 17:21).

A Chinese couple, a South Korean couple, and my Mongolian friend and I had the privilege of praying together every morning for nearly an entire year. This experience brought us together in unity as brothers and sisters in Jesus, made us more aware of the glimpses of truth He had placed in each of our cultures, and gave us strength and boldness to be light to those around us. It was a sweet taste of the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17.

In His prayer, Jesus revealed His heart in a truly powerful and distinct way. He prayed for His disciples, as well as for all the believers. He said, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20-21). This means he prayed for all those who believe in Him today!

Jesus prayed that they would “experience such perfect unity that the world will know that [God the Father] sent me” (John 17:23). He was looking ahead to the time when people from every nation, tribe, social class, culture, and language would bow their knee and pledge allegiance in unity to the great I AM (Revelation 7:9-10). Jesus was implying that the unity of the believers would convince people the gospel is true.

Over the centuries, despite what Jesus prayed, believers have not always walked in unity. My experiences with my Chinese, South Korean, and Mongolian friends, however, give me hope that we can be united in Christ. May we live out a deep belief in what Jesus said to His Father: “Your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them” (John 17:26). Our unity presents the beautiful union of our triune God.

From A Tent To A Mansion

 Hebrews 11:9-10

By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

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This Old Tent

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The family tent was old by the time I came along. I was the youngest of three children by many, many years and my family had thoroughly broken it in. To me, it seemed ancient! I can’t absolutely prove it, but I am pretty sure that our tent came from Corinth and was stitched personally by Paul. (Acts 18:1-3)

I especially remember our tent during a camping trip to Bankhead National Forest in Double Springs, Alabama. Night was already falling when we arrived. My brother and I set up the tent as Mom and Dad pulled together a quick meal. Then off to bed so that we’d be rested for a fun day of activities. Unfortunately, the zipper broke on the tent as Dad was closing up for the night. Mom and Dad did the best they could to hold the flaps together with any pins and clips Mom happened to have in her purse. But, we all awakened to itchy and swollen eye lids, ears and cheeks from the persistent mosquitoes that found their way through the gaps and holes that just couldn’t be patched up.

We recovered during a day filled with swimming and relaxing under the blue Alabama sky; only occasionally scratching at the bites from the night before. After dinner that night, we gathered around the picnic table and played Flinch under a lantern hanging from a tree limb above us. Laughter filled the warm night until we finally made our way to bed. Although somewhat nervous about another attack by those blood thirsty mosquitoes, Dad had made repairs during the day that brought us some sense of security. Nonetheless, I was going to keep my head under the covers, just in case. But, another surprise awaited us during the night.

At first it was just random flashes gently illuminating the tent. Then we heard the rumbles following those flashes as the wind began to swirl around the trees above us. Our tent held firm. Eventually, the heavens opened with torrents of rain. It was not just one of those passing storms, by no means, this one lingered. The poor tent did its best to defend us from the onslaught but it eventually began to sag and leak as the canvas became increasingly saturated. Dad finally relented and gave the command. We all jumped into action as we quickly packed up in the pouring rain to head home. We jammed our personal belongings and camping utensils into the trunk of the car with the poor tent being the last item smashed in to the cramped trunk. The tent was never the same after that night.

These days I relate more and more to that old family tent. I’m tending to sag and droop as the years pass. I might not be losing a zipper, but other body parts are beginning to fail, usually at the most embarrassing moments. There is no rush; but fortunately, I’ll set aside my frail tent one day.

I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 2 Peter 1:13-14 NIV

Seeing God

From: Our Daily Bread

Seeing God

The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished. Numbers 14:18

Caricature artists set up their easels in public places and draw pictures of people who are willing to pay a modest price for a humorous image of themselves. Their drawings amuse us because they exaggerate one or more of our physical features in a way that is recognizable but funny.

Caricatures of God, on the other hand, are not funny. Exaggerating one of His attributes presents a distorted view that people easily dismiss. Like a caricature, a distorted view of God is not taken seriously. Those who see God portrayed only as an angry and demanding judge are easily lured away by someone who emphasizes mercy. Those who see God as a kindhearted grandfather will reject that image when they need justice. Those who see God as an intellectual idea rather than a living, loving being eventually find other ideas more appealing. Those who see God as a best friend often leave Him behind when they find human friends who are more to their liking.

God declares Himself to be merciful and gracious, but also just in punishing the guilty (Ex. 34:6–7).

As we put our faith into action, we need to avoid portraying God as having only our favorite attributes. We must worship all of God, not just what we like.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I worship You. You are holy, just, kind, and loving. You are God alone.

God is God alone.

 

Protective Bubble

From: Our Daily Journey

Protective Bubble

Read:

Romans 8:31-39
Let all who take refuge in you rejoice. . . . Spread your protection over them. . . . You surround them with your shield of love (Psalm 5:11-12).

Just as some people have to sleep beneath mosquito nets to ward off the little bloodsuckers, some parrotfish spin cocoons of mucus before they nod off. They secrete the mucus “sleeping bag” around themselves for protection from predators.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a protective bubble to shield us from the dangers of the evil in this world? The reality is, however, that we’re not exempt from the dangers and vulnerabilities of life. But Paul assures us of God’s presence as we experience our days on earth (Romans 8:31-39).

The apostle directs us to think of the security we have in Jesus by asking and answering seven rhetorical questions (Romans 8:31-35). In verse 36, he quotes Psalm 44:22 to show that believers in Jesus aren’t immune from trouble, calamity, hunger, danger, or death. But we don’t have to fear, for God protects, saves, and keeps us safe in His protective “net” (Romans 8:31-39). Three times Paul assures us that we’re spiritually safe and secure in Christ’s great love. No wonder Paul triumphantly declares that “overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” No person or anything else “will ever be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:37,39).

Although this doesn’t mean we’ll never face pain, suffering, and death, as believers in Jesus we’re saved and safe in the promise of God’s power, provision, and presence. Jesus readily assures us, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch [my sheep] away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). We’re truly secure forever in Jesus.

Point The Way To Salvation

God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Show people the way to Jesus Christ for salvation.

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Finding the Way Out

From: Our Daily Bread

Finding the Way Out

God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

There’s a street with an intriguing name in the city of Santa Barbara, California. It’s called “Salsipuedes,” which means “leave if you can.” When the street was first named, the area bordered on a marsh that sometimes flooded, and the Spanish-speaking city planners dubbed the location with a not-so-subtle warning to stay away.

God’s Word cautions us to stay away from the “wrong road” of sin and temptation: “Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way” (Prov. 4:15). But Scripture doesn’t just say “leave if you can.” It offers assurance and tells us where to turn: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

The promise that God will not allow us to be tempted above our ability to withstand is an encouraging reminder. When we turn to God in the moments when temptation comes, we know He is more than willing to help us stay away.

The Bible affirms that Jesus is able “to empathize with our weaknesses.” But He was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus knows the way out of every temptation. He will show us as we run to Him!

Thank You, Lord, for Your promise to be faithful to me and provide a way out whenever I face temptation. I praise You that You are willing to give me all the strength I need!

God promises to help us when we are tempted.

 

Faith and Love

From: Our Daily Journey

Faith and Love

Read:

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10, 2:1-14
As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

As we drove past a semi on the highway, my father mentioned that some large trucks have an extra set of wheels. Heavily loaded trailers require additional weight distribution over an increased number of wheels. So, when needed, the retractable set is lowered. When the trailer is empty, however, the additional wheels are raised to improve fuel efficiency and decrease wear and tear on the tires. The wheels are always available, yet their true purpose and value is only revealed when the truck is fully loaded.

Just as additional wheels are essential to pull a loaded truck trailer, so too faith and love are necessary for believers in Jesus to keep moving forward in their walk with God. The early church leaders regularly commended the believers for these two spiritual qualities (Ephesians 1:15; Colossians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:3). They’re often mentioned in relation to what is required to face trials and persecution. Faith and love grew strong and carried the early church through difficult times, spurring them on in their walk with God and in their effectiveness as His “true ministers” (2 Corinthians 6:4-7).

Although Paul, Silas, and Timothy suffered opposition to the good news of Jesus Christ in Thessalonica, there were those who received the message, accepted, and believed it as coming from God (1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2:13). The apostles applauded the believers for their “faithful work . . . . loving deeds, and . . . enduring hope . . . because of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3, emphasis added). These actions flowed from genuine faith.

As believers in Jesus, may we grow in faith and love as He works through us to establish His kingdom on earth.

 

Taking Possession of Our Own Soul

From: Utmost.org

Taking Possession of Our Own Soul

When a person is born again, there is a period of time when he does not have the same vitality in his thinking or reasoning that he previously had. We must learn to express this new life within us, which comes by forming the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:5). Luke 21:19 means that we take possession of our souls through patience. But many of us prefer to stay at the entrance to the Christian life, instead of going on to create and build our soul in accordance with the new life God has placed within us. We fail because we are ignorant of the way God has made us, and we blame things on the devil that are actually the result of our own undisciplined natures. Just think what we could be when we are awakened to the truth!

There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives. Moods nearly always are rooted in some physical circumstance, not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise as a result of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do. The problem that most of us are cursed with is simply that we won’t. The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.

Live In Peace With All Men

Hebrews 12:14-17

14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

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Getting Along

From: Get More Strength

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3

I’m guessing that even astronomical gas prices won’t stop many parents from packing up the car and taking the kids on a road trip for vacation this summer. And if the trip is more than 50 miles, you can already imagine the scene in the backseat: “Mom, he’s on my side!” or “Dad, tell her to stop doing that!”  When the kids don’t get along, it drives their parents nuts and takes the joy out of the journey.

I often wonder: Does God feel that way about His kids? He has asked us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3), and yet differences in gender, color, gifts, temperaments, roles, perspectives, preferences, and denominations threaten to wreck the unity that He intends for us to enjoy on the road to paradise. The psalmist had it right when he declared, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

A close look at Jesus’ prayer in John 17:1-26 sheds some light on how to grow up and get along. Just before His ultimate demonstration of love on the cross, Jesus prayed that His followers would be unified (John 17:11) and that they would be set apart by the truth of God’s Word (John 17:16-17). He continued, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one” (John 17: 20-21).

We can’t miss the connection between truth and unity. In fact, truth is the key ingredient of biblical unity. Truth is what unites us as believers: Truth about His deity. Truth about the message of salvation that comes by grace through faith in Christ alone. Truth that the Scriptures are the sole authority for faith and practice, and that they are without error and completely trustworthy.

Jesus goes on to indicate that unity is also built around righteousness. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it” (John 17: 15-16). As His followers, unity comes when together we cling to the distinction between good and evil and seek to reflect the goodness of God in all that is pure and right.

What we know to be true about God’s Word and what we know to be true about how to live gives us a lot in common! And since Jesus is at the center of it all, He becomes the glue that makes us one. I might not be particularly drawn to you—your culture and background may be different than mine—but when I find out that you too are a follower of Jesus, His Word, and His Way, I find myself saying, “You too? Hey, let’s walk together!”

Being one in Jesus gives us the joy of bearing one another’s burdens, praying for one another, overlooking class distinctions, and casting the log out of our own eyes rather than focusing on the weaknesses of others. When we let the grand things we have in common override our petty differences, the backseat will be a happier place, and we can all enjoy the journey in peace!

Prepare the Child

From: Our Daily Bread

Prepare the Child

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4

A phrase on many parenting websites says, “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.” Instead of trying to remove all obstacles and pave the way for the children in our life, we should instead equip them to deal with the difficulties they encounter on the road ahead.

The psalmist wrote, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes . . . , which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children” (Ps. 78:4–6). The goal is that “they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands” (v. 7).

Think of the powerful spiritual impact others had on us through what they said and how they lived. Their conversation and demonstration captured our attention and kindled a fire in us to follow Jesus just as they did.

It’s a wonderful privilege and responsibility to share God’s Word and His plan for our lives with the next generation and the generations to come. No matter what lies ahead on their road through life, we want them to be prepared and equipped to face it in the strength of the Lord.

Father in heaven, we seek Your wisdom and guidance to prepare the children we know and love to walk with You in faith.

Through conversation and demonstration, help prepare children to follow the Lord on the road ahead.

 

Rest Affects

From: Our Daily Journey

Rest Affects

Read:

Deuteronomy 5:12-15
On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your oxen and donkeys and other livestock, and any foreigners living among you (Deuteronomy 5:14).

 

One morning, I was surprised to see my mail carrier lugging his heavy bag. I asked him why he was delivering mail on Sunday, and he curtly responded with a single word: “Amazon.” The online retailer had started offering Sunday delivery, so it was no longer a day of rest for postal workers.

In Deuteronomy 5, God mandated that Israel observe the Sabbath with its rest requirements. Not just the men and women of Israel were to rest on Saturday—but their children, their servants, and even their work animals (Deuteronomy 5:14). In Exodus 23:10-11, we see that the land itself was also supposed to enjoy a Sabbath rest every seven years.

There’s a very good reason for the all-encompassing nature of this command: If the people of Israel didn’t observe the Sabbath, then neither could their servants, the most vulnerable and likely overworked group. The foreigners of Israel, being of a lower social standing and with fewer resources, would also not be able to afford to stop working. That’s why God “commanded” all people to rest (Deuteronomy 5:15)—not to be domineering, but because each person’s Sabbath was interconnected with the wellbeing of others.

I often fail to recognize the interconnected nature of our lives, how my personal lack of rest can rob other people of their rest in turn. But as 1 Corinthians 12:12 tells us, believers in Jesus are one body, and what affects one part of the body affects the others. A manager might make a personal choice to never take a break at work, but the truth is that everyone around her is affected by that choice as well.

Regardless of the day, may we choose to regularly rest to honor God and bless those around us! (Deuteronomy 5:14).

God Will Cloth You In Righteousness

Revelation 19:13

He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

Revelation 7:14

I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Galatians 3:27

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

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Clothed by God

From: Our Daily Bread

Clothed by God

See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you. Zechariah 3:4

When my kids were toddlers, they would play outside in our sodden English garden and quickly become covered in mud and dirt. For their good and the good of my floor, I’d remove their clothes at the door and wrap them in towels before sticking them in the bath. They’d soon move from dirty to clean with the addition of soap, water, and hugs.

In a vision given to Zechariah, we see Joshua, a high priest, covered in rags that represent sin and wrongdoing (Zech. 3:3). But the Lord makes him clean, removing his filthy clothes and covering him in rich garments (3:5). The new turban and robe signify that the Lord has taken his sins from him.

We too can receive God’s cleansing as we become free of our wrongdoing through the saving work of Jesus. As a result of His death on the cross, we can have the mud and sins that cling to us washed away as we receive the robes of God’s sons and daughters. No longer are we defined by what we’ve done wrong (whether lying, gossiping, stealing, coveting, or other), but we can claim the names God gives to those He loves—restored, renewed, cleansed, free.

Ask God to remove any filthy rags you’re wearing so you too can put on the wardrobe He has reserved for you.

Lord Jesus, through Your saving death on the cross we can find acceptance and love. May we receive this gift for Your glory.

 

 

Running the Race

From: Our Daily Journey

Running the Race

Read:

2 Peter 3:1-18
While you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight (2 Peter 3:14).

In 2005 Dean Karnazes ran 350 miles in eighty hours—setting the world record for distance running without sleep. Ten years later, Rob Young, nicknamed the “Marathon Man,” broke the record by covering nearly 374 miles in eighty-eight hours. Young, who had endured abuse by his father as a child, said he ran with two goals in mind: to test the limits of human endurance and to help the world become a better place for kids.

The apostle Peter encourages us to continue running the race for Jesus—making “every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in [God’s] sight,” and to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:14,18). As we press on, we’re reminded that although the race in Christ can sometimes seem to be long and taxing, God “isn’t really being slow about his promise”—He’s simply patiently allowing us to keep following His pace, for “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9).

Rob Young runs to raise funds to help kids find a better life. As believers in Jesus, we also run life’s race to serve others: working toward helping them experience God’s life and joy—now and eternally. We run against winds blowing contrary to God’s truth—including distortions of God’s intent for healthy sexuality, selfish desires, and a tendency to resist His reality (2 Peter 2:10; 3:3). However, we can live pure, blameless, grace-filled lives by sharing Christ’s spirit through His Spirit as we look forward to our future with Jesus (2 Peter 3:12). He provides the wisdom, power, and strength we need to stay in the race as we grow in Christlikeness. “All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).

 

Living Simply— Yet Focused

From: Utmost.org

Living Simply— Yet Focused

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin”— they simply are! Think of the sea, the air, the sun, the stars, and the moon— all of these simply are as well— yet what a ministry and service they render on our behalf! So often we impair God’s designed influence, which He desires to exhibit through us, because of our own conscious efforts to be consistent and useful. Jesus said there is only one way to develop and grow spiritually, and that is through focusing and concentrating on God. In essence, Jesus was saying, “Do not worry about being of use to others; simply believe on Me.” In other words, pay attention to the Source, and out of you “will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). We cannot discover the source of our natural life through common sense and reasoning, and Jesus is teaching here that growth in our spiritual life comes not from focusing directly on it, but from concentrating on our Father in heaven. Our heavenly Father knows our circumstances, and if we will stay focused on Him, instead of our circumstances, we will grow spiritually— just as “the lilies of the field.”

The people who influence us the most are not those who detain us with their continual talk, but those who live their lives like the stars in the sky and “the lilies of the field”— simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mold and shape us.

If you want to be of use to God, maintain the proper relationship with Jesus Christ by staying focused on Him, and He will make use of you every minute you live— yet you will be unaware, on the conscious level of your life, that you are being used of Him.