Tag Archives: marriage

God Knows

The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 
Exodus 3:7
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God Knows

From: Our Daily Bread

God Knows
Read: Matthew 6:1–4 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 27–29; 1 Peter 3

Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:4

When Denise met a hurting young woman in her church, her heart went out to her and she decided to see if she could help. Every week she spent time counseling her and praying with her. Denise became her mentor. However, some church leaders didn’t notice Denise’s efforts and decided to assign a church staff member to mentor the woman. No one, they commented, seemed to be taking care of her.

While she was not expecting any credit, Denise couldn’t help but feel a little discouraged. “It’s as if I wasn’t doing anything at all,” she told me.

One day, however, the young woman told Denise how grateful she was for her comfort. Denise felt encouraged. It was as if God was telling her, “I know you’re there for her.” Denise still meets with the woman regularly.

Sometimes, we feel unappreciated when our efforts don’t get recognized. Scripture, however, reminds us that God knows what we’re doing. He sees what others don’t. And it pleases Him when we serve for His sake—not for man’s praise.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus gave us an example by telling us to do our giving “in secret,” so that “your Father, who sees what is done . . . will reward you” (Matt. 6:4). We need not look to others for recognition and praise; we can take heart that God knows when we’re faithful in serving Him and others.

Lord, forgive me for the times when I crave others’ recognition and praise. Help me to serve for Your glory alone.

God sees everything we do for Him.

 

Gentleness and Respect

CBN, and Ken Barnes, author

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But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15 NIV

We must always be ready to defend the Gospel of Christ, but that does not give us the right to be harsh or disrespectful to people with different beliefs than ours.

“He is another one of those Moonies,” I said to myself with disdain. An Asian looking man had approached me in a parking lot and started to tell me what he believed. His literature indicated he was a follower of Sun Myung Moon, who founded the Unification Church, and whose beliefs were not consistent with orthodox Christian doctrine. Most Christians consider this group cultist. I impatiently waited for him to finish his spiel and then I let him have it. I told him in no uncertain terms that he was a part of a cult and I used scriptural proofs to validate my case.

I walked away thinking, “I guess I told him.” I was pretty sure I had defended the Gospel, but for some reason, I had a sense of unrest in my spirit. I pondered why I felt this way and it became apparent that I had not even come close to showing this man gentleness and respect.

I knew what I had to do. I searched the parking lot for this man. As I approached him, he must have been thinking, “Not this guy again.” I simply told him that I had talked to him in a way that Jesus would never have spoken. I asked him to forgive me for my attitude.

In our first encounter, it is interesting that all my theological arguments were like water off of a duck’s back. They are trained to counter these kinds of responses. But in our second interaction, he was visibly shaken. He had no comeback to a little bit of humility.

We should share the truth with people, but our theological truths need to be validated by the love and respect we show them. In my first little diatribe, it was all about me exposing my thoughts and beliefs. In the latter, I brought Jesus into the conversation which always speaks of the worth and value of the individual. I think, just maybe, this man saw past my words and saw my heart.

I learned two things that day. First, God can use our flaws for his good if we are willing to own up to them. Second, Christianity is more readily caught than taught. Yes, we need a proclamation of the good news, but without a corresponding demonstration of it, it becomes mere words.

As the poet, Emerson once said, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” Are we intent on just winning an argument or showing a little gentleness and respect when discussing the claims of the Gospel?

 

The Focal Point of Spiritual Power

By Oswald Chambers

 The Focal Point of Spiritual Power

If you want to know the power of God (that is, the resurrection life of Jesus) in your human flesh, you must dwell on the tragedy of God. Break away from your personal concern over your own spiritual condition, and with a completely open spirit consider the tragedy of God. Instantly the power of God will be in you. “Look to Me…” (Isaiah 45:22). Pay attention to the external Source and the internal power will be there. We lose power because we don’t focus on the right thing. The effect of the Cross is salvation, sanctification, healing, etc., but we are not to preach any of these. We are to preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). The proclaiming of Jesus will do its own work. Concentrate on God’s focal point in your preaching, and even if your listeners seem to pay it no attention, they will never be the same again. If I share my own words, they are of no more importance than your words are to me. But if we share the truth of God with one another, we will encounter it again and again. We have to focus on the great point of spiritual power— the Cross. If we stay in contact with that center of power, its energy is released in our lives. In holiness movements and spiritual experience meetings, the focus tends to be put not on the Cross of Christ but on the effects of the Cross.

The feebleness of the church is being criticized today, and the criticism is justified. One reason for the feebleness is that there has not been this focus on the true center of spiritual power. We have not dwelt enough on the tragedy of Calvary or on the meaning of redemption.

 

Focus On Grace

John 21:15-17
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time (John 21:17).
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Focus on Grace

Focus on Grace

Read:

John 21:15-17
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time (John 21:17).

A friend once asked me, “You’re never going to stop kicking yourself for that, are you?” He was referencing a relational fallout with a mutual friend that was largely my fault.

My gut instinct was to say, “Probably not!” That reaction is part of a lifelong coping mechanism called “sabotaging” that I sometimes use to “protect” myself. But it neverhelps! It only ends up hurting others and destroying what I most want and need.

So I looked my friend squarely in the eye and said, “I sure hope so!” It was a kinder, more hopeful response that signaled the presence of grace and a desire for a restored relationship with my estranged friend.

Peter knew what it was like to “kick himself” over hurting someone. Luke’s gospel account says that Peter ran off “weeping bitterly” after realizing he had denied knowing Jesus three times the night of His arrest (Luke 22:62).

Later, as the two met in a setting similar to the one where Jesus originally called Peter to follow Him (Luke 5:1-11), Jesus knew they had some unfinished business to address. Three times Christ asked him, “Do you love me?”—taking Peter back to those three shameful moments when he let Jesus down (John 21:15-17). He didn’t do this to rub Peter’s nose in his festering shame, but to bring healing by redirecting Peter’s focus to His love and grace.

Jesus sought to turn Peter’s attention away from the disgrace that consumed him and toward Him and His ways. It’s as if He said, “Peter, nothing you do can make Me love you less or more. Now pursue your calling in Me.”

Can’t stop kicking yourself over having hurt someone? Instead of shame, allow the deeper truth of Jesus’ love and grace to drive you to do the right and loving thing.

 

The Secret of Spiritual Consistency

By Oswald Chambers

 The Secret of Spiritual Consistency

When a person is newly born again, he seems inconsistent due to his unrelated emotions and the state of the external things or circumstances in his life. The apostle Paul had a strong and steady underlying consistency in his life. Consequently, he could let his external life change without internal distress because he was rooted and grounded in God. Most of us are not consistent spiritually because we are more concerned about being consistent externally. In the external expression of things, Paul lived in the basement, while his critics lived on the upper level. And these two levels do not begin to touch each other. But Paul’s consistency was down deep in the fundamentals. The great basis of his consistency was the agony of God in the redemption of the world, namely, the Cross of Christ.

State your beliefs to yourself again. Get back to the foundation of the Cross of Christ, doing away with any belief not based on it. In secular history the Cross is an infinitesimally small thing, but from the biblical perspective it is of more importance than all the empires of the world. If we get away from dwelling on the tragedy of God on the Cross in our preaching, our preaching produces nothing. It will not transmit the energy of God to man; it may be interesting, but it will have no power. However, when we preach the Cross, the energy of God is released. “…it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.…we preach Christ crucified…” (1 Corinthians 1:21, 23).

 

What You Should Have Done

From: Streams in the Desert

Take the arrows… Smite upon the ground. And he smote twice and stayed. And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou should  have smitten five or six times (2 Kings 13:18-19).

How striking and eloquent the message of these words! Jehoash thought he had done very well when he duplicated and triplicated what to him was certainly an extraordinary act of faith. But the Lord and the prophet were bitterly disappointed because he had stopped half way.

He got something. He got much. He got exactly what he believed for in the final test, but he did not get all that the prophet meant and the Lord wanted to bestow. He missed much of the meaning of the promise and the fullness of the blessing. He got something better than the human, but he did not get God’s best.

Beloved, how solemn is the application! How heartsearching the message of God to us! How important that we should learn to pray through! Shall we claim all the fullness of the promise and all the possibilities of believing prayer?
A. B. Simpson

“Unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

There is no other such piling up of words in Paul’s writings as these, “exceeding abundantly above all,” and each word is packed with infinite love and power to “do” for His praying saints. There is one limitation, “according to the power that worketh in us.” He will do just as much for us as we let Him do in us. The power that saved us, washed us with His own blood, filled us with might by His Spirit, kept us in manifold temptations, will work for us, meeting every emergency, every crisis, every circumstance, and every adversary.
The Alliance

The Heart’s True Home

John 15:9-17 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 
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The Heart’s True Home

From: Our Daily Bread

The Heart’s True Home

[God] has . . . set eternity in the human heart. Ecclesiastes 3:11

We had a West Highland Terrier for a number of years. “Westies” are tough little dogs, bred to tunnel into badger holes and engage the “enemy” in its lair. Our Westie was many generations removed from her origins, but she still retained that instinct, put into her through years of breeding. On one occasion she became obsessed by some “critter” under a rock in our backyard. Nothing could dissuade her. She dug and dug until she tunneled several feet under the rock.

Now consider this question: Why do we as humans pursue, pursue, pursue? Why must we climb unclimbed mountains, ski near-vertical slopes? Run the most difficult and dangerous rapids, challenge the forces of nature? Part of it is a desire for adventure and enjoyment, but it’s much more. It’s an instinct for God that has been implanted in us. We cannot not want to find God.

We don’t know that, of course. We only know that we long for something. “You don’t know what it is you want,” Mark Twain said, “but you want it so much you could almost die.”

God is our heart’s true home. As church father Augustine said in that most famous quotation: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

And what is the heart? A deep void within us that only God can fill.

Help me, Lord, to recognize my deep longing for You. Then fill me with the knowledge of You. Draw me near.

Beneath all our longings is a deep desire for God.

 

The Red Notebook

From: Our Daily Journey

The Red Notebook

Read:

Malachi 3:6-18
A scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name (Malachi 3:16).

Since my children have been able to speak, I’ve recorded things they’ve said in a red notebook which now features a bent cover and curled page corners. A few times each year we read through the entries and reminisce about the (mostly) funny and (occasionally) insightful things the kids said as toddlers and young children. Some of the entries mark moments I still recall, but others would be lost forever if it weren’t for the “red notebook.”

The Old Testament prophet Malachi spoke about a book (or scroll) of remembrance. It contained the names of a group of people within the Jewish nation. God considered those people to be a special treasure because they “feared him and always thought about the honor of his name” (Malachi 3:16). They remained faithful when others decided it was useless to serve and obey Him.

The ones who abandoned God asked, “What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show [the Lord] that we are sorry for our sins? . . . For those who do evil get rich” (Malachi 3:14-15). This sense of disillusionment is familiar to many of us. Consistently serving God is often discouraging and it rarely leads to what we might desire. It can be frustrating when we face challenges though we’re striving to do what’s right.

How can we, like the people God treasured in Malachi’s day, honor Him? By submitting to His wisdom and guiding power. We can trust that, “[God] will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him” (Hebrews 6:10). If we truly know Him through His Son Jesus, our future with Him is secure. This means He will remember us in the life to come where we’ll enjoy His presence forever (Revelation 21:27).

 

Direction of Focus

Direction of Focus

By Oswald Chambers

This verse is a description of total reliance on God. Just as the eyes of a servant are riveted on his master, our eyes should be directed to and focused on God. This is how knowledge of His countenance is gained and how God reveals Himself to us (see Isaiah 53:1). Our spiritual strength begins to be drained when we stop lifting our eyes to Him. Our stamina is sapped, not so much through external troubles surrounding us but through problems in our thinking. We wrongfully think, “I suppose I’ve been stretching myself a little too much, standing too tall and trying to look like God instead of being an ordinary humble person.” We have to realize that no effort can be too high.

For example, you came to a crisis in your life, took a stand for God, and even had the witness of the Spirit as a confirmation that what you did was right. But now, maybe weeks or years have gone by, and you are slowly coming to the conclusion— “Well, maybe what I did showed too much pride or was superficial. Was I taking a stand a bit too high for me?” Your “rational” friends come and say, “Don’t be silly. We knew when you first talked about this spiritual awakening that it was a passing impulse, that you couldn’t hold up under the strain. And anyway, God doesn’t expect you to endure.” You respond by saying, “Well, I suppose I was expecting too much.” That sounds humble to say, but it means that your reliance on God is gone, and you are now relying on worldly opinion. The danger comes when, no longer relying on God, you neglect to focus your eyes on Him. Only when God brings you to a sudden stop will you realize that you have been the loser. Whenever there is a spiritual drain in your life, correct it immediately. Realize that something has been coming between you and God, and change or remove it at once.

Happy Thanksgiving

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2
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Harvest and Thanksgiving

From: Our Daily Bread

Harvest and Thanksgiving
Read: Genesis 8:15–9:3 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 20–21; James 5

Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Exodus 23:16

Several thousand years ago, God spoke directly to Moses and instituted a new festival for His people. In Exodus 23:16, according to Moses’s record, God said, “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.”

Today countries around the world do something similar by celebrating the land’s bounty. In Ghana, the people celebrate the Yam Festival as a harvest event. In Brazil, Dia de Acao de Gracas is a time to be grateful for the crops that yielded their food. In China, there is the Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival. In the United States and Canada: Thanksgiving.

To understand the fitting goal of a harvest celebration, we visit Noah right after the flood. God reminded Noah and his family—and us—of His provision for our flourishing existence on the earth. Earth would have seasons, daylight and darkness and “seedtime and harvest” (Gen. 8:22). Our gratitude for the harvest, which sustains us, goes to God alone.

No matter where you live or how you celebrate your land’s bounty, take time today to express gratitude to God—for we would have no harvest to celebrate without His grand creative design.

Dear Creator God, thank You so much for the wondrous way You fashioned this world—with seasons, with harvest-time, with everything we need to exist. Please accept our gratitude.

Gratitude is the memory of a glad heart.

 

What Never Changes

From: Our Daily Journey

What Never Changes

Read:

Hebrews 13:8-16
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas (Hebrews 13:8-9).

Quartz timing is a term we often hear mentioned in reference to watches and clocks. But most of us don’t have the faintest idea of what it means. In a quartz watch, the battery sends an electric signal through a tiny piece of quartz which vibrates at a very precise frequency, exactly 32,768 times per second. The watch uses that fixed vibration rate to keep time. Because the vibration rate is always the same and never changes, quartz timepieces are highly dependable—much more accurate time-keepers than many other types of clocks.

Far more reliable than the constant vibration rate of a piece of quartz, the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Although this truth on its own is an important aspect of the character of Christ, Jesus’ perfect, timeless nature would have been especially important to the early church, which was deeply divided by different approaches to eating certain foods. The writer of Hebrews told believers in Jesus that they shouldn’t obsess over new rules about food that wouldn’t help anyone (Hebrews 13:9). It was far better for them to focus on the unchanging and gracious character of Christ instead.

Today, social media is often filled with all the latest fads: the best way to train your mind, the most effective way to organize your closet, and the diet that cavemen ate! While interesting to consider, we usually need not place much attention on those things, because they haven’t stood the test of time. But we can always build our lives around the gracious character of Jesus—the One who never changes and against whom the storms of life can’t prevail (Matthew 7:24).

Intimacy That Satisfies

From: Joe Stowell

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2

In my opinion, intimacy is a really attractive word. Deep down inside, all of us long for meaningful connections that satisfy our souls and chase away the shadows of aloneness. But if we’re not careful, we may be looking for true intimacy in all the wrong places. Thoughts of intimacy often conjure up mental pictures of close encounters of the physical kind or the shallow, shabby offers of alluring lingerie, one-night stands, colognes, video titles, evenings of candlelight and red wine, or voyeuristic exchanges on the Internet. More innocently, your thoughts of intimacy may be about just finding a good friend that can be a soul mate. But even deep friendships can be sometimes fleeting and fickle.

It’s easy to be lured into counterfeit offers of intimacy only to find that they are not what our soul really craves. In fact, every time we dip into these buckets, we eventually come up empty, disappointed, and frequently left with shame and regret. Accept no substitutes! Don’t stop looking until you have found the soul mate that will truly satisfy.

You ask, “Who would that be?” Search no more, the offer of fulfilling intimacy is found in a deepening relationship with God Himself. After all, you were built for intimacy with Him. That’s what Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden until sin blocked access to God. But thankfully, God didn’t give up on His desire for intimacy with you. He stepped in and removed the barrier through the death of His Son so that intimacy with Him could be restored! And now He welcomes you to Himself by saying, “Come near to [me] and [I] will draw near to you” (James 4:8) and “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20). He’s wanting and waiting to come in and dine with you!

God is the only One perfectly suited to satisfy and sustain us. The joy of true intimacy is ours as we grow more deeply conscious of, connected to, and confident in God—and Him alone—as our unfailing resource in life.

As in any relationship, intimacy with God has some dynamics that make it grow. We don’t experience His nearness by just telling Him that we love Him, as important as that is. Intimacy is cultivated by drawing near to Him in obedience; by loving what He loves and hating what He hates; by sharing our deepest desires and struggles with Him in prayer; and by expressing our love to Him by acts of loyalty, sacrifice, and service to others. These attitudes and actions all say to God, “I love you!” in clear and compelling ways. Hebrews assures us that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Indeed, intimacy with God will reward your spirit with peace, confidence, a sense of direction and purpose, and the blessing of knowing that you are loved, really loved, by the one who promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you!

Intimacy with God can’t be bought at the corner newsstand. Nor can it be purchased at the mall, found on an exotic vacation, or acquired in developing the most impressive of social calendars. When it comes to the joy of intimacy, these things are the small talk of life compared to the deep satisfaction that comes from the privilege of knowing that “in a love that cannot cease, I am His and He is mine!”

Make A Joyful Noise

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music. Psalm 98:4
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Make a Joyful Noise

From: Our Daily Bread

Make a Joyful Noise
Read: Psalm 98 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 18–19; James 4
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music. Psalm 98:4

 

Back when I was searching for a church to attend regularly, a friend invited me to a service at her church. The worship leaders led the congregation in a song I particularly loved. So I sang with gusto, remembering my college choir director’s advice to “Project!”

After the song, my friend’s husband turned to me and said, “You really sang loud.” This remark was not intended as a compliment! After that, I self-consciously monitored my singing, making sure I sang softer than those around me and always wondering if the people around me judged my singing.

But one Sunday, I noticed the singing of a woman in the pew beside me. She seemed to sing with adoration, without a trace of self-consciousness. Her worship reminded me of the enthusiastic, spontaneous worship that David demonstrated in his life. In Psalm 98, in fact, David suggests that “all the earth” should “burst into jubilant song” in worship (v. 4).

Verse one of Psalm 98 tells us why we should worship joyfully, reminding us that “[God] has done marvelous things.” Throughout the psalm, David recounts these marvelous things: God’s faithfulness and justice to all nations, His mercy, and salvation. Dwelling on who God is and what He’s done can fill our hearts with praise.

What “marvelous things” has God done in your life? Thanksgiving is the perfect time to recall His wondrous works and give God thanks. Lift your voice and sing!

Lord, thank You for who You are and for what You’ve done.

Worship takes the focus off us and places it where it belongs—on God.

No Masks

From: Our Daily Journey

No Masks

Read:

Psalm 51:1-19
You desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there (Psalm 51:6).

Many years ago, my pastor was talking with a church youth group about “masks.” He asked the students to state what God would see under their masks, should they choose to remove them. What was under their façades? Most gave superficial answers, but one, a senior in high school, had a much more profound response. She had experienced a painful life that included a suicide attempt and had found trouble nearly everywhere she went. Quietly she said, “I think God would see brokenness, but he would also see beauty.”

In Psalm 51:6, David reminds us that God treasures honesty. He prayerfully sings, “But you desire honesty from the womb.” We can never be truly honest with others until we’re honest with God and ourselves first. Yet honesty can be brutal because it means admitting where we’ve failed and the places of brokenness in our lives.

But honesty also requires naming what is good, true, and beautiful about God, the world, and even ourselves. As Paul wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).

In Psalm 51:17, David went on to declare, “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” The young lady mentioned by my pastor eventually began to heal. Her healing began as she peeked out from under her crumbling mask and spoke the honest truth. Likewise, we can all be confident in removing our masks and telling the truth to God (and trusted others) because He will not reject our broken and repentant spirits (Psalm 51:17).

Dealing with Conflict and Quarrels

From: CBN, and J. Stephen Lang, author

Where there are two human beings, there is the potential for fighting. Part of the human condition is that people do quarrel. And some of the bitterest fights are between people who are closest — husband and wife, parent and child, siblings, longtime friends, … even fellow Christians.

The Bible has a lot to say about the sources of conflicts and how to squelch them.

Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12

Pride leads to arguments; those who take advice are wise. Proverbs 13:10

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1

Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; anyone who speaks boastfully invites disaster. Proverbs 17:19

Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling. Proverbs 20:3

A hot-tempered person starts fights and gets into all kinds of sin. Proverbs 29:22

He will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds. Romans 2:8

You are still controlled by your own sinful desires. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your own desires? You are acting like people who don’t belong to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 3:3

Seeing What’s Invisible

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).
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Seeing What’s Invisible

From: Our Daily Journey

Seeing What’s Invisible

Read:

Colossians 1:11-20
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).

From the time I first encountered Magic Eye stereograms (posters that show one obvious picture, but supposedly reveal more if you stare at them long enough), they’ve only frustrated me. I sat in front of one for what seemed like hours while everyone coached me, telling me to look through the image, then past the image, and then telling me to cross my eyes and look harder. No matter what I tried, I simply couldn’t see what, I’m told, was right there in front of me.

It’s possible to be similarly baffled in our attempts to understand God. Our finite human sight, our way of seeing and hearing and understanding, is simply ill-equipped for grasping and comprehending Him. He’s the transcendent Creator who is above us, beyond us, and outside our grasp. In fact, God once proclaimed to His people Israel that they couldn’t see His face. “No one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). In the same way, the book of Hebrews refers to God as the “one who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).

And yet the apostle Paul tells us, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Jesus is how we see this One whom we can’t see. Isn’t that a mind-bender? Jesus shows us, in human flesh, the reality of God. So if we want to know what God is like, we look to Jesus. We listen to His words. We ponder Jesus’ actions. We take note of when Jesus grew angry or sad. We listen to His questions.

In Christ, we understand God as the One who “created everything,” the One who “existed before anything else,” and the one who “holds all creation together” (Colossians 1:16-17). When we encounter Jesus, we encounter God. Though much about God and faith are inscrutable, we are not left to grasp in the dark. We see Jesus.

 

From: Streams In The Desert

“Roll on Jehovah thy way” (Ps. 37:6, margin).

Whatever it is that presses thee, go tell the Father; put the whole matter over into His hand, and so shalt thou be freed from that dividing, perplexing care that the world is full of. When thou art either to do or suffer anything, when thou art about any purpose or business, go tell God of it, and acquaint Him with it; yes, burden Him with it, and thou hast done for matter of caring; no more care, but quiet, sweet, diligence in thy duty, and dependence on Him for the carriage of thy matters. Roll thy cares, and thyself with them, as one burden, all on thy God.
R. Leighton

Build a little fence of trust
Around today;
Fill the space with loving work
And therein stay.

Look not through the sheltering bars
Upon tomorrow;
God will help thee bear what comes
Of joy or sorrow.
Mary Butts

We shall find it impossible to commit our way unto the Lord, unless it be a way that He approves. It is only by faith that a man can commit his way unto the Lord; if there be the slightest doubt in the heart that “our way” is not a good one, faith will refuse to have anything to do with it. This committing of our way must be a continuous, not a single act. However extraordinary and unexpected may seem to be His guidance, however near the precipice He may take you, you are not to snatch the guiding reins out of His hands.

Are we willing to have all our ways submitted to God, for Him to pronounce judgment on them? There is nothing a Christian needs to be more scrutinizing about than about his confirmed habits and views. He is too apt to take for granted the Divine approbation of them. Why are some Christiansso anxious, so fearful? Evidently because they have not left their way with the Lord. They took it to Him, but brought it away with them again.
Selected

 

Lynn Cowell November 21, 2017
When I Doubt My Confidence
LYNN COWELL

 From: Crosswalk.com

“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3 (ESV)

Why did this memory come back now after so many years?

All was quiet in the early hours of the morning as I spent time reading my Bible and praying when an unwanted memory popped in my mind.

Painful and hurt-filled, this memory from years ago involved me unknowingly letting someone down. She felt I’d failed her and that my failure proved I was unqualified. She let others know what she thought.

I was well past that blow, wasn’t I?

As I reflected for a few moments, the Holy Spirit helped me understand. I had recently made a new move with the Lord, saying yes to a challenging assignment. Once I saw my returned memory in that light, it made sense. Of course, the enemy would try to bring my confidence into doubt and remind me what he tried to drill into me years before: You don’t have what it takes.

It’s not the first time Satan has used this tactic.

We see him do the same to Mary (Martha and Lazarus’ sister) as she anointed Jesus’s feet in today’s verse in John 12:3.

“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

Mary knew her culture’s rules, just as you and I know ours. She was very aware her place was not at the feet of Jesus; women were not allowed to learn directly from a teacher. Yet, it didn’t matter to her what others thought.

Mary’s heart and eyes were on one person: Jesus. As Mary made her move toward Jesus, the enemy made his.

Through Judas, Satan tried to push Mary and all who were witnessing her love to look anywhere but on the King of Glory. He pushed her to become self-conscious, to draw attention to herself through her reaction.

He pushed others to doubt Mary’s sincerity and look to judge her. He pushed the entire room to validate Judas and look to exalt her accuser. Anywhere but looking upon Jesus.

The enemy hates God’s glory, this radiance, this confidence, which is the Holy Spirit Himself in us. This is why the enemy tries to crush our confidence, and one of his main tactics is diversion — getting our eyes off Jesus.

We have to be aware that where God moves, the enemy moves.

As long as we’re on this earth and “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8b, NIV), there will be opportunities for our confidence to be attacked and for us to turn to God for His help.

The day my failure came to mind, the enemy might have thought he was being oh-so-sneaky. He knows we reflect the beauty, goodness and love of his enemy, Jesus. He will do all he can to push down this glory, and he will use any tactic, including our past failures and fears.

When you make your move toward Jesus, like Mary, that means the enemy intends to move as well. Even while you are in the very act of advancing and growing in your faith, the enemy will try to stop you. When he presses, pushing us to abandon God’s gift of confidence to us, we must push harder toward Jesus and remind the enemy he is not qualified to do that.

Dear Jesus, when the enemy uses his tactics to try to get me to take my eyes off You, help me to not abandon the confidence I have gained in You. Instead, help me remember who You have proven Yourself to be and who You are in me. You are my confidence. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

The Forgiveness Of God

 In Him we have…the forgiveness of sins… —Ephesians 1:7

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The Forgiveness of God

By Oswald Chambers

The Forgiveness of God

Beware of the pleasant view of the fatherhood of God: God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. That thought, based solely on emotion, cannot be found anywhere in the New Testament. The only basis on which God can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ. To base our forgiveness on any other ground is unconscious blasphemy. The only ground on which God can forgive our sin and reinstate us to His favor is through the Cross of Christ. There is no other way! Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony at Calvary. We should never take the forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and our sanctification in simple faith, and then forget the enormous cost to God that made all of this ours.

Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace. The cost to God was the Cross of Christ. To forgive sin, while remaining a holy God, this price had to be paid. Never accept a view of the fatherhood of God if it blots out the atonement. The revealed truth of God is that without the atonement He cannot forgive— He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God through the atonement of the Cross. God’s forgiveness is possible only in the supernatural realm.

Compared with the miracle of the forgiveness of sin, the experience of sanctification is small. Sanctification is simply the wonderful expression or evidence of the forgiveness of sins in a human life. But the thing that awakens the deepest fountain of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven his sin. Paul never got away from this. Once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vise, constrained by the love of God.

Take a Number

From: Our Daily Bread

Take a Number
Read: John 14:15–27 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 14–15; James 2

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. John 14:27

We have an ancient cherry tree in our backyard that had seen better days and looked like it was dying, so I called in an arborist. He checked it out and declared that it was “unduly stressed” and needed immediate attention. “Take a number,” my wife, Carolyn, muttered to the tree as she walked away. It had been one of those weeks.

Indeed, we all have anxious weeks—filled with worries over the direction our culture is drifting or concerns for our children, our marriages, our businesses, our finances, our personal health and well-being. Nevertheless, Jesus has assured us that despite disturbing circumstances we can be at peace. He said, “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27).

Jesus’s days were filled with distress and disorder: He was beleaguered by His enemies and misunderstood by His family and friends. He often had no place to lay His head. Yet there was no trace of anxiety or fretfulness in His manner. He possessed an inner calm, a quiet tranquility. This is the peace He has given us—freedom from anxiety concerning the past, present, and future. The peace He exhibited; His peace.

In any circumstances, no matter how dire or trivial, we can turn to Jesus in prayer. There in His presence we can make our worries and fears known to Him. Then, Paul assures us, the peace of God will come to “guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). Even if we’ve had “one of those weeks,” we can have Hispeace.

Dear Lord, thank You that I can come to You with every care and Your peace will guard my mind.

In the midst of troubles, peace can be found in Jesus.

 

Pass Over Nian

From: Our Daily Journey

Pass Over Nian

Read:

Exodus 12:1-13 
The blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you (Exodus 12:13).

The myth of the Chinese New Year festival tells of a demon, Nian, who lived in the mountains. On the first day of the year, Nian would come into the village, steal the children, and eat livestock and grain. One day, an old man visited the village and gave the horrified people a solution. They were to hang red signs on their doors and make loud music—things the demon didn’t like. The Chinese word for New Year Guo Nian(过年) literally means “pass over Nian” or “overcome Nian.”

This myth reminds me of the Passover celebration that commemorates the Israelites’ freedom from slavery in Egypt. After the Israelites had been enslaved for four centuries, God chose a leader named Moses to free them. God brought ten devastating plagues as judgment over the Egyptians. The last plague was the killing of their firstborn sons (Exodus 12:12). To protect the Israelites from experiencing this fate, God provided a solution: The people were to sacrifice an animal, “a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects” (Exodus 12:5). Then they had to take its blood and smear it on the sides and doorframes of their homes. God promised that the blood would be a sign of their allegiance. He would not judge them, but “pass over” them and they would be saved (Exodus 12:13).

Just as God delivered the Israelites, He later provided the ultimate sacrifice to save all humanity from slavery to sin. It’s even possible that Jesus died at the same time the lambs were being sacrificed in the temple in preparation for Passover (John 19:14). As Paul said, “Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Praise God for sending a Deliverer so we could be set free from sin and death!

 

 

God’s Creation A Masterpiece

 You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

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Seeing Masterpieces

From: Our Daily Bread

Seeing Masterpieces
Read: Psalm 139:11–18 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 11–13; James 1

You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

My father creates custom quivers designed for archers to carry their arrows. He carves elaborate wildlife pictures into pieces of genuine leather, before stitching the material together.

During a visit, I watched him construct one of his works of art. His careful hands applied just the right pressure as he pressed a sharp blade into the supple leather, creating various textures. Then he dipped a rag into crimson dye and covered the leather with even strokes, magnifying the beauty of his creation.

As I admired my dad’s confident craftsmanship, I realized how often I fail to acknowledge and appreciate my heavenly Father’s creativity manifested in others and even in myself. Reflecting on the Lord’s magnificent workmanship, I recalled King David’s affirmation that God creates our “inmost being” and that we’re “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13–14).

We can praise our Creator in confidence because we know His “works are wonderful” (v. 14). And we can be encouraged to respect ourselves and others more, especially when we remember that the Maker of the Universe knew us inside and out and planned our days “before one of them came to be” (vv. 15–16).

Like the pliable leather carved by my father’s skilled hands, we are each beautiful and valuable simply because we are God’s one-of-a-kind creations. Each one of us, intentionally designed to be unique and purposed as God’s beloved masterpieces, contributes to reflect God’s magnificence.

Lord, thank You for creating us in Your perfect love. Please help us to see ourselves, and others, as Your unique masterpieces.

God masterfully creates each person with uniqueness and purpose.

 

Something in a Song

Something in a Song

Read:

Psalm 42:1-11
Each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs (Psalm 42:8).

For years, Denise referred warmly to her sibling Carolyn as “my little sister.” Carolyn faced significant cognitive challenges, but she loved life and brought joy to everyone who knew her. She loved Jesus too!

When their mother died, Denise gladly took care of Carolyn. But when Carolyn died, Denise struggled tremendously—especially since the death was due to hospital error. For months, she questioned God. Silence.

Then one day, God answered. It was Sunday morning, and a church soloist stood to sing Carolyn’s favorite song: “The Old Rugged Cross.”

“That was it!” says Denise. “I was at peace, because I knew that Carolyn was at peace.”

A song can be so powerful! Music unites our whole being—mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. The right rhythms and chord progressions can touch the places we don’t often go. Lyrics paired well with harmonies give voice to what we always knew was there but couldn’t articulate. Music laments. Music celebrates. Music heals. No doubt that’s why songs appear throughout the Bible. Music is simultaneously human and a gift from God.

We don’t know who wrote Psalm 42, but we can identify with the poet’s lyrics. “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God,” he declares (Psalm 42:1). When he confesses, “I have only tears for food” (Psalm 42:3), we understand. We relate when he writes, “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be” (Psalm 42:4).

But then, he recognizes where he must turn. “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again” (Psalm 42:5-6).

Wherever you are today, and whatever you long for, may the God of song give voice to your lament as well as to your praise!

 

“When He Has Come”

By Oswald Chambers

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Don’t Hide From God

 In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3

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 Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek
Read: Ezekiel 8 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 8–10; Hebrews 13
 
 

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3

“You can’t see me!”

When small children play “hide and seek,” they sometimes believe they’re hiding just by covering their eyes. If they can’t see you, they assume you can’t see them.

Naïve as that may seem to adults, we sometimes do something similar with God. When we find ourselves desiring to do something we know is wrong, our tendency may be to shut God out as we willfully go our own way.

The prophet Ezekiel discovered this truth in the vision God gave him for his people, exiled in Babylon. The Lord told him, “Have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The Lord does not see us’” (Ezek. 8:12).

But God misses nothing, and Ezekiel’s vision was proof of it. Yet even though they had sinned, God offered His repentant people hope through a new promise: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” (36:26).

For us, God met the brokenness and rebellion of sin with His tender mercy at the cross, paying the ultimate penalty for it. Through Jesus Christ, God not only offers us a new beginning, but He also works within us to change our hearts as we follow Him. How good is God! When we were lost and hiding in our sinfulness, God drew near through Jesus, who “came to seek and to save” us (Luke 19:10; Rom. 5:8).

Thank You for Your kindness to me, Lord. Help me to seek You and follow You faithfully today.

God knows us completely . . . and loves us just as much.

 

Defending Jesus Christ By Paul

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(Picture of Paul Defending Jesus)

Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me. (Luke 7:23)

It is sometimes very difficult not to be offended in Jesus Christ. The offenses may be circumstantial. I find myself in a prison-house—a narrow sphere, a sick chamber, an unpopular position—when I had hoped for wide opportunities. Yes, but He knows what is best for me. My environment is of His determining. He means it to intensify my faith, to draw me into nearer communion with Himself, to ripen my power. In the dungeon my soul should prosper.

The offense may be mental. I am haunted by perplexities, questions, which I cannot solve. I had hoped that, when I gave myself to Him, my sky would always be clear; but often it is overspread by mist and cloud. Yet let me believe that, if difficulties remain, it is that I may learn to trust Him all the more implicitly—to trust and not be afraid. Yes, and by my intellectual conflicts, I am trained to be a tutor to other storm-driven men.

The offense may be spiritual. I had fancied that within His fold I should never feel the biting winds of temptation; but it is best as it is. His grace is magnified. My own character is matured. His Heaven is sweeter at the close of the day. There I shall look back on the turnings and trials of the way, and shall sing the praises of my Guide. So, let come what will come, His will is welcome; and I shall refuse to be offended in my loving Lord.
Alexander Smellie

Blessed is he whose faith is not offended,
When all around his way
The power of God is working out deliverance
For others day by day;

Though in some prison drear his own soul languish,
Till life itself be spent,
Yet still can trust his Father’s love and purpose,
And rest therein content.

Blessed is he, who through long years of suffering,
Cut off from active toil,
Still shares by prayer and praise the work of others,
And thus “divides the spoil.”

Blessed are thou, O child of God, who sufferest,
And canst not understand
The reason for thy pain, yet gladly leavest
Thy life in His blest Hand.

Yea, blessed art thou whose faith is “not offended”
By trials unexplained,
By mysteries unsolved, past understanding,
Until the goal is gained.
Freda Hanbury Allen

 

Living in Peace

From: Our Daily Journey

Living in Peace

Read:

Hosea 3:1-5
The Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel” (Hosea 3:1.

Although a man murdered nearly all of a woman’s family in the Rwandan genocide, they’re now next-door neighbors. He says, “Ever since I [confessed] my crimes and ask[ed] her for forgiveness, she has never once called me a killer. . . . She has set me free.”

Forgiveness and restoration lie at the heart of Prison Fellowship’s Rwanda project in founding reconciliation villages where victims and perpetrators live together. A representative remarked that for Rwanda to heal, people can’t avoid each other when they move back to their old neighborhoods, but need to “confront their innermost feelings . . . so suffering and anger” don’t rise up again.

This true story of seemingly impossible forgiveness reminds me of the book of Hosea in the Old Testament. When Hosea’s wife left him, returning to an unfaithful lifestyle, the Lord asked him to “go and love your wife again” to “illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel” (Hosea 3:1). In a culture where taking back an unfaithful wife was nearly unthinkable, Hosea chose to follow God’s example of extending forgiveness.

Seeking forgiveness and reconciliation can be incredibly difficult. Healing broken relationships entails not only repentance from the offending person and grace from the one forgiving, but hard work from both to rebuild trust. For Hosea and Gomer’s marriage to heal, it was necessary for Gomer to commit to renewed faithfulness (Hosea 3:4). In the Rwandan reconciliation villages, regular disciplines of conflict resolution have been necessary to establish the path to gradual healing.

Although seeking reconciliation can be a difficult road to walk, it’s also the path to freedom and joy. May it be so for us as we live in a world torn by strife.

 

I Was Thirsty

From: CBN, and Kathy Thomas

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Horrified by what I had just done, I clasped my hand over my mouth, gasping in disbelief. How could I have done something so stupid? My good intentions of sharing the love of Jesus had just morphed into a disastrous failure with potentially explosive consequences. Hopefully, the poor man would forget where I lived, before my absent-minded witnessing took its toll.

A year earlier, I had fallen deeply in love with Jesus and decided that I wanted to utilize every opportunity God provided to teach my preschool children to see every man, woman, and child who crossed our paths, as a divine appointment personally arranged by God, so that we could share the love of Jesus.

One sweltering summer morning, as we headed out for a daylong adventure, we noticed that our neighborhood had hired a tree service to trim the monstrous hundred-year-old oaks that canopied our streets. That evening, as we returned home, exhausted from the blistering Florida sun, we were amazed to see a solitary tree man still working diligently, right in front of our driveway. The rest of his team had given up and gone home to escape the miserable heat.

As we unloaded the car, the children watched him carefully and decided that he must have grown quite hungry and thirsty by now. We rushed inside to make him a plate of cookies and some refreshing iced tea. I hurriedly crammed some tea bags into the automatic tea maker. Noticing that they had no labels, I remembered that my cheap generic tea always brewed tastelessly weak, so I doubled the amount of tea bags. I wanted to present this man with our best offering, so he would experience the powerful love of Jesus.

Excited to fulfill their divine appointment, the children scurried out the door with their plate and pitcher full of Jesus’ love. At first, the man was speechless. Then, his voice shook with exhaustion and emotion as he recounted how he had passed dozens of streets and hundreds of houses that day, and no one had even offered him a glass of water.

He gratefully scarfed down half of the cookies and stuffed the other half into his pockets. Parched, he chugged several glasses of iced tea and filled his thermos with the rest. Obviously moved by the children’s thoughtfulness, he thanked them profusely and returned to his grueling work for another hour or so, stopping every now and then for some more tea and cookies.

Beaming with mother’s pride, I reminded my children of Jesus’ words as they watched him pack up his truck and drive away:

“For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:35-40 NKJV)

As I returned to the kitchen to clean up after our fruitful evening of ministry, my heart sank, when I realized what I had done. The tea bags I had used to make the tree man’s “pitcher full of love” were not generic tea bags at all! They were actually bags of herbal “cleansing” tea… as in laxative tea… and I had doubled them!

My sudden panic frightened the children. So, to the best of my ability, I explained my mistake using preschool verbiage. My son matter-of-factly blurted, “Jesus said, ‘Whatever you did to the least of these, you did it to Me.’ Boy, Mom! If that was Jesus, He sure is going to be mad at you in the morning!”

In spite of my horribly flawed lesson, my two oldest children have grown to become hospitable adults, who rarely miss an opportunity to share the love of Jesus… and never drink my tea.

“Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:1-2)

Serving Others

You were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  Philippians 4:10
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Serve and Be Served

From: Our Daily Bread

Serve and Be Served

You were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  Philippians 4:10

Marilyn had been ill for many weeks, and many people had encouraged her through this difficult time. How will I ever repay all their kindnesses? she worried. Then one day she read the words of a written prayer: “Pray that [others] will develop humility, allowing them not only to serve, but also to be served.” Marilyn suddenly realized there was no need to balance any scale, but just to be thankful and allow others to experience the joy of serving.

In Philippians 4, the apostle Paul expressed his gratitude for all those who shared “in [his] troubles” (v. 14). He depended on people to support him as he preached and taught the gospel. He understood that the gifts provided for him when he was in need were simply an extension of people’s love for God: “[Your gifts] are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (v. 18).

It may not be easy to be the one on the receiving end—especially if you’ve usually been the first one to help other people. But with humility, we can allow God to gently care for us by a variety of means when we need help.

Paul wrote, “My God will meet all your needs” (v. 19). It was something he had learned during a life of trials. God is faithful and His provision for us has no limits.

Dear Lord, thank You for caring for us through Your people. May we graciously give and receive help.

Receive love. Give love. Repeat.

The Unrighteous Judge

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And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says! Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them? (Luke 18:6-7)

God’s seasons are not at your beck. If the first stroke of the flint doth not bring forth the fire, you must strike again. God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our minds have appointed; He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations. Hence the need of perseverance and importunity in supplication.

In the days of flint and steel and brimstone matches we had to strike and strike again, dozens of times, before we could get a spark to live in the tinder; and we were thankful enough if we succeeded at last.

Shall we not be as persevering and hopeful as to heavenly things? We have more certainty of success in this business than we had with our flint and steel, for we have God’s promises at our back.

Never let us despair. God’s time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing has arrived. Ask in faith nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the King delays to reply. Strike the steel again. Make the sparks fly and have your tinder ready; you will get a light before long.
C. H. Spurgeon

 Anyone

From: Our Daily Journey

Anyone

Read:

Philippians 4:10-23
All the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household (Philippians 4:22).

Are you close to someone who seems particularly far from God? It might help to keep in mind that this person is probably not less reachable than Paul, who claimed he was the worst of sinners because he had persecuted God’s people (1 Timothy 1:12-16). Paul realized if God could save him, He could reach anyone.

Anyone. Some of the most difficult people to reach in Paul’s world were the elites in Rome. Those in the distant, upper reaches of Roman government were less acquainted with Jesus and had the most to lose from following Him. So I can imagine the joy on Paul’s face when he closed the letter of Philippians, likely written from Rome, with this zinger: “All the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household” (Philippians 4:22).

Especially those in Caesar’s household? How did they become God’s children? One possibility is that Paul was guarded by the Praetorian Guard, elite Roman soldiers who took shifts watching him. Perhaps each one heard the gospel from Paul, so he could say that “everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ” (Philippians 1:13). Some of these soldiers believed in Jesus, and they spread the good news throughout the palace. Notoriously wicked Nero, who would set Rome on fire and blame the Christians, could not stop his own “household” from following Christ.

The same God who reached Paul and through him into Nero’s household is also able to save those you long to see receive salvation. Ask God to move past their defenses and change them from the inside out. Someday you may joyfully write your own message, “All of God’s people greet you, especially __________.”

Yes, God can reach anyone.

 

November 17 

The Eternal Goal

The Eternal Goal

 By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing…I will bless you… —Genesis 22:16-17

Abraham, at this point, has reached where he is in touch with the very nature of God. He now understands the reality of God.

My goal is God Himself…
At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.

“At any cost…by any road” means submitting to God’s way of bringing us to the goal.

There is no possibility of questioning God when He speaks, if He speaks to His own nature in me. Prompt obedience is the only result. When Jesus says, “Come,” I simply come; when He says, “Let go,” I let go; when He says, “Trust God in this matter,” I trust. This work of obedience is the evidence that the nature of God is in me.

God’s revelation of Himself to me is influenced by my character, not by God’s character.

’Tis because I am ordinary,
Thy ways so often look ordinary to me.

It is through the discipline of obedience that I get to the place where Abraham was and I see who God is. God will never be real to me until I come face to face with Him in Jesus Christ. Then I will know and can boldly proclaim, “In all the world, my God, there is none but Thee, there is none but Thee.”

The promises of God are of no value to us until, through obedience, we come to understand the nature of God. We may read some things in the Bible every day for a year and they may mean nothing to us. Then, because we have been obedient to God in some small detail, we suddenly see what God means and His nature is instantly opened up to us. “All the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen…” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Our “Yes” must be born of obedience; when by obedience we ratify a promise of God by saying, “Amen,” or, “So be it.” That promise becomes ours.