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Learning To Know God

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Learning to Know God

From: Our Daily God

Learning to Know God

But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” John 6:20

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. I dreamed about getting married, getting pregnant, and holding my baby in my arms for the first time. When I finally got married, my husband and I never even considered waiting to expand our family. But with each negative pregnancy test, we realized we were struggling with infertility. Months of doctors’ visits, tests, and tears followed. We were in the middle of a storm. Infertility was a bitter pill to swallow and left me wondering about God’s goodness and faithfulness.

When I reflect on our journey, I think about the story of the disciples caught in the storm on the sea in John 6. As they struggled against the waves in the dark of the storm, Jesus unexpectedly came to them walking on the stormy waves. He calmed them with His presence, saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (v. 20).

Like the disciples, my husband and I had no idea what was coming in our storm; but we found comfort as we learned to know God more deeply as the One who is always faithful and true. Although we would not have the child we had dreamed of, we learned that in all our struggles we can experience the power of His calming presence. Because He is there powerfully working in our lives, we need not be anxious.

Dear Lord, thank You that I do not have to face the storms in this life without You. Thank You for Your calming presence and power carrying me through whatever I face.

Read more about waiting on God at discoveryseries.org/q0736.

We can experience God’s powerful presence even in the storms of our lives.

 

A Thin Line between Humility and Pride

From: Ken Barnes

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Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord and he will exalt you. James 4:6 (NASB).

Humility may be one of the most sought-after virtues in the Bible, but possibly the least achieved. We know it when we see it, but it is difficult to define. It is one of the Christian graces that if you try to pursue it, you may distance yourself from it. You cannot choreograph humility into the script of your life. God has to facilitate the process. If you are trying to get it through self-effort, the accomplishment negates the desired result.

Long ago, the famous preacher, Harry Ironside, from Moody Bible Church, worried that he was not as humble as he ought to be. He asked a friend what he should do. The friend counseled him to make a sandwich board with the plan of salvation in Scripture written on it and walk around the busy shopping district of downtown Chicago for an entire day. Ironside thought this would be a humbling experience, so he walked around the Windy City, spouting Scriptures along the way. When he finally returned to his apartment, he thought about how humbling his excursion had been and was feeling pretty good about the experience. As he was removing his sign, he caught himself thinking, “There is not another person in Chicago that would be willing to do a thing like that.”

Humility is a contradiction in terms. When you feel like you are closest to achieving it, you are farthest from possessing it. When you realize how far you have to go in acquiring it, you are actually closer to having it. Meekness is a virtue that if gotten through your self-effort, can make you proud of your humility. It is a grace that we must continually pursue, but recognize that we can never entirely grasp.

Billy Graham, arguably the greatest preacher of the modern era, might teach us something about humility. On one occasion, someone stole his Bible. He told someone, “I can’t see why someone would want it, it had my name printed right on it.” He was clueless about the fact that a Bible with his name on it, was the very reason someone would want to steal it. Pride always gives us an elevated sense of self-importance. Humility keeps our life in perspective. Over the years, people have studied the preaching of Billy Graham, his style, content, and structure. Many have tried to emulate these, with not near the success he had. Could it be that the secret of his success is not the mechanics of his preaching but a less apparent reason, humility, that God always honors in a person’s life?

In God’s Kingdom, the way up is always down. In the world, you can usurp authority, but in ministry, conceit impedes your progress. Pride is just an incorrect view of who you are in relation to who God is. Accurately compare yourself with God and the only reasonable response will be humility. Humble yourself before God, and He will lift you up.

 

All or Nothing?

By Oswald Chambers

 All or Nothing?

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

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

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

In The Blink Of An Eye

 

Matthew 24: 38-42   Be Ready For The Rapture

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

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

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Just a Second

From: Our Daily Bread

Just a Second

How fleeting my life is. Psalm 39:4

Scientists are pretty fussy about time. At the end of 2016, the folks at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland added an extra second to the year. So if you felt that year dragged on a bit longer than normal, you were right.

Why did they do that? Because the rotation of the earth slows down over time, the years get just a tiny bit longer. When scientists track manmade objects launched into space, they must have accuracy down to the millisecond. This is “to make sure our collision avoidance programs are accurate,” according to one scientist.

For most of us, a second gained or lost doesn’t make much difference. Yet according to Scripture, our time and how we use it is important. For instance, Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 7:29 that “time is short.” The time we have to do God’s work is limited, so we must use it wisely. He urged us to “[make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16 esv).

This doesn’t mean we have to count each second as do the scientists, but when we consider the fleeting nature of life (Psalm 39:4), we can be reminded of the importance of using our time wisely.

Lord, thank You for each moment You give us. May we strive to honor You with this gift by using our time wisely for Your honor and glory.

Don’t just spend time—invest it.

Real Rest

From: Our Daily Journey

Real Rest

Read:

Genesis 2:1-4
On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work (Genesis 2:2).

Following World War I, there was no more accomplished golfer than Bobby Jones. In 1930, he achieved the Grand Slam by winning the US Open, British Open, US Amateur, and British Amateur championships—all in the same year! The golfing world was stunned, however, when shortly following those victories Jones decided to retire from golf. He didn’t decide to hang up the spikes because his skills had diminished in any way. Instead, the talented athlete made his decision because he had accomplished the greatest feat in golf at the time and had nothing left to prove. He simply chose to give his golf career a rest.

When it says that God “rested from all his work” in Genesis 2:2, I’m often tempted to think that He took a break for the same reason that I take a vacation—because He was tired and simply couldn’t go on without a little R&R. But Psalm 121:4 tells us that God “never slumbers or sleeps,” so that obviously can’t be the case. No, He didn’t rest so that He could gain the strength He needed to continue creating. He rested because His work of creation was fully done (Genesis 2:2). God rested because His work was accomplished!

In the New Testament, we read that we can rest in Jesus, such as when we’re told to lay our burdens on Him in Matthew 11:28 or when the writer of Hebrews tells us that He provides our “special rest” (Hebrews 4:9). It can be difficult to fully understand what it means to “rest in Jesus,” but resting in Him includes resting in His completed work—His life, death, and resurrection. We can rest in knowing that God loves us so much He gave His only Son as a sacrifice and that our salvation isn’t earned, but freely given. That’s real rest!

 

Receiving Power

From: CBN Network

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We are still learning to go even lower, which is the only way forward. And we are still learning to stop for the one in the middle of a sea of need. We are still learning what it means to be a friend of God and to value fellowship with Him and each other above all else. We are not professional, high-power, efficient missionary machines. We measure the quality of our lives by the depth of our relationships. We are still learning to love.

We cannot function in this world without the power of our God. Some of us haven’t yet been brought to our extremity, so we aren’t fully and forcibly aware of our dependence. But our time will come. We need Him to stay alive. We need Him for our health. We need Him for our healing. We need Him for righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

We need more than any human being can do for us. We need sheer, raw power in the goodness and love of God. We need power to appreciate our God, to make Him the greatest pleasure in our lives. We need power to rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. We need power to experience His Kingdom, to move in His environment.

How do we get power? It is the grace and gift of God. He plants in us a hunger that will not be denied. He opens our eyes to our poverty without His powerful presence. He grants faith where there was none. In His power we can rest, even while under demonic attack. His power fixes our eyes on Him. In His power we are able to discipline ourselves in everything. We can cast our cares on Him, because He is willing to use His power on our behalf.

How can we be sure He cares for us? The cross. We go to the cross always to find confidence to approach Him. We will not empty the cross of its power. There and only there do we find salvation of every kind. At the cross we come to know our God and His heart toward us. At the cross we learn to become utterly dependent on His power.

 

 

Reason To Sing

Psalm 33:1-3

Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

Psalm 96:1-2

Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

Psalm 5:11

But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You.

Psalm 9:11

Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion; Declare among the peoples His deeds.

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Reason to Sing

From: Our Daily Bread

Reason to Sing
Read: Psalm 98 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 27–29; Luke 13:1–22

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. Psalm 98:1

When I was thirteen, my school required students to take four exploratory courses, including home economics, art, choir, and woodworking. On my first day in choir, the instructor called each student to the piano individually to hear their voices and place them in the room according to their vocal range. During my turn at the piano, I sang the notes she played multiple times, but wasn’t directed to a section in the room. Instead, after repeated tries, she sent me to the counseling office to find a different class to take. From that moment on, I felt I shouldn’t sing at all, that my voice shouldn’t be heard in song.

I carried that thought with me for more than a decade until I read Psalm 98 as a young adult. The writer opens with an invitation to “sing to the Lord” (Psalm 98:1). The reason offered has nothing to do with the quality of our voices; He delights in all His children’s songs of thanksgiving and praise. Instead, we are invited to sing because God “has done marvelous things” (v. 1).

The psalmist points out two wonderful reasons to joyfully praise God in song and in attitude: His saving work in our lives and His ongoing faithfulness toward us. In God’s choir, we each have a place to sing of the marvelous things He has done.

Lord, You have done great things in my life. Even if my voice isn’t one that would be heard on stage, I want to join the choir in thanking You for the amazing things You’ve done.

God loves to hear the voices of His children.

 

Never in Vain

From: Our Daily Journey

Never in Vain

Read:

1 Corinthians 15:50-58
Your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58 niv).

In 1882, Antoni Gaudí began construction on the Sagrada Família, a basilica in Barcelona slated for completion in 2026. The National Geographic reports that at the time of Gaudí’s unexpected death, less than 25 percent of the exterior was finished. Even if he had not died prematurely, Gaudí knew he’d never see the completed work; but it didn’t bother him. He believed he was working for God. Whenever asked about the immense time for the project, he answered, “My client is not in a hurry.”

It often seems impossible to see the fruit of our work. We want to believe we’re contributing to God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:10), but sometimes it’s hard to catch sight of how this is true. We believe God has handed us gifts and a job to do, but at times our efforts appear to accomplish little. Does the way we spend our days have any bearing on how God intends to love and redeem our world? Does carpentry or teaching or physics really participate in the new world God is making?

The apostle Paul insisted that Jesus’ resurrection secured believers’ hope, not just for some distant future but also for our lives now. After explaining how in the resurrection “our bodies . . . will be raised in strength,” Paul went on to emphasize that, marvelous as that truth is (1 Corinthians 15:43), Jesus’ resurrection did much more than secure eternal life. The apostle also said that because Christ has defeated death, every stitch of work we do now in obedience to God will yield good fruit. “Be strong and immovable,” Paul said. “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Whatever we might feel in moments of frustration, we can be certain that God will make our work fruitful by His power.

 

Go Your Own Way?

By: Pauline Hyhton, author

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“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5 (NASB)

You ever open your computer screen, scroll through the awful headlines and think to yourself, I’m glad I’m not like them.

I have. My guess is that you have, too.

The Bible reading in Luke today is both awful and interesting. In the first part of Luke 13, Jesus speaks of an incident that apparently took place in the temple. Roman soldiers cut down some Galileans and their blood was mixed with some of the blood sacrifices.

This appalled the Israelites. The Lord’s answer—as usual—is both unexpected and profound. Basically, He states that unless the people repent, they will all suffer the same fate.

Not what the people wanted to hear.

No one likes to hear about repentance.

Why?

Repentance means turning around, going in a different direction, admitting guilt. And face it, most of us like going a direction of our choosing. And according to our culture, you should never feel guilt—it’s always someone else’s fault.

Not according to God’s Word. Not according to Jesus.

In fact, let’s go back in the gospels to the first mini-message of our Lord:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 NASB

What does He mean?

Jesus is saying in essence, I’m here. Turn to me. Don’t follow your own way. Give me your life. You need a Savior for your sin.

How about we skip over to John 8. A woman is caught in adultery. The Pharisees try to trap Jesus into going against the Law—read the account yourself. My point is at the end, when it is just this condemned woman and Jesus, He tells her, “From now on, sin no more.”

In other words, turn from your sin and turn to Jesus.

In this culture, we don’t often use the word sin. We say we “made a mistake,” or “were at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Or even, “I was hanging with the wrong crowd.”

All of these may be true.

Or not.

Philippians 2:9-11 states:

“Therefore also God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (NASB)

Judgment will one day come to this old earth. Those who have trusted Christ and repented of their sins will be saved. Those who have not will be condemned.

If you are a follower of Christ, be glad. Turn from any known sin.

If you are not, trust Him today. Repent of going your own way.

The Apostle Peter said this in Acts 4:12,

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Turn.

Today.

Into The Storms

Mark 4:39

39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

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Into Our Storms

From: Our Daily Bread

Into Our Storms

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:39

Wind howled, lightning flashed, waves crashed. I thought I was going to die. My grandparents and I were fishing on a lake, but we’d stayed out too long. As the sun set, a fast-moving squall swept over our small boat. My grandfather instructed me to sit in front to keep it from capsizing. Terror flooded my heart. But then, somehow, I began to pray. I was fourteen.

I asked God for His reassurance and protection. The storm didn’t weaken, but we made it to shore. To this day, I don’t know if I’ve experienced a deeper certainty of God’s presence than that night in the storm.

Jesus is no stranger to storms. In Mark 4:35–41, He told His disciples to head across a lake that would soon turn windy and wild. The storm that night tested and bested these rugged fishermen. They too thought they were going to die. But Jesus calmed the water and then led His disciples to deeper faith.

Likewise, Jesus invites us to trust Him in our storms. Sometimes He miraculously stills the winds and the waves. Sometimes He does something equally miraculous: He steadies our hearts and helps us to trust Him. He asks us to rest in the belief that He has the power to say to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”

Lord, the storms of our lives sometimes seem like they will swamp us. Help us trust that You are the Master of the storm, to place our faith in You when life’s winds blow fiercely.

No danger can come so near that God is not nearer still.

 

Lessons from the Titanic

By: Neal Matthews, Author

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The Titanic was the largest, most luxurious ocean liner of its time and called “unsinkable” by many. During its first voyage from England to New York City, the British steamer sideswiped an iceberg around 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912.

Two and a half hours later, it broke apart and sank. The ship carried enough lifeboats for only half of its 2,200 passengers and crew. Approximately 1,500 people lost their life.

Many assumed that the iceberg had ripped a long gash in the ship’s hull. When the wreck was recovered in 1985, no such tear was found. Researchers learned that the hull was made of steel that became brittle in the frigid North Atlantic waters, causing it to fracture easily during the collision. Some suspect the Titanic was traveling too fast for an area where there was a possibility of icebergs.

One night, Jesus walked on the water, and his disciple Peter wanted to join Him. Peter left the boat and was doing fine until he looked around at the high waves. Then he became terrified and started to sink (Matthew 14:25-30).

Like Peter, we may be accomplishing great things with God’s help, and we look around at our frightening circumstances. Then our faith starts to waver, and we get more than a sinking feeling.

At other times, we start to look at our successes and ignore the need to safeguard our spiritual growth. We may start to feel unsinkable, like the Titanic.

But there are always hidden dangers that can wreck our witness and ministry. The only way to safely navigate life is to keep our eyes on Jesus, not on ourself or the circumstances around us. He will help us complete our voyage, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

“Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me.” (Psalm 69:1-2, NLT)

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

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

Jesus Helps Us With Life’s Burdens

 

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30). Jesus will remove your heavy burden of guilt and hopelessness and give you true rest in Him.

 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22). God is glad to carry your burdens and give you the daily strength you need.

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What To Do When Your Burden Is Overwhelming

By Oswald Chambers

 What To Do When Your Burden Is Overwhelming

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

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

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

 

And the hand of the Lord was there upon me; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth unto the plain, and I will there talk with thee” (Ezek. 3:22).

Did you ever hear of any one being much used for Christ who did not have some special waiting time, some complete upset of all his or her plans first; from St. Paul’s being sent off into the desert of Arabia for three years, when he must have been boiling over with the glad tidings, down to the present day?
You were looking forward to telling about trusting Jesus in Syria; now He says, “I want you to show what it is to trust Me, without waiting for Syria.”
My own case is far less severe, but the same in principle, that when I thought the door was flung open for me to go with a bound into literary work, it is opposed, and doctor steps in and says, simply, “Never! She must choose between writing and living; she can’t do both.”
That was in 1860. Then I came out of the shell with “Ministry of Song” in 1869, and saw the evident wisdom of being kept waiting nine years in the shade. God’s love being unchangeable, He is just as loving when we do not see or feet His love. Also His love and His sovereignty are co-equal and universal; so He withholds the enjoyment and conscious progress because He knows best what will really ripen and further His work in us.
–Memorials of Frances Ridley Havergal
I laid it down in silence,
This work of mine,
And took what had been sent me–
A resting time.
The Master’s voice had called me
To rest apart;
“Apart with Jesus only,”
Echoed my heart.
I took the rest and stillness
From His own Hand,
And felt this present illness
Was what He planned.
How often we choose labor,
When He says “Rest”–
Our ways are blind and crooked;
His way is best.
The work Himself has given,
He will complete.
There may be other errands
For tired feet;
There may be other duties
For tired hands,
The present, is obedience
To His commands.
There is a blessed resting
In lying still,
In letting His hand mould us,
Just as He will.
His work must be completed.
His lesson set;
He is the higher Workman:
Do not forget!
It is not only “working.”
We must be trained;
And Jesus “learnt” obedience,
Through suffering gained.
For us, His yoke is easy,
His burden light.
His discipline most needful,
And all is right.
We are but under-workmen;
They never choose
If this tool or if that one
Their hands shall use.
In working or in waiting
May we fulfill
Not ours at all, but only
The Master’s will!
–Selected
God provides resting places as well as working places. Rest, then, and be thankful when He brings you, wearied to a wayside well.

 

Contentment in All Circumstances

By: Bob Segress, Author

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“… I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity …” Philippians 4:11-12 NASB

One Sunday, I was sitting in an easy chair in my back yard watching my fountain’s bubbles pop instead of going to church; I began to feel a bit guilty. Even reminding myself that my wife was sick with serious bronchitis didn’t take the lazy bum feeling away.

I let my mind go as if I was at a resort surrounded by palm trees and the sound of the ocean, and suddenly Paul’s voice seemed to intrude and say: “I learned to be content.” Trying to block out the peaceful musical sounds from my fountain, which were hypnotizing me, I thought: “How did Paul learn to be content?”

Still semi-hypnotized, a memory appeared in my mind and caused me to take a step back in time:

My wife and I were celebrating our anniversary in Mexico. We were staying at the Mayan Palace Resort in Rocky Point, Mexico. We had been blessed by receiving an unexpected upgrade to the Grand Mayan section of the luxurious resort. We were happy campers.

As I stood on our balcony looking down at a miles-long private beach owned by the resort, I was very awed. But, I was also concerned by what I had read in Luke 6:24(NASB): “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.” As I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with riches, I wondered if we needed to jump in our car and burn rubber away from the Palace.

When I calmed down, I realized that any verse taken out of context is a pretext. Thinking about the context of Luke 6 made me feel much better. Jesus had said that when we have abundance, we must be on our guard as our life does not consist of our possessions or pleasures. God loves us. Giving is a natural desire for anyone in love. However, gifts can be dangerous.

Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” Luke 12:15 NASB.

Then, the Holy Spirit answered my question and told me how Paul learned to be content.

Paul first said:

“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Philippians 4:12NASB

And then pow! He tells how contentment is possible by saying in the following verse: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NASB

Paul’s relationship with Jesus put everything into perspective and was satisfying enough to strengthen him into contentment.

After I told my wife what I’d learned, we held hands and went on a long walk on the beach and picked up shells normally found in seashell shops. The sounds and mist from the waves seem to be a living motion picture we had walked into. We felt our Lord’s warm presence as the three of us walked and enjoyed being together. We were content.

I was very thankful to have been shown what the Holy Spirit taught Paul about contentment. He had said that:

Jesus and contentment are partners. Don’t reject His loving gifts to you; accept them with gratitude and use them humbly. Hold on to the love in Jesus’ tender hands and this will be a very good day.

The Son of Man Lifted Up

Numbers 21:1-9

14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

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Transformed

From: Our Daily Journey

Transformed

Read:

Numbers 21:1-9
As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up (John 3:14).

The origins of crucifixion are unknown, but the Roman Empire was infamous for inflicting the debasing practice on society’s lowest. Yet today, the cross—the representative symbol of crucifixion—is often prominently displayed, cherished by believers in Jesus around the world.

The Israelites experienced a similar turnaround during their sojourn in the wilderness. After an exhilarating victory (Numbers 21:1-3), God led His people through a detour to avoid engaging another nation in battle. “But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. . . . So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died” (Numbers 21:4-6).

Moses prayed for the people and received this divine instruction: “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” (Numbers 21:8).

This likely would have struck Moses as odd, given the commandment forbidding graven images (Exodus 20:4) and the understanding that anyone who hung on a tree or pole was cursed (Deuteronomy 21:23). Yet he obeyed, and, as God had promised, anyone who’d been bitten found healing when they looked at the bronze snake (Numbers 21:9).

In that wilderness, a symbol of death and judgment was transformed into an instrument of life and healing. But God didn’t stop there—just “as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man [was] lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

In difficult times, remember—God can transform even what’s most painful in your life into a place where you experience His healing power. Wait on Him for new life and hope.

 

A Strange Night-Light

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Lessons can be learned with just about anything or in everyday life experiences.

The other night, my son was up late and he was looking for our cat, Bella, in the dark. He didn’t want to wake me as the kitchen is next to my bedroom, and I had left the door cracked for my cat to come in since she likes to lie under the desk.

I heard him in the kitchen because I am a light sleeper and as quiet as he was trying to be, I noticed a small light in the kitchen. I don’t have a night-light in there, just a small lamp but this was just a small stream of light.

Seeing that light, I ventured into the kitchen out of curiosity. I saw that he had opened the refrigerator door to peer around the corner to the living room to see if Bella’s shadow was in the window sill. It worked! The tiniest light can brighten up a room.

Are we lights for Jesus for all to see? The curious will wonder why we are different. We should dispel the darkness wherever we go.

Do you remember the story about the ten virgins? They had oil lamps, but some had used up their oil and did not have any. They had failed to keep their lights burning and when they needed it, they were frantically searching for some light. But, it was too late.

Others were wise and kept their lights shining brightly. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light, and He is the light of the world. When we accept Him in our hearts that light also shines in us for others to see.

As His followers, we must continue to read the Bible, fellowship with believers in church to grow and pray for direction, and pray for others to keep our lights shining at all times for the world to see.

If we keep our focus, and our gaze fixed upon the Lord, then others will see us shine and be drawn to the light of God’s love. They are groping in darkness without the knowledge of Jesus and how much He loves them, so we must keep our lamps filled with the oil of the spirit of God.

There is something in the countenance of the ones who stay close to Jesus. It comes from the inside to the outside. It comes from our hearts, and His love is reflected in our eyes and in our smiles to a lost and hurting world.

I have a replica lampstand from Jerusalem of the seven candlesticks. It was an important piece in the tabernacle of Moses, and it reminds me to keep my light burning and to pray for those who need to know that Jesus is the Light of the World.

If a matchstick flame can lighten up a room, can you imagine how much our lights can dispel the darkness in the world? I urge you to not let your flame grow dim.

Matthew 15:1-3 says,

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.” (NIV)

“Make a lamp stand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it.  Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lamp stand—three on one side and three on the other.  Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lamp stand.  And on the lamp stand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lamp stand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lamp stand, hammered out of pure gold.

Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lamp stand and all these accessories. See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Exodus 25:31-40 (NIV)

Complete and Effective Dominion

Complete and Effective Dominion

By Oswald Chambers

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

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

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

Jesus Ascending Into Heaven

Acts 1:9-12

Jesus Ascends to Heaven

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

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 How Long?

How Long?
Read: Psalm 13 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 17–18; Luke 11:1–28

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Psalm 13:1

In Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland, Alice asks, “How long is forever?” The White Rabbit responds, “Sometimes, just one second.”

That’s how time felt when my brother David suddenly died. The days leading to his memorial dragged on, intensifying the sense of loss and grief we felt. Every second seemed to last forever.

Another David echoed this sentiment, singing, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:1­–2). Four times in just two verses he asks God, “How long?” Sometimes the pains of life seem as though they will never end.

Into this heartache steps the presence and care of our heavenly Father. Like King David, we can honestly go to Him with our pain and loss, knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The psalmist discovered this as well, allowing his lament to move from a mournful minor key to a triumphant declaration: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5).

In our seemingly endless moments of struggle, His unfailing love will carry us. We can rejoice in His salvation.

In times of pain and loss, the timeless God is our greatest comfort.

 

Enjoying God Forever

Enjoying God Forever

Read:

Revelation 21:1–22:6
They will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads (Revelation 22:4).

The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” A student misquoted this as, “Our purpose is to glorify God and endure Him forever.” The mistake is funny, but isn’t that sometimes how we secretly feel about eternity? What will we do there except sing praise songs? How wonderful for the first million years. But . . . forever?

We may sometimes have more questions than answers about eternity, but the closing chapters of Scripture describe a future that is far from boring. Imagine the moment when we see the face of Christ (Revelation 22:4). We won’t cower in fear before His blinding glory (Revelation 21:23), for He will gently “wipe every tear from [our] eyes,” assuring us that “there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

We will never have seen anyone so beautiful, nor feel so loved and embraced. When Jesus claims us by writing His name on our foreheads (Revelation 22:4), we will finally belong. Part of God’s family from every “language and people,” we will naturally sing praises to the King who redeemed us (Revelation 5:9-14).

And we will enjoy God here—because Jesus is returning to live forever with us on a restored Earth (Revelation 21:3). As exhilarating as that joyful worship service will be, when Jesus returns, singing will likely not be the only form of worship. Just as Adam and Eve walked with God yet also made time to garden and name the animals, so we will worship Jesus through all sorts of human activities (Revelation 21:24-26). We will have eternity to do what He’s prepared for us. As we reign with Jesus on a restored Earth, we can enjoy Him and every good thing—forever (Revelation 22:3-5).

Complete and Effective Divinity

April 11 

By Oswald Chambers

 Complete and Effective Divinity

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

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

 

God Is Our Shelter

 

Psalm 46

God Is with Us[a]

46 God is our shelter and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not be afraid, even if the earth is shaken
    and mountains fall into the ocean depths;
even if the seas roar and rage,
    and the hills are shaken by the violence.

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Complete and Effective Decision About Sin

April 10 

By Oswald Chambers

 Complete and Effective Decision About Sin

Co-Crucifixion. Have you made the following decision about sin—that it must be completely killed in you? It takes a long time to come to the point of making this complete and effective decision about sin. It is, however, the greatest moment in your life once you decide that sin must die in you– not simply be restrained, suppressed, or counteracted, but crucified— just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be mentally and spiritually convinced, but what we need to do is actually make the decision that Paul urged us to do in this passage.

Pull yourself up, take some time alone with God, and make this important decision, saying, “Lord, identify me with Your death until I know that sin is dead in me.” Make the moral decision that sin in you must be put to death.

This was not some divine future expectation on the part of Paul, but was a very radical and definite experience in his life. Are you prepared to let the Spirit of God search you until you know what the level and nature of sin is in your life— to see the very things that struggle against God’s Spirit in you? If so, will you then agree with God’s verdict on the nature of sin— that it should be identified with the death of Jesus? You cannot “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin” (Romans 6:11) unless you have radically dealt with the issue of your will before God.

Have you entered into the glorious privilege of being crucified with Christ, until all that remains in your flesh and blood is His life? “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20).

In the Moment

From: Our Daily Journey

In the Moment

Read:

Luke 24:13-53
They worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy (Luke 24:52).

As an educator, each spring I feel the promise of summer break beckoning me. I appreciate the respite from the usual demand to complete projects, grade papers, and participate in countless meetings. With more opportunities for quiet, summertime reminds me how often busyness can tempt me to see each commitment as merely a task to be checked off a list. Choosing to instead be present in the moment allows me to savor uncomplicated joy.

Time certainly marches on. And the simple truth of these words reminds us that life has seasons (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Interestingly, it seems typical of human nature to focus on the painful events of life instead of fully celebrating the joy of the moment. How often do we keep moments of joy at arm’s length, as if we’re holding our breath waiting for them to end?

From the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32) to a quiet room in Jerusalem (Luke 24:33) to the moment of Christ’s ascension (Luke 24:50-52), Jesus’ followers must have experienced a myriad of emotions. For two disciples traveling after Jesus’ death, loss dominated their perspective; even the rumors of His victorious resurrection seemed a false hope soon to be disproven (Luke 24:17-24).

But as Jesus began to share a meal with them, “suddenly their eyes were opened” and they recognized Him (Luke 24:31). And perhaps at the same time they finally understood that pain and suffering will come, but above and beyond the time frame of this earth, God’s perfect plan of salvation continues to unfold (Luke 24:25-27).

Resilient joy comes as we experience through the Spirit God’s comforting presence. Instead of living in fear of loss, may we choose in every moment to savor each new encounter with His goodness.

Your Own Interpretation

From: Candy Arrington, Author

BibleText

“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure…because you have not kept the Lord’s command” (1 Samuel 13:13-14 NIV).

Of Kings and Prophets was a short-run television series focusing on the life and times of King Saul and David. With the current proliferation of Biblically-based movies and TV dramas, it was interesting to see how accurately the characters were portrayed.

One element appearing extremely accurate was the humanness of Saul. He was a king, God’s anointed one, but he was far from perfect. When God chose him, Saul had a lot of great qualities, qualities that made him king material, but over time he became a guy with issues. He was arrogant, extremely jealous, paranoid, he experienced mood swings, he had his own agenda, and if the TV portrayal was even semi-accurate, he struggled with self-discipline in the area of food!

Saul was a man of action, and when things seemed to be taking too long, he didn’t have a problem helping the situation along. The Philistines mustered to fight Israel and the people were terrified. Saul waited for the prophet Samuel to come to offer a sacrifice and ask God’s favor prior to engaging in battle, but after seven days, Samuel still had not arrived. Impatient, and watching his people scatter, Saul, determined to regroup and fight, offered the sacrifice himself. As soon as Saul finished the sacrifice, Samuel arrived. Saul made excuses for his actions, but it was too late. Although it took a while for the consequences of Saul’s action to fully play out, that day was the beginning of the downfall of his kingdom.

Rather than learning from his mistake, Saul really started messing up when he began acting on his own interpretation of what the prophet Samuel said. At this time, when a prophet spoke, it was the same as God speaking. So when the prophet said God wanted Saul to destroy the Amalekites, including women, children, and livestock, as inhumane as that sounds, he meant it. But there on the battlefield, Saul made a decision based on his own interpretation of what God said. He decided not to kill the Amalekite king or slaughter the best livestock. And once the battle was over, Saul didn’t praise God for victory. Instead, he set up a monument in his own honor. Clearly, Saul was making decisions based on his own interpretations and ego.

Saul wasn’t the first to make this mistake. Going with your own interpretation of what God said goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when Eve decided to believe God didn’t really mean what he said when he instructed them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Unfortunately, we often do the same, interpreting what God tells us in a manner that doesn’t require as much from us. You know, it’s one thing to not be in tune with God’s voice, to be out of fellowship with him and not hear his directives. It’s really quite another to hear God, and then make the decision to go with your own interpretation of what he said. In some ways, that’s worse because it is a blatant disregard for God’s authority in our lives and it’s disobedience.

It’s easy to look at a Bible character like Saul and see his mistakes: the places he interpreted what God said incorrectly, the times he was impatient, or allowed his ego free reign. It’s a lot harder to look at our own lives and see that we really aren’t much different when it comes to making our own interpretation of God’s directives.

In 1 Samuel 15:10, the Lord said to Samuel, “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and not carried out my instructions.”

The Lord also said this about mankind in the days of Noah and about the Children of Israel.

Today, we still resist God’s voice. Does it bother us that we grieve God by disobeying him with our own interpretations? Perhaps it does to some extent, but maybe not enough to change us. Fighting against our own desires, our egos, and our own interpretations takes focus, determination, and God-infused strength.

Halfway obedience, obedience with a twist of our own interpretation, is really just disobedience.

 

Have You Seen Jesus?

Mark 16:5-7

5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”
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Have You Seen Jesus?

April 9 

Have You Seen Jesus?

By Oswald Chambers

 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them… —Mark 16:12

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

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

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

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

Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a Legacy

A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. Malachi 3:16

Some years ago our sons and I spent a week on an abandoned backcountry ranch on the Salmon River, Idaho’s “River of No Return.”

One day, exploring the ranch, I came across an ancient grave with a wooden marker. Whatever inscription the marker may have borne had long since been weathered away. Someone lived and died—now was forgotten. The gravesite seemed tragic to me. After we got home I spent several hours reading about the history of the old ranch and that area, but could find no information about the person buried there.

They say that the best among us is remembered for 100 years or so. The rest of us are soon forgotten. The memory of past generations, like our markers, soon fades away. Yet our legacy has been passed on through the family of God. How we’ve loved God and others in our lifetime lives on. Malachi 3:16–17 tells us, “a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. ‘They will be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession’ ” (nasb).

Paul said of David that he “served God’s purpose in his own generation” and departed (Acts 13:36). Like him, may we love the Lord and serve Him in ourgeneration and leave the remembering to Him. “They will be Mine,” says the Lord.

May I be faithful to You today, Lord, as I spend my time loving others with Your love. Help me to trust You with the legacy I’m leaving behind.

Living for the Lord leaves a lasting legacy.

Seedtime and Harvest

harvest-vegetables

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” John 4:34-35).

As I stepped outside one morning, the crisp coolness of fall greeted me. Usually, I turn on the light next to the door to avoid falling down the steps, but this morning the deck was already awash with light, although it was still hours until sunrise. As I walked to the end of the driveway, I saw the light source—a harvest moon.

God is in the details of our lives. He designed the moon to provide extra light in the fall to accommodate the harvesting of crops. Extra workers are hired and once all the crops are gathered, there is usually a celebration for the completion of work and God’s bounty.

Jesus often taught using stories that reflected the occupations of the time and farming illustrations abound in Scripture. He used planting and harvesting to illustrate spreading the gospel and drawing in and nurturing those who believed. In Matthew 9, Jesus reminded the disciples of the need for more harvesters.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38).

Now, more than ever, there is a need for workers who are willing to sow and harvest in spiritual fields. But why is it so hard to share our faith in Christ?

Fear—I walked the same route a man in my neighborhood ran. Eventually, his steps slowed to a stumble. Then he began working out on gym equipment in his garage. We continued to wave, but the Holy Spirit nudged me to walk up his driveway and tell him about Jesus. I invented excuses: time constraints, invasion of his privacy, not really knowing him. Sometimes, I even walked a different route, avoiding his house and my guilt for not stopping. Then, one day when I passed the house, cars jammed the driveway and spilled into the street. A grim black wreath hung on the front door. The man was dead and I had allowed fear to keep me from acting in obedience to God’s voice.

Feeling inadequate—Satan steals confidence, convincing us we’re not smart enough, engaging enough, wise enough, whatever enough to act on God’s directives. God gave Moses an assignment and he immediately reminded God he was inadequate. Even after God promised to help him, Moses still refused. Needless to say, God was angry. God is disappointed when we don’t trust him enough to step out in faith or when we don’t listen when he instructs us.

Invasion of privacy. The world bombards us with the message that people have the right to diverse spiritual beliefs and we are wrong to force our message or risk offending by implying their beliefs aren’t correct. But relaying your personal story about God at work in your life isn’t forcing someone to accept Him. Your personal experience is your story and others may identify and come to know Christ because you were willing to tell it.

Expecting another messenger—Often, we hesitate to share our faith because we assume someone else will. But what if others are waiting for another messenger, too? God showed me that sharing my faith is a natural overflow of my love for him. When we’re excited about something in our lives, we usually don’t wait for someone else to spread our good news.

Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

Look around you. Your ripe fields awaiting harvest may be as close as a co-worker, neighbor, or longtime friend. So roll up your sleeves, go to work, and enjoy a bountiful harvest. 

 

 

A Triumphant Mom

Proverbs 31:25-30 

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” …

Proverbs 31:26-27 

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Psalm 127:3 

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Proverbs 22:6 

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

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A Triumphant Mom

Author: Janet Perez Eckles

Happy mom with son

I sat on the edge of the bed, wrinkled tissue in hand. “Why me?”

I had asked that question with every tick tock of the clock during sleepless nights.

At 31, a hereditary retinal disease robbed my eyesight completely. It pulled a dark curtain of devastation and sorrow into my life and erased any hope I had of being a productive mom to my three, five, and seven-year-old sons.

One day, as self-pity was visiting again, a close friend called.

“Just checking on you,” she said. “How are you doing?”

I wasn’t doing. My life looked dark in every way and the tasks of a blind mom were too much for me.

“Okay, I guess,” I lied.

Then she said something profound. Something that opened the eyes of my heart and changed everything.

“If you think about it,” she said, “your kids are really God’s children. He is their Father and He’s in charge of all big and small things.”

I wiped my tears, inhaled a deep sigh, and let that truth sink into my heart. It brought the encouragement I needed to sweep away those “poor-me” notions, and sparked a renewed passion to care for my sons.

Now with a brighter outlook and a sweet love for my role as their mom, I compiled my own list of what makes a “good” mom:

  • A Mom who knows mistakes will be corrected in the hands of a loving God.
  • A Mom who goes to sleep at night with dishes still in the sink, but a bedtime story in her kid’s heart.
  • A Mom who knows perfection will happen on the other side of heaven.
  • A Mom who sees her kid’s weaknesses and still smiles at his strengths.
  • A Mom who places guilt in the garbage disposal of life.
  • A Mom who leaves fingerprints on the glass door to place an imprint of love in her kid’s heart.
  • A Mom who looks in the mirror and smiles because she is molding one of the leaders of tomorrow.
  • A Mom who picks shoes off the floor, thankful her kids can walk.
  • A Mom who listens to endless chatter, thankful her kids can talk.
  • A Mom who’s signed a partnership with God.
  • A Mom who stirs this sweetener in the coffee cup of her heart: “I can do all things through the Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

And while she drops exhausted in bed at the end of the day, truth shines through: It’s not the items checked off on the to-do list, accomplishments managed, the applause never heard or the help always needed; but it’s the certainty that echoes in her heart, that her true greatness is in the Father’s eyes, her sorrows are in His heart and her triumphs are in His plans.

His Resurrection Destiny

By Oswald Chambers

 His Resurrection Destiny

Our Lord’s Cross is the gateway into His life. His resurrection means that He has the power to convey His life to me. When I was born again, I received the very life of the risen Lord from Jesus Himself.

Christ’s resurrection destiny— His foreordained purpose— was to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We never have exactly the same relationship to God that the Son of God has, but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life— a life He had never lived before He was God Incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before. And what His resurrection means for us is that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we will have a body like His glorious body, but we can know here and now the power and effectiveness of His resurrection and can “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Paul’s determined purpose was to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10).

Jesus prayed, “…as You have given Him authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him” (John 17:2). The term Holy Spirit is actually another name for the experience of eternal life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the deity of God who continues to apply the power of the atonement by the Cross of Christ to our lives. Thank God for the glorious and majestic truth that His Spirit can work the very nature of Jesus into us, if we will only obey Him.

Micah MaddoxApril 6, 2018
When People Hurt Your Heart
MICAH MADDOX, COMPEL Member AND She Speaks GraduateImage result for picture of heart break

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:5 (NIV)

I scooted closer to my mother as I felt the power of God in my 6-year-old body. Moved by my daddy’s preaching, I could sense God’s power within me as a little child. Then things changed … when I began to realize my dad, the pastor, was not all I thought he was.His choices proved something much different.

Ponytail swinging, ruffles bouncing and giggles abounding, I ran into life as a 6-year-old girl without a problem in the world. Then suddenly right before my eyes, everything I knew about God shattered. I woke up to a new home with one bedroom that I shared with my brother and my mom. Dad was gone. 

I could give you the gory details, but perhaps you’ve heard stories like mine. A man of God makes a bad choice that causes him to lose his ministry, his family and what could have been his future.

Though this sounds heart-wrenching and dreadfully sorrowful, God has redeemed my story and my life. He’s taken something that easily could have sent my brother, my mother and me into a life of despair and transformed it into a beautiful picture of His grace.

Thankfully I had a faithful, godly mother who pointed me to God’s Word. She reminded me often that “God didn’t bring us this far to leave us.”

And then came Clay, a man only God could have chosen to rescue us. He walked into our lives and adopted us. He gave us a new name and new identity. He taught us godly men don’t have to stand on a stage to be heard, but they can sit in the life of a child who is desperate for love and let God’s light shine brightly in that small place.

By God’s grace, today both my brother and I serve in church ministry. We’ve been given the gift of being able to share our story so others might see that God is bigger than the pain of this world. When sin threatens to take everything comfortable away, God offers the grace, mercy and comfort we truly need.

People will make mistakes and hurt your heart deeply, but I want to offer you this truth: “God didn’t bring you this far to leave you.” He has a plan greater than we will ever know. Don’t let someone else’s mistakes make you someone you never intended to be.

I don’t know what you have been through in your life, but I know this: God is faithful. He binds up wounds when we think we will never heal. He mends our hearts when we think they are too broken to bind. And He offers His grace when life gives us so much more than we can handle alone.

God is not done with your life. He can take the most broken and bruised and transform it into the most beautiful. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5).

Dear heavenly Father, when I feel betrayed and alone, help me know You are near. When it seems things will never work out and life feels broken, give me hope to press on and peace to pursue You more. I need You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.