Tag Archives: prayer

Enough

 

Matthew 14: 18-21

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 

19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 

20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 

21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

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Enough

From: Our Daily Bread

Enough
 
 

They ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord. 2 Kings 4:44

When my husband and I were first asked to host a small group in our home, my immediate reaction was to decline. I felt inadequate. We didn’t have seats for everyone; our home was small and couldn’t hold many people. I didn’t know whether we had the skills to facilitate the discussion. I worried that I’d be asked to prepare food, something for which I lacked both passion and funds. I didn’t feel like we had “enough” to do it. I didn’t feel was “enough” to do it. But we wanted to give to God and our community, so despite our fears, we agreed. Over the next five years we found great joy in welcoming the group into our living room.

I observe similar reluctance and doubt in the man who brought bread to God’s servant, Elisha. Elisha had instructed him to give it to the people, but the man questioned whether twenty loaves could feed so many—one hundred men. He seems to have been tempted to withhold the food because—in his human understanding—it wouldn’t be sufficient. Yet it was more than enough (2 Kings 4:44), because God took his gift, given in obedience, and made it enough.

When we feel inadequate, or think what we have to offer isn’t sufficient, let’s remember that God asks us to give what we have in faithful obedience. He is the one who makes it “enough.”

Lord, when I fear what I have to give is insufficient, help me to give to You anyway and trust You to make it “enough.”

An offering given in faithful obedience is just right.

 

The Great Divide

From: Our Daily Journey

The Great Divide

Read:

Ephesians 4:1-24
Speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15).

A ministry leader once tried an interesting communication experiment. Holding giant whiteboards and some markers, he engaged passersby on his city’s streets. On one whiteboard, people were asked to write what they wanted to tell the church. The messages weren’t very kind. On the other board, people were asked to write, “What do you want to say to Jesus?” To Him they wrote surprisingly tender messages such as, “I miss you,” “I’m sorry,” and “I love you.”

Loving Jesus should be easy—He’s that winsome combination of pure affection mixed with no-nonsense strength. He’s steady enough to never compromise, yet caring enough to help us (all of us) out of our sin to lives of real fulfillment. But if believers are faithfully following Jesus, the world should see Him in us just as easily. Christ is the source of unity in the church—His body—and the one we grow to become like (Ephesians 4:15-16). The goal, then, is for the church to be a family of believers who are flourishing spiritually. In that way they can help each other mature to be more like Jesus so that “the whole body [is] healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16).

At its best, such a healthy, maturing church clearly reflects Jesus as each believer is being transformed to become more like Him. As the Holy Spirit enables, and as the Scriptures provide the wisdom we need, we can learn to follow Christ with the abandon of a true disciple.

May we persevere in following Jesus by God’s strength, for the rewards are worth it. We will please Him, encourage our fellow believers, and have a better opportunity to close the great divide that many see between Jesus and His followers.

 

Coming to Jesus

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 Come to Me… —Matthew 11:28

Isn’t it humiliating to be told that we must come to Jesus! Think of the things about which we will not come to Jesus Christ. If you want to know how real you are, test yourself by these words— “Come to Me….” In every dimension in which you are not real, you will argue or evade the issue altogether rather than come; you will go through sorrow rather than come; and you will do anything rather than come the last lap of the race of seemingly unspeakable foolishness and say, “Just as I am, I come.” As long as you have even the least bit of spiritual disrespect, it will always reveal itself in the fact that you are expecting God to tell you to do something very big, and yet all He is telling you to do is to “Come….”

“Come to Me….” When you hear those words, you will know that something must happen in you before you can come. The Holy Spirit will show you what you have to do, and it will involve anything that will uproot whatever is preventing you from getting through to Jesus. And you will never get any further until you are willing to do that very thing. The Holy Spirit will search out that one immovable stronghold within you, but He cannot budge it unless you are willing to let Him do so.

How often have you come to God with your requests and gone away thinking, “I’ve really received what I wanted this time!” And yet you go away with nothing, while all the time God has stood with His hands outstretched not only to take you but also for you to take Him. Just think of the invincible, unconquerable, and untiring patience of Jesus, who lovingly says, “Come to Me….”

How Long?

How long, Lord, must I call for help? Habakkuk 1:2
When Jesus Comes again, these people will be healed and live in heaven completely well.
They will no more be confined to wheelchairs. There are no crippled people in heaven.
People who are held captive and oppressed will be freed in paradise.
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How Long?

From: Our Daily Bread

How Long?

How long, Lord, must I call for help? Habakkuk 1:2

When I married, I thought I would have children immediately. That did not happen, and the pain of infertility brought me to my knees. I often cried out to God, “How long?” I knew God could change my circumstance. Why wasn’t He?

Are you waiting on God? Are you asking, How long, Lord, before justice prevails in our world? Before there is a cure for cancer? Before I am no longer in debt?

The prophet Habakkuk was well acquainted with that feeling. In the seventh century bc, he cried out to the Lord: “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?” (Hab. 1:2–3). He prayed for a long time, struggling to reconcile how a just and powerful God could allow wickedness, injustice, and corruption to continue in Judah. As far as Habakkuk was concerned, God should have already intervened. Why was God doing nothing?

There are days when we too feel as if God is doing nothing. Like Habakkuk, we have continuously asked God, “How long?”

Yet, we are not alone. As with Habakkuk, God hears our burdens. We must continue to cast them on the Lord because He cares for us. God hears us and, in His time, will give an answer.

Lord, thank You for bearing my burdens. I know that You hear my cries and will answer in accordance to Your perfect plan and purposes.

For encouragement, read When God Says No.

Don’t despair because of evil; God will have the last word.

 

October 6, 2017
He Sees the Gift in You
SUZIE ELLERFrom: Crosswalk.com

“‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’” John 1:48 (NIV)

When my brothers were small, they’d often tiptoe into my room and climb in bed with me at night. Home was hard at that time for all of us. We found sanctuary as we huddled close, and I told stories.

“Say a word,” I’d prompt.

“Dragon!” one little brother whispered.

“Forest,” said my other little brother.

Off we went on an adventure, as I wove a story about a fierce dragon caught in a forest, with two sweet boys hanging on every word.

I didn’t know it back then, but storytelling was a gift God placed in my heart. It wasn’t just a knack for telling stories, but something He would use for His purpose. On the nights when my little brothers and I snuggled in for a good story, He used my gift to calm their anxious hearts. Little did I know God would continue to use this throughout my life.

Likewise, Jesus knew a thing or two about gifting and purpose.

In John 1, we find Jesus in Galilee. Nathanael is walking toward Him, and Jesus calls out, telling all within hearing distance that Nathanael is a good man.

“‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked.

“Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’”

Long before they met in person, Jesus knew all about Nathanael. He knew of his character. He knew his giftings. He knew this man had a purpose.

Jesus knows us. Isn’t that incredible?

Years ago, when I was telling stories to my brothers in the midst of a chaotic home life, I didn’t know it was a talent God had given me. I didn’t understand — until much later — that Jesus not only recognized those gifts but desired to help me mature them.

Maybe you can point out others’ gifts, but not your own? You don’t always recognize them, or they seem ordinary. Take heart, friend! Jesus recognizes them because His Father put them inside of you.

Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew) went on to become a disciple and friend of Jesus. He traveled across India, Armenia, Ethiopia and Southern Arabia, sharing the gospel and drawing many to Christ. When he encountered Jesus, he stood under a tree minding his own business. As he trusted that Jesus knew him inside and out, it changed the direction of his life.

What gifts are inside of you?

They may seem ordinary, but not to your Creator. He sees your gift of hospitality. He sees your deep compassion. He listens as you create music or string together words with care. He delights that you are good with kids, a dreamer and planner, or that you have a natural ability to lead others.

Jesus sees those gifts, but we also play a part. I was a storyteller, and I could hide that gift away or hold it up to the One who loves me best.

I want to challenge you today …

  • Acknowledge your gifts, even if they are in the beginning stages.
  • Hone your gifts, even if there’s a learning curve.
  • Then, use your gifts to draw others to a Savior who sees and knows them, and loves you as His own.

Jesus sees you, right where you are. He knows you and delights in the gifts unique to you. Hold your gifts up to Him today and trust He’ll use them in ways you may not even comprehend.

Dear Jesus, although my gifting seems small or rough-hewn, I will no longer hide this gift. But instead, I’ll hold it up to You, asking You to use it in ways that delight Your heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

The Nature of Reconciliation

By Oswald Chambers

Sin is a fundamental relationship— it is not wrong doing, but wrong being— it is deliberate and determined independence from God. The Christian faith bases everything on the extreme, self-confident nature of sin. Other faiths deal with sins— the Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ confronted in people was the heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored this in our presentation of the gospel that the message of the gospel has lost its sting and its explosive power.

The revealed truth of the Bible is not that Jesus Christ took on Himself our fleshly sins, but that He took on Himself the heredity of sin that no man can even touch. God made His own Son “to be sin” that He might make the sinner into a saint. It is revealed throughout the Bible that our Lord took on Himself the sin of the world through identification with us, not through sympathy for us. He deliberately took on His own shoulders, and endured in His own body, the complete, cumulative sin of the human race. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us…” and by so doing He placed salvation for the entire human race solely on the basis of redemption. Jesus Christ reconciled the human race, putting it back to where God designed it to be. And now anyone can experience that reconciliation, being brought into oneness with God, on the basis of what our Lord has done on the cross.

A man cannot redeem himself— redemption is the work of God, and is absolutely finished and complete. And its application to individual people is a matter of their own individual action or response to it. A distinction must always be made between the revealed truth of redemption and the actual conscious experience of salvation in a person’s life.

God Gives Rest To The Weary

 

Rest for the Weary

Matthew 11: 28

27  All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. 

28  Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 

29  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.…

 

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If I Knew Then . . .

From: Our Daily Bread

If I Knew Then . . .
 
 

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

On the way to work, I listened to the song “Dear Younger Me,” which asks: If you could go back, knowing what you know now, what would you tell your younger self? As I listened, I thought about the bits of wisdom I might give my younger, less-wise self. Most of us have thought about how we might do things differently—if only we could do it all over again.

But the song illustrates that even though we have regrets from our past, all our experiences have shaped who we are. We can’t change the consequences of our choices or sin. Praise God we don’t have to carry the mistakes around with us. Because of what Jesus has done! “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).

If we turn to Him in faith and sorrow for our sins, He will forgive us. On that day we’re made brand new and begin the process of being spiritually transformed (2 Cor. 5:17). It doesn’t matter what we’ve done (or haven’t done), we are forgiven because of what He’s done. We can move forward, making the most of today and anticipating a future with Him. In Christ, we’re free!

Dear Lord, I’m so thankful that through You we can be free of the burdens of the past—the mistakes, the pain, the sins—that hang so heavy. We don’t need to carry around regret or shame. We can leave them with You.

Leave your heavy burdens with God.

 

Doing as He Says

From: Our Daily Journey

Doing as He Says

Read:

1 Kings 17:1-16
So Elijah did as the Lord told him (1 Kings 17:5).

I don’t always like to do what I’m told; an internal resistance wells up inside me. Perhaps my natural stubbornness and my dependence on prayer to soften my heart makes me notice Elijah’s pliability and obedience in 1 Kings 17. When God tells him to do something, he obeys. And God uses him in His redemption story.

Throughout these verses, we see Elijah hearing and obeying God. The prophet announces to King Ahab the coming drought, and the rains dry up (1 Kings 17:1,7). Elijah follows God’s commands by hiding at a stream where ravens care for his needs (1 Kings 17:5-6). He then obeys Him in going to Zarephath and seeking food from a widow (1 Kings 17:8-10). She too obeys and makes food for them, although she was nearly out of food (1 Kings 17:12). Elijah promises, on behalf of God, that her oil and flour will not run dry—and God keeps His promise (1 Kings 17:15-16).

Interestingly, Bible commentators point out that the conflict between Elijah and King Ahab represents a bigger story of the true God versus false gods—in this case, Baal, a fertility god believed to be the provider of rain and thunder. So when God stopped the precipitation for several years, He also dried up any perceived power of Baal. The false god was shown to be wanting, while the true God provided for His people.

None of us are prophets like Elijah, but in God’s strength we can echo his character by building up our “obedience muscle.” Perhaps we can commit to acting on a nudge we sense when reading Scripture, or we can ask God to show us an area of life we’re withholding from Him. As we obey by His power, God may use us in His great redemption plan.

 

Park Princess

From: Melinda Means, author

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I have always been a sucker for theme parks. Screaming children. Overpriced food. A 90-minute wait for a 30-second ride. Blazing heat. What’s not to love? Growing up in Florida, theme parks were a big part of my childhood. I’ve tried to give my own children some of those experiences and memories as well. One recent trip, however, will not be making the family scrapbook.

Last spring break, we decided to go to Busch Gardens. While my nine-year-old son was thrilled, my adolescent daughter was convinced it was a plot to make her life completely miserable. We had a fun but tiring day – peppered with preteen drama. When the park was closing, this momma was more than ready to hit the road.

We managed to exit just before the mass exodus from the park. I smiled smugly as we waited for the tram to our car. We were beautifully positioned — first in one of the lines.

In a polite and just world, each line of people matches up to a row of seats in the tram. However, when the tram stopped, to my utter horror, the line of people next to me rushed the tram and took our row of seats! Uh-huh. Not going to happen, I thought. Momma’s got an attitude and she’s not going to be denied.

I spied one seat left in “our” row. It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine. While my family watched in disbelief, I jockeyed for position, leaving the husband of this family of “row-thieves” standing by the tram. Apparently, I decided I was going to make them leave their patriarch behind. At that moment it also seemed perfectly rational to leave my own family behind because that was “my” seat.

And I didn’t even have the keys to the car.

“Um, that’s my husband. He needs that seat,” said the Row-Thief Wife.

“Well, we were first in line and now we’re going to have to wait!” I said as I stepped off the tram in a snit.

My daughter was laughing hysterically, while my son stood wondering what alien life form had overtaken his mother. “Who are you, Mom?!” my daughter finally said.

My husband, always the calm one, observed, “The woman obviously didn’t know she was messing with The Polecat!” (His name for me when I do or say something irrational or feisty.)

A sense of entitlement. It’s the very thing I hate to see in my children. But here I was acting like a pouty princess because I didn’t get my way.

By the time I came to my senses, the Row-Thief Family was long gone and along with them my chance to apologize. However, I realized I could still make it right with God and use it as a teaching moment for my kids.

“I shouldn’t have acted that way. I’m sorry. We were going to get to our car whether we got on that tram or the next one,” I said. “I should have let it go. It looks ugly when we insist on our own way, doesn’t it?”

In Philippians 2:3-4 NIV, Paul issues us this challenge: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”

As parents, co-workers, spouses, and friends, we have opportunities to deny our “rights” every day.

I sacrifice for my kids and expect they’ll show me love and respect. I give time and attention to my spouse and expect grace and understanding. But sometimes I get attitude or apathy, backtalking and bellyaching. There are no guaranteed rewards; just Christ’s instruction to obey, to serve, to stick with it, regardless of the outcome; regardless of how I feel or what I think I’m entitled to.

Each and every time I do, I give others a little earthly glimpse of God’s unconditional love.

Jesus is our example. “… he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:7-8 NIV

He became nothing, giving up His rights as the Son of God to serve us. If I remember His example, maybe next time I’ll shut my big mouth and give up my seat on the tram.

 

Hovering Over Us

Proverbs 15:3

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good.
 
Acts 20:28

“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

Psalm 141:3

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.

Psalm 121:8

The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.

Genesis 31:49

and Mizpah, for he said, “May the LORD watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other.

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Hovering Over Us

From: Our Daily Bread

Hovering Over Us

He shielded him and cared for him . . . like an eagle that . . . hovers over its young. Deuteronomy 32:10–11

Betty’s daughter arrived home from an overseas trip, feeling unwell. When her pain became unbearable, Betty and her husband took her to the emergency room. The doctors and nurses set to work, and after a few hours one of the nurses said to Betty, “She’s going to be okay! We’re going to take good care of her and get her healed up.” In that moment, Betty felt peace and love flood over her. She realized that while she hovered over her daughter anxiously, the Lord is the perfect parent who nurtures His children, comforting us in difficult times.

In the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord reminded His people how, when they were wandering in the desert, He cared for them as a loving parent who hovers over its young. He never left them, but was like an eagle “that spreads its wings” to catch its children and “carries them aloft” (32:11). He wanted them to remember that although they experienced hardship and strife in the desert, He didn’t abandon them.

We too may face challenges of many kinds, but we can take comfort and courage in this reminder that our God will never leave us. When we feel that we are falling, the Lord like an eagle will spread His wings to catch us (v. 11) as He brings us peace.

Father God, Your love as a parent is greater than anything I can imagine. May my confidence rest in You, and may I share Your love with others.

Our God hovers over us with love.

Growing into Our Life

Growing into Our Life

Read:

Luke 2:41-52
Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and all the people (Luke 2:52).

Recently, my two sons (both in their early teens) and I, along with a few friends, gathered in our front yard with one mission: to take down our massive, old ash tree and turn it into firewood. The tree was perhaps forty feet tall, with a trunk the size of a small car. For an entire day, with axes and a hydraulic log-splitter, we labored with pure joy. But the moment I’ll cherish forever was watching my boys, each for the first time, heave an axe overhead and bring it down with fury. In those moments, I saw their strength in new ways. I saw their fierceness. I saw them becoming men. Wasn’t it only yesterday that they were babies and I held them in my arms?

Perhaps we think coming-of-age is something Jesus wouldn’t need to experience. Luke tells us, however, that He “grew in wisdom” (Luke 2:52). Though morally blameless, He wasn’t a superhuman unfamiliar with human struggles. Jesus had to learn how to use His mind, how to acquire and apply knowledge, how to discern and persevere. As He grew into an adult, Jesus developed in wisdom as well.

Likewise, over the years, Jesus “grew . . . in stature and in favor with God and all the people” (Luke 2:52). He wasn’t born as a man in a babe’s body. Jesus actually grew up and matured. The One who would rescue the world had to be dressed, had to have His dinner cooked for Him, and had to be taught how to walk. Jesus also had to grow into His identity, into the fullness of His life with God and with others. He had to grow, and so do we.

Perhaps we can have a little more patience with ourselves (and others) as we consider that truth. Growing into our life, into the life God has for us, will take time and His power to be realized.

 

The Nature of Degeneration

By Oswald Chambers

The Bible does not say that God punished the human race for one man’s sin, but that the nature of sin, namely, my claim to my right to myself, entered into the human race through one man. But it also says that another Man took upon Himself the sin of the human race and put it away— an infinitely more profound revelation (see Hebrews 9:26). The nature of sin is not immorality and wrongdoing, but the nature of self-realization which leads us to say, “I am my own god.” This nature may exhibit itself in proper morality or in improper immorality, but it always has a common basis— my claim to my right to myself. When our Lord faced either people with all the forces of evil in them, or people who were clean-living, moral, and upright, He paid no attention to the moral degradation of one, nor any attention to the moral attainment of the other. He looked at something we do not see, namely, the nature of man (see John 2:25).

Sin is something I am born with and cannot touch— only God touches sin through redemption. It is through the Cross of Christ that God redeemed the entire human race from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin. God nowhere holds a person responsible for having the heredity of sin, and does not condemn anyone because of it. Condemnation comes when I realize that Jesus Christ came to deliver me from this heredity of sin, and yet I refuse to let Him do so. From that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation. “This is the condemnation [and the critical moment], that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light…” (John 3:19).

Divine Interruptions

Acts 8:26-40   (ESV)

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south[a] to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.

 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship

 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”

Pictures of ordinary interruptions
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Divine interruptions are when God takes you away from what you are doing for a good reason.

Divine Interruptions

From: Our Daily Bread

Divine Interruptions
Read: Luke 18:35–43 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 20–22; Ephesians 6

Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied.  Luke 18:40–41

Experts agree that a staggering amount of time is consumed each day by interruptions. Whether at work or at home, a phone call or an unexpected visit can easily deflect us from what we feel is our main purpose.

Not many of us like disruptions in our daily lives, especially when they cause inconvenience or a change of plans. But Jesus treated what appeared to be interruptions in a far different way. Time after time in the Gospels, we see the Lord stop what He is doing to help a person in need.

While Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem where He would be crucified, a blind man begging by the side of the road called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:35–38). Some in the crowd told him to be quiet, but he kept calling out to Jesus. Jesus stopped and asked the man, “‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you’ ” (vv. 41–42).

When our plans are interrupted by someone who genuinely needs help, we can ask the Lord for wisdom in how to respond with compassion. What we call an interruption may be a divine appointment the Lord has scheduled for that day.

Lord Jesus, fill us with Your wisdom and compassion that we may respond as You did to people in need.

Interruptions can be opportunities to serve.

 

What It Takes to Withstand Evil

From: Stormie Omartian, author

Before each specific assignment Navy SEALs are given, they thoroughly assess their equipment. Each item they have with them is chosen for a specific reason—to protect themselves, fight the enemy, win the battle, survive, and return safely. Every aspect of their equipment is of the best quality and must be in perfect working order or condition. Because all of this has to be carried with them on their body, they assemble their camouflage uniform with precision and great thought. They know they can’t go into battle safely or effectively if they are missing something important or carrying extra baggage. Everything they take with them is designed to facilitate and anticipate their every need. By the time they are on a mission they are more than ready.

As prayer warriors we must do the same. God doesn’t want us carrying anything that is unnecessary because it will weigh us down and hinder what He has called us to do. And we must not go to battle without the things we need in order to win. Our battle is spiritual, and what we accomplish in the spirit realm is as important as what the highly trained, prepared, and equipped soldier does in the physical. We must know our weapons and be highly skilled in using them. But first we must put on the armor God has given us in order to stand strong against the enemy.

The apostle Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil ” (Ephesians 6:10-11). He didn’t say, “If you are smart you might take up the whole armor.” Or, “If you feel like it and have the time, take up the armor.” Or, “Try to take up the armor at least once or twice a year.” God’s Word says, “Take up the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13). This is not suggested; it is commanded.

The Bible would not have told us to take up the whole armor of God in order to withstand evil if evil could have been withstood without doing that.

To “stand against” literally means to stand in front of and in opposition to the forces and plans of evil. It means to be the one standing after the battle. It also means to stand in preparation for the next battle. Standing against the wiles of the devil certainly doesn’t mean do nothing. If we are to do nothing until He comes, why do we need to wrestle against the enemy? “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Why does Jesus give us spiritual weapons to withstand evil forces if He doesn’t want us to use them?

The reason we must put on the whole armor of God is to withstand evil. We don’t war against people, but against a spiritual hierarchy of invisible power.

The forces of evil are invisible powers with a structure and specific levels of authority. We are not only to use our armor to protect and defend ourselves from them—as important as that is—but also to go on the offensive against them as well. When we do that, we close doors to the enemy and open doors to the will of God to be done on earth. We advance God’s kingdom.

Lord, help me to put on the full spiritual armor You have provided for me so that I can “stand against the wiles of the devil” every day. In Jesus’ name I pray.

 

Alluring

From: Our Daily Journey

Alluring

Read:

Matthew 14:13-21
As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns (Matthew 14:13).

The owner of the coffee shop I escape to when I have a writing deadline told me she wants it to be the “community’s living room.” And I think it is. There are heart surgeons, business people, judges, medical students, teachers, kids from local schools, college students, parents, pastors, and writers who frequent it. Although I’m new to the area, I’ve already come to recognize many of the patrons. The people who work there are friendly and welcoming. The coffee and food are good. The atmosphere is cozy and alluring. It’s a go-to place in our community.

My little haven calls to mind the fact that wherever Jesus showed up became a go-to place. In Matthew 14:13 we read that He was in a remote place. But it didn’t matter! As soon as the crowds found out where He was, they left their towns and went out to Him. Part of the reason people were drawn to Jesus was that He was full of God’s healing power (Matthew 14:14). They were also drawn by the way He brought out the wisdom of the Scriptures (Luke 5:1). But central to the attraction to Jesus was the way He made all types of people comfortable around Him (Matthew 9:11). When they looked at Christ, they saw love and compassion in His eyes (Matthew 14:14).

Everything about Jesus was alluring. So wherever He happened to be—whether a home, seaside, wilderness, or even the cross—there was a pull, a magnetism that drew people close.

When we follow Jesus, when we’re filled with Him (Colossians 2:9-10), we too will be alluring. Our lives, houses, workplaces, and churches will be go-to places. May we His disciples—and the places we frequent—be alluring through His power and love within us.

Conceived In Crisis

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Conceived in Crisis

From: Our Daily Bread

Conceived in Crisis
Read: Psalm 57 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 17–19; Ephesians 5:17–33

I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1

Marc recalls a moment from his childhood when his father called the family together. Their car had broken down, and the family would run out of money by the end of the month. Marc’s dad paused and prayed. Then he asked the family to expect God’s answer.

Today Marc recalls how God’s help arrived in surprising ways. A friend repaired their car; unexpected checks arrived; food showed up at the door. Praising God came easily. But the family’s gratitude had been forged in a crisis.

Psalm 57 has long provided rich inspiration for worship songs. When David declared, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens” (v. 11), we might imagine him gazing up at a magnificent Middle Eastern night sky or perhaps singing in a tabernacle worship service. But in reality David, fearful for his life, was hiding in a cave.

“I am in the midst of lions,” David said in the psalm. These “ravenous beasts” were “men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords” (v. 4). David’s praise was conceived in crisis. Although he was cornered by enemies who wanted him dead, David could write these amazing words: “My heart, O God, is steadfast . . . . I will sing and make music” (v. 7).

Whatever crisis we face today, we can run to God for help. Then, we can praise Him as we wait expectantly, confident in His infinitely creative care for us.

Share with others on Facebook.com/ourdailybread about when God delivered you from a crisis.

Your next crisis is your next opportunity to trust our unfailing God.

Katie Davis Majors October 3, 2017

Daring to Hope
KATIE DAVIS MAJORS

From: Crosswalk.com

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)

I was tired.

In five short years, I’d become a mother to 13, grown a ministry of 60 staff members which provided schooling and discipleship to over 700 children, and learned to function in a completely different culture.

I sat at a school and watched children dance as they sang in a language I still only half-understood. My mind wandered back over the years:

  • The day I moved halfway around the world, from Nashville to Uganda, thinking I’d only stay a year.
  • The day God planted in my heart to begin Amazima, with the goal of teaching His truth to families in my village.
  • The day a house collapsed on a little girl I had adopted. What started as a short-term foster situation became a permanent adoption as she and her siblings filled up my heart and home following their grandmother’s death.
  • The joy when, with a few friends and a few dollars and a lot of faith, Amazima sent 40 children to school for the first time.

I shifted in my rickety chair as the students recited a poem, but instead of their words I heard a whisper, “Let’s do it again.”

I knew it was from the Lord, as the thought rose from a place deep inside.

Recently, Amazima staff leadership and I discussed opening a secondary school in Uganda. We felt it would simply be too much. We were already spread thin. But as the idea persisted, we committed to spend a few days praying and fasting over it together. Today was the last day before we’d make a decision.

“Let’s do it again,” I felt the whisper a second time.

Later that day, I haphazardly flipped open my Bible, still mulling over the words I felt the Lord had spoken to me. My eyes fell on 2 Corinthians 9:8, and tears filled my eyes as I read, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

All things. All times. All that we need.

The next morning, I told the leadership team I felt God leading us to build the school. It would require more than we had, but I was confident He wanted to use it to make disciples. Thus began years of research, planning, dreaming and praying.

Another five years have passed, and in our first year operating The Amazima Secondary School, 72 students received a Christian education from compassionate, Jesus-loving teachers. As I listened to parents describe how this school is changing lives, I blinked back tears and remembered His words to me.

“Let’s do it again.”

He’s spoken those words many times, calling me out of my comfort zone to places where I would not have enough time or resources and would have to lean on Him. And each time He has been all things, in all times, and given everything I needed.

When I was joyfully preparing to marry the most wonderful man, but also grieving the life of “just me and the girls,” He whispered, “Let’s do it again. Come with Me again to this place of uncertainty where you lean on Me to be all you need.”

When we wondered about opening our home to addicts, AIDS patients and homeless people, He spoke softly, “Let’s do it againAnd I will be with you, and where you don’t have enough, I will be enough.”

When I was pregnant with our first son, excited yet terribly worried he’d alter our family dynamic, that our girls might draw comparisons between the way they entered our family and the way he did, those same words rose up, “Let’s do it again.”

In the past decade, God has drawn me to places of uncertainty, trepidation, even hardship. Time and again, He’s asked me to trust Him, and He’s given me all I ever needed. Maybe you agree, or you’re still uncertain whether God will provide. I’ve been there.

But today, I sat on the other side. I saw clearly that even in the most difficult times, God always provides, always uses all of it for my good and His glory as He draws me closer to Him.

Whatever your circumstance, God will be all things in all times. He will be all you need.

Father God, thank You for always drawing us closer. Give us eyes to see Your work in and around us, and increase our faith so we can trust You more. Thank You for being faithful to us again and again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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The Place of Ministry

By Oswald Chambers

“His disciples asked Him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ ” (Mark 9:28). The answer lies in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “This kind can come out by nothing but” concentrating on Him, and then doubling and redoubling that concentration on Him. We can remain powerless forever, as the disciples were in this situation, by trying to do God’s work without concentrating on His power, and by following instead the ideas that we draw from our own nature. We actually slander and dishonor God by our very eagerness to serve Him without knowing Him.

When you are brought face to face with a difficult situation and nothing happens externally, you can still know that freedom and release will be given because of your continued concentration on Jesus Christ. Your duty in service and ministry is to see that there is nothing between Jesus and yourself. Is there anything between you and Jesus even now? If there is, you must get through it, not by ignoring it as an irritation, or by going up and over it, but by facing it and getting through it into the presence of Jesus Christ. Then that very problem itself, and all that you have been through in connection with it, will glorify Jesus Christ in a way that you will never know until you see Him face to face.

We must be able to “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), but we must also know how to come down. The power of the saint lies in the coming down and in the living that is done in the valley. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and what he was referring to were mostly humiliating things. And yet it is in our power to refuse to be humiliated and to say, “No, thank you, I much prefer to be on the mountaintop with God.” Can I face things as they actually are in the light of the reality of Jesus Christ, or do things as they really are destroy my faith in Him, and put me into a panic?

Life Beyond The Rituals

Leviticus 1:3-13

 

‘If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. ‘He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf. ‘He shall slay the young bull before the LORD; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall offer up the blood and sprinkle the blood around on the altar that is at the doorway of the tent of meeting. read more.

Leviticus 4:1-3

 

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If a person sins unintentionally in any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, and commits any of them, if the anointed priest sins so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD a bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed.

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Jesus Christ ended the law and ritual. He brought in the age of grace.
We are now free from the law and ritual.
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Life Beyond The Rituals

From: Get More Strength

“They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Mark 1:18

A royal dignitary was greeting residents at a nursing home, when he was surprised by the unresponsiveness of one woman who just sat there and stared at him. Finally, the dignitary asked, “Do you know who I am?”—to which the woman responded: “No. But that nurse over there helps us with those kinds of things.”

Many people are confused about who Jesus is. But through His Word,  God helps us know and enjoy the real Jesus. You will find Him wonderfully compelling. Tough fishermen, tax collectors, and zealots gave up everything to follow Him (Mark 1:18). Women felt safe with Him. Crowds stood in awe of His power and authority.

Jesus is not content to be just our “fire insurance,” saving us from eternal punishment in hell. Rather, He wants us to know Him for who He really is, and He desires to connect with us on a deeper, more personal level.

If you are weary of a religion that is about rules and regulations, then welcome to life beyond the rituals. Welcome to a relationship in which you can find companionship, comfort, wisdom, and reality. Welcome to the wonderful privilege of getting to know Jesus and the joy of following Him.

Get to know Him—and you’ll grow to love Him more and more each day.

Which of all our friends, to save us,
Could or would have shed their blood?
But our Jesus died to have us
Reconciled in Him to God.  —Newton

To know Jesus is to love Jesus

 

 

Complete—Yet Under Construction

From: Our Daily Journey

Complete—Yet Under Construction

 

Read:

Ephesians 3:14-21
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong (Ephesians 3:17).

As my mom and I entered the indoor prayer garden our church recently built, I suddenly felt the sweet peace and presence of the Holy Spirit. The room had plants, a paved walkway with Scriptures displayed, a small waterfall, and a lit cross on the wall. In contrast to this peaceful, awe-inspiring sanctuary, just outside we could see contractors working on a different part of the building—with dust, tools, noisy machines, and everything else one might expect to find at a construction site.

I realized then that the part of the building under construction and the prayer garden were both reflections of my own journey with Jesus—the one a picture of the work in progress I am today, the other an image of my future transformation. They brought to mind the apostle Paul’s prayer for Ephesian believers to grow to be “complete, with all the fullness of life and power” that come from God (Ephesians 3:19). Through His Spirit, God would provide the “glorious, unlimited resources” they needed, and Jesus would build His home in their hearts (Ephesians 3:16).

And this growth is available to all believers today as well. As we receive what is needed from the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:15), our “roots will grow down into God’s love” as we grow to understand and experience it more deeply (Ephesians 3:17). This love is deep enough to fill and strengthen any heart (Ephesians 3:18).

Although we’re still under construction, through Jesus’ work we are also already “complete through [our] union with Christ” (Colossians 2:10). Through the power of the Spirit, may we continue to grow in understanding and experiencing the infinite love of our personal God and living it out in every area of our lives.

 

Why Did Lucifer Fall?

From: CBN, and Author: Nina Keegan

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Why did Lucifer fall? The answer to that? Nobody knows exactly. Was there an altercation? Did he start a fight he could never win? I guess we could all imagine for a moment.

Lucifer was beautiful, anointed, and had the keys to the enormity of all blessings and favor of Heaven at his fingertips. How and why did something change so audaciously in him? How was his heart so hardened to God, the one he had long worshipped and praised?

A desire for self-recognition, perhaps a pride and arrogance, won in the battle of his mind and he decided to become his own God. He desired praise. He longed to be worshipped.

So with that, and I imagine quite swiftly, he was banished from Heaven, hurled out of the Kingdom, and forever exiled from eternal blessings; leaving all wisdom, peace, joy, favor, and love behind.

He tumbled (imagine the feeling of free-falling at lightning speed into the deep abyss) and he took with him one-third of the angels (now demons) to wreak havoc on all mankind.

There was no do-over, no Let’s rethink this. He made his choice — done!

Scary to think what choices we may want to rethink. We never know the day we will be called home, Judgment day, when we will give an account for all of our decisions and sins.

Now, because of Lucifer’s (Satan’s) choice, we too are left with choices and pathways of good or evil. They seem to line up incessantly for our choosing.

We continually need God’s wisdom to decipher His voice, His plan, His purpose for us, and our destinies in Him.

There is evil in this world. It’s everywhere. People are hurt, suffering, in despair, and living in all types of trauma and tragedy. The heaviness of it all can most assuredly plague us, burden us, and cover us in anxiety and fear.

The warfare we must fight and contend with will ultimately serve a purpose as to who we are in Christ. We have authority over all evil through the blood of Jesus and His finished work on the cross. We are ultimately so much greater with He who is in us than he who has been unleashed to spread evil in the world. God’s so much bigger. He’s so capable and His palms are steadfastly carrying us, plucking us out of harm’s way, and setting us so lovingly back onto His glorious path.

No matter what it looks like, what the enemy means for harm will only cause our promotion. He has to repay us for all he has stolen. We will reap a multitude of days steeped in unbridled joy for days we have spent in sorrow.

Declare victory. Remember who had the authority to kick who out of Heaven.

God won then. God wins now. Receive your victory in Him!

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. “Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?’ Isaiah 14:12-17(NKJV)

Pursing Happiness

Psalm 113:9

He makes the barren woman abide in the house As a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD!

Proverbs 23:24

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.

2 Corinthians 7:13

For this reason we have been comforted And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.

1 Kings 4:20

Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance; they were eating and drinking and rejoicing.

Luke 1:14

“You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.

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Happiness comes from a right relationship with God. 

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The Pursuit of Happiness

From: Get More Strenth

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:3

The movie The Aviator portrays the fascinating life of Howard Hughes. In the 1930s and 40s, he wowed the public with his brilliant advances in aviation technology and became the wealthiest man in America. He seemed to have everything a man could want. Yet he was surprisingly miserable and plagued by several mental disorders later in life that rendered him a paranoid recluse until the day he died.

His life is a reminder that when it comes to happiness, money is not the answer. This news isn’t new. Most of us would agree that money is not a ticket to happiness—yet we act like we believe it is.

Things like the lure of a better investment or a cash windfall of some kind, or the feeling that if I only had enough to buy that desired product, pull our hearts toward living for cash. We are like wanderers who crawl across the desert of life from one material mirage to another and wonder why we don’t feel happy.

In Psalm 1:1-6, before the psalmist tells us where to find the kind of happiness that God offers, we are told where not to find it. Hanging out with ungodly friends, listening to the advice of self-help books and horoscopes, and conforming to the cultural input around us all lead down dead-end streets. One of those major dead ends is “get-rich-and-be-happy” street. Unfortunately, ungodly influence doesn’t come only from people “out there.” It has subtly seeped into our church conversations with Christian friends, and it occasionally can come from unlikely places such as pulpits and church publications. Think of how easily bad advice has polluted your thoughts, distracted your focus, and diminished your sense of happiness. If your pursuit in life is material success, remember, it didn’t work for Howard Hughes, and you can bet that it won’t work for you either.

Here’s a great alternative. The psalmist affirms that the truly blessed life finds its joy and satisfaction in living by the words and ways of God. There is no greater happiness than the sense of a clear conscience, the confidence of being loved and led by God, and the wealth of knowing that life is being lived in the safety of God’s law. Reject the bad advice that God’s rules are divine handcuffs and rejoice that his “commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3) but a source of blessedness and joy (Joshua 1:8).

Looking for true happiness? Delight in the law of the Lord and live by the principles of His Word!

 

A Father’s Love

From: Our Daily Journey

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Read:

Matthew 3:13-17
A voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy” (Matthew 3:17).

Soccer fans around the world are known for being passionate about their teams, but Boca Juniors, a team from Argentina, may have some of the most enthusiastic followers. Besides typical expressions of support like jerseys, colorful wigs, and face paint, entire stadiums of Boca Juniors fans will even go so far as to set off fireworks simultaneously in an amazing pyrotechnic display, all to communicate one simple fact: “We love our team!”

This “over-the-top” display of loyalty reminded me of the lavish way God the Father expressed His love during Jesus’ baptism. After Jesus emerged from the waters of the Jordan River, the heavens opened up and the Spirit of God in the form of a dove descended and settled on Jesus (Matthew 3:16). This in itself would have been an amazing sign of God’s favor. But the Father wasn’t satisfied with this remarkable display. Like an earthly father who simply can’t contain his pride, He declared from the heavens, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy” (Matthew 3:17). The Father seemed to pull out all the stops to declare His passionate love.

This moment provides an important reminder of God’s character. It can be easy to slip into the perception that God is cold, distant, and judgmental. We may even view Him as surveying all of creation with His arms crossed, just waiting for us to slip up. But Matthew 3 reveals the true nature of our Father: He loves His children and affectionately displays His love in every way possible!

Even more amazing is the fact that because of the work of Jesus, believers are now part of God’s family (Romans 8:14). Our heavenly Father feels the same way about us as He does for His Son! (1 John 3:1).

 

 

The Place of Exaltation

The Place of Exaltation

By Oswald Chambers

We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain, when we have seen things from God’s perspective and have wanted to stay there. But God will never allow us to stay there. The true test of our spiritual life is in exhibiting the power to descend from the mountain. If we only have the power to go up, something is wrong. It is a wonderful thing to be on the mountain with God, but a person only gets there so that he may later go down and lift up the demon-possessed people in the valley (see Mark 9:14-18). We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life— those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength. Yet our spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mountain. We feel that we could talk and live like perfect angels, if we could only stay on the mountaintop. Those times of exaltation are exceptional and they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware to prevent our spiritual selfishness from wanting to make them the only time.

We are inclined to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching. In actual fact, it is to be turned into something even better than teaching, namely, character. The mountaintop is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a terrible trap in always asking, “What’s the use of this experience?” We can never measure spiritual matters in that way. The moments on the mountaintop are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.

The Assigning Of The Call

 

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.     2 Thessalonians 2:14 

 

 

Pictures of God calling Samuel.   Scripture is l Samuel 

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The Assigning of the Call

By Oswald Chambers

We take our own spiritual consecration and try to make it into a call of God, but when we get right with Him He brushes all this aside. Then He gives us a tremendous, riveting pain to fasten our attention on something that we never even dreamed could be His call for us. And for one radiant, flashing moment we see His purpose, and we say, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. Yet God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to use to crush us. We say, “If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way, then I wouldn’t object!” But when He uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object. Yet we must never try to choose the place of our own martyrdom. If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed—you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.

I wonder what finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you? Have you been as hard as a marble and escaped? If you are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you anyway, the wine produced would have been remarkably bitter. To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service. We have to be placed into God and brought into agreement with Him before we can be broken bread in His hands. Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.

 

Stand-Out Love

From: Our Daily Journey

Stand-Out Love

Read:

John 13:31-38
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples (John 13:35).

In 1988, François Pasquier returned to France after spending time away from his homeland. Hoping to reconnect with his friends, he invited them to a picnic in a public park. Pasquier asked everyone to wear white so that they could identify one another. The dinner was a success, and the guests decided to reconvene the following year with more friends. Diner en Blanc has now grown to an annual dinner party of some 10,000 attendees. People still dress in white so they will stand out from those not attending the dinner.

Jesus also wanted His disciples to be noticeably different from the people around them—but because of their care for each other. Shortly before His crucifixion, He told them, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). The kind of love Jesus was describing wasn’t merely brotherly love, it was something more—steady, unconditional, agape (the highest form of) love.

This kind of love naturally stands out from the world because it doesn’t make sense. It embraces people regardless of their friendliness or merit and doesn’t let go. Ever. It continually thinks well of people and lets that kind regard morph into words and actions that benefit them. This is the love Jesus showed to His disciples. He said, “Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34).

Believers today can be sure that Jesus loves us with a persistent, wonderful affection. If we unleash that kind of love on our Christian brothers and sisters (as well as those who don’t know Jesus!), we’ll raise eyebrows in a world filled with indifference and animosity. Hopefully, those who notice will hear God’s call to join His family and experience true love.

 

Carbonated Christians

From: CBN, and author: Jean S. Wilund

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I can’t explain why he did it, but my friend Cary set off an eruption in the middle of class, and I got blamed. To be fair, it was my ice-cold can of soda spraying an outrageous fountain into the air, but it was Cary’s hand that stabbed it with his pencil as it lay sideways on my desk. A shower of soda rained on my head along with shock and disbelief. How could so much soda come out of one little can?

Christians aren’t much different. Serious power in a small package. Carbonated Christians.

God’s Spirit lives in Christians and gives us the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. That’s infinitely more power than a can of flavored sugar water infused with carbon dioxide and placed into a freezer for an hour – like I’d done with my can of soda that morning.

I’d placed my soda into the freezer hoping to make it stay cold longer. We hadn’t reached the lesson in Science class about when water in soda freezes it expands and pushes the carbon dioxide out. Or at least it tries. Unbeknownst to me, I’d walked into my classroom with a can of supercharged pressure, desperate for a way of escape. Eager for Cary and his pencil.

As Christians spend time studying the Bible and coming to know God and his character, our faith expands. We become carbonated Christians walking with more power than we ever imagined. Outrageous power to forgive the unforgivable, stand bravely in the face of fear, and love our enemies. Passion to reach out to the lost despite intense shyness. An overwhelming desire to put others first and the strength to pray instead of panic when our nightmare comes true.

If it feels like your faith is flat, supercharge it with time at God’s feet. Let his Word work in you to infuse your faith and explode it into a cascading fountain of power and trust.

Nothing we imagine will exceed what God is able to do according to the power of his Spirit at work in us. His Spirit transforms us into us carbonated Christians.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 NIV

 

Fresh Faith

The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

 

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Childlike faith is our goal. For such is the Kingdom of Heaven.
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Fresh Faith

From: Our Daily Bread

Fresh Faith
Read: John 20:24–29 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 7–8; Ephesians 2

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

When our son was struggling with heroin addiction, if you had told me God would one day use our experience to encourage other families who face these kinds of battles, I would have had trouble believing it. God has a way of bringing good out of difficult circumstances that isn’t always easy to see when you are going through them.

The apostle Thomas also didn’t expect God to bring good out of the greatest challenge of his faith—Jesus’s crucifixion. Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus came to them after the resurrection, and in his deep grief he insisted, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were . . . I will not believe” (John 20:25). But later, when Jesus appeared to all the disciples together, out of the dust of Thomas’s doubts God’s Spirit would inspire a striking statement of faith. When Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28), he was grasping the truth that Jesus was actually God in the flesh, standing right in front of him. It was a bold confession of faith that would encourage and inspire believers in every century that followed.

Our God is able to inspire fresh faith in our hearts, even in moments when we least expect it.  We can always look forward to His faithfulness. Nothing is too hard for Him!

Thank You, Lord, that Your love is stronger than our greatest difficulties—even our worst doubts or fears!

God can change our doubts into bold statements of faith.

 

 

The King for Everyone

From: Our Daily Journey

The King for Everyone

Read:

Psalm 97:1-9
The Lord is King! Let the earth rejoice! (Psalm 97:1).

After every election, whether for British parliament or Venezuelan president or US Congress, there are always winners and losers. Supporters of victorious candidates feel vindicated and triumphant, while supporters of losing candidates feel rebuffed and defeated. Politics, bound as it is to flawed arrangements of power, always divides people. It always pits one’s hopes and visions for the future against the hopes and visions of another.

The psalmist tells us, however, that God’s rule over the world is entirely different. His rule isn’t good for only a select few but rather for the entire world. God’s rule gives the whole earth a reason for jubilation (Psalm 97:1). Although God is ruling now, He’s still working to fully overthrow evil. But someday every inch of creation and every person will experience joy. No one left out; nowhere left out. Even “the farthest coastlands [will] be glad” (Psalm 97:1).

Yet it’s not precisely correct to say that everyone will rejoice. Those who oppose the King’s goodness, integrity, and truth will find their plans thwarted because “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Psalm 97:2). Whoever stands opposed to justice, opposed to God’s good rule reaching out to everyone, will be toppled (Psalm 97:3). Evil must be deposed so that our God of healing and hope can be “supreme over all the earth” (Psalm 97:9).

So with evil dismantled, and God as King over the world, everyone everywhere can breathe easy. Our God isn’t a tribal God but the Creator of every ethnicity, every nationality, every person. Whether we’re rich or poor, influential or unnoticed, successful or barely holding things together—whoever we are, when God is our king, it’s reason to celebrate!

 

 

The Awareness of the Call

 

The Awareness of the Call

By Oswald Chambers

We are inclined to forget the deeply spiritual and supernatural touch of God. If you are able to tell exactly where you were when you received the call of God and can explain all about it, I question whether you have truly been called. The call of God does not come like that; it is much more supernatural. The realization of the call in a person’s life may come like a clap of thunder or it may dawn gradually. But however quickly or slowly this awareness comes, it is always accompanied with an undercurrent of the supernatural— something that is inexpressible and produces a “glow.” At any moment the sudden awareness of this incalculable, supernatural, surprising call that has taken hold of your life may break through— “I chose you…” (John 15:16). The call of God has nothing to do with salvation and sanctification. You are not called to preach the gospel because you are sanctified; the call to preach the gospel is infinitely different. Paul describes it as a compulsion that was placed upon him.

If you have ignored, and thereby removed, the great supernatural call of God in your life, take a review of your circumstances. See where you have put your own ideas of service or your particular abilities ahead of the call of God. Paul said, “…woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” He had become aware of the call of God, and his compulsion to “preach the gospel” was so strong that nothing else was any longer even a competitor for his strength.

If a man or woman is called of God, it doesn’t matter how difficult the circumstances may be. God orchestrates every force at work for His purpose in the end. If you will agree with God’s purpose, He will bring not only your conscious level but also all the deeper levels of your life, which you yourself cannot reach, into perfect harmony.