Tag Archives: Preaching

Christ Cleans Us Completely From Sin

Ezekiel 36:25

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

Jeremiah 33:8

‘I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me.

Ezekiel 22:15

“I will scatter you among the nations and I will disperse you through the lands, and I will consume your uncleanness from you.

Ezekiel 20:38

and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 37:23

“They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.

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Made Clean

From: Our Daily Bread

Made Clean
Read: Ezekiel 36:24–32 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 129–131; 

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Ezekiel 36:25

When I opened our dishwasher, I wondered what went wrong. Instead of seeing sparkling clean dishes, I removed plates and glasses that were covered in a chalky dust. I wondered if the hard water in our area was wreaking havoc, or if the machine was broken.

God’s cleansing, unlike that faulty dishwasher, washes away all of our impurities. We see in the book of Ezekiel that God is calling His people back to Himself as Ezekiel shared God’s message of love and forgiveness. The Israelites had sinned as they proclaimed their allegiance to other gods and other nations. The Lord, however, was merciful in welcoming them back to Himself. He promised to cleanse them “from all [their] impurities and all [their] idols” (36:25). As He put His Spirit in them (v. 27), He would bring them to a place of fruitfulness, not famine (v. 30).

As in the days of the prophet Ezekiel, today the Lord welcomes us back to Him if we go astray. When we submit ourselves to His will and His ways, He transforms us as He washes us clean from our sins. With His Holy Spirit dwelling within us, He helps us to follow Him day by day.

Lord God, the feeling of being cleansed and forgiven is like no other. Thank You for transforming me into a new person. Teach me to submit to You daily that I might grow more and more closely into the likeness of Jesus.

The Lord makes us clean.

 

Beautiful Clothes

From: Our Daily journey

Beautiful Clothes

Read:

Colossians 3:1-17 
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12).

When we were planning our wedding, my husband and I decided we wanted our wedding party to wear traditional clothes from their home countries. But I also wanted the colors to match. Since the outfits were being prepared by my mom and my future mother-in-law in separate countries, Romania and Thailand, color coordination was nearly impossible. What’s worse, some of our friends wouldn’t be able to try on their clothing until the wedding day! I finally stopped worrying and simply prayed that the clothes would fit everyone and the colors wouldn’t clash. When the long-awaited day finally came, everyone looked spectacular!

Our wedding story reminds me of Paul’s words about the beautiful “wardrobe” believers find through Jesus. Through our life in Him, we have a “new nature.” When we live out or “put on” this new nature, we are “renewed as [we] learn to know [our] Creator and become like him” (Colossians 3:10). The inspiring outfits of believers are made with delicate material such as “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

And if such clothing didn’t catch their eye, Paul reminded the Colossians why they should want to wear these attributes. He said, “God chose you to be the holy people he loves” (Colossians 3:12). They had been given the privilege of being loved by God and set apart for a higher purpose than “anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language” (Colossians 3:8).

We can find encouragement in the truth that we don’t need to make our own spiritual “clothes”—Jesus is the One who provides all that’s needed. “Christ is all that matters, and he lives in . . . us” (Colossians 3:11). May we wear the beautiful clothing He provides today!

 

Usefulness or Relationship?

From: Utmost.org

Usefulness or Relationship?

Jesus Christ is saying here, “Don’t rejoice in your successful service for Me, but rejoice because of your right relationship with Me.” The trap you may fall into in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service— rejoicing in the fact that God has used you. Yet you will never be able to measure fully what God will do through you if you do not have a right-standing relationship with Jesus Christ. If you keep your relationship right with Him, then regardless of your circumstances or whoever you encounter each day, He will continue to pour “rivers of living water” through you (John 7:38). And it is actually by His mercy that He does not let you know it. Once you have the right relationship with God through salvation and sanctification, remember that whatever your circumstances may be, you have been placed in them by God. And God uses the reaction of your life to your circumstances to fulfill His purpose, as long as you continue to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7).

Our tendency today is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make their request for help on the basis of someone’s usefulness. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure who ever lived. For the saint, direction and guidance come from God Himself, not some measure of that saint’s usefulness. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. All that our Lord gives His attention to in a person’s life is that person’s relationship with God— something of great value to His Father. Jesus is “bringing many sons to glory…” (Hebrews 2:10).

Pray For Our Nation

  • 1 John 5:14

    14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
  • 1 John 5:15

    15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
  • 1 John 5:16

    16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.
  • 1 Chronicles 16:11

    11 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always
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Passionate Prayers for a Somber Season

From: CBN, and author: J.A. Marx

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“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16 NKJV

I sobbed as he abandoned the Lord and ran into the arms of immorality. In time, his infidelities caused him to forget who we really were, and I woke up one day with the sickening sensation I was sleeping with a stranger. My anguished heart had to witness him shrivel in shame as he regressed spiritually.

Why? Why us? Why me?

The why questions that surface can shipwreck our faith. Part of me desperately hunted for an attribute, or a secret privilege, anything that might qualify me for an exemption from the devastating effects of humanity’s fallen condition.

But if all humanity fell after Adam and Eve ate the deadly fruit, then why not me? Why not us? Our status, wealth, and church attendance affected nothing—except to expose where the thoughts and intents of my heart vastly differed from his. I gave up my futile search for an exemption from pain.

The Lord’s refining heat intensified. In all His goodness, He exposed corrupt activities I was unaware of. That same fire tested my heart and my loyalty. The excruciating emotional pain and hardship activated in me new and creative ways to pray. Surrendering to the purifying process deepened my appreciation for Grace and Mercy.

I soon felt humbled and honored that the Shepherd trusted me to partner with Him in going after the one lost sheep, one Jesus loved and shed His blood for. An increasing passion to see this man healed and set free from darkness pushed me to my knees daily. And passion is the key word, for it incorporates heart, soul, and strength. The more I surrendered my frail all, the more I was empowered by divine grace and influenced by the Holy Spirit.

The battle raged on. The stakes high. Standing in the authority of Christ, I aggressively prayed over anything that physically touched the one I loved.

His shoes. I slipped my toes inside and declared God’s Word, that “his feet would not run to mischief.” Proverbs 6:18 KJV

I breathed Scripture onto his neckties hanging in the closet.

My fingers skimmed across his dress shirts, as I declared God’s righteousness over him. Through this, the Father confirmed my righteousness in Christ.

Hugging his pillow to my chest, I prayed a “renewing of his mind” into the very place his head rested and dreams lived. And the Holy Spirit gently realigned my thought patterns.

The outcomes of those prayers? In God’s hands.

The timing of the results? On God’s timeline.

In an agonizing act of my will, I pushed aside emotional turmoil and embraced His Word and His way, trusting He would work everything out for the good …

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Psalm 126:5 NKJV

Although my world fell to pieces, God’s presence in me remained whole. Although a man un-chose me, the Lover of my soul remained faithful. His ensuing step-by-step guidance proved the Lord never had and never will leave me. His Word and Presence in my heart withstood every storm.

Today, God’s joy thrives in my soul. Prayers answered.

Are you presently praying for a loved one who’s on a destructive path? Do you feel the heat of God’s refining fire? Are you tempted to cry out, “why me?”

The Father can handle all your questions and will equip you to do battle in this season. You are more than a conqueror in Christ.

Pray unceasingly. Keep trusting. A harvest of joy will come.

 

 

Next Generation Faith

From: Our Daily Journey

Next Generation Faith

Read:

2 Timothy 1:5-103:10-17
You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).

Graeme was part of a group of self-proclaimed Satanists at my school. By God’s grace, he came to Jesus during an outreach event, began growing in his faith, and eagerly attended church youth groups. But one day I noticed he looked quite sad. When I asked why, he said his parents didn’t approve of his newfound faith. They wanted him to go back to his former way of life that included partying.

I was shocked that his parents wanted him to go clubbing instead of attending youth group. Having grown up in the church, I’d taken for granted my parents’ enthusiastic support for participation in faith-based activities. My parents are first-generation believers, so my children are growing up with parents and grandparents who love Jesus and actively teach them about God.

Timothy had a similar gift through the faith of his mother and grandmother, who taught him the Scriptures and helped him grow in his love for Jesus (2 Timothy 1:5). The apostle Paul encouraged him to build on this foundation and “fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave [Timothy] when [Paul] laid [his] hands on [him]” (2 Timothy 1:6). He challenged Timothy to “never be ashamed to tell others” about God because He “has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7-8).

A faith heritage, Paul reminded Timothy, can be a source of continual confidence and encouragement. “You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

May God help us teach the next generation about the hope we have in Him—a hope based in faith that has changed Graeme’s life along with our own.

 

 

The Unsurpassed Intimacy of Tested Faith

From: Utmost.org

The Unsurpassed Intimacy of Tested Faith

Every time you venture out in your life of faith, you will find something in your circumstances that, from a commonsense standpoint, will flatly contradict your faith. But common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense. In fact, they are as different as the natural life and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? Can you venture out with courage on the words of Jesus Christ, while the realities of your commonsense life continue to shout, “It’s all a lie”? When you are on the mountaintop, it’s easy to say, “Oh yes, I believe God can do it,” but you have to come down from the mountain to the demon-possessed valley and face the realities that scoff at your Mount-of-Transfiguration belief (see Luke 9:28-42). Every time my theology becomes clear to my own mind, I encounter something that contradicts it. As soon as I say, “I believe ‘God shall supply all [my] need,’ ” the testing of my faith begins (Philippians 4:19). When my strength runs dry and my vision is blinded, will I endure this trial of my faith victoriously or will I turn back in defeat?

Faith must be tested, because it can only become your intimate possession through conflict. What is challenging your faith right now? The test will either prove your faith right, or it will kill it. Jesus said, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” Matthew 11:6). The ultimate thing is confidence in Jesus. “We have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end…” (Hebrews 3:14). Believe steadfastly on Him and everything that challenges you will strengthen your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith up to the point of our physical death, which is the last great test. Faith is absolute trust in God— trust that could never imagine that He would forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5-6).

Pay Attention To God

Jeremiah 23:18

“But who has stood in the council of the LORD, That he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened?

 
John 8:47

“He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

Jeremiah 26:3

‘Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds.’

Job 36:11

“If they hear and serve Him, They will end their days in prosperity And their years in pleasures.

 

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Paying Attention

From: Our Daily Bread

Paying Attention

Blessed is he who considers the poor. Psalm 41:1 nkjv

John Newton wrote, “If, as I go home, a child has dropped a halfpenny, and if, by giving it another, I can wipe away its tears, I feel I have done something. I should be glad to do greater things; but I will not neglect this.”

These days, it’s not hard to find someone in need of comfort: A care-worn cashier in a grocery store working a second job to make ends meet; a refugee longing for home; a single mother whose flood of worries has washed away her hope; a lonely old man who fears he has outlived his usefulness.

But what are we to do? “Blessed is he who considers the poor,” wrote David (Ps. 41:1 nkjv). Even if we can’t alleviate the poverty of those we meet along the way we can consider them—a verb that means “to pay attention.”

We can let people know we care. We can treat them with courtesy and respect, though they may be testy or tiresome. We can listen with interest to their stories. And we can pray for them or with them—the most helpful and healing act of all.

Remember the old paradox Jesus gave us when He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Paying attention pays off, for we’re happiest when we give ourselves away. Consider the poor.

Father, as we go through our day, show us the everyday folks who need our attention. Grant us the love and the patience to truly consider them, as You have so patiently loved us.

Only a life given away for love’s sake is worth living. Frederick Buechner

 

Confusing Assignments

From: Our Daily Journey

Confusing Assignments

Read:

Mark 5:1-20
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been” (Mark 5:18-19

I know of a man who passionately desires to be a pastor. He’s worked in youth ministry, camp ministry, and even alongside pastors in the church. He’s well-regarded by those with whom he interacts, having willingly volunteered his time while faithfully loving his wife and children. And yet, he’s been unable to find the right place to serve fulltime. Several churches “nearly” called on him. But he’s yet to receive a ministry role in any official capacity.

In such circumstances, it can be hard to accept God’s assignment for our lives. We have our ideas about how our vocations should proceed. And we have good desires—we want to use our gifts and serve Christ to the best of our abilities (see 1 Corinthians 12). But then something happens to prevent us from using our gifts in the way we believeGod wants us to use them, in ways that seem perfect to us. Such experiences can be both discouraging and disorienting.

In Mark 5:1-20, we read the story of a man healed from demon possession—a man perhaps confused by the assignment Jesus gave him. After Jesus healed him, he “begged” to go with the Savior and follow Him (Mark 5:18). But Jesus told him, “No” (Mark 5:19).

I imagine that, initially, the man must have been disappointed. But Jesus thought it best that he return to his family to tell them how merciful God had been and how much He had done for him.

For us as well, it can be hard to surrender our ministry assignments to God, to wholeheartedly say, “I want your will to be done” (Luke 22:42). During those times, it helps to lean on Him and other believers in Jesus to remind us that God is indeed good and that He’s using us for His kingdom right where we are.

 

The Purpose of Prayer

From: Utmost.org

The Purpose of Prayer

Prayer is not a normal part of the life of the natural man. We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished. Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.

“Ask, and you will receive…” (John 16:24). We complain before God, and sometimes we are apologetic or indifferent to Him, but we actually ask Him for very few things. Yet a child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask! Our Lord said, “…unless you…become as little children…” (Matthew 18:3). Ask and God will do. Give Jesus Christ the opportunity and the room to work. The problem is that no one will ever do this until he is at his wits’ end. When a person is at his wits’ end, it no longer seems to be a cowardly thing to pray; in fact, it is the only way he can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. Be yourself before God and present Him with your problems— the very things that have brought you to your wits’ end. But as long as you think you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.

To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.

Earnestly Searching

Jeremiah 29:13

‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Matthew 7:7-8

 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Ezekiel 34:11

For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.

Luke 15:1-10

 

Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable, saying,

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Earnestly Searching

From: Our Daily Bread

Earnestly Searching

You will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted. Isaiah 62:12

Every Saturday our family lines the edges of the racecourse to cheer on my daughter as she runs with her high school cross-country team. After crossing the finish line, the athletes stream out to rejoin their teammates, coaches, and parents. Crowds engulf the finishers—often more than 300 of them—making it difficult to find one person among so many. We scan the crowd excitedly until we find her, eager to put our arms around the one athlete we came to watch: our much-loved daughter.

After seventy years of captivity in Babylon, God returned the Jews to Jerusalem and Judah. Isaiah describes the delight God has in them, and the work of preparing the highways for their pilgrimage home and the gates to receive them back. God reaffirms His calling of them as His holy people and restores their honor with a new name, “Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted” (Isa. 62:12). He sought them all from the scattered reaches of Babylon to bring them back to Himself.

Like the children of Israel, we too are God’s beloved children, earnestly sought after by Him. Though our sin once caused us isolation from Him, Jesus’s sacrifice paves our way back to Him. He searches for each of us intently among all the others, waiting expectantly to fold us into a heartfelt embrace.

Thank You, Lord, for seeking me while I was lost and returning me home to You through Jesus Christ.

God seeks His beloved children.

 

Unexpected

From: Our Daily Journey

Unexpected

Read:

1 Kings 19:9-18

After the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave (1 Kings 19:12-13).In American football, the start of a play is usually hard-hitting as players strive to overpower their opponents. But at the close of a middle school game in 2016, the quarterback simply stood up and started casually walking toward his opponent’s goal line. The opposing team was tricked by his calm demeanor and let him walk for twenty yards before realizing what was going on, and by then it was too late. The quarterback scored and his team won the game—all because he started the play in a way that no one expected.

God can also do things in unexpected ways. When we read of God speaking to Elijah in 1 Kings 19, we’re tempted to think, Surely God is present in the earthquake and the fire, in such mighty works of nature—that has to be God! (1 Kings 19:11-12). That assumption seems logical, but Elijah found that God isn’t limited to speaking through one type of circumstance or another. The prophet learned instead to focus on God’s voice—not his difficult circumstances.

I often over-rely on circumstances to determine whether God is at work or not and find myself saying things like, “I felt this sense of peace, and so it must be God,” or “Everything came together so easily that God must have been at work.” Events in life can be used by Him to guide us, but it’s vital that we carefully, prayerfully consider what to do.

Moses didn’t feel a sense of peace when called by God and neither did Gideon (Exodus 3:11Judges 6:15). The best way for us to sense God’s leading isn’t by focusing on our feelings or circumstances, but by carefully seeking God’s wisdom. The Holy Spirit can use prayer, Scripture, and the godly counsel of others to help us make the right decisions—even if they’re unexpected.

Generational Impact

From: Get More Strength.com

“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.” 1 Samuel 12:23

I have always been fascinated by stories about the people God has chosen to use in significant ways. Two of my heroes are Charles and John Wesley. Charles penned hundreds of hymns, many of which are still sung by Christians all over the world. After observing the coronation of the King of England and hearing the masses lining the streets and singing the praises of the King, Charles penned the words, “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise.” His brother John committed his life to taking the gospel to England and through frontier America on horseback. You and I are in debt to John Wesley today for his passion for the gospel.

But I’m even more impressed when I consider the heroic faith of their mother, Susanna. The mother of 19 children, she understood the importance of raising a godly generation, in spite of a profligate husband who was almost never home. With all of her hardships, she would have had every excuse to complain and wallow in self-pity and bitterness, but instead she faithfully prayed for her children and instilled in them a desire to serve the Lord. Every day she gathered her children around her and read them the Bible and taught them His ways. Her life exemplifies the words of Samuel: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right” (1 Samuel 12:23).

One of God’s plans for our homes is to provide an environment for grooming the next generation for godly impact, and you can count on it that Satan is not happy about that plan. Throughout history, we can see his efforts to dead-end the generational impact of God’s people. Beginning with Adam and Eve, children have been at risk. The murder of Abel at the hands of his very own brother is proof that Satan will do anything to extinguish the impact of godly offspring. And he hasn’t stopped.

The high cost of living has made two-career families common place today even among followers of Christ. Many families need two careers just to survive. As a result, quality time with our kids can suffer. Leaving our children to entertain themselves at the computer, which is a lot less painful than playing Chutes and Ladders with them on the floor, puts their hearts at jeopardy to the junk that the Internet offers. Our kids are in danger of suffering long term damage because of what they click on to. Not to mention what we permit them to see on TV, listen to on their iPods, or who we let them run with.

Parenting is big-time business and among life’s toughest assignments. Whenever things got really tough in our household, my wife Martie and I used to look at each other and say, “This too shall pass!” And that’s just the point, it passes really fast. You have the next generation in your grasp for just a fleeting season. Make the most of it. As they say, carpe diem—seize the day!

Is there another Susanna Wesley in the house? It’s your turn! Who knows what great things God has in store for your kids or the young people under your influence.

In The Dark

Luke 1:79

TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Matthew 4:16

“THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.”

John 1:5

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

2 Corinthians 4:6

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Ephesians 5:8

for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light

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The Eternal Word   John 1       The Eternal Light
In the beginning Gen. 1:1; (Col. 1:17); 1 John 1:1 was the Word, and the (John 1:14); Rev. 19:13 Word was (John 17:5; 1 John 1:2)with God, and the Word was (1 John 5:20)God. 
Gen. 1:1 He was in the beginning with God. 
Ps. 33:6; (Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16, 17; Heb. 1:2)All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 
(1 John 5:11)In Him was life, and John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46 the life was the light of men. 
And (John 3:19)the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
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In the Dark

From: CBN, and author Barbara Godfrey, author

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Have you ever wondered why it seems that the longer you remain in the dark, the clearer things become? It is awesome how God causes this to be so in the natural as well as in the spiritual.

I remember many times as a child being afraid of the dark. My father would say, “Do not be afraid. Just keep looking and you will begin to see.” That reminds me of how eloquently our Heavenly Father says the same thing:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 KJV

When I reflect on the course of my life, I find I gain the most spiritual insight during times of deep despair. Not only do I learn how faithful God is, but I also learn how and why He orchestrates these situations.

During one of my most desolate times, I learned exactly what these Scriptures mean.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that Love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 KJV

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV

I have often wondered, “Lord, why is there so much pain? Why must I feel the agony of rejection and loss?” Through my crying out to God, I heard His voice reminding me of a prayer I whispered years ago but had forgotten.

He said, “My child, remember you asked Me to show you those who were broken hearted and hurting?”

“Yes,” I cried.

“How can you minister to them unless you have felt their pain?”

At that moment, the tears of sadness turned to tears of joy, because in this dark place, I was able to see the light!

God is a loving and merciful Father, and everything we encounter in our lives is because of His love. It causes us to grab hold of Him, exercise our faith, and mature into vessels fit for His service. Suddenly, I realized He answered my prayer and was equipping me to do the work I requested so long ago!

Whenever you find yourself in the dark, do not be afraid. Remember this:

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 KJV

God wants to use us to light the pathway for others in darkness so they can find their way to Him.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 KJV

When you are walking through a dark time in your life, be encouraged by this verse:

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 KJV

Being in the dark is not a bad thing; it can be a time to grow in God, a time to learn to trust God, and a time to be thankful for all God has done for us. This will give us compassion for others as God shows them the light in their darkness.

 

The Joy of Scripture

From: Our Daily Journey

The Joy of Scripture

Read:

Psalm 119:1-8
Your regulations remain true to this day (Psalm 119:91).

When I reflect on the times in my life when I’ve been most devoted to digging deeply into Scripture, I’m struck by the joy, courage, contentment, and confidence in God that resulted. For example, when I was in high school, I seldom went anywhere without a pack of index cards on which I’d handwritten Bible verses. I was a competitive distance runner at the time, and as I logged many long miles I carried the verses with me and committed passage after passage to memory. As I meditated on Scripture the miles flew by and my life, faith, and attitude were renewed, shaping a heart and mind bent toward God.

When we take in Scripture, God’s love and power are poured out on us through His Spirit. Psalm 119 teaches that joy results as we walk with integrity through seeking Him with all of our hearts and following the instructions God has revealed. “Joyful are people . . . who follow the instructions of the Lord” (Psalm 119:1). We glorify Him and experience His pleasure as we refrain from compromising with evil, walking only in His paths and reflecting His will with our obedience to His commands (Psalm 119:3-5).

God longs for us to know and glorify Him by hiding Scripture in our hearts and by obeying His commands rather than straying from them (Psalm 119:11). We’re invited to experience deeper intimacy with Him and the delight the Bible offers by reciting aloud the regulations He’s given us, rejoicing in His laws as much as riches, studying His commandments, and remembering and reflecting on His ways (Psalm 119:13-16).

Let’s take in Scripture and recite it aloud or silently in communication with God. He will fill us with His wisdom and truth to guide us through the ever-changing seasons of life.

 

 

Are You Ever Troubled?

From: Utmost.org

Are You Ever Troubled?

There are times in our lives when our peace is based simply on our own ignorance. But when we are awakened to the realities of life, true inner peace is impossible unless it is received from Jesus. When our Lord speaks peace, He creates peace, because the words that He speaks are always “spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Have I ever received what Jesus speaks? “…My peace I give to you…”— a peace that comes from looking into His face and fully understanding and receiving His quiet contentment.

Are you severely troubled right now? Are you afraid and confused by the waves and the turbulence God sovereignly allows to enter your life? Have you left no stone of your faith unturned, yet still not found any well of peace, joy, or comfort? Does your life seem completely barren to you? Then look up and receive the quiet contentment of the Lord Jesus. Reflecting His peace is proof that you are right with God, because you are exhibiting the freedom to turn your mind to Him. If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself. Allowing anything to hide the face of Jesus Christ from you either causes you to become troubled or gives you a false sense of security.

With regard to the problem that is pressing in on you right now, are you “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) and receiving peace from Him? If so, He will be a gracious blessing of peace exhibited in and through you. But if you only try to worry your way out of the problem, you destroy His effectiveness in you, and you deserve whatever you get. We become troubled because we have not been taking Him into account. When a person confers with Jesus Christ, the confusion stops, because there is no confusion in Him. Lay everything out before Him, and when you are faced with difficulty, bereavement, and sorrow, listen to Him say, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:27).

Don’t Be Lured Away

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

 

2 Timothy 3:13

But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Colossians 2:4

I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.

_____________________________________________________
Ephesians 4: 13-15
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ
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(Beware of things that lead you away, and things that catch you).
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Lured Away

From: Our Daily Bread

Lured Away

Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. James 1:14

In the summer of 2016, my niece convinced me to play Pokémon Go—a game played on a smartphone, using the phone’s camera. The object of the game is to capture little creatures called Pokémon. When one appears in the game, a red and white ball also appears on the phone’s screen. To capture a Pokémon, the player has to flick the ball toward it with the movement of a finger. Pokémon are more easily caught, however, by using a lure to attract them.

Pokémon characters aren’t the only ones who can be lured away. In his New Testament letter to believers, James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us that we “are dragged away by [our] own evil desire” (1:14, emphasis added). In other words, our desires work with temptation to lure us down a wrong path. Though we may be tempted to blame God or even Satan for our problems, our real danger lies within.

But there is good news. We can escape the lure of temptation by talking to God about the things that tempt us. Though “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone,” as James explains in 1:13, He understands our human desire to do what’s wrong. We have only to ask for the wisdom God promised to provide (1:1–6).

Lord, when I’m tempted, show me the door of escape.

Pray your way past the urge to do wrong.

 

 

Walking in Jesus’ Shoes

From: Our Daily Journey

Walking in Jesus’ Shoes

Read:

Philippians 2:1-8 
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5 NIV).

Renowned psychotherapist and physician Alfred Adler stressed the need to understand individuals within their social context. Calling for compassion and empathy in relating to others, he described empathy as “seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”

Adler was not the first person to advocate the value of walking a mile in another’s shoes. Two millennia earlier, the apostle Paul told us to “be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). He also instructed us not to be selfish or proud but to humbly put other people first and to be concerned for their good (1 Corinthians 10:24Philippians 2:3-4).

Paul reminded us that Jesus did exactly those things and more. It’s our joy and aim to follow His perfect example. “In your relationships with one another,” Paul wrote, “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 NIV). Jesus, fully God, became human so He could walk a mile in our shoes (Philippians 2:6-8).

Because we’re made of flesh and blood, Jesus also became flesh and blood (Philippians 2:7). He became one of us so that He could suffer for us (Hebrews 2:9). Only by becoming like us could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who held the power of death. Jesus had “to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that . . . he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).

Jesus became like us, and He fully understands and empathizes with us as only He can. We can now come boldly before our gracious Savior and experience the grace and help we deeply need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

 

 

Sacrifice and Friendship

From: Utmost.org

Sacrifice and Friendship

We will never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we surrender in every detail of our lives. Yet self-surrender is the most difficult thing for us to do. We make it conditional by saying, “I’ll surrender if…!” Or we approach it by saying, “I suppose I have to devote my life to God.” We will never find the joy of self-sacrifice in either of these ways.

But as soon as we do totally surrender, abandoning ourselves to Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us a taste of His joy. The ultimate goal of self-sacrifice is to lay down our lives for our Friend (see John 15:13-14). When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, our greatest desire is to lay down our lives for Jesus. Yet the thought of self-sacrifice never even crosses our minds, because sacrifice is the Holy Spirit’s ultimate expression of love.

Our Lord is our example of a life of self-sacrifice, and He perfectly exemplified Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do Your will, O my God….” He endured tremendous personal sacrifice, yet with overflowing joy. Have I ever yielded myself in absolute submission to Jesus Christ? If He is not the One to whom I am looking for direction and guidance, then there is no benefit in my sacrifice. But when my sacrifice is made with my eyes focused on Him, slowly but surely His molding influence becomes evident in my life (see Hebrews 12:1-2).

Beware of letting your natural desires hinder your walk in love before God. One of the cruelest ways to kill natural love is through the rejection that results from having built the love on natural desires. But the one true desire of a saint is the Lord Jesus. Love for God is not something sentimental or emotional— for a saint to love as God loves is the most practical thing imaginable.

“I have called you friends….” Our friendship with Jesus is based on the new life He created in us, which has no resemblance or attraction to our old life but only to the life of God. It is a life that is completely humble, pure, and devoted to God.

The Interests Of Others

Love To Others

1 John 4:7

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

 

1 John 4:21

And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

John 13:34

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 15:12

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

 

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The Interests of Others

From: Our Daily Bread

The Interests of Others

In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests. Philippians 2:3–4

My friend Jaime works for a huge international corporation. In his early days with the company, a man came by his desk, struck up a conversation, and asked Jaime what he did there. After telling the man about his work, Jaime asked the man his name. “My name is Rich,” he replied.

“Nice to meet you,” Jaime answered. “And what do you do around here?”

“Oh, I am the owner.”

Jaime suddenly realized that this casual, humble conversation was his introduction to one of the richest men in the world.

In this day of self-glorification and the celebration of “me,” this little story can serve as a reminder of Paul’s important words in the book of Philippians: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (2:3). People who turn their attention to others and not on themselves have the characteristics Paul mentions.

When we “value others above [ourselves],” we demonstrate Christlike humility (v. 3). We mirror Jesus, who came not “to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). When we take “the very nature of a servant” (Phil. 2:7), we have the mindset of Jesus (v. 5).

As we interact with others today, let’s not look on our own interests alone but also “to the interests of the others” (v. 4).

Jesus, You gave us the model of humility when You left heaven’s splendors to become a humble servant on earth. Help us practice Christlike humility in everything we do.

Serve God by serving others.

Dare To Be Different

From: Get More Strength.org

“Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” John 15:20

My dad was a pastor, so I got stuck with the label known to every pastor’s kid: PK. But, much to the congregation’s disappointment, the title didn’t stop me from being my mischievous little self. I have to tell you, I would like to have a $5 bill for every time somebody came to me and said, “Little Joe, you’re the pastor’s son. You should be an example.” They wanted me to be different, but they didn’t understand. I didn’t want to be an example! I was only five—I wanted to have fun with my friends and get into all the mischief they got into.

Nobody wants to be different. We want people to like us, and one of the safest ways to do that is to blend in, to be like them. But following Christ has never been about “blending in.” Following Him means to be like Him, to respond to life and relate to people the way He did. Inevitably, there are times when doing that makes you different. Granted, it can be risky and uncomfortable to be different. But that’s what being a follower of Jesus is all about—bringing the difference of your King to bear on the territory you’ve been assigned to: your home, your office, and your friendships.

We need to keep in mind that Jesus never promised that following Him would be a cakewalk. In fact, He made it clear that following Him would often create tension in a world that is going in the opposite direction. Just before His death, He spoke candidly to His disciples: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
. . . If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:1820).

I’ll never forget the story of Abdul Rahman, the Afghani who accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and faced the outrage of Muslim clerics in the courtrooms of Afghanistan. Although his conversion was considered a capital crime and his life was at risk, his faith stood the test.  Right now while we are talking about this, thousands of believers in places like Syria, China, Sudan, and Pakistan are making the point that Jesus is more important than personal peace and comfort.

But for those of us who don’t live in life-threatening environments, being a fully committed follower brings its own kinds of trouble. It may be the threat of being cut out of the group and losing a promotion when the boss takes you and your colleagues out to dinner and then takes everyone but you to the strip club for an after- dinner drink. Or when your evolution-promoting biology professor scoffs at your stance on creation and gives you a lower grade on your paper. Forgiving a serious offense may have other fellow travelers thinking that you are the “village idiot.” Refusing to enter a gossipy conversation and declining opportunities to speak in unloving ways about others may even cost you something with fellow believers. Yup, sad but true!

Today, you will no doubt have opportunities to be different—to go against the flow. Don’t be intimidated. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” But then He said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). What an interesting thought: When I stick with Him through thick and thin, I may feel like I’ve lost, but in reality, I ultimately win!

In retrospect, I can now see how my antics as a PK reflected poorly on my Dad. It’s motivating to remember that our non-Jesus attitudes and actions not only leave us on the losing side but also end up reflecting poorly on the One we love so much.

Go ahead today. Make a difference by daring to be different for Jesus!

 

The Spiritual Search

From: Utmost.org

The Spiritual Search

The illustration of prayer that our Lord used here is one of a good child who is asking for something good. We talk about prayer as if God hears us regardless of what our relationship is to Him (see Matthew 5:45). Never say that it is not God’s will to give you what you ask. Don’t faint and give up, but find out the reason you have not received; increase the intensity of your search and examine the evidence. Is your relationship right with your spouse, your children, and your fellow students? Are you a “good child” in those relationships? Do you have to say to the Lord, “I have been irritable and cross, but I still want spiritual blessings”? You cannot receive and will have to do without them until you have the attitude of a “good child.”

We mistake defiance for devotion, arguing with God instead of surrendering. We refuse to look at the evidence that clearly indicates where we are wrong. Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want, while refusing to pay someone what I owe him? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? Have I refused to forgive someone, and have I been unkind to that person? Have I been living as God’s child among my relatives and friends? (see Matthew 7:12).

I am a child of God only by being born again, and as His child I am good only as I “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). For most of us, prayer simply becomes some trivial religious expression, a matter of mystical and emotional fellowship with God. We are all good at producing spiritual fog that blinds our sight. But if we will search out and examine the evidence, we will see very clearly what is wrong— a friendship, an unpaid debt, or an improper attitude. There is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then Jesus says, regarding His children, “Everyone who asks receives…” (Matthew 7:8).

Our Guilt Is Gone

Luke 1:14

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

1 Timothy 6:17

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

Deuteronomy 20:6

‘Who is the man that has planted a vineyard and has not begun to use its fruit? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would begin to use its fruit.

Psalm 127:3-5

 

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

 

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 These are pictures of children who are happy. When your guilt goes away you can be like one of these children free and happy.

 

Our Guilt Is Gone

From: Our Daily Bread

Our Guilt Is Gone

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5

As a young girl, I invited a friend to browse with me through a gift shop near my home. She shocked me, though, by shoving a handful of colorful crayon-shaped barrettes into my pocket and yanking me out the door of the shop without paying for them. Guilt gnawed at me for a week before I approached my mom—my confession pouring out as quickly as my tears.

Grieved over my bad choice of not resisting my friend, I returned the stolen items, apologized, and vowed never to steal again. The owner told me never to come back. But because my mom forgave me and assured me that I had done my best to make things right, I slept peacefully that night.

King David also rested in forgiveness through confession (Ps. 32:1–2). He had hidden his sins against Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Sam. 11–12) until his “strength was sapped” (Ps. 32:3–4). But once David refused to “cover up” his wrongs, the Lord erased his guilt (v. 5). God protected him “from trouble” and wrapped him in “songs of deliverance” (v. 7). David rejoiced because the “Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him” (v. 10).

We can’t choose the consequences of our sins or control people’s responses when we confess and seek forgiveness. But the Lord can empower us to enjoy freedom from the bondage of sin and peace through confession, as He confirms that our guilt is gone—forever.

Lord, when we confess our sins and receive Your forgiveness, please help us believe our guilt is completely and forever wiped away.

When God forgives, our guilt is gone.

 

A Heart of Gratitude

From: Our Daily Journey

A Heart of Gratitude

Read:

Luke 17:11-19
One of them, when he saw that he was healed . . . fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him (Luke 17:15-16).

In his memoir Townie, novelist Andre Dubus III shared that his father, also a renowned writer, would write every single morning. After he finished, “He’d count how many words he’d gotten and record the number. After each total, whether it was fifteen hundred or fifty, he wrote ‘Thank you.’ ” This writer had learned the art of gratitude, and it shaped his work—allowing him to see and then write about rich experiences of hope, humanity, and grace.

Luke’s gospel suggests that gratitude is a necessary part of our ability to receive the deepest healing God desires to give. Recounting a story of ten lepers who “stood at a distance” and cried out for Jesus to help them, Luke tells us that Jesus told the ten to “go show [themselves] to the priests” (Luke 17:12,14). Miraculously, on their trek to the temple, “they were [all] cleansed” (Luke 17:14).

Though ten were cured, only one returned to say thanks (Luke 17:15). Luke takes care to make certain we understand that the only one who did return was a Samaritan (a religious outsider considered unworthy). In other words, this was the very last person we’d expect to come to Jesus. Yet there he was at Jesus’ feet, effusive with gratitude.

“Stand up and go,” Jesus said to the grateful man. “Your faith has healed you” (Luke 17:19). But wait—the man had already been physically healed, along with the other nine. Apparently there was a deeper healing the man received from Jesus, a healing of body and soul received by faith.

Jesus is kind to us all, but he won’t force anything on us. A posture of gratitude prompted by Him opens our heart and makes us willing to receive more of what God is so eager to give.

 

Abundant Grace

From: CBN, and author: Brad Henry

grace

I receive e-mails, phone calls and texts from people who say, “Pray for me I can’t stop sinning.” Let me share some great news with you today.

” … Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV

Wow, Brad, is that the great news? Let me explain what some preach from this passage, GUILT!

Jesus says in Matthew 5:28 NIV, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

So, does this keep us out of heaven? Well, if you interpret the above passage with none of God’s grace then yes. I know many drunkards, sexually immoral, slanderers, and swindlers who will be in heaven. Why?

Because of the last part of the passage above in 1 Corinthians 6:11, NIV:

“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

No one can lead a perfect life after they become a believer. It is ONLY by God’s grace that we are saved (see Ephesians 2:8-9).

When we get to heaven, it will not be of ANYTHING we did, but it will be in whom we put our faith and trust. He purchased what we could not. The more we rely on the Holy Spirit the less we will sin, but we will still sin till God calls us home. The sin we do cannot separate us from God, but the sin we do can make our lives miserable here on this earth. We can have dysfunctional families because of our sin. We can have all sorts of abuse from our sin and on and on. But that sin will never separate us from God when we have BY FAITH put our trust in the Lord.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NIV

If people are constantly bringing up your sin, then they are the older prodigal brother who never loved the Father in the first place. Maybe today, if you are the prodigal older brother, you too may need to be broken into a thousand pieces like the younger brother. The younger brother only loved His Father when he was truly broken. Then, when he was broken, he saw that the Father did not condemn him or bring up his past, but loved him and gave him his inheritance back.

May the Lord bless you in a mighty way for helping us to help others. May we all feel like the younger brother who came over the last hill, and instead of experiencing shame we experience true love, redemption, joy, and hope for a glorious future. Please pray that many more would be written in the Lambs Book Of Life. Thank you again for helping us to keep on keepin’ on.

We love you all.

Harvest The Ripe Fruit

John 4: 27-38   The Fields Are White To be harvested.

27   Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28   Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,29   “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30   They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31   Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32    But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33   Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34   “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35  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. 36   Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37  Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38  I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

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Ripe for Harvest

From: Our Daily Bread

Ripe for Harvest

Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35

In late summer, we went for a walk in the New Forest in England and had fun picking the blackberries that grew in the wild while watching the horses frolicking nearby. As I enjoyed the bounty of the sweet fruit planted by others perhaps many years before, I thought of Jesus’s words to His disciples: “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for” (John 4:38).

I love the generosity of God’s kingdom reflected in those words. He lets us enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labors, such as when we share our love for Jesus with a friend whose family—unbeknown to us—has been praying for her for years. I also love the implied limits of Jesus’s words, for we may plant seeds that we will never harvest but someone else may. Therefore, we can rest in the tasks before us, not being hoodwinked into thinking that we are responsible for the outcomes. God’s work, after all, doesn’t depend on us. He has all of the resources for a bountiful harvest, and we are privileged to play a role in it.

I wonder what fields ready for harvest are before you? Before me? May we heed Jesus’s loving instruction: “Open your eyes and look at the fields!” (v. 35).

Creator God, thank You for Your great generosity in entrusting us to do Your work. May I be alert to the opportunities to share Your good news.

We can reap what others have sown.

 

“I Indeed. . . But He”

From: Utmost.org

Have I ever come to the point in my life where I can say, “I indeed…but He…”? Until that moment comes, I will never know what the baptism of the Holy Spirit means. I indeed am at the end, and I cannot do anything more— but He begins right there— He does the things that no one else can ever do. Am I prepared for His coming? Jesus cannot come and do His work in me as long as there is anything blocking the way, whether it is something good or bad. When He comes to me, am I prepared for Him to drag every wrong thing I have ever done into the light? That is exactly where He comes. Wherever I know I am unclean is where He will put His feet and stand, and wherever I think I am clean is where He will remove His feet and walk away.

Repentance does not cause a sense of sin— it causes a sense of inexpressible unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am absolutely helpless, and I know that through and through I am not worthy even to carry His sandals. Have I repented like that, or do I have a lingering thought of possibly trying to defend my actions? The reason God cannot come into my life is that I am not at the point of complete repentance.

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” John is not speaking here of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as an experience, but as a work performed by Jesus Christ. “Hewill baptize you….” The only experience that those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit are ever conscious of is the experience of sensing their absolute unworthiness.

I indeed” was this in the past, “but He” came and something miraculous happened. Get to the end of yourself where you can do nothing, but where He does everything.

 

God Goes Where You Go

From: CBN, and author: Martha Noebel

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Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 NIV

How comforting it is to know that wherever we go, God is there with us. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations and wonder if God is paying attention. We may feel so alone and even depressed. We can’t feel God’s presence, and we need His guidance and help.

Sometimes friends, spouses, and parents don’t really understand what we are going through. But God does and He cares. God told Joshua to be strong and to have courage. Then He told him a wonderful truth: “The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Yes, that’s right… wherever! We don’t have to feel all alone. God is with us. He is working out the problems, and we don’t even realize it.

But now … the Lord who created you … says: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done. Isaiah 43:1-3, 13 NLT

God is with us, leading us, guiding us, loving us, providing for us — all with His unlimited resources. What do we need? Do we need strength, peace, love, joy, or hope? He has it all. He is longing to pour out His favor and blessing upon us. We need to be open to Him and to trust Him. We need, by faith, to receive what He has for us. It is essential we realize how much He loves us and that He has a good purpose and plan for us.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Ephesians 3:14-16 NLT

This Scripture is awesome. There is nothing that God doesn’t know and can’t do for us. He walks with us every moment of every day. We need to speak these Scriptures to our hearts. The devil can’t stand it when we, in confidence, speak God’s Word. It builds faith in us and gives us the strength to stand.

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! Psalms 139:1-6 NLT

Like David let us declare:

Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Psalms 25:4-5 NLT

You can trust God. No matter what is going on in your life, He is there! God goes where you go.

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT    Martha Noebel, author.

The Ministry Of The Unnoticed

 

Matthew 11: 4-15     

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he of whom it is written:

‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’[b]

11 “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

 

 

pictures of hunters camouflaged  

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The Ministry of the Unnoticed

From: Utmost.org

The Ministry of the Unnoticed

The New Testament notices things that do not seem worthy of notice by our standards. “Blessed are the poor in spirit….” This literally means, “Blessed are the paupers.” Paupers are remarkably commonplace! The preaching of today tends to point out a person’s strength of will or the beauty of his character— things that are easily noticed. The statement we so often hear, “Make a decision for Jesus Christ,” places the emphasis on something our Lord never trusted. He never asks us to decide for Him, but to yield to Him— something very different. At the foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is the genuine loveliness of those who are commonplace. I am truly blessed in my poverty. If I have no strength of will and a nature without worth or excellence, then Jesus says to me, “Blessed are you, because it is through your poverty that you can enter My kingdom.” I cannot enter His kingdom by virtue of my goodness— I can only enter it as an absolute pauper.

The true character of the loveliness that speaks for God is always unnoticed by the one possessing that quality. Conscious influence is prideful and unchristian. If I wonder if I am being of any use to God, I instantly lose the beauty and the freshness of the touch of the Lord. “He who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). And if I examine the outflow, I lose the touch of the Lord.

Who are the people who have influenced us most? Certainly not the ones who thought they did, but those who did not have even the slightest idea that they were influencing us. In the Christian life, godly influence is never conscious of itself. If we are conscious of our influence, it ceases to have the genuine loveliness which is characteristic of the touch of Jesus. We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring.

 

Be Still

Be Still

The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:11

“We’ve created more information in the last five years than in all of human history before it, and it’s coming at us all the time” (Daniel Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload).  “In a sense,” Levitin says, “we become addicted to the hyperstimulation.” The constant barrage of news and knowledge can dominate our minds. In today’s environment of media bombardment, it becomes increasingly difficult to find time to be quiet, to think, and to pray.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God,” reminding us of the necessity to take time to focus on the Lord. Many people find that a “quiet time” is an essential part of each day—a time to read the Bible, pray, and consider the goodness and greatness of God.

When we, like the writer of Psalm 46, experience the reality that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (v. 1), it drives our fear away (v. 2), shifts our focus from the world’s turmoil to God’s peace, and creates a quiet confidence that our Lord is in control (v. 10).

No matter how chaotic the world may become around us, we can find quietness and strength in our heavenly Father’s love and power.

Heavenly Father, we bring our noisy lives and our cluttered minds to You so that we can learn to be still and know that You are God.

Each day we need to be still and listen to the Lord.

 

No More Excuses

From: CBN, and Nina Keegan, author

excuses

Isn’t an excuse just a little white lie the enemy uses to blindfold us and keep us in mediocracy?

A friend of mine was recently telling me that her son just cannot take tests. He excels in his class work, but when it comes to test-taking his mind goes blank and he fails. This was the reason he was doing so poorly in his classes.

Somewhere along the line this lie was spoken over him or he just decided it himself; but over the years defeat became etched into His mind like a river carves itself through a mountain base. Deeper and deeper it flows. Then it became a bonafide reality gripping itself to his leg like a ball and chain, and eventually an excuse to fail.

Excuses in our lives give us permission to settle for less than God’s best. It seems we always have an excuse for our shortcomings. We always have something or someone else to blame for our less-than-stellar lot in life. It is never our fault. We continuously brand our insecurities through seemingly justifiable alibis. We declare this is how it always is for us, for our families. We inhale the status quo and exhale the mundane.

Most failures come from a history of excuses and a lack of perseverance.

Closed doors don’t always mean NO. Most of the time they mean that God has a bigger and better door. We must move forward and keep knocking.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 ESV

We get so immersed in the past and caught up on old technicalities we can’t see hope staring at us through the dirty windows of our own self-appointed limitations. We are confined only by the walls we build ourselves. We can get so stuck in the rut of excuses we even make excuses for our excuses.

The Bible is littered with excuse-makers, starting off with Eve claiming it was all the serpent’s fault and its erroneous ability to deceive her.

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:13 ESV

God is saying enough!

It’s time to receive the victory God has in store for you. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength! He can give you supernatural qualifications. He can cause you to be at the right place at the right time. If you speak life into your situation and speak faith into your circumstances, the favor of God and the blessings of Heaven will chase you down when you stop excusing them away.

The grace of God will supply all you need. Consequently, you will have no need for further rationalizations for lack of personal victory in your life.

Trust the Word of God and the plans He has for your life! God’s plan says He will give you a new hope and a bright future.

Success will ultimately come to you when your dreams become bigger than your excuses.

Put to rest forever the old, makeshift justifications. Peel back the layers of excuse after excuse that are holding you back from God’s best. Become a new creation in Christ and let the blood of Jesus and His salvation promises justify you, vindicate you, and excuse you from your excuses!

Through Christ, you are made new and made whole in every area of your life. Stop excusing away your dreams. Instead, grab hold of them. Start speaking life into your life. Let the promises of God settle in your heart, declare these truths, and let them override your regrets and rationalizations now.

When you give up your excuses you will find your results.

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:4-10 ESV