Tag Archives: protection

It’s Your Decision

 

 

Complete and Effective Decision About Sin

From: My Utmost For His Highest

04
10
2014

. . . our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin —Romans 6:6

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

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

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

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

April 10

The Summer Will Come

“Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you” (Isa. 30:18).

Where showers fall most, there the grass is greenest. I suppose the fogs and mists of Ireland make it “the Emerald Isle”; and whenever you find great fogs of trouble, and mists of sorrow, you always find emerald green hearts; full of the beautiful verdure of the comfort and love of God. O Christian, do not thou be saying, “Where are the swallows gone? They are gone; they are dead.” They are not dead; they have skimmed the purple sea, and gone to a far-off land; but they will be back again by and by. Child of God, say not the flowers are dead; say not the winter has killed them, and they are gone. Ah, no! though winter hath coated them with the ermine of its snow; they will put up their heads again, and will be alive very soon. Say not, child of God, that the sun is quenched, because the cloud hath hidden it. Ah, no; he is behind there, brewing summer for thee; for when he cometh out again, he will have made the clouds fit to drop in April showers, all of them mothers of the sweet May flowers. And oh! above all, when thy God hides His face, say not that He hath forgotten thee. He is but tarrying a little while to make thee love Him better; and when He cometh, thou shalt have joy in the Lord, and shalt rejoice with joy unspeakable. Waiting exercises our grace; waiting tries our faith; therefore, wait on in hope; for though the promise tarry, it can never come too late.
–C. H. Spurgeon

***

“Oh, every year hath its winter,
And every year hath its rain–
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.

“When new leaves swell in the forest,
And grass springs green on the plain,
And alders’ veins turn crimson–
And the birds go north again.

“Oh, every heart hath its sorrow,
And every heart hath its pain–
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.

“‘Tis the sweetest thing to remember,
If courage be on the wane,
When the cold, dark days are over–
Why, the birds go north again.”

You’re in good hands

From: Our Daily Journey

2 Timothy 3:14-17
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you (2 Timothy 3:14).

Read Acts 1:1-2 and consider what Luke wrote about his gospel account.

How important is it for you to see the historic nature of Luke’s writings? What other reasons can you give for trusting in the accuracy and truthfulness of God’s Word?

Sometime back in the 1950s, the Allstate Insurance Company’s marketing group was struggling to come up with a slogan for the company’s first major national advertising campaign. As the team was ready to quit after an empty day of brainstorming, sales executive Davis Ellis remembered a reassuring comment his wife made to him months earlier when their child was sick in the hospital.

She told him, “The hospital said not to worry. We’re in good hands with the doctor.” It was then that one of the most memorable ad slogans ever was born: “You’re in good hands with Allstate.”

If I was given the task of advertising the New Testament book of Luke (one of the four narratives of the life of Jesus), I would go back to the phrase that inspired Allstate’s famous slogan: “You’re in good hands with the doctor.”

Why? Because it’s true in more ways than one. The author himself (Luke) was a beloved doctor (Colossians 4:14). Obviously, Dr. Luke was highly educated, but he was also a careful reporter who investigated the facts about Jesus from the very beginning (Luke 1:3).

Another important reason to trust the book of Luke is that the good doctor got his information from firsthand testimonies. Unlike other accounts not found in the Bible (that were written several decades after the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life were gone), Luke personally knew several of the key eyewitnesses—namely Paul and James the half-brother of Jesus.

Of course, we also recognize that Luke, along with all the human authors of the Bible, wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16).

So rest assured, readers of the book of Luke (and all of God’s Word!),you’re in good hands.

There Is One That Is Great

 

  • There is one who is Great: Jesus Christ the Lord.
  • April 9, 2014

    Will I Ever Accomplish Something Great?
    Leah DiPascal

    From: Crosswalk.com“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

  • Have you ever thought to yourself, “God could never use me”? I have … many times. I spent years watching from the sidelines as some of my closest friends accomplished great things. Rewarding careers. Successful families. Thriving ministries.

If only I were smarter. If I could just meet the right people. If I had a little more courage. Then surely God would use me.

What did others have that I didn’t? I loved God. He loved me. So why wasn’t I on the approved-to-be-used-by-God list? What was the problem? Would my big moment to shine ever come?

I was under the false impression that if God chose me to accomplish great things for Him, it would include an elaborate theme with plenty of fanfare. Boy, was I wrong.

Sure, God certainly knows how to manifest grand and elaborate: A snow capped mountain range. A sunrise bursting with color. A field of wildflowers in full bloom. He even gives people tremendous platforms to fulfill His wondrous plans. People whose names we all know by heart.

God also chooses people like you and me to do great things for His glory. But sometimes our assignments look very different than we think they should. Although the world tends to focus on famous people, high positions and big platforms, God looks at the intent of the heart.

While admiring the successful journeys of others and wondering why God wasn’t choosing me, I overlooked something important. He was using me — as His masterpiece — to accomplish good things that were already planned for me years ago (Ephesians 2:10).

While I was dreaming up grand ideas, God was waiting for a grateful heart.

While I was longing for elaborate platforms, God was looking for a humble spirit.

While I was dreaming of success, God was watching for a willingness of obedience.

A grateful heart when diapers needed changing and toys were left all over the floor. A humble spirit when dirty clothes sat in piles waiting to be washed and dinner needed to be prepared. A willingness of obedience when God whispered to my heart “Apologize first and say you’re sorry.”

Looking back over the years I can now see that some of my greatest accomplishments happened within the simple walls of my own home. Serving my family in messy ways and being stretched beyond what I thought was my breaking point.

Saying “yes” when I wanted to say “no.” Helping with last-minute homework assignments. Holding little hands during bedtime prayers.

There was no sea of spectators. No cheers from the crowd. No standing ovations. Only a simple family, living life one day at a time, trying to do what was right in God’s eyes.

What great things has God chosen for you to do? Remember, you are His masterpiece, a one-of-a-kind creation, created to fulfill important plans no one else can do.

Are your God-given assignments wrapped in baseball caps and sneakers?

Are your grand moments filled with princess tiaras and bedtime stories?

As you tirelessly serve your family and sometimes wonder if anyone notices, be assured that God does. He sees you as His greatest asset! Your willingness to serve your family brings Him great joy.

And when will our big moment come? When we get to shine?

I imagine it will be one glorious day when we humbly kneel before our Heavenly Father and He lovingly speaks our names saying, “Well done my faithful daughter. You have accomplished great things in My Name.”

Lord, help me to accomplish all the plans You’ve chosen for me. Give me wisdom and discernment to know what path You’ve laid out for me to follow. Thank you for creating me as Your masterpiece and may I delight in You as I serve my family well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Hometown Hero

From: Getmorestrength.org
 

“I heard the voice of many angels, numbering . . . ten thousand times ten thousand . . . “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’” Revelation 5:11-12

 

 

Chicago Cubs fans are the most optimistic people in baseball. It’s been over a century since their last World Series victory, yet we still pack Wrigley Field hoping that our boys in blue will pull through for us.

One of our past heroes, first baseman Derrek Lee, was placed on the disabled list early one season—a disappointment for me as I settled into my seat for a home game against the crosstown rival White Sox. The game was tied in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs and the bases loaded with Cubs. You could feel the tension as the crowd waited to see if their Cubbies could capitalize on the moment. Then, unexpectedly, out of the dugout came none other than “D-Lee” to pinch hit. The crowd went wild, and best of all, he didn’t disappoint. He connected with a 3-1 pitch for a grand-slam, and the place erupted in cheers as Lee circled the bases. In the stadium that day were people from all walks of life—celebrities, corporate tycoons, cabdrivers—but distinctions disappeared as they hailed their hero.

That picture of celebration, multiplied by thousands, helps us understand the scene in Revelation 5:1-14. Circling the throne of Jesus are people from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). But their differences are eclipsed in their united celebration of the One who is their focus—the Lamb of God. What a picture of worship! We were utterly without hope, lost in our sins, and unable to rescue ourselves. In that moment, Jesus came out of the dugout of our despair and, by His own blood, ensured victory over sin and death forever. No wonder the eternal song in heaven focuses on the worthiness of the Lamb who was slain. He is the ultimate hero and our eyes should be fixed on Him!

Ironically, in His own hometown Jesus was largely ignored by the crowd. I don’t want to be counted among them! For those of us focused on His ultimate work on the cross, our victory is sweet and the celebration is heartfelt.

There’s no comparison between Derek Lee emerging from the dugout and our champion Jesus who 2,000 years ago vacated an empty tomb to give you a part in His eternal victory over sin and death and hell!

Live to celebrate Jesus—our ultimate hometown hero!

April 9

Don’t Fret

“Do not begin to be anxious” (Phil. 4:6, PBV).

Not a few Christians live in a state of unbroken anxiety, and others fret and fume terribly. To be perfectly at peace amid the hurly-burly of daily life is a secret worth knowing. What is the use of worrying? It never made anybody strong; never helped anybody to do God’s will; never made a way of escape for anyone out of perplexity. Worry spoils lives which would otherwise be useful and beautiful. Restlessness, anxiety, and care are absolutely forbidden by our Lord, who said: “Take no thought,” that is, no anxious thought, “saying what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?” He does not mean that we are not to take forethought and that our life is to be without plan or method; but that we are not to worry about these things. People know you live in the realm of anxious care by the lines on your face, the tones of your voice, the minor key in your life, and the lack of joy in your spirit. Scale the heights of a life abandoned to God, then you will look down on the clouds beneath your feet.
–Rev. Darlow Sargeant

***

It is always weakness to be fretting and worrying, questioning and mistrusting. Can we gain anything by it? Do we not unfit ourselves for action, and unhinge our minds for wise decision? We are sinking by our struggles when we might float by faith.

Oh, for grace to be quiet! Oh, to be still and know that Jehovah is God! The Holy One of Israel must defend and deliver His own. We may be sure that every word of His will stand, though the mountains should depart. He deserves to be confided in. Come, my soul, return unto thy rest, and lean thy head upon the bosom of the Lord Jesus.

Bearing The Sting

 

From: Streams In The Desert

BEARING THE STING

“He opened not his mouth” (Isa. 53:7).

How much grace it requires to bear a misunderstanding rightly, and to receive an unkind judgment in holy sweetness! Nothing tests the Christian character more than to have some evil thing said about him. This is the file that soon proves whether we are electro-plate or solid gold. If we could only know the blessings that lie hidden in our trials we would say like David, when Shimei cursed him, “Let him curse;… it may be… that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day.”

Some people get easily turned aside from the grandeur of their life-work by pursuing their own grievances and enemies, until their life gets turned into one little petty whirl of warfare. It is like a nest of hornets. You may disperse the hornets, but you will probably get terribly stung, and get nothing for your pains, for even their honey is not worth a search.

God give us more of His Spirit, “who, when he was reviled, reviled not again”; but “committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” “Consider him that endureth such contradiction of sinners against himself.”
–A. B. Simpson

***

“Before you” He trod all the path of woe,
He took the sharp thrusts with His head bent low.

He knew deepest sorrow and pain and grief,
He knew long endurance without relief,

He took all the bitter from death’s deep cup,
He kept not a blood-drop but gave all up.

“Before you” and for you, He won the fight
To bring you to glory and realms of light.
–L.S.P.

 

Unloading the Baggage

From: Get more strength.com

“Throw off anything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” Hebrews 12:1

I boarded the plane in Chicago with too much baggage. Not the kind of baggage you stow in the overhead compartment or squash under the seat in front of you. Not even the kind you check in at the airline desk. This was the kind of baggage that weighs your heart down and that, if carried around, leaves you emotionally and spiritually exhausted. An unexpected attack from a trusted friend had left me deeply upset and really confused about how to respond.

As the flight attendants went through their pre-flight checklist, I was lost in thought world thinking through all my options. Feeling betrayed and unjustly wronged, I had a long list of possibilities—the kind of responses that seemed very natural to my fallen heart—but they were the types of choices that were wrapped in the old revenge, self-protection, and “I don’t get mad, I just get even” kind of stuff.

As we taxied out to the runway, I knew I needed a second opinion. So I simply prayed, “God, I need you to talk to me. I desperately need your wisdom. You brought this into my life for a purpose, but I don’t know what to do next.”

As the plane climbed, I began to feel closer to God. Not physically closer (although praying above the clouds at 35,000 feet does lend a different perspective), but spiritually closer as He began to share His wisdom with me from Matthew 5. My natural thoughts and desires to fight back and demand my rights were replaced with Jesus’ instruction to “turn the other cheek,” to “go the extra mile,” to “bless those who curse me” (Matthew 5:38-48).

Of course, my human nature continued to argue for a while. “But, God, I’ll feel so weak. I’ll feel like a pushover, a weakling. I need to fight for myself.” The reality is, my pride wanted to keep the baggage. My ego wanted to hang on to the situation and try to deal with it through human, natural, flawed means. Trusting the Lord’s wisdom would mean that I no longer had control of the situation.

But God in His grace reminded me of the surrender of Christ on the cross. He drew me to the fact that, for Jesus, the path to glory was the path of surrender and letting go. The one who is the Lion of Judah is also the Lamb that was slain. And God drew me to that point of decision once again. Was I going to manage this situation to my advantage or was I going to release it, in trust and obedience, to Him?

I am thankful to say that when the plane landed in New York, I left some baggage on it. I walked through the terminal without the heaviness of heart that comes from fighting for my own rights. I headed for my hotel free of the weight of bitterness that the enemy was trying to stir up in my soul. God had renewed my strength and the weariness was gone.

Let me invite you to the privilege of waiting on the Lord. As Isaiah 40:28 reminds us, God never grows weary. His wisdom never runs out. His power, His might, and His truth are available and accessible to His children. You don’t need to walk another step with that load of fear, guilt, anger, bitterness, or confusion.

Check your carry-on baggage. Surrender it to Him and then seek His wisdom to strengthen and direct you.

It makes the journey so much more enjoyable!

 

I Just Unfriended My Friend
Nicki Koziarz

From: Crosswalk.com

“My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them for they will refresh your soul.” Proverbs 3:21-22a (NLT)

“Women are ridiculous,” I said to my husband as I crawled into bed, tears dripping. He gave me an agreeable stare, since he had no words to console my aching heart.

I’d just learned a friend lied to me. It was about something senseless, which just made it worse. As the hours ticked by, I wrestled through troubling thoughts.

Why would she lie about THAT?

Were we ever really friends?

The combination of hurt and middle-of-the-night thinking was toxic, forming a very self-centered attitude in me. I decided I no longer had room in my life to deal with someone who had lied to me. So in my heart, I just unfriended this friend.

I have other people I can be friends with, I thought as I drifted off to sleep.

The next morning I realized how my emotions had distorted my perceptions. It concerned me how quickly I was willing to write off this friend, since we had been through a lot together. And I really did value our relationship.

So I pondered the emotions swirling in my heart.

In our cyber culture today, it’s easy to sit behind computer screens and smartphones while we reject the reality of many things, including friendships.

My profile on Facebook says I have 900 “friends.” Social media convinces me I have hundreds of people in my corner. But in reality, I don’t have 900 friends I could call in the midst of a crisis or even go meet for a cup of coffee.

And that “unfriend” button is mighty tempting when someone hurts me. But the truth is, ending a relationship is much more complex than the way social media convinces me it can happen — as easily as clicking an icon.

Social media is a relational tool, but it’s not a relational reality.

More than ever, I need to see my friendships through the lens of reality, and this verse helps me do this: “My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them for they will refresh your soul,” (Proverbs 3:21-22a).

God has given us two trustworthy filters to help us see things as what they really are: common sense and discernment.

In this situation with my friend, common sense, reminded me: You don’t really have 900 friends, but you do have one or two people you can really count on. And you need to cultivate those relationships through good times and bad.

When I wanted to reject our relationship because I was hurt, discernment said: Your friend is human. At the core of her heart she cares about you and didn’t mean to hurt you.

We will always be susceptible to flawed perceptions in our friendships. But when we hang on to the realities God offers us through common sense and discernment I believe we will be much wiser with our perceptions.

Using God’s Word as my filter, rather than my emotions, allowed me to work through the hurtful issue with my friend. That experience made me a more compassionate friend and it strengthened our friendship, so that when I mess up (and I’m sure I will), hopefully she’ll forgive me.

God, we are so grateful for Your gifts of common sense and discernment. Give us the grace to use these filters when things get foggy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Choose Life

 

Choose Life

From: Our Daily Bread
Choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love theLord your God, that you may obey His voice. —Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Bible in a Year:
1 Samuel 4-6; Luke 9:1-17

What is God’s will for my life? The question haunted me when I was growing up. What if I couldn’t find it? What if I didn’t recognize it? God’s will seemed like a needle in a haystack. Hidden. Obscured by lookalikes. Outnumbered by counterfeits.

But my view of God’s will was wrong because my view of God was wrong. God takes no pleasure in seeing us lost, wandering, searching. He wants us to know His will. He makes it clear, and He makes it simple. He doesn’t even make it multiple-choice. He gives just two choices: “life and good” or “death and evil” (Deut. 30:15). In case the best choice isn’t obvious, He even says which one to choose: “Choose life” (v.19). To choose life is to choose God Himself and obey His Word.

When Moses addressed the Israelites for the last time, he pleaded with them to make the right choice by observing “all the words of this law. . . . Because it is your life” (32:46-47). God’s will for us is life. His Word is life. And Jesus is the Word. God may not give a prescription for every decision, but He gave us a perfect example to follow—Jesus. The right choice may not be easy, but when the Word is our guide and worship is our goal, God will grant us the wisdom to make life-affirming choices.

Lord Jesus, we know that true wisdom comes
from leaning on You. Help us to trust in
You and to seek Your face and Your will
that we find in Your life-giving Word.
The evidence of God’s guidance can be seen more clearly by looking back than by looking forward.

 

The Collision of God and Sin

From:  My Utmost For His HIghest

. . . who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree . . . —1 Peter 2:24

The Cross of Christ is the revealed truth of God’s judgment on sin. Never associate the idea of martyrdom with the Cross of Christ. It was the supreme triumph, and it shook the very foundations of hell. There is nothing in time or eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable than what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross— He made it possible for the entire human race to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God. He made redemption the foundation of human life; that is, He made a way for every person to have fellowship with God.

The Cross was not something that happened to Jesus— He came to die; the Cross was His purpose in coming. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). The incarnation of Christ would have no meaning without the Cross. Beware of separating “God was manifested in the flesh. . .” from “. . . He made Him. . . to be sin for us. . .” (1 Timothy 3:16 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The purpose of the incarnation was redemption. God came in the flesh to take sin away, not to accomplish something for Himself. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the problems of both.

The Cross is not the cross of a man, but the Cross of God, and it can never be fully comprehended through human experience. The Cross is God exhibiting His nature. It is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God. But it is not a gate we pass right through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there.

The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.

The Search For Satisfaction

From: GetMoreStrength.org
Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? —Isaiah 55:2When it comes to jigsaw puzzles, we all know that to enjoy a satisfying outcome you need all the pieces. In many ways, life is like that. We spend our days putting it together, hoping to create a complete picture out of all the scattered parts.

Yet sometimes it seems like a piece is missing. Perhaps we’ve been pursuing the wrong pieces to the puzzle. Even though we may know that life without God at the center is a life that has lost the most important piece, do we live as though He isn’t particularly relevant? And even though we may attend church regularly, is He the throbbing center of our lives? Sometimes we grow accustomed to feeling distant from God. This makes it easier to sin, complicating the sense that something important is missing.

But no matter how far we may drift from God, He wants us near. He appealed to His people through the prophet Isaiah: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (Isa. 55:2).

If something is missing in your life, remember that God is the only One who can fully and abundantly satisfy you. Let Him complete the picture of your life.

The God-shaped void within our heart
Cannot be filled by treasure;
It’s only God who satisfies
In ways we cannot measure. —Sper

There’s a longing in every heart that only Jesus can satisfy.

The Souls Payment – Jesus

 

Mind the Checks

Our Daily Bread

“And after the earthquake a fire; and after the fire a sound of gentle stillness” (1 Kings 19:12, RV margin.)

A soul, who made rapid progress in her understanding of the Lord, was once asked the secret of her easy advancement. She replied tersely, “Mind the checks.”

And the reason that many of us do not know and better understand Him is, we do not give heed to His gentle checks, His delicate restraints and constraints. His is a still, small voice. A still voice can hardly be heard. It must be felt. A steady, gentle pressure upon the heart and mind like the touch of a morning zephyr to your face. A small voice, quietly, almost timidly spoken in your heart, but if heeded growing noiselessly clearer to your inner ear. His voice is for the ear of love, and love is intent upon hearing even faintest whispers.

There comes a time also when love ceases to speak if not responded to, or believed in. He is love, and if you would know Him and His voice, give constant ear to His gentle touches. In conversation, when about to utter some word, give heed to that gentle voice, mind the check and refrain from speech. When about to pursue some course that seems all clear and right and there comes quietly to your spirit a suggestion that has in it the force almost of a conviction, give heed, even if changed plans seem highest folly from standpoint of human wisdom.

Learn also to wait on God for the unfolding of His will. Let God form your plans about everything in your mind and heart and then let Him execute them. Do not possess any wisdom of your own. For many times His execution will seem so contradictory to the plan He gave. He will seem to work against Himself. Simply listen, obey and trust God even when it seems highest folly so to do. He will in the end make “all things work together,” but so many times in the first appearance of the outworking of His plans,

“In His own world He is content
To play a losing game.”

So if you would know His voice, never consider results or possible effects. Obey even when He asks you to move in the dark. He Himself will be gloriously light in you. And there will spring up rapidly in your heart an acquaintanceship and a fellowship with God which will be overpowering in itself to hold you and Him together, even in severest testings and under most terrible pressures.
–Way of Faith

 

The bottom line

Ecclesiastes 7:1-4
Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart (Ecclesiastes 7:2).

Pray Psalm 23:1-6 to the Lord. What truth from this psalm will you lean on today?

List the enemies that Jesus has defeated for you. How might these victories encourage you in the problems you still face?

While in college, the great missionary Adoniram Judson lost his faith when he fell under the spell of Jacob Eames, a deist who believed that God never interferes in our lives. When he was on a trip, Judson stayed at a village inn next door to a man who was dying. The man’s groans kept Judson awake and he began to think about death. Was he ready to meet God? The next morning Judson learned that the man had died. He asked the innkeeper if he knew who the man was. “Oh yes. Young man from the college in Providence. Name was Eames . . . Jacob Eames.”

Judson was shaken. He realized that deism had failed Eames, just as it would fail him in his moment of death. The time was up for intellectual games. He needed to live for the One who had beaten death.

No one likes to think about death, but if we don’t talk about it we’ll have nothing to say when we talk about Jesus. Hebrews 2:14-15 explains that Jesus came to defeat death. He became a man so He could “break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”

If you have never feared dying, there’s little chance you’ve given your life to Jesus. Why would you? You aren’t troubled by the problem that He came to solve. But if you’ve been bothered by the thought of death—realizing that it’s the demonic intruder that has come to destroy you—then it’s likely you already know that your hope is found in Jesus alone. No one else even claims to have conquered death on your behalf. “Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Our Co-Pilot?

 Get More Strength.com

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. —Galatians 2:20

The bumper sticker “Jesus is my co-pilot” may be a well-intentioned sentiment, but it has always troubled me. Whenever I’m in the driver’s seat of my life, the destination is nowhere good. Jesus is not meant to be just a spiritual “co-pilot” giving directions every now and then. He is always meant to be in the driver’s seat. Period!

We often say that Jesus died for us, which of course is true. But there’s more to it than that. Because Jesus died on the cross, something inside of us died—the power of sin. It’s what Paul meant when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). We were essentially co-crucified with Him. With Jesus in the driver’s seat, the old destinations are off-limits. No more turning down the streets of self-centeredness, greed, or lust. No more off-road ventures into the swamp of pride or the ditch of bitterness. We were crucified with Him and He is at the wheel now! He died so that He alone can drive and define us.

So, if you’ve died and Christ lives in you, He’s not your co-pilot. Your joy is to let Him drive and define your life. There may be a few bumps in the road, but you can count on it—He’ll take you somewhere good.

Lord, I thank You for salvation,
For Your mercy, full and free;
Take my all in consecration,
Glorify Yourself in me. —Codner

Still at the wheel of your life? It’s time to let Jesus drive.

Show Your Faith

 

people showing faith

The Way to Permanent Faith

My Utmost For His HIghest

Indeed the hour is coming . . . that you will be scattered . . . —John 16:32

Jesus was not rebuking the disciples in this passage. Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life. The disciples were scattered to their own concerns and they had interests apart from Jesus Christ. After we have the perfect relationship with God, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, our faith must be exercised in the realities of everyday life. We will be scattered, not into service but into the emptiness of our lives where we will see ruin and barrenness, to know what internal death to God’s blessings means. Are we prepared for this? It is certainly not of our own choosing, but God engineers our circumstances to take us there. Until we have been through that experience, our faith is sustained only by feelings and by blessings. But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life.

“. . . you . . . will leave Me alone.” Have we been scattered and have we left Jesus alone by not seeing His providential care for us? Do we not see God at work in our circumstances? Dark times are allowed and come to us through the sovereignty of God. Are we prepared to let God do what He wants with us? Are we prepared to be separated from the outward, evident blessings of God? Until Jesus Christ is truly our Lord, we each have goals of our own which we serve. Our faith is real, but it is not yet permanent. And God is never in a hurry. If we are willing to wait, we will see God pointing out that we have been interested only in His blessings, instead of in God Himself. The sense of God’s blessings is fundamental

“. . . be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Unyielding spiritual fortitude is what we need.

Crosswalk.com

I’m a Meddler
Lynn Cowell

“… aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (ESV)

I did it again. Stepped in to a situation that didn’t concern me. I told myself I was helping, but it wasn’t my place to speak up. As usual, it backfired.

Contemplating all that had happened that evening, Jesus spoke to me. Of course, not literally spoke to me, but He nudged my heart: You’re a meddler, Lynn, and you need to be done with it. When you meddle, you are not trusting. When you meddle, you are saying I can’t handle it. You know I can. So be done with it. No more.

I’m a meddler.

I like to say I’m a “fixer.” That’s what I have called it in the past, but truth is, that’s just a nicer way of putting it.

Not a gossiper. No, that is someone who intentionally separates and that’s not my heart. I want to help. Really I do.

I’m a meddler. Dictionary.com defines the verb “meddle” this way: “To involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwantedly.”

Without right or invitation. That’s what I do. Seeing an unhappy, unhealthy or unholy situation I listen to the whisper in my head. Since I see it, I think I’m instructed to do something about it.

But most often, I am not. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says “… aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.”

My place is to be quiet and pray. But I still prefer to fix, manipulate and get involved.

In other words, I meddle.

So, there you have it. Now that I see my actions for what they are, it’s my responsibility to change. And in order to change, I will have to slow down before I take action or open my mouth. I’ll have to ask myself: Are you meddling?

Will I be tempted to meddle? Every day. Will I mess up? I hope not, but it’s highly probable. I’m human. My desire, though, is to mind my own affairs and let Jesus get involved. I will ask Him for prayers to pray, not words to say.

This change is going to be hard. But I know Jesus is serious about not meddling. Proverbs 26:17 says, “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears” (ESV). In other words, meddling isn’t smart! And that is not what I want to be; I want to be wise.

Any other meddlers out there? Can you think of times when you got involved and you shouldn’t have? Especially when the thing Jesus wanted you to do was to pray — and only pray? Let’s pray for each other and ask Jesus to open our eyes to see and leave our troubles up to Him.

Jesus, I’m a woman who wants to be a fixer. But that’s not really my place; it’s Yours. Open my eyes before I step in, and empower me to resist the temptation to get involved. Teach me to pray instead, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

April 4

Alone In The Desert

“And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place” (Luke 9:10).

In order to grow in grace, we must be much alone. It is not in society that the soul grows most vigorously. In one single quiet hour of prayer it will often make more progress than in days of company with others. It is in the desert that the dew falls freshest and the air is purest.
–Andrew Bonar

***

“Come ye yourselves apart and rest awhile,
Weary, I know it, of the press and throng,
Wipe from your brow the sweat and dust of toil,
And in My quiet strength again be strong.

“Come ye aside from all the world holds dear,
For converse which the world has never known,
Alone with Me, and with My Father here,
With Me and with My Father not alone.

“Come, tell Me all that ye have said and done,
Your victories and failures, hopes and fears.
I know how hardly souls are wooed and won:
My choicest wreaths are always wet with tears.

“Come ye and rest; the journey is too great,
And ye will faint beside the way and sink;
The bread of life is here for you to eat,
And here for you the wine of love to drink.

“Then fresh from converse with your Lord return,
And work till, daylight softens into even:
The brief hours are not lost in which ye learn
More of your Master and His rest in Heaven.”

You Need To Know

 

“If You Had Known!”

From: My Utmost For His Glory

If you had known . . . in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes —Luke 19:42

Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly and the city was stirred to its very foundations, but a strange god was there-the pride of the Pharisees. It was a god that seemed religious and upright, but Jesus compared it to “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

What is it that blinds you to the peace of God “in thisyour day”? Do you have a strange god-not a disgusting monster but perhaps an unholy nature that controls your life? More than once God has brought me face to face with a strange god in my life, and I knew that I should have given it up, but I didn’t do it. I got through the crisis “by the skin of my teeth,” only to find myself still under the control of that strange god. I am blind to the very things that make for my own peace. It is a shocking thing that we can be in the exact place where the Spirit of God should be having His completely unhindered way with us, and yet we only make matters worse, increasing our blame in God’s eyes.

“If you had known . . . .” God’s words here cut directly to the heart, with the tears of Jesus behind them. These words imply responsibility for our own faults. God holds us accountable for what we refuse to see or are unable to see because of our sin. And “now they are hidden from your eyes” because you have never completely yielded your nature to Him. Oh, the deep, unending sadness for what might have been! God never again opens the doors that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there are doors which we have shut-doors which had no need to be shut. Never be afraid when God brings back your past. Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God bringing its rebuke and sorrow to you. God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future.

To The Rescue

From: getmorestrength.org

There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. —Luke 15:7

Martie and I recently traveled to some major cities in several countries. We were struck with how lost our world is and grieved over the millions who have never heard the message of the saving grace of Jesus. The thought of reaching our world for Christ felt overwhelming.

Until I remembered the story of the boy walking on a beach. Encountering hundreds of starfish dying under the heat of the burning sun, he started throwing them back into the sea. A passerby asked, “What are you doing?” “Saving their lives,” the boy replied. “Forget it,” the man said. “You can’t possibly save all these starfish.” “Right,” replied the boy, “but it makes a big difference to each one I do save.”

I love the boy’s perspective. When the wave of sin threw us onto the shore to die, God sent His Son to walk on the beach to rescue all who would repent. And, as Jesus told His listeners in Luke 15, each time someone is rescued, heaven throws a party. “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).

Has heaven rejoiced over your rescue? If so, join the ranks of those who reach other lost souls with the rescuing grace of Jesus.

Your love, O God, would spare no pain
To conquer death and win;
You sent Your only Son to die
To rescue us from sin. —M. Gustafson

When you’ve been rescued, you’ll want to rescue others.

 

Jesus weeps

From: Our Daily Journey

Luke 19:41-44
As [Jesus] came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep (Luke 19:41).

What is your response to God’s appeal in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 andHebrews 3:7-15?

How does the fact that Jesus wept affect your view of Him and His love for you? What will you do to bring honor and glory to Him this week?

It happens often at weddings. The mother of the bride can be seen quietly sobbing. Her tears are a fitting response to the coming of age of her daughter and the memories of the years she had nutured her.

The Jews were celebrating the coming of their long-awaited king (Luke 19:35-38). Yet Jesus was weeping, the second time He had wept openly. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus wept (John 11:35). Here He was crying audibly (Luke 19:41).

But why? His people had rejected Him. They sought political freedom. But Jesus came to deliver them from their sins and to offer them peace with God by way of the cross—not the crown.

Jesus looked at their past. God had raised many prophets, calling His people to repent. But they had killed the prophets (Luke 11:48Luke 13:34). Jesus looked at thepresent religiosity and piety that had accomplished little. The city was filled with pilgrims commemorating a sacred festival, but it was empty worship. Their temple had become a den of thieves (Luke 19:46). Jesus looked at the future. He saw the death, destruction, and devastation that would come to the people and city (Luke 19:43-44).

The Lord had lovingly and persistently pursued them, but they “were not willing!” (Luke 13:34 NIV). Jesus wept because His own people had rejected Him as their Messiah (Luke 19:14John 1:11). Israel had wasted and exhausted her opportunities. “Now it [was] too late” (Luke 19:42). “Because [they] did not accept [their] opportunity for salvation” (Luke 19:44), only the fearful prospect of judgment was in view. Forty years later, the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.

Jesus weeps for you if you haven’t received His free gift of salvation. But it’s not too late!

Grow In God’s Strength

Grow in His Strength
From: Streams In The Desert
“As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him” (Deut. 32:11, 12).Our Almighty Parent delights to conduct the tender nestlings of His care to the very edge of the precipice, and even to thrust them off into the steeps of air, that they may learn their possession of unrealized power of flight, to be forever a luxury; and if, in the attempt, they be exposed to unwonted peril, He is prepared to swoop beneath them, and to bear them upward on His mighty pinions. When God brings any of His children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count upon Him to deliver them.
–The Song of Victory

***

“When God puts a burden upon you He puts His own arm underneath.”

***

There is a little plant, small and stunted, growing under the shade of a broad-spreading oak; and this little plant values the shade which covers it, and greatly does it esteem the quiet rest which its noble friend affords. But a blessing is designed for this little plant.

Once upon a time there comes along the woodman, and with his sharp axe he fells the oak. The plant weeps and cries, “My shelter is departed; every rough wind will blow upon me, and every storm will seek to uproot me!”

“No, no,” saith the angel of that flower; “now will the sun get at thee; now will the shower fall on thee in more copious abundance than before; now thy stunted form shall spring up into loveliness, and thy flower, which could never have expanded itself to perfection shall now laugh in the sunshine, and men shall say, ‘How greatly hath that plant increased! How glorious hath become its beauty, through the removal of that which was its shade and its delight!'”

See you not, then, that God may take away your comforts and your privileges, to make you the better Christians? Why, the Lord always trains His soldiers, not by letting them lie on feather-beds, but by turning them out, and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. This is the way in which He makes them soldiers–not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made; but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets and roaring cannonades, not in soft and peaceful times. Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? Is He not developing in you the qualities of the soldier by throwing you into the heat of battle, and should you not use every appliance to come off conqueror?
–Spurgeon


You’ve Got A Friend

[Jesus said,] “I have called you friends.” —John 15:15
Bible in a Year:
Judges 16-18; Luke 7:1-30

One of the ironic consequences of the sweeping growth of social media is that we often find ourselves more personally isolated. One online article warns: “Those who oppose leading one’s life primarily or exclusively online claim that virtual friends are not adequate substitutes for real-world friends, and . . . individuals who substitute virtual friends for physical friends become even lonelier and more depressive than before.”

Technology aside, all of us battle with seasons of loneliness, wondering if anyone knows, understands, or cares about the burdens we carry or the struggles we face. But followers of Christ have an assurance that brings comfort to our weary hearts. The comforting presence of the Savior is promised in words that are undeniable, for the psalmist David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4).

Whether isolated by our own choices, by the cultural trends that surround us, or by the painful losses of life, all who know Christ can rest in the presence of the Shepherd of our hearts. What a friend we have in Jesus!

I’ve found a Friend; O such a Friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him. —Small
Those who know Jesus as their Friend are never alone.
No More Guilt-Induced Doubt
Renee SwopeFrom: Crosswalk.com

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

Mom said she’d be gone all day, and she encouraged me to come over and use her place to write. In a quiet house, hopefully, I could finalize my message outlines for our church women’s retreat.

We arranged plans for my mom to be home at 5 p.m. Then my husband, J.J., would come over at 5:30 p.m. with our boys. The children could stay with Grandma while J.J. and I went to a surprise party.

Mom’s quiet house was just what I needed to get into a good studying and writing zone. It was the perfect setting … until she came home two hours early!

She brought cement pavers in and set them on the floor. She walked out and returned to plop bags of groceries in the kitchen … right where I was studying.

Normally this would have been fine, but I wasn’t done and I got the message that my time was up. Panic set in!

Then, to make matters worse, as I put my notes away I knocked a water bottle over onto my laptop. My chest tightened with anxiety, and my eyes stung with tears. My perfect day was turning into the perfect storm.

After mopping up the mess, I started getting ready for the party and waited for my husband to arrive. He didn’t show up at 5:30, or 5:40. He wasn’t answering his cell phone, and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise party by being late. So, at 6:00, I decided to take Mom’s car and have him meet me there.

Just as I was leaving, he drove up. Surprisingly, he didn’t look a bit hurried. In fact, my then 6-year-old son got out of the car first, walked up to me and said, “Daddy told us you would be mad!”

That was an understatement! Frustrated and angry, I decided it was still a good idea for me to leave. But when I pulled out of the driveway, my husband waved for me to stop and asked, “Aren’t you going to wait for me?”

“No,” I snapped. “Because you’re acting like a [beep].”

My 8-year-old son walked up and said, “Mommy! You just called Daddy a [beep].”

Suddenly guilt-induced doubt made me start questioning everything, including speaking at the retreat. I’m not cut out for this. I’m not godly enough. I must have heard God wrong. I have no business teaching a message I can’t even live.

My husband and I ended up going to the party together, with our fake “everything is fine” smiles. But the next morning at church, I went straight to my women’s ministry director, confessed what happened and told her I needed to step down from being the retreat speaker.

Her response shocked me: “Renee, if you don’t need this message as much as the women attending, then you are not qualified to teach it. But because you need it as much as we do, you are. You’ve been appointed and you are anointed to do this.”

I had never experienced such a demonstration of God’s grace.

That response showed me what it looks like to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

It’s hard to believe God could use us when we’re such a mess, yet the Bible is filled with stories of men and women He used greatly — despite their downfalls.

I ended up speaking at the retreat and shared what had happened. Although I feared some women might judge me, they loved me, accepting that I’m not perfect.

Although guilt can make us give up on ourselves, God won’t. Instead, He offers to take what feels like destruction and use it for reconstruction in our journey with Him.

When we confess our wrong thoughts, words, and actions and receive God’s forgiveness, our hearts can be set free from guilt-induced doubt and filled with grace-infused confidence.

Lord, I come to You today to receive Your mercy and find Your grace to help me. Please replace my guilt-induced doubt with Your grace-infused confidence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Trust God Who Never Fails

 

Don’t Fear; Trust God

 

(pictures of people being afraid)

Don’t fear, trust God.

Isaiah 41:10 NLT – Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. 

_____________________________________

Don’t Be Afraid

From: Academictips.org

 

Here we are, afraid of losing what we have all the time, holding on to it so tight that not a soul can touch it. We think by hiding it from the world, it’s hidden and it’s ours. Nothing is. Nothing ever will be. For, nothing ever was.

If you think there is anything that you have, that’s yours, be it money, a house, a job, or a girlfriend… it’s nothing but an illusion. It’ll all disappear… in one blow. One blow, my man.

Here we are, so insecure that we are afraid of re-starting our lives, so we just carry on trying to sort out the current mess. The thought that we should give it all up and just start all over – with nothing – might cross our minds some time, sure, but we get scared and we push away anything that scares us.

There is nothing I can ever achieve or gain that I cannot lose, in a matter of seconds. You have never gained enough to not be able to lose it all, in just a few minutes. What you think is yours, was never yours and will never be yours. Whatever you make here, you leave here. You came naked and you’re going to go back naked.

So what are you afraid of?

Let all be lost. Let them take away everything. As long as you have your heart beating strong, as long as you have your nostrils working fine, as long as the blood flows in your veins, you will live, you will breathe and you can get it all back… again and again. For, if you can do it once, you can damn well do it again. It’s just a game we play – Life.

By Rohit Wadhwaney

 

Taking the Initiative Against Depression

From: My Utmost For His Highest

02
17
2014

Arise and eat—1 Kings 19:5

The angel in this passage did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable. He simply told Elijah to do a very ordinary thing, that is, to get up and eat. If we were never depressed, we would not be alive—only material things don’t suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation. There are things in life that are designed to depress us; for example, things that are associated with death. Whenever you examine yourself, always take into account your capacity for depression. 

When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable. Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things-things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God. If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.

Learn and Earn

From: Academictips.org

Chuan and Jing joined a wholesale company together just after graduation. Both worked very hard.

After several years, the boss promoted Jing to sales executive but Chuan remained a sales rep. One day Chuan could not take it anymore, tender resignation to the boss and complained the boss did not value hard working staff, but only promoted those who flattered him.

The boss knew that Chuan worked very hard for the years, but in order to help Chuan realize the difference between him and Jing, the boss asked Chuan to do the following. Go and find out anyone selling water melon in the market? Chuan returned and said yes. The boss asked how much per kg? Chuan went back to the market to ask and returned to inform boss the $12 per kg.

Boss told Chuan, I will ask Jing the same question? Jing went, returned and said, boss, only one person selling water melon. $12 per kg, $100 for 10 kg, he has inventory of 340 melons. On the table 58 melons, every melon weighs about 15 kg, bought from the South two days ago, they are fresh and red, good quality.

Chuan was very impressed and realized the difference between himself and Jing. He decided not to resign but to learn from Jing.

My dear friends, a more successful person is more observant, think more and understand in depth. For the same matter, a more successful person sees several years ahead, while you see only tomorrow. The difference between a year and a day is 365 times, how could you win?

Think! how far have you seen ahead in your life? How thoughtful in depth are you?

How the poor live

From: Academictips.org

One day, a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”

“It was great, Dad.”

“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Oh yeah,” said the son.

“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden, and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard, and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on, and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless.

Then his son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are.”

Teaching People About Salvation

 

(people giving instruction)

Streams In The Desert 

By: L.B. Cowman
Followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12).

They (heroes of faith) are calling to us from the heights that they have won, and telling us that what man once did man can do again. Not only do they remind us of the necessity of faith, but also of that patience by which faith has its perfect work. Let us fear to take ourselves out of the hands of our heavenly Guide or to miss a single lesson of His loving discipline by discouragement or doubt.

“There is only one thing,” said a village blacksmith, “that I fear, and that is to be thrown on the scrap heap. “When I am tempering a piece of steel, I first beat it, hammer it, and then suddenly plunge it into this bucket of cold water. I very soon find whether it will take temper or go to pieces in the process. When I discover after one or two tests that it is not going to allow itself to be tempered, I throw it on the scrap heap and sell it for a cent a pound when the junk man comes around.

“So I find the Lord tests me, too, by fire and water and heavy blows of His heavy hammer, and if I am not willing to stand the test, or am not going to prove a fit subject for His tempering process, I am afraid He may throw me on the scrap heap.”

When the fire is hottest, hold still, for there will be a blessed “afterward”; and with Job we may be able to say, “When he hath tried me I shall come forth as gold.”
–Selected

Sainthood springs out of suffering. It takes eleven tons of pressure on a piano to tune it. God will tune you to harmonize with Heaven’s key-note if you can stand the strain.

Things that hurt and things that mar
Shape the man for perfect praise;
Shock and strain and ruin are
Friendlier than the smiling days.

 

Is He Really My Lord?

. . . so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus . . . —Acts 20:24

Joy comes from seeing the complete fulfillment of the specific purpose for which I was created and born again, not from successfully doing something of my own choosing. The joy our Lord experienced came from doing what the Father sent Him to do. And He says to us, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). Have you received a ministry from the Lord? If so, you must be faithful to it— to consider your life valuable only for the purpose of fulfilling that ministry. Knowing that you have done what Jesus sent you to do, think how satisfying it will be to hear Him say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). We each have to find a niche in life, and spiritually we find it when we receive a ministry from the Lord. To do this we must have close fellowship with Jesus and must know Him as more than our personal Savior. And we must be willing to experience the full impact of Acts 9:16 — “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

“Do you love Me?” Then, “Feed My sheep” (John 21:17). He is not offering us a choice of how we can serve Him; He is asking for absolute loyalty to His commission, a faithfulness to what we discern when we are in the closest possible fellowship with God. If you have received a ministry from the Lord Jesus, you will know that the need is not the same as the call— the need is the opportunity to exercise the call. The call is to be faithful to the ministry you received when you were in true fellowship with Him. This does not imply that there is a whole series of differing ministries marked out for you. It does mean that you must be sensitive to what God has called you to do, and this may sometimes require ignoring demands for service in other areas.

Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
An on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbours.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbours.’

– Robert Frost

On The Outside, Looking In

I always find myself here
On the outside, looking in;
Looking in on others lives
And love I'll never win.
In all the things I've done
And places where I've been
I'm always on the outside,
Looking in.

My life's been filled with loneliness
And emptiness and pain,
And every time I think I'll win
It comes around again
To take away the sunshine
And leave me in the rain;
This cold and lonely life here
Filled with pain.

So do I quit looking and trying to show
How much I'm willing to give,
And do I quit trying to be in their lives
And keep to myself as I live.

Doubts that started small
Grow ever stronger now, it seems,
Shadowing my daylight hours
And creeping in my dreams.
When I was uninvited,
Or chosen last for teams,
The reasons grow more obvious,
It seems.

Looking toward the future now,
I know not where it leads;
To loneliness and misery,
Or marvelous, great deeds.
I see there only things to fear
And empty, unfilled needs
And no one there to take me
Where it leads.

So do I quit looking and trying to show
How much I'm willing to give,
And do I quit trying to be in their lives
And keep to myself as I live.
        - RD Clyde

Solitude

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has trouble enough of it’s own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
– Ella Wheeler Wilcox