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Let God Set You Free

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Peace in the Midst of the Pieces

 From: Get more Strength.com

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

There I was, minding my own business, shopping for an anniversary card for Martie when something on another shelf caught my eye. It was a box with a tantalizing picture of a mound of Oreo cookies surrounding a big glass of milk with cold condensation running down the glass. Just thinking about it made my blood sugar soar. I went over and grabbed the box off the shelf. It was a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle.

I’m not really into jigsaw puzzles, but at that particular moment, I was a goner—so I bought the puzzle. When I got home, Martie and I opened the box and dumped the pieces out on the table. What had been such a beautiful picture on the box was now only a bunch of disconnected, upside-down parts.

Sometimes life is like that—a disappointing mess of confusing pieces. The longer we sit staring at the fragments, the more hopeless it all seems. But then we remember that it all makes sense on the box top. God is the “box top” of our lives. He—and He alone—knows how to make sense of the mess. He is the one who works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and who, in His sovereign grace, knows how He will make something beautiful out of the mess of our lives.

That’s why Psalm 46:10 instructs us to be still and know that He is God. The Hebrew phrase for “be still” literally means, “to put your hands down to the side; to relax.” Which leads us to this reading of the phrase: “Put your arms down and relax by knowing that I am God.”

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find it hard to just “relax” in the midst of confusing and disheartening seasons of life. When things go haywire, when dreams are demolished, when family is fragmented, when people have pulverized us, it’s hard to relax! Our instinct is to try to keep our hands on all the pieces at once. We want to manipulate and control them and force the outcome that we desire. But God says that we should do exactly the opposite—stop trying to force the issue and let go. If we don’t give up striving with the problems, our meddling usually just makes things worse.

Thankfully, Psalm 46:10 calls on us to let go. But it’s not letting go without knowing to whom we’re letting it go. Notice that the verse says, “Be still, and know.” Normally, when life is a confusing puzzle, what we know is overshadowed by what we feel. Our emotions threaten to drown us like a scary tsunami. It’s easy to get submerged in a wave of anxiety or a surge of self-pity. But notice that God says the only way we are going to be able to let go and relax is to remember who God is—and to know that He loves us, that He is not confused, that He is in the details, and that, as we obey and trust Him, He is working to make sense of it all.

When we allow ourselves to be taken in by the wonder of God’s work in the mess of our lives, we will be free to stop fretting over the pieces knowing that in the end God is putting the pieces together so that the beauty of the box top will become a reality in our lives!

Take a deep breath. God knows where the pieces go!

Are You Obsessed by Something?

From: My Utmost For His Highest

Are you obsessed by something? You will probably say, “No, by nothing,” but all of us are obsessed by something— usually by ourselves, or, if we are Christians, by our own experience of the Christian life. But the psalmist says that we are to be obsessed by God. The abiding awareness of the Christian life is to be God Himself, not just thoughts about Him. The total being of our life inside and out is to be absolutely obsessed by the presence of God. A child’s awareness is so absorbed in his mother that although he is not consciously thinking of her, when a problem arises, the abiding relationship is that with the mother. In that same way, we are to “live and move and have our being” in God (Acts 17:28), looking at everything in relation to Him, because our abiding awareness of Him continually pushes itself to the forefront of our lives.

If we are obsessed by God, nothing else can get into our lives— not concerns, nor tribulation, nor worries. And now we understand why our Lord so emphasized the sin of worrying. How can we dare to be so absolutely unbelieving when God totally surrounds us? To be obsessed by God is to have an effective barricade against all the assaults of the enemy.

“He himself shall dwell in prosperity . . .” (Psalm 25:13). God will cause us to “dwell in prosperity,” keeping us at ease, even in the midst of tribulation, misunderstanding, and slander, if our “life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). We rob ourselves of the miraculous, revealed truth of this abiding companionship with God. “God is our refuge . . .” (Psalm 46:1). Nothing can break through His shelter of protection.

C. S. Lewis Daily – Monday, June 2, 2014

From: Biblegateway

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:

What does it matter how this grief of mine evolves or what I do with it? What does it matter how I remember her or whether I remember her at all? None of these alternatives will either ease or aggravate her past anguish.

Her past anguish. How do I know that all her anguish is past? I never believed before—I thought it immensely improbable—that the faithfulest soul could leap straight into perfection and peace the moment death has rattled in the throat. It would be wishful thinking with a vengeance to take up that belief now. H. was a splendid thing; a soul straight, bright, and tempered like a sword. But not a perfected saint. A sinful woman married to a sinful man; two of God’s patients, not yet cured. I know there are not only tears to be dried but stains to be scoured. The sword will be made even brighter.

But oh God, tenderly, tenderly.

From A Grief Observed
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

Spirit Against the Flesh

From: Biblegateway

Spurgeon selections

Morning

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.”
Galatians 5:17

In every believer’s heart there is a constant struggle between the old nature and the new. The old nature is very active, and loses no opportunity of plying all the weapons of its deadly armoury against newborn grace; while on the other hand, the new nature is ever on the watch to resist and destroy its enemy. Grace within us will employ prayer, and faith, and hope, and love, to cast out the evil; it takes unto it the “whole armour of God,” and wrestles earnestly. These two opposing natures will never cease to struggle so long as we are in this world. The battle of “Christian” with “Apollyon” lasted three hours, but the battle of Christian with himself lasted all the way from the Wicket Gate to the river Jordan. The enemy is so securely entrenched within us that he can never be driven out while we are in this body: but although we are closely beset, and often in sore conflict, we have an Almighty helper, even Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, who is ever with us, and who assures us that we shall eventually come off more than conquerors through Him. With such assistance the new-born nature is more than a match for its foes. Are you fighting with the adversary today? Are Satan, the world, and the flesh, all against you? Be not discouraged nor dismayed. Fight on! For God Himself is with you; Jehovah Nissi is your banner, and Jehovah Rophi is the healer of your wounds. Fear not, you shall overcome, for who can defeat Omnipotence? Fight on, “looking unto Jesus;” and though long and stern be the conflict, sweet will be the victory, and glorious the promised reward. “From strength to strength go on; Wrestle, and fight, and pray, Tread all the powers of darkness down, And win the well-fought day.”

Evening

“Good Master.”
Matthew 19:16

If the young man in the gospel used this title in speaking to our Lord, how much more fitly may I thus address him! He is indeed my Master in both senses, a ruling Master and a teaching Master. I delight to run upon his errands, and to sit at his feet. I am both his servant and his disciple, and count it my highest honour to own the double character. If he should ask me why I call him “good,” I should have a ready answer. It is true that “there is none good but one, that is, God,” but then he is God, and all the goodness of Deity shines forth in him. In my experience, I have found him good, so good, indeed, that all the good I have has come to me through him. He was good to me when I was dead in sin, for he raised me by his Spirit’s power; he has been good to me in all my needs, trials, struggles, and sorrows. Never could there be a better Master, for his service is freedom, his rule is love: I wish I were one thousandth part as good a servant. When he teaches me as my Rabbi, he is unspeakably good, his doctrine is divine, his manner is condescending, his spirit is gentleness itself. No error mingles with his instruction–pure is the golden truth which he brings forth, and all his teachings lead to goodness, sanctifying as well as edifying the disciple. Angels find him a good Master and delight to pay their homage at his footstool. The ancient saints proved him to be a good Master, and each of them rejoiced to sing, “I am thy servant, O Lord!” My own humble testimony must certainly be to the same effect. I will bear this witness before my friends and neighbours, for possibly they may be led by my testimony to seek my Lord Jesus as their Master. O that they would do so! They would never repent so wise a deed. If they would but take his easy yoke, they would find themselves in so royal a service that they would enlist in it forever.

Rejoice In God’s Victory

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From: My Utmost for His HIghest

Can a sinner be turned into a saint? Can a twisted life be made right? There is only one appropriate answer— “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3). Never forge ahead with your religious common sense and say, “Oh, yes, with just a little more Bible reading, devotional time, and prayer, I see how it can be done.”

It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we see the activity and mistake panic for inspiration. That is why we see so few fellow workers with God, yet so many people working for God. We would much rather work for God than believe in Him. Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do? The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me. Is my own personal experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never have a sense of hopelessness for anyone else I see? Has any spiritual work been accomplished in me at all? The degree of panic activity in my life is equal to the degree of my lack of personal spiritual experience.

“Behold, O My people, I will open your graves . . .” (Ezekiel 37:12). When God wants to show you what human nature is like separated from Himself, He shows it to you in yourself. If the Spirit of God has ever given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He will only do this when His Spirit is at work in you), then you know that in reality there is no criminal half as bad as you yourself could be without His grace. My “grave” has been opened by God and “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Romans 7:18). God’s Spirit continually reveals to His children what human nature is like apart from His grace.

Luke 1:13 – Zechariah: A Faith Example

From: Shortdailydevotions

Daily Devotional Bible Verse

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. (Luke 1:13 ESV)

Zechariah is not a name that is mentioned often when faithful men of the Bible are spoken of. He is only mentioned in the Gospel of Luke because he is the father of the great John the Baptist, the fore runner of the Messiah, Jesus. While there aren’t books written about him or any other mentions in the Bible, he is someone we can look to as an example of faithfulness.

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were old in age and did not have children (Luke 1:7). In that day, being childless usually brought sorrow to the family and shame from those around them (Luke 1:25).Outsiders would often think that there was sin in the lives of the couple, and that childlessness is the means by which God is punishing them. During all of this though, Zechariah chose to remain faithful to God in his work as a priest and in his prayers for a child of his own.

Zechariah could have easily stopped praying, became bitter, and stopped working for the God who was not providing a child for him. However, this is not how Zechariah’s story ends. We know that God did in fact answer his prayers and proved himself faithful by blessing him with a son, John the Baptist. We can be encouraged that God hears our prayers and answers them in His timing for a greater blessing than we could have ever imagined.

Let us remember to recall the story of God’s faithfulness to Zechariah at moments in our lives when we are tempted to give up on God.

Be Valiant!

From: WorthyDevotions

Monday, March 17, 2014 (1:34 am)

Judges 6:12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valour!

Judges 6 begins with an angel talking to Gideon saying, “thou mighty man of valour!” However, in this passage Gideon isn’t feeling very valiant — he’s consumed with his circumstances — how poor his family is and how he’s the least of his fathers’ house. He doesn’t feel he’s done anything worthy of being called valiant, yet the angel still addresses him “mighty man of valour!”

Gideon is not the only one who struggles with feeling unvaliant, though, is he? Even the best of us struggle with feelings of failure and defeat. But we must remember that we are part of the Lord’s army — and in the Lord’s army we do not depend upon our own strength. We depend upon the power of the Lord! We depend upon the victory that He has already won!

Imagine the countless thousands of saints like Gideon who have passed away before us and now sit in heaven’s glory where every tear is dried, and every wound is healed — who have already fought the battle of life and are calling down to us from heaven saying “Fellow Saint, you can get through this thing! Fight this battle — for we have fought these same battles in our lives and been rewarded with heaven’s glory! So fight through and we’ll see you soon beside us! March forward you mighty man and woman of valor!”

The Lord stands anxiously awaiting our call. He wants us to walk in His power, not our own! Let’s give him our circumstances today and strive to rely on His strength to conquer them

Go with God’s Flow!

From: Worthy Devotions

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 (5:51 am)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Some time ago, two university students in Moorhead, Minnesota painted a mural on the wall outside their dorm room. It was of a school of fish all swimming in the same direction except for a single fish heading the opposite way. That one fish going the other direction was meant to be Jesus. Included in the mural were the words, “Go against the flow.” Sadly, university officials argued that the mural might offend non-Christians, and told the students to paint over it.

God has called us, as believers, to do things that sometimes go against the flow of the flow of the world around us. It’s not always easy, either.

Noah built an enormous ark at God’s command. Abraham took his only son to be sacrificed. Gideon went to war against thousands of enemies with only three hundred soldiers on his side. The disciples left all their possessions and followed the Lord. And there are countless other examples we have to follow!

Let’s choose to start swimming in the other direction today! Do that thing that God has been putting on your heart! Hug that person who’s been on your last nerve! Give away something you have to someone who needs it more! There are many mighty and miraculous victories that God desires to demonstrate in our lives, if we would only be willing to go against the flow!

Learning to Fly!

From: Upper Room

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Read Ephesians 4:1-8

There is one body and one Spirit . . . one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

– Ephesians 4:4-6 (NRSV)

Every year, my husband and I watch purple martins nest in our backyard. We enjoy watching the parents busily feed their new babies. One evening, a flock of purple martins was flying all around our yard, crying out excitedly. The adult birds were flying with a small baby bird in their midst! Some would fly above and in front of the baby urging the baby on, while the others would fly behind and below. I soon realized I was witnessing a baby purple martin learning to fly! The baby bird had emerged from life in a dark nest. Now, with the help of the flock, it was flying into a bright, beautiful, and new world. The whole flock seemed to be dancing in the sky, celebrating the event with joy. As new Christians emerge from the darkness of unbelief into a new life of faith in the body of Christ, brothers and sisters in the faith can become like that flock of birds — lifting new Christians up, urging them on, and encouraging them in the faith. We can celebrate their faith journey with joy because we know these new Christians will experience a relationship with God and feel God’s limitless love.

God Washes Us White As Snow

 

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As White As Snow

I was driving my son home from school one day when snow began to fall. The cottony fluff came down steadily and quickly. Eventually, we slowed to a stop, boxed in by traffic. From inside our vehicle, we watched a transformation take place. Dark patches of soil turned white. Snow softened the sharp outlines of buildings; it coated the cars around us, and accumulated on every tree in sight. That snowfall reminded me of a spiritual truth: Just as that snow covered everything in sight, God’s grace covers our sin. But grace doesn’t just cover sin, graceerases sin. Through the prophet Isaiah, God appealed to the Israelites, saying, “Come now, and let us reason together . . . though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isa. 1:18). When God made this promise, His children had a painful problem with sin. God compared them to a physical body plagued with “wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil” (v.6 niv). As bad as their sin was, God was willing to extend His grace to them. As His children today, we have the same assurance. Sin may stain our lives, but when we repent and confess it, we have “the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of [God’s] grace” (Eph. 1:7).
Lord, give me courage to confess, To bare my sinful heart to Thee; Forgiving love You long to show And from my sin to set me free. —D. DeHaan
The weight of sin is balanced only by the blood of Christ.
Don’t Miss the Ride of Your Life LEAH DIPASCALFrom: Crosswalk

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (HCSB)

I watched my family as they waited in line for the heart-pounding experience of riding the Griffon. We read about this roller coaster in the theme park brochure, but now it was time to put words into action.

My sons kept looking back from the line, motioning for me to join them for the cliffhanger thrill ride. With a convincing smile, I shook my head no and pointed to my camera. My reason for not riding was to take pictures of them during each upside down loop and heart-pounding free fall.

After their turn, my husband walked up with an exhilarating smile and said, “You missed out on an awesome ride!” As our sons shared the hair-raising moments and laughed about each other’s reactions, I felt a twinge of sadness and disappointment.

Truthfully, saying no to my family’s request that day had more to do with fear and less to do with capturing family photos. I was afraid of the unknown, and when given the opportunity, I opted to stay safely away from the risk and inside the padded walls of my comfort zone.

For years I was aware of this pattern in my life. When faced with adventurous opportunities, fear and uncertainty often held me securely within the boundaries of my comfortable space. Then I’d be disappointed that I missed out.

I longed to be brave but instead allowed the enemy to convince me I was a coward. I dreamed about being adventurous, but compared myself to others, which left me feeling less than and discouraged.

Then one day I came across Joshua 1:9 and the words resonated deep within me: “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

I’d read this verse many times before, but that time I realized being brave wasn’t just a personal want-to in my life. God was commanding me to live strong and courageous.

God originally spoke these words to Joshua (Moses’ successor as leader of the Israelites) while presenting him with a new opportunity. Joshua’s assignment was to lead more than two million people into a strange new land, claiming it as their promised territory.

Now that’s what I call a hair-raising experience! And way more difficult than riding a roller coaster at a theme park.

God could have chosen someone else for this great task, but He specifically selected Joshua.

First, there was a command: “be strong and courageous … do not be afraid or discouraged.” And it was wrapped inside a promise: “for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

What if Joshua had allowed the unknown to keep him from saying yes to God? What if he gave insecurity and doubt permission to keep him firmly within his comfort zone?

Joshua would have missed out on the blessings. He would have missed his calling in life. He would have missed the adventure with God.

Is God presenting you with a new opportunity? Is He asking you to go back to school, start a new career or accept a new ministry position?

Without God it can be scary. But with God it can be a great adventure! Just as God was with Joshua, He promises to be with us. We may not conquer nations, but with God by our sides anything is possible.

I’m learning to be brave. To trust God more when He gives me new opportunities. I don’t want to miss out on anything God has for me because of fear, doubt or insecurity.

Will you choose to be courageous and step out of your comfort zone? Will you say yes to God and no to fear when He opens the next door of opportunity?

What are you waiting for? The greatest ride of your life is just up ahead. So go get your seat next to God, strap into the safety of His presence and experience the adventure with Him!

Dear Lord, You are my greatest adventure. Help me to trust and follow Your lead. When I start to feel afraid or discouraged, strengthen me so I can fulfill the assignments You’ve chosen for me. Thank You for always being with me wherever I go. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

There Are Reasons For What Happens

From; Streams in the Desert

You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season. (Job 5:26)
A gentleman, writing about the breaking up of old ships, recently said that it is not the age alone which improves the quality of the fiber in the wood of an old vessel, but the straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and of many kinds of cargoes.
Some planks and veneers made from an oak beam which had been part of a ship eighty years old were exhibited a few years ago at a fashionable furniture store on Broadway, New York, and attracted general notice for the exquisite coloring and beautiful grain.
Equally striking were some beams of mahogany taken from a bark which sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years and the traffic had contracted the pores and deepened the color, until it looked as superb in its chromatic intensity as an antique Chinese vase. It was made into a cabinet, and has today a place of honor in the drawing-room of a wealthy New York family.
So there is a vast difference between the quality of old people who have lived flabby, self-indulgent, useless lives, and the fiber of those who have sailed all seas and carried all cargoes as the servants of God and the helpers of their fellow men.
Not only the wrenching and straining of life, but also something of the sweetness of the cargoes carried get into the very pores and fiber of character. —Louis Albert Banks
When the sun goes below the horizon he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure. And when a great and good man sets, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goes he leaves behind him much of himself. Being dead, he speaks. —Beecher
When Victor Hugo was past eighty years of age he gave expression to his religious faith in these sublime sentences: “I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest which has been more than once cut down. The new shoots are livelier than ever. I am rising toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but Heaven lights me with its unknown worlds.
“You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets, and the roses as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple.”

Holiness Has an Edge

From: Getmorestrength

“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.”Leviticus 19:2

All of us who have kids have been guilty of ending an argument about why they should or shouldn’t do something with the conversation stopper: “Because I said so.” The reply is powerful because it has an edge to it. There are times when God is edgy with us. We’d like to stand there and argue with Him, but He keeps saying things like, “Because I said so” or “You be holy, because I am holy.” His call to holiness in our lives has that edgy sound.

In the Old Testament, when God wanted to bring that kind of holy edge to His people, He showed up in a place called the temple. God’s holiness came from another world and engaged with yours and mine. Jesus’ birth was a holy invasion—it came with an edge—from another place, another world, another reality. It cut through pretense by coming as a peasant baby born in a stable surrounded by sheep and goats. It cut into religious and political agendas by displaying genuine humility as a way to power. It sliced through the stuffy, hot air of classicism by first announcing His arrival to lowly shepherds working the third shift outside the city limits. It carved away centuries of religious oppression and hypocrisy by showing the power of quiet innocence. Holiness in God’s terms has an edge.

And it’s not only edgy in its essence; it’s also edgy in its demands. Because we represent Him, we are called to live with a holy edge. To live with a holy edge means to live differently—to make daily choices that square with God’s holiness; to stand for right in a wrong-headed culture; to preserve honesty, justice, and integrity no matter what. It means to replace greed with generosity and to forgive the cruelest offense. To serve others instead of ourselves, and to use our power to bless others instead of using it to advance our own agendas. It’s that kind of edgy living that makes a huge statement about the distinct difference that a holy God makes in our world.

When God first spoke to His people through Moses, He told them to live in and enjoy the land He had promised to them. But they were to live with a holy edge. They were to live differently than their pagan counterparts, uniquely reflecting the Holy difference of the true and living God.

Don’t lose your edge! Holiness sets you wonderfully apart in an increasingly unholy world. It’s no wonder that He said we should be holy because He is holy!

Situations Change But God Does Not

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Today’s Devotions

From: Through the Bible

Morning

May 30

2 Samuel 7:11b-13 (NIV) 11bI will also give you rest from all your enemies. “‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

David built a fine cedar palace for himself and began to wonder if he shouldn’t build a house for God. Nathan told him to do whatever is in his heart, as the LORD is with him. That night the LORD spoke to the prophet Nathan and told him to return to David with a message. Part of that message is today’s passage.

Buildings are very temporal things. The real house is the people that live in it. God told David it was not David that would do for God, but God who was doing for David. God would establish a house for him. Jesus was a descendant from David and will reign forever. He is called the Son of David. God has established a lasting Davidic dynasty.

The house built for God, the lasting one of people, is being built by that descendant and heir. That is why Jesus told Peter, “I will build my church.” He was not referring to a building. Neither was God in this passage. The Father and Son were both speaking of those called out of the world to become sons and daughters of God. People are still trying to build God a house today. There is nothing wrong with a building, but God is after a house of living stones. He is the builder. It is built for His Name. It will be eternal. Are you a part of that house?

Prayer: Thank you Lord for making me a part of your house.

Evening

May 30

John 2:9-11 (NIV) 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 11This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

Some of John the Baptist’s disciples were following Jesus. Sometime between the wilderness temptation and the first Passover of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus and those disciples went up to a wedding. Cana is very close to Nazareth. A wedding is a weeklong party in the Jewish tradition of that day. The groom must have been a friend or relative of Jesus’ physical family. We can see that Jesus was concerned about these social events during His ministry.

Mary, Jesus’ mother, asked Jesus to deal with the problem of lack of wine. If the host ran out of wine before the week of celebration was up, it would be a shameful thing. At first Jesus seems to suggest that He will not do anything, at least anything miraculous, to help. He said His time had not yet come. Then He asks for six stone water jars that hold 20 to 30 gallons each to be filled with water. What changed His mind? I think we can safely assume the Spirit of God instructed Him to go ahead and act, giving Him specific instructions.

When the master of the banquet tasted the water that was turned to wine, he was surprised that the best wine was served last. When Jesus makes something, it is the best. The Spirit of God chose this to be the first miracle of Jesus’ ministry. The disciples placed their faith in him when they saw this transformation of physical matter, but it may be saying much more to us. The Apostle Paul referred to men as clay pots with a treasure inside. We are a vessel for the Holy Spirit. Wine is often used as a symbol of the Spirit. John the Baptist had preached that the Lamb of God had come to baptize people with the Spirit of God. The bulk of our physical being is actually water. This first sign signified the great work Jesus had come to begin, the transformation of mankind into vessels filled with His Spirit. He would make that possible through His death, resurrection and ascension.

Meditation: Be filled with the Spirit. God has saved the best for last.

How many white hairs have you been given?

From: Worthy Devotions

Monday, November 29, 2010 (4:21 pm)
Matthew 7:2-5 For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you use, it shall be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me pull out the speck out of your eye; and, look, a plank is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first remove the plank out of your own eye; and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of thy brother’s eye. A dear friend recently sent us this funny story and we couldn’t help but share it with you. One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast upon her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Mom, why are some of your hairs white?” “Well”, her mother replied, “every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then said, “Momma, how come all of Grandma’s hairs are white?” A funny story, yes — but isn’t it true that we’re always looking for someone to blame for our imperfections? The Lord warned us about the danger of pointing out the faults of others. He said that people with planks in their eyes should not attempt to remove specks out of other people’s eyes. Somehow, we lose sight of this so quickly! We are all still growing. None of us has arrived! We need to be aware of how the enemy tries to ensnare us in this way. I don’t know about you but I tend to agree with the person who said “The only person I want removing splinters out of my eyes is someone with a clear vision and a gentle touch!” Let’s ask the Lord to help us to see the ways we’ve been judgmental and become people with clear vision and a gentle touch! We should be building up one another and encouraging each other so that the work of the Lord may go forward and we may rejoice together in the blessing! by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

Righteousness

From: The Upper Room

by Upper Room Administrator on Saturday, May 24, 2014
            I was the youngest of three children.  Like many of their time, my folks had to delay marriage until after World War II—or in their case even later, following Dad’s return from Japan where he served as part of the Allied occupation forces.  My parents were married in June 1948, and (as Dad was known to remark) nine months and fifteen minutes later their first daughter was born.  Bill made his appearance 22 months after his older sister, and I brought up the end of the parade about a year and a half after Bill.   Raising three children who were so close in age must have been challenging, though surviving the rigors of World War II had probably been good training.  As the youngest I sometimes felt at a disadvantage, often running to Mom for sympathy, carrying with me tales of things a devious older sibling had done to injure me.  In many cases I felt victimized, though truth be told I felt a certain satisfaction with the act of tattling in and of itself.  My mother’s answer was always the same: “Don’t worry about what they are doing; worry about what you are doing.” At the time, this message didn’t make sense to me.  If I noticed that I was doing something wrong, I certainly wouldn’t run to Mom to announce it!  Only years later did I figure out that she was urging me not to judge my own goodness in comparison to others that I knew had missed the mark, but to consider what I might do to improve my own behavior (which you have probably guessed was not flawless).   As a Christian I have come to realize that whenever we prayerfully participate in such self-examination, we realize we fall far short if we are using God’s standards of perfection—the only true measure—as our gauge.  The more we look at God’s perfect Law and the perfection shown in the life of his Son, the more we see the helplessness of our situation.   Thousands of years ago, King David reflected on this.  “You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.  The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.” (Psalm 5: 5-6, NIV).  As a young friend of mine sometimes says when faced with his own guilt, “Oh-oh.  I’m dead meat.”   Thankfully, God, full of grace, does not leave us there.  David’s song of praise goes on to say, “But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.” (vs. 7)   Being better than our siblings, our neighbors, an our co-workers doesn’t allow us to enter God’s presence.  The Apostle Paul counted his background and numerous worthy accomplishments to be rubbish in the quest for attaining God’s favor. (See Phil. 3:4-8.)  It is only God’s mercy through the sacrifice of Christ that allows us that privilege.   And that is “good news” indeed!

Situations Change

by Upper Room Administrator on Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Our situations change! But God does not! Psalm 143:  O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief Psalm 50:15 Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” I wrote a series of devotions around two years ago – based on some talks that I gave at a teen’s camp – and sent them into The Upper Room for consideration, including the one published today. If I had known then how my life would change, I would have told you that it was remarkable and impossible! But the time has been one of great change. At the time I wrote them, I was busy as a leader in a church, a speaker at many churches, a partner in a successful accountancy firm, and enjoyed reasonable heath. How things change! First, I was away from home in London because of my employment, and got knocked over by a motorbike! Then, a few months later, my car was nearly written off one very icy morning. It ended up in a ditch! I then had a bad health issue – which lead me to being admitted to hospital. On each occasion, I had been busy going along with my own business, with (so I thought) my life under my control. What I realize now, is that it was God trying to tell me that I needed to stop, think, and give him control of my time and events. I had become reliant on myself rather than on God! Also, last year, I felt a call to stand down as leader at my local church. The number of speaking occasions fell to next to nothing. I could not understand what God was doing. Did He really want me to serve? I felt a bit rejected.  Shortly afterward, the firm that I was a partner in began to run into difficulties, the wife of one of my colleagues had health issues, which led me working a lot more to pick up the slack. As this arrangement became less profitable I began to feel completely overwhelmed, stressed, and helpless. Whatever I did seemed to fail. I did not know which way to turn. Eventually this resulted me in having to merge the firm with another one and accepting a completely different position. What I realize now, is that if I had still been a church leader and had to handle the problems with the business at the same time, I would have collapsed under the pressure if it all. For years I had been meeting with others to pray that a church would be planted in the village that I live in – we have a population of 7,000 plus, but all of us travel to other locations to worship. Imagine my delight when on Easter this year a large church began meeting in my village!  I was there on day one. What I lessons have I learned? First, the verses above have become real in a new way – I have been a Christian for over 30 years, but my faith has grown in a completely different new way.  My faith has become more “real Second – God is in control – When I was going through the times above- I wondered what was going on, but I have had to learn to let go, and let God take control. Sometimes some chapters end, so that new ones can start. Third – To stop, and give thanks to God for the things that he has done!  God loves us, and wants us to love Him and live in relationship with him, day by day.  What joy I have found since I stopped to realize that!

Free to All

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Read Romans 10:10-17

How are they to proclaim [the Lord] unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news.

– Romans 10:15-16 (NRSV)

I waited anxiously at the registration desk. It was 30 minutes past the scheduled starting time, yet only three participants had arrived. The organization had brought in the best instructor and organized every detail of the professional training. All the students had to do was come and learn; no payment was required. Why didn’t they come? I thought. Day one is a disaster. Later that night as I lay in bed exhausted, I prayed: “Lord, help me not to give in to discouragement. Please bring more participants tomorrow because this course could help them so much with their careers. Amen.” On Sunday the course ended with 52% of the expected number of participants. This experience reminds me of an event infinitely greater than this professional training session. God gave us the gift of salvation. Jesus stands with open arms and bids us to come and receive everlasting life at absolutely no cost. Many have accepted this gift; yet many more have not. As co-workers in God’s vineyard, we can pray for the many who have not accepted the gift of salvation, and we can act as God’s hands and feet to spread the message to everyone we meet.

The Blessings Of Good Relationships

 

Untroubled Relationship

In that day you will ask in My name . . . ,” that is, in My nature. Not “You will use My name as some magic word,” but—”You will be so intimate with Me that you will be one with Me.” “That day” is not a day in the next life, but a day meant for here and now. “. . . for the Father Himself loves you . . .”— the Father’s love is evidence that our union with Jesus is complete and absolute. Our Lord does not mean that our lives will be free from external difficulties and uncertainties, but that just as He knew the Father’s heart and mind, we too can be lifted by Him into heavenly places through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so that He can reveal the teachings of God to us. “. . . whatever you ask the Father in My name . . .” (John 16:23). “That day” is a day of peace and an untroubled relationship between God and His saint. Just as Jesus stood unblemished and pure in the presence of His Father, we too by the mighty power and effectiveness of the baptism of the Holy Spirit can be lifted into that relationship—”. . . that they may be one just as We are one . . .” (John 17:22). “. . . He will give you” (John 16:23). Jesus said that because of His name God will recognize and respond to our prayers. What a great challenge and invitation—to pray in His name! Through the resurrection and ascension power of Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit He has sent, we can be lifted into such a relationship. Once in that wonderful position, having been placed there by Jesus Christ, we can pray to God in Jesus’ name—in His nature. This is a gift granted to us through the Holy Spirit, and Jesus said, “. . . whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” The sovereign character of Jesus Christ is tested and proved by His own statements.

 

marriage changes you

We shouldn’t count on changing a spouse, but we can count on marriage changing us. As our lives become one, we become part of each other’s families, take an interest in each other’s hobbies, develop our own inside jokes, and find common ground in handling money and serving in church. Take a hard look at your future spouse’s character, values, and habits. If you go ahead and marry, in a few years you may become a lot like your partner!

King Solomon learned this the hard way. He knew God’s command not to marry foreign women (Exodus 34:161 Kings 11:2), and he warned his own sons to watch out for the captivating ways of immoral women (Proverbs 5:1-237:1-27). And his counsel equally applies to daughters marrying immoral men. Yet this man who was gifted with extraordinary wisdom (1 Kings 3:12), who wrote that the point of life was to “fear God and obey his commands” (Ecclesiastes 12:13), somehow followed his wives in worshiping the detestable gods Ashtoreth and Molech (1 Kings 11:5).

If it could happen to Solomon, the wisest man ever, it can happen to you. You may never change the person you marry, but your marriage will inevitably change you. Marry the sort of person you want to become.

 

RENEWING US IN FAITH

Acts 1:1-11 (Good News Translation)

God’s Word: Renewing Us in Faith

Introduction

Acts 1:1-11: Jesus tells his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until God gives them the Holy Spirit, empowering them to share the gospel everywhere. Then he is taken up to heaven. The apostles keep their eyes on the skies until two angels jolt them into action.

Today’s Scripture: Acts 1:8

[Jesus said]: “But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Today’s Reading

1 Dear Theophilus: In my first book I wrote about all the things that Jesus did and taught from the time he began his work 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven. Before he was taken up, he gave instructions by the power of the Holy Spirit to the men he had chosen as his apostles. 3 For forty days after his death he appeared to them many times in ways that proved beyond doubt that he was alive. They saw him, and he talked with them about the Kingdom of God. 4 And when they came together, he gave them this order: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift my Father promised. 5 John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. ” 6 When the apostles met together with Jesus, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time give the Kingdom back to Israel?” 7 Jesus said to them, “The times and occasions are set by my Father’s own authority, and it is not for you to know when they will be. 8 But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. ” 9 After saying this, he was taken up to heaven as they watched him, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They still had their eyes fixed on the sky as he went away, when two men dressed in white suddenly stood beside them 11 and said, “Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go to heaven.”

I. The Meaning of Repentance


What Does Repentance Mean?

A. A Change of Mind

The basic message of the gospel is <b ‘mso-bidi-font-weight:=”” normal’=””>change. To be forgiven of sins, you need to change. To please God you need to <b ‘mso-bidi-font-weight:=”” normal’=””>change. To receive eternal life you need to change. This emphasis on change is focused in the word “repent.”

“Repentance” – “a change of mind: as it appears in one who repents of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done … esp. the change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces both a recognition of sin and sorrow for it and hearty amendment, the tokens and effects of which are good deeds …” – Grimm-Wilke-Thayer.

Repentance is “a change of mind” – a decision, a choice, a determination of the heart, a deliberate exercise of the will – in which one determines to act differently in the future than he has in the past.

B. Examples of Repentance

Jonah 3:4-10 – When Jonah preached, the people of Nineveh gave heed, were sorry, and turned from their evil ways (vv 8,10). “Turn” and “return” are common Old Testament words meaning “repent.” Jesus said these people “repented” at the preaching of Jonah (Matthew 12:41).

Matthew 21:28-32 – A son refused to work for his father, but later repented (regretted it – NKJV) and went. He “changed his mind.” Jesus applied this to sinners who repented at John’s preaching in contrast to priests would not repent (relent – NKJV).

C. Repentance from Sin

The change of mind required by the gospel is repentance of sin. This involves changing ones mind about sin – making up ones mind to cease practicing sin and to become obedient to God.

Luke 24:47 – Those who are not God’s children should be taught the need for repentance and remission of sin. What they need remission of is what they need to repent of: sin! [2 Tim. 2:25,26; Matt. 9:13]

Acts 8:22 – Likewise, Christians who sin need to be taught to repent of their wickedness. [Luke 15:7,10; 17:3,4; 2 Cor. 12:21]

Repentance is a decision to cease sinning and begin serving God instead.

[Ezekiel 14:6; Deuteronomy 30:2,8,10; Jeremiah 8:4-6; 3:7,10-14; 25:3-7; 36:3,7; 2 Kings 17:13; Zechariah 1:3,4; 2 Chronicles 30:6-9; 1 Samuel 7:3,4; Revelation 2:5. Like hearing, faith, obedience, etc., repentance may refer to a specific decision to obey or may generally include all that a person does to be saved.]

The Joy Of Helping Others

helping : Helping handhelping : Man helping woman uphelping : close up of child and adult reaching out hands, on white background Stock Photo
helping : hearth of hands on white bacground. vector.helping : Mother helping her daughter with her homework.
helping : Heart symbol in hands Stock Photohelping : Reaching hands. Concept for rescue, friendship, guidance...  Stock Photohelping : Spiral out of three hands against blue sky
helping : kids students in classroom helping each other at school deskhelping : 3d render of people helpinghelping : young man watering plants with older woman Stock Photo
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helping : Hand reaching out for help isolated on white backgroundhelping : Climbers Stock Photo
helping : A young male hiker is helping a female hiker to cross a brook in the mountains Stock Photohelping : Hands down a flower, butterfly background, just the sky.
helping : Senior mother browsing internet, young daughter helping her.

The Crash

For years after the Great Depression, the stock market struggled to win back investors’ confidence. Then, in 1952, Harry Markowitz suggested that investors spread their stock holdings over several companies and industries. He developed a theory for portfolio selection that helped investors in uncertain times. In 1990, Markowitz and two others won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their theory. Like those jittery investors, we followers of Jesus may also find ourselves frozen in fear after a “crash” in our personal lives, unsure how to pick up the pieces and move on. We might even spend our remaining lives waiting for a “Markowitz moment,” when one big idea or action can help us recover from a previous failure. We forget that Jesus has already done that on our behalf. He covered our shame, and He set us free to fellowship with God and serve Him daily. Because He gave His life, and rose from the dead, when we “fall,” we can “arise” with Him, for “He delights in mercy” (Micah 7:8,18). The moment we find Jesus, our eternity with Him begins. He walks alongside us so He can change us into the people we long to be and were created to be.
Father, my actions aren’t adequate to fix my failures. Thank You for doing that through Your Son Jesus who gave Himself for us. Help me to look up and walk with You.
Look up from your failure, and you’ll find God standing ready to receive you.

Make Way

From: Our Daily Bread, by Joe Stowell

Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. —Isaiah 40:3

Dwight D. Eisenhower was known for his courageous leadership during World War II. His battle-tested skill equipped the troops to reclaim Europe. Soon after returning to the US as a hero, he was elected president.

While in Europe, Eisenhower had experienced the danger and difficulty of navigating the twisting roads. So, for the sake of US national security, he commissioned a network of roads that became the nation’s interstate highway system. Mountains were tunneled through and valleys were traversed by mammoth bridges.

In ancient times, conquering kings gained access to newly acquired territories through highways built for their troops. Isaiah had this in mind when he declared, “Make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isa. 40:3). And John the Baptist called people to repentance to “prepare the way” into their hearts for the arrival of King Jesus.

What preparation needs to be done to allow Jesus unhindered access to your own heart? Are there rough places of bitterness that need the bulldozer of forgiveness? Are there valleys of complaining that need to be filled with contentment? We can’t afford to neglect this spiritual engineering. Let’s prepare the way for the King!

God will make a way Where there seems to be no way; He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me. —Moen © 1990, Integrity’s Hosanna! Music.

Repentance clears the way for our relationship with the King.

UNLESS YOU BLESS ME

 From: Streams in the Desert Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” “I will not let you go,” Jacob replied, “unless you bless me.” Then Jacob asked, “Please tell me your name.” “Why do you ask my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. (Gen 32:26,29)   Jacob got the victory and the blessing not by wrestling, but by clinging. His limb was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go. Unable to wrestle, he wound his arms around the neck of his mysterious antagonist and hung all his helpless weight upon him, until at last he conquered.   We will not get victory in prayer until we too cease our struggling, giving up our own will and throw our arms about our Father’s neck in clinging faith.   What can puny human strength take by force out of the hand of Omnipotence? Can we wrest blessing by force from God? It is never the violence of wilfulness that prevails with God. It is the might of clinging faith, that gets the blessing and the victories. It is not when we press and urge our own will, but when humility and trust unite in saying, “Not my will, but Thine.” We are strong with God only in the degree that self is conquered and is dead. Not by wrestling, but by clinging can we get the blessing. —J. R. Miller   An incident from the prayer life of Charles H. Usher (illustrating “soul-cling” as a hindrance to prevailing prayer): “My little boy was very ill. The doctors held out little hope of his recovery. I had used all the knowledge of prayer which I possessed on his behalf, but he got worse and worse. This went on for several weeks.   “One day I stood watching him as he lay in his cot, and I saw that he could not live long unless he had a turn for the better. I said to God, ’O God, I have given much time in prayer for my boy and he gets no better; I must now leave him to Thee, and I will give myself to prayer for others. If it is Thy will to take him, I choose Thy will—I surrender him entirely to Thee.’   “I called in my dear wife, and told her what I had done. She shed some tears, but handed him over to God. Two days afterwards a man of God came to see us. He had been very interested in our boy Frank, and had been much in prayer for him.   “He said, ’God has given me faith to believe that he will recover—have you faith?’   “I said, ’I have surrendered him to God, but I will go again to God regarding him.’ I did; and in prayer I discovered that I had faith for his recovery. From that time he began to get better. It was the ’soul-cling’ in my prayers which had hindered God answering; and if I had continued to cling and had been unwilling to surrender him, I doubt if my boy would be with me today.   “Child of God! If you want God to answer your prayers, you must be prepared to follow the footsteps of ’our father Abraham,’ even to the Mount of Sacrifice.” (See Rom. 4:12.)

Today’s Devotions

From: Through The Bible

Morning

May 28

2 Samuel 6:6-7 (KJV) 6And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 7And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.

David wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. He had a new cart built and had the ark put on it with oxen pulling the cart. Everyone went before the ark playing musical instruments and singing. When they had come to Nachon’s threshingfloor, the ark looked like it might tip over. One of the men alongside it, Uzzah, reached out to steady it. He fell down dead.

It seems very harsh to us today, and it did to David. The next time David moved the ark, he did so according to the Law. The priests were supposed to carry the ark with special poles. David learned that you cannot add to God’s law and expect to be free of problems. God’s instructions are for our good.

Everyone learned that the presence of God was not a little thing. If the ark had fallen and touched the earth, it would be less defiled than if man touched it! Man does not realize that his rebellious, disobedient nature is far more corrupting than dirt. We strive to keep our physical bodies clean, but the real filth is on the inside.

What lessons should we learn today from this tragic event? God’s way is the best way, and it is for our good. If He gives us instruction, it is because He is protecting and keeping us. Don’t presume to add to God’s directions or take away from them. Do not do only what He tells you, but do it like He tells you.

The other lesson is to realize the holiness of God and the defiled condition of man. If we see that clearly, we will not stick our hands into God’s business, defiling it with our carnal ways and ideas. We have a great deal of Ark touching in the world today. Man wants to do what he thinks is best for the church instead of waiting upon God and doing as God directs. Don’t reach out your hand even when you think it is a good thing you are doing. Follow God’s directions.

Consider: Following God’s instructions is the best thing for me.

Evening

May 28

John 1:29,33-34 (NIV) 29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

Throughout the Jewish history, all the way back to Abel, a lamb had been slain as a sacrifice. The lamb never really took the sins from the people. Each sacrifice was a look forward in faith to the perfect Lamb that would. It was an expression of faith that one-day God would provide. That expression of faith made them right with God. It did not take away guilt, however. Each year the atonement sacrifice was made again.

John the Baptist was sent ahead of Jesus to prepare people’s hearts for His ministry. The Holy Spirit had given a very specific sign to John. The One that he sees the Holy Spirit come down on like a dove is the One who will baptize people with the Holy Spirit. This One is the Son of God. John saw that happen when he baptized Jesus.

As Jesus walked by, John told his disciples, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” This was the Lamb that millions of lambs throughout history were just a shadow of. He is God’s Lamb. He is the One God provided to be the perfect sacrifice for sin. He had to be a sinless man that could take on the sins of others and take the curse of death for that sin in their place. The time had come. The Messiah was present.

Meditation: Look! Fix your eyes on Jesus. He takes away the sins of the world, your sin and mine. What a beautiful Lamb God has provided! This is the Son of God! “There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”

Be a Happy Greeter

The Life To Know Him

From: My Utmost for HIs Highest

The disciples had to tarry, staying in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost, not only for their own preparation but because they had to wait until the Lord was actually glorified. And as soon as He was glorified, what happened? “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). The statement in John 7:39 — “. . . for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified”— does not pertain to us. The Holy Spirit has been given; the Lord is glorified— our waiting is not dependent on the providence of God, but on our own spiritual fitness.

The Holy Spirit’s influence and power were at work before Pentecost, but He was not here. Once our Lord was glorified in His ascension, the Holy Spirit came into the world, and He has been here ever since. We have to receive the revealed truth that He is here. The attitude of receiving and welcoming the Holy Spirit into our lives is to be the continual attitude of a believer. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive reviving life from our ascended Lord.

It is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit that changes people, but the power of the ascended Christ coming into their lives through the Holy Spirit. We all too often separate things that the New Testament never separates. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an experience apart from Jesus Christ— it is the evidence of the ascended Christ.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit does not make you think of time or eternity— it is one amazing glorious now. “This is eternal life, that they may know You . . .” (John 17:3). Begin to know Him now, and never finish.

Greed

From: Short daily devotions

Daily Devotional Bible Verse

When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven. (Proverbs 23:1-5 ESV)

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he instructed the “love of money is a root of all kinds of evils,” and it is “through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith” (I Timothy 6:10). Interestingly, he calls the “love of money” a “craving”, if this is the case, we need to be vigilant, lest we begin to go the way of greed. Proverbs 21:1-5 assists us in this by beginning with a person sitting at the king’s table. It then tells those of us who are often controlled by our appetite to put a knife to our throats. This is because gluttony leads to greed. We start eating and acquiring more: more money, more clothes, more cars, and gradually what we have is insufficient in satisfying our greed. 

As Christians we are called to lay up our treasure in heaven and not here on the Earth (Matthew 6:20). We each have things in our life we want just a little bit more of because we want more comfort, entertainment, status, or even security.  We think we will in turn have stability and then need less and give more to God.  This is not the case though.  Examine those things according to Scripture and be certain you aren’t traveling the path of greed. For if we do, we will find our things “gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.”

 

Live your life in Him!

From: Worthydevotions

Thursday, July 18, 2013 (7:02 am)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

John 21:14-15, 22 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead. So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

After Yeshua’s (Jesus) resurrection, He showed himself to the apostles several times. Once, they were fishing, and Yeshua met them on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Peter was there, back at his craft, but swirling with inward emotions. The anguish of his recent denial, three times, exactly as Yeshua had predicted, mixed with the amazement and perplexity at the empty tomb, and finally the astounding relief and joy witnessing the risen Lord. Peter was on an emotional roller coaster for days, but the issue of his denial remained unresolved.

The Lord’s encounter with Peter on the Sea of Galilee was to fully restore him. Three times Yeshua probes His beloved disciple “Do you love me?” But this is more than just a quantitative restoration. The Lord is penetrating the apostle’s heart in this amazing conversation, because He really knows how much Peter loves Him and He wants Peter to know that He trusts him completely even after his awful failure. So Yeshua gives Peter his lifelong commission– “Feed my lambs!”; “Feed my sheep.” Yeshua knew that He could entrust Peter with this responsibility, and He told him so. Peter was restored.

Yet Peter still wobbles, even as he receives his restoration, when he asks about his fellow apostle, John. Yeshua’s response, “what is that to you, you follow me!” settles the matter. The Lord is saying, “stop the competition, Peter. Those days are over, yet you’re still comparing…I have work for you; I have a life for you; live it!”

The enemy would love to dig up your past, thrust it in your face, and leave you comparing yourself with others for the rest of your life – but the Lord has a life for you and He wants you to live it. Your life, not someone else’s. He loves you and He trusts you to be who He made you to be. So don’t allow your past failures or your present jealousies to prevent you from the life you’re called to live for Him!

 

Perfection is Coming!

Friday, July 26, 2013 (7:19 am)

Matthew 6:30-34 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today, and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? O you of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, “What shall we eat?” or, “What shall we drink?” or, “What shall we wear?” For after all these things do the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will will worry about itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

In Biblical Hebrew, the verb tenses are not like our “past”, “present”, and “future” – there are only two: “perfect” and “imperfect”. The “imperfect” tense is that which is not yet, not done, or not completed. The “perfect” is that which is done, complete and finished.

The Bible speaks of things that are yet to come in the perfect tense, as if they are already completed; (also called the “prophetic past”). God can have a finished work that hasn’t happened yet — for example, our salvation! In Messiah, we are a finished work that hasn’t happened yet. We are becoming what we are already, in Him.

Yeshua (Jesus) instructed us to pray, “on earth as it is in heaven.” Since we (believers) are born from above — from the finished, perfect work of God, we are already participating in His perfection, though we are still on earth doing His will.

So, reflect on this truth of your already complete perfection in Yeshua. You will look at your problems a little differently — actually be less worried about them from this “Heavenly” point of view. You may still be working them out with fear and trembling, yet rest in this simple and amazing fact: in Yeshua, they are already resolved!

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

God Listens to Your Prayers

 

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Thinking of Prayer as Jesus Taught

From: My Utmost For His Highest

Our thinking about prayer, whether right or wrong, is based on our own mental conception of it. The correct concept is to think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues “without ceasing”; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops. And we are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect oneness with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life of the saint. Beware of anything that stops the offering up of prayer. “Pray without ceasing . . .”— maintain the childlike habit of offering up prayer in your heart to God all the time. Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer. He had the unlimited certainty of knowing that prayer is always answered. Do we have through the Spirit of God that inexpressible certainty that Jesus had about prayer, or do we think of the times when it seemed that God did not answer our prayer? Jesus said, “. . . everyone who asks receives . . .” (Matthew 7:8). Yet we say, “But . . . , but . . . .” God answers prayer in the best way— not just sometimes, but every time. However, the evidence of the answer in the area we want it may not always immediately follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer? The danger we have is that we want to water down what Jesus said to make it mean something that aligns with our common sense. But if it were only common sense, what He said would not even be worthwhile. The things Jesus taught about prayer are supernatural truths He reveals to us.

Today’s Devotions

From: Through The Bible

Morning

May 26

1 Samuel 28:5-7 (NIV) 5When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart.6He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets.7Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.” “There is one in Endor,” they said.

When man becomes unrepentant and justifies his flesh, he will abandon his standards to get what he wants. To the very end, Saul remained unrepentant and proud. Faced with a united army of the Philistines, and having banished David and his men, he began to fear the outcome of the approaching battle. In fear for his physical life, he inquired of God, but God wouldn’t answer him.

It is interesting to note the usual ways in which the LORD did speak to him in the past. Dreams are one way in which the LORD communicates with us then and now. When we don’t have the exact instruction in God’s word, the LORD may reveal His direction in a dream. The Urim is believed to have been stones in the breastplate of the High Priest that would glow in answer to yes or no questions. Finally, the prophets are listed. A prophet would have a word from the LORD for Saul as Samuel had done in the past.

Saul had become the enemy of the LORD by disobedience and pride. He went against the Word of God in calling on a witch to bring up the spirit of Samuel. When we know we are out of God’s will and that God is silent toward us, desperate people will try forbidden means to see the future. If God does not tell you, it is better for you not to know. Do not try to find out the secrets of God through mystical means. It only compounds the sin of rebellion against God. If you are not hearing from God, search out the issues in your heart that must change.

Remember: If you aren’t hearing God’s instruction, the problem may be in your own heart.

Evening

May 26

John 1:14-16 (NIV) 14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'” 16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

The Logos became flesh. (see May 24 evening) That is the greatest of all miracles. If you can accept that miracle, then all others naturally follow. If you can’t, then you have no hope of ever being right with a holy and just God. This is the truth upon which the Bible hinges. The eternal reality of God became a human being. The last half of that first sentence means He pitched His tent among us. The worship of God that Moses established was done in a tent. There the glory of God resided. Then the glory of God moved to the temple that Solomon built. Eventually the glory and presence of God left that temple because of the peoples’ rebellion against God. In the passage for today, the glory of God returned to the tent, but this time it was the tent of a human body.

The first tent of worship was built under the direction of the Holy Spirit. This tent was also, as the Holy Spirit came upon Mary. When we see the life of Jesus, we see the glory of God. The Jews thought of the glory as a shining light or illuminated cloud. Glory is a life entirely yielded to God. It is a life filled with grace and truth. We can see the glory of God in every action and statement of Jesus.

John the Baptist came to tell the world that the Messiah was coming. Though John was born and began his ministry before that of Jesus’, Jesus eternally existed in the Father. He is the I Am and lives in the eternal now.

It is the super-abounding grace of the Eternal One that brings blessing after blessing into our lives. It was this same wonderful grace that led to the incarnation, display of glory, death and resurrection of Jesus. Do you see your life being filled with one blessing after another? It is! Open your eyes to this grace that we so often take for granted, and bless the Lord.

Sing: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me. Bless His holy name!

Righteousness

by Upper Room Administrator on Saturday, May 24, 2014
            I was the youngest of three children.  Like many of their time, my folks had to delay marriage until after World War II—or in their case even later, following Dad’s return from Japan where he served as part of the Allied occupation forces.  My parents were married in June 1948, and (as Dad was known to remark) nine months and fifteen minutes later their first daughter was born.  Bill made his appearance 22 months after his older sister, and I brought up the end of the parade about a year and a half after Bill.   Raising three children who were so close in age must have been challenging, though surviving the rigors of World War II had probably been good training.  As the youngest I sometimes felt at a disadvantage, often running to Mom for sympathy, carrying with me tales of things a devious older sibling had done to injure me.  In many cases I felt victimized, though truth be told I felt a certain satisfaction with the act of tattling in and of itself.  My mother’s answer was always the same: “Don’t worry about what they are doing; worry about what you are doing.” At the time, this message didn’t make sense to me.  If I noticed that I was doing something wrong, I certainly wouldn’t run to Mom to announce it!  Only years later did I figure out that she was urging me not to judge my own goodness in comparison to others that I knew had missed the mark, but to consider what I might do to improve my own behavior (which you have probably guessed was not flawless).   As a Christian I have come to realize that whenever we prayerfully participate in such self-examination, we realize we fall far short if we are using God’s standards of perfection—the only true measure—as our gauge.  The more we look at God’s perfect Law and the perfection shown in the life of his Son, the more we see the helplessness of our situation.   Thousands of years ago, King David reflected on this.  “You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.  The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.” (Psalm 5: 5-6, NIV).  As a young friend of mine sometimes says when faced with his own guilt, “Oh-oh.  I’m dead meat.”   Thankfully, God, full of grace, does not leave us there.  David’s song of praise goes on to say, “But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.” (vs. 7)   Being better than our siblings, our neighbors, an our co-workers doesn’t allow us to enter God’s presence.  The Apostle Paul counted his background and numerous worthy accomplishments to be rubbish in the quest for attaining God’s favor. (See Phil. 3:4-8.)  It is only God’s mercy through the sacrifice of Christ that allows us that privilege.   And that is “good news” indeed! – Lisa Stackpole

Still Writing

by Upper Room Administrator on Monday, May 26, 2014
During the last two weeks, my writing and exercise routines were disrupted, but for a very good reason: the marriage of our oldest daughter. The honey-do list for chores around our home was extensive and my time away from work was spent trying to reduce that list!   For me writing really comes down to self-discipline and taking the time to develop an idea. Our local newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, runs a Faith and Values column each Saturday. Anyone can submit a column for consideration to be published in the paper. After several unsuccessful attempts, three of my submissions were published in February, March, and April. I took three timely topics:  the Super Bowl, the NCAA basketball tournament, and the opening of baseball season, and developed a spiritual thread in each one.   Additionally, in Richmond Christians Who Write, I submitted a proposal for our group to write and develop our own Advent devotional booklet to be ready for Christmas 2014. Another member and I worked to compile the requirements and timeline, and we are optimistic about the opportunity this will give both seasoned writers and the non-published writers an outlet to showcase their skills.   I’m also approaching the final phases of getting a second book for children ready to publish for the upcoming Christmas season. Careful reading and editing are taking place along with coordinating the illustrations with the artist so that the drawings support the telling of the story.   Finally, my devotional in this edition of The Upper Room represents an unexpected challenge that really knocked my wife’s family off their feet. Even at this writing today, we still wonder what triggered this tragic loss. It only serves to illustrate that we can appear to be fine on the outside, but inside a person can be tangled in an emotional turmoil that is filled with a deep darkness. I’m guessing that darkness holds no opening for any light of hope. With time, and the assistance of family, friends, and the strength of their faith our family has adjusted to the loss of a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend. – Bill Pike

Be The Best Through Christ

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The Good or The Best?

From: My Utmost for His HIghest

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and physically gratifying possibilities will open up before you. These things are yours by right, but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you. This is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice.

Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight. The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. In this passage, it would seem that the wisest thing in the world for Abram to do would be to choose. It was his right, and the people around him would consider him to be a fool for not choosing.

Many of us do not continue to grow spiritually because we prefer to choose on the basis of our rights, instead of relying on God to make the choice for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eyes focused on God. And God says to us, as He did to Abram, “. . . walk before Me. . .” (Genesis 17:1).

MAY 23, 2014

From: Biblegateway

Enjoying the Seasons of Parenting
Tracie Miles

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

“Are they going to laugh all night long?” my husband jokingly asked. “I don’t know,” I said, chuckling at his question. “But I hope so. It’s a sound that makes my heart happy.”

My teenage daughter had invited her entire cheerleading squad to sleep over at our house after a basketball game. When they arrived, the house immediately filled with laughter and conversations as they gobbled up pizza and chocolate chip cookies.

Later that night, sleep seemed to escape me. Not because of the cheerful noise billowing down the stairs from a house full of girls, but because I wondered how many more laughter-filled sleepovers I might have the blessing of hosting. Knowing my children are growing up quickly, I couldn’t help but face the reality I was entering a new season of life.

I began to ponder all I would miss with two daughters living away at college this fall, instead of just one. Although my son still has a few years left at home, I had to face the reality that this season of my parenting was coming to a close. And my heart felt heavy.

I remember feeling these same emotions when my babies outgrew their cribs and moved to big-kid beds. When my daughters tucked away baby dolls and hair bows and focused on nail polish and fashion. When my son grew too old for his teddy bear. When they left elementary school behind and entered the scary world of middle school. When they stopped riding their bikes and instead, got behind the wheel of a car.

As I lay in the dark pondering this changing season of my life, a warm tear trickled down my face. Yet I felt God’s sweet comfort and His reminder that although life is ever-changing, He is constant. I started to pray and sensed God was showing me the importance of treasuring the current season of parenting, rather than mourning the ones already passed, because every moment with our children is a blessing.

The idea of seasons of life is found in the book of Ecclesiastes, authored by King Solomon. After becoming king of Israel following his father King David’s death, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and offered him anything he wanted. Instead of asking for riches or victories, Solomon asked God for wisdom and received the blessing of understanding life (1 Kings 3:510-13).

Although Solomon doesn’t directly speak about parenting in Ecclesiastes, his wise advice certainly applies to this subject.

Today’s key verse reminds us life is a progression of seasons, with everything happening in God’s timing and under His control: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Then Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 highlights many of life’s experiences that we find in the seasons of parenting, such as times to plant and uproot. Times to cry, laugh, grieve and dance. Times to embrace and turn away. Times to search and quit searching. Times to tear and to mend. Times to speak and to keep quiet. Times to keep and to let go.

We find pieces of our parenting experiences scattered between the lines of this passage. As we accept there will be different seasons of parenting, we allow God to whisper specific encouragement to our hearts, fill our spirits with perseverance and understanding, and pierce our minds with the spiritual wisdom needed not only to make it through the seasons, but to appreciate them as gifts from God.

No matter which season we find ourselves in, let’s treasure it and bask in the blessings it brings. Embracing each season as it comes brings peace because we know we are right where God wants us to be and that He is preparing us for the season to come.

My house may not always be filled with laughter in the middle of the night, but if I trust God is with me, I will always have joy in my heart.

Lord, thank You for the privilege of being a parent, grandparent or caregiver to the little ones You’ve entrusted into my care. Help me enjoy every day of every season and lean on You when my heart aches for seasons gone by. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

TO SIR HENRY WILLINK, whose wife had just died: On bereavement and grieving.

From: CS Lewis

3 December 1959

Dear Master,

I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt one, those who keep silence hurt more. They help to increase the sense of general isolation which makes a sort of fringe to the sorrow itself. You know what cogent reason I have to feel withyou: but I can feel for you too. I know that what you are facing must be worse than what I must shortly face myself, because your happiness has lasted so much longer and is therefore so much more intertwined with your whole life. As Scott said in like case, ‘What am I to do with that daily portion of my thoughts which has for so many years been hers?’

People talk as if grief were just a feeling—as if it weren’t the continually renewed shock of setting out again and again on familiar roads and being brought up short by the grim frontier post that now blocks them. I, to be sure, believe there is something beyond it: but the moment one tries to use that as a consolation (that is not its function) the belief crumbles. It is quite useless knocking at the door of Heaven for earthly comfort: it’s not the sort of comfort they supply there.

You are probably very exhausted physically. Hug that and all the little indulgences to which it entitles you. I think it is tiny little things which (next to the very greatest things) help most at such a time.

I have myself twice known, after a loss, a strange excited (but utterly un-spooky) sense of the person’s presence all about me. It may be a pure hallucination. But the fact that it always goes off after a few weeks proves nothing either way.

I wish I had known your wife better. But she has a bright place in my memory. . . . She will be very greatly missed—on her own account, quite apart from any sympathy with you—by every fellow of this College.

. . . I shall not be at the funeral. You can understand and forgive my desire, now, to spend every possible moment at home. Forgive me if I have said anything amiss in this letter. I am too much involved myself to practise any skill.

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Forsake me not, O Lord.”
Psalm 38:21

Frequently we pray that God would not forsake us in the hour of trial and temptation, but we too much forget that we have need to use this prayer at all times. There is no moment of our life, however holy, in which we can do without his constant upholding. Whether in light or in darkness, in communion or in temptation, we alike need the prayer, “Forsake me not, O Lord.” “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” A little child, while learning to walk, always needs the nurse’s aid. The ship left by the pilot drifts at once from her course. We cannot do without continued aid from above; let it then be your prayer today, “Forsake me not. Father, forsake not thy child, lest he fall by the hand of the enemy. Shepherd, forsake not thy lamb, lest he wander from the safety of the fold. Great Husbandman, forsake not thy plant, lest it wither and die. Forsake me not, O Lord,’ now; and forsake me not at any moment of my life. Forsake me not in my joys, lest they absorb my heart. Forsake me not in my sorrows, lest I murmur against thee. Forsake me not in the day of my repentance, lest I lose the hope of pardon, and fall into despair; and forsake me not in the day of my strongest faith, lest faith degenerate into presumption. Forsake me not, for without thee I am weak, but with thee I am strong. Forsake me not, for my path is dangerous, and full of snares, and I cannot do without thy guidance. The hen forsakes not her brood; do thou then evermore cover me with thy feathers, and permit me under thy wings to find my refuge. Be not far from me, O Lord, for trouble is near, for there is none to help.’ Leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation!'”

“O ever in our cleansed breast,

Bid thine Eternal Spirit rest;

And make our secret soul to be

A temple pure and worthy thee.”

Evening

“And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem … and they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them.”
Luke 24:33-35

When the two disciples had reached Emmaus, and were refreshing themselves at the evening meal, the mysterious stranger who had so enchanted them upon the road, took bread and brake it, made himself known to them, and then vanished out of their sight. They had constrained him to abide with them, because the day was far spent; but now, although it was much later, their love was a lamp to their feet, yea, wings also; they forgot the darkness, their weariness was all gone, and forthwith they journeyed back the threescore furlongs to tell the gladsome news of a risen Lord, who had appeared to them by the way. They reached the Christians in Jerusalem, and were received by a burst of joyful news before they could tell their own tale. These early Christians were all on fire to speak of Christ’s resurrection, and to proclaim what they knew of the Lord; they made common property of their experiences. This evening let their example impress us deeply. We too must bear our witness concerning Jesus. John’s account of the sepulchre needed to be supplemented by Peter; and Mary could speak of something further still; combined, we have a full testimony from which nothing can be spared. We have each of us peculiar gifts and special manifestations; but the one object God has in view is the perfecting of the whole body of Christ. We must, therefore, bring our spiritual possessions and lay them at the apostle’s feet, and make distribution unto all of what God has given to us. Keep back no part of the precious truth, but speak what you know, and testify what you have seen. Let not the toil or darkness, or possible unbelief of your friends, weigh one moment in the scale. Up, and be marching to the place of duty, and there tell what great things God has shown to your soul.

Be Happy In The Lord

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The Delight of Despair

From: My Utmost for His HIghest

It may be that, like the apostle John, you know Jesus Christ intimately. Yet when He suddenly appears to you with totally unfamiliar characteristics, the only thing you can do is fall “at His feet as dead.” There are times when God cannot reveal Himself in any other way than in His majesty, and it is the awesomeness of the vision which brings you to the delight of despair. You experience this joy in hopelessness, realizing that if you are ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God.

“He laid His right hand on me . . .” (Revelation 1:17). In the midst of the awesomeness, a touch comes, and you know it is the right hand of Jesus Christ. You know it is not the hand of restraint, correction, nor chastisement, but the right hand of the Everlasting Father. Whenever His hand is laid upon you, it gives inexpressible peace and comfort, and the sense that “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27), full of support, provision, comfort, and strength. And once His touch comes, nothing at all can throw you into fear again. In the midst of all His ascended glory, the Lord Jesus comes to speak to an insignificant disciple, saying, “Do not be afraid” (Revelation 1:17). His tenderness is inexpressibly sweet. Do I know Him like that?

Take a look at some of the things that cause despair. There is despair which has no delight, no limits whatsoever, and no hope of anything brighter. But the delight of despair comes when “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells . . .” (Romans 7:18). I delight in knowing that there is something in me which must fall prostrate before God when He reveals Himself to me, and also in knowing that if I am ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God. God can do nothing for me until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do the impossible.

God Had Spoken

From: Streams in the Desert
Sarah bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him (Gen. 21:2).

The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11). But we must be prepared to wait God’s time. God has His set times. It is not for us to know them; indeed, we cannot know them; we must wait for them.

If God had told Abraham in Haran that he must wait for thirty years until he pressed the promised child to his bosom, his heart would have failed him. So, in gracious love, the length of the weary years was hidden, and only as they were nearly spent, and there were only a few more months to wait, God told him that “according to the time of life, Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen. 18:14). The set time came at last; and then the laughter that filled the patriarch’s home made the aged pair forget the long and weary vigil.

Take heart, waiting one, thou waitest for One who cannot disappoint thee; and who will not be five minutes behind the appointed moment: ere long “your sorrow shall be turned into joy.”

Ah, happy soul, when God makes thee laugh! Then sorrow and crying shall flee away forever, as darkness before the dawn.
–Selected

It is not for us who are passengers, to meddle with the chart and with the compass. Let that all-skilled Pilot alone with His own work.
–Hall

“Some things cannot be done in a day. God does not make a sunset glory in a moment, but for days may be massing the mist out of which He builds His palaces beautiful in the west.”

Some glorious morn–but when? Ah, who shall say?
The steepest mountain will become a plain,
And the parched land be satisfied with rain.
The gates of brass all broken; iron bars,
Transfigured, form a ladder to the stars.
Rough places plain, and crooked ways all straight,
For him who with a patient heart can wait.
These things shall be on God’s appointed day:
It may not be tomorrow–yet it may.

Haven’t you forgotten something?

From: Worthydevotions

Monday, March 24, 2014 (7:50 am)

Psalms 111:4 He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

A farmer was showing his visiting citydwelling friend around his farm. “Watch this!” he said. He gave a whistle and his little dog came running from the house, herded the cattle into the corral, then latched the gate with her paw. “Wow, that’s some dog — what’s her name?” The forgetful farmer thought for a minute and then asked, “What do you call that red flower that smells good and has thorns on the stem?” “A rose?” “That’s it!” The farmer turned to his wife. “Hey Rose, what do we call this dog?”

Funny how we forget things, isn’t it? But I’m not so sure God finds it all that funny! When we read about the children of Israel and their journeys through the wilderness for forty years, we see how God provided wonderful miracles for them, feeding them daily with manna, guiding them by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, parting the Red Sea!

How is it, then, that they became so very hard hearted toward Him? Over time, I think those miracles just became commonplace and they began to take them for granted!

But then again when I look back on my life, I can’t really blame them. It happens to the best of us! God has done miracles in our lives and I’m sure he’s done many in each of yours as well! But we still get anxious when things aren’t going quite the way we hoped, don’t we?

Recall a miracle of God in your life. Remember the joy you felt? We need to relive that joy today! The miracle of God’s new birth in us and the many other miracles God has done are not ones to be quickly forgotten. We need to relive them daily!

We never want to become cold toward God! Let’s spend some time remembering the miracles He has done in our lives and strive to trust Him for the trials we face today!

Righteousness

by Upper Room

            I was the youngest of three children.  Like many of their time, my folks had to delay marriage until after World War II—or in their case even later, following Dad’s return from Japan where he served as part of the Allied occupation forces.  My parents were married in June 1948, and (as Dad was known to remark) nine months and fifteen minutes later their first daughter was born.  Bill made his appearance 22 months after his older sister, and I brought up the end of the parade about a year and a half after Bill.

 

Raising three children who were so close in age must have been challenging, though surviving the rigors of World War II had probably been good training.  As the youngest I sometimes felt at a disadvantage, often running to Mom for sympathy, carrying with me tales of things a devious older sibling had done to injure me.  In many cases I felt victimized, though truth be told I felt a certain satisfaction with the act of tattling in and of itself.  My mother’s answer was always the same: “Don’t worry about what they are doing; worry about what you are doing.”

At the time, this message didn’t make sense to me.  If I noticed that I was doing something wrong, I certainly wouldn’t run to Mom to announce it!  Only years later did I figure out that she was urging me not to judge my own goodness in comparison to others that I knew had missed the mark, but to consider what I might do to improve my own behavior (which you have probably guessed was not flawless).

 

As a Christian I have come to realize that whenever we prayerfully participate in such self-examination, we realize we fall far short if we are using God’s standards of perfection—the only true measure—as our gauge.  The more we look at God’s perfect Law and the perfection shown in the life of his Son, the more we see the helplessness of our situation.

 

Thousands of years ago, King David reflected on this.  “You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.  The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.” (Psalm 5: 5-6, NIV).  As a young friend of mine sometimes says when faced with his own guilt, “Oh-oh.  I’m dead meat.”

 

Thankfully, God, full of grace, does not leave us there.  David’s song of praise goes on to say, “But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.” (vs. 7)

 

Being better than our siblings, our neighbors, an our co-workers doesn’t allow us to enter God’s presence.  The Apostle Paul counted his background and numerous worthy accomplishments to be rubbish in the quest for attaining God’s favor. (See Phil. 3:4-8.)  It is only God’s mercy through the sacrifice of Christ that allows us that privilege.   And that is “good news” indeed!

 

– Lisa Stackpole