Tag Archives: salvation

The Good Shepherd

John 10:11
10  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness. 
12  The hired hand is not the shepherd, and the sheep are not his own. When he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf pounces on them and scatters the flock.…
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The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd

He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. Isaiah 40:11

I sat in the hospital room with my husband, waiting anxiously. Our young son was having corrective eye surgery and I felt the butterflies jostle in my stomach as I fretted and worried. I tried to pray, asking God to give me His peace. As I leafed through my Bible, I thought about Isaiah 40, so I turned to the familiar passage, wondering if anything fresh would strike me.

As I read, I caught my breath, for the words from so many years ago reminded me that the Lord “tends his flock like a shepherd” as He “gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (v. 11). In that moment my anxiety left me as I realized the Lord was holding us, leading us, and caring for us. That was just what I needed, Lord, I breathed silently. I felt enveloped in God’s peace during and after the surgery (which thankfully went well).

The Lord promised His people through the prophet Isaiah that He would be their shepherd, guiding them in their daily lives and giving them comfort. We too can know His gentle tending as we tell Him our anxious thoughts and seek His love and peace. We know that He is our Good Shepherd, holding us close to His heart and carrying us in His everlasting arms.

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. Thank You for the gift of Your sacrificial love and for the peace that passes all understanding.

Read Oswald Chamber’s thoughts on worry.

The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep.

 

Value Wise Counsel

From: Our Daily Journey

Value Wise Counsel

Read:

1 Kings 10:1-13
How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day, listening to your wisdom! (1 Kings 10:8).

I’ve been mentored by some wonderful leaders over the years. Their encouragement, challenges, criticism, and timely discipline have enabled me to grow and mature. From godly parents and inspirational teachers to leaders in church and the workplace, I’m immensely grateful for their wise counsel. It can be easy to criticize those in authority, but a wise friend once challenged me to prioritize learning from and valuing them.

If you could spend a day with a wise person, who would it be and what would you ask? King Solomon’s famous wisdom not only brought honor to God, it also allowed him to influence every nation on earth as kings sent their ambassadors to learn from him (1 Kings 4:29-33). When news of Solomon’s depth of understanding and abundant wealth reached the Queen of Sheba, she traveled a long distance to meet him and see if his wisdom was all she’d heard it was (1 Kings 10:1).

Her journey wasn’t in vain. She spoke with Solomon about many things, and he answered all her questions. Nothing was too difficult for him to explain to her. Overwhelmed (1 Kings 10:2-5), she gushed, “Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom is true! . . . How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day, listening to your wisdom!” (1 Kings 10:6-8).

What a blessing it is to have access to wise counsel! Just as the Queen of Sheba recognized the value of learning from the wise, may we never take those who challenge and inspire us for granted. God can use wise leaders to help us become who He created us to be. And if you’re in a position of authority but feel that you lack wisdom, then ask God, and He’ll provide what you need (James 1:5).

 

A Self-Imposed Fog

By: Kathy Cheek, author, CBN

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I read a devotional the other day on trusting God through the fog, the writer recounting a difficult drive down a foggy mountain road and trusting God to take her safely home.

I have not had that experience of driving down a foggy mountain road. And yet, recently … I created my own fog on a bright sunny day.

Nothing had changed. A blinding fog did not roll in and obscure my view.

I just took my eyes off what God can do and let circumstances overwhelm me with doubt and fear. I was not a friend to myself. I was a saboteur of my own journey.

For a while I let a thick fog swirl around me and swallow up my hope and faith and pull me into a dark place where discouragement filled my heart.

We all have those days when praying, waiting, and working toward something are met with discouragement. We often find we derail our confidence in the Lord with our own weakness and wrong thinking because for a while we take our eyes off of Him and instead let a fog of doubt and worry surround us. The fog comes rolling in when I take my eyes off of the Lord.

It is a miserable place to be when we feel like we have lost our way and can’t find a clear solution.

There are multiple possibilities for our discouragement. Here are just a few:

  • We become impatient because we have already waited a very long time for answers.
  • We might convince ourselves we have asked for too much or too big and back down from our asking.
  • We don’t see any signs of change in our difficult situation and hopelessness leads to great frustration.
  • Our task looks too complicated to complete and we feel like giving up.

We will all go through discouragement when faced with the above type scenarios. But will we let discouragement rule our lives or will we place our trust in God to work those things that we can’t comprehend? Will we remind ourselves how He has worked for our good in other difficult times?

When I realized that all the negativity I was experiencing was a product of my own doing and my reasons for discouragement were based on feelings and emotions run amuck, the fog began to lift and clear thinking prevailed. I stood my ground with faith and trust and let the sun break through all the fog.

When my self-imposed fog lifted and I experienced the fresh air of hope and faith once more, I truly felt a wave of energy surge through my body, heart, and soul. God’s indwelling spirit renewed me and I welcomed His faithfulness to me as His strength overcame my weakness and I felt strong and whole. The sky was blue again, the sun was shining, and all fog had lifted away.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

Practice Cheerful Hospitality

1 Timothy 5:10

having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.

Hebrews 13:2

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Isaiah 58:7

“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

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Cheerful Hospitality

Cheerful Hospitality

Read:

1 Peter 4:7-10
Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay (1 Peter 4:9).

After Mary and Jim married and moved into their first apartment, they decided to set aside a room in which to host others. I became a beneficiary of their warm hospitality on a teaching trip. They welcomed me, a stranger, into their home and showered me with love.

The practice of hospitality is central in Scripture. Jesus received hospitality from those He ministered to (Mark 2:15-1614:3Luke 7:36). Sisters Mary and Martha of Bethany opened their home to Jesus (Luke 10:38), and He probably stayed in their home each time He came to Jerusalem (Matthew 21:17Luke 21:37).

The apostle John cited an example of a believer who hosted traveling teachers. Although strangers to him, Gaius gave them a place to stay. He was commended for his cheerful and loving hospitality: “You are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God. For they are traveling for the Lord, and they accept nothing from people who are not believers. So we ourselves should support them so that we can be their partners as they teach the truth” (3 John 1:5-8).

We may not be missionaries or traveling Bible teachers. But we can partner with them and others who need our hospitality. Peter wrote, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other . . . . Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay” (1 Peter 4:8-9). And the apostle Paul urges us to “always be eager to practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13).

Our generous, loving God can provide what we need to show hospitality to those in need.

 

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Asking for Help

From: Timothy G Bishop and Deborah L Bishop, authors

After bicycling 300 miles in the prior four days on TheHopeLIne Tour of 2014, Debbie and I took a rest day. The following morning, we couldn’t wait to hop on I-90 to begin another day’s adventure. We’d discovered afternoons in Wyoming could bring lively thunderstorms, so an early start might help avoid trouble. Once we had oiled the chains, we were about to leave when suddenly I heard:

“Hey, Mister!”

I looked around and saw two boys approaching us, one of whom was walking a bicycle. As an elementary school teacher, Debbie estimated them to be fourth graders. The boy walking the bicycle had gotten himself into a pickle. He was carrying a cloth shopping bag with one bottle of water in it. The bag and bottle were caught in the front brake assembly of the bicycle.

“Can you get this bottle out for us?” he said with a tinge of panic in his voice.

I had never seen anything like it before. The water bottle was stuck fast against the rim and brake pad. No matter how hard they had tried, the boys weren’t able to pull it out.

I applied some token pressure to see what it might take to loosen the bottle, but it wasn’t going to come out without some brute force. Then came Plan B. I reached into the bag, unscrewed the bottle cap, and let some water out. Immediately, the bottle came free, and the bag came with it.

From my vantage point, however, we had a larger problem on our hands. The pressure from the water bottle plus the boys yanking on the bottle had misaligned the brake. One of its pads was rubbing against the wheel rim.

Now, I was panicking! Even though Debbie and I have cycled more than 10,000 miles across America, I’m not a good mechanic.

“Do you know anyone who knows how to fix bikes?” I asked.

“Our neighbor can help us with this. At least I can ride it now. Thanks for your help.”

I quickly deferred the repair job to this person I had never met before. I knew better than to trust my mechanical skills with a brake adjustment on someone else’s bicycle.

Everyone brings something unique to life. Each of us has skills that others lack. Eventually, all of us will encounter a problem that we cannot resolve on our own.

Responsibility and self-sufficiency are worthy traits, but God never meant for us to handle our burdens alone. Galatians 6:2 ESV says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Yet no one can come to another person’s aid unless the person in need is willing to ask for and accept help.

Asking for help requires humility. We’re acknowledging that someone else is either more capable or in a better position than we are to solve our problem. James 4:10NKJV offers a promise that makes it easier to ask for help: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Later that day, Debbie and I got ourselves into a pickle! A flat tire on the interstate cost us an hour. After lunch and a phone call, we faced a travel dilemma. We could try to beat the ominous clouds headed our way or wait out the storm.

We decided to go for it. Twenty miles later, adrenaline helped us race for safety amid lightning bolts and driving rain. We made it to a small town, stopped at a convenience store, and asked for help. A kind person came to our aid by offering us indefinite shelter from the storm.

 

God’s Silence— Then What?

By Oswald Chambers

God’s Silence— Then What?

 When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. —John 11:6

Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible— with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious— it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy— silence.

Wake-up Call

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:2
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Wake-Up Call!

From: Our Daily Bread

Wake-Up Call!
 During the years when I traveled frequently and stayed in a different city every night, I always scheduled a wake-up call when I checked into a hotel. Along with a personal alarm, I needed a jangling telephone to help get me out of bed and moving in the morning.

The book of Revelation contains a spiritual wake-up call in the apostle John’s letters to the seven churches in the province of Asia. To the church in Sardis he wrote this message from Jesus Himself: “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God” (Rev. 3:1–2).

In the midst of spiritual fatigue, we may fail to notice the lethargy that creeps into our relationship with God. But the Lord tells us to “remember . . . what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent” (v. 3).

Many people find that scheduling some extra time each morning to read the Bible and talk to the Lord in prayer helps them stay spiritually alert. It’s not a job but a joy to spend time with Jesus and know that He prepares us for whatever lies ahead that day.

Lord, enable us to hear and respond to Your wake-up call today.

Spending time with Jesus is a joy!

Ever Been Mad at God?

From: Brad Henry, author

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Have you ever been mad at God? Most of us have; because in a sense at times we lose the light to our path. We start to get into trouble in this life when we try to figure out where God is taking us. We get into a vicious cycle of “Since this happened God must be doing this” or “since I didn’t get this job this must be what He wants.” Satan loves when we try to figure out God because then our focus is on us and not others. Many problems in this life come from our own selfish desires.

If we could figure out God, He would not be God! So why do we spend countless hours fretting about our future? The farther we are from Jesus, the more control we desire. The closer we are to Jesus, the more we see His love for us. Sometimes we see wicked men succeed (in a worldly sense) and sometimes we see the righteous suffer (in a worldly sense). When we question this, we are trying to figure out God’s scales for justice. I have questioned God for many years. Why did He take my dad when I was 13? Why did I smoke that joint and it ruined many aspects of my life? Why did our son get Autism? Why? Why? Why? My problem and yours with God will always be an issue when we try to make this world heaven.

No wonder we are frustrated with the plans we see. We see injustice, but we don’t see behind the scenes. At Disney World, there is a whole city underneath the Magic Kingdom. People are changing clothes, making outfits, and doing all the work to make everything above ground go according to plan. I am sure it looks like chaos underneath, so on top all we see is a smoothly functioning theme park. In this life, we equate joy with being in control. We want to make sure we have all the parts and pieces going in the right direction as that will ensure safety for us.

No matter how much money you have, how secure your job, your health or your future – it can all evaporate in an instant; YES an instant.

The verse that follows is at the end of the book of Job. After all the questions and concerns, God finally answers Job and his friends. This is just part of what God says:

“Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct? Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind? Who is wise enough to count all the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven when the parched ground is dry and the soil has hardened into clods? Can you stalk prey for a lioness and satisfy the young lions’ appetites as they lie in their dens or crouch in the thicket? Who provides food for the ravens when their young cry out to God and wander about in hunger?” Job 38:35-41 NLT

Even though the lion hunts, God brings the lion its prey. Don’t ever be so arrogant that you think all your hard work, long hours, and playing politics will get you the next big deal or the next championship. We do what we can with the talents God gave us BUT the victory is the Lord’s and the Lord’s alone.

You can work 24 hours a day, give it all you can – and if God does not want it to happen, it won’t. If you want to get mad at God, then transfer that over to Satan who has twisted you into thinking that God does not love you. That is a lie of Satan; it is not from God. God is the only place you can turn to. Today, stop believing a lie that you are the master of your ship and in control of your destiny. All we are called to do is put our hand to the plow with our talents, but it is God and God alone who sends the rain. Oh, and by the way, STOP trying to make this life heaven. When you look to death and heaven as your reward, then nothing on this earth can steal your joy, nothing! That is true victory.

 

 

How Will I Know?

How Will I Know?

By Oswald Chambers

We do not grow into a spiritual relationship step by step— we either have a relationship or we do not. God does not continue to cleanse us more and more from sin— “But if we walk in the light,” we are cleansed “from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It is a matter of obedience, and once we obey, the relationship is instantly perfected. But if we turn away from obedience for even one second, darkness and death are immediately at work again.

All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. You will never open them through philosophy or thinking. But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. Let God’s truth work into you by immersing yourself in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know the truth of God is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you. You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things as clear as sunlight. Don’t say, “I suppose I will understand these things someday!” You can understand them now. And it is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming one of the “wise and prudent.” “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know…” (John 7:17).

Jesus Is The Acceptable Offering

I john 2: 1-2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate before the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.
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Building on the Atonement

By Oswald Chambers

I cannot save and sanctify myself; I cannot make atonement for sin; I cannot redeem the world; I cannot right what is wrong, purify what is impure, or make holy what is unholy. That is all the sovereign work of God. Do I have faith in what Jesus Christ has done? He has made the perfect atonement for sin. Am I in the habit of constantly realizing it? The greatest need we have is not to do things, but to believe things. The redemption of Christ is not an experience, it is the great act of God which He has performed through Christ, and I have to build my faith on it. If I construct my faith on my own experience, I produce the most unscriptural kind of life— an isolated life, with my eyes focused solely on my own holiness. Beware of that human holiness that is not based on the atonement of the Lord. It has no value for anything except a life of isolation— it is useless to God and a nuisance to man. Measure every kind of experience you have by our Lord Himself. We cannot do anything pleasing to God unless we deliberately build on the foundation of the atonement by the Cross of Christ.

The atonement of Jesus must be exhibited in practical, unassuming ways in my life. Every time I obey, the absolute deity of God is on my side, so that the grace of God and my natural obedience are in perfect agreement. Obedience means that I have completely placed my trust in the atonement, and my obedience is immediately met by the delight of the supernatural grace of God.

Beware of the human holiness that denies the reality of the natural life— it is a fraud. Continually bring yourself to the trial or test of the atonement and ask, “Where is the discernment of the atonement in this, and in that?”

Misery Has Company

From: Our Daily Journey

Misery Has Company

Read:

Acts 3:1-26
This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate (Acts 3:13).

Peter’s healing of a crippled beggar drew a crowd, so he used the opportunity to tell them about the God who heals. He told them about Jesus, whom they had rejected and handed over to Pilate. “You rejected this holy, righteous one . . . . You killed the author of life” (Acts 3:14-15).

Peter knew what he was talking about. The same Greek word that is translated “rejected” was used by Jesus for Peter’s denial. “I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me” (John 13:38). Peter “broke down and wept” after his denial; and though Jesus later restored him, that moment of betrayal was seared in his memory (Mark 14:72).

I wonder what pangs of remorse Peter felt as he told the crowd they were guilty of the same offense. As he had denied his friend during His hour of need, so they had rejected Jesus and demanded His death. But perhaps Peter found solace in knowing the crowd was equally in need of the grace he had received. This is good to remember when we’re crushed by guilt. Yes, we should be ashamed. Yes, we deserve judgment. But we’re all guilty. We’re not alone.

And by His grace, God hasn’t left us alone. The very sin that led to Jesus’ death led Him to sacrifice His life for our salvation. Jesus bore our guilt and shame, “but God raised him from the dead”! (Acts 3:15). We need only “repent of [our] sins and turn to God” and our sins will be “wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send [us] Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20).

The next time we see Christ, we won’t reject Him but will welcome the One who rejected our rejection. Thanks be to God!

 

Karen Ehman October 9, 2017
Go Find Your Old Self
KAREN EHMANFrom: Crosswalk.com

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

I sat on my twin-sized bed, curled up in my lavender bedspread, sobbing until I felt I had no tears left. My 11-year-old self had her hopes once again dashed, causing a wave of grief that would only subside once exhaustion set in and sleep finally took over.

I was dealing again with the sorrow that came from being a child of divorce.

In the days before my parents’ divorce was final, there were times I spied a glimmer of hope that the court proceedings would be canceled, and my parents would stay married. But the glimmer soon faded when my dad packed his bags again and moved out to an apartment, leaving my dream in the dust.

That old bed became a familiar grieving ground. It held me when later I was left out of my circle of friends, overlooked for the starring role in the play, rejected by a crush I thought surely would notice me. Over the years, the four walls of my bedroom witnessed the heart-cries of a young girl trying desperately to navigate relationships and reality.

Toward the end of high school, I became connected to the little country church across the street. Its quaint, tall white steeple beckoned me to come in. Its friendly people did, too. Soon I was told the gospel story. How Christ took my place on the cross, paying the penalty for my sin and purchasing my way to heaven. I responded to the Spirit’s invitation and placed my trust in Jesus.

Becoming a believer didn’t change my circumstances. However, it did change my response to them.

As I spent time with my mentor from the church, Miss Pat, I saw where to take my sorrow, how to deal with my grief and find comfort in the security of God’s love. She had been through many of the same situations I found myself facing. She’d invite me into her home, pour me a cup of tea and offer me a homemade cookie. Her listening ear, loving advice and prayers of consolation helped me through many rough patches of life. Today, over three decades later, she remains a loving influence in my life.

Today’s key verse, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, is a picture of this very concept: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

As Miss Pat thought about the ways God had comforted her in the past, she reached out to me with that same comfort, helping me deal with the various situations life brought my way. She pointed me to the Father of compassion, the only One who completely understood my dilemmas and caused all my situations to work together for good, according to His purpose.

Today, as a mother of teenagers and young adults, I often find myself in a similar situation. My kitchen island is a sacred space, drawing others in who long to have someone help process life’s ups and downs. So, I bake cookies and pour a cup of coffee. I listen and I love. In many ways, I feel that in ministering to the people God sends my way, I am being like Miss Pat was to me. I am comforting others with the comfort I myself have received from Christ. I not only do this in my home, but I try to do it through my writing.

If we feel our life is lacking purpose, we have a very simple solution: Go find your old self and encourage her. Were you a lonely teenager? Reach out to one today. Were you once a stressed-out mother, drowning in diapers and laundry? Find such a mom today and help to lighten her load.

Go find your old self. Comfort them. Love them. Point them to Christ. When you do, you will find purpose in your past pain. And you’ll be an example to someone who just might keep the circle of comfort going.

Father, thank You for being my hope from the days of my youth until now. May I encourage others with the stories of Your faithfulness to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Enough

 

Matthew 14: 18-21

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 

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

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

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

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Enough

From: Our Daily Bread

Enough
 
 

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

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

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

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

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

An offering given in faithful obedience is just right.

 

The Great Divide

From: Our Daily Journey

The Great Divide

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Coming to Jesus

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 Come to Me… —Matthew 11:28

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

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

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

How Long?

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

From: Our Daily Bread

How Long?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For encouragement, read When God Says No.

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

 

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

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

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

“Say a word,” I’d prompt.

“Dragon!” one little brother whispered.

“Forest,” said my other little brother.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus knows us. Isn’t that incredible?

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

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

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

What gifts are inside of you?

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

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

I want to challenge you today …

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

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

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

 

The Nature of Reconciliation

By Oswald Chambers

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

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

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

God Gives Rest To The Weary

 

Rest for the Weary

Matthew 11: 28

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

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

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

 

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If I Knew Then . . .

From: Our Daily Bread

If I Knew Then . . .
 
 

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

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

But the song illustrates that even though we have regrets from our past, all our experiences have shaped who we are. We can’t change the consequences of our choices or sin. Praise God we don’t have to carry the mistakes around with us. Because of what Jesus has done! “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”! (1 Peter 1:3).

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

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

Leave your heavy burdens with God.

 

Doing as He Says

From: Our Daily Journey

Doing as He Says

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Park Princess

From: Melinda Means, author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hovering Over Us

Proverbs 15:3

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

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

Psalm 141:3

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

Psalm 121:8

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

Genesis 31:49

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

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Hovering Over Us

From: Our Daily Bread

Hovering Over Us

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

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

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

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

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

Our God hovers over us with love.

Growing into Our Life

Growing into Our Life

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Nature of Degeneration

By Oswald Chambers

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

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

Divine Interruptions

Acts 8:26-40   (ESV)

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

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

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

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

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

Divine Interruptions

From: Our Daily Bread

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interruptions can be opportunities to serve.

 

What It Takes to Withstand Evil

From: Stormie Omartian, author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Alluring

From: Our Daily Journey

Alluring

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

Conceived In Crisis

Image result for pictures of people in crisisImage result for pictures of people in crisis

Image result for pictures of people in crisisImage result for pictures of people in crisis

Image result for pictures of people in crisisImage result for pictures of people in crisis

Image result for pictures of people in crisisImage result for pictures of people in crisis

Conceived in Crisis

From: Our Daily Bread

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katie Davis Majors October 3, 2017

Daring to Hope
KATIE DAVIS MAJORS

From: Crosswalk.com

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

I was tired.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All things. All times. All that we need.

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

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

“Let’s do it again.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Place of Ministry

By Oswald Chambers

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

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

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