Tag Archives: Skin

A Time To Seek God

Acts 17:27

that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

 
1 Chronicles 16:11

Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

1 Chronicles 22:19

“Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise, therefore, and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy vessels of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the LORD.”

Psalm 14:2

The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God

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A Time for Everything

From: Our Daily Bread

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

While flying recently, I watched a mother and her children a few rows ahead of me. While the toddler played contentedly, the mother gazed into the eyes of her newborn, smiling at him and stroking his cheek. He stared back with a wide-eyed wonderment. I enjoyed the moment with a touch of wistfulness, thinking of my own children at that age and the season that has passed me by.

I reflected, however, about King Solomon’s words in the book of Ecclesiastes about “every activity under the heavens” (v. 1). He addresses through a series of opposites how there is a “time for everything” (v. 1): “a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot” (v. 2). Perhaps King Solomon in these verses despairs at what he sees as a meaningless cycle of life. But he also acknowledges the role of God in each season, that our work is a “gift of God” (v. 13) and that “everything God does will endure forever” (v. 14).

We may remember times in our lives with longing, like me thinking of my children as babies. We know, however, that the Lord promises to be with us in every season of our life (Isa. 41:10). We can count on His presence and find that our purpose is in walking with Him.

Lord God, You lead me through the seasons, and whether I’m laughing or crying I know You are with me. May I reach out to someone with Your love today.

God gives us the seasons of our lives.

 

Dependent on God’s Presence

From: Utmost.org

Dependent on God’s Presence

There is no thrill for us in walking, yet it is the test for all of our steady and enduring qualities. To “walk and not faint” is the highest stretch possible as a measure of strength. The word walk is used in the Bible to express the character of a person— “…John…looking at Jesus as He walked…said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ ” (John 1:35-36). There is nothing abstract or obscure in the Bible; everything is vivid and real. God does not say, “Be spiritual,” but He says, “Walk before Me…” (Genesis 17:1).

When we are in an unhealthy condition either physically or emotionally, we always look for thrills in life. In our physical life this leads to our efforts to counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit; in our emotional life it leads to obsessions and to the destruction of our morality; and in our spiritual life, if we insist on pursuing only thrills, on mounting up “with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), it will result in the destruction of our spirituality.

Having the reality of God’s presence is not dependent on our being in a particular circumstance or place, but is only dependent on our determination to keep the Lord before us continually. Our problems arise when we refuse to place our trust in the reality of His presence. The experience the psalmist speaks of— “We will not fear, even though…” (Psalm 46:2)— will be ours once we are grounded on the truth of the reality of God’s presence, not just a simple awareness of it, but an understanding of the reality of it. Then we will exclaim, “He has been here all the time!” At critical moments in our lives it is necessary to ask God for guidance, but it should be unnecessary to be constantly saying, “Oh, Lord, direct me in this, and in that.” Of course He will, and in fact, He is doing it already! If our everyday decisions are not according to His will, He will press through them, bringing restraint to our spirit. Then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence.

 

Lysa TerKeurst July 20, 2017
A Life with Extraordinary Impact
LYSA TERKEURST

From: Crosswalk.com

“After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.” Judges 3:31 (NIV)

I am a woman who wants to make a difference for Christ in the world. I want my life and legacy to count for something with eternal significance. I want to stand before God one day knowing I fulfilled the purposes He had for me.

But there’s always this nagging sense inside of me that the world’s problems are too big, and I’m too small.

Can you relate? That’s why I’m so fascinated with Shamgar.

We learn who Shamgar is in one small verse hiding at the very end of the third chapter of Judges … “After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.” (Judges 3:31)

Tucked into this one verse, we see three things Shamgar did that resulted in his life having extraordinary impact:

1. He offered God his willingness.
2. He used what God had given him.
3. He stayed true to who he was.

And in doing those three things, it was enough. God used him to save the nation of Israel.

Oh, how Shamgar’s story stirs my soul. He was an ordinary person, in an ordinary place, doing an ordinary job. The thing that made him extraordinary wasn’t anything external. It was his internal drive to do the right thing and be obedient to God, right where he was. His job was to be obedient to God. God’s job was everything else.

The same is possible for us. If we are obedient to God in the midst of our ordinary lives, extraordinary impact is always possible.

I doubt Shamgar ever expected to be used by God to save the nation of Israel. When we take a closer look at his life, we see several things that could have left him feeling like the wrong man for a “Deliverer of Israel” job title.

First is the matter of his background. “Shamgar” is a name with Canaanite roots, not Hebrew. This fact has led some scholars to believe it’s entirely possible Shamgar was both Jew and Gentile. And since God had commanded His people not to intermarry with Gentiles, Shamgar’s lack of a pure bloodline from his parents could have easily led him to label himself an unlikely candidate for a mighty work of God.

Then there is the matter of his occupation. Shamgar’s use of an oxgoad (another word for a cattle prod) to kill the Philistines implies he may have been a farmer. Can we just stop and process that for a moment?

He was a farmer. Up against an organized army. Of 600 men. If I had been Shamgar, I imagine I’d have been raising my hand with a few questions for the Lord. Questions like, “Are You positive You’ve got the right person??”

And we can’t skim over Shamgar’s choice of weapon. Talk about unlikely and ordinary. An oxgoad was typically used to prod oxen, not wage war. But since the Philistines would not allow the Israelites to have any weapons (1 Samuel 13:19-22), they were forced to use whatever they had on hand. So Shamgar simply sharpened what he had and offered it to the Lord.

I love that God’s hand is never limited by what we have in ours.

Do you long to live a life that has extraordinary impact? I pray you will grab hold of the encouragement found in Shamgar’s story.

Offer God your willingness. Even if you feel small … even if you feel unlikely … even if everything in you is screaming you’re not someone who can be used by God … simply offer Him your willingness.

Use what God has given you. What’s in your hand, sweet friend? What gift, what talent, what ability? Whatever it is, take time to sharpen it. And choose to believe God can use it when you humbly offer it up to Him.

Stay true to who you are. God didn’t ask Shamgar to be anyone other than a farmer. He’s not asking you to be anyone other than who He designed you to be, either. You do you, and then watch with humble amazement as God uses your willing, obedient, ordinary life to accomplish extraordinary things in His name.

Lord, thank You for reminding me that You can use anyone and everyone. I willingly offer You all that I am and all that I have — choosing to believe that who I am is enough to be used by You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Mightier Than All

Psalm 33:6 – “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”

Isaiah 44:24 – “This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself.”

Romans 4:17 – “As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”

Hebrews 1:3 – “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

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Mightier than All

From: Our Daily Bread

Mightier than All
Read: Psalm 93 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 23–25; Acts 21:18–40

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength. Psalm 93:1

Iguazu Falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina, is a spectacular waterfall system of 275 falls along 2.7 km (1.67 miles) of the Iguazu River. Etched on a wall on the Brazilian side of the Falls are the words of Psalm 93:4, “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” (rsv). Below it are these words, “God is always greater than all of our troubles.”

The writer of Psalm 93, who penned its words during the time that kings reigned, knew that God is the ultimate King over all. “The Lord reigns,” he wrote. “Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity” (vv. 1–2). No matter how high the floods or waves, the Lord remains greater than them all.

The roar of a waterfall is truly majestic, but it is quite a different matter to be in the water hurtling toward the falls. That may be the situation you are in today. Physical, financial, or relational problems loom ever larger and you feel like you are about to go over the falls. In such situations, the Christian has Someone to turn to. He is the Lord, “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20) for He is greater than all our troubles.

Lord, I know that You are powerful and greater than any trouble that might come my way. I trust You to carry me through.

Never measure God’s unlimited power by your limited expectations.

The Submission of the Believer

From: Utmost.org

The Submission of the Believer

Our Lord never insists on having authority over us. He never says, “You will submit to me.” No, He leaves us perfectly free to choose— so free, in fact, that we can spit in His face or we can put Him to death, as others have done; and yet He will never say a word. But once His life has been created in me through His redemption, I instantly recognize His right to absolute authority over me. It is a complete and effective domination, in which I acknowledge that “You are worthy, O Lord…” (Revelation 4:11). It is simply the unworthiness within me that refuses to bow down or to submit to one who is worthy. When I meet someone who is more holy than myself, and I don’t recognize his worthiness, nor obey his instructions for me, it is a sign of my own unworthiness being revealed. God teaches us by using these people who are a little better than we are; not better intellectually, but more holy. And He continues to do so until we willingly submit. Then the whole attitude of our life is one of obedience to Him.

If our Lord insisted on our obedience, He would simply become a taskmaster and cease to have any real authority. He never insists on obedience, but when we truly see Him we will instantly obey Him. Then He is easily Lord of our life, and we live in adoration of Him from morning till night. The level of my growth in grace is revealed by the way I look at obedience. We should have a much higher view of the word obedience, rescuing it from the mire of the world. Obedience is only possible between people who are equals in their relationship to each other; like the relationship between father and son, not that between master and servant. Jesus showed this relationship by saying, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). “…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The Son was obedient as our Redeemer, because He was the Son, not in order to become God’s Son.

 

Sheila Walsh July 19, 2017
Who Are You Looking For?
SHEILA WALSHFrom: Crosswalk.com

“She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. ‘Dear woman, why are you crying?’ Jesus asked her. ‘Who are you looking for?’” John 20:14-15a (NLT)

As Labor Day approached last year, I was bone-tired.

Finances were tight, and we hadn’t taken a vacation in some time, so I asked God if He could open a door. I prayed, and I waited. A couple of days later, a friend mentioned the people who’d booked their condo might be canceling their reservation. If they did, he wanted me to use it.

That night I prayed, If this would be a good thing, Lord, please open the door. If not, slam it closed.

The following morning, my friend called and said it was all mine. I was so excited. I would be relaxing for a week, rent-free, no makeup, no high heels — just T-shirts and a ball cap. My husband Barry had some things to take care of at home and offered to stay with the dogs while I rested and prayed. He kissed me goodbye as I set off the following morning.

An hour into the journey, things began to go wrong.

The air conditioning in my car quit on a day stretching into the high 90s. I turned the dial to the max to see if it might kick back in, but it didn’t. I turned it off and kept driving, but after an hour, sweat dripped off my forehead into my eyes. I rolled down the windows, hoping fresh air would dry me out. And it did — until the storm hit. The sky dumped bucket after bucket of hot water, and before I could roll up my window, I was soaked. Traffic came to a stop, and cars turned on their hazard lights.

I alternated between windows down with large buckets of water coming in, and windows up and large buckets of sweat pouring down. Nine hours later, I arrived, soaking wet and tired but still excited about the next day to relax. The following morning, I brewed some coffee and drove straight to the local drugstore for some sundries.

Less than an hour later, I found a deserted area outside and situated my chair and belongings. Paradise! But as soon as my body hit the chair, it collapsed on top of me. I was trapped — quite literally.

Apart from a large dog that bounded out of nowhere and kept licking my feet, I couldn’t see anyone else in the distance. I couldn’t figure how to get out of my predicament. By the time I dug myself out, my legs were bruised and scraped, and it started to rain — not just rain, but storm! My canine friend wagged his tail, and I left him the soggy towel before I headed back to the condo. The week was not going as planned, and after another string of mishaps — which would take too long to describe — I decided to abandon the trip and drive home through the storm in my incapacitated car. Barry met me at the door with a sympathetic hug and a large stack of towels.

Nothing had turned out the way I thought it would.

It hadn’t been the worst experience in life, and it certainly wasn’t the end of the world, but it had definitely been disappointing.

Don’t you find it’s the little things that push you over the edge? You cope with the harder things in life, and then the dryer breaks when you need to get laundry done and you end up crying a bucket of tears. Or your child doesn’t get the part in the school play she hoped for, or your friend cancels plans to have coffee just when you really needed to talk.

None of this is life-altering, but it’s disappointing and can catch us off guard.

When I find myself struggling with these kinds of disappointments, I choose to hear Jesus ask me the question He asked Mary Magdalene on that resurrection morning as seen inJohn 20:15a, “Who are you looking for?

When we look for Jesus in the middle of what’s not working, we discover He’s always there, bringing peace and comfort. We can sit with Him for as long as it takes to be reminded of what’s always true, no matter what might be true for a moment. He loves us. He is with us. He is here.

Father, things in my life don’t always go as planned. I confess it’s easy at times to lose heart over the ups and downs, even if they are small. Thank You for the comfort and peace You offer in the middle of my mess when I choose to focus my heart again on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Beyond Labels

22   “But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
24   “You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces.…
( The above are people groups who were given names. They gave each other labels. Some of the labels were not very nice.)
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Beyond Labels

From: Our Daily  Bread

Beyond Labels

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

A church in my city has a unique welcome card that captures the love and grace of God for everyone. It says, “If You Are A . . . saint, sinner, loser, winner”—followed by many other terms used to describe struggling people—“alcoholic, hypocrite, cheater, fearful, misfit . . . . You are welcome here.” One of the pastors told me, “We read the card aloud together in our worship services every Sunday.”

How often we accept labels and allow them to define who we are. And how easily we assign them to others. But God’s grace defies labels because it is rooted in His love, not in our self-perception. Whether we see ourselves as wonderful or terrible, capable or helpless, we can receive eternal life as a gift from Him. The apostle Paul reminded the followers of Jesus in Rome that “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).

The Lord does not require us to change by our own power. Instead He invites us to come as we are to find hope, healing, and freedom in Him. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (v. 8). The Lord is ready and willing to receive us just as we are.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing love in Jesus.

God’s forgiveness defies our labels of failure or pride.

 

Equals in Jesus

From: Our Daily Journal

Equals in Jesus

Read:

1 Corinthians 11:17-34
But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized! (1 Corinthians 11:19).

A woman named Wednesday was out walking when she saw a well-dressed woman coming toward her. The woman drifted in her path, pushing Wednesday to the edge of the sidewalk. As she brushed by, Wednesday noticed she was carrying a $60,000 Birkin handbag. She realized if she was going to be accepted in New York’s prestigious Upper East Side, she would have to get one.

Wednesday knows it’s crazy. No purse is worth thousands of dollars or the groveling required to purchase it. You can’t simply walk into a Hermes store and get a Birkin. You have to keep coming back, and even beg before Hermes will let you into the Birkin club.

Aren’t you glad Jesus frees us from such pursuits? We don’t need to pay exorbitant fees to impress people. Our status is already sealed. We matter because we belong to God.

The Corinthians forgot this fact and fought over their perceived status. Some bragged they belonged to the “brand” of Peter. Others wore their allegiance to Paul or Apollos on their sleeve (1 Corinthians 1:11-12). The church was also divided by class. When they met for dinner and the Lord’s Supper, the wealthy would “hurry to eat [their] own meal without sharing with others. As a result, some [went] hungry while others [got] drunk” (1 Corinthians 11:20-21).

Paul said such divisions “disgrace God’s church and shame the poor.” It’s the reason why many of them were weak and sick and some even died. The Lord’s Table should bring us together, not drive us apart. So “wait for each other” (1 Corinthians 11:22,30,33).

Our status doesn’t depend on what brands we wear, but it does depend on the One who loves us. Jesus invites us to His Supper. As we gather around His table, we sit beside equals in the family of God.

 

The Mystery of Believing

From: Utmost.org

The Mystery of Believing

There is nothing miraculous or mysterious about the things we can explain. We control what we are able to explain, consequently it is only natural to seek an explanation for everything. It is not natural to obey, yet it is not necessarily sinful to disobey. There can be no real disobedience, nor any moral virtue in obedience, unless a person recognizes the higher authority of the one giving the orders. If this recognition does not exist, even the one giving the orders may view the other person’s disobedience as freedom. If one rules another by saying, “You must do this,” and, “You will do that,” he breaks the human spirit, making it unfit for God. A person is simply a slave for obeying, unless behind his obedience is the recognition of a holy God.

Many people begin coming to God once they stop being religious, because there is only one master of the human heart— Jesus Christ, not religion. But “Woe is me” if after seeing Him I still will not obey (Isaiah 6:5 , also see Isaiah 6:1). Jesus will never insist that I obey, but if I don’t,I have already begun to sign the death certificate of the Son of God in my soul. When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and say, “I will not obey,” He will never insist. But when I do this, I am backing away from the recreating power of His redemption. It makes no difference to God’s grace what an abomination I am, if I will only come to the light. But “Woe is me” if I refuse the light (see John 3:19-21).

Love Your Heavenly Father

The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5:19

Matthew 22:37

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind

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Just Like Dad

From:  Our Daily Journey

Just Like Dad

The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5:19

Isn’t it endearing to see a child mimicking his parents? How often we’ve seen the young boy in a car seat, gripping his imaginary steering wheel intently while keeping a close eye on the driver to see what Daddy does next.

I remember doing the same thing when I was young. Nothing gave me greater pleasure than doing exactly what my dad did—and I’m sure he got an even bigger kick watching me copy his actions.

I would like to think God felt the same way when He saw His dearest Son doing exactly what the Father did—reaching out to the lost, helping the needy, and healing the sick. Jesus said, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19).

We too are called to do the same—to “follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love” (Eph. 5:1–2). As we continue growing to be more like Jesus, may we seek to love like the Father loves, forgive like He forgives, care like He cares, and live in ways that please Him. It is a delight to copy His actions, in the power of the Spirit, knowing that our reward is the affectionate, tender smile of a loving Father.

Jesus, thank You for showing us the way to the Father. Help us to be more and more like You and the Father each day.

The Father gave us the Spirit to make us like the Son.

 

The Miracle of Belief

From: Utmost.org

The Miracle of Belief

Real and effective fasting by a preacher is not fasting from food, but fasting from eloquence, from impressive diction, and from everything else that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God— “…as though God were pleading through us…” (2 Corinthians 5:20). He is there to present the gospel of God. If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get close to Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the gospel will result in making me a traitor to Jesus, and I prevent the creative power of His redemption from doing its work.

 

From: Streams In The Desert

I will be still, and I will behold in my dwelling place (Isaiah 18:4, RV).

Assyria was marching against Ethiopia, the people of which are described as tall and smooth. And as the armies advance, God makes no effort to arrest them; it seems as though they will be allowed to work their will. He is still watching them from His dwelling place, the sun still shines on them; but before the harvest, the whole of the proud army of Assyria is smitten as easily as when sprigs are cut off by the pruning hook of the husbandman.

Is not this a marvelous conception of God–being still and watching? His stillness is not acquiescence. His silence is not consent. He is only biding His time, and will arise, in the most opportune moment, and when the designs of the wicked seem on the point of success, to overwhelm them with disaster. As we look out on the evil of the world; as we think of the apparent success of wrong-doing; as we wince beneath the oppression of those that hate us, let us remember these marvelous words about God being still and beholding.

There is another side to this. Jesus beheld His disciples toiling at the oars through the stormy night; and watched though unseen, the successive steps of the anguish of Bethany, when Lazarus slowly passed through the stages of mortal sickness, until he succumbed and was borne to the rocky tomb. But He was only waiting the moment when He could interpose most effectually.

Is He still to thee? He is not unobservant; He is beholding all things; He has His finger on thy pulse, keenly sensitive to all its fluctuations. He will come to save thee when the precise moment has arrived.
–Daily Devotional Commentary

Whatever His questions or His reticences, we may be absolutely sure of an unperplexed and undismayed Saviour.

O troubled soul, beneath the rod,
Thy Father speaks, be still, be still;
Learn to be silent unto God,
And let Him mould thee to His will.
O praying soul, be still, be still,
He cannot break His plighted Word;
Sink down into His blessed will,
And wait in patience on the Lord.
O waiting soul, be still, be strong,
And though He tarry, trust and wait;
Doubt not, He will not wait too long,
Fear not, He will not come too late.

Deep Roots In Christ Jesus

Psalm 78:6

That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children,

 
Psalm 102:18

This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.

Psalm 102:18-28

 

This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. For He looked down from His holy height; From heaven the LORD gazed upon the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoner, To set free those who were doomed to death, read more.

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Deep Roots

From: Our Daily Bread

Deep Roots

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:45

The sequoia tree, one of three species of redwoods, is among the world’s largest and most enduring organisms. It can grow to 300 feet in height, weigh over 2.5 million pounds (1.1 million kg), and live for 3,000 years. But the majestic sequoia owes much of its size and longevity to what lies below the surface. A twelve- to fourteen-foot-deep matting of roots, spreading over as much as an acre of earth, firmly grounds its towering height and astonishing weight.

A redwood’s expansive root system, however, is small compared to the national history, religion, and anticipation that undergird the life of Jesus. On one occasion He told a group of religious leaders that the Scriptures they loved and trusted told His story (John 5:39). In the synagogue of Nazareth He opened the scroll of Isaiah, read a description of Israel’s Messiah, and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

Later, after His resurrection, Jesus helped His disciples understand how the words of Moses, the prophets, and even the songs of Israel showed why it was necessary for Him to suffer, die, and rise from the dead (24:46).

What grace and grandeur—to see Jesus rooted in the history and Scriptures of a nation, and to see how extensively our own lives are rooted in our need of Him.

Father in heaven, please help us never forget that the history of Israel and the inspired words of Scripture ground us in seeing our need of Your Son.

All Scripture helps us see our need of Jesus.

 

From: Streams In The Desert

Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son… I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven; …because thou hast obeyed my voice (Genesis 22:16-18).

And from that day to this, men have been learning that when, at God’s voice, they surrender up to Him the one thing above all else that was dearest to their very hearts, that same thing is returned to them by Him a thousand times over. Abraham gives up his one and only son, at God’s call, and with this disappear all his hopes for the boy’s life and manhood, and for a noble family bearing his name. But the boy is restored, the family becomes as the stars and sands in number, and out of it, in the fullness of time, appears Jesus Christ.

That is just the way God meets every real sacrifice of every child of His. We surrender all and accept poverty; and He sends wealth. We renounce a rich field of service; He sends us a richer one than we had dared to dream of. We give up all our cherished hopes, and die unto self; He sends us the life more abundant, and tingling joy.

And the crown of it all is our Jesus Christ. For we can never know the fullness of the life that is in Christ until we have made Abraham’s supreme sacrifice. The earthly founder of the family of Christ must commence by losing himself and his only son, just as the Heavenly Founder of that family did. We cannot be members of that family with the full privileges and joys of membership upon any other basis.
–C. G. Trumbull

We sometimes seem to forget that what God takes He takes in fire; and that the only way to the resurrection life and the ascension mount is the way of the garden, the cross, and the grave.

Think not, O soul of man, that Abraham’s was a unique and solitary experience. It is simply a specimen and pattern of God’s dealings with all souls who are prepared to obey Him at whatever cost. After thou hast patiently endured, thou shalt receive the promise. The moment of supreme sacrifice shall be the moment of supreme and rapturous blessing. God’s river, which is full of water, shall burst its banks, and pour upon thee a tide of wealth and grace.

There is nothing, indeed, which God will not do for a man who dares to step out upon what seems to be the mist; though as he puts down his foot he finds a rock beneath him.
–F. B. Meyer 

 

The Concept of Divine Control

From: Utmost.org

The Concept of Divine Control

Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct in this passage for those people who have His Spirit. He urges us to keep our minds filled with the concept of God’s control over everything, which means that a disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, “My heavenly Father knows all about this!” This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise. Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those people who have His Spirit, and it works on the following principle: God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?

Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but is an attitude of the mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7).

Are You Being Prepared?

Ezekiel 38:7

“Be prepared, and prepare yourself, you and all your companies that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them.

 
John 14:3

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Proverbs 21:31

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

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Are You Being Prepared?

From: Our Daily Bread

Are You Being Prepared?

The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and . . . the bear will rescue me. 1 Samuel 17:37

I worked at a fast-food restaurant for over two years in high school. Some aspects of the job were difficult. Customers verbalized their anger while I apologized for the unwanted slice of cheese on the sandwich I didn’t make. Soon after I left, I applied for a computer job at my university. The employers were more interested in my fast-food experience than my computer skills. They wanted to know that I knew how to deal with people. My experience in unpleasant circumstances prepared me for a better job!

Young David persevered through an experience we might well call unpleasant. When Israel was challenged to send someone to fight Goliath, no one was brave enough to step up to the task. No one but David. King Saul was reluctant to send him to fight, but David explained that as a shepherd he had fought and killed a lion and a bear for the sake of the sheep (1 Sam. 17:34–36). Confidently he stated, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and . . . the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (v. 37).

Being a shepherd didn’t earn David much respect, but it prepared him to fight Goliath and eventually become Israel’s greatest king. We may be in difficult circumstances, but through them God might be preparing us for something greater!

Lord, help me to hold on during the unpleasant times in my life knowing that You may be preparing me for something greater.

God uses present circumstances to prepare us for the future.

 

 

My Life’s Spiritual Honor and Duty

From: Utmost.org

My Life’s Spiritual Honor and Duty

I am not a superior person among other people— I am a bondservant of the Lord Jesus. Paul said, “…you are not your own…you were bought at a price…” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul sold himself to Jesus Christ and he said, in effect, “I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the gospel of Jesus; I am free only that I may be an absolute bondservant of His.” That is the characteristic of a Christian’s life once this level of spiritual honor and duty becomes real. Quit praying about yourself and spend your life for the sake of others as the bondservant of Jesus. That is the true meaning of being broken bread and poured-out wine in real life.

 

Getting Away From It All

From: Get More Strength.com

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3

A pastor friend of mine was telling another pastor about the long-awaited vacation that he and his family were preparing for. The other pastor immediately replied, “Vacation? I never take a vacation. Satan doesn’t take a vacation and neither do I!”

To which my friend wisely retorted, “Well, that’s all right. Satan has never been my example!”

In the summer when school is out and the sun is shining, our thoughts turn toward vacation. And that’s a good thing! We were wired with an innate need to take a break from our usual pace and spend some time being refreshed and recharged.

But for some reason, we sometimes seem apologetic about taking time off or needing a change of pace for a little while. It may be that our internal understanding of a real “work ethic” demands that we feel a little guilty about time that we’re not being “productive” or “efficient.” Or maybe we are concerned that those projects and clients we have been carefully nurturing along will fall to pieces if we put them on hold for a week or two. Maybe we are distorting Paul’s words to the Ephesians, resisting vacations and working nonstop so that we can “make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

If that’s your brain strain, then let me put a biblical stop to that train of thought and provide you with three solid, straight-from-Scripture reasons to enjoy a guilt-free, refreshing time away from your usual pace of work this summer.

Reason number one: it’s commanded in Scripture. The fourth commandment tells us to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). That means more than just going to church on Sunday. The principle of “Sabbath”—rooted in God’s example through creation of resting on the seventh day—intertwines with the Old Testament law code.

There were not only to be days of Sabbath, but week-long festivals scattered throughout the Jewish seasons. In fact, there were Sabbath yearsin their calendar! God’s loving command was intended to pull His people aside for rest so they would be reminded that all good things come from Him . . . not from their frantic efforts at work.

A second reason why it’s a good idea to take a well-deserved break is that your body and spirit need it. I love the picture that David paints for us in Psalm 23:1-6 of a shepherd leading his sheep to a place of refreshment and rest. We are finite, fallible, limited creatures, and without rest we’ll find that burnout and exhaustion eventually take their toll. Our ability to be gracious, loving, and patient will be a casualty of our compulsive work habits. Fatigue and weariness will leave us vulnerable to temptation. And most disturbingly, our intimacy with the Lord will suffer as our time with Him becomes perfunctory at best, and nonexistent at worst. All that can be avoided if we allow our Good Shepherd to restore our soul with times of rest in green pastures and with seasons of refreshment beside quiet waters.

And just in case we need another reason to put our feet up and relax now and then, remember that Jesus did it! He often withdrew from the crush of the crowds to seasons of prayer and rest. During a storm on the Sea of Galilee He was sound asleep in the boat (Mark 4:38). And we are told that while on a trip from Judea to Galilee “Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well” (John 4:6). There were always more people to heal, more messages to preach, and more places to go, but Jesus displayed the importance of rest.

So, whether it’s a weekend of camping, a day at the pool, or a week away with close friends or family members, turn off the cell-phone, close the computer, and get away! There’s no good reason not to!

Face To Face With Jesus

1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

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Face to Face

From: Our Daily Bread

Face to Face

The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Exodus 33:11

Although the world is connected electronically like never before, nothing beats time together in person. As we share and laugh together, we can often sense—almost unconsciously—the other person’s emotions by watching their facial movements. Those who love each other, whether family or friends, like to share with each other face to face.

We see this face-to-face relationship between the Lord and Moses, the man God chose to lead His people. Moses grew in confidence over the years of following God, and he continued to follow Him despite the people’s rebelliousness and idolatry. After the people worshiped a golden calf instead of the Lord (see Ex. 32), Moses set up a tent outside of the camp in which to meet God, while they had to watch from a distance (33:7–11). As the pillar of cloud signifying God’s presence descended to the tent, Moses spoke on their behalf. The Lord promised that His Presence would go with them (v. 14).

Because of Jesus’s death on the cross and His resurrection, we no longer need someone like Moses to speak with God for us. Instead, just as Jesus offered to His disciples, we can have friendship with God through Christ (John 15:15). We too can meet with Him, with the Lord speaking to us as one speaks to a friend.

Face to face! O blissful moment! Face to face—to see and know; face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ who loves me so! Carrie E. Breck

We can speak to the Lord as a friend.

 

Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

From: Our Daily Journey

Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

This verse reveals the humiliation of being a Christian. In the natural realm, if a person does not hit back, it is because he is a coward. But in the spiritual realm, it is the very evidence of the Son of God in him if he does not hit back. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but you must make it an opportunity to exhibit the Son of God in your life. And you cannot imitate the nature of Jesus— it is either in you or it is not. A personal insult becomes an opportunity for a saint to reveal the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not, “Do your duty,” but is, in effect, “Do what is not your duty.” It is not your duty to go the second mile, or to turn the other cheek, but Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will always do these things. We will not say, “Oh well, I just can’t do any more, and I’ve been so misrepresented and misunderstood.” Every time I insist on having my own rights, I hurt the Son of God, while in fact I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I will take the blow myself. That is the real meaning of filling “up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24). A disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor.

Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself. We are always looking for justice, yet the essence of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is— Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

 

Chrystal Evans Hurst July 14, 2017
The Wild Ride of Faith
CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

From: Crosswalk.com

“… the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4 (NIV)

On a recent trip to an amusement park, my boys and I decided to try out a new roller coaster. Well, it was new for them. I’d experienced it before and knew it was the perfect ride for my boys: One is a thrill-seeker, one is a thrill-avoider and one sits somewhere in between.

We approached the line and waited patiently for our turn. My thrill-avoider slowly became apprehensive about getting on the ride. He had time to wonder how fast the ride would go, how far the drops would be and how many sharp curves he would encounter. In other words, he had a long wait full of worry.

The closer we got to the front of the line, the more anxious he became. He started asking me for a way out — some way to avoid venturing into the unknown. I felt like a terrible mom, but I decided he would just have to go. We’d already waited so long, and it wouldn’t be fair to his brothers.

But here’s the other reason I made him get on the ride. I knew it wasn’t that bad. As a roller coaster-lover, I knew this ride was rather mild, and he would be just fine once he experienced the ups and downs for himself.

I knew he’d be okay.

He didn’t believe me.

As we approached the front of the line, the people behind us could see my son was visibly shaken and averse to moving forward. I assumed they secretly thought I was an awful mom. To my surprise, one of the ladies leaned toward my son and said, “Don’t be scared. I was afraid the first time I rode it, but it was super fun!”

Her encouragement kept him moving forward.

When it was our turn to ride, the park employee who controlled the ride noticed my son’s nervousness. He left his post and bent down to comfort my son, reassuring him that he would love the ride.

My son seemed a bit calmer. Resolved that the ride was imminent, he reached over and asked me to hold his hand throughout our journey.

More often than I care to admit, I find myself in line for something in life I’m unsure about. I anticipate the ride will be rougher than I want — too much for me to handle.

And I want out.

I worry. I whine. I cry. I beg God to get me out of the line. I’m apprehensive and anxious about the direction things are headed and I let the world know it.

But here’s what I’ve learned: While God may not always remove me from my circumstances, He is always with me.

He knows I’ll be okay.

I don’t always believe Him — particularly when I ruminate about all the things that could go wrong. Thankfully, God doesn’t let my apprehension or anxiety about my future stop me from embarking on rides I might otherwise avoid.

God doesn’t place me in situations where I will be tempted beyond what I can bear. He also ensures that when I’m feeling weak, I can hold on to Him, take comfort in His presence and trust in His strength to get me through. God, in His loving care, often places people in my path who’ve been on the ride I face and can encourage me to move forward.

We rode the ride that day, and my son screamed the whole time. He was that kid who hollered his brains out. But you know what? As we got out of our seats and made our way through the exit, he had a huge smile on his face. He’d enjoyed the ride. He even asked to ride again.

I’ve been walking with God long enough to know that building my faith often requires unexpected rides that may leave me feeling worried and unsettled. I’ve also learned that God can be trusted. He will hold my hand and be with me the entire way. And while the ride may seem wild at times — building my faith is the ride of a lifetime. And it’s one ride I’m learning to enjoy.

Dear Father, sometimes I struggle to have confidence when I encounter a wild ride of faith. Please help me to believe that You are with me to walk boldly forward, even when it’s toward the unknown. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God Sees You

II Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

 

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God Sees You

From: Our Daily Journey

God Sees You

Read:

Genesis 16:1-16
She said, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).

Susan had suffered one disappointment after another, and she was feeling disillusioned with God. She asked me and another friend to pray with her, and we gladly did. I’ll never forget my friend’s prayer, “Lord, let Susan know You love her—that You see her.” The next day Susan thanked us for our prayers. She said she’d been feeling invisible, and our prayers helped her to feel visible again. She knew afresh that God saw her.

This really is the key, isn’t it? The toughest part of any trial is wondering how much we and our problems matter to others. We can endure most anything when we know we count—that we’re seen.

The story of Hagar is a powerful illustration of this. Hagar had been abused by the first family of our faith. Sarai had forced her to become a subordinate wife to Abram to give them a child through her and then became jealous when Hagar became pregnant and stopped respecting her. Perhaps her pregnancy made her see herself as more than a slave. In response, “Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away” (Genesis 16:6).

But an angel found Hagar in the wilderness and told her to name her son “Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’)”, because “the Lord . . . heard [her] cry of distress” (Genesis 16:11). Although the path ahead wouldn’t be easy, Hagar now knew God would not abandon her. She called Him El-roi, which means, “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).

What difficulty has you wondering whether you matter to God? The One who heard Hagar’s cries in the desert also has His eyes locked on you. He knows where you are and what pain you’re enduring. The road ahead may be difficult, but you’ll walk every step in full view of El-roi, the God who sees you.

 

Intimate Details

From: Our Daily Bread

Intimate Details
Read: Psalm 139:1–18 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 7–9; Acts 18

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:2

The universe is astonishingly grand. Right now the moon is spinning around us at nearly 2,300 miles an hour. Our Earth is spinning around the sun at 66,000 miles an hour. Our sun is one of 200 billion other stars and trillions more planets in our galaxy, and that galaxy is just one of 100 billion others hurtling through space. Astounding!

In comparison to this vast cosmos, our little Earth is no bigger than a pebble, and our individual lives no greater than a grain of sand. Yet according to Scripture, the God of the galaxies attends to each microscopic one of us in intimate detail. He saw us before we existed (Ps. 139:13–16); He watches us as we go about our days and listens for our every thought (vv. 1–6).

It can be hard to believe this sometimes. This tiny “pebble” has big problems like war and famine, and we can question God’s care in times of personal suffering. But when King David wrote Psalm 139 he was in the midst of crisis himself (vv. 19–20). And when Jesus said God counts each hair on our heads (Matt. 10:30), He was living in an age of crucifixion. Biblical talk of God’s caring attention isn’t a naïve wish. It is real-world truth.

The One who keeps the galaxies spinning knows us intimately. That can help us get through the worst of times.

Father God, Your eye is on me as much as it is on the stars in the sky. Thank You for Your love, Your care, Your attention.

The God of the cosmos cares for us intimately.

 

We Are Secure

Security is a word that is in the news now. There are insecurities on every front. The stock market is not secure. The political situation around the world is not secure.

In his letter to the Ephesian believers, Paul gave us a reason for our security as Christians:

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

There are two things Paul mentions that lead to our security. He first mentions the part we play, and then he explains the role of the Holy Spirit.

We have responsibility for listening to God and believing what He says. “You heard the word of truth” implies that we process what we hear and allow it to reshape our entire perception of what life means. Our faith comes from our hearing what God says. Romans 10:17 describes how important it is that we hear:

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

We not only listen to what God says, but we believe His Word. In1927, the wife of Scottish preacher Arthur Gossip died suddenly. When he returned to the pulpit, he preached a sermon entitled “When Life Tumbles In, What Then?” With his life suddenly interrupted by the tragic and unexpected death of his wife, Gossip went on to explain that during this darkest period of his life he needed his faith more than ever. He said to his congregation, “You people in the sunshine may believe the faith, but we in the shadow must believe it. We have nothing else.” Faith isn’t just for sunny days, we can believe during the tough times as well.

God responds to us when we hear and believe. “You were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” The Holy Spirit seals us and guarantees our redemption.

The idea of sealing means that there is security. Something that is sealed can’t be opened and changed. What God has promised will never be altered. The Holy Spirit guarantees that.

Some people think they will not survive the responsibilities of serving Jesus. That is not true. The Holy Spirit marks us as belonging to Him, and that’s the greatest blessing we could ever imagine. The Holy Spirit is evidence that we belong to God and that means we come under His divine protection. He protects what is His.

The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that God will watch over us. When difficult times threaten to overwhelm us, God will not abandon us. He will come to our rescue. How do we know that? We have heard the Word of Truth and we believe it. That means that the Holy Spirit has come alongside us to secure our safety and our final destiny.

Approaching God

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Hebrews 4:16

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 
Ephesians 2:18

for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

James 4:8

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Romans 5:1-2

 

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

Approaching God

Approaching God

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. Psalm 73:28

A woman desiring to pray grabbed an empty chair and knelt before it. In tears, she said, “My dear heavenly Father, please sit down here; you and I need to talk!” Then, looking directly at the vacant chair, she prayed. She demonstrated confidence in approaching the Lord; she imagined He was sitting on the chair and believed He was listening to her petition.

A time with God is an important moment when we engage the Almighty. God comes near to us as we draw near to Him in a mutual involvement (James 4:8). He has assured us, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). Our heavenly Father is always waiting for us to come to Him, always ready to listen to us.

There are times when we struggle to pray because we feel tired, sleepy, sick, and weak. But Jesus sympathizes with us when we are weak or face temptations (Heb. 4:15). Therefore we can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (v. 16).

Lord, thank You that I can pray to You in all places at all times. Put the desire to come near to You in my heart. I want to learn to come to You in faith and in confidence.

God is everywhere, is available every time, and listens always.

 

Spiritual Decay

From: Our Daily Journey

Spiritual Decay

Read:

Deuteronomy 30:1-20
The Lord your God will delight in you if you obey his voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 30:10).

Recently, I heard a sermon that touched on the second law of thermodynamics. I now understand a scientific principle and have been reminded of an important spiritual one!

The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy (disorder) always increases with time. In a closed system—a system with no outside influence preventing deterioration—quality always worsens as the clock unwinds. In the same way, when our Christian lives become disengaged from actively seeking God, we’ll naturally descend into increasing spiritual chaos and decay.

The story of the Israelites provides a powerful example of this principle. The Israelites were regularly warned of the consequences of excluding God from their lives (Leviticus 26:14-46Deuteronomy 28:15-68). They persisted in their rebellion, however, which ultimately led to spiritual decay and judgment through exile in Babylon (Deuteronomy 30:1). Only a genuine heart change and a commitment to reengage fully with God by “[turning] to the Lord [their] God with all [their] heart and soul” could restore their fortunes and enable them to live abundant lives (Deuteronomy 30:10, also Deuteronomy 30:2-6). When we retreat from fully following God, we gradually slip into spiritual decline; but when we live connected to Him, we stem the destructive slide and enjoy a grace-filled life (Deuteronomy 30:11-20).

In our fallen nature, we have a tendency to drift away from God. Our noisy world and busy schedules often drown out His warnings of spiritual drift and decay. But when we connect to the influence of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), we’re able to steer clear of spiritual decay and keep growing in our walk with God. The Spirit provides what we need to continue to grow and mature in Jesus!

 

Carey Scott July 12, 2017
How to Create an Uncommon Hunger for God
CAREY SCOTT

From: Crosswalk.com

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 (NASB)

I was about to lose it.

We were going around the circle giving updates about the spiritual condition of our hearts — something I usually love to do. As a deep-waters kind of girl, I’m always ready to dive right in to feelings. But it had gone on for hours, and there was bacon waiting for us. Bacon.

And as it was now approaching noon, and brunch was in smelling distance, my deep waters were drying up. I was becoming hangry.

The Urban Dictionary defines “hangry” as being so hungry that the lack of food causes anger or frustration. Spot on, isn’t it? Can you remember a time you were so hungry you yelled at someone you love, rolled your eyes at your spouse, used choice words on the driver who cut you off or thought mean things toward someone at work? Your need for sustenance can really turn your happy into hanger.

I think we can become hangry on a spiritual level, too. Our hearts will long for the kind of nourishment only God can provide, and we’ll struggle to navigate life’s ups and downs until our spiritual hunger is tamed. As we read in Matthew 5:6, Jesus reminds us God will not only bless us for feeling hangry for Him, but He will also satisfy that need to the fullest.

A wise friend once told me that hankering for a taste of the Holy Spirit was better than feasting on our favorite foods. (Honestly, it’s hard to imagine anything yummier than queso and chips from my favorite Texas food chain.)

But over and over and over, God reminds me He will satisfy and fill me up even moreand even better than anything the world can offer.

And while foods like queso can tame our tummy, the only way to satisfy our soul is to feast on God’s Word.

You and I were created to hunger after God more than anything the world offers. It’s an uncommon choice — an ability God baked into the heart of every believer. But it’s an intentional decision we must choose daily.

It means when bad news comes, we get on our knees and pray. We take our pain and fear to Him first. We put God at the top of our to-do lists, not the bottom. It means we don’t treat Him like leftovers, something we reluctantly grab when nothing else satisfies.

Relying on anything other than God to feed our souls will keep us in an ordinary, common relationship with Him. Instead of embracing His power, strength and wisdom, we settle for the world’s morsels. Unless we choose to feast on God’s promises, we’ll spiritually starve ourselves.

Having an uncommon hunger for God is something we have to cultivate. It’s something we can ask Him to give us.

Let’s want God more than anyone or anything. And let’s live in such a way that others see the Father because of it. Yes, I am giving us all permission to be that crazy Jesus-girl.

Because when we do, we’re choosing to be an uncommon woman. And the world needs our lives to shine God’s hope, now more than ever.

Dear Lord, help me want You above anything else. It’s so easy to get “hangry” for the wrong things and look to the world to satisfy my needs or heal my heart. But in doing so, I’m forgetting that You are my provider. You are ready and willing and able to be my all. Help me choose You! I don’t want to live a common life; I want to thrive as an uncommon woman. Forget the world. I want You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Give In To God’s Will

 

 

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.…

 

 

Giving in to Jesus

Giving in to Jesus
Read: James 4:6–10 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 1–3; Acts 17:1–15

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11

They call it “The Devil’s Footprint.” It’s a foot-shaped impression in the granite on a hill beside a church in Ipswich, Massachusetts. According to local legend the “footprint” happened one fall day in 1740, when the evangelist George Whitefield preached so powerfully that the devil leaped from the church steeple, landing on the rock on his way out of town.

Though it’s only a legend, the story calls to mind an encouraging truth from God’s Word. James 4:7 reminds us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

God has given us the strength we need to stand against our adversary and the temptations in our lives. The Bible tells us that “sin shall no longer be your master” (Rom. 6:14) because of God’s loving grace to us through Jesus Christ. As we run to Jesus when temptation comes, He enables us to stand in His strength. Nothing we face in this life can overcome Him, because He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33).

As we submit ourselves to our Savior, yielding our wills to Him in the moment and walking in obedience to God’s Word, He is helping us. When we give in to Him instead of giving in to temptation, He is able to fight our battles. In Him we can overcome.

Lord Jesus, I give my will to You today. Help me to stay close to You in every moment, and to love You by obeying You.

The prayer of the feeblest saint . . . is a terror to Satan. Oswald Chambers

 

Creation Teaching

From: Our Daily Journey

Creation Teaching

Read:

Psalm 19:1-14
They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world (Psalm 19:3-4).

We recently moved to my husband’s hometown, a city that features a beautiful metro park system. Every day, prior to work and after dropping off two of our three young daughters at school, we take a brief hike together. My husband straps our baby onto his back in a backpack-like contraption, and off we go!

Along with the trees, river, and streams, we see wild turkeys, countless deer (including fawns and their parents), herons, goldfinches, cardinals, woodpeckers, squirrels, and chipmunks. We also relish seeing turtles of all sizes sunning themselves on the trunks of fallen trees in a bog.

As we hike through the nature preserves, I remind myself to look up. For indeed, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word . . . . Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world” (Psalm 19:1-4). If I’m outside at night, I intentionally gaze up at the stars in hopes of getting to know God a little better (Psalm 19:2). If I can’t go outside, I look out the window to catch a glimpse of His creation.

Spending time in nature nurtures our spiritual growth. As Paul notes, creation—animals, birds, the sky, the earth, the trees, the plants, and the fish—reveal aspects of God’s nature (Romans 1:20). Theologians call this truth general revelation.

Spending time in creation definitely does reveal the natural world’s compelling testimony about our Creator. As Jesus taught, it’s important for us to note the flowers of the field, for they reflect God’s love and provision for us (Matthew 6:28-30).

 

Sharon Jaynes July 11, 2017
When You Don’t Like the Story God is Writing
SHARON JAYNES

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

If it were up to me, I would have scripted some of life’s stories differently. So many tragedies have struck people near and dear to me that if I were the writer, they would have been changed.

Fortunately, I’m not the author, because each of these women impact thousands upon thousands of women all over the world with her powerful stories of God’s redemption. God turned their pain into purpose, their misery into ministry and their devastation into anointed messages of hope and restoration. Sudden glories fill and spill from each of their lives.

Their journeys have led them through dark valleys and back out into the light on the other side.

But if I had to decide?

My second child would not have passed away before she was born. Carol’s son would not be in prison. Linda’s daughter would not be a quadriplegic. Barbara’s daughter would not be bipolar. Patty’s 21-year-old daughter would not have been in a fatal car accident. Jennifer’s husband would not have succumbed to a brain tumor.

Difficult times are pregnant with glory moments — moments when we see God’s plan just waiting to be birthed in the lives of those willing to labor through the pain. The key is not to allow bitterness and anger to make our hearts infertile to God’s gifts.

One way to avoid the darkening of the soul is by constant communication seasoned with thanksgiving — a continual acknowledgement of God’s presence.

After my husband and I graduated from college, we moved to Charlotte so he could open a new business. But after we moved, the man who was to be his business partner changed plans.

“Sorry, Steve,” he said. “I’ve changed my mind. Good luck, son.”

I was so upset. OK, I was flat-out angry. Angry with the potential partner. Angry with God. We had prayed, fasted and felt this was where God was leading us. We had no money. No job. And school debt.

Three months later, a situation opened up that was far better than our original plan. It wasEphesians 3:20 in action: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us …”

Well, why didn’t God do that in the first place? Why didn’t He lead us directly to that second opportunity when we did all that praying and seeking? He could have.

But He is far more interested in developing our character than in doling out a life of comfort and ease. C.S. Lewis notes: “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable. Think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”

That’s where Proverbs 3:5-6 comes in: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

We are ever the students. He is the teacher still. Trials rip away the flimsy fabric of self-sufficiency and become the raw material for God’s miracles in our lives. And those miracles are moments of sudden glory.

Oh that we would trust Him even if the twists and turns never make sense this side of heaven. That’s what trusting God is all about. As we live and move and have our being in Him, life’s dark places are simply opportunities to trust that God knows the way — and the perfect time to hold on tight.

Especially since He’s still writing the story.

Father, thank You for always knowing and doing what is best for me. Forgive me when I don’t trust You but think my way is best. I know that You have wonderful surprises in store for me when I simply trust You in all things. Thank You for being the Teacher. Help me to be a good student of Your Truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.