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Removing The Barriers

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-4

 

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

 
Ephesians 2:14

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,

Isaiah 59:2

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Mark 16:4

Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.

 

(Refusing To Listen Is One Of The Barriers We Must Overcome).

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Removing the Barriers

From: Our Daily Bread

Removing the Barriers

He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. Philemon 1:16

I saw Mary every Tuesday when I visited “the House”—a home that helps former prisoners reintegrate into society. My life looked different from hers: fresh out of jail, fighting addictions, separated from her son. You might say she lived on the edge of society.

Like Mary, Onesimus knew what it meant to live on the edge of society. As a slave, Onesimus had apparently wronged his Christian master, Philemon, and was now in prison. While there, he met Paul and came to faith in Christ (v. 10). Though now a changed man, Onesimus was still a slave. Paul sent him back to Philemon with a letter urging him to receive Onesimus “no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother” (Philem. 1:16).

Philemon had a choice to make: He could treat Onesimus as his slave or welcome him as a brother in Christ. I had a choice to make too. Would I see Mary as an ex-convict and a recovering addict—or as a woman whose life is being changed by the power of Christ? Mary was my sister in the Lord, and we were privileged to walk together in our journey of faith.

It’s easy to allow the walls of socio-economic status, class, or cultural differences to separate us. The gospel of Christ removes those barriers, changing our lives and our relationships forever.

Dear God, thank You that the gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives and relationships. Thank You for removing the barriers between us and making us all members of Your family.

The gospel changes people and relationships.

 

Never Give Up

From: Our Daily Journey

Never Give Up

Read:

Luke 18:1-8
Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up (Luke 18:1).

Unlike mystery novels where you never know who the villain in the story is until the final pages, in Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow, we’re clued in right at the beginning that the judge is a shady character. Jesus sets the stage by informing us that there “was a judge in a certain city . . . who neither feared God nor cared about people” (Luke 18:2). This judge didn’t waste a moment thinking about God or about anybody other than himself. He was selfish, small-minded, and power-hungry.

Jesus introduces us to another character, however, a widow who was destitute and who came to the judge’s court day after day. She repeatedly asked him for a ruling against someone who had wronged her. Time and again, the judge rebuffed her. Yet the widow refused to take no for an answer. Finally the exhausted judge decided he’d had enough. “I don’t fear God or care for people,” the judge admitted, “but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!” (Luke 18:4-5).

And this is where Jesus drives His point home: If a judge as awful and evil as this can be moved to intervene, then think about how much more powerfully God’s heart and strength will move on your behalf (Luke 18:6). If even this scoundrel finally helps the poor woman, how much more, Jesus asks, can we trust that “God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?” (Luke 18:7).

Keep praying, Jesus insists. Keep bringing your entire heart to God. Bring your hopes and disappointments, your desires and needs, your confusion, your dismay, your brokenness. Keep praying, and never give up. Your God hears you and He will answer.

 

Fight Like a Saint

From: CBN, and Rev. Pam Morrison, author

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“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

We raised our children for many years on a large piece of land that had once been farm property. We built a home, put in a garden, and created a pond behind the house.

The pond had a dock and the Extension Service helped us to stock the pond with bass, catfish, and blue gill. The kids loved to fish. One time our daughter caught two fish on one lure!

But with the joy, came some issues. One of them was algae growth. Oh my, it was concerning to see the green “globs” increase and threaten to overtake our beautiful fishing spot.

My husband went to the feed store and talked with one of the men there. He recommended a product that, with just a small amount poured into the water, could swiftly destroy the algae.

The product was amazing. Within short order, every bit of algae was gone. No more masses of green organisms choking the pond. The water was clear and pristine again.

I thought of this recently in relationship to ministering to people with difficult emotional problems. I spend time with recovering addicts, helping them to get free. The life they have led, the pain experienced through personal choices, and the harsh things that have been done to them often result in a spectrum of spiritual attacks on their minds. Feelings of rejection, shame, isolation, abandonment by God and others, and many more distorted thoughts threaten to suffocate the clear living water of the Spirit and the presence of Christ for them.

Just as the algae attempted to overcome the clear water of our pond, so these thoughts, alien to God’s thoughts, threaten to suffocate the hearts and minds of people oppressed by them. Even many mature Christians struggle.

But we have a “product” too, that can, even with a small amount, slip into the clouded waters of our thoughts and eat away the lies. That product is the word of God. The Lord has reminded me recently that though it is unpleasant to have to do spiritual warfare and get up and fight yet again, the truth of the matter is the One who will really do the fighting is Him. When we feel beset by cloudy, hurtful, or unhealthy feelings, all we need to do is run to His arms, pick up the Word, and once again drop some of it into our circumstances. So we decree:

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

“I am accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:6

“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

I say, “I am loved and I belong to God. I am righteous in God’s sight always as a believer in Christ Jesus.” These new, true thoughts begin to consume and drive out the lies.

When we just put a drop of truth into our minds by decreeing the Word instead of giving into the relentless attack from the enemy, (which we think is simply our emotions) the waters of our mind’s thinking begin to clear.  God fights for us and we get back up on our feet, reinvigorated, hope restored.

Fight like a saint!!

Be Angry But Sin Not

 

Key verse: “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, Ephesians 4:26

Psalms 7:11 (KJV) God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

1 Kings 11:9,10 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded.

2 Kings 17:18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.

Mark 3:4,5 And he [Jesus] said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

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Anger Management

From: Our Daily Bread

Anger Management

In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26

As I had dinner with a friend, she expressed how fed up she was with a particular family member. But she was reluctant to say anything to him about his annoying habit of ignoring or mocking her. When she did try to confront him about the problem, he responded with sarcastic remarks. She exploded in anger at him. Both parties wound up digging in their heels, and the family rift widened.

I can relate, because I handle anger the same way. I also have a hard time confronting people. If a friend or family member says something mean, I usually suppress how I feel until that person or someone else comes along and says or does something else mean. After a while, I explode.

Maybe that’s why the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:26 said, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Providing a time limit on unresolved issues keeps anger in check. Instead of stewing over a wrong, which is a breeding ground for bitterness, we can ask God for help to “[speak] the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).

Got a problem with someone? Rather than hold it in, hold it up to God first. He can fight the fire of anger with the power of His forgiveness and love.

Heavenly Father, please guard us from uncontrolled anger. May the words that we speak bring honor to You.

 

Honor by Example

From: Our Daily Journey

Honor by Example

Read:

1 Timothy 4:6–5:2
Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8).

Darkness wrapped the jet in a quiet comfort, while a few reading lights remained on. Though it was late in the evening and passengers were trying to sleep, the loud chatter of two young women could be heard above the hum of the plane’s engine. Suddenly, an older woman seated in front of them turned around and sharply exclaimed, “Would you two be quiet!” Taken aback, they looked around to see who had heard and began laughing disrespectfully. Turning to glare once more, the disrupted sleeper settled back in her seat.

Both parties could have been more civil. Impatience. Self-centeredness. Entitlement. Each of these qualities can cause us to treat others badly. Whether masked by artificially polite behavior or displayed in outright contempt, the struggle to honor others is evident in our world.

We too can feel unrelenting pressure to demand what culture says is within our rights. Those who’ve been changed by Jesus’ love, however, realize our motivation, though lived out in this world, comes from heaven. The temptation to dishonor should be met by the reality that our hope is “in the living God” who saves (1 Timothy 4:10). Godliness—living out thoughts, actions, and words that reflect Christ’s own—flows from Him and sets the path for us to honor Him.

Even the tendency toward dishonor that all too often accompanies generational differences can be overcome with our decision to live and speak in love, faith, and purity (1 Timothy 4:121 Timothy 5:1-2). Paul’s words to Timothy remind us honoring others must be prominent in our interactions, not only because we bear the image of God but because the world is watching us (1 Timothy 4:16). May we reveal Jesus as He provides what we need to treat others with respect.

 

Keep Hanging On

From: CBN, and author:  Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D.

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Sometimes I wonder why the farmer in Jesus’s parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-20 wasted so much seed on sub-prime acreage. The stony portion of the field, for example, wasn’t a place that just needed a little rock removal. It was “ground where a quite thin surface of earth covers a rock,” according to the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.* In other words, those seeds fell on nothing more than a slab of dusty bedrock.

God’s promises have fallen on similar “tillage” in my heart where I despaired of ever producing a harvest. But even mountains manage to grow a crop of towering pines on nothing more than granite when seeds persist long enough to push through rock. I’ve found, even where my heart feels stony, I can still get it to yield something fruitful.

When we were putting our children through college, my financial faith felt as tenuous as a root trying to survive on a boulder. Our savings never seemed to match the requirements for getting them to graduation.

I held scriptures of God’s faithfulness to provide for us in my heart—promises such as 2 Corinthians 9:10-11Philippians 4:19, and many more. Though the word was sown in me, however, reality constantly threatened to break my hold on trust. Tomorrow’s fees were always looming over today’s inadequate bank account.

Growing Faith Bit by Bit

My faith wasn’t big or strong enough to believe for all the expenses at once, but I kept it alive by trusting God for one day’s bills at a time. When worry lifted its head, I refreshed myself daily (even hourly) by recalling those words of faithfulness, and they consoled and encouraged my heart like dewfall on dry roots.

Day by day, I marveled at how He met our needs. Sometimes a tax rebate arrived just in time. Sometimes a gift appeared in our mailbox. Sometimes there was an unexpected pay increase.

Money seemed to pass through our bank account more than it collected there, so I’m still not sure how it happened, but the bills were paid and both children graduated without going into debt. All the time I felt like the farmer in Mark 4:26-29. I didn’t know how, but the ground seemed to be producing all by itself; first the sprout, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. One thing I do know—my faith that God will provide for us is stronger than ever because my roots had time to go deep.

Faith sometimes takes hold slowly, like roots growing on rocky ground. Keeping His word fresh in our minds, like moisture consistently applied, keeps it alive. Stone-bound seeds kept moist long enough to grow roots attain a remarkable power. They slowly and steadily push against the rock as they grow, until they penetrate then crack it. Under that tiny but consistent pressure, the stone gradually crumbles and becomes the very soil the roots need.

God sows His seed where He wills—even where logic says it should not grow at all. If we will lay hold of His words and cling to them as to great treasure, those words will at last produce a harvest—sometimes thirty, sometimes sixty, and sometimes a hundred fold.

Belief In Christ Redeems Your Soul

 II Corinthians 5: 16-21

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:a The old has gone, the new is here!

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

21 God made him who had no sin to be sinb for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

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God is a great accountant. He keeps detailed records of all bad and good. God knows that we are weak. So, He offers us a full pardon. The pardon makes us completely without sin if we believe in His Son. The result is complete peace with God, and eternity in Heaven.

John 3:16 ” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Ugh, Yes, But . . .

From: Our Daily Journey

Ugh, Yes, But . . .

Read:

Psalm 130:1-8
Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? (Psalm 130:3).

I winced the moment I said it. I meant to be funny, but it came out mean. My comment sagged heavy on my heart when I went to bed and was still draped there when I awoke. I thought, My motives were pure, but my words were clumsy. Such self-talk purchased momentary relief, but soon enough the pain of my words began to haunt my heart again. After twenty-four hours of trying to let myself off the hook, I finally admitted what I had known all along. What I said was wrong. I had been a jerk.

Immediately a wave of relief washed over my head and down to my toes. I understood the rhetorical question of Psalm 130:3, “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive?” Answer: No one. As Paul later declared, “Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).

Almost everyone. Psalm 130:3 may have begun as a rhetorical question, but it didn’t end there. If God kept a record of sins, “Who, O Lord, could ever survive?” Only one person: our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus obeyed God fully and so He could offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. His death and resurrection are the reason we can rejoice in this verse from Psalm 130, “But you offer forgiveness” (Psalm 130:4).

I still often want to make myself look better than I am, but this psalm is teaching me a better way to respond to my sin. I’m learning to say Ugh, that’s ugly, then Yes, that’s what I am on my own, apart from Christ. But that’s no longer who I am. I am now a saint, made holy by the blood of Jesus. So, by God’s grace, my sin has become an excuse to celebrate my new identity. I’m a child of God, forgiven in Jesus. “I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him” (Psalm 130:5).

 

What To Renounce

Utmost.org

What To Renounce

Have you “renounced the hidden things of shame” in your life— the things that your sense of honor or pride will not allow to come into the light? You can easily hide them. Is there a thought in your heart about anyone that you would not like to be brought into the light? Then renounce it as soon as it comes to mind— renounce everything in its entirety until there is no hidden dishonesty or craftiness about you at all. Envy, jealousy, and strife don’t necessarily arise from your old nature of sin, but from the flesh which was used for these kinds of things in the past (see Romans 6:19 and 1 Peter 4:1-3). You must maintain continual watchfulness so that nothing arises in your life that would cause you shame.

“…not walking in craftiness…” (2 Corinthians 4:2). This means not resorting to something simply to make your own point. This is a terrible trap. You know that God will allow you to work in only one way— the way of truth. Then be careful never to catch people through the other way— the way of deceit. If you act deceitfully, God’s blight and ruin will be upon you. What may be craftiness for you, may not be for others— God has called you to a higher standard. Never dull your sense of being your utmost for His highest— your best for His glory. For you, doing certain things would mean craftiness coming into your life for a purpose other than what is the highest and best, and it would dull the motivation that God has given you. Many people have turned back because they are afraid to look at things from God’s perspective. The greatest spiritual crisis comes when a person has to move a little farther on in his faith than the beliefs he has already accepted.

 

Battleground of the Mind

From: CBN, and author: Missey Butler

After my initial conversion to Christianity, it didn’t take long for me to realize that an inner war had been declared and that my mind was where the heaviest skirmishes were taking place.

The ground force troops had been released when I began to recognize that if I was ever going to see victory over my flesh, it would have to first be won in the battlefront of my thinking. The word tells us, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he …” Proverbs 23:7 KJV

I immediately jumped into the foxhole of truth that I found in Galatians 2:20 NIV: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

That hand grenade of a verse had become my John 3:16, if you will, as far as grounding me in the reality that until I die spirituality, no real life was ever going to come forth.

“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24 NIV

I once heard a well-known man of God describe to an audience his early morning ritual. He stated that the very first thing he does after shutting off the alarm is he stands up, stretches, thanks God for a new day, and then… HE DROPS DEAD!

Of course, the audience roared with laughter. Then he quipped, “No, really, I am dead serious!” More laughter ensued. After the hilarity had finally subsided and all eyes were “ten hup” to the wisdom of his next statements, like a good soldier of the Lord, he began to strategically take us through the process of daily mortification of the flesh. The first rules of engagement include the following:

1. Announce that your carnal mind has been declared DOA (dead on arrival).

2. You’ll now be reporting to a new commander in chief from this point on.

3. Never forget, the battles are won and lost in the arena of your mind.

I now faithfully report to my commanding officer every morning. And I’m proud to say I am gaining more and more ground over the lies of the enemy. Some days I find myself dying a thousand deaths within a 24-hour day. This carnal mind does not die easily, but it has to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ.

So now, every morning, I hear the reveille of God’s bugle as He wakes me up to the reality that, yes, the battle is on, but THE WAR HAS ALREADY BEEN WON. I simply stand in an unwavering faith, believing that it is no longer I who lives, but Christ living in me. As Romans 8:37 says, I am more than a conqueror!

 

We Have A King

We Have A King and His Name Is Jesus Christ.

1 Kings 22:19

Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.

Isaiah 6:1

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.

Isaiah 63:15

Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation; Where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me.

Daniel 7:9

“I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.

Matthew 5:34

“But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,

 

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We Have a King!

From: Our Daily Bread

We Have a King!
 s

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. Judges 21:25

After attacking my husband with hurtful words when a situation didn’t go my way, I snubbed the Holy Spirit’s authority as He reminded me of Bible verses that revealed my sinful attitudes. Was nursing my stubborn pride worth the collateral damage in my marriage or being disobedient to God? Absolutely not. But by the time I asked for forgiveness from the Lord and my spouse, I’d left a wake of wounds behind me—the result of ignoring wise counsel and living as if I didn’t have to answer to anyone but myself.

There was a time when the Israelites had a rebellious attitude. After the death of Moses, Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land. Under his leadership, the Israelite’s served the Lord (Judg. 2:7). But after Joshua and the generation that outlived him died, the Israelites forgot God and what He’d done (v. 10). They rejected godly leadership and embraced sin (vv. 11–15).

Things improved when the Lord raised up judges (vv. 16–18), who served like kings. But when each judge died, the Israelites returned to defying God. Living as if they didn’t have anyone to answer to but themselves, they suffered devastating consequences (vv. 19–22). But that doesn’t have to be our reality. We can submit to the sovereign authority of the eternal Ruler we were made to follow—Jesus—because He is our living Judge and King of Kings.

Jesus, please help us remember You are our living King of Kings and Lord of Lords, almighty and worthy of our loving obedience and trust.

God gives us the power and the privilege to enjoy the rewards of doing things His way.

The Root of Unity

From: Our Daily Journey

The Root of Unity

Read:

Ephesians 4:1-16
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6).

Few boxing rivalries are as legendary as the one between Joe Louis, an African-American boxer, and Max Schmeling, a German fighter who was a favorite of Hitler’s (although Schmeling personally had no love for the Nazi regime). The two men were promoted as bitter rivals, but the truth is that the two later became close friends. Schmeling even helped pay for Louis’ funeral in 1981. Very different from one another, they shared a friendship that went beyond the bounds of sameness.

In our world, we often imagine that it’s sameness that lies at the foundation of friendship and unity. But when Paul describes true unity in Jesus in Ephesians 4, he includes a list of very diverse roles that people are called to fulfill as part of the body of Christ: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). Clearly, Paul didn’t believe that unity requires that everyone should be the same.

Instead, the apostle connects unity in Jesus to a far deeper source than outward sameness: We’re to be unified both because of who God is and because of what He’s done. We have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, [and] one God” who is over all (Ephesians 4:4-6). In this way, unity isn’t based on something as superficial as how similar we are to one another. Instead, it’s far more profound, a reflection of God’s character and all He’s done for us in and through His Son Jesus.

This is a far better blueprint for true unity. We don’t seek unity because we’re the same. We seek unity as a reflection of God’s own character, and because His work has carefully forged together one body of Christ. As Paul wrote, “You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family” (Ephesians 2:19).

 

Arguments or Obedience

From: Utmost.org

Arguments or Obedience

Simplicity is the secret to seeing things clearly. A saint does not thinkclearly until a long time passes, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think through spiritual confusion to make things clear; to make things clear, you must obey. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will only think yourself into further wandering thoughts and more confusion. If there is something in your life upon which God has put His pressure, then obey Him in that matter. Bring all your “arguments and…every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” regarding the matter, and everything will become as clear as daylight to you (2 Corinthians 10:5). Your reasoning capacity will come later, but reasoning is not how we see. We see like children, and when we try to be wise we see nothing (see Matthew 11:25).

Even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion, and spending all of our time thinking about it will still never make it clear. Spiritual confusion can only be conquered through obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment. This is humiliating, because when we are confused we know that the reason lies in the state of our mind. But when our natural power of sight is devoted and submitted in obedience to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the very power by which we perceive God’s will, and our entire life is kept in simplicity.

Loving God More Than Money

 

The Widow’s Two Mites    Luke 21: 1-1-4

21 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God,[a] but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

A gift opens the way
and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.

A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

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Give It to God

From: Our Daily Bread

Give It to God

Then [Hezekiah] went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 2 Kings 19:14

As a teenager, when I became overwhelmed by enormous challenges or high-stakes decisions, my mother taught me the merits of putting pen to paper to gain perspective. When I was uncertain whether to take specific classes or which job to pursue, or how to cope with the frightening realities of adulthood, I learned her habit of writing out the basic facts and the possible courses of action with their likely outcomes. After pouring my heart onto the page, I was able to step back from the problem and view it more objectively than my emotions allowed.

Just as recording my thoughts on paper offered me fresh perspective, pouring our hearts out to God in prayer helps us gain His perspective and remind us of His power. King Hezekiah did just that after receiving a daunting letter from an ominous adversary. The Assyrians threatened to destroy Jerusalem as they had many other nations. Hezekiah spread out the letter before the Lord, prayerfully calling on Him to deliver the people so that the world would recognize He “alone . . . [is] God” (2 Kings 19:19).

When we’re faced with a situation that brings anxiety, fear, or a deep awareness that getting through it will require more than what we have, let’s follow in Hezekiah’s footsteps and run straight to the Lord. Like him, we too can lay our problem before God and trust Him to guide our steps and calm our uneasy hearts.

Do you have a prayer request? Share it with the Our Daily Bread family at YourDailyBread.org.

God is our greatest help in times of distress.

 

If We But Trust

From: CBN, By: Kay Camenisch, author

 

Being discharged from Hospice is reason to celebrate. After all, Hospice offers comfort while awaiting death. Discharge means you’re looking toward life, not death. That’s reason to rejoice.

But we didn’t rejoice. Saying good-bye to Hospice meant we were losing helpers who had become family. Several times over 14 months it seemed my 93-year-old father-in-law was in his last days. Hospice was by our side each step of the way, with love, care, comfort, and guidance.

Release meant we’d miss the attention and cheer from the chaplain, social worker, and volunteer who visited Dad regularly. The nurse and doctor who knew him and were familiar with his case would no longer be caring for him.  The aide whose banter brought cooperation would no longer bathe him three times a week. Suddenly, we were on our own.

Symptoms that qualified Dad for Hospice had stabilized. He was no longer eligible and had to be dismissed. But he continued to decline nonetheless. As we bid the team farewell, we faced greater demands–without our team.

We reminded ourselves to trust in the Lord instead of our own understanding. If we acknowledged Him, He would be with us and guide us (see Prov. 3:5-6). We’d take one day at a time and lean on Him.

Almost immediately, Dad seemed weaker, and his daily care was more demanding. Increasingly, he needed a wheelchair instead of a walker to get to the next room to eat. Bathing him was also a challenge, but the days passed relatively smoothly.

God provided. A brother from out-of-state came to help a few days. A nurse from church volunteered to sit with him occasionally and give him a good bath. Nevertheless, the daily burden of care and responsibility rested on my husband and me.

The Veterans Administration rushed the application process to take Dad under their care, but it was a still couple of weeks before a nurse could come for an assessment. The doctor planned to come a week later but his visit was postponed an additional week because of icy roads. Meanwhile, we waited, wondering what the future held.

Dad became weaker, more unstable, and more dependent. His cough keeps us all awake at night. Because of his instability and lack of sleeping routine, we have to be constantly vigilant for his safety. We need assistance.

Finally, the doctor came. He was cordial, gentle, and seemed competent. We answered his questions, trying to help him understand our situation, eager to hear how the VA could assist.

He didn’t have hoped-for answers. He said he was new in that position and is still learning where to go to for needed information.

We were devastated. Still no help. Still no answers.

Over lunch, my husband prayed, “God, help us not look to man for the things You want us to get from You.”

Guilty. I was hoping in man—rather, in a government institution. I had not been trusting “in the Lord with all my heart” (Prov. 3:5).

After lunch, I dipped into Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The devotion for March 5 began, “Make friends with the problems in your life.” The Scripture listed was familiar, reminding me that “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

So why am I anxious?  Why crushed by the lack of answers?

The pressures of life are in God’s hands. He is sovereign and sufficient. He is with me and will never forsake me. He’s at work in this situation. And in me.

Dad continues to weaken. It’s been over a month. We’re tired, and we still don’t have answers. Nevertheless, it’s time to rejoice, give thanks, and celebrate.

Indeed, God will supply all our “needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19) . . . if we but trust in Him.

 

The Far-Reaching Rivers of Life

From: Utmost.org

The Far-Reaching Rivers of Life

A river reaches places which its source never knows. And Jesus said that, if we have received His fullness, “rivers of living water” will flow out of us, reaching in blessing even “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8) regardless of how small the visible effects of our lives may appear to be. We have nothing to do with the outflow— “This is the work of God, that you believe…” (John 6:29). God rarely allows a person to see how great a blessing he is to others.

A river is victoriously persistent, overcoming all barriers. For a while it goes steadily on its course, but then comes to an obstacle. And for a while it is blocked, yet it soon makes a pathway around the obstacle. Or a river will drop out of sight for miles, only later to emerge again even broader and greater than ever. Do you see God using the lives of others, but an obstacle has come into your life and you do not seem to be of any use to God? Then keep paying attention to the Source, and God will either take you around the obstacle or remove it. The river of the Spirit of God overcomes all obstacles. Never focus your eyes on the obstacle or the difficulty. The obstacle will be a matter of total indifference to the river that will flow steadily through you if you will simply remember to stay focused on the Source. Never allow anything to come between you and Jesus Christ— not emotion nor experience— nothing must keep you from the one great sovereign Source.

Think of the healing and far-reaching rivers developing and nourishing themselves in our souls! God has been opening up wonderful truths to our minds, and every point He has opened up is another indication of the wider power of the river that He will flow through us. If you believe in Jesus, you will find that God has developed and nourished in you mighty, rushing rivers of blessing for others.

A Little Bit Of Paradise

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 
 I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
Whom have
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

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A Little Bit of Paradise

From: Our Daily Bread

A Little Bit of Paradise

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:5

Gazing out my open study window, I hear birds chirping and hear and see the wind gently blowing in the trees. Bales of hay dot my neighbor’s newly tilled field, and large, white cumulus clouds stand out in contrast to the brilliant blue sky.

I’m enjoying a little bit of paradise—except for the almost incessant noise of the traffic that runs past our property and the slight ache in my back. I use the word paradise lightly because though our world was once completely good, it no longer is. When humanity sinned, we were expelled from the garden of Eden and the ground was “cursed” (see Gen. 3). Since then the Earth and everything in it has been in “bondage to decay.” Suffering, disease, and our deaths are all a result of humankind’s fall into sin (Rom. 8:18–23).

Yet God is making everything new. One day His dwelling place will be among His people in a renewed and restored creation—“a new heaven and a new earth”—where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:1–4). Until that day we can enjoy the bright splashes and sometimes wide expanses of breathtaking beauty we see around us in this world, which is just a small foretaste of the “paradise” that will be.

Dear Lord, thank You that in this world that can seem ugly with sin and decay You allow us to see glimpses of beauty.

Read about the life to come at discoveryseries.org/q1205.

God is making all things new.

A Promise Fulfilled

She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

In the off-season of baseball, managers and coaches concentrate on trading players to set themselves up for a winning season the next year. But if you are a Chicago Cubs fan like I am, you don’t expect much because we haven’t won a championship in years! That made the promise from a newly acquired player for the Cubs sound rather incredible. To a packed press conference, he said, “We are going to win the World Series!” I have to admit, it was hard not to be skeptical. It sounded like a promise that most likely he couldn’t deliver.

No doubt the Jews of Jesus’ day who were living under the oppressive thumb of Rome had to wonder if God would ever make good on His promise to send a Deliverer who would forgive sin and restore the glory of Israel (Isa. 1:26Isa. 53:12Isa. 61:1-11). God had long ago promised them a Redeemer, but they hadn’t heard a word from Him in 400 years. But then, at just the right moment, the angel announced to Joseph that Mary would give birth to a Son who would “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

God is a promise-keeping God! He said that He would send a Deliverer, and He did. Your sin is not beyond the reach of this promise. He is ready and waiting to forgive your sins—all of them.

 

The King Who Never Dies

From: Our Daily Journey

The King Who Never Dies

Read:

Psalm 24:1-10
Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle (Psalm 24:8).

The death of a king in 2016 elicited deep grief from the people of his nation. The news resounded around the world as citizens wept over the loss of their beloved ruler. One man said the monarch had been a caring leader for every person. Another woman was in such despair that she couldn’t even eat. This king was an able leader who helped bring political stability and economic development to the country for more than seventy years. The loss of his leadership caused many to look with fear toward the future.

As I watched the faces full of sadness over the news of their leader’s death, I felt sad for them. But I also thought about my heavenly King—the One who lives forever and will never die. In Revelation, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13). Knowing this truth gives me peace and comfort when grieving the loss of leaders and others.

David recognized God as the King who reigns over all the earth. Though a king himself, in Psalm 24 he proclaimed the greatness and dominion of God. He knew that he’d become a king not by his own might but because the Lord chose him and “appointed [him] as the leader of Israel” (2 Samuel 6:21). With evident excitement, enthusiasm, and reverence, David gave praise to God—the “King of glory” (Psalm 24:8). He then welcomed Him—desiring to be in His presence. He wrote, “Let the King of glory enter” (Psalm 24:9).

What an amazing thought to ponder: The everlasting Creator of the universe has been and continues to be actively at work among us! He allows those “whose hands and hearts are pure,” through His work in their lives, to seek and worship Him in His presence (Psalm 24:4,6).

Stepping Into Strength

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
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Stepping into Strength

From: Our Daily Bread

Stepping into Strength

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

“Will we see any snakes?”

Allan, a young boy in our neighborhood, asked that question as we started on a hike by the river near our home.

“We never have before,” I answered, “but we might! So let’s ask God to keep us safe.” We paused, prayed together, and kept walking.

Several minutes later my wife, Cari, suddenly took a quick step backward, narrowly avoiding a poisonous copperhead partially coiled on the path ahead. We waited as the snake left the trail, giving it a wide berth. Then we paused and thanked God nothing had happened. I believe that through Allan’s question, God had prepared us for the encounter, and our prayer was part of His providential care.

Our brush with danger that evening brings to mind the importance of David’s words: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chron. 16:11). This advice was part of a psalm celebrating the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. It recounts God’s faithfulness to His people in their struggles throughout history, reminding them to always praise Him and “cry out” to Him (v. 35).

What does it mean to “seek [God’s] face”? It means we turn our hearts toward Him in even the most mundane moments. Sometimes our prayers are answered differently than our asking, but God is faithful come what may. Our Good Shepherd will direct our paths and keeps us in His mercy, strength, and love. May we declare our dependence on Him.

 

The Good Life

From: Get More Strength.org

“Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Luke 12:15

Driving down the highway in Houston, I passed a billboard with large letters that announced “THE GOOD LIFE!” I couldn’t wait to get closer to read the small print, which explained that the “good life” was about buying a lakefront home starting at $300,000. Which made me wonder if some unhappy families might live in those homes, with kids who never see their parents, or couples who, though living on the lake, wish they weren’t even living together.

Luke 12:15 came to mind as I remembered the story of the man who asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. That was the wrong thing to ask Jesus! He replied with a warning, “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” He then went on to tell the story of an extremely rich man who, from God’s point of view, was a fool—not because he was successfully wealthy but because he was not rich toward God.

The sooner we get over the illusion that more stuff means more peace, happiness, and self-fulfillment, the better off we will be. And then the more able we will be to find the longed-for peace and happiness—the true “good life”—that only Jesus can provide.

O Lord, help us to be content,
Whatever we possess;
Protect us from the foolish lie
That “more” brings happiness.  —Sper

The “good life” is found in the richness of God.

 

Packed With Power

From: Get More Strength.org

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

My wife, Martie, and I have some items of worth around our house that sit on mantles or behind glass doors. They are things we have collected over the years, things from special places we’ve been or from special friends we have known. Though these items may have a good deal of worth to us personally, in terms of function they’re not worth much. My guess is that you have a few of your own prized dust collectors as well.

I wonder if you, though you might never admit it, feel that way about the Bible—It’s an important book with great value but with little usefulness for the realities you face every day. After all, how could an ancient book written by religious zealots even begin to connect with the challenges of your often-too-complex life?

Here’s the good news: When it comes to your life, nothing could be more helpful!

The Word of God has tremendous worth and plays an active role in our lives to effect change. Paul explained its power to Timothy when he said that the Bible is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

I think of my friend who told me of a time when he was away on a business trip. As he returned to his hotel one night and stepped on the elevator, two young, attractive women joined him. As he pressed the button to get off on his floor, they said, “Hey, mister, how about a little fun tonight?”

He told me that Galatians 6:8 immediately came to mind: “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” He said that verse was like a shade drawn between him and what could have been a persuasive temptation. In that moment, the correcting power of the Word of God kept him safe and on course.

Whether we realize it or not, throughout our lives we have been saturated with false values, and we need to be reprogrammed with truth. God’s ways and wisdom are without peer. His Word really is like a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119: 105). We need to know what to do with our time, energy, and money. We need to know what to do with our minds. We need to be taught what to do about friends and how to handle enemies. We need to be taught about family, work, and leisure. God’s Word is jam-packed with time-tested principles of success for every situation and issue of life.

More importantly, God’s Word teaches us the wonderful truth that He cared enough to die for us when we were lost in our sin. In His Word we learn about His character and how we can cultivate a trusted relationship with Him. We learn things about Him through His Word that we cannot learn anywhere else.

The Bible is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) and packed with power. It’s not meant to be a collector’s item on your shelf. Go ahead—dust it off and discover for yourself how God can use His Word to guide, protect, encourage, and enrich your life!

Bitterness Can Destroy You

Hebrews 12:15

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

 
Ephesians 4:31

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Acts 8:23

“For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”

James 3:14

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.

Romans 3:14

“WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”;

Job 7:11

“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

 

 

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Bitter or Better?

Bitter or Better?

Read:

Ruth 1:1-21
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty” (Ruth 1:20-21).

My friend was overjoyed. Following years of failed procedures, she was going to give birth to a daughter. With only weeks to go, however, my friend discovered her husband was having an affair. The weight of pain threatened to drown all hope of happiness.

Today, by God’s grace, the two are still together. They’ve lived through heartache and experienced the power of repentance, forgiveness, and healing. Almost a decade later, their marriage is stronger than before.

Most of us have been through challenging times and our attitude in the midst of these moments has shaped who we’ve become—bitter or better.

Naomi became bitter. Her name actually means “pleasantness,” but that was before life left her feeling broken. Not only was she forced to flee to Moab to escape famine in her hometown, but, after settling there, her husband Elimelech died. This left her alone to raise two sons in a foreign land. Her sons, Mahlon and Kilion, both married Moabite women, but ten years later they also died (Ruth 1:1-5).

When she learned that the famine in Bethlehem was over, Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth returned home. Although people greeted her as Naomi, that isn’t how she felt. “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty” (Ruth 1:20-21). God was working in Naomi’s heart, however, and He used the unwavering devotion of Ruth to restore her true identity (Ruth 4:13-17).

In the midst of the many challenges of life, may we too know the kindness of our heavenly Father, leading us to leave our bitterness behind as we rest in His presence. By God’s grace, we can find hope and a better way in Him!

Priceless Worship

From: Our Daily Bread

Priceless Worship

She, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on. Mark 12:44

I use writing to worship and serve God, even more so now that health issues often limit my mobility. So, when an acquaintance said he found no value in what I wrote, I became discouraged. I doubted the significance of my small offerings to God.

Through prayer, study of Scripture, and encouragement from my husband, family, and friends, the Lord affirmed that only He—not the opinions of other people—could determine our motives as a worshiper and the worth of our offerings to Him. I asked the Giver of all gifts to continue helping me develop skills and provide opportunities to share the resources He gives me.

Jesus contradicted our standards of merit regarding our giving (Mark 12:41–44). While the rich tossed large amounts of money into the temple treasury, a poor widow put in coins “worth only a few cents” (v. 42). The Lord declared her gift greater than the rest (v. 43), though her contribution seemed insignificant to those around her (v. 44).

Although the widow’s story focuses on financial offerings, every act of giving can be an expression of worship and loving obedience. Like the widow, we honor God with intentional, generous, and sacrificial gifts given from whatever He’s already given us. When we present God the best of our time, talents, or treasure with hearts motivated by love, we are lavishing Him with offerings of priceless worship.

 

Pouring Out the Water of Satisfaction

From: Utmost.org

Pouring Out the Water of Satisfaction

What has been like “water from the well of Bethlehem” to you recently— love, friendship, or maybe some spiritual blessing (2 Samuel 23:16)? Have you taken whatever it may be, even at the risk of damaging your own soul, simply to satisfy yourself? If you have, then you cannot pour it out “to the Lord.” You can never set apart for God something that you desire for yourself to achieve your own satisfaction. If you try to satisfy yourself with a blessing from God, it will corrupt you. You must sacrifice it, pouring it out to God— something that your common sense says is an absurd waste.

How can I pour out “to the Lord” natural love and spiritual blessings? There is only one way— I must make a determination in my mind to do so. There are certain things other people do that could never be received by someone who does not know God, because it is humanly impossible to repay them. As soon as I realize that something is too wonderful for me, that I am not worthy to receive it, and that it is not meant for a human being at all, I must pour it out “to the Lord.” Then these very things that have come to me will be poured out as “rivers of living water” all around me (John 7:38). And until I pour these things out to God, they actually endanger those I love, as well as myself, because they will be turned into lust. Yes, we can be lustful in things that are not sordid and vile. Even love must be transformed by being poured out “to the Lord.”

If you have become bitter and sour, it is because when God gave you a blessing you hoarded it. Yet if you had poured it out to Him, you would have been the sweetest person on earth. If you are always keeping blessings to yourself and never learning to pour out anything “to the Lord,” other people will never have their vision of God expanded through you.

Don’t Run Alone

When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.”

Luke 17:22-23

 

And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. “They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them.

Job 39:13-18

 

“The ostriches’ wings flap joyously With the pinion and plumage of love, For she abandons her eggs to the earth And warms them in the dust, And she forgets that a foot may crush them, Or that a wild beast may trample them. read more.

Jeremiah 12:5

“If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, Then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?

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Don’t Run Alone

From: Our Daily Bread

Don’t Run Alone

Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses . . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

My husband Jack was on mile 25 out of 26 when his strength failed him.

This was his first marathon, and he was running alone. After stopping for a drink of water at an aid station, he felt exhausted and sat down on the grass beside the course. Minutes passed, and he couldn’t get up. He had resigned himself to quitting the race when two middle-aged schoolteachers from Kentucky came by. Although they were strangers, they noticed Jack and asked if he wanted to run with them. Suddenly, he found his strength restored. Jack stood and accompanied by the two women he finished the race.

Those women who encouraged Jack remind me of Aaron and Hur, two friends who helped Moses, the leader of the Israelites, at a key point (Ex. 17:8–13). The Israelites were under attack. In battle, they were winning only as long as Moses held his staff up (v. 11). So when Moses’s strength began to fail, Aaron and Hur stood on either side of him, holding up his arms for him until sunset (v. 12).

Following God is not a solo endeavor. He did not create us to run the race of life alone. Companions can help us persevere through difficulty as we do what God has called us to do.

God, thank You for relationships that encourage me to continue following You. Help me to be a source of strength for others, as well.

Who can I encourage to persevere through difficulty today?

 

A Life of Pure and Holy Sacrifice

From: Utmost.org

A Life of Pure and Holy Sacrifice

Jesus did not say, “He who believes in Me will realize all the blessings of the fullness of God,” but, in essence, “He who believes in Me will have everything he receives escape out of him.” Our Lord’s teaching was always anti-self-realization. His purpose is not the development of a person— His purpose is to make a person exactly like Himself, and the Son of God is characterized by self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us— and we cannot measure that at all.

When Mary of Bethany “broke the flask…of very costly oil…and poured it on [Jesus’] head,” it was an act for which no one else saw any special occasion; in fact, “…there were some who…said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil wasted?’ ” (Mark 14:3-4). But Jesus commended Mary for her extravagant act of devotion, and said, “…wherever this gospel is preached…what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Mark 14:9). Our Lord is filled with overflowing joy whenever He sees any of us doing what Mary did— not being bound by a particular set of rules, but being totally surrendered to Him. God poured out the life of His Son “that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Are we prepared to pour out our lives for Him?

“He who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”— and hundreds of other lives will be continually refreshed. Now is the time for us to break “the flask” of our lives, to stop seeking our own satisfaction, and to pour out our lives before Him. Our Lord is asking who of us will do it for Him?

 

The Soul’s Poison

From: Our Daily Journey

The Soul’s Poison

Read:

Luke 18:9-14
[Jesus] told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt (Luke 18:9 ESV).

I recently witnessed an encounter where someone entirely dismissed and degraded another person. “Leave now,” the instigator said, “you’re not wanted here.” I took great offense for the person who received such cruel treatment. But I also felt profound sadness for the individual who spewed such mean-spirited words. I know how to help one who’s been rejected, but it’s far more difficult to know how to help one whose soul has been poisoned by contempt for another.

Jesus told a story about a Pharisee who was praying at the temple, a man who seemed to be impeccably moral and faithful. He didn’t cheat others, didn’t prey on the weak, wasn’t a carousing scoundrel, didn’t sneak around on his wife. To top it off, he gave 10 percent of everything he owned to God and fasted at least twice a week (Luke 18:11-12). Unfortunately, this man had two glaring issues: He trusted in his own goodness, and he “treated others with contempt” (Luke 18:9 ESV).

Contempt is a vicious word. It means to despise, to count as nothing. This was a person who completely degraded other people.

There was also present in the temple a tax collector who kept to himself, downcast. He “beat his chest in sorrow” and begged God for forgiveness (Luke 18:13). This broken man could receive God’s forgiveness while the Pharisee, deluded by his self-righteousness, had a heart closed to God’s mercy.

Contempt may at times feel good. It may make us feel superior or even holy. But it always poisons our soul. Contempt doesn’t only degrade others; it also degrades ourselves, putting us at odds with God’s wide and generous love, hardening our hearts to Jesus and others. By God’s grace and strength, may we instead have humble hearts receptive to His mercy.

God Doing Something New

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.

Exodus 35:30-35

 

Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. “And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze, read more.

Exodus 31:1-6

 

Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship,read more.

Exodus 36:1-2

 

“Now Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the LORD has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded.” Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it.

 

These Things Were New and Different When They Were Created. God Does New and Creative Things Daily. He Does Creative Things Through His Children.
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Image result for pictures of inventionsImage result for pictures of inventions
Image result for pictures of inventionsImage result for pictures of inventions

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God’s Doing Something New

From: Our Daily Bread

God’s Doing Something New

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12

“Is God doing something new in your life?” was the question the leader asked in a group I was in recently. My friend Mindy, who is dealing with some difficult situations, responded. She told of needing patience with aging parents, stamina for her husband’s health issues, and understanding of her children and grandchildren who have not yet chosen to follow Jesus. Then she made an insightful comment that runs contrary to what we might normally think: “I believe the new thing God is doing is He’s expanding my capacity and opportunities to love.”

That fits nicely with the apostle Paul’s prayer for new believers in Thessalonica: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thess. 3:12). He had taught them about Jesus but had to leave abruptly because of rioting (Acts 17:1–9). Now in his letter he encouraged them to continue to stand firm in their faith (1 Thess. 3:7–8). And he prayed that the Lord would increase their love for all.

During difficulties we often choose to complain and ask, Why? Or wonder, Why me? Another way to handle those times could be to ask the Lord to expand His love in our hearts and to help us take the new opportunities that come to love others.

I’ve got my own list of things I could worry about, Lord. Change my thinking. Open my eyes to love.

 Our troubles can fill our prayers with love and empathy for others.

 

Wrestling with God

From: Our Daily Journey

Wrestling with God

Read:

Genesis 28:10-2235:9-14
God blessed him, saying, “Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel.” So God renamed him Israel (Genesis 35:9-10).

“Fear is not a Christian habit of mind,” the novelist Marilynne Robinson has remarked. Yet fear is one of the most powerful and consistent forces in human behavior. Even outward obedience can be driven more by fear than love. What does it even mean, we might wonder, to live without being motivated by fear?

The story of Jacob can help point the way. When I read his story, I see a person who seems driven by fear. He’s so afraid of missing God’s blessing that he’s willing to do almost anything to obtain it—even if it means tricking his feeble, elderly father (Genesis 27:27-41). But throughout Jacob’s story, God points him to a different reality—one where he is loved by God and chosen for a purpose.

When God first reveals His promises to him at Bethel (Genesis 28:10-15), Jacob wonders if it’s too good to be true. “If God will indeed be with me,” he says, he would serve Him and make Bethel a place of worship (Genesis 28:20-22). And God was with him, though Jacob struggled to believe it. Later, when he’s on the road again, fearing for his life from his brother Esau (Genesis 32:3-5), God appears to him in the form of a stranger. Jacob, still desperate for a blessing, wrestles with Him all night (Genesis 32:26-30). At the end of their struggle, God blesses him—this time changing his name from Jacob (“deceiver”) to “Israel”—which likely means “wrestles with God.”

Through a long and difficult struggle, God taught Jacob to bring his fears to Him, to wrestle with Him and cling to His promises. And it seems Jacob finally “got it,” returning to Bethel once more to obey his promise to worship God there (Genesis 35:6-7). There God reminded Jacob who he really was—not a trickster, but someone who’d learned to wrestle with and follow God (Genesis 35:10).

 

God Is the God of More than Enough

From: CBN, and Author: Martha Noebel

There are so many people with issues that seem to overwhelm them. Whether it is a father out of work, sickness in the home, broken down cars, not enough food on the table, or even a runaway child looking for their own way in the world, our hearts may seem to long for peace.

From experience, I have found that as long as I try to fix the problems without trusting the Lord to deal with them, then I am left feeling frustrated and without hope. Peace comes as I lean on God for the answers and wait on His timing.

At one particular season of my life, I was living far from family and friends. My husband had a job in which he traveled one hour from home. I had a teenage son, a toddler, and I was pregnant. There was barely enough money for food and expenses; except for the gas money to get my husband to work. It was a scary time.

I wish I could say that I immediately filled my heart with an abundance of faith and never doubted God’s ability to bring us through for a single moment. But my attitude was to face things one day at a time. I am so much wiser now. Having seen so many miracles in these recent years I know that He is more than capable of working all things out for our good.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (KJV)

The Bible even shares how, in Matthew 15, Jesus saw the multitude was hungry after listening to Him teach for three days. Jesus being full of faith told the disciples to gather the seven loaves of bread and fishes. He blessed the food and sent the disciples into the crowd with these items. After they all ate and were full, the leftover food filled seven baskets. The crowd consisted of four thousand men and included the women/children. Now that is how faithful our God is when a need is presented to Him.

So what is your concern today? How much faith do you possess? Even faith the size of a grain of a mustard seed is all you need to see the victory in your life.

“…Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 NIV

The paths you are following are hard to understand at times. God is with you! He is passionately in love with you and cares about your every need. The trials of today will one day be over and as you look back you will see how far you have come.  As I share in a previous devotional: Hope Is Real.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV

With a heart full of faith and hope for the days ahead, move onward. Trust the Lord. You will be amazed!