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From Fear To Faith

I Samuel 17

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

 

Is there a giant problem you have to face. Remember, like David you do not have to face the big problems in your life along. Whether it is a real giant, or a giant problem God can defeat all giants.

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From Fear to Faith

From: Our Daily Bread

From Fear to Faith
Read: Habakkuk 3:16–19 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 87-88; Romans 13

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer. Habakkuk 3:19

The doctor’s words landed in her heart with a thud. It was cancer. Her world stopped as she thought of her husband and children. They had prayed diligently, hoping for a different outcome. What would they do? With tears streaming down her face, she said softly, “God, this is beyond our control. Please be our strength.”

What do we do when the prognosis is devastating, when our circumstances are beyond our control? Where do we turn when the outlook seems hopeless?

The prophet Habakkuk’s situation was out of his control, and the fear that he felt terrified him. The coming judgment would be catastrophic (Hab. 3:16–17). Yet, in the midst of the impending chaos, Habakkuk made a choice to live by his faith (2:4) and rejoice in God (3:18). He did not place his confidence and faith in his circumstances, ability, or resources, but in the goodness and greatness of God. His trust in God compelled him to proclaim: “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (v. 19).

When we are faced with difficult circumstances—sickness, family crisis, financial trouble—we, too, have only to place our faith and trust in God. He is with us in everything we face.

Dear God, I thank You that I can always turn to You. When I am faced with the difficulties of life, I can put my trust in You. Thank you that You are my “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

When faced with difficult circumstances we can trust God to be our strength.

 

 

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Don’t Eat That Stuff!

From: Get More Strength

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Recently, when my wife Martie and I wanted to meet our sons and their families for a quick bite to eat, we decided that, with everyone’s busy schedules, it would be easiest to meet at a nearby fast-food joint. When I called my son Joe to suggest the plan, his response was, “Well, I can meet you there, but I can’t eat that stuff. I’m training for a marathon.”

Joe’s comment lodged in my brain, particularly because at the time I happened to be preparing a sermon regarding spiritual food, and his offhand remark illustrated a great spiritual principle. Let me explain.

Joe had a goal in mind—the successful completion of the marathon. He knew that reaching the goal was going to require months of disciplined choices, like waking up early to run longer and longer distances. And it meant that he would need to carefully guard and consider everything that he took into his body. Each meal—in fact, each snack—became an opportunity to choose to nourish and energize his body toward a successful marathon run.

Spiritually speaking, we have a goal in mind. Paul expresses it clearly in 1 Corinthians 9:27 when, using an illustration of running a race he states, “I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” In Philippians 3:10-11, he clarifies that the prize at the end of the race is the goal of knowing Christ “and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s a goal I want to strive toward. I can’t imagine any other objective more rewarding than finishing well and living for intimacy with and empowerment by the indwelling Jesus. But the reality is that many of us are not very committed to the training process that gets us to the goal.

A key part of the training is learning how to guard what we “eat” spiritually. Just as those training for a marathon need to guard and carefully consider all that they take in, those of us in training toward the goal of knowing Christ more fully need to guard and consider all that we take in. Paul gives us a phenomenal nutritional guide in Philippians 4:8, using words like true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy to describe the spiritual health food for followers of Jesus.

Which should lead all of us to evaluate what we’ve been feeding our hearts and our minds. How well does our TV viewing fit the criteria of true, noble, or right? What about the conversations we have at work? Do they fall in the categories of pure or lovely? Is there anything admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy about the movies we watch or the music we listen to?

Imagine how nutritionally strong we would be—when faced with a situation that we know would hinder our goal of finishing our race well and knowing Jesus more intimately—if we were to say, “I can’t. I’m in training.” That kind of spiritual dieting and discipline would groom our lives to run our race far more successfully.

We could all stand to take a lesson from Joe—no junk food! As they say, “You are what you eat!”

 

I Want…

From: CBN, and author: Leah Adams

Have you ever heard anyone confess that they coveted something? Have you ever confessed covetousness? Probably your answer to both questions is ‘No’. Most of us are not even aware that we covet, but the Bible speaks to this sin in huge ways and I wanted us to take a few moments and think this through.

I have been working my way through the book of Hebrews in my personal Bible study time and in the final chapter the Lord opened my eyes to this sin of covetousness. Hebrews 13:5(NKJV) says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

When we covet something we long for it and set our affections on it.  We may or may not ever possess the thing that we covet, but it consumes our attention. That is worth repeating. We may not ever possess the things we covet, but those things consume our attention.

John MacArthur says in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on the book of Hebrews, “covetousness is an attitude”. He goes on to say, “covetousness and greed follow a principle of increasing desire and decreasing satisfaction, a form of the law of diminishing returns.”

Often we associate this issue of covetousness with money because money is the means to attaining so much in our world. It is reported that John Rockefeller was asked as a young man how much money he wanted. He is reported to have said, ‘A million dollars’. After he had made a million dollars, someone asked him again about how much money he wanted. He said, “another million’. Do you see increasing desire and decreasing satisfaction at work here?

Most of us will never have a million dollars, but let’s personalize this to our lives. How many pairs of black shoes or handbags do you need? What size house is big enough? How much recognition do you seek for your service to the Lord? Do you really need another new outfit? Is that new piece of electronic equipment a necessity?

“Be content with such things as you have.” The NIV puts it this way, “Be content with what you have”, while the NLT says, “Be satisfied with what you have.” The Message Paraphrase urges us to “Be relaxed with you have you.”

Please understand that I am not saying we should not acquire things. If God has blessed you with the means to acquire and you truly need the items that you are buying, then by all means, shop on sister (or brother)!! There is nothing wrong with a new outfit or handbag or home as long as that thing is not consuming you. MacArthur says, “When we focus on material things, our having will never catch up with our wanting. It is one of God’s unbreakable laws.”

God instructs us in Hebrews 13:5 to remember that He is really all we need because He will never leave us or forsake us. If we have Him, then we have His promises that He will take care of us. Recall what Jesus said in Luke 12:22-23 and 29-31 (NIV): “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

Covetousness is a character issue that is important to the Lord. We need to deeply examine our hearts and do away with any covetousness that is hidden there. God will reward our efforts!

Be Thankful

7) Psalm 100:4

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

8) Jeremiah 30:19

“From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.”

9) 1 Corinthians 1:4

“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.”

10) 1 Corinthians 10:16

“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?”

11) 2 Corinthians 4:15

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”

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Grateful for Everything

From: Our Daily Bread

Grateful for Everything
Read: Deuteronomy 8:6–18 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 84-86; Romans 12

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Deuteronomy 8:10

In Australia, it can take hours to drive between towns and fatigue can lead to accidents. So at busy holiday times rest stops are set up on major highways with volunteers offering free coffee. My wife, Merryn, and I grew to enjoy these stops during our long drives there.

On one trip, we pulled in and walked over to order our coffee. An attendant handed the two cups over, and then asked me for two dollars. I asked why. She pointed to the small print on the sign. At this stop, only the driver got free coffee; you had to pay for passengers. Annoyed, I told her this was false advertising, paid the two dollars, and walked off. Back at the car, Merryn pointed out my error: I had turned a gift into an entitlement and become ungrateful for what I received. She was right.

When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses urged them to be a grateful people (Deut. 8:10). Thanks to the blessings of God, the land was abundant, but they could easily treat this prosperity as something they deserved (vv. 17–18). From this, the Jews developed a practice of giving thanks for every meal, no matter how small. For them, it was all a gift.

I went back to the woman and apologized. A free cup of coffee was a gift I didn’t deserve—and something for which to be thankful.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. A Jewish thanksgiving prayer for meals

Be grateful to God for even the smallest gift.

 

The Theology of Resting in God

From: Utmost.org

The Theology of Resting in God

When we are afraid, the least we can do is pray to God. But our Lord has a right to expect that those who name His name have an underlying confidence in Him. God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the ones who are reliable. Yet our trust is only in God up to a certain point, then we turn back to the elementary panic-stricken prayers of those people who do not even know God. We come to our wits’ end, showing that we don’t have even the slightest amount of confidence in Him or in His sovereign control of the world. To us He seems to be asleep, and we can see nothing but giant, breaking waves on the sea ahead of us.

“…O you of little faith!” What a stinging pain must have shot through the disciples as they surely thought to themselves, “We missed the mark again!” And what a sharp pain will go through us when we suddenly realize that we could have produced complete and utter joy in the heart of Jesus by remaining absolutely confident in Him, in spite of what we were facing.

There are times when there is no storm or crisis in our lives, and we do all that is humanly possible. But it is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely. If we have been learning to worship God and to place our trust in Him, the crisis will reveal that we can go to the point of breaking, yet without breaking our confidence in Him.

We have been talking quite a lot about sanctification, but what will be the result in our lives? It will be expressed in our lives as a peaceful resting in God, which means a total oneness with Him. And this oneness will make us not only blameless in His sight, but also a profound joy to Him.

 

Lay It before God as His Will

From: CBN, and author Carla G. Pollard

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As I opened the cabinet doors my eyes fell on the glassware my mother had accumulated over the years. It was an eclectic mix of both modern and antique. I recognized everyday pieces that functioned well and held up under routine use, but behind those pieces sat some extremely fragile glassware that at one time donned the shelves of my grandmother’s home.

My mother had died and I was left to sort through her things. I dreaded this day. I was hoping somehow it would take care of itself. As I stood in her kitchen my mind’s echo of the sound of her footsteps on the hardwood floor promised to bring her whisking back into the room. But it was not to be.

Memories rushed in as I sorted the glassware, discarding what I considered of little value and keeping the more sentimental and priceless pieces. I couldn’t help but feel like I was sorting through the remnants of her life. It was hard to face the fact that she wouldn’t be coming home, but it was time to move forward. So I sorted and I packed. When I was finished I walked out of an empty apartment, closed the door behind me, and headed off to the local thrift store.

Sometimes God brings us to a place where we need to let go and move forward.

“… Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:13b-14 NIV.

Sometimes we need to accept the fact that things have changed and our will may be at odds with His.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” Romans 12:2 NIV.

Just like I packed up even the most fragile of my mother’s belongings and took them to the thrift store, we need to pack up our most fragile dreams and desires and take them to our Heavenly Father, always keeping in mind He desires the very best for us.

Holding on to my mother’s things could never bring her home. She was in the presence of Jesus, healed and whole. God’s will was for her to go even though I desired for her to stay.

Points to Ponder

Are you holding on to something that’s keeping you from accepting God’s will?

Has He brought you to the place where you need to pack up your desires and embrace His?

Is Jesus asking you to lay them at His feet so that He can move you from your past toward your purpose?

If so, then Dear One, take it to Jesus once and for all; He has a wonderful future in store for His children.

Prayer

Dear Lord, Help me place those hard-to-let-go-of desires in your loving hands. Forgive me for stubbornly wanting what I want and not releasing my will to yours. Thank you for allowing me to realize your desires are always better than mine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If Only I had Obeyed God

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

 

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:9-21

 

A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. read more.

Revelation 21:27

and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

 

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 ( If only we had all obeyed the traffic laws)

If Only . . .

From: Our Daily Bread

If Only . . .

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. John 11:32

As we exited the parking lot, my husband slowed the car to wait for a young woman riding her bike. When Tom nodded to indicate she could go first, she smiled, waved, and rode on. Moments later, the driver from a parked SUV threw his door open, knocking the young bicyclist to the pavement. Her legs bleeding, she cried as she examined her bent-up bike.

Later, we reflected on the accident: If only we had made her wait . . . If only the driver had looked before opening his door. If only . . . Difficulties catch us up in a cycle of second-guessing ourselves. If only I had known my child was with teens who were drinking . . . If only we had found the cancer earlier . . .

When unexpected trouble comes, we sometimes question the goodness of God. We may even feel the despair that Martha and Mary experienced when their brother died. Oh, if Jesus had only come when He first found out that Lazarus was sick! (John 11:21, 32).

Like Martha and Mary, we don’t always understand why hard things happen to us. But we can rest in the knowledge that God is working out His purposes for a greater good. In every circumstance, we can trust the wisdom of our faithful and loving God.

Father, You have carried me through hard circumstances before. Thank You for teaching me to trust Your heart of love even when I don’t understand what You are doing in my life.

For encouragement read, Why? Seeing God in Our Pain at discoveryseries.org/cb151.

To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust Him in the dark—that is faith. Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 

 

A Song in Prison

From: Our Daily Journey

A Song in Prison

Read:

Philippians 1:15-30 
For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him (Philippians 1:29).

During the dark days of the communist regime in Romania, a light shone from the souls of believers in Jesus. Two believers, Nicolae Moldoveanu and Richard Wurmbrand, were lying face down on the ground in a prison courtyard on a cold December day. Their crime was their belief in Christ. To distract himself from the cold, Nicolae prayed that God would give him a song. Once they were finally allowed to return to their cell, he shared the song with Richard: “Not only future heaven to be in my speech daily, but may I have heaven and a holy celebration in life right here!”

Paul wrote to the church in Philippi while he was under house arrest for sharing the good news about Jesus. One would expect the apostle to be discouraged or at least focused on his difficulties. Yet his attitude was completely different. He stated, “The message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice” (Philippians 1:18). What made Paul react this way in the midst of persecution?

First, he was completely confident that God was with him in every circumstance. Throughout this letter, Paul exudes a strong faith based on his close relationship with Him and encourages the Philippians to, instead of worrying, “pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6).

Second, he was absolutely sure that Jesus was worth it all. Paul grasped the sacrificial nature of the crucifixion, the amazing power of the resurrection, and knew that his life would be empty without Christ. And this assurance caused him to live only for Jesus (Philippians 1:21).

May we also come to know Jesus at such deep a level that we would consider it a privilege to suffer for Him! (Philippians 1:29).

 

 

Worry vs. Trust

From: CBN, and author Stacie Ruth Stoelting

Yesterday, two concerns weighed down on my heart and mind: A darling little girl, whose mom died last year, suffered from a dangerous illness. And a very close friend’s grandma clung to life.

I confess: I relapsed into a bit of worry. I pretended like I wasn’t worrying, and I almost fooled myself. But denying my worrying totally failed. I felt discouraged.

Suddenly, someone called me and prayed with me for both concerns. The Lord led me to trust Him.

Guess what? Within six hours, I learned that both the little girl and the friend’s grandma received gracious extensions of life and health! Praise the Lord!

This reminds me of the competition for our concentration: Worry vs. Trust. Today, let’s weed out worry and plant trust in Jesus. Let’s realize a few keys to understanding and overcoming worry:

1. Why worry? Worry never works. Jesus said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”(Luke 12:25, NIV). Let’s think about it: Worry never works! Then, in the following verse (v. 26), Jesus pointed something else out: “Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” God considers the extension of life -the very thing we worry about most- to be a very little thing! Our omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God remains so good -so trustworthy! Why not trust Him?

2. Worry wastes life: It never solves problems, and it dissolves energy and time. Again, it never extends life.

3. Worry never hurries answers. It falsely gives one a feeling of “doing” something. Yet it never does!

4. Trust remains a must: Trust God. His Word, not worry, must reign in our hearts. For every worry, find an applicable Bible verse to memorize and internalize. Instead of denying the fact that you’re worrying, face it with God’s Word.

5. Trust God more than feelings. And transform typical negative “what if’s” into positive, faith-filled “what if’s.” (i.e. Instead of worrying something in your life might suddenly flop, start wondering whether something in your life might soar and give God glory!) God never leads us wrong. Every good and perfect gift comes directly from Him! Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Stop worrying. Instead, start praying and obeying.

6. Unconditionally trust and love God: Remove conditions from your faith walk. (Stop the “If You do this, I’ll love You more” syndrome.) God never changes. He unconditionally loves us and plans what’s best for us. Let’s love Him unconditionally, too.

7. Love God and others without fear or worry of rejection. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18, AMP). When we let God’s love enter and flow through us, we exit fear.

Think of it: Worry never wins. Trusting God never fails!

True Truth

 

John 18: 33-38

33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.

34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”

36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime. 39 But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?”

( Did you notice two things Pilate said, 1. What is truth? and 2. He is not guilty of any crime).

The prophets told the truth because things happened just as they said.

True Truth

From: Get More Strength

“Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21

Remember the days of the multivolume encyclopedia? Not long ago nearly every home had a set gathering dust on the bookcase.

Not anymore! Research materials are now easily found on the Internet. The unprecedented growth of the web gives us a staggering amount of information, literally at our fingertips.

One of the most interesting variants is “Wikipedia”—a completely online, free encyclopedia compiled by contributions from its users. It can be a helpful, fascinating source of information, but somehow the idea of everyone contributing their “two cents” to an article makes me a little uneasy about using that information as a primary source of authority and reliability.

Hopefully you are not among them, but some skeptics view the Bible as if it were compiled like a Wikipedia article. With more than 40 contributing authors spanning several centuries, they say, it cannot be completely accurate. But Scripture sets the record straight. There is only one author. Peter wrote, “Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man” (2 Peter 1:21). In other words, we are not reading the mere thoughts of Moses, David, Isaiah, Paul, or Peter. Rather, the words of the Bible come directly from God, put to paper by men “as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Which means that we find incredible unity, clarity, and commonality flowing through the Old and New Testaments. The truths expressed in Daniel’s writing from the palace courts of Babylon are mirrored in John’s words from the isle of Patmos, hundreds of years later. The themes of God’s character, of man’s rebellion, and of God’s glorious plan of redemption wind their way through each page. Further additions, revisions, or retractions are unthinkable and unnecessary because God’s Word is confidently complete.

If what you need is a quick glance at the history of jazz music, the opinions and perspectives offered in Wikipedia might be helpful. But, if you’re looking for meaning and purpose and the answers to life’s deepest questions, a multiplicity of conflicting opinions won’t help.

Thank God that He has given us what we need for every challenge and crossroad of life as His clear and trustworthy voice speaks to us through His Word!

 

 

Our Father’s Face

From: Our Daily Bread

Our Father’s Face
Read: Psalm 80 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 79–80; Romans 11:1–18

Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. Psalm 80:3

I remember my father’s face. It was hard to read. He was a kind man, but stoic and self-contained. As a child, I often searched his face, looking for a smile or other show of affection. Faces are us. A frown, a sullen look, a smile, and crinkly eyes reveal what we feel about others. Our faces are our “tell.”

Asaph, the author of Psalm 80, was distraught and wanted to see the Lord’s face. He looked north from his vantage point in Jerusalem and saw Judah’s sister-state, Israel, collapse under the weight of the Assyrian Empire. With her buffer state gone, Judah was vulnerable to invasion from all sides—Assyria from the north, Egypt from the south, and the Arab nations from the east. She was outnumbered and outmatched.

Asaph gathered up his fears in a prayer, three times repeated (80:3, 7, 19), “Make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” (Or, in other words, let me see Your smile.)

It’s good to look away from our fears and search our heavenly Father’s face. The best way to see God’s face is to look at the cross. The cross is His “tell” (John 3:16).

So know this: When your Father looks at you, He has a great big smile on His face. You’re very safe!

Ask God to shine His face on you. For further help in prayer, try praying this Psalm or others.

Tell us what your favorite Psalm is and encourage others: Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

God’s love for us is as expansive as the open arms of Christ on the cross.

 

The Holy Suffering of the Saint

From: Utmost.org

The Holy Suffering of the Saint

Choosing to suffer means that there must be something wrong with you, but choosing God’s will— even if it means you will suffer— is something very different. No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God’s will, just as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. And no saint should ever dare to interfere with the lesson of suffering being taught in another saint’s life.

The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God. But the people used to strengthen us are never those who sympathize with us; in fact, we are hindered by those who give us their sympathy, because sympathy only serves to weaken us. No one better understands a saint than the saint who is as close and as intimate with Jesus as possible. If we accept the sympathy of another saint, our spontaneous feeling is, “God is dealing too harshly with me and making my life too difficult.” That is why Jesus said that self-pity was of the devil (see Matthew 16:21-23). We must be merciful to God’s reputation. It is easy for us to tarnish God’s character because He never argues back; He never tries to defend or vindicate Himself. Beware of thinking that Jesus needed sympathy during His life on earth. He refused the sympathy of people because in His great wisdom He knew that no one on earth understood His purpose (see Matthew 16:23). He accepted only the sympathy of His Father and the angels (see Luke 15:10).

Look at God’s incredible waste of His saints, according to the world’s judgment. God seems to plant His saints in the most useless places. And then we say, “God intends for me to be here because I am so useful to Him.” Yet Jesus never measured His life by how or where He was of the greatest use. God places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him, and we are totally incapable of judging where that may be.

The Heart Of Christ

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.

May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.

As water reflects the face,
so one’s life reflects the heart.
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The Heart of Christ

From: Our Daily Bread

The Heart of Christ
Read: Exodus 32:21–32 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 77–78; Romans 10

Please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.  Exodus 32:32

An Australian journalist who spent 400 days in an Egyptian jail expressed mixed emotions when he was released. While admitting his relief, he said he accepted his freedom with incredible concern for the friends he was leaving behind. He said he found it extremely hard to say goodbye to fellow reporters who had been arrested and jailed with him—not knowing how much longer they were going to be held.

Moses also expressed great anxiety at the thought of leaving friends behind. When faced with the thought of losing the brother, sister, and nation that had worshiped a golden calf while he was meeting with God on Mount Sinai (Ex. 32:11–14), he interceded for them. Showing how deeply he cared, he pled, “But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (v. 32).

The apostle Paul later expressed a similar concern for family, friends, and nation. Grieving their unbelief in Jesus, Paul said he would be willing to give up his own relationship with Christ if by such love he could save his brothers and sisters (Rom. 9:3).

Looking back, we see that Moses and Paul both expressed the heart of Christ. Yet, the love they could only feel, and the sacrifice they could only offer, Jesus fulfilled—to be with us forever.

Father in heaven, thank You for reminding us how much it is like You to be willing to live—and die—for those who have not yet seen how much You love them.

Caring for others honors Jesus’s love for us.

Safe Refuge

From: Our Daily Journey

Safe Refuge

Read:

Joshua 20:1-9
Anyone who kills another person accidentally and unintentionally can run to one of these cities; they will be places of refuge from relatives seeking revenge for the person who was killed (Joshua 20:3).

My first car was a secondhand mini panel van. My dad spent hours fixing it, including the final touch of painting the hood a pretty powder blue. He didn’t want me driving the car yet, but I decided to take it for a quick spin. Dad hadn’t completely refastened the hood, and as the car picked up speed, it blew off and I drove over it! I couldn’t believe it—the hood of my beautiful “new” car was ruined. I tried to bump out the dents myself, but finally—tearfully—told my dad. He hugged me, said it would be okay, and we both worked on getting the dents out of the hood and respraying it.

Yes, I did some pretty silly things growing up, but I knew I could always go home—it was my safe refuge. It still is.

The safe, forgiving space of my home reminds me of God’s provision of safety for His people. In the Old Testament, despite the high standards of Mosaic law, which included capital punishment for murder (Exodus 21:14), God made provision for safety for those who accidentally killed others. He did this by prescribing cities of refuge where they could flee (Numbers 35:15). God explained that these cities protected people from revenge killings, giving them a safe place to live (Joshua 20:3-9).

Through Jesus, God’s provision for forgiveness and safety went even further, for in Him anyone—even those who have intentionally sinned—can find forgiveness if they repent and turn to Him.

Just as a person who had killed someone accidentally was mercifully safe in these cities of refuge, so too are we saved from sin and death when we run to Jesus—our safe refuge (Hebrews 6:18-19). His grace and mercy allows us to enter a safe place for all eternity.

Prayer in the Father’s Hearing

From; Utmost.org

Prayer in the Father’s Hearing

When the Son of God prays, He is mindful and consciously aware of only His Father. God always hears the prayers of His Son, and if the Son of God has been formed in me (see Galatians 4:19) the Father will always hear my prayers. But I must see to it that the Son of God is exhibited in my human flesh. “…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…” (1 Corinthians 6:19), that is, your body is the Bethlehem of God’s Son. Is the Son of God being given His opportunity to work in me? Is the direct simplicity of His life being worked out in me exactly as it was worked out in His life while here on earth? When I come into contact with the everyday occurrences of life as an ordinary human being, is the prayer of God’s eternal Son to His Father being prayed in me? Jesus says, “In that day you will ask in My name…” (John 16:26). What day does He mean? He is referring to the day when the Holy Spirit has come to me and made me one with my Lord.

Is the Lord Jesus Christ being abundantly satisfied by your life, or are you exhibiting a walk of spiritual pride before Him? Never let your common sense become so prominent and forceful that it pushes the Son of God to one side. Common sense is a gift that God gave to our human nature— but common sense is not the gift of His Son. Supernatural sense is the gift of His Son, and we should never put our common sense on the throne. The Son always recognizes and identifies with the Father, but common sense has never yet done so and never will. Our ordinary abilities will never worship God unless they are transformed by the indwelling Son of God. We must make sure that our human flesh is kept in perfect submission to Him, allowing Him to work through it moment by moment. Are we living at such a level of human dependence upon Jesus Christ that His life is being exhibited moment by moment in us?

True Love Is No Accident

 

Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

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

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Love Is No Accident

From: Our Daily Journey

Love Is No Accident

Read:

Ezekiel 20:30-44
I have honored my name by treating you mercifully in spite of your wickedness (Ezekiel 20:44).

One rainy autumn day, my son’s vehicle left the road, went airborne at 70 mph (112 km), and found a lone tree beyond a drainage ditch. For the next hour, rescue workers toiled to pry him from his shredded car. By God’s grace, he survived.

While processing that event with friends, I shared a bit about my own youthful indiscretions. “Do you feel this accident is God judging you for your sins when you were young?” one asked. “No,” I said. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt God’s judgment.”

That got some attention. But if by judgment my friend meant punishment, I stand by my statement.

The ancient prophets show God pleading with His people to return to Him so they wouldn’t suffer judgment. Yet God still permitted them to go their own way. They chose idolatry and sexual sin over His life-giving commands. “I let them pollute themselves with the very gifts I had given them,” God said (Ezekiel 20:26). But He didn’t leave them there. “Go right ahead and worship your idols, but sooner or later you will obey me,” God told them (Ezekiel 20:39). Invasion, destruction, and exile were coming. Yet they would one day return to Him.

Sometimes accidents are just accidents. Sin, however, always carries a high cost. When we suffer the inevitable consequences, we may think we’re receiving God’s judgment. In reality, it’s His love.

God sometimes permits me to slam into the results of my sin. He pulls me out of the wreckage, brushes me off, and sets me back on my feet. I sense Him gently say, “Let’s go this way now.”

Our son for the time being is walking with a cane. I look at that cane and watch those painful steps. I observe his resilient, God-given spirit. And I see a clear metaphor for my own walk with God.

 

Prayer in the Father’s Honor

From: Utmost.org

Prayer in the Father’s Honor

If the Son of God has been born into my human flesh, then am I allowing His holy innocence, simplicity, and oneness with the Father the opportunity to exhibit itself in me? What was true of the Virgin Mary in the history of the Son of God’s birth on earth is true of every saint. God’s Son is born into me through the direct act of God; then I as His child must exercise the right of a child— the right of always being face to face with my Father through prayer. Do I find myself continually saying in amazement to the commonsense part of my life, “Why did you want me to turn here or to go over there? ‘Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ ” (Luke 2:49). Whatever our circumstances may be, that holy, innocent, and eternal Child must be in contact with His Father.

Am I simple enough to identify myself with my Lord in this way? Is He having His wonderful way with me? Is God’s will being fulfilled in that His Son has been formed in me (see Galatians 4:19), or have I carefully pushed Him to one side? Oh, the noisy outcry of today! Why does everyone seem to be crying out so loudly? People today are crying out for the Son of God to be put to death. There is no room here for God’s Son right now— no room for quiet, holy fellowship and oneness with the Father.

Is the Son of God praying in me, bringing honor to the Father, or am I dictating my demands to Him? Is He ministering in me as He did in the time of His manhood here on earth? Is God’s Son in me going through His passion, suffering so that His own purposes might be fulfilled? The more a person knows of the inner life of God’s most mature saints, the more he sees what God’s purpose really is: to “…fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24). And when we think of what it takes to “fill up,” there is always something yet to be done.

 

Chrystal Evans Hurst August 8, 2017
How I Know That It’s Never Too Late
CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

From: Crosswalk.com

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

Twenty-five years ago, I held a newborn baby in my arms.

She was beautiful, tiny.

Mine.

And I was young — 19 to be exact.

I was a unmarried teenage mom and a sophomore in college. The year of my daughter’s birth was one of the most difficult years of my life. It was hard — very hard.

A positive pregnancy test set off a string of new realities in my life, one of which was a strong feeling of a lack of worth. I had messed up and disappointed the people I loved. I was on my way to being “mom” in a season of life where I planned on being a kid. I was no longer the “good girl” I’d once tried to be.

I wondered, sometimes out loud, Does God still love me?

Pain mixed with a little shock, a ton of remorse, and lots of uncertainty left me feeling unlovable, unredeemable and out of God’s good graces.

I knew He loved me, but didn’t feel it. Instead I felt alone, in the dark and cold.

During one of those lonely moments, I reached for my Bible and searched for reassurance of God’s love for me. I believed God loved me no matter what, yet I just needed proof. I needed a reminder to rest in and rehearse so I wouldn’t forget or doubt the reality of His love in my life.

I wrote one verse down on a sheet of notebook paper. That one verse became two, then five, then over time became two pages of Scripture to remind me how God loved me.

I kept those notebook papers with me at all times — folded in my pocket or my purse or my backpack as I went to class.

Over time, I’ve learned to believe God’s love for me is unconditional. While He does indeed desire for me to obey His Word and walk in righteousness, His acceptance of me does not ride or die on whether or not I measure up. Consequences ebb and flow with my choices, but His everlasting love does not.

As I rehearsed those verses that represented a lifeline to His love, I learned to believe in His love for me in a very deep and real way. And the more I understood His love, the more I wanted to live a life that exemplified the love I desired to offer to Him in return, just as our key verse reminds us: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

I recently dug out those pieces of paper. They’re still intact, though they’ve yellowed with time. As I held them in my hands, I was overcome by the gift of God’s love to an imperfect person like me.

Not only does God love me unconditionally, He loved and always loves me first. God doesn’t wait on me to come to Him ready with everything together or with all my ducks in a row. He’s loved me — and continues to love me — to live the life of the girl He created me to be.

Since those college days, I have had my fair share of hard times. But one thing hasn’t changed.

I know He loves me. And I’ve learned more deeply over time to believe in my value to God and trust what He thinks of me, regardless of where life has led me thus far. I understand more about how He wants me to live my life, knowing He has made me beautiful, strong and powerful in Him.

As long as I still have breath in my lungs, it’s never too late to choose to live her life … the life of the girl who feels lost. Or forgotten. The girl who’s made mistakes.

Or the life of the girl who simply needs to stop wasting time and move forward with what she knows she should do.

How do I know it’s never too late to know the love of God? Because it wasn’t too late for me.

And here’s what I know — it’s never too late for you to seek His Word, His face, His heart and His hopes for the life of the girl in you.

Dear Father, sometimes I struggle to believe You love me and You can redeem my story and life, however it’s played out thus far. I want to be exactly who You created me to be. Give me the confidence to believe in Your love for me and Your plan for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Abundant Life Through Christ

 

John 10:10

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

 
Matthew 6:33

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Psalm 16:11   You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

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Life to the Full

From: Our Daily Bread

Life to the Full

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 

When I stopped by to visit my sister’s family, my nephews eagerly showed me their new chore system, a set of Choropoly boards. Each colorful electronic board keeps track of their chores. A job well done means the kids can hit a green button, which adds points to their “spending” account. A misdeed like leaving the back door open results in a fine being deducted from the total. Since a high-points total leads to exciting rewards such as computer time—and misdeeds deduct from that total—my nephews are now unusually motivated to do their work and to keep the door closed!

The ingenious system had me joking that I wished I had such an exciting motivational tool! But of course God has given us motivation. Rather than simply commanding obedience, Jesus has promised that a life of following Him, while costly, is also a life of abundance, “life . . . to the full” (John 10:10). Experiencing life in His kingdom is worth “one hundred times” the cost—now and eternally (Mark 10:29–30).

We can rejoice in the fact that we serve a generous God, One who does not reward and punish as we deserve. He generously accepts our weakest efforts—even welcoming and rewarding latecomers to His kingdom as generously as old-timers (see Matt. 20:1–16). In light of this reality, let us joyfully serve Him today.

Lord, help us to remember there is great meaning in following You and that it is all so worth it.

Following Jesus is the way to a rich and satisfying life.

Overcoming Evil

Overcoming Evil

Read:

James 2:14-26 
It is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it (James 4:17).

In his book Hitler’s Cross, Pastor Erwin Lutzer shares these heart-wrenching words from a man who lived in Germany during the Nazi Holocaust: “We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because, what could anyone do to stop it? A railroad track ran behind our small church and each Sunday morning we could hear the whistle in the distance and then the wheels coming over the tracks. . . . We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more.”

This Christian man and other members of his church felt helpless to overcome the widespread evil occurring at the hands of the Nazis. They knew they ought to act, but did nothing (see Romans 12:21).

Reflecting on this story, and on my own life, reminded me of James 4:17, “It is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” And if we don’t know what to do, then we can seek God’s guidance through prayer, through Scripture, and from trusted believers in Jesus (Proverbs 15:222 Timothy 3:16James 1:5). Once we know what we ought to do, we should then act. As James wrote, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?” (James 2:14).

Often I struggle with wondering if my efforts make any difference. No matter—I must do what I know I ought by faith (James 2:18). I can’t let evil, fear, or worry over the effectiveness of my actions keep me from doing what I know is right. Even if I can’t save the world, I can do something by God’s guidance and power.

 

 

Sippy Cup Lessons

From: CBN, and author Sherrie Brouhard

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Red, green, yellow, and blue were the colors of our first set of Tupperware bell tumblers with the white sipper seal tops. When my two older sons were toddlers, I always gave the oldest boy, Nathanael, the green cup, and his little brother, Nicholas, the yellow one. When their baby brother, Jonathan, was old enough to drink out of a cup, I let him alternate between the blue and red ones.

To this day, even though they are both in college, Nathanael’s favorite color is green and Nicholas’ is yellow. For years, Jonathan did not have a specific favorite color. I wonder if it was because he didn’t always use the same colored cup. However, he has since decided green is his favorite.

These brightly colored cups have been with us for many years. In a day’s time they might travel from the breakfast table, to the occasional lunchtime picnic in the backyard, and back to the dinner table for dinner. Of course, they were always topped with those wonderful sipper seals that often saved the floor from a milk bath.

The sipper seals have been gone for years, no longer needed. Those children who may have spilled their juice or milk have grown up. Yet the cups are still around. They are great for mixing up fruit and yogurt or filling with granola for a quick snack. Every now and then, as I notice one of these cups, I recall my baby sitting in a highchair, little hands holding one and lifting it up for a sip. Those cups have been with us for 20 years or so, and the little children who drank from them are grown.

A lasting color identification began with those cups. When we drove through the teller window at the bank, each child chose the same color lollipop as their favorite Tupperware cup. It prevented a lot of problems. When school began, and the pack of new pencils was opened, we always knew who got which pencils. They were equally divided, automatically personalized, and easily identified. After all, they were the same colors as the cups.

I don’t usually reach for one of those little cups, unless for water to swallow my vitamins. A cup is a small thing, yet it can be filled many times to nourish and quench thirst. Those cups provided much of that for my children over the years. Now they provide a quick memory; a flashback to three little boys around our table.

I am reminded that each of us, no matter what age, needs spiritual nourishment, so we can grow in our relationship with the Lord. We never outgrow that. We need to drink from the Living Water.

Jesus answered and said until her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. John 4:10 KJV

Our times with God need to be not just a memory of something we recall in our past, but a daily occurrence. As we spend time with Him regularly, it will affect our character and growth in relationship with our Lord. He needs to be the One we drink from and from Whom we receive nourishment. He needs to be what we desire more than anything or anyone. He must be favored above all.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. Psalm 73:25 KJV

Reflecting God’s Love

 

Luke 6: 31-35

31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.

34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

 

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Reflecting God’s Love

From: Our Daily Bread

Reflecting God’s Love

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. Exodus 34:29

I had the privilege of serving as my mom’s caregiver during her treatments at a live-in cancer care center. Even on her hardest days, she read Scripture and prayed for others before getting out of bed.

She spent time with Jesus daily, expressing her faith through her dependence on God, her kind deeds, and her desire to encourage and pray for others. Never realizing how much her smiling face glowed with the Lord’s loving grace, she shared God’s love with the people around her until the day He called her home to heaven.

After Moses spent forty days and forty nights communing with God (Ex. 34:28), he descended Mount Sinai. He had no idea his intimate connection with the Lord actually changed his appearance (v. 29). But the Israelites could tell Moses had spoken with the Lord (vv. 30–32). He continued meeting with God and influencing the lives of those around him (vv. 33–35).

We might not be able to see how our experiences with God change us over time, and our transformation will definitely not be as physically apparent as Moses’s beaming face. But as we spend time with God and surrender our lives to Him more and more each day, we can reflect His love. God can draw others closer to Him as the evidence of His presence shows in and through us.

Our intimate moments spent with God can change us and direct others to His love.

 

The Cross in Prayer

From: Utmost.org

The Cross in Prayer

We too often think of the Cross of Christ as something we have to get through, yet we get through for the purpose of getting into it. The Cross represents only one thing for us— complete, entire, absolute identification with the Lord Jesus Christ— and there is nothing in which this identification is more real to us than in prayer.

“Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). Then why should we ask? The point of prayer is not to get answers from God, but to have perfect and complete oneness with Him. If we pray only because we want answers, we will become irritated and angry with God. We receive an answer every time we pray, but it does not always come in the way we expect, and our spiritual irritation shows our refusal to identify ourselves truly with our Lord in prayer. We are not here to prove that God answers prayer, but to be living trophies of God’s grace.

“…I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you…” (John 16:26-27). Have you reached such a level of intimacy with God that the only thing that can account for your prayer life is that it has become one with the prayer life of Jesus Christ? Has our Lord exchanged your life with His vital life? If so, then “in that day” you will be so closely identified with Jesus that there will be no distinction.

When prayer seems to be unanswered, beware of trying to place the blame on someone else. That is always a trap of Satan. When you seem to have no answer, there is always a reason— God uses these times to give you deep personal instruction, and it is not for anyone else but you.

 

A God Like Jesus

From: Our Daily Journey

A God Like Jesus

Read:

Colossians 2:6-9
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body (Colossians 2:9

For decades I’ve had a fascination with Scotland. Perhaps it’s the depiction of William Wallace’s heroics in the movie Braveheart or the scenery of the Highlands. Maybe it’s because my dad once talked about the Scottish clan from which we trace our family history. I’ve thought often of the place and carried numerous perceptions about the people and the land. However, perceptions and reality are always different. I had to put my feet on that lush soil, hear the cadence of the language, and eat Scottish food in order to know what the place is truly like. To know anything true, we have to experience the reality—not merely read or think about it.

Similarly, Scripture insists that if we want to know the reality of God, we must encounter Jesus Christ. God is not a vague, distant idea associated only with dusty stories and brittle commandments. He’s the One revealed to us as flesh and blood in the person of Jesus. God also isn’t a disembodied religious principle, for “in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body” (Colossians 2:9). If we want to know what God is like, we must look to Jesus. He’s God in the flesh.

So we listen to Jesus’ words in Scripture, and we hear how God sounds. We watch Jesus’ actions, and we see what God does. In Jesus, we catch God’s heart, God’s hopes, God’s posture. In Jesus, we see how He weeps over those in grief or sorrow (John 11:33-35). In Jesus, we see how He refuses to condemn but rather welcomes (John 8:1-11). In Jesus, we see how God gets angry when powerful people abuse their authority and pursue greed (Matthew 21:12-17).

“Let your roots grow down into [Jesus]” (Colossians 2:7). He reveals God’s heart toward you and toward the world.

A Swan’s Story

Leviticus 11:18 Context

15  Every raven after his kind; 

16  And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,

 17  And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, 

18  And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, 

19And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. 

20  All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. 

21  Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goes upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;

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A Swan’s Story

CBN, and author Dorcas Zuniga

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

At a gathering of family and friends, one of my “Aunties” voiced her observation of the woman I had become. “Look at Dorcas. She’s beautiful now. Imagine!” In other words, Who would have thought?

At a different occasion, I was reunited with one of my mother’s best friends. After an affectionate hug, she pulled back, shook her head in wonder and gushed, “Oh Dorcas. The ugly duckling became a swan!”

Like most young girls, I always wanted to be thought of as pretty. But for a good part of my childhood I felt ugly. My poor self-image came from the cultural perceptions of my parents’ native country of what beauty looked like. And it didn’t look like me. As a result of my discontent, I walked around with a perpetual scowl on my face.

My outlook changed when I entered my teen years. Through the love and encouragement of my family and close friends, my Heavenly Father, *Yahweh, removed the hurt from my heart and revealed the gifts He had chosen especially for me. When I embraced His purpose for my life, His Spirit changed me from the inside out.

Proverbs 15:13 NIV states, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.”

At our reunion, those dear ladies didn’t see a beauty queen. Far from it. They saw the new me – a young woman who had grown up from an insecure little girl to a confident daughter of the King of Kings. Yahweh filled my heart with a joy that transformed my outward appearance and made me glow with the beauty of His Spirit within.

In Hans Christian Anderson’s story, the other animals ridiculed and harassed the “ugly duckling” because he didn’t look the way they thought he should look. But he wasn’t even a duckling. He was actually a cygnet that finally grew up into what he was always meant to be — a beautiful swan.

Too often we let the opinions of other people influence our perception of ourselves and mold us into who they think we should be. We let our spirits get crushed when we don’t meet their expectations. But it’s not what others think that matters.

Paul says in Romans 8:19 NCV: “Everything made is waiting with excitement for God to show his children’s glory completely.”

Each one of us is made for a purpose and only the Master Designer knows what that is. We might truly be “ducks” or we might be “swans.” One thing is for certain—when we let Yahweh bring about that transformation in His Way and in His Time, we will become His masterpieces.

Dear Yahweh, True beauty comes from You and Your holiness. Continue to transform me so that my words and actions let Your beauty shine through my life.

Writer’s Note: *Yahweh is the Hebrew name of God the Father.

 

Showing Grace

From: Our Daily Bread

Showing Grace

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

The US Masters Golf Tournament began in 1934, and since then only three players have won it two years in a row. On April 10, 2016, it appeared that twenty-two-year-old Jordan Spieth would become the fourth. But he faltered on the last nine holes and finished in a tie for second. Despite his disappointing loss, Spieth was gracious toward tournament champion Danny Willett, congratulating him on his victory and on the birth of his first child, something “more important than golf.”

Writing in The New York Times, Karen Krouse said, “It takes grace to see the big picture so soon after having to sit through a trophy ceremony and watch someone else have his photograph taken.” Krouse continued, “Spieth’s ball-striking was off all week, but his character emerged unscathed.”

Paul urged the followers of Jesus in Colossae to “be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:5–6).

As those who have freely received God’s grace, it is our privilege and calling to demonstrate it in every situation of life—win or lose.

Dear Lord, help me by Your Spirit to be gracious and kind to others and to represent You well.

Gracious words are always the right words.

What Has He Done For You Lately?

From: Get More Strength

“I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Psalm 34:1

My friend Frank Tanana, who pitched the Detroit Tigers into the American League Championship Series, has an interesting take on baseball fans. He pitched a stellar game against the Toronto Blue Jays to win the final game in the division playoff. His picture was front page and he was, hands down, the town hero in Detroit. But when his turn in the rotation put him on the mound in the ALCS, his performance was not so stellar, and the Tigers lost their chance to go to the World Series. I asked Frank how he handled being town hero one day and “tarred and feathered” a few days later. I’ll never forget his quick reply. He said, “I learned a long time ago that with baseball fans it’s ‘what have you done for me lately’ that counts!”

I’ve often thought about Frank’s answer when it comes to how we feel about God. Going to a small group meeting where everyone else is telling about how God has supplied for their needs and miraculously answered prayer can make a lot of us pretty grumpy about God because it seems like He doesn’t do much for us. We still have long-awaited, unanswered prayers on our lists and unfulfilled expectations that seemingly have gone unnoticed while He has been busy blessing others. But be careful. This kind of spiritual grumpiness will make you ungrateful, unworshipful, and ready for a major fall into the spiritual dumpster.

So, for all of us who tend to be out on God for His seeming lack of living up to our expectations, let me help you out of your grumpiness with a list of how wonderfully good He is to you every day.

  • If He never does anything else but save your soul from hell and guarantee you an eternal home with Him in heaven, He has already done far more than you or I deserve and enough to keep us grateful to Him for the rest of our lives.

But thankfully there’s more . . .

  • If it is true that He never leaves you nor forsakes you, then you have a lot to be thankful for (Hebrews 13:5).
  • If you can be sure that His mercies are new to you every morning, then you can make it through the day as weak and frail as you are (Lamentations 3:22-24).
  • If He guards our lives so that nothing comes in that is not ultimately for His glory and our good, then we are among the truly blessed ones (Romans 8:28).
  • If, when you put your head on your pillow at the end of the day, you think He didn’t show up for you, think about all the things you don’t know that He kept from you which may have “done you in” had He permitted them (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • If He gave you His Word to guide, comfort, inspire, convict and assure you of His unfailing love and mercy, then you have enough to cancel your grumpiness and make you grateful (Psalm 119:97-103).
  • And, since He is far more than we ever bargained for or deserved, we have the high privilege of demonstrating to our world that our God is worthy to be trusted, worshiped, adored and praised—regardless (Job 13:15)!
  • So the next time you start wondering what He has done for you lately, check the list. There’s a lot to be thankful for! Which leaves only one more question: Is He wondering what you have done for Him lately?

Training For Life

Image result for pictures of physical trainingImage result for pictures of physical training
Image result for pictures of physical trainingImage result for pictures of physical training
Image result for pictures of physical trainingImage result for pictures of physical training
Image result for pictures of physical trainingImage result for pictures of physical training

Training for Life

From: Our Daily Bread

Training for Life
Read: Psalm 66:8–12 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 66–67; Romans 7

My training for the long-distance race was going badly, and the latest run was particularly disappointing. I walked half the time and even had to sit down at one point. It felt like I had failed a mini-test.

Then I remembered that this was the whole point of training. It was not a test to pass, nor was there a grade I had to achieve. Rather, it was something I simply had to go through, again and again, to improve my endurance.

Perhaps you feel bad about a trial you are facing. God allows us to undergo these times of testing to toughen our spiritual muscles and endurance. He teaches us to rely on Him, and purifies us to be holy, so that we become more like Christ.

No wonder the psalmist could praise God for refining the Israelites through fire and water (Ps. 66:10–12) as they suffered in slavery and exile. God not only preserved them and brought them to a place of great abundance, but also purified them in the process.

As we go through testing, we can rely on God for strength and perseverance. He is refining us through our toughest moments.

Lord, I know that You allow me to go through trials so that I will be strengthened and purified. Teach me to keep relying on You for Your strength to endure.

Faith-testing times can be faith-strengthening times.

 

 

The Bewildering Call of God

From: Utmost.org

The Bewildering Call of God

God called Jesus Christ to what seemed absolute disaster. And Jesus Christ called His disciples to see Him put to death, leading every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. His life was an absolute failure from every standpoint except God’s. But what seemed to be failure from man’s standpoint was a triumph from God’s standpoint, because God’s purpose is never the same as man’s purpose.

This bewildering call of God comes into our lives as well. The call of God can never be understood absolutely or explained externally; it is a call that can only be perceived and understood internally by our true inner-nature. The call of God is like the call of the sea— no one hears it except the person who has the nature of the sea in him. What God calls us to cannot be definitely stated, because His call is simply to be His friend to accomplish His own purposes. Our real test is in truly believing that God knows what He desires. The things that happen do not happen by chance— they happen entirely by the decree of God. God is sovereignly working out His own purposes.

If we are in fellowship and oneness with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, then we will no longer strive to find out what His purposes are. As we grow in the Christian life, it becomes simpler to us, because we are less inclined to say, “I wonder why God allowed this or that?” And we begin to see that the compelling purpose of God lies behind everything in life, and that God is divinely shaping us into oneness with that purpose. A Christian is someone who trusts in the knowledge and the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of the children of God.

 

 

Living Truth

From: Our Daily Journey

Living Truth

Read:

2 John 1:1-6
The truth lives in us and will be with us forever (2 John 1:2).

Ever wanted to live like a monk? Thirty-four young adults did, accepting an offer from the Archbishop of Canterbury to embrace a counter cultural, monastic way of life for ten months. From varied nations and denominations, the group formed a community that studied the Scriptures, prayed, and served together. At the end of their time, one participant stated, “We’ve spent time growing in intimacy with God, learning from Jesus and listening to the Holy Spirit.”

The apostle John wrote of the importance of believers in Jesus living in communities growing in both God’s truth and love. He said that he loved others “in the truth . . . because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever” (2 John 1:1-2). This truth includes the knowledge of Christ and the importance of faithfully following His teachings, but it also means living out the very presence of God within us. As Jesus said to His disciples, “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you” (John 14:15-17).

As we come to know and love Jesus, His truth is made alive within us. And as we live “according to the truth,” we find that “love means doing what God has commanded us . . . to love one another” (2 John 1:4-6). One commentator wrote, “Love and truth originate in God. Like him, they endure without changing, and their splendor never fades.”

May we live out our faith for Jesus, aglow with the beauty of truth and love that reflects Him and His ways.