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The Problem With Pride

  • Galatians 6:4

    4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,
  • Isaiah 2:12

    12 The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled),
  • Isaiah 23:9

    9 The LORD Almighty planned it, to bring down her pride in all her splendor and to humble all who are renowned on the earth.
  • James 4:6

    6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
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The Problem with Pride

From: Our Daily Bread

The Problem with Pride

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

People who achieve an extraordinary level of fame or reputation while they are still alive are often called “a legend in their own time.” A friend who played professional baseball says he met many people in the world of sports who were only “a legend in their own mind.” Pride has a way of distorting how we see ourselves while humility offers a realistic perspective.

The writer of Proverbs said, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18). Viewing ourselves in the mirror of self-importance reflects a distorted image. Self-elevation positions us for a fall.

The antidote to the poison of arrogance is true humility that comes from God. “Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud” (v. 19).

Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26–28).

There is nothing wrong with receiving accolades for achievement and success. The challenge is to stay focused on the One who calls us to follow Him saying, “for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (11:29).

Lord Jesus, give us Your humility as we interact with others today. May we honor You in all we do and say.

True humility comes from God.

 

Today’s Devotions

From: Through The Bible

Morning

February 8

Exodus 15:25b-26 (NIV)There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. 26He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”

The people were thirsty and had come to a place of bitter water. It would have taken an entire lake to give that many people and their herds a drink. They asked if God was able to provide their needs. The Psalmist said they were testing God (Psalm 78:19). Both in the verse for today and in the next chapter, when they demand food, God turned it around and said the test is not if He was able to provide, but it is if they are able to obey. That is still the test. God provides food for every living thing in the world daily. Most starvation is due to wars that do not allow food to enter into areas where there is need. Man gets in the way and will be held accountable. But the point God is making is that if we are listening and obeying His directions, He will provide our needs.

In that day, God gave them health laws that if followed carefully would prevent much of the diseases they witnessed in Egypt. Today we are no longer under those laws but are to be led by the Holy Spirit. If we will listen and obey, we will not need affliction to help turn our ear toward God for our good. When God gave instructions for the collection of manna, He again says it is to test them to see if they can learn to obey. When we operate in a dependency on God, we will always have enough. It is when we go our own way that we find we are in need, because our own ways are not blessed. The test is for us, not God.

Consider: How should I respond to God’s testing?

 

And, lo, I am with you always (Matthew 28:20).

Never look ahead to the changes and challenges of this life in fear. Instead, as they arise look at them with the full assurance that God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. Hasn’t He kept you safe up to now? So hold His loving hand tightly, and He will lead you safely through all things. And when you cannot stand, He will carry you in His arms.

Do not look ahead to what may happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you His unwavering strength that you may bear it. Be at peace, then, and set aside all anxious thoughts and worries.
–Francis de Sales

The Lord is my shepherdPsalm 23:1

Not was, not may be, nor will be. “The Lord is my shepherd.” He is on Sunday, on Monday, and through every day of the week. He is in January, in December, and every month of the year. He is when I’m at home and in China. He is during peace and war, and in times of abundance or poverty.
–J. Hudson Taylor

He will silently plan for you,
His object of omniscient care;
God Himself undertakes to be
Your Pilot through each subtle snare.
He WILL silently plan for you,
So certainly, He cannot fail!
Rest on the faithfulness of God,
In Him you will surely prevail.
He will SILENTLY plan for you
Some wonderful surprise of love.
No eye has seen, nor ear has heard,
But it is kept for you above.
He will silently PLAN for you,
His purposes will all unfold;
Your tangled life will shine at last,
A masterpiece of skill untold.
He will silently plan FOR YOU,
Happy child of a Father’s care,
As if no other claimed His love,
But you alone to Him were dear.

–E. Mary Grimes

Whatever our faith says God is, He will be.


Jesus Will Help You

 Isaiah 53:3

New International Version
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
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Spiritual Dejection

Spiritual Dejection

By Oswald Chambers

Every fact that the disciples stated was right, but the conclusions they drew from those facts were wrong. Anything that has even a hint of dejection spiritually is always wrong. If I am depressed or burdened, I am to blame, not God or anyone else. Dejection stems from one of two sources— I have either satisfied a lust or I have not had it satisfied. In either case, dejection is the result. Lust means “I must have it at once.” Spiritual lust causes me to demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God Himself who gives the answer. What have I been hoping or trusting God would do? Is today “the third day” and He has still not done what I expected? Am I therefore justified in being dejected and in blaming God? Whenever we insist that God should give us an answer to prayer we are off track. The purpose of prayer is that we get ahold of God, not of the answer. It is impossible to be well physically and to be dejected, because dejection is a sign of sickness. This is also true spiritually. Dejection spiritually is wrong, and we are always to blame for it.

We look for visions from heaven and for earth-shaking events to see God’s power. Even the fact that we are dejected is proof that we do this. Yet we never realize that all the time God is at work in our everyday events and in the people around us. If we will only obey, and do the task that He has placed closest to us, we will see Him. One of the most amazing revelations of God comes to us when we learn that it is in the everyday things of life that we realize the magnificent deity of Jesus Christ.

 

From: Our Daily Bread

A Blanket for Everyone

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Linus Van Pelt, better known as simply “Linus,” was a mainstay in the Peanutscomic strip. Witty and wise, yet insecure, Linus constantly carried a security blanket. We can identify. We have our fears and insecurities too.

The disciple Peter knew something about fear. When Jesus was arrested, Peter displayed courage by following the Lord into the courtyard of the high priest. But then he began to show his fear by lying to protect his identity (John 18:15–26). He spoke disgraceful words that denied his Lord. But Jesus never stopped loving Peter and ultimately restored him (see John 21:15–19).

Peter’s emphasis on love in 1 Peter 4:8 came from one who had experienced the deep love of Jesus. And he, in turn, stressed the importance of love in our relationships with the words “above all.” The intensity of the verse continues with the encouragement to “love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

Have you ever needed that kind of “blanket”? I have! After saying or doing something I later regretted, I have felt the chilly draft of guilt and shame. I have needed to be “covered” in the manner that Jesus covered disgraced, shame-filled people in the Gospels.

To followers of Jesus, love is a blanket to be graciously and courageously given away for the comfort and reclamation of others. As recipients of such great love, let us be givers of the same.

Father, Your love, in and through Jesus, has rescued us time and time again. Help me to be an instrument of Your saving love for others.

God loves you and me—let’s love each other.

 

Why art thou cast down, O my soul (Ps. 43:5).

Is there ever any ground to be cast down? There are two reasons, but only two. If we are as yet unconverted, we have ground to be cast down; or if we have been converted and live in sin, then we are rightly cast down.

But except for these two things there is no ground to be cast down, for all else may be brought before God in prayer with supplication and thanksgiving. And regarding all our necessities, all our difficulties, all our trials, we may exercise faith in the power of God, and in the love of God.

“Hope thou in God.” Oh, remember this: There is never a time when we may not hope in God. Whatever our necessities, however great our difficulties, and though to all appearance help is impossible, yet our business is to hope in God, and it will be found that it is not in vain. In the Lord’s own time help will come.

Oh, the hundreds, yea, the thousands of times that I have found it thus within the past seventy years and four months! When it seemed impossible that help could come, help did come; for God has His own resources. He is not confined. In ten thousand different ways, and at ten thousand different times God may help us.

Our business is to spread our cases before the Lord, in childlike simplicity to pour out all our heart before God, saying, “I do not deserve that Thou shouldst hear me and answer my requests, but for the sake of my precious Lord Jesus; for His sake answer my prayer, and give me grace quietly to wait till it please Thee to answer my prayer. For I believe Thou wilt do it in Thine own time and way.”

“For I shall yet praise him.” More prayer, more exercise of faith, more patient waiting, and the result will be blessing, abundant blessing. Thus I have found it many hundreds of times, and therefore I continually say to myself, “Hope thou in God.”
–George Mueller

 

Jefferson Bethke February 7, 2018
He Will Fight For You
JEFFERSON BETHKE

“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14(ESV)

I was 19 at the time. I’d been following Jesus for a few months, and I remember starting to get angry. At God.

I gave my life to You … why is it still falling apart?

I thought You were supposed to make my life easier.

Why does some part of me still want to do the things I don’t want to do anymore?

I never would’ve said it publicly, but I held some serious resentment and disillusionment toward God.

Sadly, it wasn’t because of anything He’d done or said. In fact, it was a lot of religious baggage and ideas I had picked up along the way that were the reason for the resentment.

Growing up and going to church here and there, I always thought the people who went on stage during testimony services had it all together. Or at least, they did once they started following Jesus! They’d say things like, “I was an alcoholic for 40 years. Then, I gave my life to Jesus and have never wanted a drink since.”

I’d sink lower in my chair because what about me? In some ways life actually got harder after I started following Jesus. I now felt conflicted. I felt woken up to a battle of sorts. Was there something wrong with me?

I remember being in this season and reading the Exodus story in a fresh new way. I’d heard it tons growing up, but sometimes that’s a good reason to miss the true heart of a passage. Yet, at that time, one verse particularly stuck out.

It was right after the Israelites were freed for the final time and began to leave Egypt and Pharaoh’s rule.

That’s when they got to the Red Sea. And they started to feel the impossible ahead of them. To make matters worse, they turned around and saw Pharaoh chasing them. He had changed his mind about letting them go.

A sea in front of them, and an army behind them. They were trapped. And they began to curse and hurl harsh words at Moses: Did you bring us out here to die?! We could’ve stayed in Egypt to do that! (Exodus 14:11)

That’s when my favorite verse shows up. Moses responds:“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14).

I really try to feel Israel’s plight, but I can’t imagine how it felt. The terror. The fear. Completely shut in and stuck. Moses tells Israel they do have to do something. They do have a job. To get through this they need to obey. And the command they need to obey? Be quiet and watch God work. Have true faith in the One who brought them out of slavery.

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but what would it look like to stop and trust in your Creator? He didn’t get you this far to leave you out to dry. God goes before you and after you. He will fight for you.

My favorite part about this story is that after God opens up the Red Sea, Israel is commanded to walk. Sometimes being silent and trusting God looks like putting one foot in front of the other while towers of water are on your left and your right. But He is good, and He can be trusted.

Lord, I pray for the situation today of each person reading this. I pray You would give them the same hope and strength and reminder of Your promises as You did to your people next to the Red Sea. That You would calm their heart and still their soul with Your truth and with Your voice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Praise God From Your Heart

Psalm 148:2-5

 

Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!

Psalm 148:7-13

 

Praise the LORD from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps;

Romans 15:11

And again, “PRAISE THE LORD ALL YOU GENTILES, AND LET ALL THE PEOPLES PRAISE HIM.”

Revelation 19:5

And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.”

 

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Praising Through Problems

From: Our Daily Bread

Praising Through Problems

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? Job 2:10

“It’s cancer.” I wanted to be strong when Mom said those words to me. But I burst into tears. You never want to hear those words even one time. But this was Mom’s third bout with cancer. After a routine mammogram and biopsy, Mom learned that she had a malignant tumor under her arm.

Though Mom was the one with bad news, she had to comfort me. Her response was eye-opening for me: “I know God is always good to me. He’s always faithful.” Even as she faced a difficult surgery, followed up by radiation treatments, Mom was assured of God’s presence and faithfulness.

How like Job. Job lost his children, his wealth, and his health. But after hearing the news, Job 1:20 tells us “he fell to the ground in worship.” When advised to curse God, he said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (2:10). What a radical initial response. Though Job later complained, ultimately he accepted that God had never changed. Job knew that God was still with him and that He still cared.

For most of us, praise is not our first response to difficulties. Sometimes the pain of our circumstances is so overwhelming, we lash out in fear or anger. But watching Mom’s response reminded me that God is still present, still good. He will help us through hard times.

 

The Fire of His Glory

From: Christian Broadcasting Network

 

I believe we have entered a new day and time. The world is being shaken as never before. This goes far beyond the economic morass of this present time. Yet in the midst of coming tribulation, Father God is preparing His body, His church for that last end time move of His Spirit. All over the world, hungry hearts are lifting their hands and hearts heavenward.

Their hearts are driven by an inner knowledge and hunger to seek the face of God in this hour.

I believe Father is calling out to His church to prepare both for the judgments foretold in His word that shall come, but also the glory he is about to reveal in His church. God has given us a marvelous example in His word of what is beginning to happen in the body of Christ today. God delivered His chosen people from Egyptian bondage and slavery. He established His covenant with them, and through His servant, Moses, the people were instructed to construct a Tabernacle where His divine glory and eternal presence would reside.

Over this holy abode, a pillar of fire by night and a pillar or cloud of glory by day could be seen by one and all. There is a message in this to the church of our day and believers everywhere. Today the fire and glory of His eternal presence are beginning to move like never before. Most Christians, like God’s people of that day, are content to gaze out of the tent flaps of their hearts and gaze in wonder at the glory cloud of God being released in this day in our midst.

Our churches are filled with people who are content to warm themselves by the fire of His glory. They will dance before Him in His presence. Yet grand and glorious though this revelation may be there is a higher revelation. We have all been called into the priesthood of our Lord and our God. Most believers are content to see the glory cloud but there are others who hunger for more.

These are those who by faith in the divine sacrifice of the Son will move past the cloud of glory and enter into the Holy Place of God. Such individuals long to walk in an awareness or revelation of the life and nature of God himself. They willingly lay down their lives that they might receive that greatest of revelations that can only be seen by the dedicated and consecrated.

It is one thing to stand with the crowd outside of the Tabernacle in awe of the glory cloud and pillar of fire. It is another thing altogether to allow the Holy Spirit such access to your life that he will prepare your heart for a holy quest that you may know Him. Father is going to share His heart with this generation of the body Christ. Such awareness will cause the heart to tremble in His presence. Yet it shall produce a revelation that will shake the world as never before.

In this hour and at this time, Father is calling a holy remnant unto himself. His heart shall be unveiled in the fire of His glory. Evil shall be judged in this day, but those sons and daughters who will now begin to humble themselves before God, shall walk in a renewal of power and kingdom authority. Theirs shall be a voice of love and consolation. They shall be driven by a divine revelation of the heart of God. Their inspiration shall come from the kingdom of glory that is even now being birthed in the world.

Father is preparing us one and all for that wondrous transformation that he is bringing. One by one he is calling out to the consecrated to enter into the fire of His glory. The lusts and diverse sins of this world will one day be no more. Father, I believe, is calling out to every believer to so dedicate ourselves in His service to the kingdom of God that His coming will come alive in our hearts. Let us in the body of Christ wait on Him daily for that internal transformation of fire and glory that living in His presence brings.

 

Suzie Eller February 6, 2018
What I Love About You
SUZIE ELLERFrom: Crosswalk.com

“I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people.” 1 Corinthians 16:17-18 (ESV)

We’d all herded into the small waiting room at the crack of dawn, each of us there for a loved one’s surgery. I noticed a woman sitting across from her husband, frail hands clasped in his. When the nurse called him back, their lips met like two butterflies.

Hours later, the doctor sat to talk with her. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but the physician’s matter-of-fact words fell like bricks. I heard her intake of breath at the worrisome news.

This caused me to look at the man sitting beside me. Our hands weren’t gnarled with time, but several years had passed since we first fell in love and walked down the aisle. Children came. Activities and busyness and commitments pulled and tugged at both of us all the time. We often talked about the season of life we were in, giving lots of grace to each other, but also knowing that our relationship sometimes came in last.

As I watched this elderly woman wipe away tears, I wondered: One day, when our hair is white with age and our lips meet like butterflies, will I wish I had done anything differently?

In today’s passage, Paul writes from prison. He’s in a hard place. As he wraps up his letter, he shares the news that three friends will soon visit. His description of these friends cracks wide open a need in Paul’s heart.

“I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people” (1 Corinthians 16:17-18).

Paul is in need of refreshment, something that seems to be absent at that time in his relationship with the church at Ephesus. His tone isn’t condemning. The church has been a blessing in the past and will be again. However, he takes special care to describe how the arrival of three friends is a welcome respite.

That day, as I watched the older couple, it caused me to reflect on my own marriage. Sure, I was present. My husband knew I loved him. Yet, I didn’t want to look back one day with regret, knowing I’d been absent, or had taken him for granted or always gave our marriage last place in our busy lives.

That led me to look for ways to show him that I loved and appreciated him — right then, in the midst of our busy lives. One day, I broke down the recyclables and took them to the curb. It was a small thing, but it’s something he often had to do at the end of a long day. I left a note on the bathroom mirror that said, “I love you,” and his smile when he came out showed me it hit the spot.

There were deeper ways to show him he mattered, such as forgiving a small hurt I might have once held onto. I put his name in my journal and prayed for him daily. I tried to remember to laugh with him, rather than be serious about all the to-do’s we had to tackle.

None of this cost me anything, but I could see that it refreshed him. In fact, it refreshed us both.

As we live day-by-day, pulled in a thousand different directions, may we be intentional. Seasons will pass. One day, when frail hands clasp, and lips meet like butterflies, may it be with few regrets. Let us look back and know that when our loved one saw us coming, our presence was refreshing.

Such a person is worth knowing.

Dear Jesus, I’m so consumed by the day-to-day commitments that my closest relationships can get a little lost. Show me ways to bless those I care about today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Listening To The Voice Of God

Exodus 24:16

The glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.
 
 
Numbers 7:89

Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.

 
Ezekiel 1:28

As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.

 
Ezekiel 1:25

And there came a voice from above the expanse that was over their heads; whenever they stood still, they dropped their wings.

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Listening to His Voice

From: Our Daily Bread

Listening to His Voice

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27 nkjv

I’m hard of hearing—“deaf in one ear and can’t hear out of the other,” as my father used to say. So I wear a set of hearing aids.

Most of the time the devices work well, except in environments where there’s a lot of surrounding noise. In those settings, my hearing aids pick up every voice in the room and I cannot hear the person in front of me.

So it is with our culture: a cacophony of sounds can drown out God’s quiet voice. “Where shall the Word be found, where will the Word resound?” poet T.S. Eliot asks. “Not here, there is not enough silence.”

Fortunately, my hearing aids have a setting that cuts out the surrounding sounds and enables me to hear only the voices I want to hear. In the same way, despite the voices around us, if we quiet our souls and listen, we will hear God’s “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11–12 nkjv).

He speaks to us every day, summoning us in our restlessness and our longing. He calls to us in our deepest sorrow and in the incompleteness and dissatisfaction of our greatest joys.

But primarily God speaks to us in His Word (1 Thessalonians 2:13). As you pick up His book and read it, you too will hear His voice. He loves you more than you can ever know, and He wants you to hear what He has to say.

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us Your Word. Help me to listen to Your voice as I spend time alone with You.

God speaks through His Word when we take time to listen.

As Water Fills the Sea

From: Our Daily Journey

As Water Fills the Sea

Read:

Habakkuk 2:2-20
As the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord (Habakkuk 2:14).

The day’s news was discouraging. There was another terrorist attack. Two countries squabbled about a rogue nation’s nuclear weapons. A large Christian denomination divided over differences on marriage, while another split over how best to counter poverty and racism. Conflicts like these aren’t just discouraging, they’re exhausting. They persist—showing no signs of resolution.

But they will be resolved. God promises that though the end may seem “slow in coming . . . it will surely take place” (Habakkuk 2:3). Right now the proud and powerful can exploit the poor and get away with it (Habakkuk 2:4-12). But the tables will turn when Jesus returns. Then the “wealth of nations will turn to ashes” and the whole “earth will be filled” with the knowledge of God, “as the waters fill the sea” (Habakkuk 2:13-14).

Just as every square millimeter of ocean floor is covered by water, so everything on earth will be saturated by “the glory of the Lord” (Habakkuk 2:14)—His majestic presence. And God will establish a new covenant with His people: “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts.” “And they will not need to teach their neighbors . . . saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

The fulfillment of these ancient prophecies is envisioned in the final chapters of Scripture, which describe a redeemed earth with no sun, for the divine Son floods the New Jerusalem with His blazing glory. “The nations will walk in its light,” and “will bring their glory and honor into the city” (Revelation 21:22-26). Every face will glow with the glory of God, “as the waters fill the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).

 

Are You Ready To Be Poured Out As an Offering? (1)

By Oswald Chambers

 Are You Ready To Be Poured Out As an Offering? (1)

Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for the work of another believer—to pour out your life sacrificially for the ministry and faith of others? Or do you say, “I am not willing to be poured out right now, and I don’t want God to tell me how to serve Him. I want to choose the place of my own sacrifice. And I want to have certain people watching me and saying, ‘Well done.’ ”

It is one thing to follow God’s way of service if you are regarded as a hero, but quite another thing if the road marked out for you by God requires becoming a “doormat” under other people’s feet. God’s purpose may be to teach you to say, “I know how to be abased…” (Philippians 4:12). Are you ready to be sacrificed like that? Are you ready to be less than a mere drop in the bucket— to be so totally insignificant that no one remembers you even if they think of those you served? Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and exhausted— not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister? Some saints cannot do menial work while maintaining a saintly attitude, because they feel such service is beneath their dignity.

The Lord Is All Powerful

Exodus 15:6

“Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.

 
 

2 Corinthians 9:8

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

 

Ephesians 3:20

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,

 

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

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The Compelling Majesty of His Power

The Compelling Majesty of His Power

February 4 

By Oswald Chambers

Paul said that he was overpowered, subdued, and held as in a vise by “the love of Christ.” Very few of us really know what it means to be held in the grip of the love of God. We tend so often to be controlled simply by our own experience. The one thing that gripped and held Paul, to the exclusion of everything else, was the love of God. “The love of Christ compels us….” When you hear that coming from the life of a man or woman it is unmistakable. You will know that the Spirit of God is completely unhindered in that person’s life.

When we are born again by the Spirit of God, our testimony is based solely on what God has done for us, and rightly so. But that will change and be removed forever once you “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8). Only then will you begin to realize what Jesus meant when He went on to say, “…you shall be witnesses to Me….” Not witnesses to what Jesus can do— that is basic and understood— but “witnesses to Me….” We will accept everything that happens as if it were happening to Him, whether we receive praise or blame, persecution or reward. No one is able to take this stand for Jesus Christ who is not totally compelled by the majesty of His power. It is the only thing that matters, and yet it is strange that it’s the last thing we as Christian workers realize. Paul said that he was gripped by the love of God and that is why he acted as he did. People could perceive him as mad or sane— he did not care. There was only one thing he lived for— to persuade people of the coming judgment of God and to tell them of “the love of Christ.” This total surrender to “the love of Christ” is the only thing that will bear fruit in your life. And it will always leave the mark of God’s holiness and His power, never drawing attention to your personal holiness.

Church Take-Out

By:  Stacie Ruth Stoelting, Author, and CBN

Today, I waited in an empty room for an appointment with someone. I looked up at the fluorescent light in the ceiling and it hit me: (The light didn’t hit me. A light bulb went off in my head. Just had to clarify!)

Seriously, here’s what I realized: We need to get back to the Greats. What do I mean? The Greatest Commandments and the Great Commission. Have you considered the Greats in God’s Word?

As a young person, I speak for many of my generation: Authentic love in action catches our attention more than the biggest high-tech attraction. Many churches today think we need to copy the world to reach it. But it’s the opposite: copy the Word and God will reach the world.

Outreach is to reach out … not in. It’s not about “What do I get out of church?” It’s about “How do I take church out to the world?” We need to be enjoying Jesus in church and then taking it out to the world.

When I’m at a restaurant, the portions overwhelm me. Just ask people close to me: I usually clutch a take-out box when exiting the eatery.

That’s the way it needs to be at church — feed on God’s Word and then take It out to the world!

Last Sunday, I heard God’s Word at church. (This alone remains something to treasure. So many countries attempt to muzzle Christians!) I savored the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the guest speaker. Amongst other amazing insights, he spoke about the way God is moving in different countries and the need for revival in America. Have you prayed for revival for your country today?

Let’s remember to view things from God’s perspective: Let’s share our Treasure with the lost and rejoice when the lost souls are found! (Wonder if you’re not found yet? Come to Jesus. Accept Him now because later may not come.)

Seriously, if our churches overflow with active love for people, people will overflow our churches. Let’s get back to giving back to God all the glory, honor, and praise. Instead of coming up with a better coffee brew for our church coffee shops, let’s come up to Jesus and receive His living water. When we concentrate on staying concentrated, we’ll see good things happen as the Good News takes action.

When I was interviewed on a national news broadcast, someone at the studio seemed shocked that I wasn’t so focused on getting more money and fame. The person instead seemed interested in what made me different. One word: Jesus.

Let’s let God’s Word have the final word in our lives. Let’s share Jesus. Yes, today let’s pray and obey the Greats. It’s time for church take-out.

The Greatest Commandments:

“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39)

The Great Commission:

“And then he told them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.’” (Mark 16:15

I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth (Isaiah 58:14).

Those who fly through the air in airships tell us that one of the first rules they learn is to turn their ship toward the wind, and fly against it. The wind lifts the ship up to higher heights. Where did they learn that? They learned it from the birds. If a bird is flying for pleasure, it goes with the wind. But if the bird meets danger, it turns right around and faces the wind, in order that it may rise higher; and it flies away towards the very sun.

Sufferings are God’s winds, His contrary winds, sometimes His strong winds. They are God’s hurricanes, but, they take human life and lift it to higher levels and toward God’s heavens.

You have seen in the summer time a day when the atmosphere was so oppressive that you could hardly breathe? But a cloud appeared on the western horizon and that cloud grew larger and threw out rich blessing for the world. The storm rose, lightning flashed and thunder pealed. The storm covered the world, and the atmosphere was cleansed; new life was in the air, and the world was changed.

Human life is worked out according to exactly the same principle. When the storm breaks the atmosphere is changed, clarified, filled with new life; and a part of heaven is brought down to earth.
Selected

Obstacles ought to set us singing. The wind finds voice, not when rushing across the open sea, but when hindered by the outstretched arms of the pine trees, or broken by the fine strings of an Aeolian harp. Then it has songs of power and beauty. Set your freed soul sweeping across the obstacles of life, through grim forests of pain, against even the tiny hindrances and frets that love uses, and it, too, will find its singing voice.
Selected

Be like a bird that, halting in its flight,
Rests on a bough too slight.
And feeling it give way beneath him sings,
Knowing he hath wings.

Save One

John 17:6

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

 

John 17:24

“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

Romans 8:29

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

 
 Just as a person can save a drowning victim.  Jesus Christ will save a person from their sins through faith.
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Save One

From: Our Daily Journey

Save One

Read:

Isaiah 42:21-2543:1-3
I have called you by name; you are mine (Isaiah 43:1).

The bundle of hyperactivity known as Liam was making a day of terrorizing his older (and much calmer) brother. Finally, Mom had enough of it, and Liam earned the mother of all timeouts. Well, at least for the rest of the morning.

Just before lunch, the boys’ mom spied a note on the cookie jar with its dwindling contents. In the distinctive handwriting of the aggrieved older brother it read: “Save one for Liam.” Ah, the sweet aroma of compassion.

Compassion is a key aspect of God’s nature. But it’s a common misperception that the God of the Old Testament is full of wrath while the God of the New Testament is the compassionate one. He’s the same God, and we see both aspects of Him throughout Scripture.

In Isaiah 42, God had disciplined His people for their disobedience. “His own people have been robbed and plundered, enslaved, imprisoned, and trapped,” said the prophet. “They are fair game for anyone and have no one to protect them, no one to take them back home” (Isaiah 42:22). “Who allowed Israel to be robbed and hurt? It was the Lord, against whom we sinned” (Isaiah 42:24).

Thankfully, the passage goes on. “But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you’ ” (Isaiah 43:1).

Israel needed God’s compassionate correction. And Liam needed his timeout, or he would have persisted in self-centered behavior. He also needed his family’s love and grace.

Any glimpse we see of that kind of grace in this world reflects the loving nature of God. He corrects us when we sin because He loves us. But He never abandons us. He says, “I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

 How to Change a Life

From: Our Daily Bread

How to Change a Life

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Sometimes our lives can change in a moment through the powerful impact of others. For rock ’n’ roll legend Bruce Springsteen, it was the work of musical artists that helped him through a difficult childhood and a persistent struggle with depression. He found meaning in his own work through the truth he’d experienced firsthand, that “You can change someone’s life in three minutes with the right song.”

Like a compelling song, others’ well-chosen words can also give us hope, even change the course of our lives. I’m sure most of us could share stories of a conversation that forever impacted our lives—words from a teacher that changed the way we saw the world, words of encouragement that restored our confidence, gentle words from a friend that carried us through a difficult time.

Perhaps this is why the book of Proverbs spends so much time emphasizing our responsibility to treasure words and use them wisely. Scripture never treats speech as if it’s “just talk.” Instead, we are taught that our words can have life-or-death consequences (18:21). In just a few words we could crush someone’s spirit, or, through words of wisdom and hope, nourish and strengthen others (15:4).

Not all of us have the ability to create powerful music. But we each can seek God’s wisdom to serve others through our speech (Psalm 141:3). With just a few well-chosen words, God can use us to change a life.

Lord, help us never to take for granted the powerful gift of language. May we use our words wisely to heal and strengthen others and point to the hope we have in You.

God has given us the power to have an impact on lives through our words.

 

The earnest of heaven

From: Charles Spurgeon, Bible Gateway

“That holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.” Ephesians 1:13-14

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

You remember the day, some of you, when you first learned the doctrines of grace. When we were first converted, we did not know much about them, we did not know whether God had converted us, or we had converted ourselves; but we heard a discourse one day in which some sentences were used, which gave us the clue to the whole system, and we began at once to see how God the Father planned, and God the Son carried out, and God the Holy Spirit applied, and we found ourselves suddenly brought into the midst of a system of truths, which we might perhaps have believed before, but which we could not have clearly stated, and did not understand. Well, the joy of that advance in knowledge was exceeding great. I know it was to me. I can remember well the day and hour, when first I received those truths in my own soul—when they were burnt into me, as John Bunyan says—burnt as with a hot iron into my soul; and I can recollect how I felt I had grown suddenly from a babe into a man—that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, from having got a hold once and for all of the clue to the truth of God. Well, now, in that moment when God the Holy Spirit increased your knowledge, and opened the eyes of your understanding, you had the earnest, that you shall one day see, not through a glass darkly, but face to face, and then you shall know the whole truth, even as you are known.

For meditation: The best teacher and interpreter of Scripture is God the Holy Spirit who moved chosen men to record his Word (2 Peter 1:20-21). Do you always seek his help when you are reading or studying God’s Word?

 

 

God Opens Our Minds To Understand

The Compelling Force of the Call

February 2 

The Compelling Force of the Call

By Oswald Chambers

Beware of refusing to hear the call of God. Everyone who is saved is called to testify to the fact of his salvation. That, however, is not the same as the call to preach, but is merely an illustration which can be used in preaching. In this verse, Paul was referring to the stinging pains produced in him by the compelling force of the call to preach the gospel. Never try to apply what Paul said regarding the call to preach to those souls who are being called to God for salvation. There is nothing easier than getting saved, because it is solely God’s sovereign work— “Look to Me, and be saved…” (Isaiah 45:22). Our Lord never requires the same conditions for discipleship that he requires for salvation. We are condemned to salvation through the Cross of Christ. But discipleship has an option with it— “Ifanyone…” (Luke 14:26).

Paul’s words have to do with our being made servants of Jesus Christ, and our permission is never asked as to what we will do or where we will go. God makes us as broken bread and poured-out wine to please Himself. To be “separated to the gospel” means being able to hear the call of God (Romans 1:1). Once someone begins to hear that call, a suffering worthy of the name of Christ is produced. Suddenly, every ambition, every desire of life, and every outlook is completely blotted out and extinguished. Only one thing remains— “…separated to the gospel…” Woe be to the soul who tries to head in any other direction once that call has come to him. The Bible Training College exists so that each of you may know whether or not God has a man or woman here who truly cares about proclaiming His gospel and to see if God grips you for this purpose. Beware of competing calls once the call of God grips you.

Lenae Bulthuis Feburary 2, 2018
Someone Needs You to Believe in Them Today
LENAE BULTHUISFrom: Crosswalk.com

“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:13 (NIV)

I can still feel the sting of his sarcasm. I was absorbed in my schoolwork when a popular boy in our 7th grade class leaned in and whispered, “You will make a great poet someday!”

Stunned that he acknowledged my existence and spoke into my secret dream of writing, I asked why.

“Because you remind me of Longfellow,” he sneered. “Look at your feet!”

No need to look. I was painfully aware my feet were longer than his. Maybe the biggest in the class. I tucked them under my chair and took another step deeper into my insecurities. I believed the lie that good plans didn’t belong to ordinary girls like me.

What I didn’t recognize at the time was the work of a bigger bully seeking to steal, kill and destroy a young woman God called His own. (John 10:10)

Can you identify where war has been waged against God’s plans and purpose for you?

One of my battlefields was middle school. In one classroom was a bully, but in the next was Mrs. B. My favorite teacher had this red pen that was always, always with her. That pen was in constant motion, and it did its share of correcting.

But much more than that, it encouraged. Mrs. B. used her red words and her real love for God and kids to fight for the next generation. That dear lady saw something in me long before I could see it in myself. And it changed everything.

The Apostle Paul got that. Along with Timothy’s grandmother and mother, Paul believed in Timothy. He called him a true son in the faith. He prayed for him day and night, spoke grace and truth into his life and urged Timothy to follow his example.

In 2 Timothy 1:13, Paul wrote, “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.”

God used Paul to fight for Timothy. And it not only shaped Timothy and the church he served, but by God’s grace, it’s still strengthening the universal church today!

Sweet sister, who believed in you before you believed in yourself? Was it your grandmother, mother or a teacher like Mrs. B.? Maybe a coach spoke life into you or a family friend gently squeezed your shoulder — no words necessary — to let you know she saw you and was there for you? Even in the battles when it felt like you stood defenseless and alone, there is One who was always, is always for you. Jesus believes in you; He is your hope and help!

Often He makes His power and presence known through His people. We need each other. When we’re pushed down, we need people who prop us up and believe in us. So does the next generation. They need women like Mrs. B., people like you and me who use our lives to show the love of Jesus to every child in our sphere of influence. Women who give it their all so the next generation can know Jesus is for them, too.

Is that challenging? Exhausting? Inconvenient? Yes. Paul got that, too. As he mentored Timothy, he was facing a probable death by martyrdom. But he kept his eyes on the eternal instead of the easy.

Paul fought for Timothy in prayer (2 Timothy 1:3), urged him to fight the good fight of the faith (1 Timothy 6:12) and poured himself out like a drink offering as he showed Timothy what it looked like to finish the race well. (2 Timothy 4:6-7)

Though the battle is real and relentless, it’s worth it; it changes lives. One child at a time.

Dear God, thank You for every person You’ve placed in my life to show me who You are and who You say I really am. Give me the love, strength and stamina to fight for the next generation in prayer and in person. Use me to magnify Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God Has A Good Plan For You

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” –Isaiah 55:8-9

 

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DISAPPOINTMENTS

This is my doing. (1 Kings 12:24)

The disappointments of life are simply the hidden appointments of love.
–C.A. Fox

My child, I have a message for you today. Let me whisper it in your ear so any storm clouds that may arise will shine with glory, and the rough places you may have to walk will be made smooth. It is only four words, but let them sink into your inner being, and use them as a pillow to rest your weary head. “This is my doing.”

Have you ever realized that whatever concerns you concerns Me too? “For whoever touches you touches the apple of [my] eye” (Zech. 2:8). “You are precious and honored in my sight” (Isa. 43:4). Therefore it is My special delight to teach you.

I want you to learn when temptations attack you, and the enemy comes in “like a pent up flood” (Isa. 59:19)., that “this is my doing” and that your weakness needs My strength, and your safety lies in letting Me fight for you.

Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you, never ask your opinion, and always push you aside? “This is my doing.” I am the God of circumstances. You did not come to this place by accident — you are exactly where I meant for you to be.

Have you not asked Me to make you humble? Then see that I have placed you in the perfect school where this lesson is taught. Your circumstances and the people around you are only being used to accomplish My will.

Are you having problems with money, finding it hard to make ends meet? “This is my doing,” for I am the One who keeps your finances, and I want you to learn to depend upon Me. My supply is limitless and I “will meet your needs” (Phil. 4:19). I want you to prove My promises so no one may say, “You did not trust in the Lord your God” (Deut. 1:32).

Are you experiencing a time of sorrow? “This is my doing.” I am “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isa. 53:3). I have allowed your earthly comforters to fail you, so that by turning to Me you may receive “eternal encouragement and good hope” (2 Thess. 2:16). Have you longed to do some great work for Me but instead have been set aside on a bed of sickness and pain? “This is my doing.” You were so busy I could not get your attention, and I wanted to teach you some of My deepest truths. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” In fact, some of My greatest workers are those physically unable to serve, but who have learned to wield the powerful weapon of prayer.

Today I place a cup of holy oil in your hands. Use it freely, My child. Anoint with it every new circumstance, every word that hurts you, every interruption that makes you impatient, and every weakness you have. The pain will leave as you learn to see Me in all things.
–Laura A. Barter Snow

“This is from Me,” the Savior said,
As bending low He kissed my brow,
“For One who loves you thus has led.
Just rest in Me, be patient now,
Your Father knows you have need of this,
Though, why perhaps you cannot see–
Grieve not for things you’ve seemed to miss.
The thing I send is best for thee.”
Then, looking through my tears, I plead,
“Dear Lord, forgive, I did not know,
It will not be hard since You do tread,
Each path before me here below.”
And for my good this thing must be,
His grace sufficient for each test.
So still I’ll sing, “Whatever be
God’s way for me is always best.”


National Treasure

From: Our Daily Bread

National Treasure

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Matthew 21:9

When an advertiser altered a photo of Michelangelo’s famous marble sculpture of the biblical hero David, Italy’s government and gallery officials objected. Picturing David with a military rifle slung over his shoulder (instead of his slingshot) would be a violation—“like taking a hammer to it or worse,” a cultural official said.

In first-century Jerusalem, David was remembered as the shepherd-songwriter and soldier-king of Israel’s fondest memories and greatest hopes. Prophets foretold that David’s descendant would finally defeat the enemies of Israel. So, centuries later, when crowds welcomed Jesus as the Son of David (Matthew 21:6–9), they were expecting Him to lead the revolt that would overthrow their Roman occupiers. Instead Jesus knocked over the tables of temple money-changers to restore His Father’s house as a house of prayer for all nations. Israel’s leaders were furious. This wasn’t the kind of Messiah and Son of David they were looking for. So without realizing what they were doing, they called for Roman executioners to take a hammer to the hands and feet of the true glory of Israel.

Instead of stopping them, Jesus let Himself be lifted up on a cross of shame—defaced and disgraced. Only by resurrection would it be known that the true Son of David had defeated His enemies with love and enlisted the children of all nations to spread the word.

Father in heaven, it’s hard to admit. But it’s true. We get so confused. We try to protect the images we love more than the love You consider priceless.

Jesus shows that God is always better than our expectations.

The Call of God

By Oswald Chambers

The Call of God

Paul states here that the call of God is to preach the gospel. But remember what Paul means by “the gospel,” namely, the reality of redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are inclined to make sanctification the goal of our preaching. Paul refers to personal experiences only by way of illustration, never as the end of the matter. We are not commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification— we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (see John 12:32). It is an injustice to say that Jesus Christ labored in redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ labored in redemption to redeem the whole world and to place it perfectly whole and restored before the throne of God. The fact that we can experience redemption illustrates the power of its reality, but that experience is a byproduct and not the goal of redemption. If God were human, how sick and tired He would be of the constant requests we make for our salvation and for our sanctification. We burden His energies from morning till night asking for things for ourselves or for something from which we want to be delivered! When we finally touch the underlying foundation of the reality of the gospel of God, we will never bother Him anymore with little personal complaints.

The one passion of Paul’s life was to proclaim the gospel of God. He welcomed heartbreak, disillusionment, and tribulation for only one reason— these things kept him unmovable in his devotion to the gospel of God.

Making The Cut

From: Get More Strength

[Jesus] said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” —Matthew 4:19

Every year, high-school seniors apply to their favorite universities and then watch the mailbox for the letter announcing their acceptance.

It was different for teens in New Testament times. Jewish boys would often attend rabbinical schools until age 13. Then only the best and brightest would be chosen to “follow” the local rabbi. This small, select group of disciples would go where he went and eat what he ate—modeling their lives after the rabbi. Those who didn’t make the cut would pick up a trade like carpentry, sheep-herding, or fishing.

Guys like Simon, Andrew, James, and John hadn’t made the cut. So instead of following the local rabbi, they were down by the docks, knee-deep in the family business. It’s interesting that Jesus sought out the men the local rabbi had rejected. Instead of targeting the best and brightest, Jesus offered His invitation, “Follow Me,” to ordinary run-of-the-mill fishermen. What an honor! They would become followers of the ultimate Rabbi.

Jesus extends the same honor to you and me—not because we are the best or brightest, but because He needs ordinary people like us to model His life and to lovingly rescue people on His behalf. So, follow Him and let Him make something of your life!

As followers of Jesus
Who love Him from the heart,
We may be ordinary,
But we’ve been set apart. —Sper

Even the ordinary and the outcast can make the cut to follow Jesus.

Jesus Washes Us White As Snow

“Come now, and let us reason together,” saith the Lord. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.     Isaiah 1:18
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White as Snow

From: Our Daily Bread

White as Snow

Though yours sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Isaiah 1:18

Last December, my family and I went to the mountains. We had lived in a tropical climate all our lives, so it was the first time we could see snow in all its magnificence. As we contemplated the white mantle covering the fields, my husband quoted Isaiah, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

After asking about the meaning of scarlet, our three-year-old daughter asked, “Is the color red bad?” She knows sins are things God dislikes, but this verse is not talking about colors. The prophet was describing the bright red dye obtained from the eggs of a small insect. Clothes would be double-dyed in this bright red so the color became fixed. Neither rain nor washing would remove it. Sin is like that. No human effort can take it away. It’s rooted in the heart.

Only God can cleanse a heart from sin. And as we looked at the mountains, we admired the pure whiteness that scrubbing and bleaching a piece of cloth dyed in scarlet red can’t achieve. When we follow Peter’s teaching, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19), God forgives us and gives us a new life. Only through Jesus’s sacrifice can we receive what no one else can give—a pure heart. What a wonderful gift!

Father, thank You for forgiving our sins and wiping them clean.

When God forgives, He purifies us too.

Creation Awakes

From: Our Daily Journey

Creation Awakes

Read:

Romans 8:18-25
The creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay (Romans 8:21).

Finlandia, composed in 1899, possessed the original title Finland Awakes. Sibelius’ brilliant masterpiece was part of the cultural resistance of Finland’s aggressive neighbor to the east. The symphonic poem begins ominously as brass and percussion swell to a raucous din. But sixty seconds into the clamor, the music softens to an elegant, peaceful beauty—harbinger of a better future for the nation. Finland would indeed awaken.

There are portions of the Bible that seem ominous too. They tell the unvarnished truth of our unhappy human history. But throughout the grand story of Scripture, we hear the unmistakable, hope-filled tones of redemption.

At the beginning of human history, an aggressive invader sought to sabotage God’s masterpiece. Coming to Eve in the garden of Eden, the serpent put doubts in her mind about God’s goodness and trustworthiness. Adam and Eve took the bait (see Genesis 3:1-7), and God announced a curse on His good creation: “The ground is cursed because of you” (Genesis 3:17).

The devil thought he’d succeeded in rewriting God’s story with a chaotic ending. But God was already orchestrating a plot twist our enemy hadn’t dreamed of. The apostle Paul wrote, “God . . . sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins” (Romans 8:3). He added, “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay” (Romans 8:20-21).

Jesus makes our glorious future possible. Because of Him, all creation awakes.

 

He giveth quietness (Job 34:29).

Quietness amid the dash of the storm. We sail the lake with Him still; and as we reach its middle waters, far from land, under midnight skies, suddenly a great storm sweeps down. Earth and hell seem arrayed against us, and each billow threatens to overwhelm. Then He arises from His sleep, and rebukes the winds and the waves; His hand waves benediction and repose over the rage of the tempestuous elements. His voice is heard above the scream of the wind in the cordage and the conflict of the billows, “Peace, be still!” Can you not hear it? And there is instantly a great calm. “He giveth quietness.” Quietness amid the loss of inward consolations. He sometimes withdraws these, because we make too much of them. We are tempted to look at our joy, our ecstasies, our transports, or our visions, with too great complacency. Then love for love’s sake, withdraws them. But, by His grace, He leads us to distinguish between them and Himself. He draws nigh, and whispers the assurance of His presence. Thus an infinite calm comes to keep our heart and mind. “He giveth quietness.”

“He giveth quietness.” O Elder Brother,
Whose homeless feet have pressed our path of pain,
Whose hands have borne the burden of our sorrow,
That in our losses we might find our gain.
Of all Thy gifts and infinite consolings,
I ask but this: in every troubled hour
To hear Thy voice through all the tumults stealing,
And rest serene beneath its tranquil power.
Cares cannot fret me if my soul be dwelling
In the still air of faith’s untroubled day;
Grief cannot shake me if I walk beside thee,
My hand in Thine along the darkening way.
Content to know there comes a radiant morning
When from all shadows I shall find release,
Serene to wait the rapture of its dawning–
Who can make trouble when Thou sendest peace?

Obedience Is Greater Than Sacrifice

Exodus 19:5

‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;

 
 

Jeremiah 7:23

“But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’

 

Exodus 23:21

“Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.

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The Dilemma of Obedience

By Oswald Chambers

The Dilemma of Obedience

God never speaks to us in dramatic ways, but in ways that are easy to misunderstand. Then we say, “I wonder if that is God’s voice?” Isaiah said that the Lord spoke to him “with a strong hand,” that is, by the pressure of his circumstances (Isaiah 8:11). Without the sovereign hand of God Himself, nothing touches our lives. Do we discern His hand at work, or do we see things as mere occurrences?

Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance (1 Samuel 3:9). Every time circumstances press in on you, say, “Speak, Lord,” and make time to listen. Chastening is more than a means of discipline— it is meant to bring me to the point of saying, “Speak, Lord.” Think back to a time when God spoke to you. Do you remember what He said? Was it Luke 11:13, or was it 1 Thessalonians 5:23? As we listen, our ears become more sensitive, and like Jesus, we will hear God all the time.

Should I tell my “Eli” what God has shown to me? This is where the dilemma of obedience hits us. We disobey God by becoming amateur providences and thinking, “I must shield ‘Eli,’ ” who represents the best people we know. God did not tell Samuel to tell Eli— he had to decide that for himself. God’s message to you may hurt your “Eli,” but trying to prevent suffering in another’s life will prove to be an obstruction between your soul and God. It is at your own risk that you prevent someone’s right hand being cut off or right eye being plucked out (see Matthew 5:29-30).

Never ask another person’s advice about anything God makes you decide before Him. If you ask advice, you will almost always side with Satan. “…I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood…” (Galatians 1:16).

 

Time to Rest

From: Our Daily Journey

Time to Rest

Read:

Exodus 16:16-30
He told them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord” (Exodus 16:23).

When an international scholar visited a seminary in the US, he was surprised to see an American colleague gardening on Sunday. For him, that activity wasn’t appropriate for the day of rest he observed on Sunday, whereas his colleague found the experience of planting, sowing, and digging to be restful, providing enjoyment and a bit of mental relief. Although the two men interpreted the Sabbath principle differently, they both agreed on the importance of seeking to rest each week.

In the Old Testament, God instituted a day of rest. The day was for the sake of His people, even if the Israelites didn’t always understand this. God gave clear instructions for how to celebrate the day—on the sixth day they were to gather enough food for two days so that on the Sabbath day they could enjoy “complete rest” on a day dedicated to God (Exodus 16:23). But not all of them listened, much to His consternation. “The Lord asked Moses, ‘How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions?’ ” (Exodus 16:28).

God longed for His people to trust Him enough to rest. After all, He never intended for us to function like machines. He created the idea of a day for rest, knowing that we’d need time to turn from our work in order to regenerate our bodies, minds, and souls. When we let go of our own efforts, we acknowledge our lives are upheld by God, not by our own labor.

How do you interpret God’s command to rest? If you’ve perceived the Sabbath negatively in the past, how does seeing it as an expression of God’s love for you reshape your understanding? God longs for us to trust Him completely—enough to put aside our work and rest in Him.

 

I will be as the dew unto Israel (Hosea 14:5).

The dew is a source of freshness. It is nature’s provision for renewing the face of the earth. It falls at night, and without it the vegetation would die. It is this great value of the dew which is so often recognized in the Scriptures. It is used as the symbol of spiritual refreshing. Just as nature is bathed in dew, so the Lord renews His people. In Titus 3:5 the same thought of spiritual refreshing is connected with the ministry of the Holy Ghost–“renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Many Christian workers do not recognize the importance of the heavenly dew in their lives, and as a result they lack freshness and vigor. Their spirits are drooping for lack of dew.

Beloved fellow-worker, you recognize the folly of a laboring man attempting to do his day’s work without eating. Do you recognize the folly of a servant of God attempting to minister without eating of the heavenly manna? Nor will it suffice to have spiritual nourishment occasionally. Every day you must receive the renewing of the Holy Ghost. You know when your whole being is pulsating with the vigor and freshness of Divine life and when you feel jaded and worn. Quietness and absorption bring the dew. At night when the leaf and blade are still, the vegetable pores are open to receive the refreshing and invigorating bath; so spiritual dew comes from quiet lingering in the Master’s presence. Get still before Him. Haste will prevent your receiving the dew. Wait before God until you feel saturated with His presence; then go forth to your next duty with the conscious freshness and vigor of Christ.
–Dr. Pardington

Dew will never gather while there is either heat or wind. The temperature must fall, and the wind cease, and the air come to a point of coolness and rest–absolute rest, so to speak–before it can yield up its invisible particles of moisture to bedew either herb or flower. So the grace of God does not come forth to rest the soul of man until the still point is fairly and fully reached.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our souls the strain and stress;
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the pulses of desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, its beats expire:
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm!