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He’s With You Through the Storms

 

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(The storm comes, and the storm goes. God was there for you before the storm. And He is there for you after the storm is gone. God never fails to be with you) .

Prayer in the Father’s Honor

From: My Utmost for HIs Highest

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.

AUGUST 8, 2014

From; Crosswalk

Finding His Power in the Midst of Our Storms
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)

It was a dark and stormy night. Alone in my writing study, I pounded away on my laptop computer, while the air conditioner hummed in the background, holding the summer heat at bay.

A glance at the clock confirmed the late hour, with many pages yet to be written. After several extensions on my book deadline, the pressure was intense. Like having five college term papers due the same day.

On my calendar I’d circled July 22, the day my family and I would head to Pennsylvania for a reunion my sister had planned for two years. If it meant writing around the clock, I had to finish my manuscript before we left town.

All at once a deafening crack of thunder sounded overhead, and the lights blinked out. After saving my work on the laptop’s hard drive, I located a candle and made the most of my waning battery.

Our power returned the next afternoon, but not for long. A second storm left our old farmhouse in the dark — this time for two days. My editor called to check on my progress. “Not good,” I confessed. “We’ve lost power. Again.”

Although my laptop was portable, my many bookshelves full of resources were not, which ruled out moving to a hotel room or a friend’s kitchen table. When the electricity finally returned, I brushed away tears of relief and fired up my computer.

One week later, a third storm struck.

The blackout was so massive our city made the national news. Five powerless days dragged by. Meals were fast food, showers were cold, and tempers were short. After my husband tracked down an overpriced generator, I had electricity flowing into my laptop. What wasn’t flowing were words or ideas, as my stress mounted.

When July 22 dawned, I still had two dozen chapters to go. Genuine panic set in. My siblings and I hadn’t gathered in one place for nearly a decade. How could I miss my own family reunion? Yet how could I go, when my publishing contract required a completed manuscript — right away, if not sooner?

I didn’t dare phone my editor and ask for more time. Heartsick, I called my sister instead and begged for mercy.

Guilt washed over me as I helped my family pack. My husband promised he would hug all my relatives, especially my understanding sister. But I still felt awful.

With a heavy heart I watched our car disappear down the driveway, then returned to my desk, determined to write nonstop. I’d paid a terrible price for this time, and I wasn’t about to waste it.

My fingers flew over the keys. By nightfall, I’d almost completed another chapter. Then the unthinkable happened: the lights blinked out again.

“Nooo!” I shrieked, fumbling for my cell phone. With trembling hands I called the utility company, only to hear, “Could be an hour, ma’am. Could be tomorrow. Sorry.”

I sank across my desk, tears flowing in earnest. Sorry? I was the sorry one. Sorry I hadn’t started sooner and worked harder. Sorry I’d sent my family off without me. Sorry I’d once again put my work first.

I closed my eyes, afraid of the truth. Are You punishing me, Lord? I didn’t really think He was; blackouts from summer thunderstorms are business as usual in Kentucky. But I still felt the weight of regret. Lord, can You help me? Please?

In the silence of my study, I was unprepared for the sudden whir of the air conditioner and the lights blinking back on.

 

August 8

Through the Bible

2 Chronicles 18:19-21 (NIV) 19And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that.20Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “‘By what means?’ the LORD asked. 21″‘I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’

This passage is troublesome to many. God is not a man that He should lie. What is happening here? Ahab was one of the wickedest kings of Israel. His wife, Jezebel, was the wickedest queen. Jehoshaphat had become the king of Judah and was his ally. Though Jehoshaphat was a godly king, he must not have had much discernment. Many prophets declared that Ahab would win the battle, but Jehoshaphat wanted to hear from a prophet of Jehovah. When he was called, he first told him to go and win the battle. When Ahab pressed him for the truth, he told what he saw in the halls of heaven, today’s passage.

God was asking the angels how to get Ahab to go to his doom in a battle against Ramoth-Gilead. The text suggests the angels made suggestions, but all were declined. Finally one angel said, “I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.” I believe this was a fallen angel. They are always seeking to harm mankind. God’s hand of protection holds them back unless it serves His ultimate purpose in which he allows them freedom to act. We see the same kind of scenario in the beginning of Job.

Ahab had Jehoshaphat wear royal robes while he dressed in normal soldier attire. When the Aramean army went after Jehoshaphat’s chariot, he fled. A stray arrow found the joint in Ahab’s armor and mortally wounded him. You can’t get away from the decrees of God. A fallen angel and a heathen army were used to bring judgment on the murderer, Ahab. Tomorrow we’ll see how God dealt with Jehoshaphat for befriending Ahab.

Consider: Be sure your sin will find you out.

Evening

August 8

Romans 4:19-21 (NIV) 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

The Apostle Paul makes the case that Abraham is the father of all believers, both Jew and Gentile. Since he trusted in the promise of God and was counted as righteous before he received the covenant of circumcision, he is father of those who have not entered into Jewish ritual but still trust in God. His example clearly shows us that it is not by works that we are made right with God, but by believing and trusting in God.

His faith is an example to us all. Even when his body and that of his wife’s were incapable of producing a child, he believed God’s promise that they would have a boy. If God told you that a 100-year-old man and a 90-year-old woman would have a child, would you believe it? Faith believes what cannot be seen or reasoned with the natural mind. Faith pleases God.

What has God promised to you? He has promised all believers that He will transform them into the likeness of His Son. You may look at your thoughts and actions today and think it is impossible, but God has promised. Won’t you be like Abraham who looked beyond the natural and was fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He promised? Once you are fully persuaded, begin to act by faith on the promise.

Consider: Live in the confidence that what He has begun, He will bring to completion. It will keep you from wallowing in your failures.

 

Keep In Touch With God Daily

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Prayer in the Father’s House

My Utmost for HIs Highest

Our Lord’s childhood was not immaturity waiting to grow into manhood— His childhood is an eternal fact. Am I a holy, innocent child of God as a result of my identification with my Lord and Savior? Do I look at my life as being in my Father’s house? Is the Son of God living in His Father’s house within me?

The only abiding reality is God Himself, and His order comes to me moment by moment. Am I continually in touch with the reality of God, or do I pray only when things have gone wrong— when there is some disturbance in my life? I must learn to identify myself closely with my Lord in ways of holy fellowship and oneness that some of us have not yet even begun to learn. “. . . I must be about My Father’s business”— and I must learn to live every moment of my life in my Father’s house.

Think about your own circumstances. Are you so closely identified with the Lord’s life that you are simply a child of God, continually talking to Him and realizing that everything comes from His hands? Is the eternal Child in you living in His Father’s house? Is the grace of His ministering life being worked out through you in your home, your business, and in your circle of friends? Have you been wondering why you are going through certain circumstances? In fact, it is not thatyou have to go through them. It is because of your relationship with the Son of God who comes, through the providential will of His Father, into your life. You must allow Him to have His way with you, staying in perfect oneness with Him.

The life of your Lord is to become your vital, simple life, and the way He worked and lived among people while here on earth must be the way He works and lives in you.

 

Run the Race – Ignore the Hecklers!

Sunday, December 29, 2013 (9:34 am)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

During the 1990’s in an NCAA Division II national championship cross-country race in California, a bizarre twist of events took place. Mike Delcavo and 127 of the best runners in the country were battling for glory over the 10,000 meter course. About three miles into the race, Delvaco was somewhere in the middle of the pack, when he realized that the runners had made a wrong turn. So he yelled out, “You’re going the wrong way,” but they didn’t listen. Only 4 others followed Mike when he turned in the right direction…and suddenly, he found himself in the lead.

However that lasted only about a mile, since Mike and the runners who followed him soon reunited with the larger pack who, having gone the wrong way, actually shaved about a half a mile off the course, and were now in the lead again. The final blow came when, because so many of the runners had gone the wrong way, the officials changed the official course route to accommodate their error. So when Mike Delcavo finally crossed the finish line, he was number 103 overall.

At the end of the race, some of Delcavo’s competitors “thought it was funny that he went the right way.”

In our mixed up world, when everybody is wrong, then wrong becomes right. However, in the world to come there is only one Judge and He will not change the correct course regardless of how many or how few actually run it. His rewards will be based on our having stayed the true course.

It’s easy to follow the crowd. But it takes courage and conviction to follow wholeheartedly after God. Sometimes it can get lonely running your race, wondering where the crowd is going, and even whether you, yourself are on the right road. But you my friend, keep running with the Lord. And when the race is over and you have finished your course, may the He say to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”

Show Some End Time Love!

Friday, February 7, 2014 (1:53 pm)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Matthew 24:12-13 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

The Bible speaks of a great falling away in the last days (2 Thessalonians 2) before the end of the age arrives, and it seems that we’re seeing it on a grand scale all around us. Virtually everywhere we look we’re watching the decline of morality and ethics — in government, entertainment, and social culture. It seems hard to deny that we’re living in the final days of abounding iniquity which Yeshua (Jesus) foretold.

This is not an easy time for true believers. The evil around us can be so discouraging and the darkness so oppressive that it really threatens our ability to walk in love. Yet the reality of the gospel is brighter and more relevant than ever in this world. And the inner light of Messiah burning in us will be all the more intense and warm in this gloomy landscape, if — and only if, we fill our lamps with His holy oil and burn with His last days love. Anti-Christ culture is permeating our society. But we respond with the enduring culture of Messiah, a culture of supernatural love that will not die.

Take heart and don’t be deceived or discouraged, or allow your love to grow cold. These signs of the end are simply proof that God is on His throne and His sovereign Word is being fulfilled exactly as He spoke it. Continue in His love. Radiate His light. Wherever you are, wherever you go, bring His love. Love will endure, even forever.

 

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“The upright love thee”
Song of Solomon 1:4

Believers love Jesus with a deeper affection than they dare to give to any other being. They would sooner lose father and mother than part with Christ. They hold all earthly comforts with a loose hand, but they carry him fast locked in their bosoms. They voluntarily deny themselves for his sake, but they are not to be driven to deny him. It is scant love which the fire of persecution can dry up; the true believer’s love is a deeper stream than this. Men have laboured to divide the faithful from their Master, but their attempts have been fruitless in every age. Neither crowns of honour, now frowns of anger, have untied this more than Gordian knot. This is no every-day attachment which the world’s power may at length dissolve. Neither man nor devil have found a key which opens this lock. Never has the craft of Satan been more at fault than when he has exercised it in seeking to rend in sunder this union of two divinely welded hearts. It is written, and nothing can blot out the sentence, “The upright love thee.” The intensity of the love of the upright, however, is not so much to be judged by what it appears as by what the upright long for. It is our daily lament that we cannot love enough. Would that our hearts were capable of holding more, and reaching further. Like Samuel Rutherford, we sigh and cry, “Oh, for as much love as would go round about the earth, and over heaven–yea, the heaven of heavens, and ten thousand worlds–that I might let all out upon fair, fair, only fair Christ.” Alas! our longest reach is but a span of love, and our affection is but as a drop of a bucket compared with his deserts. Measure our love by our intentions, and it is high indeed; ’tis thus, we trust, our Lord doth judge of it. Oh, that we could give all the love in all hearts in one great mass, a gathering together of all loves to him who is altogether lovely!

Evening

“Satan hindered us.”
1 Thessalonians 2:18

Since the first hour in which goodness came into conflict with evil, it has never ceased to be true in spiritual experience, that Satan hinders us. From all points of the compass, all along the line of battle, in the vanguard and in the rear, at the dawn of day and in the midnight hour, Satan hinders us. If we toil in the field, he seeks to break the ploughshare; if we build the wall, he labours to cast down the stones; if we would serve God in suffering or in conflict–everywhere Satan hinders us. He hinders us when we are first coming to Jesus Christ. Fierce conflicts we had with Satan when we first looked to the cross and lived. Now that we are saved, he endeavours to hinder the completeness of our personal character. You may be congratulating yourself, “I have hitherto walked consistently; no man can challenge my integrity.” Beware of boasting, for your virtue will yet be tried; Satan will direct his engines against that very virtue for which you are the most famous. If you have been hitherto a firm believer, your faith will ere long be attacked; if you have been meek as Moses, expect to be tempted to speak unadvisedly with your lips. The birds will peck at your ripest fruit, and the wild boar will dash his tusks at your choicest vines. Satan is sure to hinder us when we are earnest in prayer. He checks our importunity, and weakens our faith in order that, if possible, we may miss the blessing. Nor is Satan less vigilant in obstructing Christian effort. There was never a revival of religion without a revival of his opposition. As soon as Ezra and Nehemiah begin to labour, Sanballat and Tobiah are stirred up to hinder them. What then? We are not alarmed because Satan hindereth us, for it is a proof that we are on the Lord’s side, and are doing the Lord’s work, and in his strength we shall win the victory, and triumph over our adversary.

Learn To Nourish Your Soul

 

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What’s Really Good For Us?

From: Get More strength

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18

U.S. News & World Report previously ran a cover story entitled “The Trouble with Premarital Sex.” The subtitle was, “Americans don’t think it’s too much of a problem. Maybe they should.” The gist of the article was that sexual freedom does not deliver true intimacy. Jennifer Grossman, a 30-year-old single woman and contributor for MSNBC-TV, gave the most telling statement in a sidebar interview entitled “Was It Good for Us?” Grossman, a self-described libertarian, said:

“I used to complain to my mother, who is a liberal, about how boyfriends seem commitment shy. And she would say, ‘Well why buy the cow if the milk is for free?’” Jennifer continued, “We’re in the sexual promised land now, the milk is free, people are surfeited with sex-and yet we’re starved for love . . . The acceptance, even encouragement of premarital sex makes it very difficult to sustain the fantasy that we are loved alone.”

Jennifer’s musings are telling. As she points out, all of us have a deep, soul-level desire to be loved exclusively, and the “sexual promised land” does not fulfill that need. Yet this generation is sold out to the idea that the rewards of intimacy can be had in an endless series of hook-ups between any two people who feel the urge.

God’s Word has much to say on this topic. Even though our culture today accepts immorality as “the norm,” the Bible says it has been a problem for centuries. In fact, Paul had to write to the members of the church at Corinth about their conduct in this area.

He told them to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Seems pretty clear to me—he’s saying, “Don’t have anything to do with it!” Treat it like the potential disaster that it is. Like a semi coming at you when you’re in the middle of the street. You don’t stand there and look it up and down and try to decide what to do. The course of action is clear. Get out of there!

But how different is this compared to the casual way that the world approaches this issue? The world says, “Hey, the milk’s free, jump into bed with anyone you find attractive. Go ahead and experiment—it’s no big deal.” Not true. Millions could testify that if you live to do whatever your sex drive tells you to do, you’ll be disappointed, damaged, and full of regret.

The truth is that promiscuity harms us both emotionally and physically. As Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 6:1-20, the one “who sins sexually sins against his own body.” In essence, you’re hurting yourself. People who lead promiscuous lives suffer from desensitized emotions, loss of self-worth, regret, disease, and unplanned pregnancy. I think we all agree that this stuff is a high price to pay for a few moments of pleasure here and there.

Ready for some good news? You don’t have to stay in bondage to sexual sin. Paul reminds us, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). The truth is that we are loved truly and exclusively when we strike up a relationship with Jesus. When we live in His love we will never ask, “Was it good for us?”

The Cross in Prayer

From: My Utmost for His Highest

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.

 

August 6

From: Through the Bible

2 Chronicles 13:5 (NIV) 5Don’t you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?

Abijah inherited the throne of Judah after his father Rehoboam’s death. When war came between the northern tribes of Israel and southern Judah, Abijah found his troops were outnumbered two to one. He climbed a hill and shouted out to the army of Israel the above passage. He had this conviction because he knew God had promised the kingdom to David’s lineage and sealed the promise with a covenant.

Little explanation is given in Scripture about the salt covenant, but we can piece together from other texts what it must have meant. When two parties sat down and ate salted bread, they entered into a peace agreement. It implied that they were friends and were bound to defend one another. When did David do this with God? It was when he ate the shewbread while fleeing from Saul. God promised to make David king and later promised his descendents would reign. Abijah was reminding Israel that God was on their side because God keeps His word.

He went on to describe how their leader, Jeroboam, had forsaken God and made his own gods. If that weren’t enough to cause them to doubt, he described how you could buy the priesthood with a certain number of sacrifices.

While Abijah was declaring his right to rule, Israel was sending troops behind him. Suddenly Israel attacked from both directions, but the house of Judah had placed their trust in God. When they shouted out their battle cry, God turned the troops of Israel. Abijah’s troops soundly defeated Israel that day, destroying over half their army. In our day, the idea of having God on your side is laughed at. It still makes the difference.

Remember: You can always count on the promises of God.

Evening

August 6

Romans 2:28-29 (NIV) 28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.

Paul asks the reader if keeping the rituals has any meaning if you are disobedient to God? What if a person doesn’t keep the rituals but is obedient to God? Isn’t obedience more important than ritual? The Jews had so many rituals and rules that they forgot what they were all about. While looking down on their Gentile neighbors, they were no more obedient to God than those they despised. In fact, some of the Gentiles were more obedient, for they obeyed the law of conscience in their heart.

What makes a man a Jew? Is it merely lineage? Is it the covenant ritual of circumcision? Circumcision was merely a picture of a heart made tender toward God. The one whose heart is made tender by the Holy Spirit is a true child of God. His actions come from the heart, not just intellectual obedience to a set of rules or a formula prayer.

The person with a tender heart toward God does not act for the purpose of men approving his actions as those of a spiritual man. He acts from the heart to please God. Men may despise him, but God is pleased with him. Man may not understand his actions and misinterpret his motives, but God will know. Whether he understands it or not, the cross has made access to God and a new heart possible.

What is the motivating factor for your actions? Do you try to do what is respected so that man will think highly of you, or do you act from a heart that has been made tender toward God?

Prayer: Ask the Spirit to circumcise your heart that you might be sensitive to His leading.

Let God Set You Free

 

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Breaking Free

The elephant is the largest land animal on earth—and one of the most powerful. Yet it takes only a strong rope to restrain one. Here’s how it works. When the elephant is young, he is tied to a large tree. For weeks, he will strain and pull, but the rope holds him fast. So eventually he gives up.

Then, when the elephant reaches his full size and strength, he won’t struggle to get free, for once he feels resistance, he stops. He still believes he’s held captive and can’t break free.

Satan can play a similar trick on us to hold us captive. The Bible assures us that there is “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). We have been set “free from the law of sin and death” (v.2). But the enemy of our soul tries to make us believe we are still dominated by sin.

What shall we do then? Reflect on what Christ has done. He died for our sins and declared an end to sin’s control over us (v.3). He rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit. Now we are empowered to live victoriously in Him because “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in [us]” (v.11).

In Christ, we are set free.

He has our salvation wrought,
He our captive souls has bought,
He has reconciled to God,
He has washed us in His blood. —Wesley
Experience true freedom— take every thought captive in obedience to Christ.

My Help Comes From the Lord

From: 2Praise God

by NAQUAN on SEPTEMBER 21, 2010

How many times have you taken it upon yourself to get things done when you knew God was telling you to stand still and/or wait on something?

I’ll be the first to raise my hand in saying I’ve done so. Right now in my life, I’m in this place where every week my family and I are faced with the challenges of paying hotel rent. I’m in the process of looking for employment…but I’ve tried to take matters into my own hands, thinking that I’ll “help God” because I can’t figure out what He’s doing.

Today, the very thing I placed my trust in to make some extra money was cancelled out. My first reaction was to panic and get upset. But you know what, after I prayed I am reminded that my help does not comes from what I, Naquan can do, but from what God can do (and we know that God can do all things).

Why do I share this with you? Because I know I’m not the only person who’s been tempted to step outside of faith and take matters into their own hands. Now, I’m not saying that you’re not to do anything to make a living…however, in the situation that God has ME in, it’s a faith walk and sometimes the faith walk is not the most easiest walk.

Your Help Cometh From the Lord

So I share my story to encourage someone today. Your help does not come from what you have or don’t have nor what you know or don’t know. Your help comes from the Lord, the Lord which made Heaven and earth (scripture verse: Psalm 121:2). God said in His word that He will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory and we know we serve a God who cannot lie.

It is by the grace and merciful hand of God that my family and I had the funds to pay rent each week with NO INCOME. Even if I wanted to, I could not take the credit for it because the little money I did make was no way near the money needed each week to pay the hotel fees. So I know it’s only God who has been sustaining my family and I.

So as I encourage myself, I encourage you. You may not know where the next dollar, meal, drink, or etc is coming from. You may want to panic and give up. You may be tempted to take matters into your own hands. However, I encourage you to stand on the word of God and His promises because your help comes from the Lord!

If God can send ravens to feed Elijah, then surely God can use anything to be a blessing to you. Remember, your help comes from the Lord (bible verse: Psalm 121:2). Obey God and leave the when, how and where to Him. Your Heavenly father is a present help in times of trouble and He will not leave you hanging.

 

My Right-Hand Man

From: Crosswalk
CINDI MCMENAMIN

“I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8 (NASB)

I sat on the floor and cried. I felt overwhelmed and so alone.

“Who is going to help me now, Lord?” I whispered.

My assistant and close friend had just informed me she was no longer able to partner with me in my ministry. Circumstances beyond her control made it impossible for her to continue to work alongside me as someone I depended on. No longer there to help me. No longer there to be my sounding board, my prayer support, my “other half” in a very real sense.

I felt like I was losing my right hand.

Have you ever felt that way? As if you are suddenly on your own, without anyone to hold you up?

And yet, God had something He wanted me to learn in that difficult moment.

Just hours earlier, I had spoken to a group of women about the seasons of our lives in which we need to be pruned. I gave the example of how rosebushes need to be pruned. They look choppy after the pruning, but come spring, the roses bloom brighter and more beautifully than ever.

But here I was, being pruned in my own life, and feeling like I was losing my right hand!

God, this doesn’t feel like pruning, I prayed. This feels like my right hand is being chopped off! Please God, not her. She’s all I have right now. Please don’t take my right hand.

Desperate for God’s presence and His comfort, I reached for my Bible. Not knowing where else to turn, I opened to the Psalms. Years earlier, my cousin had shared how Psalm 16 comforted her when it came to experiencing loss in her family. I read the Psalm aloud and stopped suddenly after reading verse 8:

I have set the LORD continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Lord, I prayed, I’m complaining I’ve lost my right hand, but You are my right hand. You are the One who helps me, counsels me, encourages me. You are the One who never leaves my side.

Dear God, I’m so sorry I didn’t see it before. You truly are my Right-hand Man.

I read through the rest of Psalm 16, and smiled at how it ended:

“You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand are pleasures forever,” (Psalm 16:11, NASB).

God was telling me, in my moment of fear and anxiety, that not only was I not alone, but I never would be. Even without my friend to help me. With God at my right hand, there is joy in His presence and pleasures forevermore.

I realized that day there is no one else I would rather have at my right hand.

I got up off the floor and walked out of the room with my Bible in my hand, my head held high and my Right-hand Man at my side.

I have never walked alone in this job yet, I thought to myself. And I never will.

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”
Romans 8:28

Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world’s tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, “It is I, be not afraid.” He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not to arise. He can say, “If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me if God ordains it.” “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that he governs wisely, that he brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, “Send me what thou wilt, my God, so long as it comes from thee; never came there an ill portion from thy table to any of thy children.”

“Say not my soul, From whence can God relieve my care?’

Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.

His method is sublime, his heart profoundly kind,

God never is before his time, and never is behind.”

Evening

“Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?”
Numbers 32:6

Kindred has its obligations. The Reubenites and Gadites would have been unbrotherly if they had claimed the land which had been conquered, and had left the rest of the people to fight for their portions alone. We have received much by means of the efforts and sufferings of the saints in years gone by, and if we do not make some return to the church of Christ by giving her our best energies, we are unworthy to be enrolled in her ranks. Others are combating the errors of the age manfully, or excavating perishing ones from amid the ruins of the fall, and if we fold our hands in idleness we had need be warned, lest the curse of Meroz fall upon us. The Master of the vineyard saith, “Why stand ye here all the day idle?” What is the idler’s excuse? Personal service of Jesus becomes all the more the duty of all because it is cheerfully and abundantly rendered by some. The toils of devoted missionaries and fervent ministers shame us if we sit still in indolence. Shrinking from trial is the temptation of those who are at ease in Zion: they would fain escape the cross and yet wear the crown; to them the question for this evening’s meditation is very applicable. If the most precious are tried in the fire, are we to escape the crucible? If the diamond must be vexed upon the wheel, are we to be made perfect without suffering? Who hath commanded the wind to cease from blowing because our bark is on the deep? Why and wherefore should we be treated better than our Lord? The firstborn felt the rod, and why not the younger brethren? It is a cowardly pride which would choose a downy pillow and a silken couch for a soldier of the cross. Wiser far is he who, being first resigned to the divine will, groweth by the energy of grace to be pleased with it, and so learns to gather lilies at the cross foot, and, like Samson, to find honey in the lion.

Don’t Feed Dangerous Things

 

Addictions Are Dangerous and should not be feed. What other things should not be feed that could hurt you?

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Don’t Feed the Bears

 

From; GetMoreStrength

“Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.” Psalm 105:2-3

Each year over 3.5 million people visit Yellowstone National Park. The park is loaded with signs that read, “Don’t feed the bears,” but visitors are constantly doing just that. As a result, bears become too lazy to look for food. So, sadly, some of them starve to death in the woods—which are full of nourishment—when the tourists aren’t there to give them handouts.

Ever wish you could get a few spiritual handouts from God? A lot of us are like those bears when it comes to walking with Jesus. We’d like to have everything handed to us, straight from God—no questions asked. We keep looking for those divine snacks of His direct involvement in our lives.

It’s tempting to measure the quality of our relationship with God by the frequency and intensity of those times when we see Him reach into our lives and change things. This leaves us prone to the “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately?” attitude. When God doesn’t live up to our expectations, we get bogged down in discouragement, doubt, and even a dysfunctional view of Him.

Admittedly, it’s easy to feel cheated by the absence of those spiritual freebies. If I hear Bob talk about how God provided an anonymous donor for his mortgage payment just in the nick of time, I begin to wonder why God never does anything like that for me. Sound familiar?

Then we read stories in the Bible about characters who experienced God’s miraculous work in their lives. When Abraham and Sarah were too old to have a baby, God intervened and did something really spectacular. Later, when God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, God showed up in a miraculous way and spared Isaac’s life.

So, it’s easy to wonder why God is not as liberal with giveaways in our lives as He was with Abraham. But before you think Abraham had an edge, remember that the recorded interventions of God average about one every 15 years in Abe’s life! Just imagine being Abraham and going 15 years with no Bible, no indwelling of the Holy Spirit, no spiritual friends, and no word from God.

Abraham’s experience shows that God rarely invades lives with dramatic demonstrations of His power. God’s desire is to be loved and adored by us not for the handouts, but because He is worthy of our praise and unfailing allegiance regardless of what He does or doesn’t do for us. That’s why Psalm 105:2-3 encourages us to, “Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.”

And it’s not that He won’t help you when the time is right. He loves you and will indeed supply and protect. But it would be a major distortion of our view of Christianity to see God as our sugar daddy, ready to jump every time we thought we needed a handout from Him. I sometimes wonder if heaven has a sign that says, “Don’t feed the Christians!” with the fine print reading, “They’ll think it’s all about the goodies”!

 

From: Streams In The Desert

And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me (John 11:41).

This is a very strange and unusual order. Lazarus is still in the grave, and the thanksgiving precedes the miracle of resurrection. I thought that the thanksgiving would have risen when the great deed had been wrought, and Lazarus was restored to life again. But Jesus gives thanks for what He is about to receive. The gratitude breaks forth before the bounty has arrived, in the assurance that it is certainly on the way. The song of victory is sung before the battle has been fought. It is the sower who is singing the song of the harvest home. It is thanksgiving before the miracle!

Who thinks of announcing a victory-psalm when the crusaders are just starting out for the field? Where can we hear the grateful song for the answer which has not yet been received?

And after all, there is nothing strange or forced, or unreasonable in the Master’s order. Praise is really the most vital preparatory ministry to the working of the miracles. Miracles are wrought by spiritual power. Spiritual power is always proportioned to our faith.
–Dr. Jowett

PRAISE CHANGES THINGS

Nothing so pleases God in connection with our prayer as our praise, and nothing so blesses the man who prays as the praise which he offers. I got a great blessing once in China in this connection. I had received bad and sad news from home, and deep shadows had covered my soul. I prayed, but the darkness did not vanish. I summoned myself to endure, but the darkness only deepened. Just then I went to an inland station and saw on the wall of the mission home these words: “Try Thanksgiving.” I did, and in a moment every shadow was gone, not to return. Yes, the Psalmist was right, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.”
–Rev. Henry W. Frost

From: Through the Bible

August 4

2 Chronicles 12:1,5 (NIV) 1After Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the LORD…

5Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the leaders of Judah who had assembled in Jerusalem for fear of Shishak, and he said to them, “This is what the LORD says, ‘You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.'”

Rehoboam began with greed and immediately lost two-thirds of the nation. That did not humble him. He continued in his pride. After strengthening his army and defenses, he abandoned the law of the LORD. As the leader went, so went the nation. They followed his bad example in forsaking God.

An innumerable army, led by the king of Egypt, came against him and captured all the cities he had fortified and armed. One by one they fell. Then the prophet Shemaiah came and told Rehoboam that since they had abandoned God, God had abandoned them. Since they wanted to proceed without God, God allowed them to. What would our life be like without the protection of the hand of God? When a man or family or nation is walking in the fear of the LORD, they are surrounded by a protecting influence. You will never know all the things the LORD spared you from that the enemy planned against your life. That is why the end of the LORD’s prayer says, “Deliver us from the evil one.”

When we step outside of a trusting dependent relationship with God, that invisible hand of protection is lifted and the enemy is allowed in to bring us to our senses. It worked for Rehoboam. He and his leaders humbled themselves and said, “The LORD is just.” Then God could have mercy on them and allowed Jerusalem to remain, though subjugated. All the treasure amassed in the temple was carried away by the enemy. Sin has consequences, and though we are allowed to continue and are restored relationally, there is a great loss because of our rebellion.

Consider: Draw near to God now so that He does not have to use tragedy to draw you back.

Evening

August 4

Romans 1:16-17 (NIV) 16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

The Apostle Paul lived in a world that was similar to ours. Philosophies and a variety of religious beliefs permeated the Roman world. The preaching of the cross was quite contrary to the religions man had created, but Paul was not ashamed to be different. He did not mind not fitting in, for he knew the power of God that could save anyone who would believe. We need to carry that kind of confident boldness into our world.

Since Paul would later say that God does not respect one person over another, what does this mean that the gospel is to the Jew first? Certainly it is not first in importance. Throughout Scripture we can see that it is God’s order. Even Jesus’ ministry went to the Jew first. Even though God knew that they, as a nation, would reject Him, He still went to them first. It is God’s desire that all receive the salvation He has provided for them, and He knows the best order to make that possible.

Verse 17 is the verse that broke through to Martin Luther’s conscious mind and showed him salvation was not attainable by works. To be justified with God, to be made acceptable in His eyes, can only happen through faith. No amount of good deeds, no particular ritual, simply a heart that places its hope and trust in the God that made us through the way provided by the cross. Abraham believed God. That belief was credited to him as righteousness. Everyone comes to God the same way, as Martin Luther later summed up, “By grace alone; through faith alone”.

To live by faith includes more than a one-time comprehension of God’s sufficiency. It is a daily reliance on His all-sufficiency. It is a daily dependence on His power, provision, and His life to be what He calls each of us to be.

Consider: Are you living by faith today? Are you trusting more in the unseen than in what you can see?

God Helps With Our Troubles

 

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Getting Beyond Ourselves

From: OurDailyBread
We all, . . . beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed. —2 Corinthians 3:18

I have one of those friends who seems to be better than I am at just about everything. He is smarter; he thinks more deeply; and he knows where to find better books to read. He is even a better golfer. Spending time with him challenges me to become a better, more thoughtful person. His standard of excellence spurs me on to greater things.

That highlights a spiritual principle: It’s crucial for us to spend time in God’s Word so we can connect with the person of Christ. Reading about the impact of Jesus’ unconditional love for us compels me to love without demand. His mercy and His free distribution of grace to the most undeserving make me ashamed of my tendency to withhold forgiveness and seek revenge.

I find myself becoming a more thankful person when I realize that, despite my shameful fallenness, the Lord has clothed me in the beauty of His perfect righteousness. His amazing ways and unsurpassed wisdom motivate and transform me. It’s hard to be content with my life as it is when in His presence I am drawn to become more like Him.

The apostle Paul calls us to the joy of beholding Christ. As we do so, we are “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Lord, help us to come into Your presence with eyes
and hearts wide open to all that You are and want us
to become. Thank You for revealing Yourself to us
and for the joy of basking in the greatness of Your glory.
Stay close to God and you will never be the same.

Promises Kept

From: Get more Faith. org

“Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” Joshua 21:45

I am about to let you in on a deep, life-changing, earth-shattering theological truth. Are you ready for this?

God keeps His promises!

I mean, He really keeps His promises. Even if you can’t see it today, or even if it doesn’t happen in your lifetime, He doesn’t forget and He doesn’t change His mind. If He has made a promise, He’s good with it!

I was reading in the book of Joshua recently when I came to these verses at the end of Joshua 21:41-44. Keep in mind, this is after many stories of the people of Israel rebelling and murmuring against Moses, and 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Israel had, essentially, tried to put their covenant with God in the dumper by their idolatrous, heretical, apostate ways. Even after God gave them the land of Canaan, they went back to idols. So it’s after they seemingly did all they could to mess it up that we read these astounding words at the end of Joshua’s life:

So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Do you realize that the promises Joshua is referring to dated back hundreds of years? All the way back, in fact, to the early chapters of the book of Genesis where God chooses Abraham, promising Him numerous descendants, a national heritage, and land for each subsequent generation. Abraham acted on these promises, trusting the Lord, but the author of Hebrews 11:13 tells it like it is: Abraham and his wife, Sarah, “were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised.” They had one son, Isaac, but that hardly seemed like an auspicious start to a promised nation populated by their descendants—to say nothing of the fact that they never inherited the land.

But the story didn’t end there. From Joshua’s vantage point on his side of history, he had the privilege of seeing that God in His perfect time had kept His promises! God hadn’t forgotten. He hadn’t lost the list of the things He promised to give to Abraham. And so Joshua, standing in the land promised to Abraham, surrounded by the descendants of Abraham, marveled and praised God. No promises were left unfulfilled. Not one of them had failed.

We are so programmed today to be instantly gratified. From instant credit to ATM machines to high-speed Internet and fast-food restaurants, we are wired to getting everything we need and want now.And if we don’t get it now, our blood pressure starts to rise! But God’s timelines are wiser and better than our little antsy, often shortsighted expectations.

So hang in there! If He said it, claim it and cling to it. You can stay the course because the one thing you can count on is God’s faithfulness—regardless! We have the rock-solid witness of history and of Scripture that none of His promises will fail. I love the words Paul wrote to Timothy when he affirmed that though we are often faithless, God will be faithful to us because He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

God Helps with Your Troubles:
Bible Solutions for Problems, Suffering, and Hardship

From: GospelWay.com

Why does God allow suffering, troubles, afflictions, hardship? How can we endure difficulties and problems? What help does the Bible offer when we suffer hardships, worries, trials, and anxieties?

Everyone has troubles. We face problems, affliction, suffering, and hardship. We need strength, endurance, and patience. Why do people suffer? Are all trials the result of sin committed by the one who suffers? Why does God allow trials, worries, anxieties, and difficulties? Should we blame God and turn from Him? Can troubles and suffering actually make us better people? Is it possible to faithfully endure our difficulties? What solutions does the Bible offer to help us endure and overcome our problems, afflictions, and hardships?

 

Introduction:

“Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). We can especially appreciate these words when we think of the suffering endured by the one who spoke them. Different people deal with different problems and afflictions, and it seems that some suffer more hardships than others do. But we all know by personal experience and from the experiences of those we know, that Job’s statement is true.

Troubles concern us, not just because hardship itself is a burden, but also because affliction can lead to spiritual temptations. We may be tempted to feel that our trials justify committing sin. We may become so discouraged that we blame God for our troubles, lose faith in Him, or begin to doubt His goodness and mercy. As Job’s wife said, “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9).

The purpose of this study is to offer Bible answers to questions people often ask about suffering. Why do people suffer? Can good come from suffering? Is it possible to endure affliction with patience and faithfulness? How can God give us strength to endure our hardships and overcome our temptations? What does the Bible say?


Question #1: Why Do People Suffer?


The Bible Teaching

There are several reasons, not just one reason, why people suffer.

Sometimes people suffer as a result of their sins.

King Saul lived a miserable life and eventually was slain because he had rebelled against God (1 Chron. 10:13,14).

Judas killed himself because he had betrayed Jesus (Matthew 27:3-5).

Likewise today, alcoholics may develop disease, thieves may be imprisoned, etc.

Some people think this is the only reason people ever suffer, but we will see that it is not.

Sometimes innocent people suffer as a result of other people’s sins.

This may result from cruelty or accident, as when innocent bystanders are killed by a drunken driver, or when a thief violently attacks his victims.

In other cases wicked people may harm righteous people because they resent them. This kind of religious persecution is described in many verses.

1 Peter 2:19-23 – Jesus is an example of one who committed no sin at all, yet He was persecuted and killed by wicked men. So we may follow His example and suffer, not for our faults, but when we do good.

John 15:18-20 – The treatment Jesus received should warn us of the treatment we can expect. The world hated Him and persecuted Him, and it will do the same to His servants.

2 Corinthians 11:23-26 – Paul’s life shows that Jesus’ followers truly often are persecuted.

2 Timothy 3:10-12 – All who live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution.

(See also 1 Peter 4:12-16; Heb. 11:35-38; 1 Thess. 3:2-4; Acts 14:22; John 16:33; Gen. 50:20)

All people suffer as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin.

God originally placed Adam and Eve in a state of bliss with no problems of any kind. But He warned them of the consequences of sin. When they sinned anyway, He decreed they would endure pain, suffering, hardship, and eventual death (Gen. 3:16-19). All people since that time have endured these same problems. In particular, because of Adam, all people die (1 Cor. 15:22; Heb. 9:27).

Much of the suffering people endure, therefore, cannot be attributed to any particular sin committed by anyone now living. It is just the common lot of mankind because sin is in the world.

This does not mean, as some teach, that people today are born guilty of Adam’s sin or will be eternally punished for it (Ezek. 18:20; 2 Cor. 5:10). But we do suffer in this life because of it.

Some suffering is simply a temptation from Satan.

Job 1:1-2:10 expressly states that Job’s suffering was a temptation from Satan. He hoped that, because he was suffering, Job would turn away from God.

Many other passages teach that Satan is responsible for the suffering of other people. (See 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38).

Lessons We Should Learn

Suffering is not limited to those who are wicked.

Some people think that only wicked people suffer, but God is on the side of the righteous and will remove all their troubles. It follows that, if a person is suffering, he must have committed some sin he should repent of.

This was the theory of Job’s friends (Job 4:7-9); disproving this idea is a main theme of that book. This same false doctrine is taught by many “faith healers” who teach people that God must remove all their problems if they are right with Him.

But we have learned that even righteous people suffer. This is important for the following reasons:

* We should not conclude that we have been guilty of sin every time we have a problem. Maybe we are suffering because of sin, so we should examine our lives. But maybe we are suffering for other reasons, perhaps because we are righteous.

* We should surely never reject a Bible teaching just because it may lead to suffering. If all suffering was the result of our own sin, and if a course of action led to suffering, then we would conclude it was a sinful act. But we have learned that godly people often suffer for doing right.

* We should not become Christians thinking it will automatically solve all our problems. If this is our motive, we may fall away when the hardships come.

But the main lesson to learn is the next point:

God should not be blamed for the existence of suffering.

If we believe that all suffering results from a person’s own sin, and if we see good people suffering, we may be tempted to blame God or to think He is not keeping His promises. But we have learned that all people suffer, whether or not they are righteous.

The command to endure suffering is just another part of a Christian’s life, like the command to study the Bible, pray, worship, etc. Faithful Christians of all ages have suffered; we are not the only ones. We should expect suffering to come, so our faith will not be shaken when it does.

The ultimate and primary blame for suffering rests on Satan who tempts people to sin and thereby brought sin into the world. The secondary blame rests upon people, ourselves included, who have given in to temptation and committed sin that led to suffering.

Yes, God did create suffering as a punishment for sin, but only after He had given people a life without problems and had warned them of the consequences of sin. When they chose to sin, He should no more be blamed for punishing them than a parent should be blamed when he must punish a rebellious child. (Cf. James 1:13,15.)

Remember, if you blame God and reject Him because you are suffering, then you are doing exactly what Satan wants you to do. He has defeated you! The only way to defeat Satan and really overcome hardship is to maintain your faithfulness to God in spite of it.

Teach People What Jesus Taught

 

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The Teaching of Adversity

From: My Utmost for His Highest

The typical view of the Christian life is that it means being delivered from all adversity. But it actually means being delivered in adversity, which is something very different. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling . . .” (Psalm 91:1,10)— the place where you are at one with God.

If you are a child of God, you will certainly encounter adversities, but Jesus says you should not be surprised when they come. “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” He is saying, “There is nothing for you to fear.” The same people who refused to talk about their adversities before they were saved often complain and worry after being born again because they have the wrong idea of what it means to live the life of a saint.

God does not give us overcoming life— He gives us life as we overcome. The strain of life is what builds our strength. If there is no strain, there will be no strength. Are you asking God to give you life, liberty, and joy? He cannot, unless you are willing to accept the strain. And once you face the strain, you will immediately get the strength. Overcome your own timidity and take the first step. Then God will give you nourishment— “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life . . .” (Revelation 2:7). If you completely give of yourself physically, you become exhausted. But when you give of yourself spiritually, you get more strength. God never gives us strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the moment. Our temptation is to face adversities from the standpoint of our own common sense. But a saint can “be of good cheer” even when seemingly defeated by adversities, because victory is absurdly impossible to everyone, except God.

 

God’s Word: Showing Us How to Live

Introduction

Galatians 6:1-18: Paul gives the Galatians instructions for living in community, exhorting them to “obey the law of Christ.” He concludes by warning them again about those who are advocating circumcision, emphasizing that what is important is being a “new creature” based on faith in Christ Jesus.

Today’s Scripture: Galatians 6:2

Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.

Today’s Reading

1 My friends, if someone is caught in any kind of wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should set him right; but you must do it in a gentle way. And keep an eye on yourselves, so that you will not be tempted, too. 2 Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are something when you really are nothing, you are only deceiving yourself. 4 You should each judge your own conduct. If it is good, then you can be proud of what you yourself have done, without having to compare it with what someone else has done. 5 For each of you have to carry your own load. 6 If you are being taught the Christian message, you should share all the good things you have with your teacher. 7 Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. You will reap exactly what you plant. 8 If you plant in the field of your natural desires, from it you will gather the harvest of death; if you plant in the field of the Spirit, from the Spirit you will gather the harvest of eternal life. 9 So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest. 10 So then, as often as we have the chance, we should do good to everyone, and especially to those who belong to our family in the faith. 11 See what big letters I make as I write to you now with my own hand! 12 The people who are trying to force you to be circumcised are the ones who want to show off and boast about external matters. They do it, however, only so that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Even those who practice circumcision do not obey the Law; they want you to be circumcised so that they can boast that you submitted to this physical ceremony. 14 As for me, however, I will boast only about the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; for by means of his cross the world is dead to me, and I am dead to the world. 15 It does not matter at all whether or not one is circumcised; what does matter is being a new creature. 16 As for those who follow this rule in their lives, may peace and mercy be with them—with them and with all of God’s people! 17 To conclude: let no one give me any more trouble, because the scars I have on my body show that I am the slave of Jesus. 18May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, my friends. Amen.

Reflect

What instructions does Paul give? How is community among believers built and sustained based on these instructions? Are these instructions relevant for your community of faith? Why or why not? Paul exhorts the Galatians to “obey the law of Christ,” which means that followers of Christ are to love one another because they have been accepted by God and have received God’s Spirit. What does obeying the law of Christ mean to you?

How Do I Let It Go?

From: Crosswalk
SUZIE ELLER

“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, And rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NKJV)

Three-year-old Elle arched her arm and pointed her fingers. “You’re frozen, Gaga!”

I stopped in place, one arm behind me, the other in the air. She giggled, then quickly unfroze me.

If you are in the vicinity of anyone under the age of 6, you’re familiar with the movie, Frozen. In it, two sisters struggle in their relationship with each other and in finding acceptance.

At one point Elsa, the older sister, sings these words:

“Let it go, let it go …
“And I’ll rise like the break of dawn …”

Let it go.

Those are words I sensed God speaking to me years ago.

Let go of the past that you cannot undo.

Let go of the warped view you have of yourself. It doesn’t match the one I have as your Heavenly Father.

Let go of the hurts that hold you too tightly.

Just as I playfully stood frozen while my granddaughter giggled, there was another time when I felt frozen. I couldn’t take a step toward healing.

“Let it go, sweet daughter,” was a whisper I heard from God to discover the Suzie He saw me to be.

Maybe you’ve sensed God asking you to let something — or someone — go.

Let go of the mistakes you once made. I’ve forgiven you.

Let go of the anger that’s consuming your thoughts.

Let go of condemnation, so you can live free.

You want that desperately, but it can be hard to let go when you don’t know what that means. May I share the definition of letting go with you? It was freeing for me when I finally understood it.

Letting go is giving up what is beyond your control to embrace what you can change.

In Isaiah 43:18-19, God spoke to His people through the prophet Isaiah saying: “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, And rivers in the desert.”

The people held so tightly to the past that they missed the new things God wanted to show them.

God speaks the same warning and truth to us. We can’t control the past, but we can focus on the miracles around us today.

We can’t control the words that once shaped our hearts, but we can replace them with truth from Scripture.

We can’t control negative people, but we can choose joy for ourselves.

Letting go isn’t easy in the beginning, because holding on is our natural response. But there’s so much hope! Just as the prophet Isaiah describes new roads in the desert and rivers in the wilderness, as we give up what we can’t control to embrace what we can change, new ways of thinking, relating and living are carved into our very being.

And the beautiful thing about letting go?

It doesn’t just change us.

It has the power to alter the next generation, and the next after that, like the cute little blonde-haired, blue-eyed darling chasing her Gaga through the house, singing, “Let it go!”

Dear Jesus, I’ve wanted to let go for a long time, but I didn’t know how to do that. Now that I do, I’m ready to take that leap of faith. I give up what I cannot control to embrace what I can. Thank You for carving new roads in the desert of my heart and new rivers in the wilderness of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

From: Streams in the Desert

I will make all my mountains a way (Isaiah 49:11).

God will make obstacles serve His purpose. We all have mountains in our lives. There are people and things that threaten to bar our progress in the Divine life. Those heavy claims, that uncongenial occupation, that thorn in the flesh, that daily cross — we think that if only these were removed we might live purer, tenderer, holier lives; and often we pray for their removal.

“Oh, fools, and slow of heart!” These are the very conditions of achievement; they have been put into our lives as the means to the very graces and virtues for which we have been praying so long. Thou hast prayed for patience through long years, but there is something that tries thee beyond endurance; thou hast fled from it, evaded it, accounted it an unsurmountable obstacle to the desired attainment, and supposed that its removal would secure thy immediate deliverance and victory.

Not so! Thou wouldest gain only the cessation of temptations to impatience. But this would not be patience. Patience can be acquired only through just such trials as now seem unbearable.

Go back; submit thyself. Claim to be a partaker in the patience of Jesus. Meet thy trials in Him. There is nothing in life which harasses and annoys that may not become subservient to the highest ends. They are His mountains. He puts them there. We know that God will not fail to keep His promise.

“God understandeth the way thereof and knoweth the place thereof. For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven”; and when we come to the foot of the mountains, we shall find the way.
–Christ in Isaiah, by Meyer

The meaning of trials is not only to test worthiness, but to increase it; as the oak is not only tested by the storms, but toughened by them.

Practice Intercessory Prayer

Vicarious Intercession

Beware of thinking that intercession means bringing our own personal sympathies and concerns into the presence of God, and then demanding that He do whatever we ask. Our ability to approach God is due entirely to the vicarious, or substitutionary, identification of our Lord with sin. We have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.” Spiritual stubbornness is the most effective hindrance to intercession, because it is based on a sympathetic “understanding” of things we see in ourselves and others that we think needs no atonement. We have the idea that there are certain good and virtuous things in each of us that do not need to be based on the atonement by the Cross of Christ. Just the sluggishness and lack of interest produced by this kind of thinking makes us unable to intercede. We do not identify ourselves with God’s interests and concerns for others, and we get irritated with Him. Yet we are always ready with our own ideas, and our intercession becomes only the glorification of our own natural sympathies. We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means a radical change of all of our sympathies and interests. Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them. Am I stubborn or substituted? Am I spoiled or complete in my relationship to God? Am I irritable or spiritual? Am I determined to have my own way or determined to be identified with Him?

Wake Him Up!

From: Get more Strength.org

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Elouise worked the cash register in the food court at Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute. She was, by far and away, one of my favorite people. I liked a lot of things about Elouise: her happy smile, helpful spirit, and love for everyone. But what I liked best was her down-home, streetwise wisdom that came out in some of the most memorable quips. I could give you a bunch of them, but here’s one that just might be a good word for you.

One morning, as I reached into my pocket to pull out the cash for my breakfast, I asked Elouise how she was doing, to which she replied, “Not all that great.”

“Really?” I asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Well,” she quipped, “I had to wake Him up this morning!”

I wasn’t quite getting where she was going with that, so I asked, “What do you mean? Wake who up?”

“Don’t you know your Bible?” she teasingly said with an obvious sense of joy at stumping the Moody president. To save me any further embarrassment, she went on to say, “When the disciples thought they were going to die in the storm at sea, they had to wake up Jesus so He would help them. I had to wake Him up this morning,” she said, “’cause I needed His help!”

See why she’s one of my favorite people?

What she didn’t say, though, was that it seems like Jesus was the last resort for those panicked disciples. Luke tells us that it wasn’t until the boat was nearly swamped, and it was clear that they were in great danger, that someone had the brilliant idea to wake up Jesus.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we are usually pretty slow as well to wake Him up. Well, actually, we don’t need to wake Him up since the God who watches over us neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:3)! In reality, we’re the ones who need to wake up. We need to wake up to the truth that we are not as capable as we think we are to deal with life’s challenges; that our wisdom and instincts are flawed; that trying to manage life by the seat of our pants usually gets us into a heap of trouble.

So, thankfully, the writer to the Hebrews assures us that we can come to Jesus with what the text literally says is “unstaggering confidence”—confidence that He understands our plight and is ready to help us in our time of need. And, in case you’re wondering how He will help you in your time of need, think about His grace that will help you endure, His mercy, His power to overcome, His wisdom to show you the way. And don’t forget His calming presence and His peace that passes understanding in the midst of life’s storms. They are all available for the asking!

So, next time you are overwhelmed with life and don’t know what to do, take a little advice from my friend Elouise: wake Him up! And don’t wait until He is your last resort. You’ll get exhausted and disheartened if you try to bail out your boat all by yourself!

Which reminds me of a wonderful old song that we used to sing in church when I was a boy. It goes, “I need thee, Oh, I need thee! Every hour I need thee! Oh, bless me now my Savior, I come to thee.” You’ll need Him sometime—probably today—so make that the theme song of your life.

He maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth and his hands make whole (Job 5:18). The Ministry of Great Sorrow From: Streams in the Desert   As we pass beneath the hills which have been shaken by the earthquake and torn by convulsion, we find that periods of perfect repose succeed those of destruction. The pools of calm water lie clear beneath their fallen rocks, the water lilies gleam, and the reeds whisper among the shadows; the village rises again over the forgotten graves, and its church tower, white through the storm twilight, proclaims a renewed appeal to His protection “in whose hand are all the corners of the earth, and the strength of the hills is his also.” –Ruskin   God ploughed one day with an earthquake, And drove His furrows deep! The huddling plains upstarted, The hills were all aleap!   But that is the mountains’ secret, Age-hidden in their breast; “God’s peace is everlasting,” Are the dream-words of their rest.   He made them the haunts of beauty, The home elect of His grace; He spreadeth His mornings upon them, His sunsets light their face.   His winds bring messages to them Wild storm-news from the main; They sing it down the valleys In the love-song of the rain.   They are nurseries for young rivers, Nests for His flying cloud,Homesteads for new-born races, Masterful, free, and proud.   The people of tired cities Come up to their shrines and pray; God freshens again within them, As He passes by all day.   And lo, I have caught their secret! The beauty deeper than all! This faith–that life’s hard moments, When the jarring sorrows befall,   Are but God ploughing His mountains; And those mountains yet shall be The source of His grace and freshness, And His peace everlasting to me. –William C. Gannett

Happy Endings

The first: “Houston, we have a problem.”

And then: “Hello, Houston . . . this is Odyssey. It’s good to see you again.”

Together, these two messages form the bookends to the real-life drama of NASA’s struggle to bring three astronauts safely back to earth. An explosion crippled their spacecraft partway into their April 1970 mission to the moon.

The minutes leading up to the second of the two radio transmissions were particularly dramatic as people the world over anxiously gathered around television sets and collectively held their breath to see if the crew survived reentry into the earth’s atmosphere. Cheers and tears of joy and relief exploded across the globe when the astronauts finally returned home unharmed.

Not every story has a thrilling, happy ending like Apollo 13. But the Bible reveals that those who believe in Jesus will experience one! Much as the crew of Apollo 13 endured, life as we know it can be an ordeal and it will inevitably break our hearts. Death and decay will take away our health and every person we love. But the sacrificial death and dramatic resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees the happiest of endings.

This is the “happily ever after” that Paul wrote about in offering hope and comfort to those in need (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, Paul confidently declared the future resurrection of the dead when he wrote, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).

Sometimes, all can seem lost, especially when death takes those we love. But the truth of the cross and the empty tomb emboldens us with the hope for a “happy ending” that is beyond description.

Tears Of Gratitude

From: Our Daily Bread
At a communion service my wife and I attended, the congregation was invited to come forward to receive the bread and cup from one of the pastors or elders. They told each one personally of Jesus’ sacrifice for him or her. It was an especially moving experience during what can often become just routine. After we returned to our seats, I watched as others slowly and quietly filed past. It was striking to see how many had tears in their eyes. For me, and for others I talked with later, they were tears of gratitude. The reason for tears of gratitude is seen in the reason for the communion table itself. Paul, after instructing the church at Corinth about the meaning of the memorial supper, punctuated his comments with these powerful words: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). With the elements of communion pointing directly to the cross and the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, that service was about so much more than ritual—it was about Christ. His love. His sacrifice. His cross. For us. How inadequate words are to convey the extraordinary worth of Christ! Sometimes tears of gratitude speak what words can’t fully express.
Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all. —Watts
The love Christ showed for us on the cross is greater than words could ever express.

Insight

For centuries, the Jewish community of faith had called to memory God’s provision of their deliverance out of bondage in Egypt. This memorial was celebrated through the Passover meal (Ex. 12:1-28). A roasted lamb, unleavened bread, wine, bitter herbs, and other items helped them remember their salvation from slavery. In our reading today, we see how our Lord took that sacred feast and transformed it into a memorial of His own sacrificial death (see Luke 22:19).

Enjoy Rejoicing In The Lord

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Just As I Am

Our Daily Bread

Good memories flooded my mind as I sat in a concert. The group’s leader had just introduced the song they were about to sing: “Just As I Am.” I remembered how years ago at the end of his sermons my pastor would ask people to come forward while we sang that song, indicating they would like to receive the forgiveness Christ offers for their sins.

But the leader of the musical group at the concert suggested another occasion when we might sing this song. He commented that he likes to think that when he dies and goes to meet the Lord one day, he will sing in thanks to Him:

Just as I am, without one plea

But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come!

Years before writing this song, Charlotte Elliott asked a minister how she might find the Lord. He told her, “Just come to Him as you are.” She did, and later during a discouraging time of illness, she wrote this hymn about the day she came to Christ and He forgave her sin.

In His Word, the Lord encourages us to seek Him: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” (Isa. 55:6). He calls to our hearts: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters . . . . Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (vv.1,3).

Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can come to Him right now and will one day go into eternity to be with Him forever. Just as I am . . . I come!

Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. —Revelation 22:17

Streams In The Desert

David cared for them with pure motives; he led them with skill. Ps 78:72
When you are doubtful as to your course, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God, and ask Him to shut against you every door but the right one…Meanwhile keep on as you are, and consider the absence of indication to be the indication of God’s will that you are on His track…As you go down the long corridor, you will find that He has preceded you, and locked many doors which you would fain have entered; but be sure that beyond these there is one which He has left unlocked. Open it and enter, and you will find yourself face to face with a bend of the river of opportunity, broader and deeper than anything you had dared to imagine in your sunniest dreams. Launch forth upon it; it conducts to the open sea.
God guides us, often by circumstances. At one moment the way may seem utterly blocked; and then shortly afterward some trivial incident occurs, which might not seem much to others, but which to the keen eye of faith speaks volumes. Sometimes these things are repeated in various ways, in answer to prayer. They are not haphazard results of chance, but the opening up of circumstances in the direction in which we would walk. And they begin to multiply as we advance toward our goal, just as the lights do as we near a populous town, when darting through the land by night express.
—F. B. Meyer
If you go to Him to be guided, He will guide you; but He will not comfort your distrust or half-trust of Him by showing you the chart of all His purposes concerning you. He will show you only into a way where, if you go cheerfully and trustfully forward, He will show you on still farthcr.
—Horace Bushnell
As moves my fragile bark across the storm-swept sea,
Great waves beat o’er her side, as north wind blows;
Deep in the darkness hid lie threat’ning rocks and shoals;
But all of these, and more, my Pilot knows.
Sometimes when dark the night, and every light gone out,
I wonder to what port my frail ship goes;
Still though the night be long, and restless all my hours,
My distant goal, I’m sure, my Pilot knows.
—Thomas Curtis Clark

The Joy of the Lord is your Strength!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 (8:43 am)

Nehemiah 8:9-10 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people were weeping, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Last night began the Biblical feast of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) throughout the world!

Roughly 2500 years ago, there was a special Sukkot celebration in Jerusalem. The people of Israel were exiled and dispersed all across the Babylonian empire. Later, they were given the right to return and start construction on the 2nd temple of Israel. Nehemiah 8 speaks of the special celebration that happened at that time. We read how Ezra taught the people out of the book of the law and how they responded in weeping and repentance before the God of Israel.

Interestingly, Sukkot is a holiday in which the people were commanded to rejoice, yet they were weeping in repentance. And then, in verse 9, they did! Isn’t it true that joy always comes after the mourning?

The word for strength in Hebrew is ”mah-oz”. Not only does it mean strength, but it also means fortress and rock. When we commit our lives to walking in repentance and practicing holiness, then we will live in a constant state of joy. As the Apostle Paul said, Rejoice always! In our joy we find our fortress, our rock – the stability of our lives!

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

 

Enter In!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 (10:29 am)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy News

Psalms 105:3 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.

As we close out the fall feasts here in Israel I’m meditating on the deeper significance of this season. I’m realizing how God’s ordering of the festivals contains a deeper meaning than one might see at first glance. It’s not just about apples and honey and building tabernacles. The Lord gave the Jewish people these feasts as a beautiful picture of His ultimate plan; repentance, faith, atonement, forgiveness and joy. He carefully ordered these feasts to call us to a profound internal reflection designed to lead us from sin and alienation to reconciliation, fellowship, freedom and great joy.

Beginning with Rosh HaShannah and the days immediately following, (commonly called the Days of Awe) we are invited to a season of deep self examination and repentance, culminating at Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). This highest holy day reveals the way in which God forgives our sins through the offering of a spotless lamb, which lays the foundation for the joy of reconciliation with God and one another experienced at Sukkot.

As we can see, this entire sequence is a precise picture of the Lord’s New Covenant redemptive plan. We cannot enter the joy of the Lord except through repentance, faith and redemption through His Son.

Enter the joy of the Lord! Let’s examine ourselves today, confess our sins, trust in the absolute forgiveness of God through faith in His Son — and REJOICE!!!

 

Do ya love me?!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 (3:38 am)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

John 15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

An ancient story in Church history tells of the apostle John. He would constantly repeat the words, “Little children, love one another.” And his disciples became weary of the phrase. Finally, in his old age, as John was being carried to their assembly, the disciples asked him, “Why do you always repeat these same words?” “Because friends,” John replied, “it is the Lord’s commandment — and if only this one were fulfilled, it would be enough.”

What is the greatest witness we Christians have to the world around us? I can tell you it’s not only our words of wisdom, though they may be wonderful. It’s not only our knowledge of the Scripture, though it may be vast. It’s not only our material giving, though it may be great.

The greatest witness we have is the kind of love that the Bible defines above. Have we been patient and kind with others? Perhaps instead, we’ve been envious, boastful, proud, rude, self seeking or easily angered. I know I have. Have we kept a record of wrongs? Have we we delighted in evil? Uggh. When we express the true love of God, we always rejoice in the truth, protect, trust, hope and persevere.

Love never fails. Love can turn evil to good, darkness into light and enemies to friends. True love can totally transform the world around us.

I am humbled, are you? Let’s strive to start loving the way the Lord would have us love. Yeah — you know why. ‘Cause there’s just so much work to be done!!

Rejoice, this is the day that the Lord has made!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 (3:50 am)

Psalm 69:32 (YLT) The humble have seen–they rejoice, Ye who seek God–and your heart liveth.

There is an important lesson here and in other places of God’s Word, namely that humility and gladness go together. What do the humble and the joyous have in common? They both look up. The humble are those who don’t look down on anyone. The truly humble look up all the time. They have to look up, because their eyes are on God, and He’s above them. The joyous are always looking up as well, otherwise they wouldn’t be rejoicing.

The joyous are believing the Good News, so they rejoice! The prideful, however, are those who think they’re above everything else and so they look down on people. The prideful are connected to the others who look down, the cynical, the doubting, the despairing, the depressed, the sorrowful and the hopeless. In the same way that the humble and the joyous go together, so do pride and despair. Humility leads to joy. Pride leads to despair.

Let’s get our eyes off ourselves, off of our problems, off of the world around us. Let’s fix our eyes on Him, the Redeemer of our souls. Those who look up in humility, also look up in joy! Together, let’s fix our eyes on Him and be glad!

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Pray For Godly Teachers

 

PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS AROUND THE WORLD, AND PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS IN YOUR WORLD.

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The Teaching of Disillusionment

My Utmost for His Highest

Disillusionment means having no more misconceptions, false impressions, and false judgments in life; it means being free from these deceptions. However, though no longer deceived, our experience of disillusionment may actually leave us cynical and overly critical in our judgment of others. But the disillusionment that comes from God brings us to the point where we see people as they really are, yet without any cynicism or any stinging and bitter criticism. Many of the things in life that inflict the greatest injury, grief, or pain, stem from the fact that we suffer from illusions. We are not true to one another asfacts, seeing each other as we really are; we are only true to our misconceived ideas of one another. According to our thinking, everything is either delightful and good, or it is evil, malicious, and cowardly.

Refusing to be disillusioned is the cause of much of the suffering of human life. And this is how that suffering happens— if we love someone, but do not love God, we demand total perfection and righteousness from that person, and when we do not get it we become cruel and vindictive; yet we are demanding of a human being something which he or she cannot possibly give. There is only one Being who can completely satisfy to the absolute depth of the hurting human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord is so obviously uncompromising with regard to every human relationship because He knows that every relationship that is not based on faithfulness to Himself will end in disaster. Our Lord trusted no one, and never placed His faith in people, yet He was never suspicious or bitter. Our Lord’s confidence in God, and in what God’s grace could do for anyone, was so perfect that He never despaired, never giving up hope for any person. If our trust is placed in human beings, we will end up despairing of everyone.

Family Trademarks

The Aran Islands, off the west coast of Ireland, are known for their beautiful sweaters. Patterns are woven into the fabric using sheep’s wool to craft the garments. Many of them relate to the culture and folklore of these small islands, but some are more personal. Each family on the islands has its own trademark pattern, which is so distinctive that if a fisherman were to drown it is said that he could be identified simply by examining his sweater for the family trademark.

In John’s first letter, the apostle describes things that are to be trademarks of those who are members of God’s family. In 1 John 3:1, John affirms that we are indeed part of God’s family by saying, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” He then describes the trademarks of those who are the children of God, including, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (4:7).

Because “love is of God,” the chief way to reflect the heart of the Father is by displaying the love that characterizes Him. May we allow His love to reach out to others through us—for love is one of our family trademarks.

Father, teach me to love with the love of Christ
that others might see Your love reflected in my
care and concern for them. May Your love
drive and dominate my responses to life and to others.
Love is the family resemblance the world should see in followers of Christ.

Insight

In 1 John 4:9, John’s words parallel those of Paul in Romans 5:8, which reads: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Notice that with both Paul and John the emphasis is on how God’s love has been proven through the sending of His Son to us. Paul’s perspective, however, is rooted in our unworthiness while John’s focus is on the gift of life in Christ

Connectedly Challenged

 Get more Strength

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” John 15:4

I’ll never forget the time I bought a new stereo system. I brought the boxes home and carefully unwrapped each piece of equipment. I spread everything out on the floor. There it was—wires and all. But halfway into the assembling project I realized I needed some serious help. Believe me, I am a technological idiot; when it comes to connecting in digital world, I’m in serious trouble!

Most of us are a lot like that spiritually. We have all the equipment we need to connect to an intimate and fulfilling relationship with the only One who is tailor-made to make great music out of our lives. But most of us never quite seem to get it figured out. So here are some pointers.

The intimacy with God we were built to enjoy begins by realizing that our relationship with Jesus is the key to getting connected. As He said in John 14:6, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” And then in John 15:1-27 he paints a profound picture of what that looks like (I find pictures are really helpful in set-up manuals), by telling us that we are like branches and that He is the vine. All the resources we need to prosper and bear fruit come from entwining our entire being—mind, will, intellect, emotions, and attitudes—into Jesus. And then He concludes the connection instructions by telling us that the key to letting the music flow is our unflinching obedience to Him in every aspect of our lives.

Jesus says, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:10). The payoff of finally getting connected is that we will experience the deep-down joy that only He can give as a reward for obediently staying wired to Him. He assures us, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).

Perhaps you can imagine the joy I felt when a friend came over to get me out of my digital mess. And the music was spectacular!

When you think of your spiritual journey, I wonder if you feel frustrated and wound up in wires that go nowhere, leaving you disappointed and doubting if your Christianity will ever work? Check in with the “intimacy expert.” Jesus welcomes you to listen to His advice for your life and then to hook up by obeying all of His directives. Directives about how to deal with your enemies, your family, your finances, your weird boss, and anything or anybody else that crosses your path. As it is with digital equipment, there are no alternatives. If the wires aren’t plugged into the right place, it just won’t work.

And, one other thought: When I can’t get something to work I always know that it’s not the manufacturer’s fault. They knew just how to make the equipment. So if God seems far away and there is little or no music in your heart, it’s not God’s fault. We were pre-wired to fellowship with Him in harmonious obedience!

 

Today’s Devotions

Through The Bible

Morning

July 30

1 Chronicles 28:12, 19 (NIV) 12He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the LORD and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things… 19″All this,” David said, “I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.”

There is a tendency to think God was more visible and directly involved in Old Testament times in more dramatic ways than in this age. As David was sharing the plans of the Temple with Solomon, he told how he received the inspiration for the plan. He did not have a vision or experience some kind of autonomic writing. He did not have a vivid dream or spirit travel to heaven. The Spirit of God put it in his mind. The hand of the LORD was upon him and gave him understanding of the details of the plan.

The LORD often works with us in the same way. If (and that is a great big “IF”) we are seeking Him and His will with all our heart and have been walking with Him for some time to learn discernment, the Spirit inspires our thoughts. As we walk with the hand of the LORD upon us, we will discern Spirit inspired thoughts.

Thoughts come from one of three sources: suggestions from the demonic, our own soul, or the Spirit of God. As we mature we learn to discern the difference and become more and more attentive and obedient to the Spirit inspired thoughts and quick to reject the enemy’s temptations. When we pray we will notice the thoughts for whom to pray for enter our mind. As we approach daily difficulties, we will notice solutions that we had not thought of. Be careful to give God all the credit and the glory for those. That is what David was doing when he said, “He gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.” “I can’t take credit for one little detail. God inspired my thoughts.” We find the same experience today as we go about working on the temple with living stones.

Remember: Grab those God inspired thoughts and give Him all the glory when you see the good fruit.

Evening

July 30

Acts 17:2-4, 11 (NIV) 2As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. 4Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women.

11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Paul usually began working in a city from the Jewish synagogue. It was a place where he could speak to people with some background in prophecies about the Messiah. His approach was to show the people that the prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. He explained that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. To explain why Jesus had to suffer is to explain His sacrifice in our place.

Seeing that the prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus, some of the Jews were persuaded, along with a large number of God-fearing Greeks. Even in those early days, women seem to have more readily accepted the Gospel. The Jews who did not accept Paul’s teaching were jealous of them winning the crowds. They stirred up a riot, and Paul and Silas had to leave.

The next town, Berea, met the message with a more noble character. Instead of emotion and competition, they searched the Scriptures every day to see if Paul and Silas were speaking the truth. The church today has the same response to teaching. Some just get upset and boot the new speaker, in spite of the new people coming into fellowship. They are jealous of a loss of power. Others search the Scriptures to see if the new speaker is teaching Scriptural truth.

Consider: When you hear a message that teaches something unfamiliar to you, do you act like a Thessalonican or a Berean?