Tag Archives: spiritual

Holiness or Hardness Toward God?

 

Holiness or Hardness Toward God?

From: My Utmost For His HIghest

03
30
2014

He . . . wondered that there was no intercessor . . . —Isaiah 59:16

The reason many of us stop praying and become hard toward God is that we only have an emotional interest in prayer. It sounds good to say that we pray, and we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial— that our minds are quieted and our souls are uplifted when we pray. But Isaiah implied in this verse that God is amazed at such thoughts about prayer.

Worship and intercession must go together; one is impossible without the other. Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying (see Philippians 2:5). Instead of worshiping God, we recite speeches to God about how prayer is supposed to work. Are we worshiping God or disputing Him when we say, “But God, I just don’t see how you are going to do this”? This is a sure sign that we are not worshiping. When we lose sight of God, we become hard and dogmatic. We throw our petitions at His throne and dictate to Him what we want Him to do. We don’t worship God, nor do we seek to conform our minds to the mind of Christ. And if we are hard toward God, we will become hard toward other people.

Are we worshiping God in a way that will raise us up to where we can take hold of Him, having such intimate contact with Him that we know His mind about the ones for whom we pray? Are we living in a holy relationship with God, or have we become hard and dogmatic?

Do you find yourself thinking that there is no one interceding properly? Then be that person yourself. Be a person who worships God and lives in a holy relationship with Him. Get involved in the real work of intercession, remembering that it truly is work-work that demands all your energy, but work which has no hidden pitfalls. Preaching the gospel has its share of pitfalls, but intercessory prayer has none whatsoever.

Blessed Are The Meek

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. —Matthew 5:5
Bible in a Year:
Judges 9-10; Luke 5:17-39

One problem with the English word meek is that it rhymes with weak, and people have linked the two words together for years. A popular dictionary offers a secondary definition ofmeek as “too submissive; easily imposed on; spineless; spiritless.” This causes some people to question why Jesus would say, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

Greek scholar W. E. Vine says that meekness in the Bible is an attitude toward God “in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.” We see this in Jesus who found His delight in doing the will of His Father.

Vine goes on to say that “the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power. . . . The Lord was ‘meek’ because He had the infinite resources of God at His command.” He could have called angels from heaven to prevent His crucifixion.

Jesus told His weary, burdened followers, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am [meek] and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). He was the perfect model of meekness.

When we are tired and troubled, Jesus invites us to discover the peace of meekly trusting Him.

Love sent the Savior to die in my stead.
Why should He love me so?
Meekly to Calvary’s cross He was led.
Why should He love me so? —Harkness
God has two dwellings, one in heaven and the other in a meek and thankful heart. —Walton

Surrender To God’s Will

 

The Surrendered Life

From: My Utmost For His Highest

I have been crucified with Christ . . . —Galatians 2:20

To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things. Being born again by the Spirit of God means that we must first be willing to let go before we can grasp something else. The first thing we must surrender is all of our pretense or deceit. What our Lord wants us to present to Him is not our goodness, honesty, or our efforts to do better, but real solid sin. Actually, that is all He can take from us. And what He gives us in exchange for our sin is real solid righteousness. But we must surrender all pretense that we are anything, and give up all our claims of even being worthy of God’s consideration.

Once we have done that, the Spirit of God will show us what we need to surrender next. Along each step of this process, we will have to give up our claims to our rights to ourselves. Are we willing to surrender our grasp on all that we possess, our desires, and everything else in our lives? Are we ready to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?

We will suffer a sharp painful disillusionment before we fully surrender. When people really see themselves as the Lord sees them, it is not the terribly offensive sins of the flesh that shock them, but the awful nature of the pride of their own hearts opposing Jesus Christ. When they see themselves in the light of the Lord, the shame, horror, and desperate conviction hit home for them.

If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him. And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you.

 

 

The Tiger’sWhisker

 

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The tiger’s whisker

Once upon a time, a young wife named Yun Ok was at her wit’s end. Her husband had always been a tender and loving soulmate before he had left for the wars but, ever since he returned home, he was cross, angry, and unpredictable. She was almost afraid to live with her own husband. Only in glancing moments did she catch a shadow of the husband she used to know and love.

When one ailment or another bothered people in her village, they would often rush for a cure to a hermit who lived deep in the mountains. Not Yun Ok. She always prided herself that she could heal her own troubles. But this time was different. She was desperate.

As Yun Ok approached the hermit’s hut, she saw the door was open. The old man said without turning around: “I hear you. What’s your problem?”

She explained the situation. His back still to her, he said, “Ah yes, it’s often that way when soldiers return from the war. What do you expect me to do about it?”

“Make me a potion!” cried the young wife. “Or an amulet, a drink, whatever it takes to get my husband back the way he used to be.”

The old man turned around. “Young woman, your request doesn’t exactly fall into the same category as a broken bone or ear infection.”

“I know”, said she.

“It will take three days before I can even look into it. Come back then.”

Three days later, Yun Ok returned to the hermit’s hut. “Yun Ok”, he greeted her with a smile, “I have good news. There is a potion that will restore your husband to the way he used to be, but you should know that it requires an unusual ingredient. You must bring me a whisker from a live tiger.”

“What?” she gasped. “Such a thing is impossible!”

“I cannot make the potion without it!” he shouted, startling her. He turned his back. “There is nothing more to say. As you can see, I’m very busy.”

That night Yun Ok tossed and turned. How could she get a whisker from a live tiger?

The next day before dawn, she crept out of the house with a bowl of rice covered with meat sauce. She went to a cave on the mountainside where a tiger was known to live. She clicked her tongue very softly as she crept up, her heart pounding, and carefully set the bowl on the grass. Then, trying to make as little noise as she could, she backed away.

The next day before dawn, she took another bowl of rice covered with meat sauce to the cave. She approached the same spot, clicking softly with her tongue. She saw that the bowl was empty, replaced the empty one with a fresh one, and again left, clicking softly and trying not to break twigs or rustle leaves, or do anything else to startle and unsettle the wild beast.

So it went, day after day, for several months. She never saw the tiger (thank goodness for that! she thought) though she knew from footprints on the ground that the tiger – and not a smaller mountain creature – had been eating her food. Then one day as she approached, she noticed the tiger’s head poking out of its cave. Glancing downward, she stepped very carefully to the same spot and with as little noise as she could, set down the fresh bowl and, her heart pounding, picked up the one that was empty.

After a few weeks, she noticed the tiger would come out of its cave as it heard her footsteps, though it stayed a distance away (again, thank goodness! she thought, though she knew that someday, in order to get the whisker, she’d have to come closer to it).

Another month went by. Then the tiger would wait by the empty food bowl as it heard her approaching. As she picked up the old bowl and replaced it with a fresh one, she could smell its scent, as it could surely smell hers.

“Actually”, she thought, remembering its almost kittenish look as she set down a fresh bowl, “it is a rather friendly creature, when you get to know it.” The next time she visited, she glanced up at the tiger briefly and noticed what a lovely downturn of reddish fur it had from over one of its eyebrows to the next. Not a week later, the tiger allowed her to gently rub its head, and it purred and stretched like a house cat.

Then she knew the time had come. The next morning, very early, she brought with her a small knife. After she set down the fresh bowl and the tiger allowed her to pet its head, she said in a low voice: “Oh, my tiger, may I please have just one of your whiskers?” While petting the tiger with one hand, she held one whisker at its base and, with the other hand, in one quick stroke, she carved the whisker off. She stood up, speaking softly her thanks, and left, for the last time.

The next morning seemed endless. At last her husband left for the rice fields. She ran to the hermit’s hut, clutching the precious whisker in her fist. Bursting in, she cried to the hermit: “I have it! I have the tiger’s whisker!”

“You don’t say?” he said, turning around. “From a live tiger?”

“Yes!” she said.

“Tell me”, said the hermit, interested. “How did you do it?”

Yun Ok told the hermit how, for the last six months, she had earned the trust of the creature and it had finally permitted her to cut off one of its whiskers. With pride she handed him the whisker. The hermit examined it, satisfied himself that it was indeed a whisker from a live tiger, then flicked it into the fire where it sizzled and burned in an instant.

“Yun Ok”, the hermit said softly, “you no longer need the whisker. Tell me, is a man more vicious than a tiger? If a dangerous wild beast will respond to your gradual and patient care, do you think a man will respond any less willingly?”

Yun Ok stood speechless. Then she turned and stepped down the trail, turning over in her mind images of the tiger and of her husband, back and forth. She knew what she could do.

From: Rogerdarlington.me.uk.com. Source: Korean fable

A Better World

 

A Better World

[Keep] your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that . . . they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God. —1 Peter 2:12
Bible in a Year:
Judges 7-8; Luke 5:1-16

In one of my favorite Peanuts cartoons featuring Charlie Brown, the always confident Lucy declares, “How could the world be getting worse with me in it? Ever since I was born the world has shown a distinct improvement!”

Of course, Lucy is displaying an unrealistic and elevated opinion of herself, but she makes an interesting point. What if we were to try to make the world a better place by displaying the love of Christ wherever God has placed us?

When Peter wrote to persecuted believers, he advised them to “[keep] your conduct honorable” (1 Peter 2:12) by doing good deeds that will ultimately bring glory to God. In other words, we can make our world a better place through our actions. Think of the difference that Christlike deeds of love, mercy, forgiveness, justice, and peace would make in our world. I’ve always thought that if we lived out this verse, people might say, “Our office is a better place because ______ works here.” Or, “Our neighborhood is a better neighborhood.” Or, “Our school is a better school.”

We can’t change the entire world singlehandedly, but by God’s grace we can let the difference Christ has made in us make a difference in the world around us.

Love is giving for the world’s needs,
Love is sharing as the Spirit leads,
Love is caring when the world cries,
Love is compassion with Christlike eyes. —Brandt
Everyone can do something to make the world better—we can let Christ shine through us.

Time For A Change

 From: Getmorestrength.org

This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner. —Luke 7:39

A friend once told me, “In my lifetime I’ve seen a lot of things change, and I’ve been against them all!” Perhaps he overstated the point, but many of us would agree that we don’t like change—especially if it involves altering our habits and attitudes.

That’s one reason Jesus was so unpopular among the Pharisees. He challenged their long-established system of good works and self-righteous living. Consider the incident when the town “sinner” entered the home of the town “saint” in Luke 7:36-50. Simon the Pharisee wasn’t impressed with the woman’s lavish display of affection for Jesus. Reading Simon’s self-righteous thoughts, Jesus immediately challenged his flawed perception of his own goodness by telling the story of two debtors—one who owed much to his master and one who owed less. “Which of them will love him more?” Jesus asked (Luke 7:42). Obviously, the one who had been forgiven more. Speaking to Simon’s I-feel-pretty-good-about-myself attitude, Jesus said, “to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” (Luke 7:47).

The challenge is clear. Lulled into thinking how good we are, our love for Jesus wanes because we have forgotten that we too are among the ones “forgiven much.” And when that happens, ready or not, it’s time for a change!

Forgive us, Lord, for failures past,
Then help us start anew
With strength and courage to obey
And closely follow You. —Sper

When God starts changing things, He usually begins with changing us.

 

Living in a World Gone Wrong
Tracie Miles

From: Crosswalk.com

“Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1 (NIV)

By the time I returned home that night, I was so agitated that sleep was impossible.

I had travelled six hours by car and made the mistake of listening to news channels rather than my usual Christian music station. Throughout the drive, I became increasingly frustrated and irritated, as I heard one bad news story after another. My mind was spinning with thoughts, and my heart filled with emotions.

The strongest emotion by far was sadness at the stark reality of our world gone terribly wrong.

Stories of abuse, death, disaster, political corruption and a general lack of integrity are everywhere. At times it seems the voices and desires of those who are against God’s ways shout louder than those who love Him and promote His ways. It frustrates me that things are getting worse instead of better.

Driving down the interstate with my mind full of mental clutter, my heart felt heavy. I wondered what God’s answer might be if I could ask Him, “God, what in the world is going on in this world? And when are You going to take action?”

In Psalm 10, David expressed this same type of frustration and confusion. He asked the Lord why it appeared He wasn’t doing anything about the wickedness of the world, or taking control of the cruelty, violence and injustices that ran rampant through their corrupt society. He questioned why wicked people were allowed to get away with their wrongdoings.

David wanted to know when God was going to step in and do something. Anything. David prayed with a desperate heart, begging God’s intervention.

Maybe you have felt that way too. Maybe you are struggling with difficult circumstances, and you feel as if God is standing far away, not intervening with help. Maybe you have struggled while walking in God’s ways, while others with less-than-godly motives succeed. Or maybe you too are frustrated with the direction our world seems to be headed.

This is how David felt as well, but in Psalm 10:16-18a, we see his tone change from frustration to hope when he says, “The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed …” (NIV). David took comfort in remembering and believing that God was with him, and in due time, He would prevail.

In prayer, David voiced his deepest fears and honest feelings. He solicited God’s wisdom for greater understanding, yet surrendered to trusting that God sees all, knows all and would handle it all when the time was right.

Our world has gone wrong due to the existence of sin, but we have a choice in how we respond. Instead of letting despair pull us further from God, or cause us to doubt His goodness, we can choose to lean on our faith and draw closer to Him instead, just like David.

Let’s choose to proclaim God’s sovereignty today, trust in His ways and be a voice for His truths even when the ways of this world break our hearts.

Lord, help me remember that You are in control, no matter how out of control this world seems. Give me the desire to stay grounded in You no matter what I see on the news, or what challenges I personally face, and to trust You wholeheartedly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

March 29

Facts vs. Feelings

“We walk by faith, not by appearance” (2 Cor. 5:7, RV).

By faith, not appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and Satan may want us to. But God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us.

When we face these precious facts, and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings.

God never gives feeling to enable us to trust Him;
God never gives feeling to encourage us to trust Him;
God never gives feeling to show that we have already and utterly trusted Him.

God gives feeling only when He sees that we trust Him apart from all feeling, resting on His own Word, and on His own faithfulness to His promise.

Never until then can the feeling (which is from God) possibly come; and God will give the feeling in such a measure and at such a time as His love sees best for the individual case.

We must choose between facing toward our feelings and facing toward God’s facts. Our feelings may be as uncertain as the sea or the shifting sands. God’s facts are as certain as the Rock of Ages, even Christ Himself, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

***

“When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.”

 

With God Nothing is Impossible

 

Nothing is too difficult with God

 

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“For Nothing is Impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 

OUR FESTIVAL MIRACLE

Unknown author

We were at Lake Ozark, Missouri, for our churches annual 8 day celebration. My husband Leo and I sang in the Choir. On Tuesday morning we sang backup music to open the worship service. We had just finished practicing for choir and I came down from the stage to my seat for church services. It wasn’t long before Mrs. Petcu (my daughter’s mother-in-law) was at the end of our isle motioning for me to come to her. She said, “I noticed you smiling and waving and thought maybe you haven’t heard.” I said, “Heard what?” She said, “Ronda (my daughter) and Matt (my grandson) were in a camper that blew-up and have been taken to the hospital.” My heart just almost stopped! She continued saying that they were in an explosion/implosion and they were burned. I started looking around for Stacy (my daughter) and she was looking for me. We found each other just about the same time the announcement for prayers for my daughter, her son and the Mitchell’s, some good friends of ours, came over the speaker. My heart fell to the floor and my knees went weak.

I asked my husband and my brother to watch Stacy’s son. Stacy and I went to the hospital. They weren’t there. They transferred them to another hospital up in Columbia. They were immediately placed in the Burn Unit. Now I was frantic and the only thing I could think was , “Oh God, please let them be OK!

I came out of that driveway and went the wrong way to Columbia, which turned out to be good because Stacy saw our friend, Donny, who pulled over, so did we, and we found out what happened.

Ronda and Matt were having breakfast with Donny and Donny’s parents and Grandma. As they were eating their eggs, Mrs. Jean Mitchell (Donny’s mom), smelled gas, and Mr. Don Mitchell (Donny’s dad), said he would check it out. He lit a match and the gas exploded. Donny was telling me that Ronda was O.K., but Matt was burned a couple of places on his face and that he was coming from the hospital and Ronda needed clothes for her and Matt, and Donny needed to go see how Mom and Grandma were. I said, “O.K., you go see about them. We’ll get clothes and go to Columbia.

I still didn’t know what to expect on how bad Matt had been burned, so I was in a hurry. I’m glad Stacy was driving.

We got to the hotel and got a little resistance until I told them the circumstances, and the lady at the desk said oh she hoped everything would be all right. She heard about the explosion/implosion over the CB radio.

It took forever to get to Columbia! We went into the ER and they said they weren’t there yet. The ambulance they would have traveled in was outside, so after waiting way too long in the ER I was going to find admitting or someone else who could tell me something when the ER person said, “Oh, they took them straight up to the burn unit.” It scared me some more! I think I held my breath going up the elevator!

The doors opened and with instant relief but still much concerned, I saw Matt standing down the hall with this way too big blue hospital shirt on. He was burned on the left side of his face, his hair was matted where it was burned, his eyelids were red and puffy, and he was just standing there drinking some water. Then I turned and saw Ronda sitting on a chair with hardly anything wrong, just some minor cuts and matted hair. Then she told me they still had Don, Sr. in the room. I got permission to see him. His hands were bandaged and IV’s were going. He had some second degree burns but that didn’t stop him from giving me a big smile! Then the nurse came in and said after he got a shot he could leave too.

I thanked God and I thanked God and I thanked God!

Later my husband and I went over to the trailer camper and when we saw it we couldn’t believe it! It was TOTALED! The camper had glass blown everywhere, the walls were bowed out. Cabinets were off the wall. It was a mess!

Mrs. Mitchell told us that she smelled gas, she was standing at the sink and her husband was below the sink looking at the tank. Matt was sitting behind them and to one side. When Don Sr. went to check the pilot…BOOM…. Matt said he saw a blue ball come right at him as cabinets blew off the wall and fell into the chair where he was sitting. (He ducked his head which kept a cabinet from hitting him.) The fire wrapped around Jeans ankles as Ronda grabbed Matt and raced out the door. Donny pulled grandma out while he was trying put out the fire in her hair at the same time. Don, Sr. took the full blast on his face and hands, and then had to get into his pocket for keys to get to the big tanks to shut them off, breaking blisters that had already formed. I didn’t know until later that Donny’s ear was burned in the fire also.

People who were camping to one side of them emptied 4 fire extinguishers and put out the fire, keeping it from the big tanks. People on the other side were catching victims as they jumped out of the demolished camper. The fire department said they expected to find everyone dead, that with an explosion/implosion like that usually no one survived. The EMT’s said that they must have been protected by angels.

God had His angels there protecting them!

An angel stood between Don,Sr. and the blast!

An angel held the cabinet just long enough to protect Matt as Ronda pulled him from that chair!

An angel directed the blast towards the back window, blowing it out of the camper, and keeping everyone from being severely burned!

An angel kept the fire away from the big tanks until Don could turn them off!

Yes, the angels were very busy that day, and so were the thousands of members who were praying for all the injured people heading to the hospital.Before they were transported from the accident scene they were all anointed by our minister. Mr. Petcu had anointed Don, Sr. and Matt and Ronda at Lake Ozark Hospital and on the ride to Columbia, Mo. Don, Sr. said he couldn’t feel the pain. God was already intervening and healing!

For the remaining 6 days of that Festival I thanked God every day! When we sang praises to Him I sang with all my heart! There were six people in that camper trailer, and I don’t know how many angels, but to this very day I thank God, and I thank God, and I thank God.

 

Isn’t There Some Misunderstanding?

From: My Utmost For HIs Highest

03
28
2014

’Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to Him, ’. . . are You going there again?’ —John 11:7-8

Just because I don’t understand what Jesus Christ says, I have no right to determine that He must be mistaken in what He says. That is a dangerous view, and it is never right to think that my obedience to God’s directive will bring dishonor to Jesus. The only thing that will bring dishonor is not obeying Him. To put my view of His honor ahead of what He is plainly guiding me to do is never right, even though it may come from a real desire to prevent Him from being put to an open shame. I know when the instructions have come from God because of their quiet persistence. But when I begin to weigh the pros and cons, and doubt and debate enter into my mind, I am bringing in an element that is not of God. This will only result in my concluding that His instructions to me were not right. Many of us are faithful to our ideas about Jesus Christ, but how many of us are faithful to Jesus Himself? Faithfulness to Jesus means that I must step out even when and where I can’t see anything (see Matthew 14:29). But faithfulness to my own ideas means that I first clear the way mentally. Faith, however, is not intellectual understanding; faith is a deliberate commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ, even when I can’t see the way ahead.

Are you debating whether you should take a step of faith in Jesus, or whether you should wait until you can clearly see how to do what He has asked? Simply obey Him with unrestrained joy. When He tells you something and you begin to debate, it is because you have a misunderstanding of what honors Him and what doesn’t. Are you faithful to Jesus, or faithful to your ideas about Him? Are you faithful to what He says, or are you trying to compromise His words with thoughts that never came from Him? “Whatever He says to you,do it ” (John 2:5).

 

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR ACTIONS

Author Unknown

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Thanks!”

There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before.

We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak. Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him. Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable. “I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize it’s depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life, for better or for worse. God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way. Look for God in others.

From: gatewaytojesus.com

The Link To Life

 

The Link To Life

According to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. —Titus 3:5
Bible in a Year:
Judges 1-3; Luke 4:1-30

By the time he was 16, Morris Frank (1908–1980) had lost his sight in both eyes. Several years later, he traveled to Switzerland where he met Buddy, the canine who would help to inspire Frank’s involvement with the Seeing Eye guide-dog school.

With Buddy leading the way, Frank learned to navigate busy sidewalks and intersections. Describing the freedom his guide provided, Frank said, “It was glorious: just [Buddy] and a leather strap, linking me to life.” Buddy gave Morris Frank a new kind of access to the world around him.

God’s Holy Spirit gives us access to abundant spiritual life in Christ. When we accept Christ as Lord, God washes our sins away and renews us “by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6 niv). Once we know Christ, the Holy Spirit helps us experience God’s love (Rom. 5:5), understand God’s Word (John 14:26), pray (Rom. 8:26), and abound in hope (Rom. 15:13).

Today, as you think about your relationship with God, remember that the Spirit is your guide to life in Christ (Rom. 8:14).

Holy Spirit, Light divine,
Shine upon this heart of mine.
Chase the shades of night away;
Turn my darkness into day. —Reed
The Holy Spirit guides us into knowledge and spiritual growth.

Luke 11:1-13
For everyone who asks, receives (Luke 11:10).

Read Matthew 6:9-13 for the longer version of the Lord’s Prayer.

How will the Lord’s Prayer guide you in your prayers as you go through troubling times? What does it mean for you to know God as your heavenly Father?

I tossed and turned on my bed. My heart was troubled and my mind disturbed. I was deliberating a decision that could set my life on a whole new course. In this scary time, I found myself praying: Lord, teach me how to pray!

The disciples made a similar request to Jesus (though for a different reason). Jesus’ answer is recorded for us in Luke 11:2-4.

It never fails to amaze me that Jesus taught us to address God as Father. He could have picked “Lord” or “Almighty God,” but He didn’t. This is significant. The term “Father” contains the intimacy and love found in a personal relationship with the Sovereign Creator of the universe.

Of this reality Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “If you should ask me to state in one phrase what I regard as the greatest defect in most Christian lives, I would say that it is our failure to know God as our Father as we should know Him. . . . Ah yes, we say; we do know that and believe it. But do we know it in our daily life and living? Is it something of which we are always conscious? If only we got hold of this, we could smile in the face of every possibility and eventuality that lies ahead of us.”

Jesus gave us an illustration to help us know our Father better (Luke 11:11-13). In essence, He said, “Whatever is for your spiritual benefit, your heavenly Father will surely give you.” As I continued to deliberate over my big decision, I’m glad that I could commune with my Father and seek His heart and wisdom.

So, as His child who desires to love Him, I pray that His name may be praised, His interest be advanced, and His will be done!

Time For A Change

 From: Strength For The Journey
This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner. —Luke 7:39

A friend once told me, “In my lifetime I’ve seen a lot of things change, and I’ve been against them all!” Perhaps he overstated the point, but many of us would agree that we don’t like change—especially if it involves altering our habits and attitudes.

That’s one reason Jesus was so unpopular among the Pharisees. He challenged their long-established system of good works and self-righteous living. Consider the incident when the town “sinner” entered the home of the town “saint” in Luke 7:36-50. Simon the Pharisee wasn’t impressed with the woman’s lavish display of affection for Jesus. Reading Simon’s self-righteous thoughts, Jesus immediately challenged his flawed perception of his own goodness by telling the story of two debtors—one who owed much to his master and one who owed less. “Which of them will love him more?” Jesus asked (Luke 7:42). Obviously, the one who had been forgiven more. Speaking to Simon’s I-feel-pretty-good-about-myself attitude, Jesus said, “to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” (Luke 7:47).

The challenge is clear. Lulled into thinking how good we are, our love for Jesus wanes because we have forgotten that we too are among the ones “forgiven much.” And when that happens, ready or not, it’s time for a change!

Forgive us, Lord, for failures past,
Then help us start anew
With strength and courage to obey
And closely follow You. —Sper

When God starts changing things, He usually begins with changing us.

 

How Much Will This Choice Really Cost Me?
Lysa TerKeurst

From: Crosswalk.com

“… in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)

A few years ago I sat at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with my daughter Ashley while an officer told her the importance of good choices. Ashley was getting her learner’s permit and entering the scary world of teenage drivers.

“We’ve had 320 teens killed this year in fatal car accidents so we want to do everything possible to keep you safe,” the officer said sternly as she highlighted for Ashley all the many rules for new drivers. Then she suggested signing a contract with her parents incorporating these rules.

I’ve never wanted to hug a DMV officer. But, it was all I could do not to reach across the desk and throw my arms around her. For you see, my husband and I had already created a driving contract that we’ve made each of our teenagers sign.

I’m sure our kids have thought our contract was a bit over the top. After all, none of their friends have had to sign such a document with their parents. So, it was good to hear another adult speak truth into the life of my child.

And what I loved most about the officer’s sermonette on safe driving was her emphasis on the cost of wrong choices.

How I wish we could all see the cost of our choices as clearly as a price tag on items in a store. If I know how much something is going to cost me, I make much wiser choices. But we have an enemy who schemes against us to keep the cost of dumb decisions concealed until it’s too late.

Satan wants to defeat, discourage and destroy our families. His attacks are not just willy-nilly attempts to trip us up or knock us down. He wants to take us out.

That’s why, as parents, we’ve got to boldly fight for our families. We must get intentional with teaching our kids to think through their choices. And we must get intentional about modeling good choices as well.

Do you know why Satan’s tactics are called schemes in 2 Corinthians 2:11? A scheme is a plan, design or program of action. Satan’s schemes are well-crafted plans specifically targeted to do three things:

1. Increase your desire for something outside the will of God.
2. Make you think giving in to a weakness is no big deal.
3. Minimize your ability to think through the consequences of falling to this temptation.

Satan is a master of keeping that cost hidden until it’s too late.

Sweet sisters, this is something worth thinking about. And it is something worth talking about with our kids. Consider age-appropriate examples of how costly wrong choices can be. Be real, raw and bold as you walk them through different scenarios of temptations they might face.

That DMV officer was certainly bold in her explanation of the cost when a teen driver gets distracted by their iPod, cell phone or friends acting silly. Hearing her explain to my daughter how costly others’ poor choices have been made these “rules” seem more like life-saving gifts.

Think how different life might be if we all paused and asked ourselves this crucial question: How much will this choice really cost me? If we teach ourselves and our kids nothing else this week than to ask this one question, we will have invested wisely. So, so very wisely.

Dear Lord, I am reminded that boldly following You is so much better than any short-term experience that’s not pleasing to You. Give me Your eyes so that I can see temptation and its many different faces. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Spiritual Vision

 

Spiritual Vision Through Personal Purity (1)

From: My Utmost For His Highest
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God —Matthew 5:8
Purity is not innocence— it is much more than that. Purity is the result of continued spiritual harmony with God. We have to grow in purity. Our life with God may be right and our inner purity unblemished, yet occasionally our outer life may become spotted and stained. God intentionally does not protect us from this possibility, because this is the way we recognize the necessity of maintaining our spiritual vision through personal purity. If the outer level of our spiritual life with God is impaired to the slightest degree, we must put everything else aside until we make it right. Remember that spiritual vision depends on our character— it is “the pure in heart ” who “see God.” God makes us pure by an act of His sovereign grace, but we still have something that we must carefully watch. It is through our bodily life coming in contact with other people and other points of view that we tend to become tarnished. Not only must our “inner sanctuary” be kept right with God, but also the “outer courts” must be brought into perfect harmony with the purity God gives us through His grace. Our spiritual vision and understanding is immediately blurred when our “outer court” is stained. If we want to maintain personal intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ, it will mean refusing to do or even think certain things. And some things that are acceptable for others will become unacceptable for us. A practical help in keeping your personal purity unblemished in your relations with other people is to begin to see them as God does. Say to yourself, “That man or that woman is perfect in Christ Jesus! That friend or that relative is perfect in Christ Jesus!”

March 26 Give Out The Blessing “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his inner being shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Some of us are shivering and wondering why the Holy Spirit does not fill us. We have plenty coming in, but we do not give it out. Give out the blessing that you have, start larger plans for service and blessing, and you will soon find that the Holy Ghost is before you, and He will present you with blessings for service, and give you all that He can trust you to give away to others. There is a beautiful fact in nature which has its spiritual parallels. There is no music so heavenly as an Aeolian harp, and the Aeolian harp is nothing but a set of musical chords arranged in harmony, and then left to be touched by the unseen fingers of the wandering winds. And as the breath of heaven floats over the chords, it is said that notes almost Divine float out upon the air, as if a choir of angels were wandering around and touching the strings. And so it is possible to keep our hearts so open to the touch of the Holy Spirit that He can play upon them at will, as we quietly wait in the pathway of His service. –Days of Heaven upon Earth *** When the apostles received the baptism with the Holy Ghost they did not rent the upper room and stay there to hold holiness meetings, but went everywhere preaching the gospel. –Will Huff *** “If I have eaten my morsel alone,” The patriarch spoke with scorn; What would he think of the Church were he shown Heathendom-huge, forlorn, Godless, Christless, with soul unfed, While the Church’s ailment is fullness of bread, Eating her morsel alone? “Freely ye have received, so give,” He bade, who hath given us all. How shall the soul in us longer live Deaf to their starving call, For whom the blood of the Lord was shed, And His body broken to give them. bread, If we eat our morsel alone!” –Archbishop Alexander “Where is Abel thy brother?” (Gen. 4:9).

Price Tags

 From: Getmorestrength.org
“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” Philippians 3:8 You may have heard the story about the pranksters who broke into a hardware store. Strangely enough, they didn’t steal a thing. Yet what they did created chaos of epic proportions—they switched all the price tags! The store owner was unaware of anything amiss until the first customer stepped to the cash register with a hammer that rang up at $199.95. Naturally, the customer’s jaw dropped. “What’s that thing made of?” he demanded. “Platinum?” On further inspection, employees noticed that a big screen TV in the appliance section was selling for $14.95. The goods were all the same, resting on the same shelves as the night before, but the assigned values were hopelessly jumbled. I can’t help but think that Satan likes to pull the same stunt with us. Unaware of his stealth work, we go through life with mixed-up price tags on our accomplishments and accolades. We assign the wrong value to who we are and what we have—not to mention the lack of value we assign to God who unequivocally deserves the highest value. Paul had the price tags right when he wrote to the Philippian believers: “The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. . . . I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by Him” (Philippians 3:7-8, The Message). There’s Paul at the cash register, looking at all the price tags attached to his experiences, achievements, and treasures. He’s got a red pen in his hand, and all those things that used to be so valuable, so precious, so terribly important to him have been slashed down to zero. In fact, Paul’s loading them up in boxes, headed for the dumpster out back. I find it interesting that this same Paul who once assigned no value to Jesus at all—and in fact hated Him—now can’t even put a price on the privilege of experiencing Him. After his unforgettable personal encounter with the living Christ (Acts 9), Paul’s whole world was reordered, and he never looked back. The value of his relationship with Jesus became “priceless.” What’s more, he lived like he really meant it. And for us, it’s more than just giving mental or verbal assent to the “surpassing value” of knowing Jesus. Many of us have been doing that for a long time—and then we go on to live like He is eighth or ninth on the list. Unfortunately in this glitz-and-glamour world, we are far too prone to place great value on all that is temporal and seductive. And believe me, we pay a high price for that. It means that we miss out on the most valuable asset of all—the joy of a deep, abiding relationship with the only One who can meet all of our needs and fill us with His joy. His invitation still stands: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

Spiritual Exhaustion and Renewal

Are You Exhausted Spiritually?

From: My Utmost For His Highest

The everlasting God . . . neither faints nor is weary —Isaiah 40:28

Exhaustion means that our vital energies are completely worn out and spent. Spiritual exhaustion is never the result of sin, but of service. Whether or not you experience exhaustion will depend on where you get your supplies. Jesus said to Peter, “Feed My sheep,” but He gave him nothing with which to feed them (John 21:17). The process of being made broken bread and poured-out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other people’s souls until they learn to feed on God. They must drain you completely— to the very last drop. But be careful to replenish your supply, or you will quickly be utterly exhausted. Until others learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus directly, they will have to draw on His life through you. You must literally be their source of supply, until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and sheep, as well as for Him.

Have you delivered yourself over to exhaustion because of the way you have been serving God? If so, then renew and rekindle your desires and affections. Examine your reasons for service. Is your source based on your own understanding or is it grounded on the redemption of Jesus Christ? Continually look back to the foundation of your love and affection and remember where your Source of power lies. You have no right to complain, “O Lord, I am so exhausted.” He saved and sanctified you to exhaust you. Be exhausted for God, but remember that He is your supply. “All my springs are in you” (Psalm 87:7).

 

Silent In His Love

From: Streams In The Desert

He answered her not a word (Matthew 15:23).

He will be silent in his love (Zephaniah 3:17).

It may be a child of God is reading these words who has had some great crushing sorrow, some bitter disappointment, some heart-breaking blow from a totally unexpected quarter. You are longing for your Master’s voice bidding you “Be of good cheer,” but only silence and a sense of mystery and misery meet you –“He answered her not a word.”

God’s tender heart must often ache listening to all the sad, complaining cries which arise from our weak, impatient hearts, because we do not see that for our own sakes He answers not at all or otherwise than seems best to our tear-blinded, short-sighted eyes. The silences of Jesus are as eloquent as His speech and may be a sign, not of His disapproval, but of His approval and of a deep purpose of blessing for you.

“Why art thou cast down, O… soul?” Thou shalt yet praise Him, yes, even for His silence. Listen to an old and beautiful story of how one Christian dreamed that she saw three others at prayer. As they knelt the Master drew near to them.

As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her in tenderness and grace, with smiles full of radiant love and spoke to her in accents of purest, sweetest music. Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed bead, and gave her one look of loving approval. The third woman He passed almost abruptly without stopping for a word or glance.

The woman in her dream said to herself, “How greatly He must love the first one, to the second He gave His approval, but none of the special demonstrations of love He gave the first; and the third must have grieved Him deeply, for He gave her no word at all and not even a passing look.

“I wonder what she has done, and why He made so much difference between them?” As she tried to account for the action of her Lord, He Himself stood by her and said: “O woman! how wrongly hast thou interpreted Me. The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of My tenderness and care to keep her feet in My narrow way. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall.

“The second has stronger faith and deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people do. The third, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality, and her I am training by quick and drastic processes for the highest and holiest service.

“She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so utterly, that she is independent of words or looks or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass; she trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel;–because she knows that I am working in her for eternity, and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.

“I am silent in My love because I love beyond the power of words to express, or of human hearts to understand, and also for your sakes that you may learn to love and trust Me in Spirit-taught, spontaneous response to My love, without the spur of anything outward to call it forth.”

He “will do marvels” if you will learn the mystery of His silence, and praise Him, for every time He withdraws His gifts that you may better know and love the Giver.

 

The Day I Almost Gave Up
Leah DiPascalFrom: Crosswalk.com

“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry for help … The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:15-18 (HCSB)

I gripped the steering wheel of my car and stared at the hospital emergency doors. My heart pounded furiously, like a time bomb waiting to explode. The pressure in my head was almost unbearable. The invisible weight on my chest felt like someone dropped a sledgehammer on me.

Thoughts raced through my mind. I wanted to scream but could barely breathe a whisper. I just sat there lonely, afraid, shattered and completely empty inside.

Should I check myself into the hospital?

What if they admit me in the psychiatric ward and won’t let me go home?

Who will take care of my children?

Will my husband still love me?

What if my friends find out?

Reaching for my phone, panic rushed over me like a tidal wave. A pool of tears cascaded down my face, as I cried, Jesus, please help me!

Sitting in my car, unable to move, I continued to pray and ask God questions like, How did I get here? I’m a Christian for heaven’s sake! Things like this just don’t happen to Christian women – or do they? I feel like such a failure.

Looking back now, I can see how years of worry and stress had brought me to that day.

Concerns about my family’s finances kept me up most nights. Stress over a high-pressured job caused erratic panic attacks. Worry about my children’s health created knots in my stomach. Struggling to help my aging parents resulted in midnight crying sessions.

My concerns consumed me. Worrying became an addiction, demanding my ongoing attention. I was trying to “hold it all together” on the outside, but on the inside, a sea of doubt and fear haunted me.

Maybe you’re in a similar place. Have the stresses of life caught up with you too? Are you worried about your finances, health, marriage, job or kids? Do you wonder if anyone sees your pain or even cares? If you’re brave enough to cry out for help, will anyone rescue you?

In today’s verse, we are reminded we do have a Rescuer:

“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry for help … the righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:15-18).

God sees you and hears your cries for help, even when no one else does. He knows your heartache. He sees your pain. If your heart is broken and you feel crushed from all sides, God promises to be close to you. Though you may not see Him with you physical eyes, He is there.

God rescued me that day in the hospital parking lot. After several hours of prayer, God calmed my heart and I called my husband. I reached out to close friends for help, and the healing started. Although I wanted an instant miracle, it took time, but God never left my side. He gently mended my broken heart and renewed my mind through His Word. He guided me along a journey that led to true freedom, for which I am forever grateful.

Has the stress of life taken its toll, causing you to feel afraid, lonely or ready to give up? Is your heart broken today? Let God rescue you, friend. He is ready. He is willing. He is able.

Dear Lord, it feels like my life is falling part. I desperately need You to rescue me. Thank You for hearing my cries and for delivering me from my troubles. Even when I am hidden from others, You see me, Lord. Thank You saving me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Train Yourself

 

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Train Yourself

 

Train yourself

TRAIN YOURSELF
“What you do for yourself counts more than what others have done or can do for you. Self discipline is the most important feature in any life. Unless you put yourself in mental discipline, you will never develop the forces in you that are valuable to the commercial world. Rule your temper so that no matter what happens, what is been said or done, your temper will be under absolute control. Anyone who cannot rule his temper will never achieve the success that is meant for him. Govern your tongue so that it will not injury the people around you. The man or woman who makes no valuable contribution to destructive talk or thoughts is a valuable asset anywhere. The one who govern his temper, his tongue, his appetite, though he has but a mediocre ability, is bound to get to the top. It is controlled power that is important. Nothing will take the place of hard work intelligently directed. Talents in you need push to make it worth money. It is you and you alone who will do the developing. Don’t wait for opportunity, go make your opportunity. Always remember that your worst enemy is inside you. No circumstances, No person or combination of persons can conquer you as long as you do not destroy your own prospect yourself. Don’t be satisfy with anything you do. Always seek to improve yourself. That’s the attitude that we need.”

From: www.values.com., “Your Inspirational Stories.”