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Christmas Eve Devotion and Inspiration

 

Christmas Eve is a great time. Everything is done and we’re waiting for Christmas. 

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The Spirit of God testifies to and confirms the simple, but almighty, security of the life that “is hidden with Christ in God.” Paul continually brought this out in his New Testament letters. We talk as if living a sanctified life were the most uncertain and insecure thing we could do. Yet it is the most secure thing possible, because it has Almighty God in and behind it. The most dangerous and unsure thing is to try to live without God. For one who is born again, it is easier to live in a right-standing relationship with God than it is to go wrong, provided we heed God’s warnings and “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7).

When we think of being delivered from sin, being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), and “walk[ing] in the light,” we picture the peak of a great mountain. We see it as very high and wonderful, but we say, “Oh, I could never live up there!” However, when we do get there through God’s grace, we find it is not a mountain peak at all, but a plateau with plenty of room to live and to grow. “You enlarged my path under me, so my feet did not slip” (Psalm 18:36).

When you really see Jesus, I defy you to doubt Him. If you see Him when He says, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:27), I defy you to worry. It is virtually impossible to doubt when He is there. Every time you are in personal contact with Jesus, His words are real to you. “My peace I give to you…” (John 14:27)— a peace which brings an unconstrained confidence and covers you completely, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. “…your life is hidden with Christ in God,” and the peace of Jesus Christ that cannot be disturbed has been imparted to you.

Lasting Peace

Our Daily Bread

On Christmas Eve 1914, during the First World War, the guns fell silent along a 30-mile stretch of the Western Front. Soldiers peered cautiously over the tops of trenches while a few emerged to repair their positions and bury the dead. As darkness fell, some German troops set out lanterns and sang Christmas carols. Men on the British side applauded and shouted greetings.

The next day, German, French, and British troops met in no man’s land to shake hands, share food, and exchange gifts. It was a brief respite from war that soon ended when the artillery and machine guns roared to life again. But no one who experienced “The Christmas Truce,” as it became known, would ever forget how it felt and how it fueled their longing for lasting peace.

In Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah we read, “His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). By His death on the cross, Jesus removed the “no man’s land” between us and God. “For He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14).

In Jesus we can find lasting peace with God and harmony with each other. This is the life-changing message of Christmas!

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!” —Wesley
Only in Christ can true peace be realized.

Insight

Unity is a common theme in the New Testament writings of Paul. Jesus has brought us peace with God and therefore we should also be at peace with each other. In Ephesians 2, Paul talks about peace between Jew and Gentile. Despite the centuries-old separation of the two groups, God in Christ Jesus has “broken down the middle wall of separation” (v.14). In the temple there was a wall beyond which Gentiles could not pass; it formed the boundary of “the court of the Gentiles.” However, Jesus has removed the barriers between God and us and between us and others. Now we all are “members of the household of God” (v.19).

 

Streams in the Desert

He went out to relax in the field in the early evening. Then he looked up and saw that there were camels approaching.—Gen 24:63

We should be better Christians if we were more alone; we should do more if we attempted less, and spent more time in retirement, and quiet waiting upon God. The world is too much with us; we are afflicted with the idea that we are doing nothing unless we are fussily running to and fro; we do not believe in “the calm retreat, the silent shade.” As a people, we are of a very practical turn of mind; “we believe,” as someone has said, “in having all our irons in the fire, and consider the time not spent between the anvil and the fire as lost, or much the same as lost.” Yet no time is more profitably spent than that which is set apart for quiet musing, for talking with God, for looking up to Heaven. We cannot have too many of these open spaces in life, hours in which the soul is left accessible to any sweet thought or influence it may please God to send.

“Reverie,” it has been said, “is the Sunday of the mind.” Let us often in these days give our mind a “Sunday,” in which it will do no manner of work but simply lie still, and look upward, and spread itself out before the Lord like Gideon’s fleece, to be soaked and moistened with the dews of Heaven. Let there be intervals when we shall do nothing, think nothing, plan nothing, but just lay ourselves on the green lap of nature and “rest awhile.”

Time so spent is not lost time. The fisherman cannot be said to be losing time when he is mending his nets, nor the mower when he takes a few minutes to sharpen his scythe at the top of the ridge. City men cannot do better than follow the example of Isaac, and, as often as they can, get away from the fret and fever of life into fields. Wearied with the heat and din, the noise and bustle, communion with nature is very grateful; it will have a calming, healing influence. A walk through the fields, a saunter by the seashore or across the daisy-sprinkled meadows, will purge your life from sordidness, and make the heart beat with new joy and hope.

“The little cares that fretted me,
I lost them yesterday,
… Out in the fields with God.”

Chistmas Eve

BELLS ACROSS THE SNOW

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
Is it really come again,
With its memories and greetings,
With its joy and with its pain!
There’s a minor in the carol
And a shadow in the light,
And a spray of cypress twining
With the holly wreath tonight.
And the hush is never broken
By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
’Tis not so very long
Since other voices blended
With the carol and the song!
If we could but hear them singing,
As they are singing now,
If we could but see the radiance
Of the crown on each dear brow,
There would be no sigh to smother,
No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
This never more can be;
We cannot bring again the days
Of our unshadowed glee,
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
Sweet herald of good will,
With holy songs of glory
Brings holy gladness still.
For peace and hope may brighten,
And patient love may glow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

—Frances Ridley Havergal

GOD’S REFRESHMENT BY MRS. CHARLES COWMAN

“The journey is too great for thee” (1 King 19:7).

And what did God do with His tired servant? Gave him something good to eat, and put him to sleep. Elijah had done splendid work, and had run alongside of the chariot in his excitement, and it had been too much for his physical strength, and the reaction had come on, and he was depressed. The physical needed to be cared for. What many people want is sleep, and the physical ailment attended to. There are grand men and women who get where Elijah was–under the juniper tree! and it comes very soothingly to such to hear the words of the Master: “The journey is too great for thee, and I am going to refresh you.” Let us not confound physical weariness with spiritual weakness.

“I’m too tired to trust and too tired to pray,
Said one, as the over-taxed strength gave way.
The one conscious thought by my mind possessed,
Is, oh, could I just drop it all and rest.

“Will God forgive me, do you suppose,
If I go right to sleep as a baby goes,
Without an asking if I may,
Without ever trying to trust and pray?

“Will God forgive you? why think, dear heart,
When language to you was an unknown art,
Did a mother deny you
needed rest,
Or refuse to pillow your head on her breast?

“Did she let you want when you could not ask?
Did she set her child an unequal task?
Or did she cradle you in her arms,
And then guard your slumber against alarms?

“Ah, how quick was her mother love to see,
The unconscious yearnings of infancy.
When you’ve grown too tired to trust and pray,
When over-wrought nature has quite given way:

“Then just drop it all, and give up to rest,
As you used to do on a mother’s breast,
He knows all about it–the dear Lord knows,
So just go to sleep as a baby goes;

“Without even asking if you may,
God knows when His child is too tired to pray.
He judges not solely by uttered prayer,
He knows when the yearnings of love are there.

“He knows you do pray, He knows you do trust,
And He knows, too, the limits’ of poor weak dust.
Oh, the wonderful sympathy of Christ,
For His chosen ones in that midnight tryst,

“When He bade them sleep and take their rest,
While on Him the guilt of the whole world pressed–
You’ve given your life up to Him to keep,
Then don’t be afraid to go right to sleep.”

– See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/gods-refreshment#sthash.MbjMAT6R.dpuf

Christ Is Our Hope and Salvation

 

Our Hope and our salvation will be born in a manger

  • No Room in the InnMother and ChildThe Birth of Jesus
  • Baby Jesus in the MangerNo Room in the InnGod's Gift
  • Birth of JesusMary, Joseph, and Baby JesusRejoicing below the Star of Jesus
  • Birth of ChristBirth of Christ Mary and Joseph At Inn
  • Holy NightMadonna and ChildMadonna and Child

 

Sharing in the Atonement

The gospel of Jesus Christ always forces a decision of our will. Have I accepted God’s verdict on sin as judged on the Cross of Christ? Do I have even the slightest interest in the death of Jesus? Do I want to be identified with His death— to be completely dead to all interest in sin, worldliness, and self? Do I long to be so closely identified with Jesus that I am of no value for anything except Him and His purposes? The great privilege of discipleship is that I can commit myself under the banner of His Cross, and that means death to sin. You must get alone with Jesus and either decide to tell Him that you do not want sin to die out in you, or that at any cost you want to be identified with His death. When you act in confident faith in what our Lord did on the cross, a supernatural identification with His death takes place immediately. And you will come to know through a higher knowledge that your old life was “crucified with Him” (Romans 6:6). The proof that your old life is dead, having been “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20), is the amazing ease with which the life of God in you now enables you to obey the voice of Jesus Christ.

Every once in a while our Lord gives us a glimpse of what we would be like if it were not for Him. This is a confirmation of what He said— “…without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). That is why the underlying foundation of Christianity is personal, passionate devotion to the Lord Jesus. We mistake the joy of our first introduction into God’s kingdom as His purpose for getting us there. Yet God’s purpose in getting us into His kingdom is that we may realize all that identification with Jesus Christ means.

 

DECEMBER 23, 2014

From: Crosswalk

I Didn’t Have The Courage
RENEE SWOPE

“The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD…” 1 Chronicles 29:9a (NIV)

I didn’t want to go first. As much as I knew God wanted me to trust Him, I didn’t have the courage.

It was June 1989. I had given my life to Christ six months earlier and was on a college youth retreat. While reading my Bible one day, I sensed God wanted me to share my story. First with my large youth group, and then with others in the coming weeks. Not just the happy parts of my story; but also the hidden, redeemed-by-His grace parts.

I didn’t want to tell people the hard parts of my story, especially not my struggles with depression and anxiety. Yet I knew God wanted me to share the reasons behind the life-changing hope I’d found in Christ.

I wish I could say I gave my story freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord, to use for His glory. Just like King David and his leaders gave their gifts to build a temple for the Lord, as we see in today’s key verse, 1 Chronicles 29:9, I wish I could say my heart responded with a courageous “Yes!”

But that’s not what happened and here’s why:

I couldn’t see the why behind God’s will. Why would God want me to share my story? How could my story help people? Their smiles and seemingly happy-go-lucky Christian lives convinced me they were doing fine. I assumed their problems were minor and their need for Jesus was minimal compared to mine.

I didn’t realize pride had blocked my perspective. I thought I was afraid to share my story, but I’m pretty sure pride was the problem. Sadly, I was more concerned with what people thought about me than what they thought about God. Clinging to the details of my story like priceless jewels, I would not give my brokenness to use for others’ good or for His glory.

I didn’t have the courage to go first. I had never heard Christians share their emotional and spiritual struggles. And I did not want to be the first. What if depression and anxiety were topics under a secret “things we don’t talk about” category I hadn’t been told about? That would be awkward. Maybe if someone else went first, then I’d go next.

I didn’t share my story that weekend or in the 10 years that followed.

I didn’t have courageous willingness like King David. But eventually I became like his leaders and like the people who saw their example and “rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD …” 1 Chronicles 29:9a (NIV).

You see, God brought women into my life who followed His lead even when they didn’t understand the why behind His will. Women who recognized pride’s ability to block our perspective and keep us from God’s best.

Women who were willing to go first, which gave me the courage to go next.

Through my church, speakers at women’s conferences and here at Proverbs 31 Ministries, God has surrounded me with women who give Jesus full access to their lives and their stories because they trust Jesus more than their fears.

God uses women who are willing to go first — to give others courage to go next.

I want to be that kind of woman. A woman who is willing to say, “I’ll trust Jesus even when it’s hard. I’ll let my guard down so you can see Christ working in me. I’ll be brave so you know you can be, too. Watch, I’ll go first.”

Why? Because He’s worth it and you’re worth it. We’re worth it, friend. We’re worth the work it takes to follow Christ with all of our hearts and willingly give Him all we’ve got.

Let’s do it. Are you with me? I’ll go first.

 

Streams In The Desert

12/23/2014

The Lord’s angelic messenger came back again, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, for otherwise you won’t be able to make the journey.”—1 Kgs 19:7
And what did God do with His tired servant? Gave him something good to eat, and put him to sleep. Elijah had done splendid work, and had run alongside of the chariot in his excitement, and it had been too much for his physical strength, and the reaction had come on, and he was depressed. The physical needed to be cared for. What many people want is sleep, and the physical ailment attended to. There are grand men and women who get where Elijah was—under the juniper tree! and it comes very soothingly to such to hear the words of the Master: “The journey is too great for thee, and I am going to refresh you.” Let us not confound physical weariness with spiritual weakness.
“I’m too tired to trust and too tired to pray, 
Said one, as the over-taxed strength gave way. 
The one conscious thought by my mind possessed, 
Is, oh, could I just drop it all and rest.
“Will God forgive me, do you suppose, 
If I go right to sleep as a baby goes, 
Without an asking if I may, 
Without ever trying to trust and pray?
“Will God forgive you? why think, dear heart, 
When language to you was an unknown art, 
Did a mother deny you needed rest, 
Or refuse to pillow your head on her breast?
“Did she let you want when you could not ask? 
Did she set her child an unequal task? 
Or did she cradle you in her arms, 
And then guard your slumber against alarms?
“Ah, how quick was her mother love to see, 
The unconscious yearnings of infancy. 
When you’ve grown too tired to trust and pray, 
When over-wrought nature has quite given way:
“Then just drop it all, and give up to rest, 
As you used to do on a mother’s breast, 
He knows all about it—the dear Lord knows, 
So just go to sleep as a baby goes;
“Without even asking if you may, 
God knows when His child is too tired to pray. 
He judges not solely by uttered prayer, 
He knows when the yearnings of love are there.
“He knows you do pray, He knows you do trust, 
And He knows, too, the limits’ of poor weak dust. 
Oh, the wonderful sympathy of Christ, 
For His chosen ones in that midnight tryst,
“When He bade them sleep and take their rest, 
While on Him the guilt of the whole world pressed—
You’ve given your life up to Him to keep, 
Then don’t be afraid to go right to sleep.”

 

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Friend, go up higher.”
Luke 14:10

When first the life of grace begins in the soul, we do indeed draw near to God, but it is with great fear and trembling. The soul conscious of guilt, and humbled thereby, is overawed with the solemnity of its position; it is cast to the earth by a sense of the grandeur of Jehovah, in whose presence it stands. With unfeigned bashfulness it takes the lowest room.

But, in after life, as the Christian grows in grace, although he will never forget the solemnity of his position, and will never lose that holy awe which must encompass a gracious man when he is in the presence of the God who can create or can destroy; yet his fear has all its terror taken out of it; it becomes a holy reverence, and no more an overshadowing dread. He is called up higher, to greater access to God in Christ Jesus. Then the man of God, walking amid the splendours of Deity, and veiling his face like the glorious cherubim, with those twin wings, the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, will, reverent and bowed in spirit, approach the throne; and seeing there a God of love, of goodness, and of mercy, he will realize rather the covenant character of God than his absolute Deity. He will see in God rather his goodness than his greatness, and more of his love than of his majesty. Then will the soul, bowing still as humbly as aforetime, enjoy a more sacred liberty of intercession; for while prostrate before the glory of the Infinite God, it will be sustained by the refreshing consciousness of being in the presence of boundless mercy and infinite love, and by the realization of acceptance “in the Beloved.” Thus the believer is bidden to come up higher, and is enabled to exercise the privilege of rejoicing in God, and drawing near to him in holy confidence, saying, “Abba, Father.”

“So may we go from strength to strength,

And daily grow in grace,

Till in thine image raised at length,

We see thee face to face.”

Evening

“The night also is thine.”
Psalm 74:16

Yes, Lord, thou dost not abdicate thy throne when the sun goeth down, nor dost thou leave the world all through these long wintry nights to be the prey of evil; thine eyes watch us as the stars, and thine arms surround us as the zodiac belts the sky. The dews of kindly sleep and all the influences of the moon are in thy hand, and the alarms and solemnities of night are equally with thee. This is very sweet to me when watching through the midnight hours, or tossing to and fro in anguish. There are precious fruits put forth by the moon as well as by the sun: may my Lord make me to be a favoured partaker in them.

The night of affliction is as much under the arrangement and control of the Lord of Love as the bright summer days when all is bliss. Jesus is in the tempest. His love wraps the night about itself as a mantle, but to the eye of faith the sable robe is scarce a disguise. From the first watch of the night even unto the break of day the eternal Watcher observes his saints, and overrules the shades and dews of midnight for his people’s highest good. We believe in no rival deities of good and evil contending for the mastery, but we hear the voice of Jehovah saying, “I create light and I create darkness; I, the Lord, do all these things.”

Gloomy seasons of religious indifference and social sin are not exempted from the divine purpose. When the altars of truth are defiled, and the ways of God forsaken, the Lord’s servants weep with bitter sorrow, but they may not despair, for the darkest eras are governed by the Lord, and shall come to their end at his bidding. What may seem defeat to us may be victory to him.

“Though enwrapt in gloomy night,

We perceive no ray of light;

Since the Lord himself is here,

‘Tis not meet that we should fear.”

Christmas Wrappings

 

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Christmas Wrappings

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The Drawing of the Father

From: Utmost.org

When God begins to draw me to Himself, the problem of my will comes in immediately. Will I react positively to the truth that God has revealed? Will I come to Him? To discuss or deliberate over spiritual matters when God calls is inappropriate and disrespectful to Him. When God speaks, never discuss it with anyone as if to decide what your response may be (see Galatians 1:15-16). Belief is not the result of an intellectual act, but the result of an act of my will whereby I deliberately commit myself. But will I commit, placing myself completely and absolutely on God, and be willing to act solely on what He says? If I will, I will find that I am grounded on reality as certain as God’s throne.

In preaching the gospel, always focus on the matter of the will. Belief must come from the will to believe. There must be a surrender of the will, not a surrender to a persuasive or powerful argument. I must deliberately step out, placing my faith in God and in His truth. And I must place no confidence in my own works, but only in God. Trusting in my own mental understanding becomes a hindrance to complete trust in God. I must be willing to ignore and leave my feelings behind. I mustwill to believe. But this can never be accomplished without my forceful, determined effort to separate myself from my old ways of looking at things. I must surrender myself completely to God.

Everyone has been created with the ability to reach out beyond his own grasp. But it is God who draws me, and my relationship to Him in the first place is an inner, personal one, not an intellectual one. I come into the relationship through the miracle of God and through my own will to believe. Then I begin to get an intelligent appreciation and understanding of the wonder of the transformation in my life.

Our Daily Bread, source

At our house some Christmas events are the same each year. Among them is my wife Martie’s appeal to the kids and grandkids as they attack their gifts: “Save the paper, we can use it next year!” Martie loves to give nice gifts, but she also appreciates the wrapping. Presentation is part of the beauty of the gift.

It makes me think of the wrapping Christ chose when He came as a redemptive gift to rescue us from our sinful selves. Jesus could have wrapped Himself in a mind-boggling show of power, lighting up the sky with His presence in a celestial show of glory. Instead, in a beautiful reversal of Genesis 1:26, He chose to wrap Himself “in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7).

So why is this wrapping so important? Because, being like us, He is no stranger to our struggles. He experienced deep loneliness and the betrayal of a dear friend. He was publicly shamed, misunderstood, and falsely accused. In short, He feels our pain. As a result, the writer of Hebrews tells us that we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

When you think of the gift of Jesus this Christmas, remember to keep the “wrapping” in mind!

Lord, thank You for wrapping Yourself in our
likeness! Remind us that You understand our
struggles and that we can confidently take advantage
of the mercy and grace You offer to make us victorious.
Don’t disregard the wrapping of the best Christmas gift of all.

Insight

Philippians 2:5-11 is perhaps the greatest declaration of Christ’s deity and humanity in the Bible. In His incarnation, Jesus did not replace His deity with humanity, but added humanity to His deity; He did not cease to be God, but surrendered the independent use of His divine powers and the right to manifest His own glory as God. Before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed that the Father would restore to Him the glory He had with the Father “before the world was” (John 17:5). Jesus’ prayer was answered when the Father “highly exalted Him and [gave] Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

Today’s Devotions

From; Through the Bible

Morning

December 22

Ezekiel 3:17-19 (NIV) 17“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.19But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.

Ezekiel was called to be a prophet to the people of Judah in exile in Babylon. His calling is similar to that of the prophet Isaiah. He saw a vision of the glory of God several times. He described the same beings that fly about the throne and gave a little more detail than Isaiah did. The descriptions are fascinating. You can read them in the first three chapters of Ezekiel. Try reading it in several translations. We will all see the same thing one day, for we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of God.

Over and over God told Ezekiel that the people would not listen, but that was not to be his concern. He had to tell them anyway. God even told him that if he was sent as a missionary, those people would listen, but not this stubborn people of Judah. Some pastors wonder if they have the same calling. Our ministry is not about numbers. It is about obedience to God! There will be those that do hear, even if the vast majority does not. All are given a chance to hear and are then accountable to God with what they did with what they heard.

In our passage today, God gave Ezekiel an extra incentive to speak out what God had spoken to him. If we do not speak when God tells us to, we are the ones accountable to God for the blood of the wicked. It is obedience to God for that man to hear, as it is obedience to God for us to speak the words He commands us to speak.

Prayer: Lord, help us to be faithful to speak what You command us to speak.

Evening

December 22

Jude 1:3-4 (NIV) 3Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Jude is a one-chapter letter of warning. Jesus had given the church the mission of spreading the Gospel to the world. As it began to do so, Satan counterattacked from several different angles. He brought about physical persecution. This only seemed to strengthen the conviction of believers. The deaths of martyrs inspired others to give their lives to Christ. The other attack came from within. Prominent men gained positions of authority in the church, but they did not continue teaching the apostles’ doctrine. By flattery and deception they influenced some in the church to hear their deceptive schemes.

This attack continues to this day. It is not always easy to spot because of the subtlety of these men. There is nearly always some form of immorality or financial gain involved. Paul, Peter and John also warned the churches about these deceivers.

It is not that they deny who Jesus is, for that would be too obvious. They deny His lordship over their lives. The fruit of their life gives them away. They draw people to themselves and not the Lord Jesus Christ. If you were to hear them speak, you would come away thinking of the man and not Jesus Christ. Jude is telling us that we must contend for the faith. Stand up to these deceivers. Expose them. Point out where they err from Scripture. Do not fear them. Point people back to Jesus.

Consider: Credentials and positions are not a guarantee of the lordship of Christ in that leader. By their fruits you will know them.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2014

From: Closed Doors, Open Windows

The Greatest Gift of All

This post is not what it appears on the surface…Please keep reading…

By now most of my friends and family know that we did not send out our annual Christmas letter…and only a very few cards to some who don’t have email or do Facebook.  And many of you also know that I had a hard time getting myself into the proper spirit for Christmas shopping, etc.
But if you have been following along the past week or so, you also will know that God came through, and He met me in my deepest place of sorrow, and gave me the strength and courage to choose JOY!

I am happy to report that after two long, grueling days of shopping and gift wrapping…I am feeling much better prepared to face this week and truly enjoy Christmas!  Thank you all for your prayers and words of support and comfort. You have blessed me with your love and wisdom, and I thank God for you.

Today has been a wonderful day of Sabbath Rest.  We had our

morning worship service here in our home, and the lesson today was taken from Matthew 13:45-46, which says:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,
who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Not exactly an Advent or Christmas message for this fourth Sunday of Advent, the Sunday before Christmas.  At least not at first glance.  But as the message unfolded, we were asked to imagine ourselves as a person who had been captured and held prisoner, chained to others and forced to walk many days in the hot desert, back in the days of the Roman Government, which was in power at the time of Jesus’ birth. Instead of food we were given very little water and a detestable watered down broth of some kind, just barely enough to keep us alive. As our horrendous journey continued, we were not permitted to speak or cry, and if one did, he would be severely punished by many lashes of the whip.
After many days we finally arrived in a city, where the slave auction was held. One by one we watched our traveling companions be auctioned off to the highest bidder, to be purchased as a slave to cruel taskmasters who would make the previous journey seem like a vacation.
Suddenly it was my turn on the auction block. I was forced to stand before the bidders, my clothes were tattered and torn and filthy. I had not eaten or bathed in many days. My hair was matted and dirty, my body was bleeding from the many lashes I had endured. Weak, weary, and fearful, I tried to stay conscious as the bargaining and bidding began for my life. As I struggled to stand, listening to the jeers and jests of those around me shouting all manner of ugly and disgusting insults regarding my appearance, there was One bidder who stepped forward, and with a commanding voice He spoke His bid loud and clear above all the others.  The amount that He shouted out caused all the other slave traders to stop and turn around and look.  They began to question among themselves, “Who can this be? Why would He wantthis worthless prisoner…the one who looks completely beaten and defeated…the one who probably couldn’t do a day’s work no matter how hard she’s whipped?  And what is that He said? He’s giving all that He has to purchase this piece of human refuse! Who IS He?
And who can this person be who has such value in His eyes?”
 
Finally I heard the auctioneer shout, “Sold to the Highest Bidder! Take her away!”  I was expecting to be yanked up and rudely jerked off of the block and dragged along by my chains.  But instead, my Purchaser was kneeling before me, tenderly washing my wounds, removing the chains from my ankles and wrists, holding a cup of water to my lips, lifting me up and carrying me away in His arms. As He lifted me high above my previous tormentors, He gently whispered my name and called me His beloved child. I thought I must have died and gone to heaven, but He said, “You are my precious child…my chosen one…my “Pearl of Great Price!” 

I did not quite understand then what He meant by that…but when the day came that I saw this One hanging on a cross, crucified and dying, I understood.  You see, He did give all that He had for me…He gave His life, so that I might live.  And before He died He told me all that I would need to know so that I could one day join Him.  He said,

“Let not your heart be troubled; 
you believe in God,
believe also in Me.
In My Father’s house are many mansions,
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and receive you to Myself,
that where I am, there you may be also.
And where I go you know,
and the way you know…
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
 
John 14: 1-6 
 
 

You may be asking yourself, “What does this story have to do with Christmas?”  Well, my friend, it has EVERYTHING to do with Christmas!

Why did Jesus come to earth in the first place?

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, 
but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45

God Has Perfect Timing

clock : Numbers from Mechanical Scoreboard Alphabet. Illustration for designclock : Young woman want to stop time. Old style image
clock : A smiling guy holding a wall clock and red apple on a table isolated on white backgroundclock : 3d people - man, person and a clock Stock Photo
clock : Vector bell concept background. Eps10clock : Design of clock  Four seasons, concept
clock : Old hourglass on grey backgroundclock : Stopwatch with text Time To Change. White background. Stock Photo
clock : old fashioned alarm clock Stock Photoclock : Clock face and calendar page
clock : Hand drawn set of clocks and watches clock : Businesswoman stops time from the hourglass

Just The Right Time

From: Our Daily Bread

The conductor stood on the podium, his eyes scanning the choir and orchestra. The singers arranged the music in their folders, found a comfortable position for standing, and held the folder where they could see the conductor just over the top. Orchestra members positioned their music on the stand, found a comfortable position in their seats, and then sat still. The conductor waited and watched until everyone was ready. Then, with a downbeat of his baton, the sounds of Handel’s “Overture to Messiah” filled the cathedral.

With the sound swirling around me, I felt I was immersed in Christmas—when God, at just the right moment, signaled the downbeat and set in motion an overture that started with the birth of the Messiah, the “High Priest of the good things to come” (Heb. 9:11).

Every Christmas, as we celebrate Christ’s first coming with glorious music, I’m reminded that God’s people, like choir and orchestra members, are getting ready for the next downbeat of the conductor when Christ will come again. On that day, we will participate with Him in the final movement of God’s symphony of redemption—making all things new (Rev. 21:5). In anticipation, we need to keep our eyes on the conductor and make sure we are ready.

Sound the soul-inspiring anthem,
Angel hosts, your harps attune;
Earth’s long night is almost over,
Christ is coming—coming soon! —Macomber
The advent of Christ celebrates His birth and anticipates His return.

Holding Your Hand

From: Getmorestrength

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

“Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand.” Psalm 73:23

One of the joys of being with kids is holding their hands. We do it to keep them safe while crossing the street, or to keep them from getting lost in a crowd. And whenever they stumble and lose their footing, we grab their little hands tighter to keep them from falling.

That’s what God does for us. Inevitably there are stones and cracks that trip us up on the sidewalks of life. That’s why it’s easy to identify with the psalmist, who said, “My steps had nearly slipped” (Ps. 73:2).

We all face a variety of issues that threaten to make us stumble. For the psalmist Asaph, seeing the prosperity of the wicked caused him to question the goodness of God. But God squeezed his hand and reassured him that, given the judgment of God, the wicked do not really prosper. True prosperity, the psalmist discovered, was found in the fact that God was always with him: “You hold me by my right hand” (Ps. 73:23). And just for good measure, God reminded him that He would also guide him through life and ultimately welcome him home to heaven (Ps. 73:24). How good is that!

So, next time you stumble, remember that the powerful hand of God is holding your hand and walking you through life—all the way home!

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand. —Stanphill
© Renewal 1978, Singspiration.

Let God do the holding and you do the trusting.

 

Streams In The Desert

The exception is Caleb son of Jephunneh; he will see it and I will give him and his descendants the territory on which he has walked, because he has wholeheartedly followed me.”—Deut 1:36
Every hard duty that lies in your path, that you would rather not do, that it will cost you pain and struggle or sore effort to do, has a blessing in it. Not to do it, at whatever cost, is to miss the blessing.
Every hard piece of road on which you see the Master’s shoe-prints and along which He bids you follow Him, surely leads to blessing, which you cannot get if you cannot go over the steep, thorny path.
Every point of battle to which you come, where you must draw your sword and fight the enemy, has a possible victory which will prove a rich blessing to your life. Every heavy load that you are called to lift hides in itself some strange secret of strength.
—J. R. Miller
“I cannot do it alone;
The waves run fast and high,
And the fogs close all around,
The light goes out in the sky;
But I know that we two
Shall win in the end, Jesus and I.
“Coward and wayward and weak,
I change with the changing sky;
Today so eager and bright,
Tomorrow too weak to try;
But He never gives in,
So we two shall win, Jesus and I.
“I could not guide it myself,
My boat on life’s wild sea;
There’s One who sits by my side,
Who pulls and steers with me.
And I know that we two
Shall safe enter port,
Jesus and I.”

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant.”
2 Samuel 23:5

This covenant is divine in its origin. “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” Oh that great word He ! Stop, my soul. God, the everlasting Father, has positively made a covenant with thee; yes, that God who spake the world into existence by a word; he, stooping from his majesty, takes hold of thy hand and makes a covenant with thee. Is it not a deed, the stupendous condescension of which might ravish our hearts forever if we could really understand it? “HE hath made with me a covenant.” A king has not made a covenant with me–that were somewhat; but the Prince of the kings of the earth, Shaddai, the Lord All-sufficient, the Jehovah of ages, the everlasting Elohim, “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” But notice, it is particular in its application. “Yet hath he made with me an everlasting covenant.” Here lies the sweetness of it to each believer. It is nought for me that he made peace for the world; I want to know whether he made peace for me! It is little that he hath made a covenant, I want to know whether he has made a covenant with me. Blessed is the assurance that he hath made a covenant with me! If God the Holy Ghost gives me assurance of this, then his salvation is mine, his heart is mine, he himself is mine–he is my God.

This covenant is everlasting in its duration. An everlasting covenant means a covenant which had no beginning, and which shall never, never end. How sweet amidst all the uncertainties of life, to know that “the foundation of the Lord standeth sure,” and to have God’s own promise, “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” Like dying David, I will sing of this, even though my house be not so with God as my heart desireth.

 

Evening

“I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.”
Ezekiel 16:10

See with what matchless generosity the Lord provides for his people’s apparel. They are so arrayed that the divine skill is seen producing an unrivalled broidered work, in which every attribute takes its part and every divine beauty is revealed. No art like the art displayed in our salvation, no cunning workmanship like that beheld in the righteousness of the saints. Justification has engrossed learned pens in all ages of the church, and will be the theme of admiration in eternity. God has indeed “curiously wrought it.” With all this elaboration there is mingled utility and durability, comparable to our being shod with badgers’ skins. The animal here meant is unknown, but its skin covered the tabernacle, and formed one of the finest and strongest leathers known. The righteousness which is of God by faith endureth forever, and he who is shod with this divine preparation will tread the desert safely, and may even set his foot upon the lion and the adder. Purity and dignity of our holy vesture are brought out in the fine linen. When the Lord sanctifies his people, they are clad as priests in pure white; not the snow itself excels them; they are in the eyes of men and angels fair to look upon, and even in the Lord’s eyes they are without spot. Meanwhile the royal apparel is delicate and rich as silk. No expense is spared, no beauty withheld, no daintiness denied.

What, then? Is there no inference from this? Surely there is gratitude to be felt and joy to be expressed. Come, my heart, refuse not thy evening hallelujah! Tune thy pipes! Touch thy chords!

“Strangely, my soul, art thou arrayed

By the Great Sacred Three!

In sweetest harmony of praise

Let all thy powers agree.”

God Loves People Who Help

 

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The Right Kind of Help

From: Utmost.org
12
20
2014
And I, if I am lifted up…will draw all peoples to Myself. —John 12:32
Very few of us have any understanding of the reason why Jesus Christ died. If sympathy is all that human beings need, then the Cross of Christ is an absurdity and there is absolutely no need for it. What the world needs is not “a little bit of love,” but major surgery.

When you find yourself face to face with a person who is spiritually lost, remind yourself of Jesus Christ on the cross. If that person can get to God in any other way, then the Cross of Christ is unnecessary. If you think you are helping lost people with your sympathy and understanding, you are a traitor to Jesus Christ. You must have a right-standing relationship with Him yourself, and pour your life out in helping others in His way— not in a human way that ignores God. The theme of the world’s religion today is to serve in a pleasant, non-confrontational manner.

But our only priority must be to present Jesus Christ crucified— to lift Him up all the time (see 1 Corinthians 2:2). Every belief that is not firmly rooted in the Cross of Christ will lead people astray. If the worker himself believes in Jesus Christ and is trusting in the reality of redemption, his words will be compelling to others. What is extremely important is for the worker’s simple relationship with Jesus Christ to be strong and growing. His usefulness to God depends on that, and that alone.

The calling of a New Testament worker is to expose sin and to reveal Jesus Christ as Savior. Consequently, he cannot always be charming and friendly, but must be willing to be stern to accomplish major surgery. We are sent by God to lift up Jesus Christ, not to give wonderfully beautiful speeches. We must be willing to examine others as deeply as God has examined us. We must also be sharply intent on sensing those Scripture passages that will drive the truth home, and then not be afraid to apply them.
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Get More strength

Don’t Just Celebrate…Imitate!

Dec
20
2014
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.” Ephesians 5:1

I can still remember my dad standing there, coat on and hat in hand on Christmas afternoon asking me, “Joe, do you want to come with me?” His question made me uncomfortable because I knew I should say yes, but being deep into playing with my Christmas presents, going with him was not my idea of a great way to spend Christmas afternoon.

My idea of Christmas was a time to celebrate Christ’s birth by giving and getting gifts, eating some of Mom’s all-time best cooking, and lots of play time with my new toys!

My dad liked all that kind of stuff too. But every year he had something else in mind. He knew that Christmas was more than a celebration of Christ’s birth. For him, the spirit of Christmas had a deeper meaning. He knew that the highest form of honoring Jesus is more than celebration—it’s imitation.

In fact, seeing Christmas as merely celebration can have a selfish bent to it. It can end up being primarily about days off from work, parties, family, friends, games, football, gifts, and lots of great food. But imitation—not celebration—pays a higher compliment to the one whose life we celebrate.

For Jesus, Christmas was not warm, convenient, or comfortable. In our modern-day materialized blur of Christmas, we must keep reminding ourselves that the birth of Jesus put into motion the central act of God’s redemptive plan, and it came at a cost. Not only did Jesus temporarily relinquish the glorious privileges of heaven, He ultimately gave His life on a blood-stained cross where His sinless body bore the weight of my sin—and yours. Jesus presented our world with a costly redemptive gift. Which is precisely why my dad was on his way out the front door.

His mission? To visit an elderly widow who lived down the street. With no children and no family, she spent every holiday alone. And every Christmas my dad, in the midst of celebration, gave the gift of himself, sharing a few moments of companionship to help ease her lonely heart.

I learned a valuable lesson from my dad. Around all of our lives there are people who long for a touch from heaven through some caring, even sacrificial, act of love on their behalf. Who are the people you could call on Christmas day? Check your party lists. Is there someone who will go nowhere if not invited by you?

Indelibly etched on my memory are those two or three times when I stood up from my toys, grabbed my coat, put my hand in Dad’s, and walked down the street to spend an hour imitating Christ’s gift of Himself.

This year, let’s do more than celebrate Christ. Let’s honor Him by imitating the grace of His selfless and sacrificial love for us.

 

Closed Doors, Open windows

By: Pamela Mursch Steiner

Advent Thoughts: Today I Choose JOY!
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
to preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
and the day of vengeance of our God;

To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of JOY for mourning,
The garment of PRAISE for the
spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord,
that He may be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:1-3

As most of you who have followed this blog the past few months know, I have been working through the grieving process since the passing of our son this past May. Most of the time I seem to be doing just fine, continuing to go through the motions of life every day. There have been some difficult days, and there have been some wonderful days.

Particularly as we have approached the Christmas season, there have been waves of grief come over me from out of the blue…totally unexpected and catching me off guard. I expressed my feelings to friends and family, sharing my frustration with attempting to Christmas shop and send out our usual Christmas letter. I have felt locked up inside, unable to render enough energy to handle these basic functions of preparing for Christmas. Most people have responded with love, compassion and understanding…helping to relieve the pressure that was building inside and freeing me to not cave in to the expectations of the season by doing more than I was capable of doing.

Others attempted to remind me that I should think about the family that I still have here and not spoil Christmas by my lack of participation. This was done in a spirit of good will and encouragement, and I understand where they are coming from, but as I tried to explain…this is not something I am doing deliberately. It is something that is occurring from ‘out of the blue’, totally unannounced or expected. Not something I can control….it is grief…pure and simple…well, maybe not so simple…rather complicated when you think about it.

However, as I read these verses today, I recognize what Christ came to earth to do for us ..especially in the verses that say:

“To COMFORT all who mourn,
To CONSOLE those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
the oil of JOY for mourning,
The garment of PRAISE for the
spirit of heaviness…”

and remarkably, that has given me “COMFORT”, JOY, and a GARMENT OF PRAISE!” It has unlocked something inside so that I am able to CHOOSE JOY in place of the mourning. I am deliberately choosing to put on that “garment of praise” and rise above the “spirit of heaviness” that has been pulling me down. That is not to say that there won’t still be times when the grief will hit me, but claiming God’s Word gives me the strength to stand up against the sorrow and not allow it to drag me down.

This reminds me of another one of our Christmas Carols:
“God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” (click here to hear)

“God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ, our Savior,
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r,
When we were gone astray.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!”

And may the Lord be glorified as we preach these “good tidings” of comfort and joy everywhere!

 

 

Through The Bible

Morning

December 20
Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV) 2″This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it–the LORD is his name: 3’Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
Are you in turmoil about a situation in your life? Is it hard to understand the reasons and purposes God has for you at present? Does it seem that God has removed His hand from your circumstances? Ask the Creator who formed you. Go to the One who knows all things and has all things in His hands. Listen to His word as He speaks to you. It declares that He works all things together for good to those who love Him, who are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28)

Call out to Him and He will answer. He doesn’t say He might. He doesn’t say when, but He will answer. Our problem is that we cannot see all the factors and events of the future. They are all present before God. They are unsearchable to us, but they are the work of His hand. Your loving Father invites you to ask Him. He will not reveal them to us unless we ask. He will reveal parts of His great plan, and we will see parts of the great puzzle of life fall into place.

His revelation will not always give us complete understanding, but it will give us peace knowing He is on the throne of heaven, ordering all things, and working out all things for our good. He is always at work. Watch for His hand. When things don’t make sense, call out to Him.

Consider: Need His phone number? Try Jeremiah 33:3.
Evening
December 20
1 John 4:16,18-19 (NIV) 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19We love because he first loved us.
Love is the first in the list of the fruits of the Spirit. It is not that what we so often call love is all that God is. God is not a sentiment or emotion. Love is one of the attributes of God, just one of the fruits of the Spirit, though it is first and foremost. It is like saying, “Bob is friendly.” It doesn’t mean that all friendliness is Bob. The difference is when we see genuinely unselfish love, perfect love, we know that it came from God.

In this perfect love that is a part of the very nature of God, there is no fear. You realize that the One who is over all things will see you through whatever comes into your life. Like a child in the arms of their strong father, we are safe and secure. If trouble should come through the door, Daddy will deal with it. If I have done something wrong, Daddy might discipline me, but never too harshly, for He loves me.

If we fear, we have not discovered the fullness of His love. We are still anxious about what He will bring our way. We wonder if He won’t get fed up with us and send us away. But when we see the extent of His love, we will never fear these things. That is where we find peace in the midst of a storm. The more we see that unconditional love, the more we love Him in return. Love begets love. You can’t help but love someone who loves you so unconditionally.

Consider: If you want to love Him more, think about the extent of His love for you.

You Are The Temple

 

You Are The Temple Of God

 

King James Bible
Know ye not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Pictures of Jesus teaching In The temples

  • Jesus in the SynagogueIn the Synagogue
  • Boy Jesus in the Temple Boy Jesus in the Temple With the Doctors
  • Marks of a PhariseeChrist Teaching As a Child
  • Boy Head of ChristThe Trip to Jerusalem
  • Christ's Visit to Nazareth
    • Widow's Mite
    • Jesus Teaches Daily in the Temple

      pictures from Salt Life

“The Temple of the Holy Spirit”

From: Utmost.org

I am accountable to God for the way I control my body under His authority. Paul said he did not “set aside the grace of God”— make it ineffective (Galatians 2:21). The grace of God is absolute and limitless, and the work of salvation through Jesus is complete and finished forever. I am not being saved— I am saved. Salvation is as eternal as God’s throne, but I must put to work or use what God has placed within me. To “work out [my] own salvation” (Philippians 2:12) means that I am responsible for using what He has given me. It also means that I must exhibit in my own body the life of the Lord Jesus, not mysteriously or secretly, but openly and boldly. “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection . . .” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Every Christian can have his body under absolute control for God. God has given us the responsibility to rule over all “the temple of the Holy Spirit,” including our thoughts and desires (1 Corinthians 6:19). We are responsible for these, and we must never give way to improper ones. But most of us are much more severe in our judgment of others than we are in judging ourselves. We make excuses for things in ourselves, while we condemn things in the lives of others simply because we are not naturally inclined to do them.

Paul said, “I beseech you…that you present your bodies a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1). What I must decide is whether or not I will agree with my Lord and Master that my body will indeed be His temple. Once I agree, all the rules, regulations, and requirements of the law concerning the body are summed up for me in this revealed truth-my body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit.”

 

Streams In The Desert

O Lord , I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps (Jer. 10:23).

Lead me in a plain path (Ps. 27:11).

Many people want to direct God, instead of resigning themselves to be directed by Him; to show Him a way, instead of passively following where He leads.
–Madame Guyon

I said: “Let me walk in the field”;
God said: ‘Nay, walk in the town”;
I said: “There are no flowers there”;
He said: “No flowers, but a crown.”
I said: “But the sky is black,
There is nothing but noise and din”;
But He wept as He sent me back,
“There is more,” He said, “there is sin
I said: “But the air is thick,
And fogs are veiling the sun”;
He answered: “Yet souls are sick,
And souls in the dark undone.”
I said: “I shall miss the light,
And friends will miss me, they say”;
He answered me, “Choose tonight,
If I am to miss you, or they.”
I pleaded for time to be given;
He said: “Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in Heaven
To have, followed the steps of your Guide.”
I cast one look at the fields,
Then set my face to the town;
He said: “My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?”
Then into His hand went mine,
And into my heart came He;
And I walk in a light Divine,

The path I had feared to see.
–George MacDonald

 

Hello? Anyone Home?

Thursday, August 7, 2014 (4:52 am)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

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

You know how sometimes we get a phone call from someone who didn’t intend to dial us? And what do we usually say? Sorry, you have the wrong number.

Well, here’s a bit of food for thought. What if it’s not the wrong number they just dialed? What if they actually dialed the right number, only they didn’t know it?? Some of you may think it’s a little radical but my wife answered a phone call like that … and over an hour later, they were still talking about the Lord. This young man got an earful and boy was he ever touched.

God is everywhere and He is in everything. Nothing happens that He didn’t know from the beginning of time. We need to be ready to jump on an opportunity to share His goodness even though in the natural it might seem a little strange — forget natural! We need to be operate in the supernatural!!

We need to learn to expect the supernatural with the Lord. He doesn’t always work in the way we think He should. Let’s open our minds and our hearts to what He is doing.

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Jonah 1:14, 16 Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.”

Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows.

While most read the story of Jonah focusing on Jonah’s journey, I want to pause and examine the lives of the pagan sailors. What a journey they were on! We see the hand of God touching them providentially through Jonah’s disobedience. Talk about God bringing good from evil. Here He draws them into a desperate sea voyage and almost incidentally reveals to them the impotence of their gods, who have no power whatsoever to stop the deadly storm. In their total helplessness the God of Heaven then introduces Himself through his runaway prophet. And suddenly, the sailors are crying out to YHVH.

They are not crying out to their gods any longer – but now are crying to the true God of Israel.

And God performs a miracle for them, when Jonah is tossed into the sea, the storm suddenly calmed… and the amazing miracle evokes what sounds like prophesying, as they offer sacrifices and vows in worship to YHVH. “For You, O Lord, have done as you pleased!” The whole crew is converted. So, while Jonah is fish food – there’s a revival happening on board.

And now these wonder struck sailors have quite a fish story to tell in all their subsequent travels concerning the wayward prophet who disappeared beneath the waves as his God stilled the perfect storm. And the Lord has a boat full of newborn missionaries heading to Tarshish…

Our God desires all people throughout the world to hear His message. His providence is such that anywhere His servants find themselves becomes a place and a moment of opportunity for Him. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; [2 Timothy 4:2] Even Jonah’s gross disobedience didn’t stop the Lord from using him as a testimony. We need to be aware of who we are and what we carry for Yeshua (Jesus). His love and faithfulness to us is such that even our discipline can become a vehicle for expressing His love to the world.

Haven’t you forgotten something?

Monday, March 24, 2014 (7:50 am)

Psalms 111:4 He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

A farmer was showing his visiting citydwelling friend around his farm. “Watch this!” he said. He gave a whistle and his little dog came running from the house, herded the cattle into the corral, then latched the gate with her paw. “Wow, that’s some dog — what’s her name?” The forgetful farmer thought for a minute and then asked, “What do you call that red flower that smells good and has thorns on the stem?” “A rose?” “That’s it!” The farmer turned to his wife. “Hey Rose, what do we call this dog?”

Funny how we forget things, isn’t it? But I’m not so sure God finds it all that funny! When we read about the children of Israel and their journeys through the wilderness for forty years, we see how God provided wonderful miracles for them, feeding them daily with manna, guiding them by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, parting the Red Sea!

How is it, then, that they became so very hard hearted toward Him? Over time, I think those miracles just became commonplace and they began to take them for granted!

But then again when I look back on my life, I can’t really blame them. It happens to the best of us! God has done miracles in our lives and I’m sure he’s done many in each of yours as well! But we still get anxious when things aren’t going quite the way we hoped, don’t we?

Recall a miracle of God in your life. Remember the joy you felt? We need to relive that joy today! The miracle of God’s new birth in us and the many other miracles God has done are not ones to be quickly forgotten. We need to relive them daily!

We never want to become cold toward God! Let’s spend some time remembering the miracles He has done in our lives and strive to trust Him for the trials we face today!

Christ Brings Faith And Triumph

 

Pictures of Faith And Triumph

faith - cross silhouette and the clouds at sunsetFaith word made by leter pieces
God Nametag Introduction Welcome to Religious Faith - A...faith, happy child with arms raised
Devotion Faith Young christian woman praying against her sin...Loss of faith religion, illustrated by broken christian...
faith and trust - faith in god follow jesus and say your...Joy and Faith - Woman in nature with arms and heart lifted...
faith - whimsical drawing of the word FAITH isolated on...Leap of faith - Illustration of a person getting ready to...
Faith road signPlanting Seeds of Faith - A religious concept photo that...
faith - Happy little kids climbing over the word FAITHFaith - Inspirational stone surrounded by sand ripples Zen...
faith conceptual door - faith red word conceptual door with...faith - special black and white toned photo fx, focus point...

Test of Faithfulness

From: Utmost.org

It is only a faithful person who truly believes that God sovereignly controls his circumstances. We take our circumstances for granted, saying God is in control, but not really believing it. We act as if the things that happen were completely controlled by people. To be faithful in every circumstance means that we have only one loyalty, or object of our faith— the Lord Jesus Christ. God may cause our circumstances to suddenly fall apart, which may bring the realization of our unfaithfulness to Him for not recognizing that He had ordained the situation. We never saw what He was trying to accomplish, and that exact event will never be repeated in our life. This is where the test of our faithfulness comes. If we will just learn to worship God even during the difficult circumstances, He will change them for the better very quickly if He so chooses.

Being faithful to Jesus Christ is the most difficult thing we try to do today. We will be faithful to our work, to serving others, or to anything else; just don’t ask us to be faithful to Jesus Christ. Many Christians become very impatient when we talk about faithfulness to Jesus. Our Lord is dethroned more deliberately by Christian workers than by the world. We treat God as if He were a machine designed only to bless us, and we think of Jesus as just another one of the workers.

The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us. God calls us to His service and places tremendous responsibilities on us. He expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part. God wants to use us as He used His own Son.

DECEMBER 18, 2014From: Crosswalk

I’m Worried About My Child’s Future
LYSA TERKEURST

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

Have you ever felt pressured to ensure your child’s success in school because you thought it meant success in life?

A couple of years ago I overheard my daughter Hope telling a friend she was glad I didn’t get all worked up over grades. Not trying to be nosey but totally wanting to be nosey, I kept listening.

She explained that she and her siblings were expected to do their best, but in the end, as long as they worked hard, my husband Art and I were okay with whatever grade they received.

For the most part, that’s right.

This hasn’t always been the case. When Hope started kindergarten, I felt compelled to help her succeed. I felt enormous pressure because I believed success in school meant success in life, and I wanted to set my child up for success.

She was a bright and articulate child. But all through kindergarten, she couldn’t read.

Then came first grade. All of the other kids in her class were reading with ease. Not my daughter. I panicked. I had her tested. I worried constantly that I must be doing something wrong as her mother.

In the end, it was a readiness issue. When she was ready, she starting reading.

Then along came my next child, who was reading at 4 years old. Finally I’d done something right, I reasoned.

But then child number three came along, and she was my slowest reader yet.

Through all of this, God started to untangle the misperception that success in school determines success in life, and as a parent, it is up to me to push, plead, demand and determine my child’s future.

Slowly, I realized God has a plan for each of my kids. As long as I’m depending on the Lord to guide me as a parent, nothing I do or don’t do will mess up their futures. I’m reassured of this with our key verse, Proverbs 16:9, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”

As their parent, it’s my job to guide them, but worldly success shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. My guiding should focus on leading them into a relationship with God, where He’ll make their path straight, no matter what their grades are.

This revelation has provided such freedom.

I can celebrate when one of my kids excels in a subject, trusting that particular success is needed for whatever God intends for them in life. If, however, a child struggles and can’t grasp a certain subject — well, that’s also part of God’s direction.

Of course, working hard, doing your best and being a conscientious student is important. But in our home, grades are not the ultimate determination of success.

This child may never make marks in school that the world esteems, but giving her freedom to excel as God has designed her is already paying off. She has an eternal perspective that’s more valuable for her future than any academic accolades.

I’m convinced her struggles in school are actually God’s way of keeping her on the path He’s had for her since she was conceived. Hope was conceived only four months into our very rough start of a marriage. Art and I were two broken sinners thrust into the responsibility of trying to raise a child.

The day Hope was born I saw God like never before. His tender grace was handed to me wrapped in a pink blanket with eyes so wide, so blue, they were a sea of forgiveness forever staring back at me.

I’d never physically touched God until that day. And maybe for the first time in my entire life, His hope rushed inside of me and started rearranging and redeeming my brokenness.

Hope.

We named her Hope.

Now, we won’t talk about the conversations I had with God when His Hope kept me up in the middle of the night for months after that. And we will save the story of how His Hope has always felt it was beneath her to be the child, and she would put her hands on her toddler hips and tell me not to boss her.

We’ll save those stories for another day.

But I’ll never forget an e-mail I got from His Hope while she was on a mission trip. Hope was walking the broken roads of Ethiopia navigating poverty her mind couldn’t quite process. She bumped into sheep and a woman whose house was made of cardboard and ripped bed sheets.

Hope’s steps were steady, though her heart felt shaky as she loved on 30 kids dying of AIDS in a forgotten orphanage on the forgotten outskirts of town.

She wrote to say, “Mom, I’ve fallen in love. The kids rushed at me when I walked in and I tried to hold all 30 of them at one time.”

His Hope.

From a broken mama. Into a broken world. His Hope is still going forth like only His Hope can.

All that to say, yeah — I don’t get all worked up over grades anymore. Trusting God’s plan is the only secret I know in the gentle art of not freaking out.

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Rend your heart, and not your garments.”
Joel 2:13

Garment-rending and other outward signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel true repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Men will attend to the most multiplied and minute ceremonial regulations–for such things are pleasing to the flesh–but true religion is too humbling, too heart-searching, too thorough for the tastes of the carnal men; they prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. Outward observances are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up: but they are ultimately delusive, for in the article of death, and at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness all religion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every form of worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of heaven.

Heart-rending is divinely wrought and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of and believed in, but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating, and completely sin-purging; but then it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled spirits are unable to receive; and it is distinctly discriminating, for it belongs to the elect of God, and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts, but they are naturally hard as marble: how, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary: a dying Saviour’s voice rent the rocks once, and it is as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us hear the death-cries of Jesus, and our hearts shall be rent even as men rend their vestures in the day of lamentation.

OUR DELIVERER BY WARREN WIERSBE

Read Psalm 140:1-13

King David was going through another battle. He needed deliverance from an attacking enemy. “Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips. Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men” (vv. 1-4). David’s enemies had hidden snares to trap him.

What do you do when you face this situation–when evil, violent, lying people are busy setting traps for you? Remember that God hears you. “I said to the Lord: ‘You are my God; hear the voice of my supplications, O Lord”‘ (v. 6). God also strengthens you. “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle” (v. 7). If you have to do battle against the Enemy today, let God outfit you in the armor you need. Finally, God vindicates you. David prayed that God would vindicate him and that his enemies’ own sins would destroy them.

David concluded by giving thanks to the Lord. “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor. Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence” (vv. 12,13). The battle over, he said, “One day I am going to dwell in Your presence, where there will be no more lying, slandering, battling, fighting or sinning.” We will enjoy the peace of God forever.

* * *
If you are a believer, God has already delivered you from the penalty of sin. Today He works to deliver you from sin’s effects. Perhaps enemies are slandering your reputation. Call upon the Lord for help. He will hear you, strengthen you and vindicate you. Let Him give you the victory today.

A SYMBOL OF DISASTER BY WOODROW KROLL

1 Kings 9:6-7But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight. Israel will be a proverb and a byword among all peoples.”A Symbol of Disaster

In his book Present Day Parables, J. Wilbur Chapman, a late 19th-century evangelist, tells of a town where the name of Christ was never mentioned except in profanity. The citizens hung Christ in effigy in the streets. Then the town was destroyed by fire. They tried to rebuild, but an Indian massacre occurred. They tried to build again, and it was partially destroyed by fire. At last, after much bloodshed and multiple disasters, the citizens sent to the American Home Missionary Society and asked, “Can you send us a minister of Jesus Christ?” Only after Christ came to that town did the people have peace and a degree of prosperity.

God warned Solomon the same would happen to his kingdom if he or his descendants should ever turn from following Him. Not only would He remove Israel from the land, but the consequences would be so dramatic that all the nations around her also would be amazed at what happened. The people would become a symbol of disaster to warn others who might be so foolish.

Israel should be a reminder to every Christian of the dire consequences of leaving God out of our lives. As the descendants of Solomon suffered in the ways God warned them, so believers can experience much pain and loss when they live in disregard to His will and His ways.

Don’t forget God. Remember to include Him in the daily routine of your life. Don’t just take Him with you to church; take Him to the mall, to the classroom, to the health club. Ask for His guidance in every decision you make, big and little, and look for His hand in every turn of life. When He fills your life, it is full indeed.

We let God down when we leave Him out.

 

Simposious Is Back

 

Simposious Is Back

Apparently, Simposious was a casualty of a cyber attack on Word Press. Thanks to good engineers the site is saved and Back for its readers. Thank you for your patience.

 

Redemption— Creating the Need it Satisfies

From: Utmost.org

The gospel of God creates the sense of need for the gospel. Is the gospel hidden to those who are servants already? No, Paul said, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe…” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). The majority of people think of themselves as being completely moral, and have no sense of need for the gospel. It is God who creates this sense of need in a human being, but that person remains totally unaware of his need until God makes Himself evident. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7). But God cannot give until a man asks. It is not that He wants to withhold something from us, but that is the plan He has established for the way of redemption. Through our asking, God puts His process in motion, creating something in us that was nonexistent until we asked. The inner reality of redemption is that it creates all the time. And as redemption creates the life of God in us, it also creates the things which belong to that life. The only thing that can possibly satisfy the need is what created the need. This is the meaning of redemption— it creates and it satisfies.

Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). When we preach our own experiences, people may be interested, but it awakens no real sense of need. But once Jesus Christ is “lifted up,” the Spirit of God creates an awareness of the need for Him. The creative power of the redemption of God works in the souls of men only through the preaching of the gospel. It is never the sharing of personal experiences that saves people, but the truth of redemption. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

 

 

Pictures Reminding Us Of Christs’ Birth

 

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  • Isaiah 7:14

    Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
  • Luke 1:30-35

    But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
birth of christ : Christmas Crib. Figures of Baby Jesus, Virgin Mary and St. Joseph on white background.birth of christ : Angel protect a Holy Familydownload (81)
birth of christ : nativitybirth of christ : Bible and Christmas time abstract background in nightdownload (47)
birth of christ : Printbirth of christ : Cartoon nativity scene with holy family download (37)
birth of christ : Christmas Christian nativity scene with baby Jesus in the manger in silhouette, and star of Bethlehembirth of christ : All the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem Stock Photodownload (44)
birth of christ : Vector illustration of the holy family of the nativity or birth of Jesus created as stained glass  Illustrationbirth of christ : Biblical scene - birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. download (45)
birth of christ : Nativity scene is a depiction of the birth of Jesus as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.birth of christ : Christmas Nativity Scene Stock Photo
birth of christ : christmas globe with nativity scene over blue background. vector Illustrationdownload (45)download (46)
  • Matthew 1:18-25

    This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”  When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Be The Reason Someone Smiles Today

  • Today I Will Be HappySome people
  • Smile, happy looks good on youYou deserve to be happy
  • You deserve happinessSomeday there will be happiness again
  • The sun will shine againbeing happy
  • Happiness is Hot ChocolateLets be happy
  • life is too shortBe the reason someone smiles today
  • To hell with anything that doesnt make me happyYou get more beautiful everyday
  • Waiting for someone else to make you happy

Individuality

From: Utmost.org

Individuality is the hard outer layer surrounding the inner spiritual life. Individuality shoves others aside, separating and isolating people. We see it as the primary characteristic of a child, and rightly so. When we confuse individuality with the spiritual life, we remain isolated. This shell of individuality is God’s created natural covering designed to protect the spiritual life. But our individuality must be yielded to God so that our spiritual life may be brought forth into fellowship with Him. Individuality counterfeits spirituality, just as lust counterfeits love. God designed human nature for Himself, but individuality corrupts that human nature for its own purposes.

The characteristics of individuality are independence and self-will. We hinder our spiritual growth more than any other way by continually asserting our individuality. If you say, “I can’t believe,” it is because your individuality is blocking the way; individuality can never believe. But our spirit cannot help believing. Watch yourself closely when the Spirit of God is at work in you. He pushes you to the limits of your individuality where a choice must be made. The choice is either to say, “I will not surrender,” or to surrender, breaking the hard shell of individuality, which allows the spiritual life to emerge. The Holy Spirit narrows it down every time to one thing (see Matthew 5:23-24). It is your individuality that refuses to “be reconciled to your brother” (Matthew 5:24). God wants to bring you into union with Himself, but unless you are willing to give up your right to yourself, He cannot. “…let him deny himself…”— deny his independent right to himself. Then the real life-the spiritual life-is allowed the opportunity to grow.

 

Breaking The Spin Cycle

From: Getmorestrength.org

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

“[Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. . . . He is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44

Politicians are adept at “spinning” the details of a story to advance their own agenda. During a political campaign, spin doctors massage stories to ensure that their candidate is cast in a positive light—often at the expense of the truth. This leaves us with serious questions about what the real truth is.

According to Jesus, Satan is the “spin doctor” of hell—the master deceiver who “speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar” (John 8:44). He casts himself as the one who wants to give us unfettered freedom and pleasure, carefully masking his plan to steal, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10). He even spins the loving laws of God by claiming that God’s boundaries are restrictive, simply intended to take all the fun out of living. When we buy into Satan’s damaging lies, we will eventually find ourselves empty and broken—sidelined in our journey with God.

Thankfully, Jesus warns us. He says that Satan is the father of lies. And we know Satan is lying when what he tells us contradicts God’s Word. Jesus, on the other hand, is the truth (John 14:6). So, when it comes to sorting out the spin, our only defense against the spin doctor of hell is to listen constantly for the voice of Jesus as we pray and study His Word. And that’s the truth!

The devil is crafty, deceptive, and sly;
He cleverly tricks us to swallow his lie.
But his cunning methods we’re sure to discern
If we make God’s warnings our daily concern. —D. De Haan

God’s truth stops the spin of Satan’s lies.

 

Streams In The Desert

Attention! Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who serve in the Lord’s temple during the night. May the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion!—Ps 134:1,3
Strange time for adoration, you say, to stand in God’s house by night, to worship in the depth of sorrow —it is indeed an arduous thing. Yes, and therein lies the blessing; it is the test of perfect faith. If I would know the love of my friend I must see what it can do in the winter. So with the Divine love. It is easy for me to worship in the summer sunshine when the melodies of life are in the air and the fruits of life are on the tree. But let the song of the bird cease and the fruit of the tree fall, and will my heart still go on to sing? Will I stand in God’s house by night? Will I love Him in His own night? Will I watch with Him even one hour in His Gethsemane? Will I help to bear His cross up the dolorous way? Will I stand beside Him in His dying moments with Mary and the beloved disciple? Will I be able with Nicodemus to take up the dead Christ? Then is my worship complete and my blessing glorious. My love has come to Him in His humiliation. My faith has found Him in His lowliness. My heart has recognized His majesty through His mean disguise, and I know at last that I desire not the gift but the Giver. When I can stand in His house by night I have accepted Him for Himself alone.
—George Matheson
“My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God; 
’Tis His to lead me there, not mine, but His
’At any cost, dear Lord, by any road!’
“So faith bounds forward to its goal in God, 
And love can trust her Lord to lead her there; 
’Upheld by Him, my soul is following hard 
Till God hath full fulfilled my deepest prayer.
“No matter if the way be sometimes dark, 
No matter though the cost be ofttimes great, 
He knoweth how I best shall reach the mark, 
The way that leads to Him must needs be straight.
“One thing I know, I cannot say Him nay; 
One thing I do, I press towards my Lord; 
My God my glory here, from day to day, 
And in the glory there my Great Reward.”

December 11

Through the Bible

Jeremiah 6:13-15 (NIV) 13“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. 14They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. 15Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD.

God’s cry against the people was that there could not be found one righteous in Judah. He declared that Israel was not as bad as Judah had become. The passage today lists some of the specific sins they were guilty of. It is hard for us to relate to the idolatry, worshipping carved images, but we can readily relate to the greed for gain. The greed for gain had permeated the entire nation from the beggar to the king. When our eyes turn from God to the things that He has made, we seek security in possessions. We should be looking to God who is the giver of all good things. Instead we trust in His gifts and focus on how to attain them.

The prophets and priests were all practicing deceit. The very ones people looked to for truth were deceiving the people in the name of God. In this generation we have seen a number of big name religious personalities who were caught in their deceit. How many more go uncaught? Only God knows. Consider their way of life and the fruits of the Spirit in their lives, not just their ability to impress you.

The religious leaders preached peace when destruction was coming upon them. When they should have been preaching conviction of sin, they taught that everything was fine. The heartbreaking thing is that it did not even bother their conscience. They had done it for so long that their hearts were hardened against God. A comfortable today was their only goal. They were about to face judgment.

Consider: God cannot ignore evil that goes unrepented in any nation, group, or individual.

Evening

December 11

2 Peter 3:3-4, 8-9 (NIV) 3First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

The previous chapter predicted that false teachers would come, driven by a desire for pleasure and money. In this chapter, Peter warns that scoffers would also come in the last days. This began in earnest about 150 years ago. We refer to it as the age of skeptical criticism. “Scoffers” is more to the point.

They argue that the world is on a slow and steady progressive path of evolutionary advancement. Now, science is showing that cataclysmic events did occur in the earth’s history. The earth did not slowly progress with only gradual changes but has had a violent past with sudden changes. Still, man feels more comfortable to think of things going on with only gradual change if any. The return of Christ is the farthest thing from their mind. Theories of alternate interpretation have developed to put it out of the realm of drastic change.

Peter warns us that it is the patience and love of God that keeps Jesus’ return from taking place sooner. God’s time and our time are quite different. These last two thousand years are merely two days to Him. His chief concern is the repentance of mankind. “Behold, I come quickly!” Jesus said that just two days ago in God’s perception of time. He is coming again, and that will bring a drastic and sudden change to all creation.

Consider: Whether He comes today or you live to 100 years of age, our time to invest in eternity is short. The scoffers’ argument is shortsighted and blind to the love of God.