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Through Jesus, Good Things Are Coming

 

Chin-up, Look up, Help’s On The Way, You Are Not Forgotten, Someone Needs You So Don’t Give Up, You Are Not Alone

Sincere Words Of Encouragement Can Really Help The Discouraged

 

The Offering of the Natural

From: Utmost.org

Paul was not dealing with sin in this chapter of Galatians, but with the relation of the natural to the spiritual. The natural can be turned into the spiritual only through sacrifice. Without this a person will lead a divided life. Why did God demand that the natural must be sacrificed? God did not demand it. It is not God’s perfect will, but His permissive will. God’s perfect will was for the natural to be changed into the spiritual through obedience. Sin is what made it necessary for the natural to be sacrificed.

Abraham had to offer up Ishmael before he offered up Isaac (see Genesis 21:8-14). Some of us are trying to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God before we have sacrificed the natural. The only way we can offer a spiritual sacrifice to God is to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1). Sanctification means more than being freed from sin. It means the deliberate commitment of myself to the God of my salvation, and being willing to pay whatever it may cost.

If we do not sacrifice the natural to the spiritual, the natural life will resist and defy the life of the Son of God in us and will produce continual turmoil. This is always the result of an undisciplined spiritual nature. We go wrong because we stubbornly refuse to discipline ourselves physically, morally, or mentally. We excuse ourselves by saying, “Well, I wasn’t taught to be disciplined when I was a child.” Then discipline yourself now! If you don’t, you will ruin your entire personal life for God.

God is not actively involved with our natural life as long as we continue to pamper and gratify it. But once we are willing to put it out in the desert and are determined to keep it under control, God will be with it. He will then provide wells and oases and fulfill all His promises for the natural (see Genesis 21:15-19).

 

Wonders Of The Heart

From: Our Daily Bread

Our heart beats about 100,000 times every day, pumping blood to every cell in our bodies. This adds up to about 35 million beats a year and 2.5 billion beats in an average lifetime. Medical science tells us that every contraction is similar to the effort it would take for us to hold a tennis ball in our palm and give it a good hard squeeze.

Yet as amazing as our heart is, it is only one example of a natural world that is designed to tell us something about our Creator. This is the idea behind the story of a man named Job.

Broken by a series of mounting troubles, Job felt abandoned. When God finally spoke, He didn’t tell Job why he was suffering. Nor did the Creator tell him that someday He would suffer for Job. Instead, He drew Job’s attention to a series of natural wonders that are always whispering to us—and sometimes shouting—about a wisdom and power far greater than our own (Job 38:1-11).

So what can we learn from the complexity of this hardworking muscle, the heart? The message may be similar to the sound of waves coming to shore and stars quietly shining in the night sky. The power and wisdom of our Creator give us reason to trust Him.

Lord, we are Yours, You are our God;
We have been made so wondrously;
This human frame in every part
Your wisdom, power, and love we see. —Anon.
When we reflect on the power of God’s creation, we see the power of His care for us.

Insight

The experiences of Job are among the most heartrending found anywhere in the Scriptures. The loss of his children, wealth, and health drove him to question the purposes of God and wonder why He was silent. Then, in Job 38, God finally responded. And when He did, He didn’t offer Job answers—He offered Himself. The reminders of God’s greatness and power are not to be seen as cold or heartless, but as legitimate cause to put our trust in Him, even when we suffer and don’t know why.

Chin Up!

From: Getmorestrength

“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” Ephesians 2:4-5

One of my all-time favorite kid’s stories is Charlotte’s Web, starring Charlotte the barnyard spider and Wilbur the pig. The farmer’s daughter, Fern, loved Wilbur and adopted him as her pet—until he was too big for the house and had to move to the barn. Wilbur missed Fern and felt sad about being away from her. Just when he thought things couldn’t get worse, the mother hen came on the scene.

She told Wilbur that her purpose in life was to lay eggs for people to eat, and the cow’s purpose was to give milk for the people to drink. Then came the real stinger: “Hey, Wilbur, do you know what your purpose is? Bacon!”

Needless to say, the hen was not a very encouraging friend!

Thankfully, Wilbur had a true friend. When Charlotte the spider found him wallowing in the muck of despair, she encouraged him with a resounding “Chin up, Wilbur!” She wove beautiful webs over his pen with words that made him feel loved and important. The webs attracted media publicity, and people from all over the area came to marvel at this “special pig.” When it was time for the county fair, Wilbur feared again for his life and asked Charlotte to weave one more web. She knew that she had only one more web to weave and that then she would die. But out of her love for Wilbur, she wove the most spectacular web yet to prove how special he was. The townspeople were so taken with the web that Wilbur’s impending death was no longer an issue.

I love the biblical parallels in this story. The most significant one being that Charlotte gave her life to save Wilbur’s. Not only that—but she made him a special pig!

Most of us can probably identify with Wilbur at some point. All of us face problems in life when we desperately need someone to come along and encourage us—a “chin up” friend. But, at the end of it all, before God we are all losers at heart and deserve to die as the penalty for our sin. Yet God in His grace died to save us from eternal death and condemnation. And, as though that weren’t enough, He makes us children of the King and fills us with hope and confidence regardless of life’s threats. Jesus is a friend for the doomed! We can either mope around our little barnyard of life, or we can get our chin up and believe that our friend Jesus is making something special of our lives.

Next time you’re feeling down in the dumps, rejoice in the fact that you have been rescued from the grave, promised eternal life, and are a child of the King.

Now that’s a “chin up” thought that can keep you going with hope and strength!

 

DECEMBER 10, 2014From: CrosswalkShame On Me, Again
VICKIE COURTNEY

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (ESV)

It happened suddenly and without warning.

One minute I was sitting in a booth, laughing over a cup of coffee with my youngest son on his college campus (which just so happens to be my alma mater). The next minute, I’m driving away from my old college stomping grounds when the mere sight of a corner drugstore triggers a painful reminder of my past.

It just so happened to be the same corner drugstore that one of my roommates and I ducked into late one night under a cloak of darkness to purchase a pregnancy test. She was late and had assumed the worst. It turned out it was negative, but it just as easily could have been me purchasing the test.

In fact, at age 17 it had been me, which is what triggered my sudden feelings of shame that day. Back then, I was the one taking a pregnancy test, only my results were positive. This, in turn, led to my decision to terminate the pregnancy. I’ve spoken openly about this part of my past and have been walking in victory for many years, but every so often, the feelings of shame still come.

And that’s what shame does. It shows up uninvited to steal your joy and accuse your soul.

Dictionary.com defines shame as “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.”

We avoid talking about shame because it is messy.

We see the earliest account of shame in the immediate aftermath of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden (Genesis 3). Prior to their sin, Scripture tells us they were both naked and unashamed. One chapter later they are sewing fig leaves together and playing a game of hide-and-seek with God. With that one forbidden bite came our first bitter taste of shame.

Like Adam and Eve, our human instinct is to hide our shame. We attempt to cover it with modern-day fig leaves, ranging from addictions to breakneck busyness. We bury our shame beneath perfectionism, good deeds, and yes, even ministry service. Been there. Done that.

Some people are more prone to experiencing feelings of shame, while others seem better equipped to avoid its sting with a healthy understanding of guilt and grace. Those who grew up in households where shame was a mainstay of the family diet will often turn around and serve it in their own families, passing it down from generation to generation.

Shame is not the same as guilt. Guilt says, “What you did was bad.” Shame says, “What you did was bad, so therefore, you are a bad person.”

Shame is not the same as regret. Regret says, “If I could go back and do things differently, I’d do this … or that.” Shame says, “I’ll never get it right. I’m a failure.”

Shame is not the same as embarrassment. Embarrassment says, “Everyone experiences embarrassing moments.” Shame says, “Yet another reminder that I’m a loser, and nothing will change that fact.”

Guilt is always connected to behavior, while shame is always connected to identity. While guilt draws us toward God, shame sends us away from God.

We can’t completely abolish painful reminders of shame that show up uninvited on the doorsteps of our souls, but we can refuse to answer the door.

And that’s exactly what I did that day driving past the drugstore when the old shame tapes began to play. I hit the “eject” button and boldly declared out loud today’s key verse,“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Over and over, I proclaimed it until, once again, I believed it. I showed shame the door. And you can, too.

Heavenly Father, when feelings of shame pay me an unexpected visit, help me immediately usher them out by declaring Your unfailing love and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (NIV)

Show Compassion Like Jesus

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

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Matthew 14:14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

The Opposition of the Natural

From: Utmost.org

The natural life itself is not sinful. But we must abandon sin, having nothing to do with it in any way whatsoever. Sin belongs to hell and to the devil. I, as a child of God, belong to heaven and to God. It is not a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my right to myself, my natural independence, and my self-will. This is where the battle has to be fought. The things that are right, noble, and good from the natural standpoint are the very things that keep us from being God’s best. Once we come to understand that natural moral excellence opposes or counteracts surrender to God, we bring our soul into the center of its greatest battle. Very few of us would debate over what is filthy, evil, and wrong, but we do debate over what is good. It is the good that opposes the best. The higher up the scale of moral excellence a person goes, the more intense the opposition to Jesus Christ. “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh….” The cost to your natural life is not just one or two things, but everything. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself…” (Matthew 16:24). That is, he must deny his right to himself, and he must realize who Jesus Christ is before he will bring himself to do it. Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.

The natural life is not spiritual, and it can be made spiritual only through sacrifice. If we do not purposely sacrifice the natural, the supernatural can never become natural to us. There is no high or easy road. Each of us has the means to accomplish it entirely in his own hands. It is not a question of praying, but of sacrificing, and thereby performing His will.

Reliable Grace

From: Getmorestrength

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.” Romans 12:17

Do you ever pay much attention to bumper stickers? I find them fascinating! You can be driving along and in one minute see a sticker that says, “My child is an honor roll student at So-and-So Middle School,” and then turn the corner and see another car sporting the bumper sticker, “My child beat up your honor roll student”! Paul Harvey tells a great story about a car with two stickers decorating its back bumper. On the left side, were the words: “Jesus is coming!” On the right: “Escape to Wisconsin.”

Often, bumper stickers tell others where your loyalties are. Your choice of automotive adornment may declare your allegiance to a favorite sports team, a chosen political candidate, or a specific issue or cause. The sticker proclaims that you are committed enough to the cause, issue, team, or individual, that you are willing to let even perfect strangers know where you stand.

Even in the church-world, we have gotten into the bumper sticker thing. Options range from a simple fish, to a cross, to a clever slogan (such as “Warning: In Case of Rapture this Car Will Be Unmanned”). It might be a fun way to proclaim your loyalty to Christ, but I’m not sure that pithy comments on a car bumper are what’s needed to effectively communicate God’s grace to a world that is mired in sin and hopelessness.

In today’s text, after the apostle Paul instructs us to submit ourselves as living sacrifices to God (the only appropriate response to God’s mercy and grace), he spends the rest of Romans 12:9-21 talking about how that allegiance to God shows up in the life of a Christian. He gets right down to the heart of what sets us apart. In essence, he says that as Christians our lives should be marked by “reliable grace” toward others.

What do we mean by reliable grace? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a definition: “Reliable grace is the predictable action of abundant kindness, regardless. . . even to the most undeserving offender.” It means that people can count on you to pour out grace—active, predictable kindness—into their lives. It is unconditional and available even to the most undeserving of offenders. Anybody have an undeserving offender in your life? Your boss? Your spouse? Your boyfriend? Your kids? That’s your target. More than a bumper sticker, more than a fish or a cross on your car, more than a T-shirt or a WWJD bracelet, we demonstrate our loyalty to Jesus by extending His reliable grace to others.

You see, His reliable grace and abundant kindness has been poured out on undeserving offenders like you and me. So extending it to others opens up opportunities to talk about the real source of grace. God has asked us to proclaim the goodness of God’s forgiveness and mercy, but that can only be done in the context of our own extension of grace and mercy.

So today, look for moments to extend “reliable grace” to the people in your life. When you do, your loyalty and allegiance to Jesus will be more on display than if you had a bumper sticker emblazoned across your forehead.

What to Do Until the Stars Fall

 From: Getmorestrength

“Accept what I say… I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” Proverbs 4:10-12

My biology professor, Max Dowell, was an unapologetic southerner with a drawl as thick as deep-South molasses. And while I’m sorry to admit that I don’t remember a whole lot of biology (I never was much for the Latin names of frogs and the smell of formaldehyde), I don’t think I’ll ever forget the professor who probably had the words to “Dixie” scrawled on his boxer shorts.

Having grown up in New Jersey, I needed to listen carefully in class since his accent seemed like a whole different dialect to me. But through all the cross-cultural stuff, there is one thing he frequently said that has stuck. I even find myself repeating it with a southern twang of my own. What it had to do with biology I’ll never know, but periodically he would come out with the phrase, “Do right ’till the stars fall!”

We’d all agree that “Do right” is a terrific piece of advice. But coming to grips with that advice may be a challenge. I usually feel pretty good about what I do. And I rarely think I am wrong. But my best-intentioned moves in life are more like ready, fire, aim, instead of well-thought-through strategies on how to do what is truly right. Emotions have a way of pulling the trigger before I fully think the moment through. Rationalizations and excuses have a way of fogging my perspectives so that things that are clearly wrong look like pretty good options. Admittedly, most of the twisted and lame moments of my life have been a direct-connect to times when I have not done what is right. Times when I’ve said the wrong thing, expressed the wrong attitude, caved in to wrong thoughts and desires—and the list goes on. And if you are honest with yourself, you’re thinking that you have the same “Why did I ever do that/say that?” regret now and then as well.

We need help!

God clears the air by reminding us that, if left to ourselves, we are a risk to most anything or anyone nearby! So, admitting our tendency to repeated misfires is a good beginning. But where do we go from there? Embrace the wonderful fact that His will and ways are always right. When we take our clues from Him, we start being right more often than we’re wrong as we measure all we do by His will and His Word. He is right about forgiveness, generosity, patience, tolerance, humility, and giving our boss a good day’s work. In fact He is right about everything! That’s why He is a righteous God.

We nicknamed our professor “Do Right Dowell.”

I wonder if anyone would give you a compliment like that? Try living in such a way to give them a chance!

 

Father and Friend

From: Getmorestrength

“You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14

A short clip on the evening news recently featured a suburban high school’s attempt to address the spiraling epidemic of teenage drinking. The reporter attended a parents’ forum at the school and then spotlighted reactions from the parents after the session. One mother had it right when she said, “I was reminded that I cannot be my child’s friend right now. I have to be my child’s parent. One day we will be friends, but for now, I’ve got to be the parent.”

Ever since I heard that, her comment has been Velcroed to my brain. Not just in terms of parenting, but in terms of our relationship with God. Quite frankly, most of us would rather think of God as our friend rather than our parent. Thinking of Him as our buddy, or as the one who “has our back,” has a nice ring to it. And there’s nothing wrong with that perspective. He actually welcomes us to a friendship with Him. In John 15:14, He says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” But it’s more than just friendship; it’s the obedience part as well.

In fact, it’s not until we understand and appreciate the parental authority of God the Father in our lives by heeding His instruction and seeking to align our ways with His, that we will ever understand the true joy of being His friend.

But we need to be careful here. Even our thoughts about God as Father can be a little out of whack. We like the idea of a benevolent Father who supplies our needs, who protects us, and who loves to give us good gifts. And while all those things are true, let’s not forget that it’s the parenting of God that puts protective boundaries in place through His law. It’s the gracious parenthood of God that provides warnings along the way when we choose to turn away from God’s commands. Then, when necessary, it’s His loving discipline that reproves and corrects us—even painfully, if necessary—to draw us back to Him and to His good and perfect will.

Let’s face it, no one really likes discipline. We don’t want to be corrected. It’s not pleasant. But where would we be without it? Most of us, when we look back across the landscape of our lives can see numerous times when discipline was necessary to get us back on the right track. As the writer of Hebrews advised: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves . . . . Endure hardship as discipline” (Hebrews 12:5-7). But here’s the good news: “Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

Just as parents look forward to the day when the reproof, correction, and discipline of parenting give way to companionship and friendship with their kids, it’s no different with our heavenly Father. Our humble response to His correction and discipline will allow us to enjoy more and more of His friendship. So the question is: When God thinks of you, does He say, “I look forward to the day when I can be her friend, but for now I have to be her parent”—or, have you matured to the point where you are enjoying God as your friend? If I hear Jesus correctly, glad and grateful obedience is the key!

God Does Not Have Favorites

Deuteronomy 10:17
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

Job 34:19
who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?

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The Impartial Power of God

From: Utmost .org

We trample the blood of the Son of God underfoot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only reason for the forgiveness of our sins by God, and the infinite depth of His promise to forget them, is the death of Jesus Christ. Our repentance is merely the result of our personal realization of the atonement by the Cross of Christ, which He has provided for us. “…Christ Jesus…became for us wisdom from God— and righteousness and sanctification and redemption…” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Once we realize that Christ has become all this for us, the limitless joy of God begins in us. And wherever the joy of God is not present, the death sentence is still in effect.

No matter who or what we are, God restores us to right standing with Himself only by means of the death of Jesus Christ. God does this, not because Jesus pleads with Him to do so but because He died. It cannot be earned, just accepted. All the pleading for salvation which deliberately ignores the Cross of Christ is useless. It is knocking at a door other than the one which Jesus has already opened. We protest by saying, “But I don’t want to come that way. It is too humiliating to be received as a sinner.” God’s response, through Peter, is, “… there is no other name…by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). What at first appears to be heartlessness on God’s part is actually the true expression of His heart. There is unlimited entrance His way. “In Him we have redemption through His blood…” (Ephesians 1:7). To identify with the death of Jesus Christ means that we must die to everything that was never a part of Him.

God is just in saving bad people only as He makes them good. Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong. The atonement by the Cross of Christ is the propitiation God uses to make unholy people holy.

DECEMBER 8, 2014

The Day God’s Extraordinary Interrupted My Ordinary
WENDY BLIGHT

From: Crosswalk

“The Angel of the LORD appeared to him …, ” Judges 6:12a (NLT)

Another day of errands. Same cycle every week. Grocery store. Gas station. Dry cleaners. Target.

I dread errand days. I whine about the fun and exciting things I can’t do because of the mundane tasks I have to do.

But one particular week, God interrupted my ordinary with the extraordinary. You know, one of those moments when it seems God speaks directly to you … as if He has heard the banter in your head and addresses it head on?

I was studying about Gideon, a warrior from the Old Testament who also became a Judge over Israel. We initially meet him in the midst of his mundane in Judges chapter 6, when “The Angel of the LORD appeared to him …,” (Judges 6:12a).

No thunder. No lightning. No pomp. No circumstance. Very quietly, the Angel of the Lord came to speak to Gideon in the midst of his ordinary tasks on an ordinary day.

Gideon’s story remained heavy on my heart. Do I look for God in the midst of my ordinary? No, I don’t. I just want the mundane over so I can get on with my day.

Yet, I want to experience the extraordinary! But I look for it in the grandiose, the uncommon, the bigger-than-life. So, I prayed for a Gideon moment: God will You show up in my mundane? I want to see You. I want to experience You in my ordinary tasks on an ordinary day.

God answered that very day, but not in the form of an angel. In the form of a 7-year-old boy.

While checking out at Target, I noticed a young boy standing behind me, proudly toting a HUGE Nerf toy (almost as big as he was) and tightly gripping a handful of gift cards. I learned his name was Luke. I asked Luke if the toy was for him. Shyly, he shook his head yes. It was for his birthday. His mom said he received some gift cards and was spending them all on this one item!

God met me right there in the checkout lane, in that shy smile, and moved my heart to give and my mouth to speak. I asked Luke’s mom if I could buy his gun as a birthday present.

In that moment, I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking. It didn’t make logical sense to offer this to a child I didn’t know. I just knew God was calling me to do it — and I obeyed.

A huge grin spread across Luke’s face. “Really?” he asked. I nodded my head yes and suggested that he could then spend his gift cards on something else. Tears leaked from his mama’s eyes as I shared my prayer that morning.

I stopped by customer service, and as I turned toward the door to leave, Luke’s dad, with Luke by his side, stopped to say thank you. But it wasn’t the thank you for the gift that touched my heart. It was the words that followed, thanking me for the lesson Luke learned.

Luke decided that instead of spending all his gift cards on another new toy, he would only spend four so that he could give one away.

I’m so grateful God spoke to me in His Word that day. I’m grateful that “word” led me to pray a Gideon prayer … for God to meet me in the ordinary to experience the extraordinary. I’m grateful God answered that prayer. And I’m so grateful that in meeting me, God also met Luke.

And somewhere in this city, another little boy on another ordinary day will meet an extraordinary God through a tender-hearted little boy named Luke.

Will you join me in praying a Gideon prayer … for God to interrupt your ordinary tasks on an ordinary day to intervene in an extraordinary way? Let’s invite Him to open our spiritual eyes so that we can see Him more clearly than ever before.

 

Streams in the Desert

Put on as the elect of God, kindness (Col. 3:12).

There is a story of an old man who carried a little can of oil with him everywhere he went, and if he passed through a door that squeaked, he poured a little oil on the hinges. If a gate was hard to open, he oiled the latch. And thus he passed through life lubricating all hard places and making it easier for those who came after him. People called him eccentric, queer, and cranky; but the old man went steadily on refilling his can of oil when it became empty, and oiled the hard places he found.

There are many lives that creak and grate harshly as they live day by day. Nothing goes right with them. They need lubricating with the oil of gladness, gentleness, or thoughtfulness.

Have you your own can of oil with you? Be ready with your oil of helpfulness in the early morning to the one nearest you. It may lubricate the whole day for him. The oil, of good cheer to the downhearted one–Oh, how much it may mean! The word of courage to the despairing. Speak it. Our lives touch others but once, perhaps, on the road of life; and then, mayhap, our ways diverge, never to meet again.

The oil of kindness has worn the sharp, hard edges off of many a sin-hardened life and left it soft and pliable and ready for the redeeming grace of the Saviour. A word spoken pleasantly is a large spot of sunshine on a sad heart. Therefore, “Give others the sunshine, tell Jesus the rest.”

We cannot know the grief
That men may borrow;
We cannot see the souls
Storm-swept by sorrow;
But love can shine upon the way
Today, tomorrow;
Let us be kind.
Upon the wheel of pain so many weary lives are broken,
We live in vain who give no tender token.
Let us be kind.

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love” (Rom. 12:10).

 

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.”
Revelation 3:4

We may understand this to refer to justification. “They shall walk in white;” that is, they shall enjoy a constant sense of their own justification by faith; they shall understand that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them, that they have all been washed and made whiter than the newly-fallen snow.

Again, it refers to joy and gladness: for white robes were holiday dresses among the Jews. They who have not defiled their garments shall have their faces always bright; they shall understand what Solomon meant when he said “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart. Let thy garments be always white, for God hath accepted thy works.” He who is accepted of God shall wear white garments of joy and gladness, while he walks in sweet communion with the Lord Jesus. Whence so many doubts, so much misery, and mourning? It is because so many believers defile their garments with sin and error, and hence they lose the joy of their salvation, and the comfortable fellowship of the Lord Jesus, they do not here below walk in white.

The promise also refers to walking in white before the throne of God. Those who have not defiled their garments here shall most certainly walk in white up yonder, where the white-robed hosts sing perpetual hallelujahs to the Most High. They shall possess joys inconceivable, happiness beyond a dream, bliss which imagination knoweth not, blessedness which even the stretch of desire hath not reached. The “undefiled in the way” shall have all this–not of merit, nor of works, but of grace. They shall walk with Christ in white, for he has made them “worthy.” In his sweet company they shall drink of the living fountains of waters.

Evening

“Thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.”
Psalm 68:10

All God’s gifts are prepared gifts laid up in store for wants foreseen. He anticipates our needs; and out of the fulness which he has treasured up in Christ Jesus, he provides of his goodness for the poor. You may trust him for all the necessities that can occur, for he has infallibly foreknown every one of them. He can say of us in all conditions, “I knew that thou wouldst be this and that.” A man goes a journey across the desert, and when he has made a day’s advance, and pitched his tent, he discovers that he wants many comforts and necessaries which he has not brought in his baggage. “Ah!” says he, “I did not foresee this: if I had this journey to go again, I should bring these things with me, so necessary to my comfort.” But God has marked with prescient eye all the requirements of his poor wandering children, and when those needs occur, supplies are ready. It is goodness which he has prepared for the poor in heart, goodness and goodness only. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”

Reader, is your heart heavy this evening? God knew it would be; the comfort which your heart wants is treasured in the sweet assurance of the text. You are poor and needy, but he has thought upon you, and has the exact blessing which you require in store for you. Plead the promise, believe it and obtain its fulfilment. Do you feel that you never were so consciously vile as you are now? Behold, the crimson fountain is open still, with all its former efficacy, to wash your sin away. Never shall you come into such a position that Christ cannot aid you. No pinch shall ever arrive in your spiritual affairs in which Jesus Christ shall not be equal to the emergency, for your history has all been foreknown and provided for in Jesus.

Practice Gratitude For Christ

 

Repentance

From: Utmost.org

Conviction of sin is best described in the words:

My sins, my sins, my Savior,
How sad on Thee they fall.

Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin (see John 16:8). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person’s conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not that person’s relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God— “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight…” (Psalm 51:4). The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy. He proves he is forgiven by being the opposite of what he was previously, by the grace of God. Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, “I have sinned.” The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes— a reflex action caused by self-disgust.

The entrance into the kingdom of God is through the sharp, sudden pains of repentance colliding with man’s respectable “goodness.” Then the Holy Spirit, who produces these struggles, begins the formation of the Son of God in the person’s life (see Galatians 4:19). This new life will reveal itself in conscious repentance followed by unconscious holiness, never the other way around. The foundation of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a person cannot repent when he chooses— repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for “the gift of tears.” If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.

 

Upside Down Toast

From: Get More Strength

“Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near’.” Matthew 4:17

Have you ever made a piece of toast, slathered it with butter and strawberry jam, and just as you’re about to take the first delicious bite, you drop it on the floor? I’m embarrassed to say this has happened to me more than once, and the toast inevitably lands facedown! Who wants upside-down toast for breakfast?

It may be a silly illustration, but it makes me think that we are like upside-down toast. We are fallen creatures, born with the DNA of hell. Our first instincts in most situations are usually wrong. Our responses are almost always self-serving. And it’s not until God picks us up that we can begin to realize His lofty purposes and plans to turn our upside-down life right-side up.

In Matthew 4:1-21, we learn about the early days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. His first sermon was simple: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). For hundreds of years, God’s people had been “living in darkness . . .  [in] the shadow of death” (Matthew 4:16). Jesus came to rescue them and us from our fallen, messed-up existence. What was the first step to recovery? You guessed it—repentance.

Repentance is not a “how to turn your life right-side up” method of self-improvement. When Jesus pleaded repentance, He wasn’t offering a good idea or a cool suggestion. It’s important to keep in mind that the Greek word for “preach” in this text means “to herald,” or to proclaim with authority. In the days before e-mail and Instant Messenger, a “herald” would travel from village to village to proclaim the king’s edicts. The herald did not form discussion groups to poll the opinion of the people. Rather, he authoritatively proclaimed the message of the king.

None could be more authoritative than Jesus Himself. When the King of kings traveled through the villages preaching, His message came with the highest authority, and as such we would do well to take it seriously—to repent of our fallen ways and to yield our upside-down instincts to the right-side-up ways of His kingdom.

Repentance is never an enjoyable experience, but vulnerability is the key to victory. When we allow the Savior to pick us up and reveal the mess we’ve made of ourselves, it’s only then that we can begin to live a useful, productive life that brings pleasure to our heavenly Father.

You may be like upside-down toast, but the good news is in Jesus Christ you don’t have to stay that way!

 

From: Streams in the Desert
Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts. And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hands” (2 Kings 3:16-18).

To human thinking it was simply impossible, but nothing is hard for God. Without a sound or sign, from sources invisible and apparently impossible, the floods came stealing in all night long; and when the morning dawned, those ditches were flooded with the crystal waters, and reflecting the rays of the morning sun from the red hills of Edom.

Our unbelief is always wanting some outward sign. The religion of many is largely sensational, and they are not satisfied of its genuineness without manifestations, etc.; but the greatest triumph of faith is to be still and know that He is God.

The great victory of faith is to stand before some impassable Red Sea, and hear the Master say, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord,” and “Go forward!” As we step out without any sign or sound–not a wave-splash–and wetting our very feet as we take the first step into its waters, still marching on we shall see the sea divide and the pathway open through the very midst of the waters.

If we have seen the miraculous workings of God in some marvelous case of healing or some extraordinary providential deliverance, I am sure the thing that has impressed us most has been the quietness with which it was all done, the absence of everything spectacular and sensational, and the utter sense of nothingness which came to us as we stood in the presence of this mighty God and felt how easy, it was for Him to do it all without the faintest effort on His part or the slightest help on ours.

It is not the part of faith to question, but to obey. The ditches were made, and the water came pouring in from some supernatural source. What a lesson for our faith!

Are you craving a spiritual blessing? Open the trenches, and God will fill them. And this, too, in the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected ways. Oh, for that faith that can act by faith and not by sight, and expect God to work although we see no wind or rain.
–A. B. Simpson

 

December 7

From: Through the Bible

Isaiah 62:1, 6-7 (NIV) 1For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.

6I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, 7and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.

The Lord desires our constant intercession. He asks us to pray without ceasing. Regardless of how you interpret Zion and Jerusalem, we are not to remain silent. We need to share the great love of our God until so many enter the Kingdom of God that righteousness shines like the dawn and their salvation like a blazing torch. The more an area is converted and sharing their life’s example, the more the Spirit of God dominates that area. People can’t help but come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, because He works through the prayers of God’s people.

The LORD pleads with us to never rest from intercession. He wants us to give Him no rest, but to bombard heaven with requests for salvation and the transformation of lives.

One day the heavenly city will be established in Jerusalem. The world will come to worship on bended knee, confessing Jesus as LORD. Peace and righteousness will be the order of the Kingdom, but until that day comes keep praying. Keep interceding for the lost. Keep heaven busy with your prayer requests. Don’t be silent! Don’t let entertainment, or any distraction, steal your time with God. It has eternal value. Pray!

Consider: How does this verse apply to you and your city?

Evening

December 7

1 Peter 5:2-4 (NIV) 2Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Peter is addressing the elders that read the letter to the local church. You will find that the New Testament always addresses elders in a city in the plural. The elders were the overseers of each church. They are to serve willingly, not out of obligation. Shepherding a congregation has many difficulties. It isn’t a job that was readily desired, for it means going above and beyond in service. It means a life that exemplifies the life of Christ.

The elders are not chosen for their status in life. Some might come from a low-income level and find the financial support of the believers to be more than they made in their former employment. Usually they end up living on substantially less income. Finances should never be a factor in whether they accept a call or not. From rich or poor backgrounds, elders should serve because God wants them to. An elder’s chief desire should be to please the Lord.

The elders are not to throw their weight around in an authoritarian way. In everything, they should be an example to the flock. Even when discipline is necessary, they should do it with love and gentleness. For this life of service and sacrifice, there is a promise to look forward to. The Chief Shepherd will give the faithful ones a crown of glory that will never fade.

Consider: Are you praying for your shepherds? It is easy to criticize their service, but would you want their job? They must answer to the Chief Shepherd. Help them be willing servants by your encouragement and prayers. What does a good sheep do?

 

A Sign Of God’s Covenant- A Rainbow

 

New American Standard Bible
I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. Gen. 9:13

gurtweil black forest rainbow
rainbow sky clouds
nature clouds rainbow
rainbow trout fish trout
rainbow city tree
double rainbow secondary rainbow rainbow
rainbow water back light
rainbow half transient
rainbow tank military
pinwheel rainbow meadow
rainbow bridge lake powell arizona
double rainbow rainbow mirroring
rainbow refraction phenomenon
12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making
between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; 13I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. 14“It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud,…

“My Rainbow in the Cloud”

It is the will of God that human beings should get into a right-standing relationship with Him, and His covenants are designed for this purpose. Why doesn’t God save me? He has accomplished and provided for my salvation, but I have not yet entered into a relationship with Him. Why doesn’t God do everything we ask? He has done it. The point is— will I step into that covenant relationship? All the great blessings of God are finished and complete, but they are not mine until I enter into a relationship with Him on the basis of His covenant.

Waiting for God to act is fleshly unbelief. It means that I have no faith in Him. I wait for Him to do something in me so I may trust in that. But God won’t do it, because that is not the basis of the God-and-man relationship. Man must go beyond the physical body and feelings in his covenant with God, just as God goes beyond Himself in reaching out with His covenant to man. It is a question of faith in God— a very rare thing. We only have faith in our feelings. I don’t believe God until He puts something tangible in my hand, so that I know I have it. Then I say, “Now I believe.” There is no faith exhibited in that. God says, “Look to Me, and be saved…” (Isaiah 45:22).

When I have really transacted business with God on the basis of His covenant, letting everything else go, there is no sense of personal achievement— no human ingredient in it at all. Instead, there is a complete overwhelming sense of being brought into union with God, and my life is transformed and radiates peace and joy.

“My Rainbow in the Cloud”

From: Utmost.org

It is the will of God that human beings should get into a right-standing relationship with Him, and His covenants are designed for this purpose. Why doesn’t God save me? He has accomplished and provided for my salvation, but I have not yet entered into a relationship with Him. Why doesn’t God do everything we ask? He has done it. The point is— will I step into that covenant relationship? All the great blessings of God are finished and complete, but they are not mine until I enter into a relationship with Him on the basis of His covenant.

Waiting for God to act is fleshly unbelief. It means that I have no faith in Him. I wait for Him to do something in me so I may trust in that. But God won’t do it, because that is not the basis of the God-and-man relationship. Man must go beyond the physical body and feelings in his covenant with God, just as God goes beyond Himself in reaching out with His covenant to man. It is a question of faith in God— a very rare thing. We only have faith in our feelings. I don’t believe God until He puts something tangible in my hand, so that I know I have it. Then I say, “Now I believe.” There is no faith exhibited in that. God says, “Look to Me, and be saved…” (Isaiah 45:22).

When I have really transacted business with God on the basis of His covenant, letting everything else go, there is no sense of personal achievement— no human ingredient in it at all. Instead, there is a complete overwhelming sense of being brought into union with God, and my life is transformed and radiates peace and joy.

 

DECEMBER 5, 2014It’s Okay if We Don’t Understand the Whole Bible
WENDY POPEFrom: Crosswalk

“The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them.” Deuteronomy 29:29a (NLT)

Read the Bible? The whole thing? From cover to cover? Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy? I’ve heard they’re hard. Do I have to read the Old Testament? Jesus wasn’t even born then. What if I don’t understand everything?

These concerns plagued me as I sensed God nudging me to read the entire Bible. I’d grown up in the church and attended Sunday School and mid-week Bible study every week. But the thought of reading the whole Bible intimidated me. My greatest fears were failure to finish and not being able to understand what I read.

To ease my anxiety, I went to my local Christian bookstore with this thought: If I’m going to read the whole Bible, certainly I need a new Bible.

I previewed various types of Bibles in an array of colors, styles and formats. It seemed like hours had passed. And just when I was about to give up, I pulled the One Year Chronological Bible from the shelf.

The format intrigued me. Short readings. An easy-to-follow daily plan. An attractive cover. The best part to me was knowing I would read the Bible in the order the events occurred. Yes! This is the Bible for me.

That year I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I stumbled some, but I also learned a lot. I learned Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy really are difficult to read. They are full of laws, actual numbers and more laws. But through those books and the rest of the Old Testament, I learned to really appreciate the wonderful sacrifice Jesus made for me (because there’s no way any human on the planet could keep all of those laws). And, I learned it’s okay if I don’t understand the whole Bible.

What a relief! You see, I thought a Christian should be able to understand the Bible completely. And because I didn’t, I thought something must be wrong with me.

Truth is, we’re not meant to understand everything in the Bible the first time we read it. If we were, we could read it once and put it on our shelf.

The Bible is unlike any other book. Hebrews describes God’s Word as living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It is meant to help us live life. Therefore, it’s necessary to have it as a part of our daily living.

Our key verse says, “The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them.” God reveals the truths He wants us to understand when He feels we are ready to understand and apply them.

When we don’t understand something, it doesn’t mean we are less of a Christian or not as smart as another. God, in His infinite wisdom, keeps some things hidden from us until just the right time.

With this truth in mind I set out to read the Bible one day at a time. Now many years later, I’ve read the Bible in its entirety year after year. Not because I’m a super Christian, but because my first reading of the entire Bible taught me that amazing truth … and I wanted more.

What about you? Have you ever thought about reading the entire Bible but were too intimidated to get started? If so, now is your chance. Let’s be women who read God’s Book. I promise it will be a life-changer.

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us Your Word to help us through life. Give me the desire to read the Bible every day. Will You teach me Your truths and keep me from becoming overwhelmed with what I don’t understand? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Streams in the Desert

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown (Rev. 3:11).

George Mueller bears this testimony, “When it pleased God in July, 1829, to reveal to my heart the truth of the personal return of the Lord Jesus, and to show me that I had made a great mistake in looking for the conversion of the world, the effect that it produced upon me was this: From my inmost soul I was stirred up to feel compassion for perishing sinners, and for the slumbering world around me lying in the wicked one, and considered, ‘Ought I not to do what I can for the Lord Jesus while He tarries, and to rouse a slumbering church?”‘

There may be many hard years of hard work before the consummation, but the signs are to me so encouraging that I would not be unbelieving if I saw the wing of the apocalyptic angel spread for its last triumphal flight in this day’s sunset; or if tomorrow morning the ocean cables should thrill us with the news that Christ the Lord had alighted on Mount Olivet or Mount Calvary to proclaim universal dominion.

O you dead churches wake up! O Christ, descend! Scarred temple, take the crown! Bruised hand, take the sceptre! Wounded foot, step the throne! Thine is the kingdom.
–Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage, D. D.

It may be in the evening,
When the work of the day is done,
And you have time to sit in the twilight,
And watch the sinking sun,
While the long bright day dies slowly
Over the sea,
And the hours grow quiet and holy
With thoughts of Me;
While you hear the village children
Passing along the street
Among those passing footsteps
May come the sound of My Feet.
Therefore I tell you, Watch!
By the light of the evening star
When the room is growing dusky
As the clouds afar,
Let the door be on the latch In your home,
For it may be through the gloaming
I will come.

 

Morning

Biblegateway

“As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.”
1 Corinthians 15:48

The head and members are of one nature, and not like that monstrous image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The head was of fine gold, but the belly and thighs were of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet, part of iron and part of clay. Christ’s mystical body is no absurd combination of opposites; the members were mortal, and therefore Jesus died; the glorified head is immortal, and therefore the body is immortal too, for thus the record stands, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” As is our loving Head, such is the body, and every member in particular. A chosen Head and chosen members; an accepted Head, and accepted members; a living Head, and living members. If the head be pure gold, all the parts of the body are of pure gold also. Thus is there a double union of nature as a basis for the closest communion. Pause here, devout reader, and see if thou canst without ecstatic amazement, contemplate the infinite condescension of the Son of God in thus exalting thy wretchedness into blessed union with his glory. Thou art so mean that in remembrance of thy mortality, thou mayest say to corruption, “Thou art my father,” and to the worm, “Thou art my sister”; and yet in Christ thou art so honoured that thou canst say to the Almighty, “Abba, Father,” and to the Incarnate God, “Thou art my brother and my husband.” Surely if relationships to ancient and noble families make men think highly of themselves, we have whereof to glory over the heads of them all. Let the poorest and most despised believer lay hold upon this privilege; let not a senseless indolence make him negligent to trace his pedigree, and let him suffer no foolish attachment to present vanities to occupy his thoughts to the exclusion of this glorious, this heavenly honour of union with Christ.

Evening

“Girt about the paps with a golden girdle.”
Revelation 1:13

“One like unto the Son of Man” appeared to John in Patmos, and the beloved disciple marked that he wore a girdle of gold. A girdle, for Jesus never was ungirt while upon earth, but stood always ready for service, and now before the eternal throne he stays not His holy ministry, but as a priest is girt about with “the curious girdle of the ephod.” Well it is for us that he has not ceased to fulfil his offices of love for us, since this is one of our choicest safeguards that he ever liveth to make intercession for us. Jesus is never an idler; his garments are never loose as though his offices were ended; he diligently carries on the cause of his people. A golden girdle, to manifest the superiority of his service, the royalty of his person, the dignity of his state, the glory of his reward. No longer does he cry out of the dust, but he pleads with authority, a King as well as a Priest. Safe enough is our cause in the hands of our enthroned Melchizedek.

Our Lord presents all his people with an example. We must never unbind our girdles. This is not the time for lying down at ease, it is the season of service and warfare. We need to bind the girdle of truth more and more tightly around our loins. It is a golden girdle, and so will be our richest ornament, and we greatly need it, for a heart that is not well braced up with the truth as it is in Jesus, and with the fidelity which is wrought of the Spirit, will be easily entangled with the things of this life, and tripped up by the snares of temptation. It is in vain that we possess the Scriptures unless we bind them around us like a girdle, surrounding our entire nature, keeping each part of our character in order, and giving compactness to our whole man. If in heaven Jesus unbinds not the girdle, much less may we upon earth. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.

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!

Jesus Seeks Out His People

 

Jesus Was Looking For Zacchaeus

  • ZaccheusZaccheus in the Tree
  • ZaccheusZaccheus
  • Jesus and Zaccheus at DinnerZacchaeus Entertains Jesus
  • Zaccheus Stretched as Tall as He Could
  • Zaccheus the PublicanZaccheus

Called By Name

From: Our Daily Bread

The story of Zacchaeus and Jesus (Luke 19:1-10) contains a surprising element of personal recognition. As Jesus passed through the city of Jericho, a wealthy tax collector named Zacchaeus climbed a tree in order to see Him. “When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house’” (v.5). Instead of ignoring Zacchaeus or saying “Hey, you in the tree,” Jesus called him by name. From that moment on, his life began to change.

When it seems that no one knows you or cares who you are, remember Jesus. He knows us by name and longs for us to know Him in a personal way. Our Father in heaven sees us through His eyes of love and cares about every detail of our lives.

Father, thank You that my value in Your eyes is not
determined by what I do but simply by the fact that
You created me. Help me to recognize that same
value in others as I represent You to the world.
Jesus knows you by name and longs for you to know Him.

Insight

First-century tax collectors were hated by the people of Israel because they were seen as collaborators with the occupying Romans. Tax collectors often became wealthy at the expense of their own people. As a result, they were considered defiled and impure. This is ironic, for the tax collector mentioned here is named Zacchaeus, which means “pure.”

The Power of a Life Well Lived

From: Get more Strength

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Philippians 2:14-15

In the years leading up to the fall of the Iron Curtain in Russia, I remember praying for Russian Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. The political situation in that land seemed grim, and quite honestly I wasn’t really expecting to see God answer our prayers for freedom in that land. But in 1989 the unthinkable happened—the curtain collapsed, ushering in a new era of freedom for the people who had been under the iron fist of that communist government. The world rejoiced at the news, and I was especially thrilled that our fellow believers in that land could now freely express their faith in Christ.

Soon after that happened, three leaders of the Russian church came to visit the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. As president of Moody at the time, I was privileged to give them a tour. While we walked, I asked them what events had led to the cessation of oppression and persecution against the church. They explained that their economy had been failing because alcoholism was rampant. People who didn’t believe in God had no purpose, and absenteeism from work—largely due to alcoholism—was wreaking havoc with the economy. They said that once when Gorbachev, who was then the Prime Minister, met with his cabinet, he asked, “Why is it that we persecute the Christians? They are the ones who are not alcoholics. They show up for work every day and give us a good day’s work. Why is it that we persecute people like this whom we desperately need?”

It’s a great example of the power of a life well-lived. When non-Christians in this “crooked and depraved generation” notice that we are different, it gives us an opportunity to make a difference for Christ. I wonder if the people where you work would agree with Gorbachev’s observation? Or would they say, “Those Christians—they are always the ones who are griping, murmuring, arriving late, and leaving early?” Even in environments where we may feel challenged or unappreciated, we are called to bear witness to the reality of God in our lives by being “pure and blameless.” It’s often true that the more difficult the environment, the more challenging it is to show the uniqueness of God’s character through our actions and attitudes. Yet it is in those dark times that the light of Jesus in us and through us can shine most brightly.

When we maintain the witness of a life well-lived even in the face of hardship, we have the power to make a difference in our home, workplace, and significant relationships.

Live in such a way that your boss will be prompted to say, “I don’t always get it about Christians but one thing is true—our business is a lot better place because they work here!” And then maybe, just maybe, your boss will be open for you to help him “get it” about Christians—all the way to Jesus. Now that would really make a difference!

 

What Can I Do to Help?

From: Get More Strength

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

A few years ago a friend of mine joined the staff of a large and growing church. He had admired and respected the senior pastor of that particular church for years and thought that he had almost made it to heaven when he became a part of the staff. The next time I saw him I asked, “Hey, man, what’s it like to work there?” His response was encouraging.

“It’s great,” he said. “The thing that is so remarkable to me is that when we’re in staff meetings and a problem comes up, our senior pastor always says, ‘What can we do to help?’”

Sadly, that’s not always our first response when we encounter trouble in the life of someone else, especially when it’s the result of sin.

It’s easy to want to blow off the problem so that we don’t have to get involved in it. We usually feel that we have enough burdens of our own and don’t need anyone else’s. Which makes it easy to respond with gossipy criticism like, “I knew it! That person has been headed for disaster for years.” Or we can’t wait to tell someone about the struggles of another, anxious to affirm our own self worth through a juicy tale or two. Other times our response is even more sinister. We give vent to a sense of self-righteous judgment: “That’s unbelievable! I certainly would never do that!”

Why is it that seeing trouble in the lives of others so often gives way to a sense of religious superiority as we draw the conclusion that we are somehow more worthy and less in need of grace than the person in the ditch? It’s so easy to forget that as rebellious, disobedient people, none of us deserves God’s favor and blessing.

We can’t miss what Paul is saying here. He gently reminds the Galatians that the responsibility of the believer, when faced with a sin-snared life, is to “restore.” Pause here for a moment. Paul doesn’t say to “condemn.” Paul doesn’t say, “Preach against.” He doesn’t say, “Tell someone else.” Rather, he tells us to “restore.” In fact, he tells us how to restore—“gently.”

When a friend, loved one, family member, or fellow Christian is snared in sin, the first thing that should be on our lips is, “How can I help?”

Paul goes on to remind us that we are all in need of grace—that we must be on guard, as well, against the same snares that entangle others. He also reminds us that “carrying one another’s burdens” is part and parcel of what it means to live as a Christ-follower. Sin struggles in the life of a fellow believer are not a “them” issue, they are an “us” issue, as we come alongside and gently restore each other to the joy of walking in Christ’s light.

That’s why my friend’s senior pastor impresses me so much. His response to the problems people face in his church is Christlike. Instead of responding with feelings of criticism or pronouncements of theological judgment, he responds with compassion—“What can we do to help?” It’s that kind of response that paves the way for God’s glory to be displayed. When God’s people intersect troubled lives with compassionate action, it leaves behind irrefutable testimonies of Christ’s transforming work.

Chances are some family member, friend, or co-worker in your life is in trouble. These situations are prime opportunities for the glory of a rescuing God to be displayed through your life. All you have to do is ask the question, “What can I do to help?”

 

Streams in the Desert

He went up into a mountain apart (Matt. 14:23).

One of the blessings of the old-time Sabbath was its calm, its restfulness, its holy peace. There is a strange strength conceived in solitude. Crows go in flocks and wolves in packs, but the lion and the eagle are solitaires.

Strength is not in bluster and noise. Strength is in quietness. The lake must be calm if the heavens are to be reflected on its surface. Our Lord loved the people, but how often we read of His going away from them for a brief season. He tried every little while to withdraw from the crowd. He was always stealing away at evening to the hills. Most of His ministry was carried on in the towns and cities by the seashore, but He loved the hills the best, and oftentimes when night fell He would plunge into their peaceful depths.

The one thing needed above all others today is that we shall go apart with our Lord, and sit at His feet in the sacred privacy of His blessed presence. Oh, for the lost art of meditation! Oh, for the culture of the secret place! Oh, for the tonic of waiting upon God!
–Selected

It is well to live in the valley sweet,
Where the work of the world is done,
Where the reapers sing in the fields of wheat,|
As they toil till the set of sun.
But beyond the meadows, the hills I see
Where the noises of traffic cease,
And I follow a Voice that calleth to me
From the hilltop regions of peace.
Aye, to live is sweet in the valley fair,
And to toil till the set of sun;
But my spirit yearns for the hilltop’s air
When the day and its work are done.
For a Presence breathes o’er the silent hills,
And its sweetness is living yet;
The same deep calm all the hillside fills,
As breathed over Olivet.

“Every life that would be strong must have its Holy of Holies into which only God enters.”

December 4

From: Through the Bible

Isaiah 55:7-9 (NIV) 7Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The cry of God is for us to come to Him. This chapter begins pleading for us to come and take the water and bread of life freely. He pleads for us to seek the LORD, and then begins to give this summary of why we need to come to God. We have gone our own way. Man has decided he does not need his Creator. God has graciously directed man in a way that is not self-destructive, but man refuses to walk in it. We are arrogant enough to think we can come up with a better and more satisfying way. That is the same problem Eve had in the Garden. Our lusting eyes and confused mind lead us into a way that is opposed to the way of God.

Our thoughts that are not yielded to the Spirit of God are the beginning of this downward spiral. God actually wants us to think His thoughts. A life yielded to the Spirit thinks God’s thoughts, thoughts in line with the character of God. We cannot keep a thought from passing through our mind, but we can decide not to dwell on it.

This is God’s charge against man: our ways and thoughts are not His ways and thoughts. His are pure. Ours are corrupt. His are good and just. Ours are evil and self-serving. He actually wants us to forsake our ways and thoughts and take in the life of the Son. We are to have the mind of Christ. Does this sound impossible? Jesus died to make it possible for the Spirit of God to live in you.

Consider: If you have received Him, simply let the Word of God live in you richly. His life will shine through you as you walk in His ways and yield your mind to His thoughts.

Evening

December 4

1 Peter 2:5,9,11 (NIV) 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

Peter tells us what God is doing with our lives. He is making us into a spiritual house in which He can live through His Spirit. In this analogy, he is not referring to us individually, but as a group. We should be interconnected to the work and ministry of others in the family of God. Like the priests of old, we minister to God by bringing sacrifices, but instead of animals, we bring sacrifices of praise for bringing us out of darkness and into His wonderful light. They are acceptable because they come through Jesus our Savior.

God is making us into a royal and holy priesthood. What He intended to do with Israel, He is now accomplishing in us. Israel could not be a priestly nation because they did not have the Holy Spirit within them. They could not see how much they needed God. The flesh can never accomplish the will of God.

Because we have this high and holy calling, we should not follow the example of ancient Israel that was ensnared by their sinful desires. As a nation, they lost the war over their souls. As a nation, let us live as aliens and strangers here, knowing that we are just passing through this world. Let us abstain from those sinful desires that would take us down the same road to ruin that Israel took.

Consider: Am I compromising with the enemy in any area of my life? As a stranger and alien here, what should I do about it?

Preach The Word Faithfully

 

 God Bless The loyal Preachers of The Gospel Of Jesus Christ. Remember, You Do Not Have To Be A Preacher To Tell Others About Jesus’ Soul Saving Gospel.

“Not by Might nor by Power”

From: Utmost.org

If in preaching the gospel you substitute your knowledge of the way of salvation for confidence in the power of the gospel, you hinder people from getting to reality. Take care to see while you proclaim your knowledge of the way of salvation, that you yourself are rooted and grounded by faith in God. Never rely on the clearness of your presentation, but as you give your explanation make sure that you are relying on the Holy Spirit. Rely on the certainty of God’s redemptive power, and He will create His own life in people.

Once you are rooted in reality, nothing can shake you. If your faith is in experiences, anything that happens is likely to upset that faith. But nothing can ever change God or the reality of redemption. Base your faith on that, and you are as eternally secure as God Himself. Once you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never be moved again. That is the meaning of sanctification. God disapproves of our human efforts to cling to the concept that sanctification is merely an experience, while forgetting that even our sanctification must also be sanctified (see John 17:19). I must deliberately give my sanctified life to God for His service, so that He can use me as His hands and His feet.

From: Streams In The Desert

Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well (2 Kings 4:26).

Be strong, my soul!
Thy loved ones go
Within the veil.
God’s thine, e’en so;
Be strong.
Be strong, my soul!
Death looms in view.
Lo, here thy God!
He’ll bear thee through;
Be strong.

For sixty-two years and five months I had a beloved wife, and now, in my ninety-second year I am left alone. But I turn to the ever present Jesus, as I walk up and down in my room, and say, “Lord Jesus, I am alone, and yet not alone–Thou art with me, Thou art my Friend. Now, Lord, comfort me, strengthen me, give to Thy poor servant everything Thou seest he needs.”

And we should not be satisfied till we are brought to this, that we know the Lord Jesus Christ experimentally, habitually to be our Friend: at all times, and under all circumstances, ready to prove Himself to be our Friend.
–George Mueller

Afflictions cannot injure when blended with submission.

Ice breaks many a branch, and so I see a great many persons bowed down and crushed by their afflictions. But now and then I meet one that sings in affliction, and then I thank God for my own sake as well as his. There is no such sweet singing as a song in the night. You recollect the story of the woman who, when her only child died, in rapture looking up, as with the face of an angel, said, “I give you joy, my darling.” That single sentence has gone with me years and years down through my life, quickening and comforting me.
–Henry Ward Beecher

E’en for the dead I will not bind my soul to grief;
Death cannot long divide.
For is it not as though the rose that climbed my garden wall
Has blossomed on the other, side?
Death doth hide,
But not divide;
Thou art but on Christ’s other side!
Thou art with Christ, and Christ with me;
In Christ united still are we.

Focus on God’s Message!

Thursday, June 26, 2014 (6:51 am)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Jonah 3:2,4,5 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

So Jonah goes and begins to preach in this pagan city. His message is very simple. “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown”(v. 4). That’s it. That was his whole message. It’s eight words in English; only 4 words in Hebrew.

To be honest, I love short messages, and I love to give short messages, But I’ve never preached an eight-word message in my life.

And a pretty depressing message if you ask me. None of this “Nineveh, God loves you…” or “Nineveh for Yeshua” or “Say Yes Nineveh.” A message of impending judgment and nothing more.

God says to Jonah – PREACH MY MESSAGE; simple, urgent, to the point. These days the message of salvation across the world so often removes a key word –”REPENT!” Whenever Yeshua (Jesus) preached – or John the Baptist – or any of the saints preached – it started with the word – REPENT!

This is a critical point. There’s apologetics, and witnessing of all kinds, according to wisdom and opportunity, but if we’re going to preach, we MUST understand that we MUST preach HIS MESSAGE! And His Message begins with the word – REPENT!

It’s not the way we would do it. If we were going to put together a “Nineveh for Yeshua” campaign, we would hire an advance team, get a PR man, put together an ad campaign, buy billboards, do a social media blitz, start a Facebook page, get our Twitter team going, make some “Nineveh for Yeshua” t-shirts, do some training, set up the buses, train the counselors, rent a stadium, buy some TV time, recruit the counselors, print the follow-up materials, set up home prayer meetings, arrange for simultaneous translations, rehearse the choir, and organize Operation Nivevah. We’d have to raise $3 million just to get started.

Nah, Jonah skipped all of that.

He just went to Nineveh looking half dead and gave his entirely negative 8-word sermon. And the people repented!

Jonah was a “dead man.” When God does that to you and me we won’t have to say much either, “Repent, and believe the gospel”… 5 words will probably do it! But the message will almost certainly begin with the word — “Repent”!

Get Your Lamps Lit!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 (11:17 am)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

John 8:12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

Matthew 25:1-10 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

During the feast of Tabernacles in Yeshua’s (Jesus’) day, the temple priests would set up four great lampstands with golden lampholders, which they would light with the aid of enormous ladders in the Temple courtyard. The lighting of these lamps began the celebration of the “Great Hosannah” (Hoshannah Rabbah, in Hebrew). The celebration went on in to the wee hours — with music and dancing and rejoicing, while the beautiful lights lit up the night. Jerusalem was a breathtaking, illuminated city on a hill.

The following morning the Jewish people would recite the prayer for the eighth day of the feast — “Be thou praised, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who makest light and causes darkness, who makest peace and createst all: the light of the world as the treasure of life…” Yeshua said, “I am the Light of the world.”.

God is Light, He loves light, He creates light, He sheds light, He desires light. Lamps with oil produce light, both for those who carry them and for those who see the light bearers. “You are the light of the world”, He said. So the Lord also expects light from and His people. The light of God in our lives comes from His Holy Spirit, and oil has always been associated with the Spirit’s ministry in the lives of believers. Burning oil produces light. If we are spiritual “virgins”because we are betrothed to one Heavenly Husband, we ought to bear His light in this dark world. Yet He has told us that some virgins will not have the wisdom to do it, so it is a warning to us; a warning not to quench the Spirit, but be filled with Him and be the light of the world.

Some of us, though virgins, have been walking in darkness. This could change. The choice to light our lamps belongs to us. The gift of the Holy Spirit has been given to all true virgins. The wise among us will “buy oil” and maintain our lamps thoroughly filled. To “buy oil” means to “spend time” with the One who supplies it, asking Him to fill us up, and to clean out the impurities in our “lamps”. You know what this means for you personally, and I know what it means for me. We ought to think about the joy of the wedding, and prepare our hearts with His light… illuminated beautifully for all the world to see, and to be ready! At midnight, when the Bridegroom suddenly appears, our joy will be unspeakable.

Jesus Helps People Who Are Lost

 

 

 Jesus Is The Way For Those Who Are lost

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adam and god jesus carry cross divine mercy daniel lions den
jesus wherever jesus trinity prayer gesthemane forgiven

 

Losing Our Way

From: Our Daily Bread

An online survey conducted by a New York law firm reveals that 52 percent of Wall Street traders, brokers, investment bankers, and other financial service professionals have either engaged in illegal activity or believe they may need to do so in order to be successful. The survey concludes that these financial leaders “have lost their moral compass” and “accept corporate wrongdoing as a necessary evil.”

In mentoring young Timothy, the apostle Paul warned that the love of money and the desire to get rich had caused some to lose their way. They had yielded to temptations and embraced many “foolish and harmful” desires (1 Tim. 6:9). Paul saw “the love of money” (not money itself) as a source of “all kinds of evil” (v.10), especially the evil of trusting in money rather than depending on Christ.

As we learn to see that Christ is the source of all we have, we will find contentment in Him rather than in material possessions. When we seek godliness rather than riches, we will gain a desire to be faithful with what we have been given.

Let’s deliberately cultivate an attitude of contentment in God, and faithfully submit to Him, for our Provider will care for us.

Father, it’s easy to see the problem that others have
with loving money. But I know I have my own
struggles too. I need Your help to learn thankfulness
for all that You have given. Grow in me an attitude of contentment in You.
To love money is to lose sight of the Source of life.

Insight

In 1 Timothy, Paul gives practical instruction about money. He tells Timothy that the problem is not money itself, but the love of it. Love of money is improper because God is the giver of all our possessions, so they don’t really belong to us. Godliness with contentment is true wealth (v.6).

Christian Perfection

From: Utmost.org

It is a trap to presume that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do— God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself. The emphasis of holiness movements tends to be that God is producing specimens of holiness to put in His museum. If you accept this concept of personal holiness, your life’s determined purpose will not be for God, but for what you call the evidence of God in your life. How can we say, “It could never be God’s will for me to be sick”? If it was God’s will to bruise His own Son (Isaiah 53:10), why shouldn’t He bruise you? What shines forth and reveals God in your life is not your relative consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your genuine, living relationship with Jesus Christ, and your unrestrained devotion to Him whether you are well or sick.

Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship with God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life. When you obey the call of Jesus Christ, the first thing that hits you is the pointlessness of the things you have to do. The next thought that strikes you is that other people seem to be living perfectly consistent lives. Such lives may leave you with the idea that God is unnecessary— that through your own human effort and devotion you can attain God’s standard for your life. In a fallen world this can never be done. I am called to live in such a perfect relationship with God that my life produces a yearning for God in the lives of others, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God’s purpose is not to perfect me to make me a trophy in His showcase; He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He wants.

 

From: Streams in the Desert

Perfect through suffering (Heb. 2:10).

Steel is iron plus fire. Soil is rock, plus heat, or glacier crushing. Linen is flax plus the bath that cleans, the comb that separates, and the flail that pounds, and the shuttle that weaves. Human character must have a plus attached to it. The world does not forget great characters. But great characters are not made of luxuries, they are made by suffering.

I heard of a mother who brought into her home as a companion to her own son, a crippled boy who was also a hunchback. She had warned her boy to be very careful in his relations to him, and not to touch the sensitive part of his life but go right on playing with him as if he were an ordinary boy. She listened to her son as they were playing; and after a few minutes he said to his companion: “Do you know what you have got on your back?” The little hunchback was embarrassed, and he hesitated a moment. The boy said: “It is the box in which your wings are; and some day God is going to cut it open, and then you will fly away and be an angel.”

Some day, God is going to reveal the fact to every Christian, that the very principles they now rebel against, have been the instruments which He used in perfecting their characters and moulding them into perfection, polished stones for His great building yonder.
–Cortland Myers

Suffering is a wonderful fertilizer to the roots of character. The great object of this life is character. This is the only thing we can carry with us into eternity… To gain the most of it and the best of it is the object of probation.
–Austin Phelps

“By the thorn road and no other is the mount of vision won.”

December 2

From: Through the Bible

Isaiah 52:13-15 (NIV) 13See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. 14Just as there were many who were appalled at him– his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness– 15so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Isaiah gave a number of prophecies about the suffering servant. They so beautifully describe the life of Jesus that it is a wonder some cannot see it and that the Jews of that day did not recognize Him. The wisest thing Jesus could have done for those He loved was to lay down His life. In the passage today, we see the cross raised, lifted into place, and the Son of God highly exalted. Though His body was beaten and torn beyond human recognition, He became the sacrifice whose blood would be our atonement.

Kings bow before the wonder of His sacrificial death. They cannot speak in the presence of One whose love is so great that He would die to give them life. Pilate did not know the prophecies were being fulfilled before his eyes. Kings have not heard the Gospel and yet somehow will know that God has made a Way. God has revealed His Arm, Christ Jesus, and ever since the world has looked in awe at the wonder of His life and death in our place.

Who would ever have guessed that God loved us to that extent? We sit in silence pondering the amazing love of God and our lack of gratitude for it. How could He love us so? The suffering Servant bore our sins that we might forever be right with God. Let the wonder of it grow within your heart.

Consider: See that you never grow calloused toward that great display of His love for you.

Evening

December 2

1 Peter 1:6-8 (NIV) 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

Peter is expressing the paradox of the Christian life. We have a glorious inheritance ahead of us. Until we get there, we are kept by the power of God. He says that this causes us to greatly rejoice. If you aren’t greatly rejoicing, you haven’t seen the wonder of what lies before us, or you haven’t seen His power that is keeping us until we get there. Joy should be the distinguishing characteristic of every Christian.

The paradox is that the journey is full of trials. Those trials cause grief, but they also accomplish a purpose. They prove our faith just as precious metal is purified by fire. They burn out the impurities of our worldly ideas and misguided doctrines.

So how are we supposed to be joyful in those painful trials that cause us grief? We see they are serving a purpose. We see our faith growing stronger and purer. We look forward with eyes of faith to our Savior’s glorious return. To hear His, “Well done!” will be more than worth the refining process. As we envision that day and the heart of our Savior who is shaping us for that day, we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, even as we endure the grief of these momentary trials.

Consider: You are probably in a trial, coming out of one, or going into one. Good! They will refine and test your faith so that someday you will hear Jesus say, “Well done!” Look to that day with eyes of faith and be filled with inexpressible and glorious joy.

Jesus Shows Grace And Compassion

 

Jesus is a Friend who shows Grace and Compassion. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

  • Jesus Heals a Paralytic ManJesus Healing a Young Boy
  • Jesus Heals
  • Jesus Heals a WomanJesus Heals the Leper
  • Healing of the Paralytic ManJesus Heals the Sick
  • Jesus Heals a LeperJesus Heals Leper
  • Jesus Heals the LeperTwo Men Healed From Possession
  • Jesus HealsJesus With a CrowdLet Your Spirit Soar

The Law and the Gospel

From: Utmost. org

The moral law does not consider our weaknesses as human beings; in fact, it does not take into account our heredity or infirmities. It simply demands that we be absolutely moral. The moral law never changes, either for the highest of society or for the weakest in the world. It is enduring and eternally the same. The moral law, ordained by God, does not make itself weak to the weak by excusing our shortcomings. It remains absolute for all time and eternity. If we are not aware of this, it is because we are less than alive. Once we do realize it, our life immediately becomes a fatal tragedy. “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died” (Romans 7:9). The moment we realize this, the Spirit of God convicts us of sin. Until a person gets there and sees that there is no hope, the Cross of Christ remains absurd to him. Conviction of sin always brings a fearful, confining sense of the law. It makes a person hopeless— “…sold under sin” (Romans 7:14). I, a guilty sinner, can never work to get right with God— it is impossible. There is only one way by which I can get right with God, and that is through the death of Jesus Christ. I must get rid of the underlying idea that I can ever be right with God because of my obedience. Who of us could ever obey God to absolute perfection!

We only begin to realize the power of the moral law once we see that it comes with a condition and a promise. But God never coerces us. Sometimes we wish He would make us be obedient, and at other times we wish He would leave us alone. Whenever God’s will is in complete control, He removes all pressure. And when we deliberately choose to obey Him, He will reach to the remotest star and to the ends of the earth to assist us with all of His almighty power.

DECEMBER 1, 2014

From: Crosswalk

When Only a Friend Who Gets It Will Do
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.” Luke 1:39-40 (NIV)

When I was pregnant with our firstborn, I carried around a well-marked copy of the book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, counting on its practical wisdom to get me through those scary (yet exciting) months.

With our next child, I turned to a close friend who was also expecting her second. We exchanged advice, discussed at length the many joys and discomforts of pregnancy, and cheered each other on as our delivery dates drew near. If you need a listening ear, a friend who is walking the same path is a great place to turn.

Surely that was the case 2,000 years ago for Mary and Elizabeth, who didn’t even expect to be expecting. Mary was a virgin, betrothed to Joseph. Elizabeth was an older, barren woman, married to Zechariah the priest. When we first meet them in the Bible, neither woman could imagine being pregnant. But God was already on the move.

When Gabriel brought Mary the good news of the Son she would bear, the angel offered this word of encouragement: “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month” (Luke 1:36, NIV).

No wonder Mary took off for Zechariah’s house! Elizabeth might actually believe her miraculous story. Today’s key verse assures us young Mary “got ready and hurried,” eager to connect with the one person who would understand her situation: a pregnant kinswoman who shared Mary’s faith in a wonder-working God.

If you’re bursting with news about something the Lord has done in your life — an answer to prayer, a long-awaited blessing, a surprising provision — you don’t want to spill the beans to just anyone. Like Mary, you long to tell somebody who will get it. A friend who will say, “Praise God!” instead of, “Lucky you.”

Besides, who else could Mary tell? Her young friends? Her neighbors in Nazareth? “Hey, I just had a visit from an angel, and I’ll be giving birth to God’s Son.”

Right. Not happening. Mary needed Elizabeth, just as we need a friend who will listen without judgment and offer wise counsel because she’s been there — or is there right now.

The moment Mary arrived, another miracle occurred. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41a, NIV). If a mom-to-be eats something sweet or drinks something cold, an unborn child often responds with a swift kick. But this was different: “and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,” (Luke 1:41b, NIV).

Can you fathom the emotions and sensations that must have washed over Elizabeth? An urge to laugh and cry at once, a sense of being flooded with sunlight and fresh air, an overwhelming desire to shout with joy. And shout she did. “In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women …'” (Luke 1:42a, NIV).

Think of it! Two ordinary women bound together by an extraordinary God, empowered by His Holy Spirit.

Mary and Elizabeth had a friendship that shines through the ages. Shared faith, shared joy, shared experience. If you need someone to listen, advise and empathize, consider a woman you know who could use that same kind of support from you. When encouragement flows both directions and honors the Lord, that’s a friendship that will go the distance.

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Thou hast made summer and winter.”
Psalm 74:17

My soul begin this wintry month with thy God. The cold snows and the piercing winds all remind thee that he keeps his covenant with day and night, and tend to assure thee that he will also keep that glorious covenant which he has made with thee in the person of Christ Jesus. He who is true to his Word in the revolutions of the seasons of this poor sin-polluted world, will not prove unfaithful in his dealings with his own well-beloved Son.

Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it be upon thee just now it will be very painful to thee: but there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it. He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes over the once verdant meadows of our joy: he casteth forth his ice like morsels freezing the streams of our delight. He does it all, he is the great Winter King, and rules in the realms of frost, and therefore thou canst not murmur. Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills, are of the Lord’s sending, and come to us with wise design. Frosts kill noxious insects, and put a bound to raging diseases; they break up the clods, and sweeten the soil. O that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction!

How we prize the fire just now! how pleasant is its cheerful glow! Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw nigh to him, and in him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of his promises, and go forth to labours which befit the season, for it were ill to be as the sluggard who will not plough by reason of the cold; for he shall beg in summer and have nothing.

Evening

“O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.”
Psalm 107:8

If we complained less, and praised more, we should be happier, and God would be more glorified. Let us daily praise God for common mercies–common as we frequently call them, and yet so priceless, that when deprived of them we are ready to perish. Let us bless God for the eyes with which we behold the sun, for the health and strength to walk abroad, for the bread we eat, for the raiment we wear. Let us praise him that we are not cast out among the hopeless, or confined amongst the guilty; let us thank him for liberty, for friends, for family associations and comforts; let us praise him, in fact, for everything which we receive from his bounteous hand, for we deserve little, and yet are most plenteously endowed. But, beloved, the sweetest and the loudest note in our songs of praise should be of redeeming love. God’s redeeming acts towards his chosen are forever the favourite themes of their praise. If we know what redemption means, let us not withhold our sonnets of thanksgiving. We have been redeemed from the power of our corruptions, uplifted from the depth of sin in which we were naturally plunged. We have been led to the cross of Christ–our shackles of guilt have been broken off; we are no longer slaves, but children of the living God, and can antedate the period when we shall be presented before the throne without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Even now by faith we wave the palm-branch and wrap ourselves about with the fair linen which is to be our everlasting array, and shall we not unceasingly give thanks to the Lord our Redeemer? Child of God, canst thou be silent? Awake, awake, ye inheritors of glory, and lead your captivity captive, as ye cry with David, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Let the new month begin with new songs.