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Faith Overcomes The World

1 John 5:4, NIV: “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that 
overcomes the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4, ESV: “For everyone who has been born
of God overcomes the world.
Romans 17; 10

17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

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Is Your Faith Worth the Leap?

By: Gene Parkland, 1.cbn.com

Abraham leaves Haran  

Haran was a place where Terah temporarily settled with his son the Patriarch
Abraham (who was known as Abram at that time), his nephew Lot, and Abram’s wife
Sarai, all of them
descendants of Arpachshad son of Shem, during their journey from Ur Kaśdim (Ur of the
Chaldees) to the Land of Canaan.

 

 Note:

(Abraham left his home to go where God would show him. He did not know where the destination was but went there by faith).

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In today’s culture, many people have the opinion that we should live by our own standards, oblivious to the Word of God. Some want the blessings of the promises of God, without subjecting themselves to obedience to God. However, to truly be happy and fulfilled, we must examine ourselves in the light of God’s Word and live by it.

The Bible says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

The stress and tensions of life become more unbearable when we live in selfish disobedience to the Word of faith. Yet simple submission and obedience to God’s Word relieve the stress that disobedience and today’s culture impose. Doubt is crippling, but faith is empowering; so make that leap! Faith in action brings victory!

The Bible says in James 2:26, that faith without works is dead. I have learned that faith with works (action) is alive. Faith without works (action) can become an unfulfilled fantasy. For if I have faith that God is leading me, but I do not follow or act on it, then faith turns to doubt and my inaction leads to death; the death of my faith and the death of my dream. This is a horrible state in which to exist.

Unfulfilled faith creeps into one’s life like oil into water. Just as oil pollutes, leaving a nasty film which ruins the purity of the water – so doubt, solidified by inaction, covers the purity of faith; rendering it polluted, unfit, and unusable. Faith activated by works (action) skims the doubt that covers the water of life, cleans it, and recovers the purity of the gift that obedience brings to fruition.

We must be doers of the word and not just hearers. It is so human to hear the word, rejoice in what we hear, and then… ponder. Pondering plants seeds of doubt, which grows into the mighty tree of procrastination, that bears the poisonous leaves of inaction.

“But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (Psalms 1:2).

We must be like good soldiers and jump to attention, springing into action at the orders of our commander, the Lord. But what do we do instead? We hear the order and then prepare to jump, but inaction and hesitation cause us to get caught in the preparation, and we fail to jump. What a sad sight, to see the army of the Lord procrastinating before Him! How undignified!

It is better to jump and fall, than be stuck squatting down to jump. Squatting is a horrible place to stay. You can’t sit down. You can’t rise up. You can neither rest in your success nor stand in the knowledge of a job well done. Go ahead and jump! You can ask how high on the way up! Better to relieve the tension and stretch in the jump than to live with the constant strain of being stuck in the squat. Obedience in the jump is the better way. Make that leap of faith. We’ll see you on the way up!

MATTHEW 14:30-31 – WALKING IN FAITH

From: shortdailydevotions.com

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:30-31 ESV)

We have all dreamed of doing something great for God. These dreams might involve some form of sacrifice or great leap of faith. We see others around us who have sold everything to follow Jesus as a missionary in some far corner of the world and view them as a person of great faith. We maybe even aspire to be like them.

Consider this, if we had been sitting in that boat with Peter, we would have thought he was brimming with faith as he began to climb out of the boat and walk toward Jesus. But suddenly, something even stranger happened and Peter began to sink.That courage and faith he had in Jesus was getting smaller as he saw the wind and the waves getting bigger.

A true measure of a person’s faith then is not just the first step of their faith journey, but the subsequent steps thereafter. We deal with this every time we get excited about something, starting any given project only to stop halfway through because it was much more difficult than anticipated. The same thing happens when we believe Jesus would have us do something. We start doing it and it doesn’t turn out like we thought it would, or the ministry isn’t immediately growing, we begin to sink, losing faith in and sight of Jesus. What we must realize is that if Jesus has called us to make a first step, then he will provide a path for each step toward him after that.

By Faith: Trust and Obey

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Gordon Pots, today.reframemedia.com

 

Scripture Reading — Genesis 22:1-19Hebrews 11:17-19

By faith Abraham … offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He … reasoned that God could raise the dead.
Hebrews 11:17-19 —

The Bible teaches that child sacrifice is detestable. In man-made religions people sacrificed their children to idols, and God outlawed that (Leviticus 18:21).

So why did God ask it of Abraham? And how could Abraham seriously prepare to do such a thing?

It was a test of Abraham’s faith, his commitment to God. How much did he trust God? Surely Abraham would gladly have sacrificed anything else—his tents, cattle, possessions—even his own life. But why his one and only son-of-promise, the joy and laughter of his life? This was the one through whom God had promised to give Abraham and Sarah a whole nation of offspring.

The Hebrews writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit, states that Abraham prepared to do it because he believed God’s promises were stronger than death. Abraham believed in God’s power to resurrect his promised son, Isaac.

As for God asking for this sacrifice—well, human life does not belong to idols. They have no right to ask for human sacrifice. But human life does belong to God. And only God can give resurrection! He will resurrect all who trust and obey him. He will do it for Jesus’ sake.

Was not Jesus, the Father’s true Son, sacrificed and raised so that believing sinners could live?

Trust and believe that God keeps his promises.

Christ Gives Joy and Happiness

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Joy: True Happiness

By: Randy Freeze, faithgateway.com

I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. — John 15:11

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Remember Eeyore and Tigger in the Winnie-the Pooh-books? For Eeyore, no matter what amazing circumstance came his way, doom and gloom remained the focus. For Tigger, bouncing through life without a care in the world, he never perceived anything to go wrong. In our daily lives, it is easy to have the attitude of Eeyore while wishing we could have the outlook of Tigger — two quite extreme viewpoints of life.

The biblical brand of joy is not simply overcoming our inner Eeyore, nor is it strolling through life in ignorant bliss; rather, it is to be found in facing each day’s ups and downs through the contentment Christ offers.

KEY QUESTION: What gives us true happiness and contentment in life?

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The first order of business is to identify the difference between joy and happiness. For many folks today, being happy is fully dependent on whether life is “all good.” If someone asks, “Rate your life right now on a scale of 1 to 10,” often the number given is based on the number of problems present. Happiness slides up and down the scale, based on the perception of negative issues going on at the time. Problems rise; happiness goes south. Troubles begin to go away; the happy scale starts to climb. Joy, however, is not dependent on circumstances, and, in fact, ironically, can become strongest when trouble comes. The psalmist reminds us of the reality of joy that comes when we rest in God’s presence:

You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. — Psalm 16:11

KEY IDEA: Despite my circumstances, I feel inner contentment and understand my purpose in life.

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Joy has more to do with remaining in the presence of Jesus than with avoiding problems and struggles in our lives. Harkening back to John 15, we know that joy is always available to us when we remain in Christ, through whatever life brings. Let these statements guide you to see how true joy differs from mere happiness.

  • Happiness is a state of mind, while joy is a mind-set.
  • Happiness comes and goes, while joy can be constant.
  • Happiness is dependent, while joy is independent.
  • Happiness is conditional, while joy is unconditional.

The apostle Paul had learned the secret to the joy found in Jesus:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. — Philippians 4:11-13

James drives home the definition of joy in the kingdom of God as having nothing to do with eliminating negative outward circumstances, but rather with embracing them as opportunities to strengthen faith and gain resolve:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. — James 1:2-4

Note the end result of choosing eternal joy — being mature and complete in Christ. Joy becomes the fuel for the believer on this road to maturity. Only Jesus can make our lives flourish in the midst of trouble. In him, joy is strengthened when life is challenging.

And finally, there is a source of deep joy available from an intimate place of serving Jesus.

Take a look at his teaching in Luke 15:3-7:

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Joy comes when the lost are found! When we join Jesus in His work by sharing and seeing people come to Him, we can be a part of the heavenly celebration right here and right now.

KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?

The joy of Christ will replace or reduce stress.

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Joy becomes a filter through which we view life. We’re not talking about rose-colored glasses, but about actually having brand new eyes! Joy can change our perspective and our perception of negative circumstances. We aren’t simply in denial, sticking our head in the sand, but rather we choose to rise above the circumstances and adopt an eternal mind-set. Stress can come from many different factors today. We can worry and fret because we feel we’re not in control. Joy is an ongoing reminder that God is in control — that He is in charge of the outcome.

The joy of Christ will become contagious through us.

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As stated earlier, who doesn’t want to hang out with a joyful person? Joy lifts others up, just as despair brings them down. If you choose joy on a regular basis, you will not only be a far more approachable and relatable person, but your attitude will rub off on others and make a big impact on all the environments you are in.

The joy of Christ will draw others to Christ.

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An old saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Another adage, often heard in sports settings, is, “Attitude is everything.” A person exuding a joy and vigor about life is going to raise the question, “What makes him [her] so different?” When those around us can look at us and see that we choose to express joy, no matter whether life is good or bad at the moment — therein lies the strongest testimony we can offer, even without words.

Notice the path we have taken here — from an inward focus of ending personal stress to an internal transformation to an outward attraction of people to Christ. As joy grows in the heart and mind of the believer, it infiltrates the soul and then moves outward to impact others. Loving God and loving neighbor.

You’ve probably heard the word countenance before. It describes not only the look on your face but also the look of your face. The last entry in George Orwell’s notebooks reads, “At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.” Eventually your face forms to your attitude and the perspective you have on life from the inside.

When you see people who look angry, but then you realize they’re not frowning — there’s a bad countenance. But have you seen a bride on her wedding day? Or a mother seeing her newborn child for the first time? Usually a radiant countenance! How can you tell that something good, or bad, has happened to someone you’re close to, even before they say a word? The countenance. As a Christian matures in the virtue of joy, the countenance becomes a gauge of growth.

In one of the Methodist Episcopal Church Missionary Society’s yearly journals, this story appeared: A Hindu trader in India asked Pema, a native Christian, “What do you put on your face to make it shine so?” Pema answered, “I don’t put anything on it.” “Yes, you do,” said the trader. “All you Christians do. I have seen it in Agra, and in Ahmedabad, and in Surat, and in Bombay.” Pema laughed, and his happy face shone as he said, “I’ll tell you what it is that makes my face shine. It is happiness in the heart. Jesus gives me joy.”

We all will have good and bad days. We will all experience life’s ups and downs. But has life robbed you of your joy, or are you growing in this virtue? What does your face reflect to others? What does your attitude communicate about your faith?

Happiness will be all too fleeting, but the joy of Jesus is available to your soul right now.

 

 

Courage Comes From God

 

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Where Does Real Courage Come From

( Courage Comes From God Inspiring You To Take Action )

From: Jon Bloom, desiringgod.org

(Text)

Where does courage come from? And how do you get it when you need it, when some fear towers over you and threatens you, and you feel like cowering and fleeing into some cave of protection?

For an answer, let’s look at one of the most famous stories of all time in 1 Samuel 17 — and one of the most misunderstood stories in the Bible.

David and Goliath

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Three thousand years ago, in the Valley of Elah, a massive man named Goliath of Gath stepped out of the Philistine ranks to defy and taunt the army of Israel and its God. For forty days, he harangued the Israelite warriors, heaping shame on them, since none dared to accept his fight-to-the-death, winner-takes-all challenge. Every morning when he stepped forward, the men of God shrank back.

Then a teenage Hebrew shepherd boy named David showed up in the camp with some bread and cheese for his soldier big brothers and heard the giant pour out his scorn on the impotent host of his Lord. David was indignant. So he took his shepherd’s sling, grabbed a few stones, knocked Goliath on the block, and chopped off his head.

What David and Goliath Is Not About

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Many think David’s defeat of Goliath is a story of personal courage in the face of overwhelming odds. They see David as the archetypal underdog, an Old Testament Rocky Balboa, standing up to an arrogant, powerful blowhard. They see him as a self-confident, independent young man who was brave enough to fight for what was right and rely on his own strength and skills, rather than conform to conventional tactics.

The popular moral of the story is this: Get out there and face down your giant because the heroically courageous come out on top.

But that is not at all what this story is about. It’s true that David was courageous, and courage is an essential, glorious virtue. But when he faced Goliath, David’s courage was a derivative virtue. It was being empowered by something else.

The Source of David’s Courage

( Your source of Courage is the Lord of Hosts, The Lord God)

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Before looking at where David’s courage came from, we need to ask why Saul and his soldiers lacked it, at least at this moment. On the surface, the answer seems manifestly obvious. The Philistine champion was about nine-feet tall and incredibly strong (1 Samuel 17:4–7). He was a highly trained, experienced massacre machine who had sent many opponents to meet their Maker (1 Samuel 17:33). Physically, every man in the Hebrew camp was outclassed. Fighting Goliath looked like suicide, plain and simple.

But it is not so plain and simple. First of all, because fighting Goliath didn’t look like suicide to David, who was as physically outclassed as anyone else. But also, because these men believed in God and knew Israel’s history. They knew the stories, how God had overcome one giant adversary after another. Many of them had personally seen God do amazing things, such as Jonathan’s defeat of a Philistine garrison in 1 Samuel 14.

No, the men lacked courage to face Goliath because at this moment the men lacked faith. At this moment, for whatever reason, despite all the stories and past experiences, Goliath looked bigger than God. Each man believed that if he went out against this humungous human, he would be on his own and end up as bird food (1 Samuel 17:44).

 

David’s Deep Confidence in God

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So what made David different? It was not because he had the self-generated, raw, cool courage of the American action-movie hero. What fueled David’s courage was his confidence in God’s promises and God’s power to fulfill them.

In the preceding chapter, Samuel the prophet had informed David that God had chosen him to be the next king of Israel and anointed him with his brothers around him (1 Samuel 16:13). David knew this information when he arrived in the camp and heard Goliath’s sneering rants. And he drew additional confidence by remembering how God had helped him in the past (1 Samuel 17:34–36).

This reality was David’s courage wellspring. He was not self-confident; he was God-confident.

David believed that God would never break his promise, and if Goliath made himself an obstacle to God’s promise, God could flick him out of the way with a pebble. David saw God as bigger and stronger than the fearful Philistine. So he went out to fight knowing that God would give him victory over Goliath — and when he did, the victory would demonstrate God’s power and faithfulness, not David’s courage (1 Samuel 17:46–47).

What’s the Source of Your Courage?

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Courage is not an autonomous, self-generated virtue. Courage is always produced by faith, whether our faith is in God or something else. Courage is a derivative virtue.

For the Christian, a lack of courage, what the writer of Hebrews calls “shrinking back” (Hebrews 10:37–38), is always evidence of a lack faith in a promise of God. Some “Goliath” is looming larger than God in our sight and taunting us into humiliation. All we see is how weak and pathetic we are, and how inadequate we are to face him. Fighting him seems impossible, and the thought immobilizes us.

All of us experience this fear. So did David. David is such a helpful example for us, not only because he fueled his confidence and courage to face Goliath from God’s promises, but also because he so frequently felt fearful and needed to encourage his soul again by remembering God’s promises. A quick read through the first 25 psalms shows how often David battled fear and unbelief.

Get Angry at Fear

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But faith made David more than courageous. When he heard the Philistine defy the living God and his army, it made David angry. Goliath’s taunts and accusations scorned God’s glory. And when no one stepped up to defend God’s name, it made God look weak. David would not tolerate that.

And such should also be our response to every fear and “lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Our fears are not primarily about us, even though they feel that way. Our fears are primarily about God. They impugn God’s character and call him weak, or non-existent. They defy God and his church.

That is an outrage, and our call is to stop cowering and stand up to our fears, not allowing them to intimidate us into unbelief.

Gospel Giant-Slaying

Philippians 4:13

13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

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In the new covenant, we are not to battle flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), but to love our human enemies (Luke 6:27). However, we are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Our “Goliaths” are our indwelling sin and the “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). And we are to wield warfare weapons against them (2 Corinthians 10:4), including the shield of faith and the sword of God’s word (Ephesians 6:16–17). We are to aim to kill.

These giants, who are bigger than we are and very intimidating to our flesh, will be slain just like David’s was — by faith. And our courage to face them will not come from our self-confidence. It will only come from confidence in God’s powerful promises.

Achieving For God’s Purposes

Romans 3:9-18

 

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;read more.

Romans 7:13-23

 

Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.read more.

Galatians 6:9-10

 

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

 

Excelling Still More

by Inspiration Ministries

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We request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 1 Thessalonians 4:1 NASB

Paul was pleased with what he heard about the Thessalonians. They were living in ways indicating that they had grasped the essence of the Gospel. But he also knew they still needed to improve.

There were lifestyle issues about which they needed to be sensitive and areas where they could be misled. They had to be aware of Satan s traps and realize how harmful these could be. They needed to become more alert, stronger in the Spirit and better equipped to avoid dangers. To seek to experience even more of God’s blessings.

While the Thessalonians were committed to walk in the right manner, Paul also knew how easily they could stagnate. He knew how much more God had prepared for them. He wanted them to excel still more. The Greek words Paul used indicated they could superabound. Go far beyond what they had been doing.

It was important that they keep growing. Always seeking to please God. Always being teachable and willing to learn. Always sensitive to His correction and leading.

Paul might well say the same things about us. He might be pleased about some aspects of our lives, while reminding us that we, too, can excel still more. There is more we can learn. More ways we can grow in Christ and be more refined by the Spirit. More ways we can be better testimonies and impact more lives for the Gospel. More ways we can superabound and excel still more.

Streams In The Desert

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For our profit (Heb. 12:10).

In one of Ralph Connor’s books he tells a story of Gwen. Gwen was a wild, wilful lassie and one who had always been accustomed to having her own way. Then one day she met with a terrible accident which crippled her for life. She became very rebellious and in the murmuring state she was visited by the Sky Pilot, as the missionary among the mountaineers was termed. He told her the parable of the canyon.

“At first there were no canyons, but only the broad, open prairie. One day the Master of the Prairie, walking over his great lawns, where were only grasses, asked the Prairie, ‘Where are your flowers?’ and the Prairie said, ‘Master I have no seeds.’

“Then he spoke to the birds, and they carried seeds of every kind of flower and strewed them far and wide, and soon the prairie bloomed with crocuses and roses and buffalo beans and the yellow crowfoot and the wild sunflowers and the red lilies all summer long. Then the Master came and was well pleased; but he missed the flowers he loved best of all, and he said to the Prairie: ‘Where are the clematis and the columbine, the sweet violets and wind-flowers, and all the ferns and flowering shrubs?’

“And again he spoke to the birds, and again they carried all the seeds and scattered them far and wide. But, again, when the Master came he could not find the flowers he loved best of all, and he said: “‘Where are those my sweetest flowers?’ and the Prairie cried sorrowfully: “‘Oh, Master, I cannot keep the flowers, for the winds sweep fiercely, and the sun beats upon my breast, and they wither up and fly away.’

“Then the Master spoke to the Lightning, and with one swift blow the Lightning cleft the Prairie to the heart. And the Prairie rocked and groaned in agony, and for many a day moaned bitterly over the black, jagged, gaping wound. But the river poured its waters through the cleft, and carried down deep black mould.

“And once more the birds carried seeds and strewed them in the canyon. And after a long time the rough rocks were decked out with soft mosses and trailing vines, and all the nooks were hung with clematis and columbine, and great elms lifted their huge tops high up into the sunlight, and down about their feet clustered the low cedars and balsams, and everywhere the violets and wind-flower and maiden-hair grew and bloomed, till the canyon became the Master’s favorite place for rest and peace and joy.”

Then the Sky Pilot read to her: “The fruit–I’ll read ‘flowers’–of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness–and some of these grow only in the canyon.” “Which are the canyon flowers?” asked Gwen softly, and the Pilot answered: “Gentleness, meekness, longsuffering; but though the others, love, joy, peace, bloom in the open, yet never with so rich a bloom and so sweet a perfume as in the canyon.”

For a long time Gwen lay quite still, and then said wistfully, while her lips trembled: “There are no flowers in my canyon, but only ragged rocks.” “Some day they will bloom, Gwen dear; the Master will find them, and we, too, shall see them.”

Good works

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By: Charles Spurgeon

“Zealous of good works” Titus 2:14

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 2:8-15

It would be a good thing, perhaps, if we went back to Wesley’s rule, to come out from the world in our apparel, and to dress as plainly and neatly as the Quakers, though alas! they have sadly gone from their primitive simplicity. I am obliged to depart a little sometimes, from what we call the high things of the gospel; for really the children of God cannot now be told by outward appearance from the children of the devil, and they really ought to be; there should be some distinction between the one and the other; and although religion allows distinction of rank and dress, yet everything in the Bible cries out against our arraying ourselves, and making ourselves proud, by reason of the goodliness of our apparel. Some will say, “I wish you would leave that alone!” Of course you do, because it applies to yourself. But we let nothing alone which we believe to be in the Scriptures; and while I would not spare any man’s soul, honesty to every man’s conscience, and honesty to myself, demands that I should always speak of that which I see to be an evil breaking out in the Church. We should always take care that in everything we keep as near as possible to the written Word. If you want ornaments here they are. Here are jewels, rings, dresses, and all kinds of ornament; men and women, you may dress yourselves up till you shine like angels. How can you do it? By dressing yourselves out in benevolence, in love to the saints, in honesty and integrity, in uprightness, in godliness, in brotherly-kindness, in charity. These are the ornaments which angels themselves admire, and which even the world will admire; for men must give admiration to the man or the woman who is arrayed in the jewels of a holy life and godly conversation. I beseech you, brethren, “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”

Doing Our Father’s Business

(Pictures Of People Doing Their Heavenly Father’s Business)

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The Dance of Faith

By: Whitney Capps, Encouragement for Today

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 ( In this picture, David is dancing and rejoicing for God’s grace and love)

 

Bible Gateway Psalm 148 : NIV. Praise the LORD. … Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. He has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his saints, of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Psalm 148: 13-14

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,[b]
    the praise of all his faithful servants,
    of Israel, the people close to his heart.

 

Text

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

Like many newlyweds do, Chad and I had a traditional first dance at our wedding reception. Now, it wasn’t the stuff of epic, viral first dances. Nope. It was a rather boring demonstration. Very, very vanilla. We treated our guests to several minutes of us recycling the same three moves and shuffling around to Etta James’ “At Last.” Oh, and there was one fairly awkward dip at the end. One dip. And we nearly fell over.

I’m not much of a dancer, but I can follow a strong partner. Chad is a great leader. In business, he’s thoughtful, decisive, collaborative and confident. But on the dance floor? He’s the exact opposite of all that. So, during our wedding dance, I tried to lead, but we ended up stepping on one another’s toes. A lot.

When that didn’t work, I tried to coach him along. I’d whisper in his ear what next steps to take, so I could “follow” him. That way it would look like he was leading, but I was still in charge, making sure we didn’t do something that would haunt us for the rest of our lives. This thing was being videotaped, after all! That didn’t work either. In dancing, you’re not really leading if you have to be told what to do.

On that May evening years ago, we moved around to music, but I don’t know legitimate dancers would say we actually “danced.” We were going through the motions, but we weren’t dancing.

When I look back on my spiritual journey — the dance I have with the Lord — I’d say the same has been true. I’ve been going through the motions, but I don’t know if you’d call it “dancing.”

I’ve often thought that I know the song better. Or I’ve danced along to a song in my head, trying to make my own music. Sometimes I would breakdance when the Lord was trying to lead me to waltz. I resisted the gentle pull of His arms, pushing Him away so I could do my own thing.

Now in this analogy, God is nothing like my Chad when it comes to dancing. Our strong and tender God is completely competent to lead us. He knows all the moves to make. He knows the rhythm of our lives perfectly; He wrote the music. He isn’t making it up as He goes along. It’s all been perfectly orchestrated since the beginning of time.

Today’s key verse, Psalm 143:8, reminds us to fully trust God to lead us. “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

Ultimately, this dance of sanctification is God’s process to lead. He’s the One who designed it. He’s the One in control of it. He’s the One setting the pace. At the end of your faith journey, you will be sanctified — set apart as holy — because God is the one initiating the whole thing, and He promises to finish the dances that He starts.

Christ about his Father’s business

From: Charles Spurgeon

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The Boy Jesus Amazes the Scholars

41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And [l]Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

Text)

“Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Luke 2:49

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 4:32-5: 10

You never find Christ doing a thing which you may not imitate. You would scarcely think it necessary that he should be baptised; but lo, he goes to Jordan’s stream and dives beneath the wave, that he may be buried in baptism unto death, and may rise again—though he needed not to rise—into newness of life. You see him healing the sick to teach us benevolence; rebuking hypocrisy to teach us boldness; enduring temptation to teach us hardness, wherewith, as good soldiers of Christ, we ought to war a good warfare. You see him forgiving his enemies to teach us the grace of meekness and of forbearance; you behold him giving up his very life to teach us how we should surrender ourselves to God, and give up ourselves for the good of others. Put Christ at the wedding; you may imitate him. Yes, sirs, and you might imitate him, if you could, in turning water into wine, without a sin. Put Christ at a funeral; you may imitate him—“Jesus wept.” Put him on the mountain top; he shall be there in prayer alone, and you may imitate him. Put him in the crowd; he shall speak so, that if you could speak like him you should speak well. Put him with enemies; he shall so confound them, that he shall be a model for you to copy. Put him with friends, and he shall be a “friend that sticketh closer than a brother,” worthy of your imitation. Exalt him, cry hosanna, and you shall see him riding upon a “colt, the foal of an ass,” meek and lowly. Despise and spit upon him; you shall see him bearing disgrace and contempt with the same evenness of spirit which characterised him when he was exalted in the eye of the world. Everywhere you may imitate Christ.

For meditation: The imitation of Christ is an impossible way to obtain salvation, but it is an excellent way of follow-up after conversion (John 13:151 Corinthians 11:11 Peter 2:21).

God Does Not Change

Numbers 23:19

19 God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

James 1:17

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

 

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Do not fear in the face of Change

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When you first have children, you quickly learn the importance of establishing a routine and some structure in their lives. Meal times and nap times are sacred. It’s always three stories before bed and Mr. Bear must lie next to the pillow, or life just isn’t right. Children thrive in a routine. And when things change, when anything changes, they are quick to let you know that they don’t like it.

The same is often true for us, as adults. We don’t like change either. We like things to be familiar and predictable. We like to know what to expect when we wake up each morning. But life is constantly changing.

Our kids seem to grow inches in a day. New gray hairs emerge every time we look in the mirror. The clothes we wore a year ago just don’t fit the way they used to. We lose jobs, relationships end, and churches transition or split. All while our society changes its values and mores as often as a preschooler changes into dress up clothes.

When such changes enter our life, it’s overwhelming, confusing, even terrifying. We can go to bed at night to one reality and wake up to a completely different life. Change can make us feel lost and abandoned, like we’ve been tossed overboard in the midst of a storm. We’re left reeling, trying to grab ahold of anything we can find that’s strong and stable. We’re tempted to run from change, as though we could ever escape it.

 

The God Who Never Changes

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( God loves you. His love for you never changes.)

 

As we all encounter major changes in our individual lives, and as the world around us continues to change, we need a place to find hope. We need somewhere to stand when we wake up to news that a loved one has passed away, or our job is in jeopardy, or the last candidate we would want was elected into office. The truth is, there is one thing that never changes, the one thing that stays the same: our unchanging God.

The Bible tells us that God never changes. “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). There is no transition, inconsistency, or change in this God. The same God who spun this massive blue marble into space is the same one who met Moses on Mount Sinai. The same God who forgave David for his adultery is the one who crushed his own Son when Christ became sin at the cross for us.

Yesterday, today, and forever he is the God who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:8–9).

 

The Truth That Never Changes

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Because God never changes, his word never changes. All that he has said about himself remains true forever. Everything he has told us about why and how the world came to be, about what’s wrong with the world, and about what he has done to save the world will never change. No matter what anyone may say, no matter who denies or defies God’s word, it remains firmly fixed. “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89). “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

And because his word never changes, his promises for us remain true:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38–39)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Our Rock and Anchor

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 ( Acknowledge God in the routine of your life)

 

The unchanging nature of God and his unchangeable word are real things on which we can stake our life. It is a rock big enough and strong enough for us to build a house on it, and an anchor big enough and strong enough to hold our souls in the midst of life’s waves and storms.

Because of these truths, when everything in life seems flipped upside down, we can say with the psalmist, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (Psalm 46:1–3).

Things will continue to change — in the world around us and in our lives. Some of those changes will feel like a tiny ripple, and others feel like a ten-foot wave. But no matter what changes we face, we need not fear. We need not hide. We need not despair. Our rock and anchor is our unchanging God, whose character and promises remain fixed forever.

Jesus Is Coming Again

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When Jesus Comes Again

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By: Arthur Schoonveld, today.reframemedia.com

 

Scripture Reading — Matthew 24:42-44

“Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… The Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Matthew 24:42-44 — 

Several years ago, during the war in the Persian Gulf, a bill-board along a major highway read, “Be ready! Jesus is coming soon!” Many Christians were absolutely convinced that Jesus was about to come back. Time magazine wrote at that time that millions of Americans were preoccupied with the end of the world.

One day while I was driving past that billboard, a teenager riding with me said, “Wouldn’t that be awesome if Jesus came back today?” That comment took me by surprise, coming from a teenager. When I was in high school, I wasn’t so sure that I wanted Jesus to come back right away. I wanted to live life, get out of school, and get married—and Jesus’ second coming would have put an end to all that.

That teenager’s comment raises a question for us all: “Do we want the Lord Jesus to come back soon? Would we think it awesome if he came back today, June 22, 2014? Are we praying for his return?”

Regardless of whether we pray for Jesus’ coming or we expect him to come soon, one thing is sure: he will return. The Bible leaves no doubt that someday the Lord Jesus will come back on the clouds of heaven. And when he does, all who believe in him will live with him forever and ever. Let’s pray for that day!

Prayer

Lord Jesus, please come back soon to bring about the new heavens and the new earth. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.

 

What Is It That We Hope For? 

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What do we hope for:

Today’s answer is taken from Titus 2:13.

. . . awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Chris

What is the content of our blessed hope according to this verse? THE APPEARING OF OUR GREAT GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. We set our hope on the second coming of our Lord.

The Blessed Hope of Believers

 

And let us encourage our hearts this morning that the blessed hope of all who believe is THE APPEARING OF OUR GREAT GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST.

Two Appearings of Christ 

Notice first of all from our text in Titus 2 that there are two appearings of Christ — one called an appearing of grace, the other called an appearing of glory.

Verse 11: “For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men.” That is the first coming of Christ — the appearance of grace.

Then verse 13: “Awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” That is the second coming of Christ — the appearance of glory. 

First grace, then glory. In Paul’s mind these two are inseparably linked. Which is why the rejection of a real second coming is an attack on the very center of our faith, namely, the first coming of Christ to die for sins. The Christ who will come in glory is the Christ who came in grace.

Verse 14 describes just how that grace appeared — “[Christ] gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” So when the grace of God appeared in history about 2,000 years ago, it appeared as a real man, who really died to redeem us from sin and to make us zealous, or passionate, for good deeds. This was the aim or purpose of the appearance of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

That same aim of grace is described in verse 12 as well: “The grace of God appeared training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world.” That is the same as saying (in v. 14) that Christ aimed to purify us and make us zealous for good deeds.

So verses 12 and 14 are like a sandwich around verse 13. Both verses describe the aim and effect of God’s grace as it appeared in the first coming of Jesus Christ. The meat in the middle of the sandwich is our blessed hope (v. 13). What God’s grace has begun in our lives through the first coming of Christ his glory he will complete in our lives through the second coming of Christ.

Looking Back and Looking Forward 

I think it would be fair to say on the basis of these four verses (vv. 11–14) that the incentive and power to live a Christian life pleasing to God comes from two directions as it were: it comes from looking back with gratitude to the grace of God that appeared in Jesus Christ at his first coming when he purchased our redemption; and it comes from looking forward with hope to the glory of God that will appear at the second coming when he completes our redemption.

Hebrews 9:27–28 describes the connection between the past and future work Christ as clearly as any biblical text.

Just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

This passage teaches so clearly that the saving work of Christ began with his first coming when he bore our sin in his body on the cross and will be completed at his second coming when he saves us from the final wrath of God and gives us rest in his kingdom. Strip away the second coming and salvation is torn in half. (See also 1 Thessalonians 1:10Romans 5:9–10.) And half a salvation is no salvation.

t Is a Glorious Hope

It is “the appearing of THE GLORY of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Listen to John’s attempt to put this into words in Revelation:

I saw . . . one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Revelation 1:13–16)

Behold, he is coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. And we shall glorify the Lord and enjoy his greatness forever and ever.

Let the final word belong to the great apostle of hope:

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

Do you love the appearing of Christ? If not, confess the sin; pray for the awakening of your heart; and set yourself to meditate on the blessedness, visibility, and glory of the coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Fully Surrender To God’s Will

 

Jesus Fully Surrendered To The Father

Luke 22

42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[c]

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There Is Joy In Surrendering To Christ

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By: Kay Camenisch, Christian Broadcasting Network

Hebrews 12:1-2

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I need to trust Him. I need to sign the check.

Why is it hard this time?

I think it’s hard because I have an agenda — work God’s given me to do.

If I get tied up in another direction, how can I finish what I’ve started?

I also have things I want to do. If I commit to this, I might not have time for what I want. What if it costs me too much?

But, if my present agenda is making me hesitate, is it really for Him? If I’m not willing to change directions, is that a sign that I’ve now claimed my activities, my life, as my own? Am I living for God or for me?

I know the Lord’s always been faithful. He will be with me, and He promised He won’t give me more than I can handle. His grace is sufficient, and so forth. I know the promises.

But, sometimes it’s hard to surrender. Hard to lay it all down. Even when you know it’s what’s being asked of you.

The Lord is gracious. He doesn’t leave us alone in our struggles.

For me, this time, peace came through verses from Ecclesiastes 3:

  • “He has made everything beautiful (appropriate) in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
  • “There is an appointed time for everything.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
  • “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4 – and a time to serve.

I can trust the Lord with my agendas, strength, and time requirements … with my life.

He makes everything beautiful in His time.

Indeed, He has made everything beautiful. I just haven’t seen it yet.

I love the life testimonies of Joseph and Jesus. Our God knows how to use hardship and suffering — even injustice and cruelty — for His purposes and His glory.

My “hardship” is nothing. My problem is my desire to be in control of my days. I need to yield to Him.

It’s all about surrender. And about watching to see how He makes something beautiful out of my life.

We brought Dad home a few days ago and will be caring for him ourselves now. We’re grateful for his determination to embrace life and care for himself as much as possible. Now, we’re all in the process of finding a new normal.

But, I know that in God’s time, it will be beautiful. 

He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Through the “things” in life, He molds and makes us into “the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:28-29a)

 

Mary Surrendered Fully To God’s Will

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By:  James McDonald Ministries, The Joy of Surrender

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 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. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Mary surrendered to God’s will by faith. It always comes back to trusting God and believing that He has your best interest at heart. Like we say around our church, “Faith is believing the Word of God and acting upon it, no matter how I feel, because God promises a good result.” That’s what Mary did. First, she believed she was who God said she was—highly favored. Mary basically said, “God, I believe You are extending grace to me.” Second, she believed that God would keep His word. She surrendered to God’s will by faith.

What is God asking you to surrender to Him? Maybe you’re faced with that first moment of surrender when you recognize your sinfulness and your need for forgiveness. Have you bowed your knee to Jesus Christ as Lord and embraced Him by faith? Or maybe you’ve come to realize that life consists of many repeated surrenders to God. Maybe you’ve been struggling with Him. Lord, how did I get myself in this spot? Is this where You want me? Let me encourage you to invite the Lord to be specific with you as you wrestle with these questions in prayer.

This life lasts but a moment. God has placed you in your circumstance, and perhaps it’s a very difficult one. This is your opportunity to display the power of life lived in God. Take hold of it. Seize it like Mary did and say from your heart, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”

There is such joy in that surrender. How much heartache, turmoil, and difficulty have come into your life as a result of refusing to embrace what God has allowed? God is a good and loving God and He wants to get glory through your life.

 

The Disciples Surrendered to God’s Will

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By: Kevin Smith, Total Surrender, Ligonier Ministries

Matthew 16: 24-27

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

The path to this surrender is also part of our problem. Our minds are full of the things of this world. We hunger for more and will not be satisfied with less, so we go into debt. Our marriages fail as we pursue the American Dream. Is it any wonder that our children who are catechized and sanitized go off to college and act like pagans? They have not experienced or even seen many examples of total surrender to Christ and the power of God at work in such a worshiping community. 

Why are we to surrender ourselves to God totally? Our heavenly Father has poured out His vast wealth of mercy upon us in Christ. Mercy is God’s compassion given to those who are pitiful. It is similar to grace in that it is underserved. Do we really understand what we are without Christ? God’s people must ask Him to reveal to us our total depravity so that we are enabled to mourn over our sin and our culture’s sin. This is the way to blessedness (Matt. 5:4). The mercies of God in justification, sanctification, election, and glorification through Christ are most clearly seen when we understand the distance between God’s holiness and our spiritual poverty. People and churches who are humbled by the great mercies of God are more likely to grow in the surrender of their lives to Christ day by day. Our worship will be God-centered and our minds renewed by the power of the riches of His love. And by God’s marvelous grace, such churches will be enabled to make disciples of the nations who dwell 
in their communities.

Let Jesus Cleanse Your Life

 

Jesus healed a deaf mute by throwing out the demons that were causing the problem.
The Jews would not accept Jesus as God and tried to explain His power with
outrageous suggestions. 
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 Jesus vs. Beelzebub: Overpowering the Strong Man (Luke 11:14-28)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson,  Jesus Walk.com

 

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Luke 11:14-28         Read this passage

(The Jews did not accept Jesus as Savior. So, they explained his power by some other means. Some foolishly said He was empowered by satanic forces.  Jesus warned them not to say this about the Holy Spirit. They were not to attribute Holy works of God to the works of evil).

 

Exposition

When you’re trying to get to know a person, it is revealing to see how they respond under pressure. Years ago, when my former church was interviewing candidates for principal of our church’s elementary school, one of the things I sought to find out from the candidate’s references was how he handled anger. How did she respond under crisis?

The common view of “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” is flat and two-dimensional. It misses the Jesus under fire that we see in this week’s lesson. What emerges is a direct and penetrating response to slander. Like it or not, you are faced with confrontations, too. How do you respond under pressure? How to do that is what we disciples are seeking to learn from Jesus.

Before we examine the incidents in detail, let me give you the big picture of what is going on here. I considered breaking these verses up into several lessons, but I think they’re better understood as a whole — if you can keep the lines of Luke’s presentation clearly before you.

Jesus casts out a demon, and most of the crowds marvel, but 

    1. Some accuse him of driving out demons by the power of Satan himself (dealt with in 11:17-28)
    2. Others ask for a sign from heaven (dealt with in 11:29-32)

He answers the accusation of casting out demons by the power of Satan in three ways: (11:17-22) 

    1. If Satan were attacking his own forces, he would soon defeat himself.
    2. Jewish exorcists (of whom his opponents approved) would be subject to the same criticism.
    3. Jesus casts out demons by overpowering Satan who is oppressing the person.

Then he states emphatically that there is no place for neutrality in the war against Satan (11:23-28) 

    1. Those who don’t gather with Jesus, scatter
    2. Unless the “house” of an exorcised person is inhabited and guarded, it will fall to demonic forces again.
    3. Freedom from Satan is only possible through obedience to God’s word.

First, let’s examine how Jesus handles the slanderous charge that he is empowered by Beelzebub.

 

Devotion: Get Rid of that Clutter!

Thoughts and Reflections on cleaning up…

Need a little spring (or fall) cleaning? Sometimes there’s just nothing like a good clean. Whether we’re preparing for a yard sale, testing new disinfectant chemicals, or making something look new, we all have moments when we feel the intense need to tidy up, inside or out. It feels great and saves our toes from stubbing on things…but do we ever think of cleaning up our lives?

Clearing out the junk… what does this mean spiritually? What represents clutter or things we don’t need in our lives? How do we make room for God?

What’s the difference between things we want and truly need? Consider Matthew 6:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We are told in many places to seek God’s kingdom first, and other things will follow along. What does that mean? Life is more than material; more than money.

How can we be sure our treasure is in heaven? What do we value? Consider this: What do we spend most time and resources on?

Why do we grow so intent on cleaning and organizing? How can we be sure that our own lives retain a sense of organization…And how can it represent our lives?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Sometimes even our thoughts need de-cluttering… How can we replace our thoughts?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

Are there any things you need to “Clear out” for God?

How will you do that this week?

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation 
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.  -Psalm 51:10-12

 

How to Clear the Clutter in Your Life

Article by

Pastor, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sometimes our dining room table gets cluttered.

For one, it’s a big table. Every time I have to squeeze around the end chair, sliding my back against the wall, I remind myself that it’s not for the table we live in our house. It actually takes up so much space in our dining room that it’s become the easiest place to set stuff. Toys. Mail. Homework. Cups. More cups. The generous tabletop makes it simpler to just move things around rather than move them away, and after a while, it accumulates a swath of unrelated, inordinate objects into one centralized location, which is called clutter.

Which can be a lot like life.

We are constantly piling on one thing after another onto the tabletop of our lives. There are always more things we should be concerned about, and give attention to, and make room for — somehow. Before long, it’s a life full of clutter. It’s a whirlwind of good intentions, but bad directions — maybe a load of participation, but a litter of purpose. And it stays this way until God’s arm intervenes, mighty to sweep, and clears the table.

Which he does for us in  Matthew  7: 7-13

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Focus On God Who Loves You

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 Image result for pictures of bible people who focused on GodImage result for pictures of bible people who focused on God

Image result for pictures of bible people who focused on GodImage result for pictures of bible people who focused on God

Focus On Go

Image result for pictures of focusing your attention on GodImage result for pictures of focusing your attention on God

 From: Adevotion.com
 

2 CORINTHIANS 4:18 NIV  18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Many people are convinced they are too bad for God to help, or they have problems that are too big for God to handle. They seem to have more faith in their inability than they do in God’s ability. They seem to have more faith in the problem than they do in God. This happens when we focus on the problem, instead of looking to God who is the solution. As long as we focus on the problem and let it consume our attention, we will have faith in it to defeat us.

1 JOHN 4:4 NIV 4 . . . the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

We have a choice in what we focus our attention on.

The Old Testament contains an account illustrating how we must look to Jesus and His finished work on the cross, instead of looking at our problems.

NUMBERS 21:4-9 NLT 4 Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, 5 and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!” 6 So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. 7 Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take away the snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 Then the LORD told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” 9 So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!

When deadly snakes are everywhere, biting people on every side, it would be extremely difficult to look up and focus your attention on a pole instead of looking down at the ground where the snakes were. But that is exactly what God instructed the people of Israel to do, and all who did were healed and lived.

Some might wonder why a snake was put on the pole, which was a type of Jesus being hung on the cross. It was because Jesus took our sins on Himself when He hung on the cross. The Bible says that He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us. And on the cross, that old serpent the devil, was defeated and de-fanged!

So, no matter how urgent the problem biting at your heels may seem, God’s answer for you is to look up and focus on God’s provision. Have faith in God!

God is bigger than any problem you face and can deliver you from any situation, no matter how bad it is.

JOHN 10:29 NIV 29 My Father . . . is greater than all . . .

Instead of thinking of how bad you are, focus on how good God is. His goodness is more than enough to overcome your badness. Instead of looking at what you lack, look at all God has. And remember He is your Father and loves you.

The devil tries to get us to focus on ourselves and our shortcomings, instead of focusing on Jesus and His ability to carry us through to victory.

Whenever the focus is pointing to us, instead of to God, you can be assured the devil has some involvement in those thoughts.

As long as you are focusing on yourself, you are not focusing on God. You have to make the choice.

SAY THIS: I will focus my attention on God instead of on myself and my problems.

The Joy of Focusing on God 

By: Sarah Young

Morning

I am ever so near you, hovering over your shoulder, reading every thought. People think that thoughts are fleeting and worthless, but yours are precious to Me. I smile when you think lovingly of Me. My Spirit, who lives within you, helps you to think My thoughts. As your thinking goes, so goes your entire being.

Let Me be your positive Focus.

When you look to Me, knowing Me as God with you, you experience Joy. This is according to My ancient design, when I first crafted man. Modern man seeks his positive focus elsewhere: in sports, sensations, acquiring new possessions. Advertising capitalizes on the longing of people for a positive focus in their lives. I planted that longing in human souls, knowing that only I could fully satisfy it. Delight yourself in Me; let Me become the Desire of your heart.

Psalm 139:1–2Matthew 1:23Psalm 37:4

Evening

Most people are not very aware of their thoughts during their “down times,” but I am quite aware of them. I want you to train your mind to turn toward Me more and more. Think about who I am — Creator, Savior, King of kings — and ponder My amazing, unending Love for you.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? — Psalm 8:3–4

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will. — Romans 12:2

 

Staying Focused on God

By: Gene S. Whitehead

1. Begin the day with God

I know it sounds simple enough and it’s going to be one of the first suggestions you’ll find in any article like this, but that’s for good reason.

If you or I are going to stay focused on God, we have got to include the things of God in our daily lives!

You’ve probably heard that when something is repeated twice in the Bible it’s something to pay attention to, right? How about something that’s repeated 10 times in one teaching? That’s how many times Jesus used the word “abide” or “remain” in John 15:1-11!

Jesus said in John 15:4, “Abide in me.” He repeated that in 2 other ways in John 15:5-7 while also providing a stark warning and a vast promise:

“Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Staying focused on God requires abiding in Him. I know your mornings are rushed, but if you create the discipline to spend the first minutes of your day reading the Word of God and talking to Him about the day ahead, you will have a greater focus on Him throughout the day.

If you don’t know where to start, try reading John 15:1-11 each morning for a week. It won’t take long and the passage is crazy profound.

2. Remain in prayer

Do you want to create and develop the habit of a prayerful life? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 makes one simple yet bold command: “pray without ceasing.”

This is a habit worth developing and isn’t as difficult as you might think. Plus, prayer has a way of changing lives.

When you see or hear a news report that bothers you, pray for the people and the situation. When you come across someone that annoys you or tries your patience, silently pray for them. When you hear of someone facing some problem, large or small…pray for them.

We had a friend that taught her children about staying focused on God by offering up a quick prayer every time they heard the sirens of a police car, ambulance or fire truck.

God doesn’t need your eloquent, long-winded pious sounding discourses, laced with “thees, thous” and “almighties.” He wants your heart, and often in prayer that sounds as simple as “God, help!