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Brother To Brother

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Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 24:17-18

 

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Or the LORD will see it and be displeased, And turn His anger away from him.

Matthew 5:41-42

 

“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

Matthew 10:41-42

 

“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”

Matthew 19:19

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

 

Brother to Brother

Brother to Brother

A new command I give you: Love one another. John 13:34

My brother and I, less than a year apart in age, were quite “competitive” growing up (translation: we fought!). Dad understood. He had brothers. Mom? Not so much.

Our story could have fit in the book of Genesis, which might well be subtitled A Brief History of Sibling Rivalry. Cain and Abel (Gen. 4); Isaac and Ishmael (21:8–10); Joseph and everyone not named Benjamin (ch. 37). But for brother-to-brother animosity, it’s hard to beat Jacob and Esau.

Esau’s twin brother had cheated him twice, so he wanted to kill Jacob (27:41). Decades later Jacob and Esau would reconcile (ch. 33). But the rivalry continued on in their descendants, who became the nations of Edom and Israel. When the people of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, Edom met them with threats and an army (Num. 20:14–21). Much later, as Jerusalem’s citizens fled invading forces, Edom slaughtered the refugees (Obad. 1:10–14).

Happily for us, the Bible contains not just the sad account of our brokenness but the story of God’s redemption as well. Jesus changed everything, telling His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another” (John 13:34). Then He showed us what that means by dying for us.

As my brother and I got older, we became close. That’s the thing with God. When we respond to the forgiveness He offers, His grace can transform our sibling rivalries into brotherly love.

Lord, we invite You to transform our relationships with Your healing love.

Sibling rivalry is natural. God’s love is supernatural.

 

Faithful in the Pain

Faithful in the Pain

Read:

Habakkuk 1:1–2:4
The righteous will live by their faithfulness to God (Habakkuk 2:4).

Joni Eareckson Tada, a world-renowned artist, author, and speaker, became a quadriplegic as the result of an accident in 1967. She admits that every morning she wakes up tired and convinced that she can’t face another day with quadriplegia. But she takes her weakness to God, seeking His grace, and continues to serve others—her joy in Jesus radiating through her smile.

Having spent years bound by her wheelchair, Joni embodies the concept of tireless faithfulness spoken of by Habakkuk. After receiving word of Judah’s impending judgment through the Babylonians, the prophet honed in on God’s reminder that the righteous would live by faithfulness to Him (Habakkuk 2:4). According to J.J Parsons, “The Hebrew word ‘faith’ is emunah, which suggests perseverance, fidelity and steadfastness, notwithstanding appearances or circumstances that might tempt us to waver.”

Abraham demonstrated emunah when he believed God’s promise of an heir, and “the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith” (Genesis 15:6). Similarly, Joseph displayed emunah when he was sold into slavery by his brothers, waylaid by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:6-18), and forgotten in prison (Genesis 40:12-23). Hebrews 11 catalogs the triumphs and trials of many who brought their weakness to God and experienced emunah, while also pointing out “all these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised” (Hebrews 11:39).

Pain is real and can’t be avoided this side of eternity. And yet, we don’t lose hope; we dare to faithfully persevere by God’s strength, for “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

 

Nothing of the Old Life!

By Oswald Chambers

 Nothing of the Old Life!

Our Lord never tolerates our prejudices— He is directly opposed to them and puts them to death. We tend to think that God has some special interest in our particular prejudices, and are very sure that He will never deal with us as He has to deal with others. We even say to ourselves, “God has to deal with other people in a very strict way, but of course He knows that my prejudices are all right.” But we must learn that God accepts nothing of the old life! Instead of being on the side of our prejudices, He is deliberately removing them from us. It is part of our moral education to see our prejudices put to death by His providence, and to watch how He does it. God pays no respect to anything we bring to Him. There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender.

When we are born again, the Holy Spirit begins to work His new creation in us, and there will come a time when there is nothing remaining of the old life. Our old gloomy outlook disappears, as does our old attitude toward things, and “all things are of God” (2 Corinthians 5:18). How are we going to get a life that has no lust, no self-interest, and is not sensitive to the ridicule of others? How will we have the type of love that “is kind…is not provoked, [and] thinks no evil”? (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). The only way is by allowing nothing of the old life to remain, and by having only simple, perfect trust in God— such a trust that we no longer want God’s blessings, but only want God Himself. Have we come to the point where God can withdraw His blessings from us without our trust in Him being affected? Once we truly see God at work, we will never be concerned again about the things that happen, because we are actually trusting in our Father in heaven, whom the world cannot see.

Return On Investment

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

“You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

Long before the US professional baseball season begins each spring, team owners and managers are busy negotiating trades and contracts. They’ll pay large sums of money to get the athlete who will help them win the championship. When the season starts, all eyes are on the newly acquired talent to see if he was worth the cost. The ultimate measure of the player’s success is whether his contribution to the team is a good return on the investment.

In 1 Corinthians 6:20, Paul reminds us that we too have been “bought at a price.” The context paints a compelling picture of Christ’s great sacrifice. He liberated us from the cruel slavemaster of sin by buying us with the high price of His own life.

Getting a grip on God’s great and loving investment in us should motivate us to gladly consider making His sacrifice rich in dividends. How is that return on His investment measured? By living to bring glory to Him! Our eyes, hands, feet, thoughts, dreams, and desires have been purchased to reflect the wondrous glory of God’s will and wisdom. In other words, we are no longer our own.

Paul concluded, “Therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:.20). Living to reflect His glory is the return on investment that makes the Owner of our lives look good!

Redemption’s price our Savior paid
When all our sins on Him were laid;
He took our guilt, He bore our shame
That we may glorify His name. —D. De Haan

Our choice to bring glory to God yields a great return on Christ’s investment.

Another Kind Of Love

Deuteronomy 10:19

“So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Matthew 22:39

“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

Mark 12:31

“The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

John 15:12

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

Romans 13:10

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

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Love of Another Kind

From: Our Daily Bread

Love of Another Kind
Read: John 15:9–17 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 65–66; 1 Timothy 2

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12

One of my favorite churches started several years ago as a ministry to ex-prisoners who were transitioning back into society. Now the church flourishes with people from all walks of life. I love that church because it reminds me of what I picture heaven will be like—filled with different kinds of people, all redeemed sinners, all bound together by the love of Jesus.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if church seems more like an exclusive club than a safe haven for forgiven sinners. As people naturally gravitate into groups of “a certain kind” and cluster around those they feel comfortable with, it leaves others feeling marginalized. But that’s not what Jesus had in mind when He told His disciples to “love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). His church was to be an extension of His love mutually shared with all.

If hurting, rejected people can find loving refuge, comfort, and forgiveness in Jesus, they should expect no less from the church. So let’s exhibit the love of Jesus to everyone we encounter—especially those who are not like us. All around us are people Jesus wants to love through us. What a joy it is when people unite to worship together in love—a slice of heaven we can enjoy here on earth!

Lord, remind me today that while I was a sinner You embraced me with Your deep and unconditional love and brought me into the fellowship of Your grace. Lead me to someone I can love as You loved me.

Share Christ’s love with another.

Green Shoots

Green Shoots

Read:

Isaiah 10:22–11:1
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot (Isaiah 11:1).

For nearly a century, two towering ash trees have shaded our house and stood like sentinels watching over it. Within the last decade, however, one of the ashes suffered a mortal wound, and in the intervening years the rot and carpenter ants did their business. The arborist told us there was no saving the tree and we took it down. Since we wanted to plant another seedling (a weeping willow) in its place, we had to grind the stump completely out of the ground. “You’ll have to get rid of that stump,” the arborist said, “or nothing else will grow there.”

Isaiah describes the Assyrian Empire as a massive tree, towering over the forest (over the nation of Israel), felled by God’s thundering axe. “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will chop down the mighty tree of Assyria with great power!” (Isaiah 10:33). The empire had abused God’s people long enough; and God stepped in, dropping the enemy nation to its knees.

And yet it wasn’t only the Assyrians who were chopped low. Because of their greed and rebellion, God’s chosen people were also humbled. Israel’s hope had been to receive the anointed One that God would send through King David’s family line—the One who would rescue them. But now their hopes and future lay like a dead, lifeless stump (Isaiah 11:1).

But with God, hope is never truly lost. “Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot,” Isaiah said. “Yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root” (Isaiah 11:1). God’s fresh possibility arrived in the person of Jesus. Israel’s hope was renewed, as was ours. Even when everything seems razed to the ground, surrendered to decay, God keeps His promises. He brings green shoots even out of dead stumps in our lives.

 

The Witness of the Spirit

By Oswald Chambers

 The Witness of the Spirit

We are in danger of getting into a bargaining spirit with God when we come to Him— we want the witness of the Spirit before we have done what God tells us to do.

Why doesn’t God reveal Himself to you? He cannot. It is not that He will not, but He cannot, because you are in the way as long as you won’t abandon yourself to Him in total surrender. Yet once you do, immediately God witnesses to Himself— He cannot witness to you, but He instantly witnesses to His own nature in you. If you received the witness of the Spirit before the reality and truth that comes from obedience, it would simply result in sentimental emotion. But when you act on the basis of redemption, and stop the disrespectfulness of debating with God, He immediately gives His witness. As soon as you abandon your own reasoning and arguing, God witnesses to what He has done, and you are amazed at your total disrespect in having kept Him waiting. If you are debating as to whether or not God can deliver from sin, then either let Him do it or tell Him that He cannot. Do not quote this or that person to Him. Simply obey Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden….” Come, if you are weary, and ask, if you know you are evil (see Luke 11:9-13).

The Spirit of God witnesses to the redemption of our Lord, and to nothing else. He cannot witness to our reason. We are inclined to mistake the simplicity that comes from our natural commonsense decisions for the witness of the Spirit, but the Spirit witnesses only to His own nature, and to the work of redemption, never to our reason. If we are trying to make Him witness to our reason, it is no wonder that we are in darkness and uncertainty. Throw it all overboard, trust in Him, and He will give you the witness of the Spirit.

 

Your Safe Place

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.2 Thessalonians 3:3 

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.

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Your Safe Place

From: Our Daily Bread

Your Safe Place

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

My daughter and I were arranging to attend an extended family gathering. Because she was nervous about the trip, I offered to drive. “Okay. But I feel safer in my car. Can you drive it?” she asked. I assumed she preferred her more spacious vehicle to my compact one so I responded, “Is my car too cramped?” “No, it’s just that my car is my safe place. Somehow I feel protected there.”

Her comment challenged me to consider my own personal “safe place.” Immediately I thought of Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” In Old Testament times, the walls and watchtower of a city provided warning of danger from without and shielding for its citizens within. The writer’s point is that God’s name, which stands for His character, person, and everything that He is, provides true protection for His people.

Certain physical places promise longed-for safety in moments that seem dangerous. A sturdy roof overhead in the midst of a storm. A hospital offering medical care. The embrace of a loved one.

What is your “safe place”? Wherever we seek safety, it is God’s presence with us in that place that provides the strength and protection we really need.

Dear God, thank You that no matter what worries and concerns we have today, when we think about You, we find safety in Your presence.

Where is your safe place?

God is a safe place in life’s storms.

When the Lights Go Out

From: CBN, and Paul Linzey, author

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It was Friday night, we’d gone out for dinner and barely made it back into the garage before the downpour.

When the power went off, I was writing at my computer and my wife was reading an e-book on her tablet. The plan was to watch a movie a little later, but there we were with no electricity, no lights, no internet, and no television.

“What do we do now?” she asked.

I reached into the desk drawer for the flashlight that doubles as a cell phone power source, plugged in my phone, and turned on the mobile hotspot so we could maintain internet connection. Then I walked over to the kitchen pantry where we keep two battery-operated camping lanterns, pulled one out, and placed it on the kitchen counter, where its light sprayed throughout the kitchen, dining room, and living room. Not a lot, but enough.

For the next hour, rain poured from the sky as if God had picked up the Atlantic Ocean and was dumping it on us. Linda took the lantern over to the couch to read; my laptop had plenty of charge for me to finish the work I was doing.

Although the rest of the house was dark, and the temperature grew warmer because the air conditioner was off, we didn’t have a crisis when the lights went out. During the previous weekend, we had checked the batteries in those emergency lamps and charged my mobile power back-up. Because we were ready, there was no emergency when the storm caused a blackout. We didn’t panic and there wasn’t a crisis.

The same can be true if something terrible happens and life itself comes to an end. If we’ve taken time to prepare in advance, even death isn’t a crisis, and we don’t have to panic.

In Philippians 1:21 NIV the Apostle writes, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” That doesn’t sound like a man who is afraid of the dark or of death. He was prepared for whatever might happen.

Job is another who had a deep confidence when facing the storms of life. Despite all the pain and ugliness that he faced, he still declared, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Job 19:25 NKJV

When the lights finally came back on, we watched an old Alfred Hitchcock movie starring James Stewart and Doris Day. It was a lovely evening—despite the storm raging on the outside.

 

Love Meter

From: Our Daily Journey

Love Meter

Read:

1 John 4:9-10
God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

A “love calculator” can be found on the Internet. As strange as it may sound, all you’re instructed to do once you’re on the website is to key in your name and the name of the person you’re interested in, and the love meter calculates your “love percentage”—supposedly revealing your chances of a successful romantic relationship. I wonder how many have naïvely tried to find true love using this website!

God doesn’t leave us second-guessing how much He loves us. The Bible speaks of God’s love being demonstrated by His generous gift of His Son—solid proof that He loves us (John 3:16). In fact, we “know what real love is” only “because Jesus gave up his life for us” (1 John 3:16). His willing death demonstrated the enormity and intensity of that affection (Romans 5:6-8) and revealed God’s heart: “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love . . . that he loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).

No one compelled Jesus to die. Three times He said He willingly died for us (John 10:11,15,18). Paul said that “God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. . . . Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood” (Romans 3:25). Because His death was divinely authored, it’s not a meaningless tragedy. He purposefully died for us, taking our sin and its consequences on Himself (Romans 4:252 Corinthians 5:21).

Because “all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:18), we need never doubt His love. The cross of Jesus is God’s love meter. And it shows we’re greatly loved beyond measure.

When Beauty Never Ends

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

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When Beauty Never Ends

From: Our Daily Bread

When Beauty Never Ends

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. Psalm 63:3

I love looking at the Grand Canyon. Whenever I stand at the canyon rim I see new brushstrokes of God’s handiwork that take my breath away.

Even though it’s just a (very large) “hole” in the ground, the Grand Canyon causes me to reflect on heaven. A very honest twelve-year-old asked me once, “Won’t heaven be boring? Don’t you think we’ll get tired of praising God all the time?” But if a “hole in the ground” can be so overwhelmingly beautiful we can’t stop looking at it, we can only imagine the joy of one day seeing the very Source of beauty—our loving Creator—in all of the pristine wonder of the new creation.

David expressed this longing when he wrote, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord” (Ps. 27:4). There’s nothing more beautiful than the presence of God, which draws near to us on this earth as we seek Him by faith, looking forward to seeing Him face to face.

On that day we’ll never tire of praising our amazing Lord, because we will never come to an end of fresh, new discoveries of His exquisite goodness and the wonders of the works of His hands. Every moment in His presence will bring a breathtaking revelation of His beauty and His love.

Beautiful Savior, please help me to seek You every day and to live even now in Your presence and Your love.

We were created to enjoy God forever.

 

More Than You Know

From: Crosswalk.com

More Than You Know

Read:

Psalm 104:1-35
O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all (Psalm 104:24).

What makes grass grow thick and green? Would you believe that part of the answer is lightning? The main ingredient in most fertilizers is nitrogen, and the air is full of it. But grass can’t access the nitrogen in the air until lightning moves through it. Lightning heats the air and splits nitrogen into separate molecules. The molecules of nitrogen then join with oxygen and hydrogen and fall as rain—nourishing the vegetation. Who knew that lightning is one of God’s messengers to make the world green?

Learning about lightning makes me wonder what else God is doing behind the scenes. I love to hear miraculous stories of healing, surprise checks in the mail, and bullets that somehow miss from point-blank range. The God of wonders can do spectacular things. But His “ordinary” acts of providence are equally wonderful.

Psalm 104 lists some of the ways God quietly provides for us. He “placed the world on its foundation” and “set a firm boundary for the seas” (Psalm 104:5,9). He sends rain to nourish the earth and grow “plants for people to use” (Psalm 104:14). He “made the moon to mark the seasons” and uses the sun to create a rhythm of work and rest for all His creatures (Psalm 104:19). “They all depend on [Him] to give them food” (Psalm 104:27).

Consider the many ways God silently sustains your life. Thank Him for the various systems within your body and for the outside world that provides you with family, friends, and meaningful work. Praise Him for the many provisions—like lightning for our lawns—that you may not even know about.

There are countless ways God secretly cares for us! Tell Him thanks for the ways He cares for you that you aren’t even aware of. What an amazing, creative, compassionate God we serve!

Is God’s Will My Will?

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Sanctification is not a question of whether God is willing to sanctify me— is it mywill? Am I willing to let God do in me everything that has been made possible through the atonement of the Cross of Christ? Am I willing to let Jesus become sanctification to me, and to let His life be exhibited in my human flesh? (see 1 Corinthians 1:30). Beware of saying, “Oh, I am longing to be sanctified.” No, you are not. Recognize your need, but stop longing and make it a matter of action. Receive Jesus Christ to become sanctification for you by absolute, unquestioning faith, and the great miracle of the atonement of Jesus will become real in you.

All that Jesus made possible becomes mine through the free and loving gift of God on the basis of what Christ accomplished on the cross. And my attitude as a saved and sanctified soul is that of profound, humble holiness (there is no such thing as proud holiness). It is a holiness based on agonizing repentance, a sense of inexpressible shame and degradation, and also on the amazing realization that the love of God demonstrated itself to me while I cared nothing about Him (see Romans 5:8). He completed everything for my salvation and sanctification. No wonder Paul said that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

Sanctification makes me one with Jesus Christ, and in Him one with God, and it is accomplished only through the magnificent atonement of Christ. Never confuse the effect with the cause. The effect in me is obedience, service, and prayer, and is the outcome of inexpressible thanks and adoration for the miraculous sanctification that has been brought about in me because of the atonement through the Cross of Christ.

 

We’ve Got Power In Christ

 
Exodus 15:6

 

“Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.

 
2 Corinthians 9:8

 

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

Ephesians 3:20

 

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,

1 Corinthians 10:13

 

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

 
 
 
 
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 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
 
 
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We’ve Got the Power!

From: Our Daily Bread

We’ve Got the Power!
 
 
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25
The loud crackling noise startled me. Recognizing the sound, I raced to the kitchen. I’d accidently tapped the start button on the empty coffee maker. Unplugging the appliance, I grabbed the handle of the carafe. Then I touched the bottom of the container to ensure it wasn’t too hot to place on the tile counter. The smooth surface burned my fingertips, blistering my tender skin. As my husband nursed my wound, I shook my head. I knew the glass would be hot. “I honestly do not know why I touched it,” I said.

My response after making such a mistake reminded me of Paul’s reaction to a more serious issue in Scripture—the nature of sin. The apostle admits to not knowing why he does things he knows he shouldn’t do and doesn’t want to do (Rom. 7:15). Affirming that Scripture determines right and wrong (v. 7), he acknowledges the real, complex war constantly waging between the flesh and the spirit in the struggle against sin (vv. 15–23). Confessing his own weaknesses, he offers hope for victory now and forever (vv. 24–25). When we surrender our lives to Christ, He gives us His Holy Spirit who empowers us to choose to do right (8:8–10). As He enables us to obey God’s Word, we can avoid the searing sin that separates us from the abundant life God promises those who love Him.

Lord, thanks for breaking the chains that used to bind us to a life controlled by our sinful nature.
The Holy Spirit transforms us through His love and by His grace.

 

Evidence of Kindness

From: Our Daily Journey

Evidence of Kindness
 

Read:

Ephesians 2:1-10 God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness (Ephesians 2:7).

 
Several children and their parents filed into a room in which a neo-natal nurse sat. The kids were carrying pictures of themselves as premature infants—years ago, they had been cared for by the nurse. Before the group surprised her, she had watched a video in which the parents expressed how thankful they were for her role in saving their children’s lives. After the reunion, the nurse remarked, “I love what I do. It’s a ministry for me. I believe God has put me [here] for a purpose, and He has given me a love for these babies and these parents.” This touching story brought to mind the helpless situation from which God’s love and kindness rescues us. He revives us even when, as Paul put it, we’re dead because of our sin (Ephesians 2:1). We’re desperate, but God knows what’s necessary to make spiritual life possible. Although “by our very nature we were subject to God’s anger” (Ephesians 2:3), God doesn’t respond to us in wrath. He loves us and cares for us. Through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, we can receive His mercy. When Paul wrote about these things to the Ephesian believers, he told them, “God can point to us in all future ages as examples of . . . his grace and kindness” (Ephesians 2:7). As we read the Bible today, we can see what Paul meant. We are able to look back on centuries of changed lives and see evidence of God’s kindness. And looking forward, we know that our salvation will also show future generations God’s goodness. Like the nurse’s compassionate care, God has tended to our souls. He has gently washed away our sins and made new life possible through His Spirit (Titus 3:5).

The Unheeded Secret

By Oswald Chambers

 The Unheeded Secret
 
The great enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ today is the idea of practical work that has no basis in the New Testament but comes from the systems of the world. This work insists upon endless energy and activities, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation….For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). It is a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life. We must get rid of the plague of the spirit of this religious age in which we live. In our Lord’s life there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others. It is not the practical activities that are the strength of this Bible Training College— its entire strength lies in the fact that here you are immersed in the truths of God to soak in them before Him. You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress and strain is going to be placed on you either at home or abroad. And if you waste your time in overactivity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God’s redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.
 

A Good Scare

1.  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

2.  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

3.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

4.  “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

5.  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

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A Good Scare

From: CBN, and John P. King, author

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Let’s face it, whether you “celebrate” Halloween or not, this time of year everyone’s attention tends towards the spooky, creepy, and downright scary. I’ve heard some people say they like a good scare every now and then. Not so with me. I can do just fine without having the stuffing scared out of me, thank you very much.

I love the fact that the Bible tells us that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:10(NASB) Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NASB) 1 John 4:8 says, “… for God is love.” In fact, John went on to write, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” If we have given our lives to God, if we have found reconciliation with Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then we have nothing to fear from God. We have no fear of punishment, but the great expectation of living in the love of God which will drive fear from us.

Yet, with this in mind, I see an interesting story in Genesis 15. This is a powerful chapter telling a key part of the story of Abram/Abraham. The chapter begins with the Lord telling Abram “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” Again, we see the Lord’s encouragement to not fear. In his heartbreak, Abram pours out his soul reminding the Lord of the promise to give Abram an heir. A promise as yet unfulfilled as Abram and his wife, Sarah, continue to grow old.

God renews His promise to Abram, telling him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Genesis 15:6 says, “Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Abram’s simple faith and belief in the Lord is the kind of thing John was talking about: the wonderful loving relationship with the Lord that drives out fear.

The Lord goes on to instruct Abram to prepare a sacrifice. The offering on Abram’s part and acceptance of the offering on God’s part would be the ratifying moment of a great covenant between Abram and God. The Lord would forever be the God of Abram and his descendants, and Abram and his descendants would forever be God’s people. In this powerful moment, this ratifying and recognizing of this great covenant of friendship, grace, and love, an interesting thing happens; “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.” Gen 15:12 (NASB)

God Himself showed up to validate the covenant, and with Him came … terror? It reminds me of the scene where Isaiah received his call (Isaiah 6). The wonderful, glorious, loving, living God shows up and the first thing out of Isaiah’s mouth is, “Woe is me, for I am ruined.” Isaiah 6:5 (NASB) When John, yes the “There is no fear in love …” John, sees Jesus in Revelation 1, he confesses, as he writes, that he fell at Jesus’ feet “like a dead man.” Revelation 1:17 (NASB). What does Jesus do? He reaches out to the one who was known as the “one who Jesus loved,” touches him on the shoulder and says, “Do not be afraid.” Revelation 1:17 (NASB)

So what can we make of all this? Certainly, God does not want us to be “afraid” of Him. He does not want us to cower as if any moment He could squash us into jelly. However, we should never take for granted His Godhood. He is powerful. He is mighty. Stars fall from His fingertips. He creates worlds with the words from His mouth. He alone holds all of life in His hands. Should we not respect that? Should we not expect that if He shows up, we will react the same way these three wonderful men of God did? It makes me reflect on the phrase “a good scare.” I think I would like to have one after all. A Good Scare, and all that it implies.

Humble Beginnings

From: Our Daily Journey

Humble Beginnings
 Read: 

John 1:40-46
“Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

It’s estimated that Howard Schultz, until recently the executive chairman of Starbucks, is worth three billion dollars. One might assume that such a successful businessman had been born into wealth and privilege, but nothing could be further from the truth. Schultz was born and raised in Bayview, a notoriously dangerous housing project in New York City. But far from resenting his childhood neighborhood, he credits his upbringing with keeping him grounded and connected to those around him.

We can see a similar dynamic at work in John 1. Philip tells his friend Nathanael that he has met the Messiah, and that His name is Jesus (John 1:45). This news must have been shocking enough, but then Philip divulges an even more surprising fact: Jesus is from Nazareth! To which Nathanael replies disdainfully, “Nazareth? . . . Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Nathanael couldn’t imagine that the Messiah would come from such an insignificant and despised village.

As strange as that might seem, Matthew 2:23 reveals that this was no accident but a fulfillment of God’s plan. Jesus grew up in Nazareth as a declaration of the central role that humility would play in His life, a kind of geographic reflection of the fact that He was a humble servant who had come to serve. And so, Jesus’ ministry didn’t take place in spite of His humble circumstances, but really as a continuation and celebration of them (Matthew 21:5).

What an important reminder for us to not disdain the humble circumstances and seasons of our lives—as if they’re best forgotten and left behind. The humble circumstances of our past can remind us that humility is what Jesus desires to grow within us.

What Do You Think of Jesus?

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From: Get More Strength

“Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15

When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?”—He wasn’t having an identity crisis nor was He feeling insecure about His reputation. He passed out the quiz to see whether or not the disciples had come to grips with who He really was, or, if they too, like the rest of the crowds, had misperceived His true identity.

It’s a good quiz to take, because if you and I don’t perceive Jesus as He really is, we just may get our Christianity twisted and headed in the wrong direction. So ask yourself, “Who do I think Jesus is?”

There are lots of ways to look at the question: theologically, historically, culturally, redemptively, spiritually, or experientially. But for starters, let’s ask in terms of how you perceive Him as a person when He comes to mind. This is not a throwaway issue! How you envision Him has a lot to do with whether or not you’ll want to follow Him. And following Him is at the very heart of a fulfilling relationship with Him.

If you grew up in Sunday school world, you saw a lot of Sunday school papers with pictures of Jesus in a neatly pressed white robe, nice sandals, and a well-trimmed beard. It was easy to draw the conclusion that Jesus is a kind, softhearted, merciful, and deferring kind of guy. And, thankfully, He is all those things. But if that’s all He is to you, He won’t seem very compelling. You might think, “Nice guy, but I’m not sure I’d want to go on a fishing trip with Him!”

Yet a brief look at who found Him to be compelling will correct our often distorted view of Jesus. Rough fishermen like James, John, Peter, and Andrew dropped their nets to follow Him. These were guys who would have had fading tattoos on their bulging biceps, and rugged, sea-worn faces. Simon the Zealot, a member of the underground resistance force, was committed to give his life if necessary to overthrow the oppressive regime of Rome. He traded in his Uzis and fatigues to join the Jesus revolution. And Matthew, the ruthless tax collector, found Jesus a far more compelling option for life than continuing to get rich at other peoples’ expense. Women felt safe with Him and adoringly followed and supported Him.

So, take it from those who knew Him best. They gave up everything and followed Him to a whole new way of life. A life where the power of love is courageous enough to forgive; where the joy of generosity trumps the withering grip of greed; where others’ needs and interests capture the attention of our hearts; where cross-bearing is an honor; where the poor, marginalized, and oppressed find refuge and significance.

So, what do you think of Jesus?

Seeing Him as He really is will make you ready to drop “whatever” in order to follow Him. And, come to think of it, I’d love to go fishing with Him! I might just end up being quite different in a lot of good ways if I spent more time with Him!

A Positive Future With God

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Ephesians 4:29 

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Psalm 18:2 

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

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Invisible Influence

From: Our Daily Bread

Invisible Influence

Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19

On a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, I saw a masterpiece called The Wind. The painting showed a storm moving through a wooded area. Tall, thin trees leaned to the left. Bushes thrashed in the same direction.

In an even more powerful sense, the Holy Spirit is able to sway believers in the direction of God’s goodness and truth. If we go along with the Spirit, we can expect to become more courageous and more loving. We will also become more discerning about how to handle our desires (2 Tim. 1:7).

In some situations, however, the Spirit nudges us toward spiritual growth and change, but we respond with a “no.” Continually stonewalling this conviction is what Scripture calls “quench[ing] the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19). Over time, things we once considered wrong appear not to be quite as bad.

When our relationship with God seems distant and disconnected, this may be because the Spirit’s conviction has been repeatedly brushed aside. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to see the root of the problem. Thankfully, we can pray and ask God to show us our sin. If we turn away from sin and recommit ourselves to Him, God will forgive us and revive the power and influence of His Spirit within us.

God, show me how I have resisted Your Holy Spirit. Help me to listen when You speak. I want to be right with You again.

Yielding to the Holy Spirit leads to right living.

Into His Image

From: Our Daily Journey

Into His Image

Read:

James 4:1-12
Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law (James 4:11).

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” This sentiment from Anne Lamott often comes back to me in situations of potential conflict. If I find myself assuming God feels exactlythe same way I do about most situations, it’s safe to say my view of God is mixed with a good deal of myself! Only one Person has known the mind of God fully; we His followers always understand imperfectly (1 Corinthians 13:12).

This seems to be part of why Scripture places an equal emphasis on both holiness and humility. Although we’re each to strive to grow in our knowledge of God and His truth, we should always be hesitant to judge others, for our own sin may be causing us to hastily condemn (Matthew 7:1-3).

James saw this clearly, tracing believers’ conflicts to coveting and pride (James 4:1-6). Urging each of them to purify themselves and draw near to God (James 4:7-10), he cautioned that judging another unfairly disregarded God’s law (James 4:12), which required that any accusation be verified through fair investigation and the testimony of witnesses. Unfairly accusing someone could be the sin of slander, as well as giving ourselves God’s role as judge (James 4:11-12).

If we’re tempted to assume our anger and impatience is just, let’s pause to first search our hearts and mourn over our own sin (James 4:9). Through drawing near to God, we can begin to experience His wisdom, which is “peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others” (James 3:17). Then we can better discern whether to correct in a “spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). May we in faith continually turn to Him and be transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

The Key of the Greater Work

Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work. Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God’s work. In the teachings of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me, which produces the miracle of redemption in others, through the power of God. The way fruit remains firm is through prayer, but remember that it is prayer based on the agony of Christ in redemption, not on my own agony. We must go to God as His child, because only a child gets his prayers answered; a “wise” man does not (see Matthew 11:25).

Prayer is the battle, and it makes no difference where you are. However God may engineer your circumstances, your duty is to pray. Never allow yourself this thought, “I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly cannot be used where you have not yet been placed. Wherever God has placed you and whatever your circumstances, you should pray, continually offering up prayers to Him. And He promises, “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do…” (John 14:13). Yet we refuse to pray unless it thrills or excites us, which is the most intense form of spiritual selfishness. We must learn to work according to God’s direction, and He says to pray. “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38).

There is nothing thrilling about a laboring person’s work, but it is the laboring person who makes the ideas of the genius possible. And it is the laboring saint who makes the ideas of his Master possible. When you labor at prayer, from God’s perspective there are always results. What an astonishment it will be to see, once the veil is finally lifted, all the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you have been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.

Call On God Who Heals Us

  • Matthew 11:28

    28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

  • Philippians 4:19

    19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
  • Proverbs 4:20-22

    20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.

Psalm 30:2

2  LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
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Room 5020

From: Our Daily Bread

Room 5020

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done. Genesis 50:20

Jay Bufton turned his hospital room into a lighthouse.

The fifty-two-year-old husband, father, high school teacher, and coach was dying of cancer, but his room—Room 5020—became a beacon of hope for friends, family, and hospital workers. Because of his joyful attitude and strong faith, nurses wanted to be assigned to Jay. Some even came to see him during off-hours.

Even as his once-athletic body was wasting away, he greeted anyone and everyone with a smile and encouragement. One friend said, “Every time I visited Jay he was upbeat, positive, and filled with hope. He was, even while looking cancer and death in the face, living out his faith.”

At Jay’s funeral, one speaker noted that Room 5020 had a special meaning. He pointed to Genesis 50:20, in which Joseph says that although his brothers sold him into slavery, God turned the tables and accomplished something good: “the saving of many lives.” Cancer invaded Jay’s life, but by recognizing God’s hand at work Jay could say that “God intended it for good.” That’s why Jay could use even the ravages of cancer as an open door to tell others about Jesus.

What a legacy of unwavering trust in our Savior even as death was knocking at the door! What a testimony of confidence in our good and trustworthy God!

Lord, difficult things come into our lives so often. Please help us to trust You enough to see that nothing is beyond Your control. Help us to tell of Your love even in the tough times.

By God’s grace, we can have our best witness in the worst of times.

 

The Key to the Master’s Orders

 

The Key to the Master’s Orders

The Key to the Master’s Orders

By Oswald Chambers

The key to the missionary’s difficult task is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work— that is, not work as the word is commonly used today, which often results in the shifting of our focus away from God. The key to the missionary’s difficult task is also not the key of common sense, nor is it the key of medicine, civilization, education, or even evangelization. The key is in following the Master’s orders— the key is prayer. “Pray the Lord of the harvest….” In the natural realm, prayer is not practical but absurd. We have to realize that prayer is foolish from the commonsense point of view.

From Jesus Christ’s perspective, there are no nations, but only the world. How many of us pray without regard to the persons, but with regard to only one Person— Jesus Christ? He owns the harvest that is produced through distress and through conviction of sin. This is the harvest for which we have to pray that laborers be sent out to reap. We stay busy at work, while people all around us are ripe and ready to be harvested; we do not reap even one of them, but simply waste our Lord’s time in over-energized activities and programs. Suppose a crisis were to come into your father’s or your brother’s life— are you there as a laborer to reap the harvest for Jesus Christ? Is your response, “Oh, but I have a special work to do!” No Christian has a special work to do. A Christian is called to be Jesus Christ’s own, “a servant [who] is not greater than his master” (John 13:16), and someone who does not dictate to Jesus Christ what he intends to do. Our Lord calls us to no special work— He calls us to Himself. “Pray the Lord of the harvest,” and He will engineer your circumstances to send you out as His laborer.

 


Facing Life’s Worries With Truth
MAX LUCADO

 

Max Lucado October 16, 2017

From: Crosswalk.com

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37‑39 (NIV)

Everyone has assumptions about life.

Many are useful and constructive. We know the sun will rise and set each day. We assume storms will pass, and food is available.

Some assumptions, however, are toxic. Even worse, they are contrary to the truth. Unhealthy assumptions include false thoughts like these:

I’m unworthy. I don’t deserve to have good things happen to me.
People abandon me. 
When people come to know the real me, they leave.
It’s all my fault. I’m to blame for every bad thing that happens to me.
No one has my back, which makes me vulnerable. 
Something bad is going to happen.
The world feels dangerous.

Many false beliefs were formed in the early years of our lives when we did not have the ability to challenge them. So their roots run deep, and such false assumptions create an anxiety-ridden life.

God’s solution? Truth. Face worries with truth. Take “captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b, NIV). One way to do this is to correct faulty thinking with accurate thoughts:

I matter to God. He made me, knows me and has a plan for my life.
I am worthy of love. I’m not perfect, but I have abilities and God-given gifts.
I’m not responsible for all the bad things. I’ve made mistakes, but I am learning and growing, and, most of all, I am forgiven by God.
I’m protected. It is a dangerous world, but I serve a mighty God who knows and loves me.

Listen to yourself. Monitor your beliefs about yourself, about God and about the world. Don’t allow false assumptions to take up any space in your mind. Immediately treat them with truth.

I’m either my own worst critic or greatest cheerleader. Either I tear myself down or build myself up. The words I say can usher in fear or faith. I’ve learned to ask: Are you against you? Or are you for you?

The truth is, God is for you. He has cast His vote. In His opinion you’re worth the death of His Son. You are valuable, purposeful and important. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1b, NIV).

If God is for you, shouldn’t you be for you? I’ve learned it doesn’t make sense to be against myself if God isn’t. Calling myself dumb, ugly or poor … saying there is no solution, hope or promise in life. If I decide I have no talents, friends or future … these words have power.

Saying something often enough can become my version of the truth! Those offhand negative remarks aren’t harmless; they are toxic. They actually agree with the devil. They give him a foothold. “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4, NIV).

Hold fast to the promises of Scripture and speak truth. The apostle Paul modeled this for us in today’s key verse: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

Be for you! God is.

Creation’s Care

Job 12:7-10

7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. 
9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

Psalm 96:11-12

11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
 12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
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Creation Care

From: Our Daily Bread

Creation Care

The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind. Psalm 115:16

The “big browns” are spawning in the Owyhee River—brown trout beginning their fall nesting ritual. You can see them excavating their nests in the gravelly shallows.

Wise fishermen know that fish are spawning and try not to disturb them. They avoid walking on gravel bars where they might trample the eggs, or wading upstream from the nests where they might dislodge debris that can smother them. And they don’t fish for these trout, though it’s tempting to do so as they rest near their nests.

These precautions are part of an ethic that governs responsible fishing. But there is a deeper and a better cause.

The Scriptures stress the fact that God has given us the earth (Gen. 1:28–30). It is ours to use, but we must use it as those who love it.

I muse on the work of God’s hands: a partridge calling across a canyon, a bull elk bugling up a fight, a herd of antelope far off in the distance, a brook trout and its kaleidoscopic rose moles, a mother otter playing in a stream with her pups—I love all these things, for they have been given to me for my delight, out of my Father’s great love.

And what I love, I protect.

Heavenly Father, You have put us here to enjoy and ponder Your marvelous creation. May everything You have made remind us of Your goodness, love, and care.

Care for creation honors the Creator.

 

The Big Picture

From: Nina Keegan, author and CBN

autumntree

Have you ever tried to put together one of those giant jigsaw puzzles that has at least a thousand pieces? At first glance into the large box of tiny freeform pieces, it’s hard to imagine they will form a picture. One tiny random piece doesn’t look like much of anything on its own; but once you start putting them together, the formation of a beautiful picture begins to take shape. If even one piece is missing, the puzzle will be incomplete.

Puzzles are like life sometimes; except for one major difference, we get to see the end results of the puzzle before we begin the long toil of assembling it. The full picture of the completed puzzle is always on the box-top. We already know how it will turn out and we are not the least bit surprised by its ending. Even though one piece on its own does not look like much of anything, together with all its counterparts, a wonderful picture emerges.

I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will. Isaiah 46:10 HCSB

God is the creator of our great puzzle called life. Each one of us has our own unique box with an amazing picture on the top, The Big Picture — the picture God carefully designed for each of us. Only God himself knows what our finished portrait will look like. He is working diligently on our behalf, tirelessly arranging all of our puzzle pieces into a wonderful order of abundant blessings on a pathway of unspeakable joy.

When we are going through a tough time, we must remember that this is just one tiny piece of our puzzle, without it we would not be complete. We need all the pieces — good and bad, easy and difficult — to shape us and guide us on our uniquely individual paths. We may have to be uncomfortable for a bit. We may have to weather some unwelcome storms. But I guarantee you those times of difficulty are never wasted. We learn through times of uncertainty. Our faith is fortified and strengthened. We learn to relinquish control and let God take the reigns. He has the bird’s eye view. He has the miraculous ability to look down and see our entire timeline, start to finish, beginning to end and every single second in-between. He sees the whole puzzle at once. We see only the one tiny piece we seem to be stuck on right now. He sees exactly where that piece belongs.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ESV

This Scripture tells us we were created for good works that God has already prepared for us ahead of time. So no matter where we seem to be or what issues we may be facing, they will be used for good because God has already gone before us and prepared the way. He sent His beloved son to pay the price in advance for everything we could ever need.

We must put our focus and trust in Him. Our trials build faith in our wonderfully omniscient God. If we knew what God knows, we would never change a thing. We would see the magnitude of impossibilities we could never face without God going before us to clear the way and secure our footing.

Enjoy your life piece by piece. Do not worry about tomorrow today. Let God be God!

Run to win that which has already been won for you. No matter what things may look like, a new piece of the puzzle is coming. God is already searching in the box for the perfect piece with the answer you have been praying for. God always sees The Big Picture.

 

Battle Strategy

From: Our Daily Journey

Battle Strategy

Read:

2 Chronicles 20:1-24

You will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory (2 Chronicles 20:17).

At the height of an African government’s struggle with a terrorist rebel group, the president turned to the church for help. As people began to pray, an army chaplain declared that the war wouldn’t be won in battle, but through prayer. Thus began “Operation Gideon.” A team of intercessors gathered for several weeks of prayer and fasting. In time, a systematic breakdown of the rebel group’s influence occurred.

When Judah’s king Jehoshaphat received word that “a vast army from Edom [was] marching against [him]” (2 Chronicles 20:2), he “was terrified” and “begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help” (2 Chronicles 20:3-4). In response to the nation’s passionate plea for help, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon . . . Jahaziel son of Zechariah, a Levite [who declared], ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . Stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you’ ” (2 Chronicles 20:14-17).

Taking God at His word, Jehoshaphat “appointed singers to walk ahead of the army [into battle], singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. . . . At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.” Not a single enemy escaped (2 Chronicles 20:21-24).

Prayer might not always seem like the best strategy in your daily battles, but in reality it’s the most effective of all—for the battle and outcome belongs to God (1 Samuel 17:47). Turn your struggles over to Him, and praise Him for His powerful work in your life.

Held By God

 

  • Galatians 6:9

    9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
  • Joshua 1:9

    9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
  • Mark 10:27

    27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

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Image result for pictures of christ holding a childrenImage result for pictures of christ holding a children
Image result for pictures of christ holding a childrenImage result for pictures of christ holding a children

Held by God

From: Our Daily Bread

Held by God
Read: Psalm 131 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 43–44; 1 Thessalonians 2

I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Psalm 131:2

As I was nearing the end of lunch with my sister and her children one afternoon, my sister told my three-year-old niece, Annica, it was time to get ready for her nap. Her face filled with alarm. “But Aunt Monica did not hold me yet today!” she objected, tears filling her eyes. My sister smiled. “Okay, she may hold you first—how long do you need?” “Five minutes,” she replied.

As I held my niece, I was grateful for how, without even trying, she constantly reminds me what it looks like to love and be loved. I think sometimes we forget that our faith journey is one of learning to experience love—God’s love—more fully than we can imagine (Eph. 3:18). When we lose that focus, we can find ourselves, like the older brother in Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son, trying desperately to win God’s approval while missing out on all He has already given us (Luke 15:25–32).

Psalm 131 is one prayer in Scripture that can help us to “become like little children” (Matt. 18:3) and to let go of the battle in our mind over what we don’t understand (Ps. 131:1). Instead, through time with Him we can return to a place of peace (v. 2), finding the hope we need (v. 3) in His love—as calm and quiet as if we were children again in our mothers’ arms (v. 2).

Lord, we are so grateful for those in our lives who remind us what it means to love and be loved. Help us to be ever more deeply rooted in Your love.

Like children, we can learn to rest in the love of God.

 

The glorious habitation

From: Charles Spurgeon

“Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.” Psalm 90:1

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 4:13-16

Will you take my master’s house on a lease for all eternity, with nothing to pay for it, nothing but the ground rent of loving and serving him for ever? Will you take Jesus, and dwell in him throughout eternity, or will you be content to be a houseless soul? Come inside, sir; see, it is furnished from top to bottom with all you want. It has cellars filled with gold, more than you will spend as long as you live; it has a parlour where you can entertain yourself with Christ, and feast on his love; it has tables well stored with food for you to live on for ever; it has a drawing-room of brotherly love where you can receive your friends. You will find a resting room up there where you can rest with Jesus; and on the top there is a look-out, whence you can see heaven itself. Will you have the house, or will you not? Ah, if you are houseless, you will say, “I should like to have the house; but may I have it?” Yes; there is the key. The key is, “Come to Jesus.” But you say “I am too shabby for such a house.” Never mind; there are garments inside. As Rowland Hill once said:

“Come naked, come filthy, come ragged, come poor,
Come wretched, come dirty, come just as you are.”

If you feel guilty and condemned, come, and though the house is too good for you, Christ will make you good enough for the house. He will wash you, and cleanse you, and you will yet be able to sing with Moses, with the same unfaltering voice, “Lord, thou hast been my dwelling place throughout all generations.”

 

Children’s bread given to dogs

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’ Matthew 15:27

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 64:4–9

Instead of trying to make your case out to be better, believe in its thorough badness, and yet be of good cheer. You cannot exaggerate your sin, and even if you could, it would be wiser to err in that direction than the other. A man called at my house some time ago for charity; an arrant beggar, I have no doubt. Thinking that the man’s rags and poverty were real, I gave him a little money, some of my clothes, and a pair of shoes. After he had put them on and gone out, I thought, ‘Well, after all, I have done you a bad turn very likely, for you will not get so much money now as before, because you will not look so wretched an object.’ Happening to go out a quarter of an hour afterwards, I saw my friend, but he was not wearing the clothes I had given him, not he; why, I should have ruined his business if I could have compelled him to look respectable. He had been wise enough to slip down an archway, take all the good clothes off, and put his rags on again. Did I blame him? Yes, for being a rogue, but not for carrying on his business in a businesslike manner. He only wore his proper livery, for rags are the livery of a beggar. The more ragged he looked, the more he would get. Just so is it with you. If you are to go to Christ, do not put on your good doings and feelings, or you will get nothing; go in your sins, they are your livery. Your ruin is your argument for mercy; your poverty is your plea for heavenly alms; and your need is the motive for heavenly goodness. Go as you are, and let your miseries plead for you.

For meditation: The filthy rags of sin are the natural uniform of all human beings (Romans 3:23). The Lord Jesus Christ wore them spiritually on the cross in our place and in return offers you now his spotless robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10Zechariah 3:3–5), which is the Christian’s uniform and ticket to heaven. But you won’t even be able to gatecrash heaven (John 10:1), if you reject Christ’s righteousness and continue to wear the filthy rags of your sin (Matthew 22:11–13).

 

For My Own Sake

From: Sarah Limardo, author, and CBN

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When I really need to hear the voice of God in my life, I find myself escaping into the words of Isaiah. I’m intrigued by God’s words, His active speaking through dialogue, which always strikes me.

One morning, as I read my Bible before class, I stumbled across what is now my favorite verse, Isaiah 43:25, NIV, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

I stared at this verse as my heart dove out of my chest and into these words, deeper and deeper, and swaddled itself in the insane amount of intentional love I found there.

I tend to fall into that category of folks who know they’re forgiven and receive it but still can’t shake the “wretch like me” attitude. As I stared at this verse, God took that attitude, turned it on its head, and shook it until understanding wove itself through every thread of my heart.

I pictured God saying these words to me. Like He was suddenly sitting in my tiny room with me, leaning over my Bible and saying, “For my sake. Forgiving you is about Me, not you. It’s that want you near me. want to be with you.”

This verse comes right after God is telling the Israelites how they haven’t brought Him offerings and didn’t call on Him. Rather they have “burdened” Him with sins and “wearied” Him. (Isaiah 43:25)

How many times had I done the same? How many times had I told God with my mouth that I loved him, but done something contrary to what a love for God looked like? I’d stopped counting, and I was left wanting to prove the love I thought had been overshadowed by my sins. I wanted to draw close to the God I loved.

It was never about me. It’s about God’s love for me. It’s the great story of…everything. It was never about us.

I took my Bible with me everywhere in the days following. I couldn’t part from the love that kept echoing in my heart, “For my own sake.”

We see this same principle echoed throughout everything—God forgiving our sins for His sake because He made us and desires us. Nearly a chapter later, in Isaiah 44:23, NIV, Isaiah writes, “Sing for joy, your heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.”

Cast off that “wretch like me” attitude, because God has forgotten your sins, redeemed you, and loves you! He frees us to sing for joy and shout it out—we’re commanded to embrace this attitude of joy because we have such a strong foundation for it. If you’ve asked for forgiveness, He’s given it to you. So why not take hold of it?

Our redemption is something to be celebrated and enjoyed. Love the gift He’s given you!