Tag Archives: Trust and tagged aging

Making Room

 

God is making room for you

 

God is making plans for you in heaven. He is preparing a place for you. Earth does not know how wonderful His plans are for His children. His plans are marvelous I’m sure. John 14. The question is are you making room for God here on earth?

 

Leave Room for God

From: Utmost.org

As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him— to give God “elbow room.” We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never expected Him to come? Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. The way to make room for Him is to expect Him to come, but not in a certain way. No matter how well we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that He may break in at any minute. We tend to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. Suddenly—God meets our life “…when it pleased God….”

Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come in as He decides.

JANUARY 23, 2015What if I Fall?
TRACIE MILES

From: Crosswalk

“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:17 (NLT)

It seemed like a great idea at first, until my fear and procrastination caused me to miss a blessing.

I’d been invited to speak at a summer camp and my daughter Kaitlyn joined me. In between attending the worship events, we were given the opportunity to sign up for outdoor activities, one of which was a ropes and zip line course dangling high in the mountain trees.

After putting on safety gear and listening to basic instructions, Kaitlyn and I waited our turn in line. Yet while she was filled with excitement, dread filled my heart.

I watched each girl clip her carabineer and climb up the towering tree to the first platform landing. My heart raced and my inner voice of reason worked overtime. What was I thinking? Why would anyone want to climb all the way up there, just for fun? What if I get up there and I’m too scared to get back down? What if I can’t finish the course and get embarrassed? What if my rope breaks and I fall?

The more I procrastinated, the more people moved ahead and the more I convinced myself I could not accomplish this task. Finally it was my turn. I started up the tree. Slowly. Hesitantly. Fearfully. I looked down the entire time, though the camp leaders constantly encouraged me to look up instead. After just a few moments, I caved into all those irrational fears, climbed down the tree and removed my safety gear.

Later, I watched Kaitlyn climb high into the treetops, safely attached to the ropes, moving from platform to platform. I regretted my procrastination and fear of taking a risk. As the wind rustled through her long blonde hair and the sun shone on her face, she smiled and hollered down how beautiful the view was from high above. As she zoomed down the zip line and splashed into the lake water below, I could sense the accomplishment and joy that washed across her face.

And then I realized I’d missed the blessing of experiencing something new — seeing the beauty of the forest from a higher view instead of my limited view from the ground. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first time I’d let fear and procrastination interfere with God’s blessings in my life.

Jesus knew we would struggle with procrastination. He gave us Truths in His Word to combat it. But in today’s key verse we also see that not doing what we feel called to do is not only procrastination, but sin.

When God calls us to make a “risky” move for Him, we often worry and try to reason ourselves out of it. We might spend time looking at our obstacles rather than at God, which makes courage flee and fear paralyze us. In fact, when we wait for every life circumstance to be perfect before we step out in faith, the devil is happy to spend his time trying to bring us down and convince us to never move at all.

Procrastination may seem to come normal for us, but it is never God’s best for us. We don’t often think of it as sin, but anytime we don’t do what God called us to do, when He calls us to do it, it is sin. It’s easier said than done, but we mustn’t let fear outweigh faith.

Jesus encourages us to fulfill the work He called us to do and not to waste time procrastinating. Not simply because it’s a sin, but because time is precious, and He promises that obedience brings blessings. How sad to miss the abundant blessings that come when we follow God’s call, simply because we keep putting it off.

Not pushing past my fears to a zip line obviously was not sin, but not doing what God instructs me to do always is. I’ve finally learned that when we take a leap of faith, with God, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose but fear.

Father, give me the courage to take a risk for You and the strength to take a leap of faith in whatever You call me to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

hospital window

From: Inspire21

— Author Unknown

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.
The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Epilogue:

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

“Today is a gift, that’s why it is called the Present.”

Swans and flowers

how to be happy

From: Inspire21

— Author Unknown

Are you almost disgusted with life, little man?
I’ll tell you a wonderful trick
that will bring you contentment, if anything can
Do something for somebody, quick!

Are you awfully tired with play, little girl?
Wearied, discouraged, and sick –
I’ll tell you the loveliest game in the world,
Do something for somebody, quick!

Though it rains like the rain of the flood, little man
and the clouds are forbidding and thick,
You can make the sun shine in your soul, little man
Do something for somebody, quick!

Though the stars are like brass overhead, little girl,
and the walks like a well-heated brick
and our earthly affairs in a terrible whirl,
Do something for somebody, quick!

What are you Aiming For?

 

 

What Are You Aiming For?

From: Getmorestrength.org

“Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:3

Let’s talk about heaven. If you’re like me, it’s hard to get your head around it and harder still to let it grip your heart. While most of us believe that heaven exists, we go on with life as though this is the only world that matters.

Nearly every spiritual dysfunction in our lives can be traced back to the fact that heaven does not really have a hold on us. C. S. Lewis had it right when he said: “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”

So, how do we “aim at heaven”? First, we recognize that this physical body is not all there is—“what we will be has not yet appeared” (1 John 3:2). In fact, earth is simply a dress rehearsal for the great world to come. All the pain and toil here is temporary. Poverty isn’t permanent. Illness is transient. For followers of Jesus, death is but a door to all that is far better. As we read in Revelation, there shall be no sorrow, no more crying, no more death, and he shall wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4).

Aiming at heaven also involves keeping Jesus in our sights. Looking forward to the day when “we shall see Him as He is” fills us with hope—not a worldly, wish-list kind of hope, but a hope that reflects the certainty of what is to come. It’s the kind of hope that keeps us from distractions and rivets our attention on what really matters in the long run; the kind of hope that purifies us.

Maybe you’ve never thought of it like this before, but one of the strongest motivations for purity is connected to the return of Jesus. Because, let’s face it, there are some places we just wouldn’t want to be when He comes back. We might hope He doesn’t examine the places the Internet has taken us, or that He doesn’t see our attitudes toward others. If we really believed that today might be our last, we might finally be ready to forgive, to ask for forgiveness, or maybe even to share the love of Jesus with someone.

So, how about it? Let’s stop aiming at earth and turn our hearts toward heaven!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • What did C. S. Lewis mean when he said, “you get earth thrown in” if you’re aiming for heaven?  Could it be what Jesus meant in Matthew 6:33? What are you aiming for—earth or heaven? Do your thoughts, attitudes, and actions support your answer?
  • Think of some practical, tangible ways that you can be more heavenly minded. (And don’t worry, it won’t make you of “no earthly good”!)
  • How would focusing on heaven stir your heart to purity?

How Could Someone So Persecute Jesus!

From: Utmost.org

Are you determined to have your own way in living for God? We will never be free from this trap until we are brought into the experience of the baptism of “the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Stubbornness and self-will will always stab Jesus Christ. It may hurt no one else, but it wounds His Spirit. Whenever we are obstinate and self-willed and set on our own ambitions, we are hurting Jesus. Every time we stand on our own rights and insist that this is what we intend to do, we are persecuting Him. Whenever we rely on self-respect, we systematically disturb and grieve His Spirit. And when we finally understand that it is Jesus we have been persecuting all this time, it is the most crushing revelation ever.

Is the Word of God tremendously penetrating and sharp in me as I hand it on to you, or does my life betray the things I profess to teach? I may teach sanctification and yet exhibit the spirit of Satan, the very spirit that persecutes Jesus Christ. The Spirit of Jesus is conscious of only one thing— a perfect oneness with the Father. And He tells us, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). All I do should be based on a perfect oneness with Him, not on a self-willed determination to be godly. This will mean that others may use me, go around me, or completely ignore me, but if I will submit to it for His sake, I will prevent Jesus Christ from being persecuted.

 

JANUARY 28, 2015From: Crosswalk.com

What Gets Me into Heaven?
SHARON GLASGOW

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV)

She was alone, dying and in pain. None of her family or friends was left. She asked the nursing home staff to call someone to minister and pray with her.

It was dinnertime when my phone rang. The caller said it was urgent that I get there.

I didn’t personally know the elderly woman lying in that bed. We’d never met, but instantly, love bubbled up inside me for her. I looked into her eyes, but she couldn’t see me — she was blind. I held her weak hands in mine and asked a few questions. Then she said, “I’m dying. I want you to pray for me.”

“What do you want me to pray?” I asked. Then I paused and waited. Her cloudy blue eyes welled with tears that trickled onto our hands. She said nothing. I said nothing.

After a while of silently waiting for the Holy Spirit to direct me, I spoke: “Tell me about the day you accepted Christ.” She didn’t say anything. I knew to be quiet as she processed. Finally, she answered, “I don’t know. I went to church when I was little; I was always a good person. But I never really knew Jesus.”

It was clear where God was leading us. Bertha understood that simply being good wasn’t the same as living for and obeying the Lord. We had to take it a step further.

“Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” I asked.

She nodded and tears streamed down her cheeks as I shared today’s key verse, John 3:16,“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJV).

I continued, “He died on the cross for your sins and rose again so that you can have eternal life with Him. Eternal life is a free gift; we do nothing to earn it. God loves you so much, Bertha! He wants you to spend eternity with Him.”

We prayed a simple prayer together. She acknowledged Jesus as her Savior and asked Him to forgive her of her sins. Bertha passed away shortly after our conversation. She didn’t have the opportunity to do more good deeds. Nor did she need to. That wasn’t necessary for her to receive Jesus’ gift of eternal life with Him.

There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year to do good: Donate warm winter jackets to children in need, deliver blankets to shelters or give canned goods to food banks. Our family invites others over who have nowhere else to go for the holidays. But I know that visiting the sick in nursing homes or welcoming the lonely around our dinner table (or any other good deed) won’t earn me a place in Heaven.

What will get me into Heaven? Just Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.

And believing that His birth … His death … and His resurrection actually happened are the greatest gifts ever. So priceless, we could never buy them.

You see, it’s not about what good things we do, or even the bad things we avoid, but about what Jesus has already done. Two thousand years ago, He gave His life in death on the cross so we could have life after death. Like Bertha, that is the best gift we could accept in our lifetimes!

 

Morning

From: Biblegateway.com

“Perfect in Christ Jesus.”
Colossians 1:28

Do you not feel in your own soul that perfection is not in you? Does not every day teach you that? Every tear which trickles from your eye, weeps “imperfection;” every harsh word which proceeds from your lip, mutters “imperfection.” You have too frequently had a view of your own heart to dream for a moment of any perfection in yourself. But amidst this sad consciousness of imperfection, here is comfort for you–you are “perfect in Christ Jesus.” In God’s sight, you are “complete in him;” even now you are “accepted in the Beloved.” But there is a second perfection, yet to be realized, which is sure to all the seed. Is it not delightful to look forward to the time when every stain of sin shall be removed from the believer, and he shall be presented faultless before the throne, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing? The Church of Christ then will be so pure, that not even the eye of Omniscience will see a spot or blemish in her; so holy and so glorious, that Hart did not go beyond the truth when he said–

“With my Saviour’s garments on,

Holy as the Holy One.”

Then shall we know, and taste, and feel the happiness of this vast but short sentence, “Complete in Christ.” Not till then shall we fully comprehend the heights and depths of the salvation of Jesus. Doth not thy heart leap for joy at the thought of it? Black as thou art, thou shalt be white one day; filthy as thou art, thou shalt be clean. Oh, it is a marvellous salvation this! Christ takes a worm and transforms it into an angel; Christ takes a black and deformed thing and makes it clean and matchless in his glory, peerless in his beauty, and fit to be the companion of seraphs. O my soul, stand and admire this blessed truth of perfection in Christ.

Evening

“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”
Luke 2:20

What was the subject of their praise? They praised God for what they had heard–for the good tidings of great joy that a Saviour was born unto them. Let us copy them; let us also raise a song of thanksgiving that we have heard of Jesus and his salvation. They also praised God for what they had seen. There is the sweetest music–what we have experienced, what we have felt within, what we have made our own–“the things which we have made touching the King.” It is not enough to hear about Jesus: mere hearing may tune the harp, but the fingers of living faith must create the music. If you have seen Jesus with the God-giving sight of faith, suffer no cobwebs to linger among the harp strings, but loud to the praise of sovereign grace, awake your psaltery and harp. One point for which they praised God was the agreement between what they had heard and what they had seen. Observe the last sentence–“As it was told unto them.” Have you not found the gospel to be in yourselves just what the Bible said it would be? Jesus said he would give you rest–have you not enjoyed the sweetest peace in him? He said you should have joy, and comfort, and life through believing in him–have you not received all these? Are not his ways ways of pleasantness, and his paths paths of peace? Surely you can say with the queen of Sheba, “The half has not been told me.” I have found Christ more sweet than his servants ever said he was. I looked upon his likeness as they painted it, but it was a mere daub compared with himself; for the King in his beauty outshines all imaginable loveliness. Surely what we have “seen” keeps pace with, nay, far exceeds, what we have “heard.” Let us, then, glorify and praise God for a Saviour so precious, and so satisfying.

 

 

Transformed By God’s Grace

 

Transformed by Beholding

The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it— something good, but not what is best.

The most important rule for us is to concentrate on keeping our lives open to God. Let everything else including work, clothes, and food be set aside. The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God. We must maintain a position of beholding Him, keeping our lives completely spiritual through and through. Let other things come and go as they will; let other people criticize us as they will; but never allow anything to obscure the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it. The most difficult lesson of the Christian life is learning how to continue “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord….”


 

The People Principle

I didn’t mean to break it!

In fact, just the night before, as our hosts for the evening were showing my wife Martie and me around their beautiful home, they drew our attention to a gorgeous bowl of alabaster fruit. They talked about how valuable it was to them, not only because of its beauty and rarity, but also because of the memories that were associated with the piece.

Which made my klutzy moment early the next morning all the more distressing. In my pre-coffee fog, I walked by the table and knocked the alabaster banana to the floor, breaking it in half. Immediately, the dark side of my fallen heart began to think how I could get out of this jam. It was a clean break, and perhaps if I put it back into the bowl carefully the two halves would look like their original form. Weeks later when they would discover the broken banana, they would no doubt blame it on their kids, and we would be long gone.

In the end, the bright side of my redeemed heart prevailed and I apologetically admitted, “I hate to tell you this, but I knocked your alabaster banana on the floor and it cracked in half.”

I’ll never forget my friend’s reply.

“That’s all right, Joe, in our home people are more important than things.”

I was spared, but more importantly I was taught a great lesson.

In fact, that is exactly how God feels! With Him, people and their needs have always trumped everything else. Jesus made this very clear in His teachings and actions, but perhaps most profoundly in the familiar story of the prodigal son. When He told the story, He was surrounded by tax collectors, women of ill repute, and various other “sinners.” On the fringes of this crowd of outcasts, the Pharisees and teachers of the law stood muttering and grumbling about Christ’s apparent penchant for the unsavory characters of their day. So Jesus proceeded to tell these stories highlighting a lost sheep, a lost coin, and then a lost son. Each parable focuses intently on the passion God has for people as He actively seeks after us and then rejoices when, at last, we turn to Him and are found.

Pointing directly at the Pharisees with His words, the parable of the lost son concludes with the spotlight turned on a disgruntled older brother who is hung up on the “things” that have been lost—the family reputation, dignity, and most likely a sizable portion of the family inheritance. Viewed from his perspective, the father’s expenditures on a wayward son are wasteful and even unfair.

But Jesus, reflecting the heart of His Father in the closing words of the parable, points out that in God’s household people matter most. Not just “cleaned-up” people. Not just “churchy” people. But people who desperately need to hear that God loves them enough to forgive them of their sin, free them of their addictions, and find them at their point of darkest need. People matter most.

So when we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we have to ask ourselves: What matters most in our lives? Our possessions? Our personal preferences? Our perspectives on how people should act and think? Our plans? Our personal pride and reputation? Our rules? Or do the needs and nurture of people matter most?

My friend with the alabaster bowl got it right—people matter most. And Jesus has shown us the way!


influence the life of a child

From: Inspire21

Author Unknown

“When you thought I wasn’t looking…

I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that little things can be the special things in life.

I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.

I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don’t.

I felt you kiss me good night and I felt loved and safe.

I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.

I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but its all right to cry.

I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything I could be.

I watched you, and I learned most of life’s lessons I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.

I looked at you and wanted to say, ‘Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.'”

—–

Each one of us – whether parent, grandparent or friend – can influence the life of a child… Be a GOOD influence.

January 23

From: Through The Bible

Genesis 25:23 (NIV) 23The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

The unnamed servant of Abraham went to Haran and sought out a wife for Isaac. If we follow the analogy of Isaac being a foreshadow of Christ, then this servant is like the Holy Spirit seeking the bride of Christ. He found Rebecca and took her from her father’s house without delay. When Rebecca was joined with her husband, she found a war within her. Is that not true of us, the bride of Christ. The flesh is warring against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh (Galatians 5:17).

The custom of that day was for the firstborn to receive twice as much as any other heir along with the responsibility and authority of the father. That has carried down to this day in many Eastern countries, but God reversed the order with Abraham’s sons and Isaac’s sons, and others. The picture is that the firstborn, the flesh, must serve the second born, the spirit. There must be a separation as God predicted to Rebecca. We have to set the flesh aside, crucify it with Christ, and refuse to serve it. Even more than that, we must master it.

Which one is the stronger? If we look physically, by sight, we would say Esau. Notice the prophecy says ‘one people will be stronger’. If we look at the people descended from them, the Jewish people have been stronger spiritually and in persistence. These two are at war, even as I write, through the nations they have become. There is a war within you, Christian brother or sister. You must set the flesh aside. The Spirit is stronger. Don’t for a moment believe the flesh is. The older will serve the younger. See that it is so by yielding to the life of Jesus in you every day.

Meditation: “For sin shall not be your master.” Romans 6:14a (NIV)

Evening

January 23

Matthew 2:1-2, 11 (NIV) 1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

The Magi came from the East. It seems most probable that they are from the area of ancient Babylon. They may have still had access to the ancient writings of Daniel, who himself was considered Magi (one of the wise men) serving the kings of that area. Daniel had predicted the time of the coming Messiah of the Jews. Knowing from those writings that the time was near, these men were probably waiting for a sign of His birth.

God gave them their cue. Upon coming to Jerusalem, they asked Herod where the new king was born. Paranoid Herod the Great inquired of the Jewish scholars who knew from the writings of the prophet Micah that the place of His birth would be Bethlehem. Herod feigned a desire to worship this new king also, and asked them to bring a report of where they found Him. He was actually planning to assassinate the King of kings.

God led them to the Joseph and family. Jesus was then a toddler. They did what they had traveled all that way to do. They worshipped Him. Then they presented the gifts: gold for a king, incense for a priest, and myrrh, which speaks of His death. (Isaiah 60 tells us He will be given the first two gifts at His second coming.) This toddler would be the ultimate fulfillment of King and priest and would die in our place. Daniel had predicted that death also. The money would finance their flight into Egypt, escaping the paranoia of Herod.

Consider how much effort and thought these men put into worshipping Jesus. Then, think about how much effort and thought goes into your expression of worship.

The Opened Sight

 

The Opened Sight

This verse is the greatest example of the true essence of the message of a disciple of Jesus Christ in all of the New Testament.

God’s first sovereign work of grace is summed up in the words, “…that they may receive forgiveness of sins….” When a person fails in his personal Christian life, it is usually because he has never received anything. The only sign that a person is saved is that he has received something from Jesus Christ. Our job as workers for God is to open people’s eyes so that they may turn themselves from darkness to light. But that is not salvation; it is conversion— only the effort of an awakened human being. I do not think it is too broad a statement to say that the majority of so-called Christians are like this. Their eyes are open, but they have received nothing. Conversion is not regeneration. This is a neglected fact in our preaching today. When a person is born again, he knows that it is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision. People may make vows and promises, and may be determined to follow through, but none of this is salvation. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, namely, forgiveness of sins.

This is followed by God’s second mighty work of grace: “…an inheritance among those who are sanctified….” In sanctification, the one who has been born again deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God’s ministry to others.

 

JANUARY 9, 2015From: CrosswalkBuilding on the Past’s Foundation
AMY CARROLL

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

Each year as the New Year arrives, I feel the familiar conflict … make resolutions or avoid them? On one hand, there’s the excitement of starting fresh and the hope for better outcomes. Most of the time, however, I don’t feel expectancy at all. Instead, I’m overcome by the fear of failure and the “what ifs” of trying again.

This year, I found a principle in Scripture that helps me approach resolutions with anticipation instead of dread. Today’s key verses show us how to plan our future with a focus on thankfulness. They help us plan for the future from a past with a solid foundation and a present pattern of growth.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7, emphasis added)

When I think back over the years, it’s amazing to look back at how life changes once we’re dedicated to Jesus as Lord. Through mountaintop experiences, the thrill of learning new truths, and the shaping of hardships, we become rooted and strengthened. Jesus builds a foundation in us that can’t be shaken, so we can thank Him for the past.

Today, in our present, He calls us to “live in him.” With all the demands of life around us, we can struggle to concentrate on living our life in God, but His benefits — peace, guidance, love and forgiveness — are the valuable payoff for our focus. He has given us the precious gift of living in Him, so we’re thankful to Him for our present.

As we remember the past and intentionally make Him the most important part of our present, we will be “built up in him.” Here’s where it gets exciting for the future! The Greek word for “built up” here means “to increase the potential of someone or something, with focus upon the process involved.”

It’s amazing and true. God created each of us with a well of talent and budding gifts. Scripture says that God has good works created for you in advance (Ephesians 2:10), so plan away for the New Year! Ask God to build you up in 2015, revealing the potential He’s embedded in you. But as you look toward the future, don’t forget the past or the present — cover it all with a blanket of thankfulness.

This morning I sat in silence watching the first rays of dawn creep into my windows. There was no fanfare or pageantry. It was a humbling moment brimming with deep peace and overwhelming gratitude, so …

I thanked God for my past:

My parents who raised me in a home where we loved God.

All the hard times and bad decisions that have made me see my need for Jesus.

The Sunday school teachers and Bible study leaders who have taught me.

Blessings He poured out along the way: family, jobs I’ve loved, jobs I’ve disliked, home.

Then I moved on to simple, present gifts:

The steaming mug in my hands.

A fire warming the room.

My little, red dog snoring on the coach.

Companionship of friends who fully know me and yet love me.

Love and kindness from my husband.

Laughter from my boys.

Grace poured on me by my Creator.

Finally, I thanked God for 2015 with all its possibilities:

For lessons yet to learn.

For dreams yet to be fulfilled.

For growth experiences.

For all the things unknown.

Now it’s your turn. Even if 2015 hasn’t started out the way you wanted … be thankful. Dream. Plan. Make resolutions built on the foundation of your past and the abiding of your present. I’m anticipating the rest of what God has in store for you in 2015!

 

Streams IN The Desert

They were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the Word in Asia (Acts 16:6).

It is interesting to study the methods of His guidance as it was extended towards these early heralds of the Cross. It consisted largely in prohibitions, when they attempted to take another course than the right. When they would turn to the left, to Asia, He stayed them. When they sought to turn to the right, to Bithynia, again He stayed them. In after years Paul would do some of the greatest work of his life in that very region; but just now the door was closed against him by the Holy Spirit. The time was not yet ripe for the attack on these apparently impregnable bastions of the kingdom of Satan. Apollos must come there for pioneer work. Paul and Barnabas are needed yet more urgently elsewhere, and must receive further training before undertaking this responsible task.

Beloved, whenever you are doubtful as to your course, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God, and ask Him to shut against you every door but the right one. Say, “Blessed Spirit, I cast on Thee the entire responsibility of closing against my steps any and every course which is not of God. Let me hear Thy voice behind me whenever I turn to the right hand or the left.”

In the meanwhile, continue along the path which you have been already treading. Abide in the calling in which you are called, unless you are clearly told to do something else. The Spirit of Jesus waits to be to you, O pilgrim, what He was to Paul. Only be careful to obey His least prohibition; and where, after believing prayer, there are no apparent hindrances, go forward with enlarged heart. Do not be surprised if the answer comes in closed doors. But when doors are shut right and left, an open road is sure to lead to Troas. There Luke awaits, and visions will point the way, where vast opportunities stand open, and faithful friends are waiting.
–Paul, by Meyer

Is there some problem in your life to solve,
Some passage seeming full of mystery?
God knows, who brings the hidden things to light.
He keeps the key.

Is there some door closed by the Father’s hand
Which widely opened you had hoped to see?
Trust God and wait–for when He shuts the door
He keeps the key.

Is there some earnest prayer unanswered yet,
Or answered NOT as you had thought ‘twould be?
God will make clear His purpose by-and-by.
He keeps the key.

Have patience with your God, your patient God,
All wise, all knowing, no long tarrier He,
And of the door of all thy future life
He keeps the key.

Unfailing comfort, sweet and blessed rest,
To know of EVERY door He keeps the key.
That He at last when just HE sees ’tis best,
Will give it THEE
.
–Anonymous

 

He Did His Duty

From: Inspiration

To augment his schoolteacher salary, for a number of years, back when corner stores were better known than supermarkets, my dad filled in as a grocery store clerk at one of the larger such stores in our community. The cash registers in those days rang up sales but only after someone tallied up the sale total. Dad could run his pencil down a long column of figures listing customer purchases and speedily arrive at the correct sum.

Later on, after the corner stores went the way of the dinosaur, Dad had another career as a taxi driver, first driving for a local cab owner and later buying the business and running it for some years—although in this case “business” means one car, used as a taxi and also as his personal vehicle.

We never went anywhere with Dad, even out of town, that he did not meet someone he knew. His three jobs had one thing in common—they kept him in the public eye. He was so well-known that we were sure that in any city in the United States he would meet someone he knew in the first half hour.

My mother suffered from several different chronic illnesses. As the years passed, they grew worse, even as a total of five children were born in the family. We all lived in a house with only four rooms, a circumstances I’m sure was shared by many of our neighbors in those post depression and war years. Perhaps, however, some of those families had more ready cash than we did. Even though Dad usually taught all day and worked at the grocery all evening, with all the medical expenses we incurred, there wasn’t enough money for us to own a car. Dad hitched rides to school with other teachers during most of his teaching career. There was a bus he occasionally rode to and from the grocery store, but many times he saved the dime by riding the distance of around four miles to and from his extra job on his bike.

The bike was about the only way he went anywhere. Mom often had to call a taxi to take her or us to the doctor because the bus required walking at least a country block to the bus stop and Mom’s asthma seldom allowed her to do so. Dad however, usually went places on his bike. For me, as a pre-schooler, there was a little wooden seat Dad called his “buddy seat” that was fastened to the “boy” bar of his bike. That way, as he rode, I was always right in front of him and encircled by his arms.

At that time I used to stutter and I had a serious inability to pronounce the letter “R.” As we rode along, Dad, ever the teacher, would talk with me, encouraging me to think ahead about what I was going to say so I would be able to get it out without error.

He used to take me to town on Saturday mornings and one place I loved to go was the junk yard. Dad was always working on bikes for one of us kids and he would scavenge the junk yard for parts. One time, how-ever, he incurred my mother’s wrath by taking me with him to a pool parlor. Mom didn’t think much of pool parlors.

Some years later, after the grocery closed, Dad worked as the night manager of a pool room for a year or two. Mother never did like that. She thought that as a school teacher, Dad was compromising his integrity by working in such a den of inequity.

I was always proud that my father was a well-respected man. I used to think being a teacher made him a special kind of person, but today I realize that the most special thing about him was not his career, but the way he persevered. The mantel of respect always falls on those who consistently do their duty and that’s what my father did.

A Difficult Hill

God gives strength and courage to go over another hill. God can make hills pleasurable like sheep eating sweet grass on the hill of God.

You can do all things with Christ’ strength.

 

Will You Go Out Without Knowing?

Have you ever “gone out” in this way? If so, there is no logical answer possible when anyone asks you what you are doing. One of the most difficult questions to answer in Christian work is, “What do you expect to do?” You don’t know what you are going to do. The only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing. Continually examine your attitude toward God to see if you are willing to “go out” in every area of your life, trusting in God entirely. It is this attitude that keeps you in constant wonder, because you don’t know what God is going to do next. Each morning as you wake, there is a new opportunity to “go out,” building your confidence in God. “…do not worry about your life…nor about the body…” (Luke 12:22). In other words, don’t worry about the things that concerned you before you did “go out.”

Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do— He reveals to you who He is. Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you “go out” in complete surrender to Him until you are not surprised one iota by anything He does?

Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him. Then think how unnecessary and disrespectful worry is! Let the attitude of your life be a continual willingness to “go out” in dependence upon God, and your life will have a sacred and inexpressible charm about it that is very satisfying to Jesus. You must learn to “go out” through your convictions, creeds, or experiences until you come to the point in your faith where there is nothing between yourself and God.

JANUARY 2, 2015

From: Crosswalk

Will God Forgive Me?
SUZIE ELLER

“And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.” Luke 22:62 (NLT)

We waited on the front porch. Moonlight filtered through the trees as tires crunched over the gravel driveway. When he stepped from the car, we rose. He saw us and hung his head.

He had come to live with us because he needed a safe place. That night he was supposed to be home at a certain time. Hours had passed beyond that curfew, and worry had led us to wait in the cool night air.

We said we’d talk in the morning.

The next day I walked into the living room and he sat on the carpet, head in his hands, rocking back and forth.

“Do I still get to stay here?” he asked.

Surely, he knew we wouldn’t reject him.

Except he didn’t know. Nothing in his former experiences led him to that belief. He expected punishment, perhaps not physical, but at the minimum he thought he was no longer welcome.

My husband and I knelt beside him. We placed our arms around him and began to pray.

Years have passed since then. Today that beautiful young man is a dad. A loving husband. A pastor and a strong man of faith.

In the New Testament, we encounter another man who worried if he’d be forgiven: Peter, a man who loved Jesus with his whole being. Yet, in Luke 22, on the night Jesus was turned over to the authorities, Peter denied he ever knew Jesus. Peter fled the scene weeping bitterly. Angst and grief were his companions.

Thank goodness the story doesn’t end there.

Later we find Jesus talking with Peter on the shore (John 21:17). In the brief conversation, Jesus reminds Peter of who he is.

And Whose He is.

Yes, Peter made a big mistake. One that seems impossible to overcome, but Jesus sees beyond the mistake to the heart.

Over time, Peter became a teacher and speaker, leading crowds to Jesus (Acts 2:14-36) and watching as miracles unfold. He authored 1 and 2 Peter, two books of the Bible that have influenced millions around the world and across generations.

After his failure, Peter could have rejected Jesus one more time by refusing His love. He could have ignored the words Jesus spoke and allowed failure to define him forever.

Instead, He accepted that His Savior forgives a repentant heart. That Jesus loved Him still.

Maybe you failed and you failed BIG. Your greatest regret is feeling you let Jesus down, and it’s the last thing you ever wanted to do.

In this crossroad moment, you have a choice.

You can let shame keep you stuck.

Or, you can lean into Jesus’ love for you.

Maybe you have amends to make. With His help, make them.

Maybe getting up seems hard because condemnation weighs so heavy. Release that burden. One day you’ll look back at this pivotal moment and realize getting up led you right back into the arms of Jesus.

Maybe your former experiences have led you to believe failure equals rejection. That when you fall, you’ve blown it and there’s no way back. Except that’s not truth. This is:

God will finish the work He began in you (Philippians 1:6).

His response to your repentant heart is forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

Your Heavenly Father transforms you as you accept that gift (2 Peter 1:3).

The young man who once lived with us grew through his mistakes. That incident wasn’t the first or the greatest challenge we walked through together, but every time he leaned into love rather than running away from it, he stood stronger.

Until one day he knew who he was.

And Whose he was.

Your God still loves you. His plan has not been erased because of your mistake. In this crossroad, run toward His open arms and begin anew.

 

He Can Do It!

From: Inspirational Archive

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13.

John Ortberg in his book “If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat” tells of how he had a problem with fainting when he first began to preach. Eventually, the problem went away, but it did take courage to persist in preaching, when he never knew when this would happen again.

I shared with my church Sunday a secret that I have never told anyone. That secret is that nearly every Sunday since I began to preach I have thought to myself that “I can’t do this” before preaching. The reasons for that have varied. At first, it was in part because I am basically an introvert, and it was difficult for me to speak in front of crowds. It was also, because I do not have a powerful voice, and when speaking without a sound system it was difficult to project my voice. Other times I have been ill, but nearly always still preached in spite of whatever may have been going on with me physically.

In the last five years, I have developed a problem with my voice. It has improved substantially from how it was five years ago, although it has not gone away completely. The problem is that sometimes my voice cuts off, and I am unable to speak. Usually, it goes away in a minute or two, and I am then able to continue preaching. However, it is very uncomfortable to be standing before a room full of people who are listening attentively to hear your next word without having the ability to speak. Fainting might be more merciful! The fact is, and the truth is, that I cannot continue to preach in my own strength. I do not have the power in myself to preach another Sunday. However, my Lord Jesus does have the strength, and for the past twenty-one years He has been faithful, in providing the strength, and the courage that I have not had in myself. I can’t do it! But He can!!

The spiritual fact is that you cannot successfully live the Christian life in your own strength either. You can’t do it! But He can!! You can’t get out of the boat, and walk on water. But He can!! God wants to give you His power to live the abundant life that Jesus came to give you (John 10:10). Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Jesus is there knocking, and He wants to give you the strength, the power to really live life. However, He is not going to force you to receive His power. He is not going to make you walk on water. It’s up to you. Do you want His strength? Do you want His power? Then ask for it!

Remember you can’t do it in your own power, and strength. But He can!! I can’t do it! But the Lord continues to empower me every time I ask. He will do the same for you!

 

A Difficult Hill

From: Inspirational Archive

Researchers at the University of Virginia have found that most people perceive a hill to be steeper than it really is, especially if they are tired or carrying a heavy load. When asked to estimate the slope of a hill, test participants consistently misjudged it, thinking a 10-degree slant was about 30 degrees, and rating a 5-degree slope as nearly 20 degrees. Hardly any of them believed they could be that far off.

When we are burdened and exhausted, even a minor problem can seem too big for us to handle. As we encounter a trial in life, we are tempted to sit down at the base of that difficult hill and stay there, convinced that the grade is too steep for us.

That is why we need the encouragement of God’s Word. It draws our attention to our untiring God, who knows our need. Isaiah wrote, “The Creator of the ends of the earth neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might – He increases strength” (Isaiah 40:28-29).

Because we so easily misjudge life’s difficulties, we need courage to keep going when we are tempted to quit. Take a step of faith today and join those who depend on the Lord, who run and are not weary, who walk and do not faint (v.31). In His strength, you can conquer any difficult hill.

As we live for Christ and follow Him,
The way may seem quite steep;
But if we trust His grace and strength,
Our steps He will guide and keep.

God always gives enough strength for the next step.

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.
ISAIAH 40:29