Justification

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Justification

20 Bible verses about Justification
Ian Walton – Regional Director, Southern Africa, cbn.com

Job 25:4 poses a question that’s hardwired inside every one of us and accompanied by a deep, instinctive longing to be fully reconciled with our Creator:

“How can a man be in the right before God?” (ESV).

The answer: justification by faith in Jesus.

What is justification exactly? Biblically, it is a legal declaration from God that we are innocent of sin. Instead of being punished, we are declared right before Him. It is not mere pardon – justification still respects the law. Rather, it is an act by which God determines to treat the guilty as righteous, just as if they had not sinned. The basis for this? The finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ at the cross. He takes our place as Accused Number 1 and is put to death in our place.

“He who knew no sin becomes sin for us, broken for our brokenness” (2 Corinthians 5:21, author’s paraphrase).

Researching and writing this has made me realize how absolutely central the doctrine of justification is to our faith. It really is at the heart of all that we are called to believe, live by, and proclaim as Christians. Martin Luther wrote that justification is the cornerstone of Christianity. It sets our faith apart from all other world religions. And it is only possible because of God’s scandalous grace. No wonder our false sense of justice and piety makes it so difficult to accept.

The thief on the cross next to Jesus, instantly and wholly justified with just a few words of simple faith, is a powerful reminder that restoring the relationship between God and us is by grace alone through faith, not by any goodness on our part! God counts us as righteous through faith, justifying us because of Christ. The history-splitting sacrifice of Jesus, or atonement, justifies a fallen world before a Holy God. So that humans can once again walk and talk in relationship with Him, full of hope and wonderfully free.

Have you truly, fully embraced the mind-blowing doctrine of justification? Yet, His Word teaches us that it is a gift that we must keep grabbing onto to live the abundant, eternal, and freedom-proclaiming life for which we are all made! And it is also a gift we need to experience and tell unbelievers around us about – so they too can live free and fully justified before their Creator.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Today’s Devotions

Morning

July 3

2 Kings 3:20-22 20The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was–water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water. 21Now all the Moabites had heard that the kings had come to fight against them; so every man, young and old, who could bear arms was called up and stationed on the border. 22When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites across the way, the water looked red–like blood.

The LORD told Elisha to have the army dig ditches, and that God was going to fill those ditches with water so the armies of Israel, Judah and Edom could drink. The next morning water flowed from the direction of Edom and filled the ditches. The able-bodied men of Moab had gathered to resist the attack. When they saw the reflection of the sunrise and thought the water was the blood of the armies that had come to fight them, they rushed headlong into an ambush of ready, thirst-quenched soldiers.

The day before the armies in league with Israel had thought God was against them, bringing them to defeat through thirst. Instead it was God’s way of getting them to stop their plans so that He could work. We are often ready to jump into a spiritual battle, ready to take the enemy’s territory, but God has His own way of doing things. He may introduce a difficulty to get us to seek His face and go His direction. The very solution to their difficulty was the means God used to trick the army of Moab. Two birds with one stone! The lesson was that the hand of God would work in their favor if they would seek His face and listen to Him.

Consider: The next time you face a dead end and feel the Lord is working against you, stop and seek His face. Find out how He would have you proceed. The difficulty may be preparation for a victory in your life.

Shalom!

Roy Berkenbosch, author, Today Devotions

  GENESIS 1:28-2:3

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. . . .

—  Genesis 1:31

The good, perfect, and loving Creator made an amazingly good world. The great song of creation in Genesis 1 closes with this resounding affirmation: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” The star-studded heavens, the warming sun and glistening moon, the lush forests and the underlying biosphere, the sea teeming with marine life, and the air humming with birds—all of it was good. And human­kind, bearing God’s image, empowered to care for God’s good earth, was also good. It was all very good.

An important word that we will consider often this month is shalom. This Hebrew word, often translated as “peace,” means much more than that. While “peace” often refers mainly to an absence of conflict, shalom suggests the presence of goodness, flourishing, right relationships, and all things being as God created them to be. Shalom points to all things living in line with their character so that they can fully achieve God’s intentions for them.

Living in right relationship is essential for human flourishing—right relationship with God, with others, with self, and with God’s creation. That’s what God intended. Yet because of human sin and rebellion, those relations are twisted and spoiled. Poverty and all its limitations are the result of relationships gone wrong. Even so, God’s great work of love is to free us and his creation from the bondage of sin and to restore shalom.

God, thank you for loving us enough to restore us and make all things new. In Jesus, Amen.

Streams in the Desert – July 3

  • 20223 Jul

Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? (Isa. 28:24).

One day in early summer I walked past a beautiful meadow. The grass was as soft and thick and fine as an immense green Oriental rug. In one corner stood a fine old tree, a sanctuary for numberless wild birds; the crisp, sweet air was full of their happy songs. Two cows lay in the shade, the very picture of content. Down by the roadside the saucy dandelion mingled his gold with the royal purple of the wild violet. I leaned against the fence for a long time, feasting my hungry eyes, and thinking in my soul that God never made a fairer spot than my lovely meadow.

The next day I passed that way again, and lo! the hand of the despoiler had been there. A plowman and his great plow, now standing idle in the furrow, had in a day wrought a terrible havoc. Instead of the green grass there was turned up to view the ugly, bare, brown earth; instead of the singing birds there were only a few hens industriously scratching for worms. Gone were the dandelion and the pretty violet. I said in my grief, “How could any one spoil a thing so fair?”

Then my eyes were opened by some unseen hand, and I saw a vision, a vision of a field of ripe corn ready for the harvest. I could see the giant, heavily laden stalks in the autumn sun; I could almost hear the music of the wind as it would sweep across the golden tassels. And before I was aware, the brown earth took on a splendor it had not had the day before.

Oh, that we might always catch the vision of an abundant harvest, when the great Master Plowman comes, as He often does, and furrows through our very souls, uprooting and turning under that which we thought most fair, and leaving for our tortured gaze only the bare and the unbeautiful.
–Selected

Why should I start at the plough of my Lord, that maketh the deep furrows on my soul? I know He is no idle husbandman, He purposeth a crop.
–Samuel Rutherford

Inside Out

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Inside Out

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Nia Taylor – Trainer – Virginia Beach Prayer Center, cbn.com

Have you ever felt like God’s not there, or He’s not listening? I have felt this more than I would like to admit. I wonder if Job may have felt that God wasn’t hearing him either when I read his petition in Job 23:

He says “Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning. If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say to me. Would he vigorously oppose me? No, he would not press charges against me. There the upright can establish their innocence before him, and there I would be delivered forever from my judge. “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

If God tested us, would we come out as pure gold? Sometimes we are looking for Him, and He is right there waiting to see what we will do next. So often, I’ve looked to God for answers, and I realize that He was waiting on me to trust in Him!

When I met my husband, I didn’t question God; I just knew that God was in this union without a shadow of a doubt. However, in other areas of my life, I am constantly questioning my moves and if God wants me to do this or that. When times get scary, and things get rough, it is hard for us to trust God sometimes, but as believers, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us! God is always the answer, and we have the answer living in us! How cool is that?

Job was in a place where he wanted to state his case before God so the suffering might end. He didn’t know how his story would encourage us and help us through difficult situations so many years later. We are thankful for Job’s suffering because it helps us deal with our own. It helps us understand the character of the God we serve.

Today if you are struggling with finding God for an answer to life’s problems, look to the Holy Spirit within you. He will guide you. Trust whose you are and know that He is not gone, but sometimes the teacher is silent during the test.

Personal service

By: Charles Spurgeon

“O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.” Psalm 116:16

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 6:15-23

A liberty to be holy is a grander liberty than a licence to be sinful. A liberty to be conscientious; a liberty to know forgiven sin; a liberty to trample upon conquered lusts, this is an infinitely wider liberty than that which would permit me to be the comfortable slave of sin, and yet indulge the elusive hope that I may one day enter the kingdom of heaven. The largest expressions that can ever be used by the boldest minister of free grace, cannot here be exaggerations. Luther may exhaust his thunders, and Calvin may spend his logic, but after all the grand things that have been spoken about the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, we are freer than those men knew. Free as the very air he breathes is the Christian, if he lives up to his privileges. If he is in bondage at all, it is because he has not as yet yielded his spirit fully to the redeeming and emancipating influence of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the fullest and widest sense therefore, the believer may cry, “Thou has loosed my bonds.” Nor is this liberty merely consistent with the profoundest and most reverent service, but the service is, indeed, a main characteristic of the exalted freedom. “Truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid.” This does not conflict with the sentence that follows it,—“Thou hast loosed my bonds.” This fact of my being God’s servant is to me a proof and evidence, and a delightful fruit and effect of my having had my bonds loosed by the great emancipator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Service then, as well as liberty!

For meditation: The Christian has been freed from being a slave of sin in order to become a servant of God. Does your lifestyle illustrate this (Galatians 5:13)?

A Bridge of Faith – Streams in the Desert – July 2

  • 20222 Jul

When thou goest, thy way shall be opened up before thee step by step (Proverbs 4:12, free translation).

The Lord never builds a bridge of faith except under the feet of the faith-filled traveler. If He builds the bridge a rod ahead, it would not be a bridge of faith. That which is of sight is not of faith.

There is a self-opening gate which is sometimes used in country roads. It stands fast and firm across the road as a traveler approaches it. If he stops before he gets to it, it will not open. But if he will drive right at it, his wagon wheels press the springs below the roadway, and the gate swings back to let him through. He must push right on at the closed gate, or it will continue to be closed.

This illustrates the way to pass every barrier on the road of duty. Whether it is a river, a gate, or a mountain, all the child of Jesus has to do is to go for it. If it is a river, it will dry up when you put your feet in its waters. If it is a gate, it will fly open when you are near enough to it, and are still pushing on. If it is a mountain, it will be lifted up and cast into a sea when you come squarely up, without flinching, to where you thought it was.

Is there a great barrier across your path of duty just now? Just go for it, in the name of the Lord, and it won’t be there.
–Henry Clay Trumbull

We sit and weep in vain. The voice of the Almighty said, “Up and onward forevermore.” Let us move on and step out boldly, though it be into the night, and we can scarcely see the way. The path will open, as we progress, like the trail through the forest, or the Alpine pass, which discloses but a few rods of its length from any single point of view.

Press on! If necessary, we will find even the pillar of cloud and fire to mark our journey through the wilderness. There are guides and wayside inns along the road. We will find food, clothes and friends at every stage of the journey, and as Rutherford so quaintly says: “However matters go, the worst will be a tired traveler and a joyful and sweet welcome home.”

Thirsting for God

“I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.” – Psalm 143:6-7 NLT

David was a mighty warrior who fearlessly faced lions, powerful armies, and the giant Goliath. Yet at other times, this same man experienced problems so serious that he became “paralyzed with fear” (v. 4) and suffered from deep depression. He was so discouraged and overwhelmed that he was “losing all hope.”

He likened his situation to being alone in a desert. His strength was failing, and his resources were running out. At that point of desperation, he reached out to God, whom he realized was his only hope. David focused all his energy on Him. As he cried out to Him, David knew that only God could quench his thirst.

All of us, at some time in our lives, have felt hopeless and depressed, alone, and vulnerable. These are times for serious prayer, to seek God with a sense of urgency. At times like these, we cannot be concerned about the opinions of others. Following the example set by David, we need to seek the Lord with fervor and intensity, realizing that He is our only hope.

Today, you may face crises or trials. You may feel hopeless or discouraged, worried or afraid. You may feel you are in a desert with nowhere to turn. Regardless of the situation, turn your focus toward God. Cry out for His help. Hunger and thirst for His presence. Be honest with Him. Remember His promise that if you thirst for Him, He will satisfy you.

Reflection Question: Write a prayer seeking a closer relationship with God.

The Good News

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The Good News

cross on a hill

 

Maria Stockman – Digital Copywriter, cbn.com

As I stood on the stone steps of Joppa looking at the hoary wooden door, reading the sign that says House of Simon the Tanner’s, I couldn’t help but praise God for this blessing. Not only was I in Israel, but right where I stood was where God changed my eternity. In Joppa, a tiny town on the Mediterranean Sea, Peter is given a vision by the Lord, including the instructions, “What God has made clean, do not call common” (Acts 10:9-16). This vision was about more than just the food the Jews were allowed to eat; it was the moment that God commanded Peter to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. So as a Gentile, I praise God for this provision.

Having an opportunity to travel to Israel and walk the same streets and visit the same sites that Jesus did so many years ago was an incredible experience. My visit to Joppa was not on our planned tour, but just a short walking distance from our hotel. Joppa was so nice that I visited twice! Because it was the first part of my trip, I tried to remind myself throughout my journey to frame what I was seeing and learning through this posture of praise and thanksgiving that God made a way for me to be in community with Him forever.

In Acts 10:34, we do not know to how many people Peter is sharing the gospel, but we see him doing it boldly and simply. He opens his preaching with a statement effectively explaining that this message is for all:

“…Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

Right before his sermon ends, Peter says,

“and he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead” (verse 42).

So again, I am thankful for Peter and the disciples and their willingness to obey God as He called them to share Jesus with everyone.

Could you imagine being the first people Peter shared about Jesus, having doors open for you that weren’t possible before? I suspect these new believers found themselves praising God and thanking Him for making a way for them!

As a believer, aren’t you thankful for Peter’s obedience to share Jesus with the entire world? I am forever grateful that the Word of God was taken throughout the nations and ultimately to my ears many years later.

Today I want to encourage you with two things. First, who shared Jesus with you? Say a special prayer to the Lord of thanks for them. If possible, reach out to them and thank them for sharing the Good News with you and helping lay the foundation for your eternity in heaven with Jesus! Second, who in your life needs to hear the Good News? Be bold and find strength in Jesus as you share the best news someone will ever hear!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

July 1

2 Kings 2:9-11 9When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. 10“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours–otherwise not.” 11As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

Elijah had done as the LORD commanded him and called Elisha to be the prophet in his place. The time had come for Elijah to depart this world and Elisha knew it. He would not leave the side of Elijah even though Elijah asked him to stay behind. He must have known by the Spirit of God that if he stuck close to Elijah he would be blessed.

When they arrived at the place to which the LORD had led them, Elijah asked if there was anything he could do for Elisha. Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. The spirit of a man is his relationship and zeal for God. Elijah left it in God’s hands by saying that if he saw him when he was taken up from him he would know his request was granted. Sure enough, he saw it happen.

When Elijah called Elisha he threw his cloak over him. Now he left his cloak behind for him. When we look through the ministry of Elisha, we find twice as many miracles recorded as were recorded in the life of Elijah. He did receive the double portion he asked for.

What would you have asked for? This reminds us of Solomon’s request for wisdom to rule. What we ask for depends on the calling the LORD has placed on our lives. The desire behind our request should be that our calling be effective and influential for the sake of the Kingdom of God. If our heart is to serve in the most God honoring way possible, I believe God is willing to grant our request. If our request is to be equipped to please our King, we should expect it to be granted.

Consider: We need to show the tenacity that Elisha showed in not leaving Elijah’s side until the LORD equips us for our calling.

Good News for the Poor

  PSALM 146

Roy Berkenbosch, author, Today Devotions

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

—  Isaiah 61:1

We all need good news, and the best news is that we are all children of the loving God, who calls us to trust and obey him so that we can live life abundantly. God wants to save us so that we can live life forever with him. God wants this for all of us.

In these devotions we’ll explore what this means, especially for people who experience poverty and hunger, who are also often oppressed, displaced, and vulnerable. That is not the way life is supposed to be. Instead, there should be abundance and flourishing for all. That is the great vision of peace and flourishing that God has for all of his creatures and all of his creation.

The Bible reminds us again and again that God has great compassion for all who are poor and oppressed, and he acts on their behalf. God also wants his followers to love and serve these people in his name.

So let’s think about how we can serve God by caring for poor and hurting people in tangible ways, from feeding and helping people to rebuild after disasters to helping with long-term development.

As we do this, we’ll also be thinking about God and his heart for the poor, revealed in Jesus Christ. And this will lead us into deeper discipleship, doing justice and loving mercy in Jesus’ name.

Thank you, loving God, for the Bible and for your creation, in which you reveal your heart of love and your care for all who are poor. By your Spirit, guide us to share your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Heeding God’s Warning

InTouch ministries, source

Listening and obeying when God speaks spares us painful consequences.

July 1, 2022

1 Samuel 3:1-21

Are you quick to hear and respond to God’s Word, or does it seem to go in one ear and out the other? Although messages from the Lord were rare in Eli’s day, the old priest was confronted by a prophet because he was dishonoring the Lord and the priesthood by not rebuking his sons for their evil conduct (1 Samuel 2:27-36).

Despite the prediction of dire consequences, Eli didn’t heed the warning. So the Word of the Lord came to him again through the young boy Samuel. At first Samuel didn’t know who was speaking, but Eli told him to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:9).

Whenever we open the Word of God, we should all say the same thing in order to guard against error. The Devil seeks to imitate God’s voice, but the more familiar we are with Scripture, the more easily we can discern the Enemy’s lies.

James 1:22 warns us to be not merely hearers of the Word but doers. Pay attention as you read Scripture, because God is speaking directly to you. Take His admonitions to heart, obey His commands, and draw encouragement and comfort from His promises.

Bible in One Year: Psalms 107-111

The Uncommon Love Of God

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The Uncommon Love of God

woman-eyes-closed

 

Kimberly Poteet – Prayer Center Coach, cbn.com

Imagine living such a godly life that the Creator of the Universe takes special notice of you!

Job and Cornelius were two such men whose devotion got God’s attention — yet both experienced what it was like to be despised and rejected by men (Job 1-42, Acts 10-11) .

Job’s rejection came after all-manner of destruction had overtaken this once-wealthy and honored man.

Cornelius’ rejection had been lifelong because he was a Gentile.

Yet God took notice of them and even set things in motion to redeem them to a place of acceptance and honor.

Everyone envied Job. He seemed to have it all: money, family, friends – plus he loved God. In Job 1:1 he is described as “blameless – a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.”

Yet when calamity struck him and his household, people mocked him. Friends even said that only the wicked experienced such turmoil.

Job was grieved by such accusations, and he longed to be understood! In Job 19:23, he said, “Oh, that my words could be recorded…”

He did not know that those very words would be part of God’s written Word – giving hope to generations regarding how a righteous man endures trials!

In the midst of his hurt, Job had faith rise up in him as he proclaimed “my Redeemer lives…” (verse 25). Job knew that one day he would stand before a Righteous Judge – and I believe that thought gave him hope.

How amazing that he had such hope before experiencing a breakthrough!  He even prayed for the friends who accused him before anything had gotten better for him!

Another man of great renown, Cornelius, lived at the time of the Apostle Peter and the early Christian church. Cornelius was a Roman army captain of the Italian Regiment. He is described as a “devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God” (Acts 10:1-2).

Cornelius’ servants described him as one “well respected by all the Jews,” (verse 22). Yet Cornelius had become accustomed to being kept at arm’s length, never fully embraced by God’s chosen people.  But God wanted to change that.

As Cornelius prayed one day, an angel appeared to him, saying

“Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering!”  (verse 4).

The angel instructed Cornelius to send men to Joppa and summon Peter; meanwhile, God worked on Peter’s heart.

Through a vision, God instructed Peter to “not call something unclean if God has made it clean” (verse 15).

So as Cornelius’ three men arrived at the home where Peter was staying, God furthermore instructed Peter,

“Get up, go downstairs and go with them without hesitation. Don’t worry, for I have sent them” (verse 20).

This was a big step for Peter.

Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean” (verse 28).

And after hearing Cornelius share why he sent for him, Peter replied:

“I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right” (verses 34-35).

This encounter helped open a door to greater fellowship between the entire family of God.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 30

1 Kings 22:30-31,34 30The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. 31Now the king of Aram had ordered his thirty-two chariot commanders, “Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.”

34But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told his chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.”

Good king Jehoshaphat must have been awfully naive or under a spell to want to help evil Ahab. The prophet of God warned them, and they still went into battle. Why in the world would good king Jehoshaphat wear royal robes and become a target while he let evil Ahab hide in regular soldier garb? You can’t outwit God. If God says something will happen, it will happen, try as you may to prevent it. In the book of Chronicles, we will see that Jehoshaphat repented over his error of uniting with Ahab.

The forces of Aram were ordered to attack the king. Jehoshaphat saw them coming for him and fled to safety. God allowed him to escape even though he was doing something wrong in the eyes of God. But Ahab has had his chances. It was God’s time to finish his reign. After all he had seen and heard, he would not surrender himself to God. A stray arrow found its way between the plates of his armor and he bled to death in his chariot. The chariot was washed out in Samaria, and the dogs licked up the blood, just as was prophesied.

The odds are not what matter in the battle of life. God is on the throne of heaven. What matters is what you have done with His revelation of Himself to you. Has it humbled you and broken your proud spirit so that you are His, or are you stubbornly refusing to listen to Him? The outcome of these two men’s lives was dramatically different. Both were involved in the same error, but their hearts were different and responded to God differently.

Consider: How are you responding to God’s instruction to you?

Filled with Wonder AND PRAISE

  PSALM 145

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you. . . .

—  Psalm 145:1-2

In the hymn “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” Charles Wesley describes our life in God’s coming kingdom: “Changed from glory into glory . . . we [will] cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

Living in the presence of God, we will be so filled with wonder, love, and praise for the Lord that, in a way, we won’t be able to think of anything else.

The celebration in Psalm 145 is similar. The psalmist is filled with praise and wonder at the beauty of God and all God’s works. The writer sings about it in grand language. He says he will praise God “for ever and ever . . . every day.” He says that no one can fathom God’s greatness. God’s ­majesty is described with “glorious splendr,” and God’s goodness is described as “abundant.” God is “gracious and compassionate,” and all his works “tell of the glory” of his everlasting kingdom. With such an amazing God, no wonder the psalmist is filled with praise.

Because we have such a great and beautiful future promised to us, we can resonate with some other phrases in Wesley’s hymn as we look forward to God’s kingdom in hope: “Finish, then, thy new creation; pure and spotless let us be. Let us see thy great salvation perfectly restored in thee.”

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Fill us with wonder, love, and praise as we reflect on your beauty. We praise you for being such a great and loving God. Amen.

About the author — Rebecca Jordan Heys

Streams in the Desert – June 30

  • 202230 Jun

“There was silence, and I heard a still voice” (Job 4:16, margin).

A score of years ago, a friend placed in my hand a book called True Peace. It was an old mediaeval message, and it had but one thought–that God was waiting in the depths of my being to talk to me if I would only get still enough to hear His voice.

I thought this would be a very easy matter, and so began to get still. But I had no sooner commenced than a perfect pandemonium of voices reached my ears, a thousand clamoring notes from without and within, until I could hear nothing but their noise and din. Some were my own voices, my own questions, some my very prayers. Others were suggestions of the tempter and the voices from the world’s turmoil.

In every direction I was pulled and pushed and greeted with noisy acclamations and unspeakable unrest. It seemed necessary for me to listen to some of them and to answer some of them; but God said, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Then came the conflict of thoughts for tomorrow, and its duties and cares; but God said, “Be still.”

And as I listened, and slowly learned to obey, and shut my ears to every sound, I found after a while that when the other voices ceased, or I ceased to hear them, there was a still small voice in the depths of my being that began to speak with an inexpressible tenderness, power and comfort.

As I listened, it became to me the voice of prayer, the voice of wisdom, the voice of duty, and I did not need to think so hard, or pray so hard, or trust so hard; but that “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit in my heart was God’s prayer in my secret soul, was God’s answer to all my questions, was God’s life and strength for soul and body, and became the substance of all knowledge, and all prayer and all blessing: for it was the living GOD Himself as my life, my all.

It is thus that our spirit drinks in the life of our risen Lord, and we go forth to life’s conflicts and duties like a flower that has drunk in, through the shades of night, the cool and crystal drops of dew. But as dew never falls on a stormy night, go the dews of His grace never come to the restless soul.
–A. B. Simpson

Our Great Defender

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Our Great Defender

praising god

 

Marissa Nordlum – Email Analyst, cbn.com

Sometimes during my devotional time, I like to glaze over the book of Job in the Bible. Let’s be honest, who wants to read or hear about suffering? We live in a world where suffering seems all too familiar to many of us. But there are many truths and healing principles we can learn and apply to our lives by studying Job and his character.

When my oldest son was born, he spent his first week of life in the NICU fighting for his life. His oxygen levels plummeted less than 48 hours after his perfect birth and within a whirlwind of events, I found myself on my knees in a NICU triage room crying out to God to save and heal my baby boy. Life is but a vapor, and the reality of our human frailty felt overwhelming in that moment. I found myself in a state of full dependency on God, much like Job does throughout his trials.

During my son’s stay in the NICU, we saw the hand of God move mightily upon his life and heal his body in a miraculous way. I will never stop giving thanks to God for His great mercy and healing in my son’s life! Multiple tests on his heart, stomach, lungs, and blood were run, and every test began to come back clear. We left the hospital with “inconclusive results” about exactly why his oxygen dropped in the first place. While doctors were perplexed, I knew it was because God was his great defender. He had saved his life and I would spend all my days advocating for my precious boy, telling every doctor, nurse, and therapist his story—a story of the miracle-working power of Jesus.

Through this trial with my son, I learned a very important lesson: always be the advocate for my children. I learned to fight for them and defend their identity as a child of God, even in the medical world. I learned to speak the truth of God and declare that the cross of Christ alone has the final word over their precious lives.

Job knew this same principle to be true of his Heavenly Father when he declared:

“Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high” (Job 16:19).

Job knew that God was his advocate, his great defender. And even through his moments of doubt and trial, he continually praised God. He trusted God’s character and knew that He would deliver, defend, and advocate for him.

Since the days of Job, nothing about God’s character has changed. He sent His perfect son Jesus to the earth to die a horrible death, and to be resurrected with power and fullness of life in His hands. Jesus has been through everything we will ever go through, and He sympathizes with us in our weakness.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Even greater than that, He left the Holy Spirit here with us as a helper and advocate for us!

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—” (John 14:16).

We can rest in knowing that trials are only temporary. That suffering won’t last forever, but that God is with us. He will advocate for us, and He will be our great defender (Psalm 18). How great it is to trust in and put all our hope in Heavenly Father like this!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 29

1 Kings 20:27-28 27When the Israelites were also mustered and given provisions, they marched out to meet them. The Israelites camped opposite them like two small flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the countryside. 28The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Because the Arameans think the LORD is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the LORD.'”

The patience and mercy of God is amazing. God is still trying to convert evil Ahab. Israel is only a remnant of what it once was. When a king came to plunder Israel, the LORD told Ahab that He would give him the victory so that he would know the LORD was God. He had already seen fire from heaven, the end of a three-year drought at the prophet’s word, and the miraculous preservation of the prophet. Why would God continue to deal with him? The answer is because God is not willing that any should perish. He seeks after the hardest hearts and gives them more proof.

He gave him one victory, but the enemy came again. This second time the enemy was doomed before they started. The people had begun to return to Jehovah because of the ministry of Elijah. The enemy said that Jehovah was a god of the hills and not the plains. Oops! Limiting God is a sure way to end up with your foot in your mouth. He is God over all and will gladly prove it.

Despite being vastly outnumbered, the little bands of Israelites defeated the army of the Arameans. God caused a wall to fall on 27,000 of them. Ahab listened carefully to the prophet’s instruction going into the battle but did not seek his advice on what to do once he had the victory. He reverted to leaning on his own wisdom and made a costly mistake. How like us! Under pressure in an impossible situation, we seek God and He delivers us. Then we go back to our own ways. Keep seeking! Keep obeying!

Remember: We need God’s instruction in difficulties, but we also need it when things are going well.

Hatred without cause

By: Charles Spurgeon

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Take care, if the world does hate you, that it hates you without a cause. If the world is to oppose you, it is of no use making the world oppose you. This world is bitter enough, without my putting vinegar in it. Some people seem to fancy the world will persecute them; therefore, they put themselves into a fighting posture, as if they invited persecutions. Now, I do not see any good in doing that. Do not try and make other people dislike you. Really, the opposition some people meet with is not for righteousness’ sake, but for their own sin’s sake, or their own nasty temper’s sake. Many a Christian lives in a house—a Christian servant girl perhaps; she says she is persecuted for righteousness’ sake. But she is of a bad disposition; she sometimes speaks sharp, and then her mistress reproves her. That is not being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. There is another, a merchant in the city, perhaps; he is not looked upon with much esteem. He says he is persecuted for righteousness’ sake; whereas, it is because he did not keep a bargain some time ago. Another man says he is persecuted for righteousness’ sake; but he goes about assuming authority over everybody, and now and then persons turn round and reproach him. Look to it, Christian people, that if you are persecuted, it is for righteousness’ sake; for if you get any persecution yourself you must keep it yourself. The persecutions you bring on yourself for your own sins, Christ has nothing to do with them; they are chastisements on you. They hated Christ without a cause; then fear not to be hated. They hated Christ without a cause; then court not to be hated, and give the world no cause for it.

For meditation: The apostle Paul knew what suffering for Christ’s sake really means (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). It was something he avoided when he could appeal to the law, (Acts 22:25-29) and he did not pretend to be persecuted when he brought trouble upon himself (Acts 23:1-5).

Streams in the Desert – June 29

  • 202229 Jun

“There we saw the Giants” (Num. 13:33).

Yes, they saw the giants, but Caleb and Joshua saw God! Those who doubt say, “We be not able to go up.” Those who believe say, “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able.”

Giants stand for great difficulties; and giants are stalking everywhere. They are in our families, in our churches, in our social life, in our own hearts; and we must overcome them or they will eat us up, as these men of old said of the giants of Canaan. The men of faith said, “They are bread for us; we will eat them up.” In other words, “We will be stronger by overcoming them than if there had been no giants to overcome.”

Now the fact is, unless we have the overcoming faith we shall be eaten up, consumed by the giants in our path. Let us have the spirit of faith that these men of faith had, and see God, and He will take care of the difficulties.
–Selected

It is when we are in the way of duty that we find giants. It was when Israel was going forward that the, giants appeared. When they turned back into the wilderness they found none.

There is a prevalent idea that the power of God in a human life should lift us above all trials and conflicts. The fact is, the power of God always brings a conflict and a struggle. One would have thought that on his great missionary journey to Rome, Paul would have been carried by some mighty providence above the power of storms and tempests and enemies. But, on the contrary, it was one long, hard fight with persecuting Jews, with wild tempests, with venomous vipers and all the powers of earth and hell, and at last he was saved, as it seemed, by the narrowest margin, and had to swim ashore at Malta on a piece of wreckage and barely escape a watery grave.

Was that like a God of infinite power? Yes, just like Him. And so Paul tells us that when he took the Lord Jesus Christ as the life of his body, a severe conflict immediately came; indeed, a conflict that never ended, a pressure that was persistent, but out of which he always emerged victorious through the strength of Jesus Christ.

The language in which he describes this is most graphic. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifested in our body.”

What a ceaseless, strenuous struggle! It is impossible to express in English the forcible language of the original. There are five pictures in succession. In the first, the idea is crowding enemies pressing in from every side, and yet not crushing him because the police of heaven cleared the way just wide enough for him to get through. The literal translation would be, “We are crowded on every side, but not crushed.”

The second picture is that of one whose way seems utterly closed and yet he has pressed through; there is light enough to show him the next step. The Revised Version translates it, “Perplexed but not unto despair.” Rotherham still more literally renders it, “Without a way, but not without a by-way.”

The third figure is that of an enemy in hot pursuit while the divine Defender still stands by, and he is not left alone. Again we adopt the fine rendering of Rotherham, “Pursued but not abandoned.”

The fourth figure is still more vivid and dramatic. The enemy has overtaken him, has struck him, has knocked him down. But it is not a fatal blow; he is able to rise again. It might be translated, “Overthrown but not overcome.”

Once more the figure advances, and now it seems to be even death itself, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” But he does not die, for “the life also of Jesus” now comes to his aid and he lives in the life of another until his life work is done.

The reason so many fail in this experience of divine healing is because they expect to have it all without a struggle, and when the conflict comes and the battle wages long, they become discouraged and surrender. God has nothing worth having that is easy. There are no cheap goods in the heavenly market. Our redemption cost all that God had to give, and everything worth having is expensive. Hard places are the very school of faith and character, and if we are to rise over mere human strength and prove the power of life divine in these mortal bodies, it must be through a process of conflict that may well be called the birth travail of a new life. It is the old figure of the bush that burned, but was not consumed, or of the Vision in the house of the Interpreter of the flame that would not expire, notwithstanding the fact that the demon ceaselessly poured water on it, because in the background stood an angel ever pouring oil and keeping the flame aglow.

Have You Ever Felt Disqualified?

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 Have You Ever Felt Disqualified?

 

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Daniel Yanez – Vive Mas Social Media Coordinator, cbn.com

Have you ever felt the pressure to reach new goals, meet certain objectives, or simply seek to be a better person with God? Although there are probably success stories that we remember, there are moments we feel frustrated to the point of feeling discouraged or disqualified to move forward.

When I find myself in this situation, thoughts of defeat have made me feel disqualified to be used by God. However, I have great news; our past mistakes do not define how God sees us because Jesus died on the cross to redeem us from our sins.

The Bible tells us about Saul, the controversial character who persecuted believers and whom everyone feared. Then, one day, on the road to Damascus, Jesus met him, and his life took a 180° turn. Although he became a new person, many weren’t convinced of Saul’s transformation:

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name” (Acts 9:13-14).

I’ve often found myself in the role of Ananias, trying to disqualify myself for the mistakes I’ve made, but if God did not disqualify a man as terrible as Saul, He wouldn’t do it with us either.

But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.’ At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:15, 20).

It is likely that you will hear voices that will try to discourage you throughout your life, but remember that God created you from the beginning with a great purpose and nothing can bring down or overcome what He says. God has the last word:

To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land. To him belong strength and insight; both deceived and deceiver are his (Job 12:13, 15-16).

Dear friend, I can say with certainty when I feel most disqualified, that is when I have experienced the grace of God the most! A year ago, I was so frustrated over not seeing specific goals and dreams fulfilled in my life, but today, I can testify of His great love and care for me, even during one of the lowest valleys of my life. The Lord opened the doors, and I am confident of His great plan for my life! So, whenever you feel disqualified, whenever you think you are not able, keep these words in your heart:

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Glory to God for His great love for us!

Prayer:
Father, thank you for your grace and mercy. Thank you for being strong when I am weak. Help me to trust in Your plan and purpose for my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 28

1 Kings 19:20-21 20Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother good-by,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” 21So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.

Elijah left Mount Horeb with fresh inspiration. He was going to train someone to take his place. He saw the man God had told him to call and threw his cloak upon him. It was a picture of the anointing of God coming upon him and covering him. We have the same picture in the New Testament when the Apostle Paul says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14).

Elisha wanted to say good-bye to his parents, but Elijah asked him to consider what had just happened. He was called of God. What would hold him back or deter him? We read nothing of him saying good-bye. That reminds us of the person that wanted to follow Jesus but wanted to wait until his parents died. Jesus told him to let the dead bury the dead, but come and follow him (Matthew 8:22).

Elisha must have considered this to be a great calling. He burned the implements that he used to make a living and roasted the oxen. He fed the people with the meat. He no longer had anything to go back to. Today we would call this “burning our bridges.” Elisha planned to go forward and never look back. If God wanted to use him, he wanted to be undistracted and completely available to God. We will see in coming devotions how he highly prized the calling and anointing of God. His training started as a servant to Elijah. He would observe the man that God was using and learn from him.

Consider: Many of us need a mentor to give us an example of what it is to walk in the Spirit. We often have such poor examples that we may need to search for a life we respect and can learn from. Do you have a godly mentor?

A Servant’s Rewards

Rewards for our kingdom work await us in heaven, but God also blesses us in this life for our service.

June 28, 2022

Hebrews 6:10

In His grace, God freely gives salvation to those who believe in Jesus. We can’t earn it, nor do we deserve it. However, our Father does notice when we live according to His will, and He promises to reward us according to what we have done for Him.

Revelation 22:12 says, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to reward each one as his work deserves.” Whether large or small, service done in Jesus’ name will be blessed. We must be careful, though, that our actions are for Christ’s glory. If motives are self-serving, the only benefit we receive is the praise (if any) that we hear from people in this life.

While we look forward to rewards that will be given in heaven, some blessings can be experienced now. For example, there’s great joy in allowing God to bless others through us. In addition, there’s a profound sense of fulfillment when we lead a person to Jesus and teach him or her how to walk by faith.

Serving others is both a great benefit and a responsibility. We should prayerfully consider our motives to make sure that our goal is to glorify Christ. Only then will we receive God’s full blessings—rewards given not just in eternity but on earth as well.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 90-94

Streams in the Desert – June 28

  • 202228 Jun

A door opened in heaven (Rev. 4:1).

You must remember that John was in the Isle of Patmos, a lone, rocky, inhospitable prison, for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. And yet to him, under such circumstances, separated from all the loved ones of Ephesus; debarred from the worship of the Church; condemned to the companionship of uncongenial fellow-captives, were vouchsafed these visions. For him, also a door was opened.

We are reminded of Jacob, exiled from his father’s house, who laid himself down in a desert place to sleep, and in his dreams beheld a ladder which united Heaven with earth, and at the top stood God.

Not to these only, but to many more, doors have been opened into Heaven, when, so far as the world was concerned, it seemed as though their circumstances were altogether unlikely for such revelations. To prisoners and captives; to constant sufferers, bound by iron chains of pain to sick couches; to lonely pilgrims and wanderers; to women detained from the Lord’s house by the demands of home, how often has the door been opened to Heaven.

But there are conditions. You must know what it is to be in the Spirit; you must be pure in heart and obedient in faith; you must be willing to count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ; then when God is all in all to us, when we live, move and have our being in His favor, to us also will the door be opened.
–Daily Devotional Commentary

Serving Others

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Sitting With Others: Who Is God Sending You To?

visiting the elderly

 

Rich Miller – Manager, CBN Prayer Center Digital Interactions, cbn.com

When you think of who God used to lead you to Jesus, who comes to mind? When you think of who reflected Jesus to you in how they loved others, who do you picture?

I imagine quite a few that I know would answer with my father’s name. My dad was a hero at spending time with people through home visitations. While pastoring for over two decades, he was known just as much for taking time to visit people as he was for being a pastor. The personal touch came easy to him; he was able to lead several people to Jesus on their deathbeds because he had taken the time to sit with them through the years.

My father reminds me of Philip in Acts 8. Here, God sets up a divine appointment for Philip to share the Gospel with an important eunuch from Ethiopia who oversaw the queen’s treasury. This devout eunuch had just finished a trip to Jerusalem to worship and was a true seeker of God. When Philip approaches him, directed by the Spirit, the eunuch is meditating on a prophetic passage from Isaiah 53. However, he is not aware that the passage is a messianic prophecy that points to Jesus.

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Acts 8:30-31 (NIV)

Like this Ethiopian eunuch, many today seek to know God but lack the revelation of who He revealed Himself to be in Jesus. As Jesus declared, when you have seen Him, you have seen the Father (John 14:9). The Apostle Paul makes clear that it is our responsibility as believers to proclaim this good news:

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Romans 10:13-14

God was drawing this eunuch to Himself and was willing to chase him down, through Philip. The eunuch invites Philip to sit with him in his chariot and help him understand what he is reading. Sitting with someone involves taking the time to be with them. It’s an invitation to fellowship. Philip accepts the offer and shares the good news of Jesus Christ with him. Historians claim that once this eunuch returned home, he was the first to share about Jesus in Ethiopia.

In your life, who is the Lord leading you to who is searching for Him? Whether it is a divine appointment that is momentary, or someone that you’ve “sat” with through the years, He wants to work through your testimony to fill in the blanks to the questions they have about Him. Like Philip, may you be sensitive to His promptings and recognize these eternal moments.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 27

1 Kings 19:13b,14,18 13bThen a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

18“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

God asked Elijah what he was doing on Horeb. Of course God knew the answer, but Elijah needed to express it. I think this is a common tool that God uses to get us to assess what is real. What are you doing where you are, reader? Take a moment to think how you would respond to your Maker if He were to ask you that right now.

Elijah told God how zealous he had been for God and how alone he felt because of it. He told how he was fleeing again for his life. God had news for Elijah. He told him to anoint the coming kings and his own successor. That was a vision for the near future and motivation to get back to work. Then God had a correction to make to Elijah’s pity party. He was not alone. There were 7000 people who had not worshiped Baal.

At times we get discouraged and think we are the only ones that are serious about God. Individuals and churches can feel that way, but there are always others that love God. He always keeps a remnant for Himself. They may not look and act like you do, but God has kept their hearts, and they are not going the way of the world.

Consider: Do you feel like you are all alone, like your work is done and you haven’t been successful? Don’t worry or fear. God is at work. He has more for you to do. He has a disciple waiting for instruction. He has thousands that love Him more than the world. The work is not up to you. It is up to God.

The conversion of Saul of Tarsus

By: Charles Spurgeon

“And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Acts 26:14

Suggested Further Reading: John 15:16-25

When you were first pricked in the heart, how personal the preacher was. I remember it well. It seemed to me that I was the only person in the whole place, as if a black wall were round about me, and I were shut in with the preacher, something like the prisoners at the penitentiary, who each sit in their cell and can see no one but the chaplain. I thought all he said was meant for me; I felt persuaded that some one knew my character, and had written to him and told him all, and that he had personally picked me out. Why, I thought he fixed his eyes on me; and I have reason to believe he did, but still he said he knew nothing about my case. Oh, that men would hear the word preached, and that God would so bless them in their hearing, that they might feel it to have a personal application to their own hearts. But note again—the apostle received some information as to the persecuted one. If you had asked Saul who it was he persecuted, he would have said, “Some poor fishermen, that had been setting up an impostor; I am determined to put them down.” “Why, who are they? They are the poorest of the world, the very scum and dregs of society; if they were princes and kings we perhaps might let them have their opinion; but these poor miserable ignorant fellows, I do not see why they are allowed to carry out their infatuation, and I shall persecute them. Moreover, most of them are women I have been persecuting—poor, ignorant creatures. What right have they to set their judgement up above the priests? They have no right to have an opinion of their own, and therefore it is quite right for me to make them turn away from their foolish errors.” But see in what a different light Jesus Christ puts it. He does not say, “Saul, Saul, why didst thou persecute Stephen?” or “Why art thou about to drag the people of Damascus to prison;” No—“Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

For meditation: What a personal Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ is! He personally calls his people to himself (Luke 19:5) and he takes it personally when they are persecuted (Luke 10:16).

Without Compromise

“They took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern … they let Jeremiah down with ropes. Now in the cistern there was no water but only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud.” – Jeremiah 38:6 NASB

As an elite artist, pianist Maria Yudina was under the spotlight. Millions in her home country of Russia had died or been imprisoned. Believers faced pressure to be silent about their beliefs. Yudina, a devout Christian, could have stayed silent like many others. But she refused to compromise.

The authorities watched her closely, but she would not back down. She always wore a cross when performing, not concerned that government officials might be offended.

Her example inspired many believers. The great Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich said her concerts were her way to proclaim her faith: “She always played as though she were giving a sermon.”

She even defied atheistic dictator Josef Stalin. After receiving money from Stalin for a recording, she donated it to a church and replied: “I will pray for you day and night and ask the Lord to forgive your great sins before the people and the country. The Lord is merciful, and he will forgive you.”

The prophet Jeremiah, too, faced pressure to compromise. Refusing to yield, he was let down into a deep hole filled with mud. Officials wanted to silence him, but he remained faithful and obedient to God.

You may face pressure to compromise your faith. No matter the opposition, stay true to God. Trust in Him. Don’t allow circumstances or the reactions of others to influence you. Stay faithful to Him.

Salvation Is By Faith In Christ Alone

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By His Grace Alone

woman reading

 

Tori Troncone – Email Analyst, cbn.con

When I first got my dog, I was determined to teach him all kinds of tricks. We’d spend summer evenings out in the backyard with my pockets full of little training treats. I taught him to sit, shake, lay down, and roll over. I never taught him anything more extravagant than that, but now he’s really good at the basics. Actually, maybe too good at the basics.

Nowadays, anytime anyone is anywhere near his treat jar, or even just snacking on something that he’d like a bite of, he starts running through all of the tricks he knows. Without being asked he’ll sit, offer his right paw to shake, followed by his left, he’ll lay down, and finally roll over. He does whatever he thinks will please you enough to earn him a treat.

Unfortunately, this is a lot like what my relationship with God used to look like. Instead of walking in loving relationship with my Creator, I was just constantly trying to please Him, running through all of the “tricks” I knew. I thought if I could just please God enough, if I could prove myself to Him, then He would love me and bless me.

God is our loving Father. He does not desire this type of transactional relationship with us! We cannot earn or bribe our way to His love and blessings.

Simon the magician learned this lesson when he ran into the apostles in Samaria. When he saw the works that the apostles were doing by the power of the Holy Spirit, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power!” (Acts 8:18-19). But Peter said to him:

“May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.” (Acts 8:20-21)

I never tried to bribe God with physical money, but my heart was in the same place as Simon’s. God cannot be bribed with money, actions, good intentions, or anything else that we think will gain us His favor and blessing. As Jesus reminds us in John 14:6, HE is the way. HE is the truth. HE is the life. No one comes to the Father except through HIM!

May God bless us with the wisdom and humility to remember that we are saved by His grace alone. There is nothing we can do to earn or purchase our own way into the Lord’s favor. The price for our salvation has already been paid by Jesus Christ. Lord, help us to trust in You fully!

A home mission sermon

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” Ecclesiastes 9:10

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 22:24-27

George Washington, the commander-in-chief, was going around among his soldiers. They were hard at work, lifting a heavy piece of timber at some fortification. There stood the corporal of the regiment calling out to his men, “Heave there, heave ahoy!” and giving them all kinds of directions. As large as possible the good corporal was. So Washington, alighting from his horse, said to him, “What is the good of your calling out to those men, why don’t you help them yourself and do part of the work.” The corporal drew himself up and said, “Perhaps you are not aware to whom you are speaking, sir; I am a corporal.” “I beg your pardon,” said Washington; “you are a corporal are you; I am sorry I should have insulted you.” So he took off his own coat and waistcoat and set to work to help the men build the fortification. When he had done he said, “Mr Corporal, I am sorry I insulted you, but when you have any more fortifications to get up, and your men won’t help you, send for George Washington, the commander-in-chief, and I will come and help them.” The corporal slunk away perfectly ashamed of himself. And so Christ Jesus might say to us, “Oh, you don’t like teaching the poor; it is beneath your dignity; then let your commander-in-chief do it; he can teach the poor, he can wash the feet of the saints, he can visit the sick and afflicted—he came down from heaven to do this, and he will set you the example.” Surely we should each be ashamed of ourselves, and declare from this time forward whatever it is, be it great or little, if it comes to our hand, and if God will but give us help and give us grace, we will do it with all our might.

For meditation: Our Master knew how to be humble (Philippians 2:6-9); he also knows how to deal with people who are proud or humble (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Unbelief – Streams in the Desert – June 26

  • 202226 Jun

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? (Rom. 3:3).

I think that I can trace every scrap of sorrow in my life to simple unbelief. How could I be anything but quite happy if I believed always that all the past is forgiven, and all the present furnished with power, and all the future bright with hope because of the same abiding facts which do not change with my mood, do not stumble because I totter and stagger at the promise through unbelief, but stand firm and clear with their peaks of pearl cleaving the air of Eternity, and the bases of their hills rooted unfathomably in the Rock of God. Mont Blanc does not become a phantom or a mist because a climber grows dizzy on its side.
–James Smetham

Is it any wonder that, when we stagger at any promise of God through unbelief, we do not receive it? Not that faith merits an answer, or in any way earns it, or works it out; but God has made believing a condition of receiving, and the Giver has a sovereign right to choose His own terms of gift.
–Rev. Samuel Hart

Unbelief says, “How can such and such things be?” It is full of “hows”; but faith has one great answer to the ten thousand “hows,” and that answer is–GOD!
–C. H. M.

No praying man or woman accomplishes so much with so little expenditure of time as when he or she is praying.

If there should arise, it has been said–and the words are surely true to the thought of our Lord Jesus Christ in all His teaching on prayer—if there should arise ONE UTTERLY BELIEVING MAN, the history of the world might be changed.

Will YOU not be that one in the providence and guidance of God our Father?
–A. E. McAdam

Prayer without faith degenerates into objectless routine, or soulless hypocrisy. Prayer with faith brings Omnipotence to back our petitions. Better not pray unless and until your whole being responds to the efficacy of your supplication. When the true prayer is breathed, earth and heaven, the past and the future, say Amen. And Christ prayed such prayers.
–P. C. M.

Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God.

Beautiful Community

  ACTS 2:42-47

By:  Rebecca Jordan Heys, Today’s Devotions

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

—  Acts 2:42

God has redeemed us in Jesus and called us to live beautiful lives of gratitude and joy.

Each of us can do that alone in some ways. Alone, I can pray to God, read Scripture, and enjoy and care for God’s creation.

However, God also calls us to live beautiful lives of gratitude and joy together, as a community.

The first followers of Jesus provide us a model of how to do this well. Their ordinary, everyday habits helped to make this community beautiful. They committed their time to doing ordinary things like learning from their teachers, spending time together, eating together, and praying together. They didn’t worry about accumulating money and possessions; they shared with anyone who was in need. They celebrated the Lord’s Supper and shared celebratory meals together.

Participating in a local church is the best way to live out this kind of beautiful Christian community today. And if that isn’t possible, perhaps you can connect with a Christian ministry online or by phone or mail. Join with others in correspondence and prayer, and try to participate in Christian community as much as possible, expressing the beauty of life together in the name of Jesus.

God, thank you for the gift of Christian community. Show us opportunities to follow you in the way we live our lives together. Shape us into a beautiful community, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

His Sovereign Hand

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His Sovereign Hand

hopeless to hopeful

 

Kenneth Porter – Prayer Center Assistant Coach, cbn.com

When I came to Virginia in 2019, CBN wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t have any direction or purpose at that time. I had been falsely accused and fired from my teaching position. I interviewed everywhere but to no avail, there were no openings. I did Lyft driving for a while until I couldn’t afford to do it anymore. At my lowest point, I was looking on CBN’s website for encouragement and I saw job openings. I told myself, I can at least pray for someone.

Eventually, CBN’s human resources department contacted me. I was interviewed by a representative and soon hired.

When I came on as a new hire, I prayed for a woman from California who had an outreach ministry. Toward the end of the call, she asked me if I had something in the courts. (FYI: I never told her about my situation. And I was not a firm believer in prophecy at that time.) I told her yes. She prophesied over me. She mentioned that the decision will be overturned. A week later, my attorney called me. He told me that I was exonerated from all charges concerning my former employer. I was ecstatic!

God has blessed me ten times over since being at CBN. In 2019, I was a broken man who lost his teaching position because of false accusations. Now, in 2022, I am a revived man in Christ. I’ve also been promoted while serving at CBN. And, exonerated!

I am reminded of a Scripture in Job:

After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said: “May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’ That day—may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it” (Job 3:1-4).

He was so frustrated that he wanted to curse the day that he was born. I was there in 2019. Job had a problem trying to comprehend his circumstances. His circumstances appeared to be very bad. But He did not know what was happening from God’s perspective. Job did not know that there was a commotion in the heaven between God and Satan, that Satan was challenging God about Job’s faith. He could not recognize God’s sovereign hand.

When we are faced with hardship and difficult situations, they can overwhelm us. When we look at God from the middle of our circumstances, we will have a distorted understanding of Him. We may say a statement like “God doesn’t love me” or “God is unfair.” It can easily come out of our mouths. However, it is vital to understand our painful circumstances through God’s perspective to understand His character and His will. He can turn everything around for good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

We must recognize God’s hand in our circumstances. He can do exceedingly and abundantly above what we ask or think

 

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

By Veronica Neffinger, crosswalk.com

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14)

Did you ever realize how good things nearly always take time?

As children, waiting can seem like agony. We don’t want to think about the hours that must slowly slip by until school lets out, until summer comes back around, or until our favorite uncle comes to visit again. As adults, our impatience is little lessened, albeit perhaps better concealed.

In our culture of immediacy, having patience is even more difficult and out of reach. We are used to multitasking and packing each day with so much busyness that we seldom have time to hear our own voices.

This impatience for results, for productivity is, I believe, something that we, as Christians, must learn to surrender, will have to learn to surrender if we are going to keep growing.

Have you ever noticed that good things nearly always come about because of a process; oftentimes, a long process?

Conversely, it seems many bad things are those that happen in an instant: a car crash that turns your life upside down, a quick word hurled out in anger which breaks a relationship, a split-second decision to give in to peer pressure.

Now, of course, not all split-second decisions lead to negative consequences, but there is a striking parallel here:

As we are jumping from one thing to the next on a continual cycle of busyness, spiraling away from deep understanding and hovering on the periphery of thought, God is seeking to work against the entropy we have created, making the disparate parts of our life into something beautiful.

God is very comfortable working slowly (or what appears as slowly to us).

We all want this transformation God promises us in His Word, but are we willing to wait for it?

After the moment of salvation, God desires to sanctify us–to make us holy–but this takes time and daily repentance, submission, and prayer, all things that themselves require us to be in for the long haul if we hope to see fruit.

God does not take His sweet time making us more like Himself because He enjoys seeing our impatience; He is patient in perfecting us because, for any truth to truly take hold in us, takes time.

Although we are creatures who have no problem proclaiming an opinion in an instant, we also recognize that dearly-held beliefs are not easily relinquished.

In His infinite mercy, God takes upon Himself the process of gently wrestling our most dearly-held but harmful, selfish, and just plain false beliefs from the intense grip we have on them.

Our stubbornness to begin the growing process is often a reason why we do not spring forward in our Christian life in leaps and bounds.

But that is okay. God knows our frame, and His patience and lovingkindness never fails, even when ours does.

The sound in the mulberry trees

By: Charles Spurgeon

“When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the Lord go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines.” 2 Samuel 5:24

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Timothy 2:14-19

If any of your acquaintance have been in the house of God, if you have induced them to go there, and you think there is some little good doing but you do not know, take care of that little. It may be God has used us as a foster mother to bring up his child, so that this little one may be brought up in the faith, and this newly converted soul may be strengthened and edified. But I’ll tell you, many of you Christians do a deal of mischief, by what you say when going home. A man once said that when he was a lad he heard a certain sermon from a minister, and felt deeply impressed under it. Tears stole down his cheeks, and he thought within himself, “I will go home to pray.” On the road home he fell into the company of two members of the church. One of them began saying, “Well, how did you enjoy the sermon?” The other said, “I do not think he was quite sound on such a point.” “Well,” said the other, “I thought he was rather off his guard,” or something of that sort; and one pulled one part of the minister’s sermon to pieces, and another the other, until, said the young man, before I had gone many yards with them, I had forgotten all about it; and all the good I thought I had received seemed swept away by those two men, who seemed afraid lest I should get any hope, for they were just pulling that sermon to pieces which would have brought me to my knees. How often have we done the same! People will say, “What did you think of that sermon?” I gently tell them nothing at all, and if there is any fault in it—and very likely there is, it is better not to speak of it, for some may get good from it.

For meditation: If you must have the sermon for Sunday lunch, beware of devouring someone’s faith along with it (Mark 4:4,15).

Surfing 101

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Surfing 101

child surfing

 

Beth Patch – Senior Internet Editor & Producer, cbn.com

My sister and I stood knee-deep in restless water at the ocean’s edge, jumping over each incoming wave, squealing and laughing as we held hands and learned the art of not getting knocked down.

As we got older we ventured deeper and instead of jumping the waves, we rode them. The precise timing of wave riding challenged us to be in sync with the rhythm of the ocean. Too far behind the rise of the wave and you go nowhere. Too early ahead of the wave and you get creamed by the churning, white, foamy aftermath, sometimes pummeled to the ocean floor in its harshness. However, when we strategically positioned ourselves just behind the cap of the wave and were propelled by the current’s natural forces; we commandeered a smooth ride to shore.

At times, I feel life is like an ocean. Some waves are pretty rough, then a few gentle waves; and then it seems the waves are trying to drown me.

Have you felt this way at times? That life is determined to beat you up? That it’s difficult to get a moment between the onslaught of waves to catch your breath?

In Job 1, we read that Job suffered tremendous losses all in one day: his property, animals, servants, and all of his children. Talk about feeling like you’re drowning! Yet, this is what Job said,

“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21 NLT).

Wait a minute! Job praised the name of the Lord after all that? How can that be? I would say it’s because Job was certain to his core that God is good and worthy of praise and honor, regardless of any circumstance. When we love God and trust Him as the Master of our lives, just as He is the Master of the ocean, we do not drown in despair. He provides the Holy Spirit to give His children courage and strength and to position us as professional wave riders. We can expect the waves of life to keep coming and look for opportunities to ride each wave triumphantly to the shore.

Job endured all of these sorrows without blaming God. He wins the surfer of all-time award! And in the second half of Job’s life, the Lord not only restores what Job lost but gives him twice as much as he had before, as well as seven more sons and three more daughters (Job 42:10-13).

God does not seek to destroy us with rough seas. However, the evil one would like us to think the waves will be our undoing. Satan’s purpose is to have us focus on and fear them. God’s purpose is the opposite.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10).

For all of us who are feeling the effects of rough waves, we can agree together these waves will not overtake us. Almighty God, Jehovah, is the Master of the ocean of our lives and gives us the victory through our faith in His only begotten Son, Jesus, who was sacrificed for our sins and rose again to rule the oceans and the universe with His righteousness.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 24

1 Kings 19:2-4 2So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” 3Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

When Ahab relayed the message of Elijah’s victory on Mt. Carmel to Jezebel, she promised to do to Elijah what he had done to the prophets of Baal. In doing so, she made an oath common at the time. She vowed that if she couldn’t do it to him, then the gods could do it to her. God took her up on that. We need to watch carefully the vows that come from our lips. God hears them.

It is hard to imagine her heart being so hard that even after hearing of a mighty miracle of God, she would attempt to murder the instrument of that miracle. Elijah took her threat seriously. He faced the false prophets, but he was afraid to face Jezebel and her army. Going off into the desert, he found a bit of shade to rest under and asked God to take him home. He must have thought that after the great victory, things would suddenly change. The people knew Jehovah was God, so why didn’t they overthrow Ahab and Jezebel? Elijah was burned out. He had fought for his life and the cause of the LORD and came to the climactic point, yet nothing seemed to have changed. Even great men of God despair of life. In God’s time there will be a change in the nation. Elijah had to train a disciple before he could go to his heavenly home. Despair comes upon us at times, but don’t give up. There are things yet to be done. (To be continued.)

Remember: When you are discouraged and downhearted, know that God is sovereign over all. Circumstances will change in His perfect time.

Streams in the Desert – June 24

  • 202224 Jun

This is what the Lord says, the Holy One of Israel, the one who formed him, concerning things to come: “How dare you question me about my children! How dare you tell me what to do with the work of my own hands! (Isa 45:11)

Our Lord spoke in this tone when He said, “Father, I will.” Joshua used it when, in the supreme moment of triumph, he lifted up his spear toward the setting sun, and cried, “Sun, stand thou still!”

Elijah used it when he shut the heavens for three years and six months, and again opened them.

Luther used it when, kneeling by the dying Melanchthon, he forbade death to take his prey.

It is a marvelous relationship into which God bids us enter. We are familiar with words like those which follow in this paragraph: “I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” But that God should invite us to command Him, this is a change in relationship which is altogether startling!

What a difference there is between this attitude and the hesitating, halting, unbelieving prayers to which we are accustomed, and which by their perpetual repetition lose edge and point!

How often during His earthly life did Jesus put men into a position to command Him! When entering Jericho, He stood still, and said to the blind beggars:

“What will ye that I shall do unto you?” It was as though He said, “I am yours to command.”

Can we ever forget how He yielded to the Syrophenician woman the key to His resources and told her to help herself even as she would?

What mortal mind can realize the full significance of the position to which our God lovingly raises His little children? He seems to say, “All my resources are at your command.” “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.”
—F. B. Meyer

The desire of the soul in spiritual darkness

“With my soul have I desired thee in the night.” Isaiah 26:9

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 42

There are times when all the saints can do is to desire. We have a vast number of evidences of piety: some are practical, some are experimental, some are doctrinal; and the more evidences a man has of his piety the better, of course. We like a number of signatures, to make a deed more valid, if possible. We like to invest property in a great number of trustees, in order that it may be all the safer; and so we love to have many evidences. Many witnesses will carry our case in the courts better than a few: and so it is well to have many witnesses to testify to our piety. But there are seasons when a Christian cannot get any. He can get scarcely one witness to come and attest his godliness. He asks for good works to come and speak for him. But there will be such a cloud of darkness about him, and his good works will appear so black that he will not dare to think of their evidences. He will say, “True, I hope this is the right fruit; I hope I have served God; but I dare not plead these works as evidences.” He will have lost assurance, and with it his enjoyment of communion with God. “I have had that fellowship with him,” perhaps he will say, and he will summon that communion to come and be in evidence. But he has forgotten it, and it does not come, and Satan whispers it is a fancy, and the poor evidence of communion has its mouth gagged, so that it cannot speak. But there is one witness that very seldom is gagged, and one that I trust the people of God can always apply, even in the night: and that is, “I have desired thee—I have desired thee in the night.”

For meditation: The light shines best in the darkness (John 1:5); the people of God have proved it when all else has failed them (Psalm 73:21-26Jonah 2:1-7).