Walk In The Light

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What does it mean to walk in the light? | GotQuestions.org46 Walking in the Light ideas | walk in the light, jesus, faith
18 Bible verses about Living In The Light62 Bible verses about Walking
Quotes about Walking With God (54 quotes)Quotes about Walking With God (54 quotes)

Walk in the Light of the Lord

man walking his dog on a sunny day

 

Do schedules, deadlines, urgencies, and emergencies crowd out your determination to refresh your heart and mind with Scripture? Do you ever need a little more motivation to be in God’s word on a daily basis and live it out?

Two symbols come together in Isaiah 2:5 (NKJV) to form a beautiful instruction for our lives today:

“Walk in the light of the LORD.”

To walk means to make something your habit of life, your lifestyle, and the light of the LORD is a symbol of God’s word. God wants us to make walking in His light, our lifestyle.

Why is light used as a symbol of God’s word? What do we know about light in the physical world that can inspire us to walk in spiritual light?

  • Light in the physical world shimmers, sparkles, twinkles, and glows. The moon radiates brightness over the earth. The night sky sparkles with jewels of greater and lesser brilliance. The streaming colors of the Aurora Borealis sway back and forth in a brooding dance. Summer fireworks burst and flash to the rhythms of John Philip Sousa and Francis Scott Key. The Eiffel Tower in her glittering evening wear, meditates by the Seine River. Light is beautiful and fascinating.

  • Light also comforts, cheers, and warms us. When the electricity goes out at night, we’re grateful for a flashlight or candle. A campfire’s glow cheers those gathered around it. On a snowy evening, sitting on the hearth near the fire warms our hands, feet, and souls.

  • Light saves lives. A piercing searchlight is cast across frantic waves. It doesn’t rest until it discovers the exhausted survivors of a capsized boat. A lighthouse sends out steady pulses of hope, no matter how violent the storm.

God wants us to take in the light of His word and live it out. But in order to do it, we have to choose it. What motivates us to choose it? Understanding and appreciating the spiritual light of God’s word. Seeing its beauty, and being fascinated by it. Experiencing its comforts, and feeling its warmth. Knowing firsthand the relief of its rescue, and the grace and peace of its hope. Walking in the light of the LORD becomes a way of life that we long for.

  • Spiritual light is beautiful. Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV) reassures us,

    “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

  • Spiritual light is fascinating. Joshua Chapter 10 tells us that God gave Israel more time to defeat its enemies by making the sun stand still.

  • The light of the LORD comforts, cheers, and warms our hearts. Deuteronomy 31:8 (NKJV) says,

    “The LORD, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

  • The light of God’s word saves lives when we respond to it with faith, according to John 3:16.

To walk in the light of truth means to put it to practical use. We don’t just know the truth—we use it. We filter our thinking with it. We steer our choices and decisions by it. We consider the patterns of life in the Bible that are pleasing to God, and adopt them as our own. Those patterns of life are reinforced when we experience their benefits—strength, grace, comfort, help, relief, and spiritual refreshment.

Let’s be inspired by the beauty of spiritual light, and by its comfort, cheer, and warmth, to make God’s word our daily lifestyle. Let’s aspire to the quality of life that comes from practicing this habit of life: Walk in the light of the LORD.

Streams in the Desert – September 26

  • 202126 Sep

We walk by faith, not by appearance (2 Cor. 5:7, RV).

By faith, not appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and Satan may want us to. But God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us.

When we face these precious facts, and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings.

God never gives feeling to enable us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to encourage us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to show that we have already and utterly trusted Him. God gives feeling only when He sees that we trust Him apart from all feeling, resting on His own Word, and on His own faithfulness to His promise. Never until then can the feeling (which is from God) possibly come; and God will give the feeling in such a measure and at such a time as His love sees best for the individual case.

We must choose between facing toward our feelings and facing toward God’s facts. Our feelings may be as uncertain as the sea or the shifting sands. God’s facts are as certain as the Rock of Ages, even Christ Himself, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

“When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.”

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 26

Psalms 2:6-8 6“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. 8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

Many of the psalms look forward in time to the first and second coming of Jesus. Because Jesus is referred to as ‘the son of David’, there are verses written about Solomon that are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.

In the second psalm God is speaking to the nations of the world that refuse God’s instruction. They rebel against His loving decrees. But God is not threatened at all. In fact, He laughs. If all the nations of the earth were to join together to fight against Him, it would not disturb His peace one bit. Then God declares where His sovereign will has placed all authority to rule, in His Son.

The Son was with God from the beginning, but there is a point in human history when he is born of a woman. The birth in Bethlehem was one of the most amazing and supernatural events to ever take place. God stepped into a human body. The Son was willing to set an example for mankind and redeem us through His own obedient death on the cross. God has given Him the right to rule the kingdoms of the earth. One day He will no longer allow man to rebel. The freedom to mock God and His laws and cause the people to suffer will no longer be allowed. Those rulers who would rebel will face the rod of iron. Man keeps trying to make the perfect government and failing. The perfect government is coming.

Meditation: The King of kings will be installed on Zion, God’s holy hill, and will reign in righteousness. Are you letting Him rule in your heart today?

The God of Difficult Places

SEPTEMBER 24, 2021

Kia Stephens
Kia Stephens

“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

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I thought it was going to be a normal phone call.

The tone in her voice let me know this conversation was going to be anything but normal. We bypassed small talk about the weather and current events and took a deep dive into the primary reason for the conversation. “I have cancer,” my mom said.

Those were three words I did not expect her to say ever again. She was an eight-year breast cancer survivor and had been declared cancer-free. “This is not supposed to be happening,” I thought to myself.

It felt shocking and unreal to hear those words come from her mouth. My initial response was anger with God. How could You allow this? I said in my head. Then I reviewed the facts.

My mom needed support, but I am an only child.

My mom needed me to be close to her, but I lived in a different state.

And my mom was in her late 70s and still had a lot of life ahead of her.

The situation seemed so unfair. I felt alone, abandoned and betrayed as I grappled with the news of her diagnosis.

Everything in me wanted God to just make it go away.

In the Bible, there is another woman whose situation seemed unfair.

In Genesis Chapter 16, we are introduced to Hagar. She was the Egyptian maidservant of Sarai (Sarah), wife of Abram (Abraham). Sarai was battling infertility, and as a result, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her” (Genesis 16:2a-b, NIV).

Abram agreed to go along with Sarai’s plan, and Hagar conceived a son named Ishmael. Scripture says when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she despised her mistress. Some translations say that Hagar treated Sarai with contempt.

Then Sarai blamed Abram: “I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me” (Genesis 16:5b, NIV). Sarai then mistreated Hagar, and Hagar fled, attempting to escape the difficult circumstances in her life. As I faced my mother’s diagnosis, I could relate.

At this point, I imagine Hagar felt used, betrayed, isolated and mistreated. She must have felt that her situation was so unfair. Then in Genesis 16:7, “The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert …” (NIV).

Many theologians believe that the angel of the Lord was the Lord in angelic form. Hagar was so valued by God that He came and spent time with her. God did not have to look for her because we know that He is omniscient. I believe the pursuit was for Hagar’s benefit. He wanted her to know she was worth looking for.

He wanted her to know that she was seen and loved by God.

The angel of the Lord pursued, engaged and listened to Hagar. He then instructed her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her” (Genesis 16:9, NIV).

God did not rescue Hagar from her plight. He did not swoop down and remove her from the situation. This is an expectation I have had in my difficult places. I have longed for God to step in and save me from everything hard in my life, instantaneously making all things wonderful and new. Here we see that this was not God’s plan.

Sometimes God will rescue us from difficult places and sometimes He will sustain us in the midst of them. He is still a loving God in both scenarios.

In verses 9-10, the angel of the Lord says, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her … I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count” (NIV).

He is saying, “In the midst of the place where you feel broken, isolated, abandoned and afraid, that is where I am going to bless you.” As a result, Hagar says, “‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me’” (Genesis 16:13).

Hagar reminds us all of God’s tangible love when we are suffering, alone, broken or afraid. She reminds us to see God seeing us in our difficult places. I imagine her saying:

“Even though life is hard, I see God seeing me.”
“Even though I feel alone, I see God seeing me.”
“Even though I’m scared and broken, I see God seeing me.”

She knew God was El Roi, the God who sees.

He remains the same God today. He sees you and me as we walk through our difficult places. He is God enough to sustain us in the midst of them.

My mom continues to undergo cancer treatment. God did not swoop down and save her from her illness. He is, however, sustaining and blessing us both in the midst of this difficult place.

Heirs, not Errors

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Heirs, Not Errors

heirs-family-generations_SI.jpg

“Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child, And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (Galatians 4:7 NLT)

I hadn’t said a word at the Bible study all night. Our subject was what it meant to be an heir of Christ, and I was listening closely from where I sat on the floor in the corner. When I spoke up unexpectedly, everyone turned in my direction as if they’d forgotten I was there.

Now, I’m rarely at ease in a small group, so when everyone’s eyes and ears are on me, I generally get tense and my accent lapses as I trade enunciation for rate of proclamation. Suddenly, halfway through an over-the-speed-limit sentence, I realized I’d pronounced the word heir the same way I had just said the word error in a different context. Thankfully, when I looked around, all the ladies were nodding their heads, understanding me in spite of myself.

Heir and error. How different those words are, and yet how often we can unintentionally interchange them.

Do you see yourself as an heir of Christ? Or as an error of Christ?

I’ve taken a look at myself more than once and prayed, “God, did something happen to the blueprints?” Believing I’m an error is so much easier than believing I’m an heir in a majestic kingdom that will not end.

Error might roll off the tongue easily, but errors are impossible in God’s trade. We may occasionally look like we were assembled with flawed blueprints, but God’s Word assures us that when He looks at us, His chosen children, He sees the righteousness of Jesus—not a pile of mistakes, not a blemish on a previously perfect record, not as an out-of-control project. Righteous. Redeemed. Heirs.

If you see yourself as an error rather than an heir, please hear these words:

“Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan” (Ephesians 1:11 NLT).

Next time you feel like less than an heir apparent, look for the apparent error.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 25

Psalms 1:1-3 1Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

The book of Psalms is a collection of songs of praise. Originally they came in five different books. Many of them were penned by David. In them we find expressed the heart cry of man in nearly every situation. No matter what you are going through you can find a psalm that relates to your situation. I turn to them when I am discouraged, for they often begin with complaint and end in praise.

The first psalm warns us not to keep company with evil people. We are told not to listen to their counsel, stand in their way or sit in their seats. The word ‘blessed’ is translated ‘happy’ in some newer renderings. Blessing implies the goodness of God will be with such a person. Look for these beatitudes throughout Scripture. If the Word gives us instruction as to what to do to find God pouring out His goodness on us, we should give careful attention to that instruction. You will be blessed if you avoid bad company. Man has a natural tendency to gravitate toward mocking and complaint. Don’t!

Instead delight in God’s Word. Think on it day and night. If you will take some time each day to be in the company of the Word, and let Him speak to you, you will have a thought to dwell on that will build you up instead of tearing you down. Avoiding the mocking sinner and filling your mind with God’s instruction will cause you to be blessed.

In typical Hebrew style the psalmist expands on what it means to be blessed in a simile. You will be like a tree that bears fruit planted by a stream. You won’t dry out. You will prosper in everything you do. What a picture! What a promise! If you believe it, then you should act on it. Take time each day to delight in the Word of God. Take a thought with you through the day.

Consider: “If I meditate on God’s Word and don’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, whatever I do will prosper.”

A divided heart

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty.” Hosea 10:2

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:4-12

If we would provoke the anger of the Most High and bring down trying providences on the churches, we have nothing to do but to be divided in our hearts and all will be accomplished. If we wish that every vial may empty out its ill, and that every vessel may withhold its oil, we have but to cherish our bickerings till they become animosities; we have but to nurse our animosities till they become hatreds, and all the work will be fully completed. And if this be the case in the church at large, it is peculiarly true in those various sections of it which we now call Apostolic Churches. Oh, my brethren, the smallest church in the world is potent for good when it has but one heart and one soul; when pastor, elders, deacons, and members, are bound together by a threefold cord that cannot be broken. Then are they mighty against every attack. But however great their numbers, however enormous their wealth, however splendid may be the talents with which they are gifted, they are powerless for good the moment they become divided amongst themselves. Union is strength. Blessed is the army of the living God, in that day when it goes forth to battle with one mind, and when its soldiers as with the tramp of one man, in undivided march, go onwards towards the attack. But a curse awaits that church which runs to and fro and which, divided in itself, has lost the main stay of its strength with which it should batter against the enemy. Division cuts our bowstrings, snaps our spears, houghs our horses, and burns our chariots in the fire. We are undone the moment the link of love is snapped. Let this perfect bond be once cut in twain and we fall down, and our strength is departed. By union we live, and by disunion we expire.

For meditation: Believers are not to try to create “unity” with those who preach another gospel, but we are urged to maintain the unity that already exists between true believers (Ephesians 4:3Philippians 1:27). What would somebody have to report about your church (and your own contribution in it)?

Zion

by Inspiration Ministries

“The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, City of God.” – Psalm 87:2-3 NASB

The Bible reminds us that gates are important in practical ways. They provide ways to enter or exit a room or other structure. But gates also have spiritual significance.

The gates of Zion were of particular importance. After David captured the Zion stronghold (2 Samuel 5:7), it became the site of the temple, the center of religious life for God’s people. Zion became a symbol in every generation for the places where they gathered to worship Him. And its gates had special meaning.

The Bible reminds us how much God “loves the gates of Zion.” These gates symbolize coming into His presence and the place where we fellowship with Him and worship Him. The Bible tells us that we are to “enter His gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100:4). This means coming before Him with hearts overflowing with thanksgiving and praise.

The gates of Zion also represent God’s protection as well as the importance of evangelism. As Jesus said, we are to be like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14), a place filled with joy. We see this when the psalmist wrote that those who sing say, “All my springs of joy are in you” (v. 7).

Seek to enter God’s presence. Fellowship with Him. Worship Him. Seek to be faithful to His call on your life. And be radical in your commitment to His house, people, Word, and Kingdom.

The Blessing

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The Blessing

15 Thankful Bible Verses — Bible Quotes About Being Thankful

Mr. Spock, of Star Trek fame, would raise his hand and say “Live long and prosper.”

This “Vulcan salute,” as it has come to be called, was invented on the set of Star Trek by actor Leonard Nimoy during the filming of the second-season opener, “Amok Time.” What the people didn’t know was that the Vulcan greeting came from Leonard Nimoy’s real-life Jewish heritage. He took it from the ancient blessing the Jewish Priests would bestow upon the Israelites.

The Bible says,

“Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: ‘May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.’ Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.” (Numbers 6:23-27 NLT)

The actual blessing is done with both arms held horizontally in front, at shoulder level, with hands touching, to form the Hebrew letter “shin.” This stands for the Hebrew word for “Shaddai”, meaning “Almighty [God].”

With the hand symbol, the priest was putting the name of God on the people, sealing it upon them.

This is a special blessing God wants all of us to receive. This blessing is so important because it covers us completely in every area of our life, spiritually and materially.

This blessing is so specific that God commanded the Priests to bless the people not using their own words, but rather using an exact formulation for the blessing, prefacing the instruction with the words: “Thus shall you bless.”

This reveals that the blessing comes from the LORD Himself; the priests were a means for transmitting His gracious will. Now that we have Jesus, our Messiah, our Savior, we know that He is The High Priest and that His sacrifice has made it possible for us to enter boldly before God.

So today we can pray, petition, and speak blessings knowing that our voice will be heard, and our words will be fruitful before the Lord our Creator, because of Jesus.

As we continue to study the Priestly Blessing we learn that the people accepted the blessing and responded. So how do we receive and respond to a blessing from our Heavenly Father? We anticipate His blessing with a thankful heart and declare that His Word is so. Here is the blessing that the priests recited, along with the response of the people.

PRIEST: May the LORD bless you and protect you.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

PRIEST: May the LORD shine His face to you and be gracious to you.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

PRIEST: May the LORD turn (or lift up) His face to you and give to you peace.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

You may ask, what does a Jewish blessing have to do with me?

The Bible says,

“And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you” (Galatians 3:29 NLT).

So that means that all of God’s blessings are for us to obtain because Jesus paid the ultimate price. Everything he promised pertains to all of His children.

So let us expect the blessings from God and enjoy His goodness. Be thankful for the gift of His Son Jesus, which is His greatest blessing to us each day of our lives.

Today’s Devotions

Bible Verses for Blessed Be Your Name
Morning

September 24

Job 42:5-6 5My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job had been questioning God, but now it is God’s turn to question Job. The substance of God’s questions asks Job that if he lives in a world full of things beyond his understanding, why should he not be able to figure out what God is presently doing in his life? Such a wonderful Creator should be trusted by His creation to do what is in their best interest.

Job entered into a new relationship with God. Up until that time he had heard of God through lives and stories of others. Now he saw God with his own eyes. He had the same reaction that everyone does. He saw the holiness of God and by contrast, his wretched condition. But didn’t God say Job was righteous? No, God said there was no one on earth like him (1:8). Compared to other men he is blameless and upright. Compared to God he is a sin sick man with a sin-infested nature. Job learned genuine humility from this encounter. The manifest presence of God blows away any deception ideas of our own goodness. We need God’s manifest presence in the church today to see our real condition.

God restored everything that Job had lost, and then doubled it. There is one notable exception. He had as many children as he originally had. Why is that? Why weren’t they doubled? Besides being hard on his wife, they really were doubled. He never lost the first set of children. They merely moved to heaven before Job died. He now has twenty children, even though ten are in heaven. Things are not always as they appear. The book of Job is an exhortation to trust God no matter what you are going through.

Consider: You may never know the reasons for certain trials and struggles, but you can be sure your Creator’s character is impeccable. God will see you through, if you will continue to trust in Him.

The God of Difficult Places

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“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

I thought it was going to be a normal phone call.

The tone in her voice let me know this conversation was going to be anything but normal. We bypassed small talk about the weather and current events and took a deep dive into the primary reason for the conversation. “I have cancer,” my mom said.

Those were three words I did not expect her to say ever again. She was an eight-year breast cancer survivor and had been declared cancer-free. “This is not supposed to be happening,” I thought to myself.

It felt shocking and unreal to hear those words come from her mouth. My initial response was anger with God. How could You allow this? I said in my head. Then I reviewed the facts.

My mom needed support, but I am an only child.

My mom needed me to be close to her, but I lived in a different state.

And my mom was in her late 70s and still had a lot of life ahead of her.

The situation seemed so unfair. I felt alone, abandoned and betrayed as I grappled with the news of her diagnosis.

Everything in me wanted God to just make it go away.

In the Bible, there is another woman whose situation seemed unfair.

In Genesis Chapter 16, we are introduced to Hagar. She was the Egyptian maidservant of Sarai (Sarah), wife of Abram (Abraham). Sarai was battling infertility, and as a result, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her” (Genesis 16:2a-b, NIV).

Abram agreed to go along with Sarai’s plan, and Hagar conceived a son named Ishmael. Scripture says when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she despised her mistress. Some translations say that Hagar treated Sarai with contempt.

Then Sarai blamed Abram: “I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me” (Genesis 16:5b, NIV). Sarai then mistreated Hagar, and Hagar fled, attempting to escape the difficult circumstances in her life. As I faced my mother’s diagnosis, I could relate.

At this point, I imagine Hagar felt used, betrayed, isolated and mistreated. She must have felt that her situation was so unfair. Then in Genesis 16:7, “The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert …” (NIV).

Many theologians believe that the angel of the Lord was the Lord in angelic form. Hagar was so valued by God that He came and spent time with her. God did not have to look for her because we know that He is omniscient. I believe the pursuit was for Hagar’s benefit. He wanted her to know she was worth looking for.

He wanted her to know that she was seen and loved by God.

The angel of the Lord pursued, engaged and listened to Hagar. He then instructed her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her” (Genesis 16:9, NIV).

God did not rescue Hagar from her plight. He did not swoop down and remove her from the situation. This is an expectation I have had in my difficult places. I have longed for God to step in and save me from everything hard in my life, instantaneously making all things wonderful and new. Here we see that this was not God’s plan.

Sometimes God will rescue us from difficult places and sometimes He will sustain us in the midst of them. He is still a loving God in both scenarios.

In verses 9-10, the angel of the Lord says, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her … I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count” (NIV).

He is saying, “In the midst of the place where you feel broken, isolated, abandoned and afraid, that is where I am going to bless you.” As a result, Hagar says, “‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me’” (Genesis 16:13).

Hagar reminds us all of God’s tangible love when we are suffering, alone, broken or afraid. She reminds us to see God seeing us in our difficult places. I imagine her saying:

“Even though life is hard, I see God seeing me.”
“Even though I feel alone, I see God seeing me.”
“Even though I’m scared and broken, I see God seeing me.”

She knew God was El Roi, the God who sees.

He remains the same God today. He sees you and me as we walk through our difficult places. He is God enough to sustain us in the midst of them.

My mom continues to undergo cancer treatment. God did not swoop down and save her from her illness. He is, however, sustaining and blessing us both in the midst of this difficult place.

Take Time To Find God

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Take Time to Find God

daisy flowers laying across a book

 

God desires to be a part of our everyday lives. He longs to show His love for us in special ways. If we will take the time, He will surprise us with special gifts of His love throughout our day.

Recently, this happened to a friend of mine. She took the time to find God. No, she didn’t just get up early in the morning and go outside to sit under a large, budding oak tree. She didn’t just stop and smell the fresh spring breeze and listen to the birds singing their songs of praise to God. She didn’t meditate all day while the warmth of the sun caressed her smiling face. She began her day as she always does — she spent time in the Word and then allowed God to show up in any part of her day that He chose. She went to work, and there were special surprises for her.

The Scripture she read that morning was from the Song of Solomon [Song of Songs in some versions]. It was a precious Scripture that she took with her in her heart. As she entered the building where she works, she saw something on the table in the lobby. She decided that she would pick up the small object and throw it away. She took pride in the area where she works and simply wanted to keep things looking nice. But to her surprise, it was a small flower. Now you say, “What’s the big deal?” Well, here is the Scripture that God gave her that morning:

“For the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up, and the time of singing birds has come, even the cooing of turtledoves” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12, The Book).

It meant so much to her. She giggled and said, “Thank you, Papa” (as she always did when speaking to her heavenly Father) and kept right on walking. God was speaking to her heart about His great love for her. He was sharing with her that just as it was beginning to be spring in the natural realm, in the spiritual realm she was starting into her own springtime. And as we all know, flowers are a sign of spring.

God had allowed someone to leave a special, little flower on that table so that as she entered the building she would discover it and feel His great love for her. Her heart was greatly touched by this incident, and I felt so blessed to be a part of it. I had been right behind her when she walked into the building that morning.

As I thought of how special that moment seemed to her (not knowing about the Scripture God had given her), I knew something very wonderful was happening. As I stepped into the elevator, God spoke to my heart and said, “She took the time to find ME.” She had taken the time to find God. She was continuing the day as we all have to do, working and taking care of family, yet this moment did not escape her.

“Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him! Then he will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring” (Hosea 6:3, The Book).

Needless to say, I took the rest of the day to look for God. I made sure I gave eye contact to everyone I met and shared a kind word and a smile. I wanted to find God in my day, and I wanted to be God’s love to someone who might need to see Him in a tangible way.

We can find God. We can feel His love in wonderful ways. We don’t need to think that He is millions of miles away and too busy to care about our special needs each day.

Take time to find God.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 23

Job 40:6-8 6Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm: 7“Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 8“Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

Once Job had finished justifying himself, his three friends said no more. A younger man then spoke up. He told Job the thing that he had done wrong was to justify himself rather than God. The young man, Elihu, insisted that God’s character was unquestionable.

Then God showed up. He had a few questions to ask Job. His questions served one purpose, to show that God is all-knowing and we are not. We can’t question what He allows because we have so few facts. He sees every aspect in the past, present, and future. How dare we question the character of the Almighty who moment by moment gives us life!

If there was a sin in Job’s response to his condition, it was to justify himself and thereby accuse God. In justifying himself, he was saying that God had made a mistake. True, his friends drove him to it, but he yielded to the temptation to make himself look good, and by contrast said that God was doing something wrong. “Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” God asked.

In times of difficulty, when we cannot understand the reason or purpose for the struggle in our lives, we can count on the integrity and justice of God. The one thing we dare not do is say that God is unjust in His dealing with us. Would you discredit His justice? We must proceed in faith, knowing that our understanding is limited and His is infinite.

Remember: God can take it when we question Him. He understands our weakness. Just don’t push it too far, especially as a poor testimony before others. God may question you.

Struggles of conscience

By: Charles Spurgeon

“How many are mine iniquities and sins? Make me to know my transgression and my sin.” Job 13:23

Suggested Further Reading: John 8:21-47

“Tell me how I can feel the need of my Saviour.” The first advice I give you is this: Particularise your sins. Do not say “I am a sinner;” it means nothing; everybody says that. But say this, “Am I a liar? Am I a thief? Am I a drunkard? Have I had impure thoughts? Have I committed unclean acts? Have I in my soul often rebelled against God? Am I often angry without a cause? Have I a bad temper? Am I covetous? Do I love this world better than the world to come? Do I neglect prayer? Do I neglect the great salvation?” Put these questions and you will soon convict yourself much more readily as being a sinner. I have heard of a hypocritical old monk who used to whine out, while he whipped his back as softly as he could, “Lord, I am a great sinner, as big a sinner as Judas;” and when someone said, “Yes that you are—you are like Judas, a vile old hypocrite,” then he would say, “No I am not.” Then he would go on again, “I am a great sinner.” Some one would say, “You are a great sinner, you broke the first commandment;” and then he would say, “No I have not.” Then when he would go on and say, “I am a great sinner,” some one would say, “Yes, you have broken the second commandment,” and he would say, “No I have not;” and the same with the third and the fourth, and so on right through. So it came to pass he had kept the whole ten according to his own account, and yet he went on crying he was a great sinner. The man was a hypocrite, for if he had not broken the commandments, how could he be a sinner at all? You will find it better not to dwell on your sins as a whole, but to pen them, count them over, and look at them individually, one by one.

For meditation: Christ did not die for a theoretical concept of sin, but for actual sins committed by practising sinners (Matthew 1:2126:281 Corinthians 15:3Galatians1:4Hebrews 1:39:281 Peter 2:241 John 2:2Revelation 1:5).

Sermon no. 336

Calm and Quiet

 By: Bob Arbogast , today devotions

Scripture Reading — Psalm 131:1-3

I have calmed and quieted myself. — Psalm 131:2

Stress levels keep rising. At work, at school, even at home, the pressure is on. Productivity targets climb. Housing bubbles burst. Viruses run out of control. Who can calm down? Who can relax?

Well, maybe I can take a cue from Psalm 131 and not concern myself with things above my pay grade. Maybe I can imagine myself as a toddler snuggling against my mother’s warmth, the gentle rhythm of her breathing soothing me. Ahhh. Can I just stay here?

When Jesus was a toddler, he and his family were refugees in Egypt. What a lot they had experienced! Visits by smelly shepherds and stargazing foreigners. A close escape from Herod’s hit squad. And then months turning into years while they lived as strangers in a strange land.

Yet we can imagine Mary picking up Jesus and wrapping him in her arms. And we can imagine Jesus finding comfort from her warmth and her steady breathing. Out of place in Egypt, threatened back home—none of that was a concern for little Jesus, who rested quietly in his mother’s embrace.

The psalm and Jesus himself invite us to snuggle against the warmth of God’s presence, to rest in God’s embrace, to trust God when the pressure is on, to trust God like Jesus trusted his mother’s arms.

Prayer

It can be hard to calm down, Jesus. Too much is too scary and too far beyond me. With hope in God, help me to share a quiet rest with you. Amen.

Enjoy All Your Years

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Enjoy All Our Years

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However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. (Ecclesiastes 11:8)

Twenty-six years ago I drove my wife to the emergency room. For the next eight hours we played backgammon while waiting for her condition to improve. It didn’t. The pain became unbearable; they gave her drugs. This helped, but not enough. My parents were in Atlantic City, gambling. Hers in Charlotte. So there we were, a young couple facing our first life or death moment without friends or family nearby.

I forget what I wore that day. A surf shirt, probably. I do recall wearing a white headband with the word “Coach” printed in blue marker. I guess I was a good coach because later that evening she delivered a baby boy, our first.

Birthdays are a big deal in our family. Not as big as Christmas, but close. Birthdays mark our beginnings and suggest we might leave a lasting impression on others. In our family, when it comes to birthdays, nobody does a better job of celebrating our legacy of life than my cousin Ricky.

A typical “Cousin Ricky” birthday box includes a specially mixed CD with songs from the year you were born, DVD movies tailored to your tastes, toys from the Dollar store and candy. Lots and lots of candy. Sometimes the candy has melted by the time the box arrives, but that’s okay. Chocolate in any condition and shape is good.

In the past I’ve received a plastic whistle (with compass) to help ward of bears and keep me from getting lost on the trails above Black Mountain, old Westerns DVDs, several copies of the movie Jaws (in case the player eats one), CDs with music from Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Beach Boys, Beatles, etc… and candy. Lots and lots of candy.

The writer of Ecclesiastes advises us to enjoy all our years – not just those early ones when people were making a fuss over us. Too often we adults discount birthdays and other days and pretend they’re not a big deal. But they are. Every day is huge. If you don’t think so, try living without one.

I wish every family had a Cousin Ricky. I wish I cared about people as much as Ricky. None of us knows how many years we’ll have together; but it seems to me, setting aside one day out of 365 to acknowledge the life of someone we love is a small testimony to their worth.

The Psalmist writes:

“… all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

When it comes to birthdays, “B” in the moment. Inhale the sweet smell of fresh cut grass on a ball field and hear the sequels of laughter on a playground. Taste and see that God is good today and everyday.

The next time a friend or family member has a birthday, give candy and a song from their good old days. The shipping will probably cost more than the gift but that’s okay. It’s the thought that counts.

And thoughts of love and life are priceless.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 22

Job 31:24-25, 28 24“If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’ 25if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained,

28then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high.

Job continued his defense before his friends. He told how he always helped the needy and took good care of his workers. He said that he was consistent to do those things because he had a fear of God. He knew God required it of him, and that he would be judged if he did not. As we look at Job’s defense, few of us can say that our lives come anywhere close to Job’s. Yet the real standard is not Job but Jesus Christ. Thank God for sending His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.

In the passage for today Job says that he did not trust in his great wealth. Jesus told us it was very hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. Job seems to have been one of the few who could be trusted with wealth but not rely on it for security. He recognized that provision came from God. Though he labored to earn income, he knew God is the Provider. How many of us can be just as secure when our bank accounts are bottoming out as when they are bulging? That can only come when we see God is our security regardless of how much we possess.

He did not even rejoice over his wealth. It is one thing to be thankful and another to find joy in something. Our joy should always be the presence of God in our lives. When wealth becomes our reason for rejoicing we are turning it into an idol that takes God’s place. Job said that both trusting in wealth for security and finding your joy in wealth were both sins to be judged. Both are unfaithfulness to God.

Dear reader, pause and consider if wealth has taken God’s place in your heart as the reason you rejoice. Let us guard our hearts so that we are not seduced by wealth to worship another god. In this passage he groups this sin with worship of the sun and moon, other gods. If you have fallen in this area of making wealth a god, confess your sin, and put God back in His rightful place in your heart. See that He alone is your security and your greatest joy.

Repentance unto life

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Acts 11:18

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 3:1-14

Can they be sincerely penitent, and then go and transgress again immediately, in the same way as they did before? How can we believe you if you transgress again and again, and do not forsake your sin? We know a tree by its fruit; and you who are penitent will bring forth works of repentance. I have often thought it was a very beautiful instance, showing the power of penitence which a pious minister once related. He had been preaching on penitence, and had in the course of his sermon spoken of the sin of stealing. On his way home a labourer came alongside of him, and the minister observed that he had something under his smock-frock. He told him he need not accompany him farther; but the man persisted. At last he said, “I have a spade under my arm which I stole up at that farm; I heard you preaching about the sin of stealing, and I must go and put it there again.” That was sincere penitence which caused him to go back and replace the stolen article. It was like those South Sea Islanders, of whom we read, who stole the missionaries’ articles of apparel and furniture, and everything out of their houses; but when they were savingly converted they brought them all back. But many of you say you repent, yet nothing comes of it; it is not worth the snap of the finger. People sincerely repent, they say, that they should have committed a robbery, or that they have kept a gambling-house; but they are very careful that all the proceeds shall be laid out to their hearts’ best comfort. True repentance will yield “works meet for repentance;” it will be practical repentance. Yet farther. You may know whether your repentance is practical by this test. Does it last or does it not?

For meditation: As with faith, repentance without works is dead. Jesus could tell that the repentance of Zacchaeus was practical and real (Luke 19:8-9).

Impacting Lives

by Inspiration Ministries

“The witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’” – Acts 7:58-60 NASB

When he arrived in America in December 1891, Samuel Morris did not know anyone. He had journeyed across the Atlantic from his native Africa, driven to grow in his faith and particularly to meet Pastor Stephen Merritt. On the day he arrived, through miraculous circumstances, he met Merritt, telling him, “I have just come from Africa to talk to you about the Holy Ghost!”

Although just nineteen, Samuel had the right priorities. He had given up everything to grow closer to God. That first night in America, he led 17 men to the Lord at a prayer meeting.

Trusting totally in God, he enrolled in Taylor University, where he made a dramatic impact. Lives were transformed by his faith, his hunger for the Word, and his prayers, which he called “talking to my Father.”

In May 1893, Samuel died after contracting a severe cold. He was only twenty-one. Although his life was brief, he touched countless people. Inspired by his dream of returning to Africa, many students became missionaries. Others experienced life-changing transformations.

The Taylor University president described Morris as “a divinely sent messenger of God,” sharing how he moved others with his “simple faith in God.”

The Bible describes how Stephen, another young man, also died at a young age. Yet he left an example that changed the life of Saul of Tarsus and others. Remember, God can use you. Hunger for His presence. Be ready to serve Him.

 

Obedience To God Brings Righteousness

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Quotes about Righteous man (59 quotes)62 Bible verses about Righteousness, Of Believers
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Are You Over-Righteous?

 

“May all who come behind us find us faithful.” I can still remember chanting those words in our daily chapel meetings in Bible school. Girded by the breastplate of righteousness, a battalion of young soldiers were well-equipped to become the next Billy Graham or Elizabeth Elliot. Was it true righteousness though? Admittedly, I sometimes wonder.

Did you know that there is such a thing in the Bible as over-righteousness?

“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise — why destroy yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16 NIV)

What does it mean to be over-righteous? According to the Bible, true righteousness is only imparted through the Holy Spirit. Anything else is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). God’s righteousness is imputed to us at the moment of salvation and thenceforth, any true righteousness that flows from us is not from us, but from the Holy Spirit.

George Whitefield, one of the great evangelists of the Englightenment said:

“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and we hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth. Now till the Spirit of God is felt on our souls as the wind on our bodies, indeed, my dear brethren, you have no interest in him: religion consists not in external performance, it must be in the heart, or else it is only a name.”

Many times our efforts may outwardly appear unto Christ. We busy ourselves with the “work” of the Kingdom. Outwardly, we paste on a smile, while sweating bullets inside. You know the drill … early to rise for 7am prayer at church and then off to visit a friend in the hospital. We can hardly keep up with this Christian life. We’re not sure how to fix this, but if we don’t, our friends will be visiting us in the hospital. Martha, Martha, Martha ….

The reality is that all of our toiling is in vain. Our over-righteousness destroys us and perhaps even the people around us. Somewhere in our work for the Lord, our desire to be great for God has deterred the ability to hear His voice. Our walls of pride may have been built up so much that it is difficult to see this coming disaster.

We need to STOP! We are not the Savior of the world. We need to stop filling up our self piggy banks and flaunting our righteousness. We don’t have to strive and struggle any longer. Jesus came for people like YOU and ME!

When Jesus came to this earth, His actions seemed rather un-righteous to the religious folk. He broke the Sabbath, declared Himself equal to God, spent a lot of time with sinners, and urged his followers not to pray in public as the hypocrites. Maybe we should follow His example. The very man who was righteousness embodied, did not even try to out-do the Law. He was always consumed with His Father’s business, no matter how great or small and never wanted to make a name for Himself or be like any other person under Heaven.

“Then Jesus explained, ‘My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.'” (John 4:34 NLT)

If you think that you may be suffering from over-righteousness, I urge you to repent and reconsider that Your soul is starving. Get alone with God immediately and be open to His will no matter how menial or trite. He might surprise you! You may find that the secrets of advancing the Kingdom of God are to be found right under your nose. If you humble yourself, you will see that the smaller, less noble things are the greatest. The last shall be first in the great Kingdom of God (Matthew 20:16).

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 21

Job 31:1, 9,11-12 1“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.

9“If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door, …

11For that would have been shameful, a sin to be judged. 12It is a fire that burns to Destruction; it would have uprooted my harvest.

In Job 31 Job began to list the areas in which he had been faithful. His friends seem to have thought there must have been some hidden sin somewhere. Job resisted declaring the specifics of his righteousness up to this point, but since they insisted, he began to list all the areas he had already gone over in his own heart.

The first one that was mentioned is lust. Job recognized the destructiveness of lust and made a covenant with his eyes not to look on a girl lustfully. He recognized it as a fire that burned to Destruction. He had probably witnessed that fire in the lives of young men in the city in which he lived. He learned from their sad stories.

In the world today, there are a million excuses to ignore this wise direction. Even though society considers it wrong to consider women as objects, it sets a double standard in flaunting women’s bodies in clothing design, in entertainment, and even in its contests for the best-looking woman of an area. If man had difficulty in the days of Job, when women were covered with robes, what are they to do today? We can do the same as Job. Look into the eyes, the windows of the soul. Refuse to contemplate the person as anything other than an eternal soul that is loved of God. This is as good a plan today for men as it is for women. Don’t joke about a desire for the body of another. It is not a laughing matter. It is a fire that burns to Destruction. There are so few that set an example in this area today. It is considered prudish or religious.

Instruction: Set an example for your own sake. Don’t become another statistic of the fire that burns to destruction. Make a covenant today with your eyes!

Streams in the Desert – September 21

  • 202121 Sep

“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).

This is the happy season of ripening cornfields, of the merry song of the reapers, of the secured and garnered grain. But let me hearken to the sermon of the field. This is its solemn word to me. You must die in order to live. You must refuse to consult your own case and well-being. You must be crucified, not only in desires and habits which are sinful, but in many more which appear innocent and right. If you would save others, you cannot save yourself. If you would bear much fruit, you must be buried in darkness and solitude.

My heart fails me as I listen. But, when Jesus asks it, let me tell myself that it is my high dignity to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings; and thus I am in the best of company. And let me tell myself again that it is all meant to make me a vessel meet for His use. His own Calvary has blossomed into fertility; and so shall mine.

Plenty out of pain, life out of death: is it not the law of the Kingdom?
–In the Hour of Silence

Do we call it dying when the bud bursts into flower?
–Selected

“Finding, following, keeping, struggling,
Is He sure to bless?
Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs,
Answer, ‘Yes.”‘

A New Creation

by Inspiration Ministries

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

While a boy living in western Africa, Prince Kaboo was captured by a rival clan. As he was being tortured, he saw a bright light and heard a voice telling him to flee. He did not know what this meant, but somehow he escaped into the jungle and made his way to Monrovia.

There, he heard a missionary speak about Paul’s conversion. Thinking about his own experiences, he related to Paul’s story and committed his life to Christ. He was baptized as Samuel Morris, a name suggested by the missionary.

Growing in faith, he particularly desired to learn more about the Holy Spirit and decided to go to America. Putting into practice all he knew, Samuel walked to Robertsport, Liberia’s port city. There, he found a captain who agreed to let Samuel journey to America on his ship, working to pay for the passage.

Aboard the ship, Samuel discovered that the captain and crew had strong prejudices against Africans. He frequently was beaten and given dangerous assignments. Yet through the ocean voyage, he impressed his shipmates with his testimony as he openly prayed and sang Gospel songs.

By the time the ship docked in New York, the captain and most of the crew had accepted Christ – all because of Samuel’s witness.

His story demonstrates how God can use anyone for His Kingdom. Commit your life to Him. Have faith. Let your light shine, so He might use you to impact lives.

God Gives Us Sufficient Grace

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Keep Pounding the Rock

man hitting a boulder with a sledge hammer

 

“… My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV)

“You’ll never move that rock, Mikey, it’s too big.” Not very encouraging, but Mikey had grown used to hearing it from his friends. Since moving to their home when he was only three, Mikey hated that rock and wanted his dad to move it to make room for a swing set. His dad told him if he could move it, he would buy him one.

Mikey was six then, and he spent every day trying to move that rock. Sometimes, he tried only a couple of times when he went outside to play. Other days, he’d try for hours. He first started with the little hammer in the tool kit he got for Christmas. When that didn’t work, he used his dad’s hammer. Still not successful, he saved his birthday money and bought a three-pound sledgehammer. Mikey had a boat-load of determination. Some might call it a stubborn streak. He never would give up on moving that rock.

As he entered his teen years, Mikey began to accept the fact that rock would probably always be there. Nevertheless, he didn’t give up. By age 14, he’d bought himself a 10-pound sledgehammer. When he made the varsity football team, primarily because of his size and strength, he decided that rock could be useful in his training regiment. Each day he would spend an hour jumping on the top of the rock and pounding 30 licks with his hammer. He would then jump down and back up again and do another 30. By now, he had long since forgotten about the swing set.

On signing day in his senior year, he signed a scholarship letter of intent. It was for a full ride to one of the most prominent football universities in the south. Later that night at supper, he asked his dad, “Are you ever going to move that rock?”

His dad responded, “Why should I? Look what it did for you.”

“What do you mean, Dad?” Mikey asked.

With a grin, his dad began to explain. “Mikey, since you were six years old you have wanted that rock moved. You worked at it every day, even breaking a few hammers along the way. That rock never moved, but it did something for you I never could’ve. It was that rock that made you strong. Although you hated it, it’s the very reason you’re where you are today.  If not for that rock, you would’ve spent your time playing video games or something. Instead, now you’re about to live out your dream of playing college ball. It’s your hard work, determination, strength, and perseverance that got you there. That rock you hated so much did all of that for you far better than I ever could have. I’m proud of you, son.”

Sometimes, it may be the thing that hinders us the most, that molds us into what God wants us to be. The trials we go through breed compassion for others going through them. They create in us a desire to alleviate someone else’s suffering. They cause us to want to encourage others in their struggles. Those things we hate and don’t think we’ll ever survive are the very things that make us who we are.

Keep pounding the rocks in your life. Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 20

Job 23:10-12 10But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. 11My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. 12I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

Job’s friends continued to insist that he is being punished for his sin. They kept telling him that the wicked are always punished and the righteous are always blessed. Job told them that this was just not true. Many wicked live in prosperity and die in peace. Many righteous suffer without a cause that can be determined. He told them their counsel was just plain lies. We’d like to think that judgment for the wicked is always swift and observable, but God often reserves judgment for the Day of Judgment.

Job had a firm conviction that he had not intentionally committed anything for which the Lord would deal like this with him. He had retraced his actions, thought through his life, and not been able to find anything for which God would be disciplining him. How few of us can make the same statement! Of course, he had sinned, but he had not intentionally rebelled against God’s will.

Instead of punishment, he now saw this as a refining process, just as gold is refined by fire. We will see this idea again throughout the Scriptures, but this is the first mention of it. What words is Job referring to when he speaks of ‘the words of God’s mouth’? He may have had an oral report of Adam to Abraham but as yet there were no written accounts that we know of, with the possible exception of the Book of Enoch. Did Job once hear the still small voice of God? He complained that no matter where he turned God was not to be found. Perhaps he had found God in the past in that voice within his heart, but now the heavens were silent. He treasured the words of God more than his daily food. That was what led to such a righteous life. There will be times in our lives when we are walking with God and yet we do not hear His voice. We must proceed by faith, knowing He is refining and teaching the children upon whom He has fixed His love.

When Sin Bubbles Up – Crosswalk the Devotional –

by Kelly Givens , crosswalk.com

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life has set me free from the law of sin and death.”  Romans 8:1-2

A few weeks ago, after realizing I had somehow missed reading this children’s classic as a child, I found myself speeding through the entire Anne of Green Gables series. The books captivated me, and for good reason. Written in the early twentieth century by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, the series chronicles the life of red-headed Anne Shirley, an orphan adopted by a brother and sister pair who really wanted a little boy to help on their farm. Eventually, they learn to love the little girl brought to them, as do all readers of Montgomery’s classic. Anne is a true literary heroine. We identify with her weaknesses: her spiritedness, quick-temper and vanity, and we strive for her strengths: bravery, generosity, and a heart overflowing with love for life and people.

As I read through the books, I was struck with the number of times Montgomery used Anne’s character to illustrate deep truths about the human condition. There were many examples, but one stood out in particular to me.  After being picked up from the train station by Matthew, Anne begins describing her life in the orphanage. Realizing she was exaggerating just how bad things were, Anne apologizes, saying, “It’s so easy to be wicked without knowing it, isn’t it?”

Indeed, it is. Throughout the Green Gables series, Anne repeatedly found herself unexpected moments of “wickedness,” forced to repent to neighbors, family and friends for some fiery retort, vain action or other impulsive sin. We can all relate to Anne- I know there are days I have to apologize over and over for the same sin- it just somehow keeps “bubbling up” in me.

The Apostle Paul dealt with this too. In his letter to the church in Rome, he wrote “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19). What causes us to do the very things we don’t want to do? Why does our sin seem to bubble up in us—overflowing like a pot of boiling water? Paul understood: it is our indwelling, sinful nature fighting against our desire to do what is good. He goes on to say:

“For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

Thankfully, Paul’s question is rhetorical; he knows the answer. “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  After acknowledging God to be our ultimate rescuer from sin, he writes some of the most encouraging verses of scripture found in the Bible, reminding us that through Christ’s death on the cross we have all we need to fight the wickedness that bubbles up in us.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Praise God! Our sinful nature is no match for the redemptive power of the cross.  Yes, as Anne said, it is easy to be wicked- in fact, it’s unavoidable. Thankfully, Christ has already taken the punishment for our wickedness, and even more- he has credited his righteousness to us, giving us all the means we need to conqueror the sin in our lives.

Saturday

Bob Arbogast , Author

Scripture Reading — Psalm 13:1-6

At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. . . . They laid Jesus there. — John 19:41-42

Jesus was put to death on a Friday. And he rose from the dead on the following Sunday. The Bible tells us quite a bit about those two days, which we now call Good Friday and Easter Sunday. But what about the in-between day, Holy Saturday? The Bible says next to nothing about it.

That leaves us to wonder. What was going on with Jesus on Saturday? He was dead. His lifeless body lay in a stone tomb. We tend to assume that his spirit was now with God in heaven, or paradise, as Jesus implied while he was dying on the cross (Luke 23:4346). But we aren’t told anything more.

On Saturday, while Jesus’ body lay dead, was his spirit aware, even alert? I wonder if Psalm 13 drifted through his mind, as if to say, “Father, if you don’t open my eyes, I will sleep forever in death! If you don’t open my eyes, my enemies will have won!”

But the psalm doesn’t end there. It turns to focus on God’s love and salvation. Did Jesus’ spirit then also say, “But I trust in your unfailing love”? And as darkness surrendered to light on Sunday morning, did Jesus praise his Father with more words from this psalm: “My heart rejoices in your salvation”?

Maybe Jesus gives more meaning to this psalm than we have realized.

As Good As It Gets

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As Good As It Gets

young woman daydreaming about her future

 

A man who incidentally suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder leaves his psychiatrist’s office frustrated and anxious. He steps into the waiting area where other patients are seated and stops as if an epiphany hit him.

“What if this is as good as it gets?” he asks and then he leaves. The patients remain frozen, pondering the possibility.

It’s my favorite scene from the movie of the same name, As Good As It Gets. It’s a funny moment, but it’s really a question about contentment. Can you honestly look at your life as it stands right now and say, “[Freeze frame] Am I okay with what I see?”

You might say no and probably have good reasons why. Life can certainly throw some unfair curveballs our way. You might say, “Yes, but …”, and the qualifiers start coming out. Well, of course, you’d be happier if you had more money, a more attentive spouse, a nicer job, etc.

I am as guilty of discontentment as the next guy. I have pinned a certain level of happiness on milestones that I have yet to achieve. But there comes a time in every daydreamer’s life when she has to ask, “If this is as good as it gets, what am I going to do about it?”

“The future is no place to place your better days” – Dave Matthews, “Cry Freedom”

I think God put contentment in our grasps. Paul, who is among our examples for a Christian life, wrote about being content in his present situation, which was often being homeless, in jail or in some type of peril. If anyone had a reason to be discontented, it was Paul. Here he was doing God’s work and people always wanted to kill him. Don’t believe me? Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-26. Shipwrecked, flogged, robbed, stoned … it wasn’t easy being Paul, yet he wrote to the Philippians:

I am not complaining about having too little. I have learned to be satisfied with whatever I have. I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything. (Philippians 4:11-13, CEV)

The rock that Paul leaned on was his belief in Christ. He found contentment in the facts that Jesus never left him and the Holy Spirit was continually helping along his journey. He found the far-reaching arm of grace was enough to hold him no matter how close he came to the brink. Quite simply, to Paul, every day he had another breath was a gift. Life – somewhere in its core, with all its imperfections and pitfalls – was good.

The older I get, the more I know the winds of change are inevitable, but their timing is often a mystery. You just never know when or how your situation will improve. So, when faced with discontentment, the more reliable decision would be to change one’s perspective of the circumstance – rather than waiting for the circumstance itself to change.

Either way, it’s always good to stop in the middle of the crowdedness of life and ask the question, “What if this is as good as it gets?” And if it is, then ask God where you can find joy and peace in this moment. Let God show you where He has hidden His grace for you, because I promise, it’s there.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 19

Job 19:25-27 25I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. 26And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Job’s friends continued to insist that Job face up to the sin that had caused his miserable condition. Job continues to tell them he can’t find one. Of course, he was not perfect, nor is anyone. He couldn’t find an issue to repent of. There are times when we suffer the consequences of the sins of others. There are times when there may be a heavenly battle over us, such as this case with Job. What did Job cling to through it all? What kept him from following his wife’s advice and cursing God? He trusted in the perfect character of God.

He knew that God was his Redeemer. That is the Gospel. Though these ancient people had only oral tradition to go on, Job knew God was his Redeemer. He also knew that one day his Redeemer would physically stand upon the earth. Even though he died and rotted away, he believed he would see that day. He longed for it, because then he knew he would then understand what it was all about.

You may have sorrow in your life because you cannot find the reason or plan of God in your present circumstance. You can’t see any good that comes from it. Do as Job did and put your hope in the day when you will see God. God will ever be perfect and just. You can be sure that there are reasons for all things, and that they are good reasons. He is sovereign over all. Evil is not without boundaries. All things will have meaning and purpose. Place your hope in the day you will see Him face to face and have all your questions answered.

Consider: Your Redeemer lives. Does your heart yearn for that day?

Don’t Become Friends With the World

SEPTEMBER 16, 2021

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15 (ESV)

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Years ago, the closing words of a commercial caused me to pause and play it back to see if I had heard correctly. “Contact us and we’ll help you build an outdoor living area that will make you the envy of your neighborhood.” Yep! I heard it correctly. “Make you the envy of your neighborhood.”

Today, similar ads saturate our inboxes and our social media, seducing us to believe luxurious, pretty things will make us feel important. Complete. Happy. Secure.

I fell victim to those ads a few years back. Each time I opened my emails from one particular furniture store, how I longed to fill my home with their beautiful furnishings. But my budget just didn’t allow it.

In our key verse today, God addresses my very struggle. He commands us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15a). Why? Scripture goes on to explain, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15b). God knows we cannot love the world and Him at the same time. The love of one pushes out love for the other because the things that fill this world are not of God.

God created our souls to hunger for what is eternal; therefore, nothing in this world will ever fully satisfy. Ever.

Jesus warns of our dangerous and formidable enemy, Satan, who works aggressively to tempt us with the things of this world. (John 10:10) The good news is that we have a choice when it comes to Satan’s lies and temptations. So the question for us is this: Who will we choose? God or the world?

Choosing God requires putting systems in place in advance to protect our hearts and minds because loving the world is a gradual process. Our enemy is highly skilled at enticing and tempting. Thus the Apostle Peter warns us to “be alert and of sober mind” (1 Peter 5:8a, NIV).

How can we be alert and of sober mind? Here are a few lessons I learned when I became a bit too comfortable with the world.

Don’t become “friends” with the world.
They started as emails delivered to my inbox. Cozy bedding. Luxurious furniture. I coveted each lovely, superbly designed image. But with all my family’s other expenses, owning those beautiful things wasn’t a reality.

Until we received some Christmas money.

Don’t give in to the world.
With that money, I put a lovely sofa in my cart, reasoning we could charge the rest. And that’s what we did. Curled up on our new sofa, I looked around at the dated furniture surrounding me. I returned to the website and ordered a coffee table. We’ll be able to afford it soon. We can charge it now and pay for it with my first paycheck.

Don’t fall in love with the world.
This led to a pattern of behavior. I desired the lovely things of this world. They made me feel happy. Content. And most of all, like I fit in.

This friendship with the world aroused a love in my heart for what we couldn’t afford. As my husband and I made more money, those things became more affordable.

Until they weren’t.

I’m so thankful God’s Word interrupted this sinful “friendship.” I learned three truths that led to three simple steps to help me overcome this pattern.

 

 

    1. The fruit of God’s Spirit indwelled me. (Galatians 5:22-23) One of the fruits of God’s Spirit is self-control. So now when I struggle with desiring pretty things, self-control empowers me to say “no”!

 

 

    1. I took my thoughts captive with God’s Word. (2 Corinthians 10:5) I prayed His living, active, powerful truths and promises into my weakness and temptation. (Hebrews 4:12)

 

 

    1. I took one step at a time. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13) My first step: unsubscribe from all emails that tempted me to spend money on what we didn’t need. If I didn’t see it, I didn’t want it!

 

Unsubscribing helped. But I also had to address the longing in my heart that found satisfaction in those lovely things. Not seeing them took away the power they had over me. But the best change of all was that my choice enabled us to pay down debt, which in time freed us up to give to others. And those opportunities brought so much more joy than a lovely couch ever could have.

Perfect Beauty

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Perfect Beauty

 

Voluptuous blonde actresses and famous well-built athletes: What do they have in common besides million dollar salaries? One common denominator I observe is the illusion of perfection, modeled by their outward appearance.

This philosophic thought came to me at the post office. Long lines of impatient customers and rows of tiny post boxes do not usually produce an atmosphere of contemplation. But today, I gazed at the stamp designs, enlarged and framed. The splashy illustrations showed perfectly formed bodies. The drawings ignored inborn flaws of ordinary people. As I inched forward to mail my package, I pondered the committee’s choice of stamp heroes.

Did a special stamp commission or maybe a government bigwig vote from a list of persons whom they emulated and revered? Let me describe a person they should have chosen. She is not a glamorous blonde, but has been a beautiful redhead for her 47 years. Or, she did have red hair, before radiation and chemotherapy. She has had brain surgery and a bone plate removed from her skull. She now sports a large hollow spot, her scalp sinking in a four-inch wide circle on the side of her nearly bald head. A large U-shaped scar surrounds that indentation.

This description doesn’t match the images on those postage stamp portraits. But I am certain my sister is more beautiful than any Hollywood legend. She is better qualified to be honored on a stamp than any big-name athlete.

My sister Marilyn has an inner beauty that a scalpel cannot mutilate. Radiation may destroy her hair follicles but they cannot destroy her soul. She models her life as a Christ-follower and has her eyes fixed on a crown. She gives glory to God in all her circumstances. Her earthly tent may be stricken with brain cancer, but the core of her being has not changed. In the face of terminal illness, she has strong faith—even on the hard days.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV)

In spite of physical misery, she remains motivated to help others. She’s wheelchair-bound, so she phones: ordering gift books, giving words of encouragement; words of witness that everyone can be made whole and forgiven through Jesus Christ.

And I have overheard her side of a phone call with a friend. I have seen her smile when she answers, “Fine! And how are you?” She was not stretching the truth because deep in her soul she is fine. Her healing will come—she knows it. She has told me Jesus may heal her exactly as He did the lame man of the Bible. One moment in time, from broken to whole, instantaneously. Or, she said, He may choose to heal her when she sees His face in heaven. She has come to the point that she is fine with either outcome. This is what makes the anguish of disease bearable. The hope of heaven, walking in The Way, even when a tumor steals your legs. Marilyn knows she is on the right path.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30 NIV)

So I shall write the Postmaster General: “In hearty recognition of a person who should be featured on a commemorative stamp, I do hereby nominate Marilyn Grimm Sturm.” But, hey! I forgot. If you have your tiny portrait printed millions of times on thin paper with zigzag edges and a sticky underside, it’s no comparison to your name printed once in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Marilyn Sturm has already received the greatest recognition of all.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 18

Job 14:14-15 14If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. 15You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made.

Job continued to proclaim his innocence, and his friends continued to insist that he had to have some secret fault. At first, Job said no one can stand before God and if God gave man an audience, man would not be able to speak. Later, however, he asked if there could not be some mediator. There is a Mediator that will stand between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

In the middle of Job’s complaint, he spoke the words of the passage for today. Though the people of Job’s time did not believe in the afterlife, Job uttered these words in a way that fit with New Testament theology. Job’s earlier words show he saw death as an end of being, and so we interpret the change here to mean his healing and restoration. “Will man live after death?” In the light of the New Testament we answer “Yes!” to his question. Our days upon earth are hard service, but our transformation, our metamorphosis, is coming. God will call with the sound of the Last Trump, and we will answer. He will long for the creatures His hands have made. The Son will come to receive His bride, and the marriage feast will begin.

Since the Holy Spirit crafted the words, we have the wonderful hope hidden within Job’s imperfect understanding. In spite of the difficulties we face in life and the tests that God allows to come our way, we have the hope of our transformation and the call of God to those He longs for. Cling to your hope through times of trial.

Encouragement: Set your sights on eternity with Him! You will be renewed!

Footprints

Bob Arbogast, today devotions

Scripture Reading — Psalm 77:13-20

Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. — Psalm 77:19

West Michigan winters can be gloomy. By early January, we’re remembering the green of last spring, the warmth of last summer, and the blazing colors of last fall. Memories of bright days can help us to endure dark ones.

Psalm 77 is set during a dark time. But the memory of brighter days keeps hope alive. The brightest memory recalls Israel’s escape from slavery in Egypt hundreds of years earlier, and especially how God cleared a path for them through the waters of the Red Sea (vv. 16-18).

But there’s something else to that memory. The psalm says, in effect, “God, in those days we saw what you were doing for us. But we didn’t see you directly. The damp seabed didn’t show your footprints. We could only see Moses and Aaron leading the way like good shepherds” (see vv. 19-20).

Well, many years later, in the person of Jesus, God took on human flesh. Jesus, the Son of God, was visible—feet, hands, and all. He left footprints. When we look at Jesus, we can see God. We see God going before us, leading the way.

The path that Jesus follows leads to the darkness of death. But he doesn’t turn aside. He is our good shepherd. He lays down his life for us. And we can see his feet, and his hands, nailed to the cross. When we see that, we know he loves us, even on the darkest days.

Prayer

Jesus, in the gloom of winter, you lead the way. In the warmth of summer, you lead the way. Help us to see your footprints and to follow you every day. Amen.

God’s Servant

by Inspiration Ministries

“Is it not true, though you were insignificant in your own eyes, that you became the head of the tribes of Israel? For the LORD anointed you as king over Israel.” – 1 Samuel 15:17 NASB

“Do you know who I am?” The executive brazenly defied a police officer responding to reports she had become unruly and drunk on an airline flight. When confronted, she lashed out, breaking his glasses. Then, she threatened to call a camera crew vowing to use her influence to ruin his life. She boasted, “You’ll lose your job.”

But the officer wasn’t intimidated, and the executive was arrested. She would pay for her actions. She wasn’t as invincible as she imagined. Was she always so arrogant? Perhaps not. But she had developed an unhealthy pride.

Once, all of us were infants, helpless and vulnerable. Throughout our lives, all of us have been beginners, apprentices learning a craft. As entry-level professionals, many are thrilled with the opportunity for a job. But along the way, some, like this executive, become arrogant.

How easily we can change after we achieve success, after we advance in our careers and receive power and authority and become known as experts. In the process, we can become like Saul – no longer humble but proud, not eager to serve, but self-centered, possessive, living for ourselves, depending on our own strength and resources.

This can happen to anybody – even you. Seek to stay humble before God. Submit your life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Pray and seek first God’s Kingdom. Remember, everything belongs to Him, and you are His servant.