In Jesus There Is Life

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.[f] The rich man also died and was buried,

 

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Proof of Life

From: Our Daily Journey

Proof of Life

Read:

Luke 19:1-10
Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham (Luke 19:9).

Families of kidnap victims often refuse to pay ransom without “proof of life,” evidence such as a phone call or video that shows their loved one is well. True believers in Jesus reveal a different kind of “proof of life”—evidence of lives transformed by their new life in Christ.

Zacchaeus exhibited proof of new life after encountering Jesus. He was “the chief tax collector in the region.” That meant he took money from his countrymen, skimmed a lot off the top, and sent the rest on to Rome. He “had become very rich,” which meant he was good at his job (Luke 19:2). He was despised, but not by Jesus who “came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus came for people just like Zacchaeus; so when He saw him in the branches above, He invited Himself over for dinner (Luke 19:5).

The crowd grumbled that Zacchaeus was “a notorious sinner,” and he didn’t disagree (Luke 19:7). “Sinner” was who he was, but it wouldn’t define him now. Zacchaeus demonstrated true repentance when he promised to give half his wealth to the poor and pay back four times whatever he had “cheated people on their taxes” (Luke 19:8). Jesus saw the tax collector’s contrite heart and announced, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9).

We’re saved when we repent of our sin and believe in Jesus. One proof of repentance is restitution: Do we right our wrongs when possible? A proof of faith is sacrifice: Does our trust in Jesus inspire us to serve others?

Jesus accepts us just as we are, but He loves us too much to allow us to stay that way. His loving transformation may be a long process, but every step forward is your proof of life.

 

The Ministry of the Inner Life

By Oswald Chambers

The Ministry of the Inner Life

By what right have we become “a royal priesthood”? It is by the right of the atonement by the Cross of Christ that this has been accomplished. Are we prepared to purposely disregard ourselves and to launch out into the priestly work of prayer? The continual inner-searching we do in an effort to see if we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, sickly type of Christianity, not the vigorous and simple life of a child of God. Until we get into this right and proper relationship with God, it is simply a case of our “hanging on by the skin of our teeth,” although we say, “What a wonderful victory I have!” Yet there is nothing at all in that which indicates the miracle of redemption. Launch out in reckless, unrestrained belief that the redemption is complete. Then don’t worry anymore about yourself, but begin to do as Jesus Christ has said, in essence, “Pray for the friend who comes to you at midnight, pray for the saints of God, and pray for all men.” Pray with the realization that you are perfect only in Christ Jesus, not on the basis of this argument: “Oh, Lord, I have done my best; please hear me now.”

How long is it going to take God to free us from the unhealthy habit of thinking only about ourselves? We must get to the point of being sick to death of ourselves, until there is no longer any surprise at anything God might tell us about ourselves. We cannot reach and understand the depths of our own meagerness. There is only one place where we are right with God, and that is in Christ Jesus. Once we are there, we have to pour out our lives for all we are worth in this ministry of the inner life.

 

The sinner’s advocate

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ 1 John 2:1

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 1:5–10

This truth, so evangelical and so divine, should be practically remembered. It should be practically remembered, dear friends, at all times. Every day I find it most healthy to my own soul to try and walk as a saint, but in order to do so I must continually come to Christ as a sinner. I would seek to be perfect; I would strain after every virtue, and forsake every false way; but still, as to my standing before God, I find it happiest to sit where I sat when I first looked to Jesus, on the rock of his works, having nothing to do with my own righteousness, but only with his. Depend on it, dear friends, the happiest way of living is to live as a poor sinner and as nothing at all, having Jesus Christ as your all in all. You may have all your growths in sanctification, all your progress in graces, all the development of your virtues that you will; but still I do earnestly pray you never to put any of these where Christ should be. If you have begun in Christ then finish in Christ. If you have begun in the flesh and then go on in the flesh, we know what the sure result will be. But if you have begun with Jesus Christ as your Alpha, let him be your Omega. I pray you never think you are rising when you get above this, for it is not rising, but slipping downwards to your ruin. Stand still to this—

‘Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling.’

Still a sinner, but still having an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous—let this be the spirit of your everyday life.

Mercy, omnipotence, and justice

By: Charles Spurgeon

“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.” Nahum 1:3

Suggested Further Reading: Nehemiah 9:9-31

Have you ever observed that scene in the garden of Eden at the time of the fall? God had threatened Adam, that if he sinned he should surely die. Adam sinned: did God make haste to sentence him? ‘Tis sweetly said, “The Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day.” Perhaps that fruit was plucked at early morn, maybe it was plucked at noon-tide; but God was in no haste to condemn; he waited till the sun was well nigh set, and in the cool of the day came, and as an old expositor has put it very beautifully, when he did come he did not come on wings of wrath, but he “walked in the garden in the cool of the day.” He was in no haste to slay. I think I see him, as he was represented then to Adam, in those glorious days when God walked with man. Methinks I see the wonderful similitude in which the unseen did veil himself: I see it walking among the trees so slowly—if it is right to give such a picture—beating its breast, and shedding tears that it should have to condemn man. At last I hear its doleful voice: “Adam, where art thou? Where hast thou cast thyself, poor Adam? Thou hast cast thyself from my favour; thou hast cast thyself into nakedness and into fear; for thou art hiding thyself. Adam, where art thou? I pity thee. Thou thoughtest to be God. Before I condemn thee I will give thee one note of pity. Adam, where art thou?” Yes, the Lord was slow to anger, slow to write the sentence, even though the command had been broken, and the threatening was therefore of necessity brought into force.

For meditation: There are good and bad ways of taking advantage of God’s apparent slowness (2 Peter 3:3,4,9).

Be Free From Sin

 

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Free from Sin

From: Our Daily Journey

Free from Sin

Read:

Jeremiah 30:1-24
I will give you back your health and heal your wounds (Jeremiah 30:17).

“You guys need to stay in bed,” I said as I pulled the door closed behind me. I was babysitting three boys, five and under, who shared a room. Between the middle one climbing dressers and the tears of the youngest, I had gone into their room multiple times after putting them to bed.

Shortly after I closed the door the final time, I heard the middle one say to the youngest, “John John, cry so Miss Julie will come in here.” I dropped my head into the palm of my hand and let out an exasperated laugh. A few seconds later, the little one started whining.

When their mom returned home, I told her about their antics. To discipline them, the boys had toys taken away that could only be earned back through good behavior. I felt bad that they had to receive the punishment but relieved they would learn and hopefully behave better next time.

Kids aren’t the only ones who need discipline. In the book of Jeremiah, God describes “a time of trouble” for His people (Jeremiah 30:7), a time when He couldn’t “let [them] go unpunished” (Jeremiah 30:11) but “had to punish” them because their sins were many and their guilt was great (Jeremiah 30:15). Thankfully, God’s plan didn’t stop there. He lovingly promised, “I will give you back your health and heal your wounds” (Jeremiah 30:17). Although God had disciplined His people for their sin, He was working through it to heal and restore, to “bring them home” (Jeremiah 30:3).

Through Jesus, we too have a way to return home to our Father. As a caring Father, God will lovingly guide and discipline in a way that’s “always good for us” (Hebrews 12:10). And in time “there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Jeremiah 30:11).

 

Have You Come to “When” Yet?

By Oswald Chambers

Have You Come to

A pitiful, sickly, and self-centered kind of prayer and a determined effort and selfish desire to be right with God are never found in the New Testament. The fact that I am trying to be right with God is actually a sign that I am rebelling against the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I pray, “Lord, I will purify my heart if You will answer my prayer— I will walk rightly before You if You will help me.” But I cannotmake myself right with God; I cannot make my life perfect. I can only be right with God if I accept the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as an absolute gift. Am I humble enough to accept it? I have to surrender all my rights and demands, and cease from every self-effort. I must leave myself completely alone in His hands, and then I can begin to pour my life out in the priestly work of intercession. There is a great deal of prayer that comes from actual disbelief in the atonement. Jesus is not just beginning to save us— He has already saved us completely. It is an accomplished fact, and it is an insult to Him for us to ask Him to do what He has already done.

If you are not now receiving the “hundredfold” which Jesus promised (see Matthew 19:29), and not getting insight into God’s Word, then start praying for your friends— enter into the ministry of the inner life. “The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.” As a saved soul, the real business of your life is intercessory prayer. Whatever circumstances God may place you in, always pray immediately that His atonement may be recognized and as fully understood in the lives of others as it has been in yours. Pray for your friends now, and pray for those with whom you come in contact now.

 

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You will hear a word spoken behind you, saying, “This is the correct way, walk in it,” whether you are heading to the right or the left. (Isa 30:21)

When we are in doubt or difficulty, when many voices urge this course or the other, when prudence utters one advice and faith another, then let us be still, hushing each intruder, calming ourselves in the sacred hush of God’s presence; let us study His Word in the attitude of devout attention; let us lift up our nature into the pure light of His face, eager only to know what God the Lord shall determine—and ere long a very distinct impression will be made, the unmistakable forth-telling of His secret counsel.

It is not wise in the earlier stages of Christian life to depend on this alone, but to wait for the corroboration of circumstances. But those who have had many dealings with God know well the value of secret fellowship with Him, to ascertain His will.

Are you in difficulty about your way? Go to God with your question; get direction from the light of His smile or the cloud of His refusal.

If you will only get alone, where the lights and shadows of earth cannot interfere, where human opinions fail to reach and if you will dare to wait there silent and expectant, though all around you insist on immediate decision or action—the will of God will be made clear; and you will have a new conception of God, a deeper insight into His nature and heart of love, which shall be for yourself alone a rapturous experience, to abide your precious perquisite forever, the rich guerdon of those long waiting hours.
—David

“STAND STILL,” my soul, for so thy Lord commands: 
E’en when thy way seems blocked, leave it in His wise hands; 
His arm is mighty to divide the wave. 
“Stand still,” my soul, “stand still” and thou shalt see 
How God can work the “impossible” for thee, 
For with a great deliverance He doth save.

Be not impatient, but in stillness stand, 
Even when compassed ’round on every hand, 
In ways thy spirit does not comprehend. 
God cannot clear thy way till thou art still, 
That He may work in thee His blessed will, 
And all thy heart and will to Him do bend.

“BE STILL,” my soul, for just as thou art still, 
Can God reveal Himself to thee; until 
Through thee His love and light and life can freely flow; 
In stillness God can work through thee and reach 
The souls around thee. He then through thee can teach 
His lessons, and His power in weakness show.

“BE STILL”—a deeper step in faith and rest. 
“Be still and know” thy Father knoweth best 
The way to lead His child to that fair land, 
A “summer” land, where quiet waters flow; 
Where longing souls are satisfied, and “know 
Their God,” and praise for all that He has planned.
—Selected

Passionate Devotion To Jesus

 

Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

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The Service of Passionate Devotion

By Oswald Chambers

The Service of Passionate Devotion

Jesus did not say to make converts to your way of thinking, but He said to look after His sheep, to see that they get nourished in the knowledge of Him. We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him. Discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief or doctrine. “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate…, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). In this verse, there is no argument and no pressure from Jesus to follow Him; He is simply saying, in effect, “If you want to be My disciple, you must be devoted solely to Me.” A person touched by the Spirit of God suddenly says, “Now I see who Jesus is!”— that is the source of devotion.

Today we have substituted doctrinal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many people are devoted to causes and so few are devoted to Jesus Christ. People do not really want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is deeply offensive to the educated minds of today, to those who only want Him to be their Friend, and who are unwilling to accept Him in any other way. Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people— the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. If I am devoted solely to the cause of humanity, I will soon be exhausted and come to the point where my love will waver and stumble. But if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity, even though people may treat me like a “doormat.” The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of that life is its seeming insignificance and its meekness. Yet it is like a grain of wheat that “falls into the ground and dies”— it will spring up and change the entire landscape (John 12:24).

The Right Answer

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[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him”— 1 John 5:1

When Jesus asked a question, it was not because He didn’t know the answer. You can be sure He was making a point.

Jesus and His disciples were in Caesarea Philippi, away from their own territory. It was a place of idolatry and oppression—a threatening place both politically and spiritually. In this environment, Jesus posed two important questions about the perception of His identity. He wasn’t interested in His popularity rating. He wanted His followers to be sure about the One they were following.

Today our culture is just as hostile and opposed to Jesus as when He first asked the question: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13). As in Jesus’ day, people offer a long list of inadequate and incorrect ideas about Jesus, ranging from “just a good teacher” all the way to “divisive” and “intolerant.”

The real question was and continues to be: “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Peter boldly declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Jesus said that Peter’s accurate confession was a God-given insight and that he was blessed because of his declaration (Matthew 16:17).

Join Peter in confessing that Jesus is your Savior. Your life will be bolstered and blessed.

O receive Him today who so loved you
That He died on the cross for your sin;
O believe Him and open your heart’s door,
Let the Savior who loves you come in. —Anon.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. —1 John 5:1

 

Me and My Motivator

By: Bob Noebel, Author

young-man-smiling-outdoors

Motivational research is the study of what influences or causes people to choose or reject a course of action. In the business world, these procedures help companies sell products. In Genesis 3, we find that Satan already knew the three basics for selling his product to man: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life:

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” (See Genesis 3:6)

The sale was made. The rest is history.

What about God? Since He created us, it is only logical that He would know how to motivate us for good works rather than evil. After all, the Word says that it is not His desire that any should perish, but that everyone would come to the knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ.

God must love a challenge. Why else would we be born with two strikes against us — free will and a sin nature? How in the world is He going to motivate us? Thank God that He is not the mighty “Casey at the bat” who strikes out. God hits a home run.

First of all, God did the hard part. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. The weight of our sins would have been enough to crush us, but that has been dealt with, thanks to Jesus.

If that alone isn’t enough to motivate you, there’s more. When Jesus ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God, He sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to enable us to live a godly life:

You however are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit … (Romans 8:9).

Our motivation to live a life worthy of His calling is because He first loved us. When we didn’t give God the time of day, He was still there waiting patiently for us. When we came to Him with all our problems and hang-ups, He received us with open arms. When we continue to mess up, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (See 1 John 1:9)

God loves me so much that He saved me, cleansed me, and filled me with His Spirit. I don’t need any more motivation than that!

How about you? Are you ready to stand up to the plate and hit a home run for Him? You can do it. I know you can.

Christ’s Truth Will Set You Free

John 8:31-32

The Truth Will Set You Free

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

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Favoring Truth

From: Our Daily Journey

Favoring Truth

Read:

James 2:1-10
Doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? (James 2:4).

Talking with a colleague at a Christian prep school, I was reminded how easy it can be to judge others. Accustomed to the short hairstyles of most of our students, he was offended by the creative haircut of a visiting teen. Challenging his assumptions, I reminded him that our perception of others’ appearance isn’t an accurate way to gauge a mature, spiritual life in Christ.

Made in the image of a God who declared His creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31), we have not only the ability to recognize but the desire to celebrate beauty. But we imitate the world when we trust our perception of appearances instead of seeking the truth (Proverbs 11:22). Whether we intend to or not, when we create our own standards of worth, the way we discern is faulty—leading to wrong views of others and wrong decisions.

James addressed the church’s cultural confusion, one which values worldly success but leaves the heart unchanged, in his letter to the “believers scattered abroad” (James 1:1). James 2:1 identifies the foundation of sure truth: “Our glorious Lord Jesus Christ,” a truth that separates the lifestyle of believers from the world’s favoritism. When Christ is at the center of all we think and do, we begin to see reality, though in part, as He does.

When we’re no longer focused on others’ approval, we can be a part of creating a “kingdom culture” by valuing those who offer us nothing in return (James 2:2-4). Discrimination, especially when based on another person’s appearance, is sin because it not only denies the diversity of all people made in God’s image but it is rooted in a humanistic desire for power and control (James 2:9-10).

Godly discernment, on the other hand, displays both truth and love. And as history and Scripture bear out, we reveal God’s truth best through how we love others (1 John 3:18).

 

Suzie Eller June 18, 2018
Finding Help When We Feel Lost
SUZIE ELLER

“For God has unveiled them and revealed them to us through the [Holy] Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things [diligently], even [sounding and measuring] the [profound] depths of God [the divine counsels and things far beyond human understanding].” 1 Corinthians 2:10 (AMP)

We hiked up the gorgeous trail. My legs ached. I could only imagine how it stretched the legs of the two little guys behind me. The 3-year-old and 5-year-old started the hike with energy and enthusiasm, which was now clearly lagging. Hearing a wail, I turned to check on them. The 3-year-old lay crumpled in a heap.

“You left me!” he wailed.

His father (walking behind him) had eyes on him, but for just a moment our little one lost sight of us. His dad knelt and scooped him up.

I heard him whisper, “Son, if you think you are lost, just stop. Don’t move even a step, and I’ll come to you as quick as I can.”

There are times I have felt like this little guy.

I’m trekking along in my faith, loving the journey, and suddenly I feel alone or uncertain. That can happen when my faith is challenged by those who don’t believe. It can take place when God asks me to do something new, and I want to hold on to the old. It can absolutely sneak up on me when I don’t feel Him holding me as close as I used to.

In the book of First Corinthians, Paul is writing to the church of Corinth. He had planted a thriving church, but things went wrong after he left. Believers were fighting among themselves. They were arguing about what was true … and what was not. The result was that many believers felt a little lost.

In his letter, Paul reminds them of what he has taught them. He reminds them of the foundational truths of their faith. And, in today’s key verse, Paul assures them of a Helper who knows the heart of the Father, and therefore who will help us know what to believe and what to do:

“For God has unveiled them and revealed them to us through the [Holy] Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things [diligently], even [sounding and measuring] the [profound] depths of God [the divine counsels and things far beyond human understanding]” (1 Corinthians 2:10).

Maybe you, too, feel a little lost sometimes. We all do at one time or another.

When that happens, it’s time for us to stop right where we are, so we can listen for the voice of the Helper. Sometimes that comes through Scripture or a godly friend. Sometimes it’s deep inside of us, and when we are still, we can hear that gentle voice.

Paul describes this Helper as a Counselor who knows the plans the Father has for you. He knows what you are trying to say as you cry out. (Romans 8:26-27)

He understands the difference between truth, almost truth, and lies, and He will always lead you toward truth. (John 16:13)

The Helper moves us beyond our own understanding. We are given a glimpse beyond our feelings. Beyond the circumstances. Beyond the chaos.

Whether we’re trekking uphill, loving every minute, or crumpled on the ground in uncertainty, we can trust there is a Helper who knows who we are and where we are going. We may not know the exact destination of our journey, but we can take the next step with assurance.

For God knows exactly where we are, for He has never taken His eyes off us. Not for a second.

Father, when I feel lost, remind me that my safe place is always You. May I come to You first. May I call out Your Name first. Thank You that You are near, and that You have promised a Helper all along the way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Where was God when a two-year-old boy was dragged into the water by an alligator at a Disneyworld resort? Where was God when 49 people were gunned down in a Florida nightclub? And where was God when an Egypt Air jet with 66 persons onboard went down in the Mediterranean Sea last month?

The answer is that God was in the same place as he was when Stephen was stoned to death, John the Baptist was beheaded, Peter was hanged upside down, Abel was killed by Cain and John Huss was burned at the stake. God was there in each horrific situation, just as he was when his only son was crucified. Certainly, God could have stopped each death. He could have intervened and changed what happened. But he did not.

We do not understand. We ask why over and over again. Why did he let all of these people die? We would have done everything humanly possible to prevent the deaths. So why didn’t God? Hearing that “we don’t know why” does not offer any of us any comfort. Instead, it leaves us even more confused, more upset and more distraught. There is no way we can reconcile the fact that a God who is all-powerful and all-loving allowed his own creations to die.

What might help us, though, is to realize we understand life and death only as it is in this world. We know almost nothing about what lies beyond. We can only imagine the wonders of heaven, living in eternity and the thoughts of God. Our trust in him must take us the rest of the way, across the dark chasm of doubt and disbelief. If we trust him, and we have faith in his way, we will at least be able to cope with death.

Death to us seems like the end. But to God, death in this world is just the beginning to a new life. We may still weep because of our loss; even Jesus wept when he heard about the death of his dear friend Lazarus. Recall what Jesus said when Martha exclaimed, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” John 11:21 ESV. Jesus replied, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” Through our tears, may we take solace in knowing what he said is true. He is eternal proof that only our bodies die. Our true life in him lives on forever.

Our Safe Place

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age

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Our Safe Place

From: Our Daily Bread

Our Safe Place
Read: Psalm 91 | Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 7–9; Acts 3

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2

My very first job was at a fast-food restaurant. One Saturday evening, a guy kept hanging around, asking when I got out of work. It made me feel uneasy. As the hour grew later, he ordered fries, then a drink, so the manager wouldn’t kick him out. Though I didn’t live far, I was scared to walk home alone through a couple of dark parking lots and a stretch through a sandy field. Finally, at midnight, I went in the office to make a phone call.

And the person who answered—my dad—without a second thought got out of a warm bed and five minutes later was there to take me home.

The kind of certainty I had that my dad would come to help me that night reminds me of the assurance we read about in Psalm 91. Our Father in heaven is always with us, protecting and caring for us when we are confused or afraid or in need. He declares: “When they call on me, I will answer” (Psalm 91:15 nlt). He is not just a place we can run to for safety. He is our shelter (v. 1). He is the Rock we can cling to for refuge (v. 2).

In times of fear, danger, or uncertainty, we can trust God’s promise that when we call on Him, He will hear and be with us in our trouble (vv. 14–15). God is our safe place.

Dear Father, thank You for being my Rock and my safe place.

The living God will always be our shelter.

Peace of Christ

From: Our Daily Journey

Peace of Christ

Read:

John 14:23-31
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid (John 14:27).

In the middle of the twentieth century, Japan and the United States were embroiled in a bitter war which only came to an end with the detonation of two nuclear bombs. Yet in the decades that followed, these two countries worked hard to forge peace not only through the ceasing of hostility, but through military and economic cooperation and cultural exchange. Today, the two former enemies are close allies.

When we think about the concept of “peace,” we often think only about the ceasing of conflict or struggle, as in the end of a war. And in this way, our understanding of peace is largely circumstantial—we think we have peace when our situation is no longer difficult or stressful. But Jesus tells us that the peace He leaves is not the same as the world offers: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).

How do the world’s peace and Jesus’ peace differ? At least one difference is that experiencing Christ’s peace doesn’t depend on our circumstances, but a relationship. The peace of Jesus comes through the Father sending us His Son and Spirit (John 14:23,26). Through Christ’s Spirit, our Counselor and Teacher, we experience His peace in us (John 14:26). This peace doesn’t depend on perfect circumstances, but a perfect and personal triune God—who in Christ has won the victory over Satan and is returning again to restore all things (John 14:28,30).

Jesus cautioned us that we’re certain to face troubling circumstances in our lives (John 16:33). But our peace doesn’t come from avoiding the valleys, but in experiencing even in those moments the presence of God with us (Psalm 23:4).

 

Beware of Criticizing Others

By Oswald Chambers

Beware of Criticizing Others

Jesus’ instructions with regard to judging others is very simply put; He says, “Don’t.” The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known. Criticism is one of the ordinary activities of people, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it. The effect of criticism is the dividing up of the strengths of the one being criticized. The Holy Spirit is the only one in the proper position to criticize, and He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding. It is impossible to enter into fellowship with God when you are in a critical mood. Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others. Jesus says that as His disciple you should cultivate a temperament that is never critical. This will not happen quickly but must be developed over a span of time. You must constantly beware of anything that causes you to think of yourself as a superior person.

There is no escaping the penetrating search of my life by Jesus. If I see the little speck in your eye, it means that I have a plank of timber in my own (see Matthew 7:3-5). Every wrong thing that I see in you, God finds in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself (see Romans 2:17-24). Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation. The first thing God does is to give us a thorough spiritual cleaning. After that, there is no possibility of pride remaining in us. I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.

 

God Appeals Through Us

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through
us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.    II Corinthians 5: 20
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We Are Ambassadors

From: Our Daily Journey

We Are Ambassadors

Read:

2 Corinthians 5:11-21
We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

For many years, I held on to the dream of one day adopting a five-year-old boy from Russia. “Why such a specific desire?” a former colleague once asked me. “Because,” I explained, “Close friends adopted a five-year-old orphan from Russia and he’s amazing!” Samuel, the young boy from Russia, continues to be an (unofficial) ambassador for his native country.

The actions and attitudes of citizens, whether positive or negative, can significantly affect how others perceive their country of origin. That’s why it’s so important that those of us who profess to follow Jesus remember—at all times—that “we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ ” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

As ambassadors, we’ve been given a “fearful responsibility to the Lord,” to represent Him in a manner that persuades others to know Him too (2 Corinthians 5:11). Our motives should not include seeking attention and applause for ourselves or our ministry, but to glorify God through our words and actions (2 Corinthians 5:12).

As ambassadors, may we grasp that we are empowered by Christ’s love, that He died for all, and that we’ve died to our old way of life (2 Corinthians 5:14). In response, by His strength, our aim should be to no longer live for ourselves but instead to live for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15). This is an important charge as others are watching us and will make assumptions about what it means to believe in Jesus based on what our lives reflect.

What an extraordinary gift we have from God! He saved us from our sins, made us right with God through Christ, and permits us to be part of His work of reconciling people to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18). Yes, we are His ambassadors.

 

Glynnis Whitwer June 15, 2018
Does God Even Care About Me?
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” Matthew 10:29 (NIV)

A good friend’s father abandoned the family when she was young. As a result, she struggled relating to God as her Father. Another friend’s dad was harsh and critical. It took years for her to feel unconditionally loved by God.

As a young Christian, I was thankful I didn’t have major issues with my father. Although my dad wasn’t a Christ-follower, he allowed my mom to take me and my little sister to church. And though he never said, “I love you” nor attended any of my school performances, I knew he loved me in his own way. My father was a good man, hardworking and faithful to his family. However, he was an uninvolved presence in my life.

So if I had a problem, I went to my mother. If I got into trouble, I called my mother. When I wanted advice, well, you can guess whom I called. This didn’t seem odd to me.

For years I congratulated myself on navigating my father’s distant personality with minimal negative impact. I was deeply aware it could have been worse, and I thanked God for a happy childhood. It wasn’t until years later as an adult that I pushed a little deeper into relating to God as my heavenly Father, based on my earthly experience.

Back then I’d heard everyone (even those with great dads) has some kind of “father issue” with God because of their human (and inherently sinful) earthly fathers. While I wanted to dismiss it, I decided to revisit the topic. Could it be true for me? Was there something missing in my relationship with God?

As I dug deep, I discovered that although I was confident of God’s love, I didn’t really trust Him to be there in times of trouble. Would He step in if I had a problem? Does God even care about me?

Every question revealed the same disturbing truth: I didn’t really, truly, deep in my heart, trust God. Believe in? Yes. Love? Yes. But … trust? The words were easy to mouth, but my heart wasn’t singing the same tune.

This realization shed light on so many issues that hadn’t seemed troublesome enough to address. Like why I had trouble praying for myself. And why I had so much fear for myself and my children, or why I neglected to seek God’s wisdom in decision-making.

Seems I really did have “father issues” that affected my intimacy with God. I didn’t know what it was like to have a father to turn to in good or bad times. But I wanted to learn. I desperately wanted to know God as a perfect Father.

So as awkward as it felt, I made some changes.

I intentionally got more personal in prayer, even addressing God as “Dad.” (Mark 14:36) Faced with decisions, even small ones, I asked God for advice. (James 1:5) And when fear started to well up, like when I navigated a fear of flying, I declared, “I don’t trust the pilot, I don’t trust the mechanic who tightened the bolts, I don’t trust the weather, I trust YOU!” (Psalm 91)

Little by little, my faith and trust grew. I took doubtful thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and intentionally exchanged them with thoughts that affirmed God’s trustworthiness to help in times of trouble.

I also took today’s key verse to heart: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” (Matthew 10:29). It took years to rewire my thinking with the truth about God’s ability and willingness to be my heavenly Father. And honestly, I’m still a work in progress.

When I slip back into my independent ways, I must choose to believe what’s true: I have a Heavenly Father who wants to be my hero, champion, protector and confidant — if I’ll only let Him.

Dear heavenly Father, You’re perfect in all Your ways. Your Word says You are a loving father, and I long to know You that way. Only You know the gaps in our relationship based on my imperfect understanding of You. Please reveal them to me, and help me work through them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Always Building and Watching

By: Michele Howe

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“The God of heaven will give us success.” Nehemiah 2:20

Lately, I’ve been relating a lot to the Old Testament character Nehemiah who felt physically exhausted, emotionally spent, and spiritually opposed (and I’m not trying to rebuild a wall — just be faithful to the small stuff God has called me to do). As I read about the circumstances surrounding this unflinching soul who labored long and hard despite opposition from many forces, I am struck by this man’s focus on his objective to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (no matter what).

No doubt, Nehemiah, like all of us, caught the glorious vision of restoring what enemies had destroyed, for God’s honor and as a testimony of hope for the future of God’s people. When he realized the depth of destruction that had occurred, Nehemiah sat down and wept. Sound familiar? I wonder how many of us have the same reaction to — the national news, our local news, even to daily reports from our closest friends and family?

Of course, the appropriate reaction to any report of injury, loss, and destruction is to sit down and weep. But Nehemiah didn’t stop with the natural reaction; he took the news of the catastrophe and went straight to God.

Nehemiah’s bold prayer of faith, of great expectation even, is the kind of prayer I’m offering up to the Lord these days because I know my one and only hope lies in the deliverance that God alone can supply.

Reading about the days that followed Nehemiah’s gathering of workers and supplies, I marvel at not only how hard they worked, but how they worked — each one with his weapon in his hand. Nehemiah and his people were always building and watching. In other words, they had a job to do, but they were wise enough to stay on alert to the dangers that always accompany a work of faith (seen and unseen).

“But I (Nehemiah) prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.'” (See Nehemiah 6:9)

Nehemiah, terrific leader that he was, proved himself strong in faith as well as street smarts. He knew instinctively what I often forget. God can call us to a work; but it’s up to us to make sure we have our equipment, our supplies, and our weapons at the ready because opposition is always lurking just outside our line of vision.

For me, when I have a job to do, my best work (for God) comes only after I’ve counted the cost and prepared for the task at hand. For all of us, preparation comes in many guises … and there’ll be a price to pay, a burden we willingly take on, and sacrifices we’ll gladly make the moment God calls us. And yet, we can only complete the job with God’s sovereign intervention.

He puts the burden upon our heart to accomplish for Him something we can only do through Him. Each step of the way, with our hand upon our weapon (of faith), He gives us the gift of conscious reliance upon His moment-by-moment provision. We’re only truly suited for serving well when we truly understand the depth of our dependence upon Him.

Joyful Surrender

Romans 12:1

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Job 11:13

“If you would direct your heart right And spread out your hand to Him,

Romans 6:13

and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

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Joyful Surrender

From: Our Daily Journey

Joyful Surrender

Read:

Philippians 2:5-11
At the name of Jesus every knee should bow (Philippians 2:10).

Bible scholars have noted how dangerous and radical the early church’s confession—Jesus is Lord!—seemed to others. Since Israel lived under the oppressive regime of the Roman Empire, where Caesar was considered lord, insisting that Jesus was Lord was a direct affront to Caesar’s supposed power. And yet this confession stood at the very center of the first Christians’ convictions—and it still stands at the center of believers’ convictions today.

Paul proclaims that God “elevated [Jesus] to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names” (Philippians 2:9). Jesus isn’t one ruler among many. He doesn’t represent one good idea among many noble ideas—no, Jesus is above every other name, above every other ideal. “At the name of Jesus every knee [will] bow,” Paul writes (Philippians 2:10).

To confess Jesus as Lord isn’t an abstract theological conviction but a posture of our entire being. To say these bold words—if we are doing so honestly—means we bow before the one true Lord, bending our knee and our heart, surrendering our longings and our futures to Jesus. To embrace Jesus is to submit to Him. We echo the words of that old hymn: “I surrender all.”

We can surrender with abandon and without fear because the One to whom we are surrendering our life is the very essence of love (1 John 4:8). Jesus demonstrated His love for us first by His own act of surrender, humbling Himself in obedience to God and to love and, as a result, dying “a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).

We can surrender to God because the only things we lose in such an exchange are those things that dehumanize us, that steal our joy, that pull us away from the kingdom of goodness and light.

 

“Lovable!”

“Lovable!”

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

“Lovable!”

That exclamation came from my daughter as she got ready one morning. I didn’t know what she meant. Then she tapped her shirt, a hand-me-down from a cousin. Across the front was that word: “Lovable.” I gave her a big hug, and she smiled with pure joy. “You are lovable!” I echoed. Her smile grew even bigger, if that was possible, as she skipped away, repeating the word over and over again.

I’m hardly a perfect father. But that moment was perfect. In that spontaneous, beautiful interaction, I glimpsed in my girl’s radiant face what receiving unconditional love looked like: It was a portrait of delight. She knew the word on her shirt corresponded completely with how her daddy felt about her.

How many of us know in our hearts that we are loved by a Father whose affection for us is limitless? Sometimes we struggle with this truth. The Israelites did. They wondered if their trials meant God no longer loved them. But in Jeremiah 31:3, the prophet reminds them of what God said in the past: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” We too long for such unconditional love. Yet the wounds, disappointments, and mistakes we experience can make us feel anything but lovable. But God opens His arms—the arms of a perfect Father—and invites us to experience and rest in His love.

Lord, hard things in our lives can tempt us to believe we are unlovable. But You say otherwise. Please help us to receive the life-transforming gift of Your everlasting love for us.

No one loves us like our Father.

 

Get Moving! (1)

By Oswald Chambers

Get Moving! (1)

In the matter of determination. The Spirit of Jesus is put into me by way of the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I then have to build my thinking patiently to bring it into perfect harmony with my Lord. God will not make me think like Jesus— I have to do it myself. I have to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). “Abide in Me”— in intellectual matters, in money matters, in every one of the matters that make human life what it is. Our lives are not made up of only one neatly confined area.

Am I preventing God from doing things in my circumstances by saying that it will only serve to hinder my fellowship with Him? How irrelevant and disrespectful that is! It does not matter what my circumstances are. I can be as much assured of abiding in Jesus in any one of them as I am in any prayer meeting. It is unnecessary to change and arrange my circumstances myself. Our Lord’s inner abiding was pure and unblemished. He was at home with God wherever His body was. He never chose His own circumstances, but was meek, submitting to His Father’s plans and directions for Him. Just think of how amazingly relaxed our Lord’s life was! But we tend to keep God at a fever pitch in our lives. We have none of the serenity of the life which is “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

Think of the things that take you out of the position of abiding in Christ. You say, “Yes, Lord, just a minute— I still have this to do. Yes, I will abide as soon as this is finished, or as soon as this week is over. It will be all right, Lord. I will abide then.” Get moving— begin to abide now. In the initial stages it will be a continual effort to abide, but as you continue, it will become so much a part of your life that you will abide in Him without any conscious effort. Make the determination to abide in Jesus wherever you are now or wherever you may be placed in the future.

 

 

Focus On God

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

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.   1 John 5:14 

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  Colossians 4:2 

(Communication on Phone, or communication with God. Which one do
people do more).

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iFocus

From: Our Daily Journey

iFocus

Read:

Genesis 37:1-11
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too (Philippians 2:4).

“I wake up in cold sweats every so often thinking, What did we bring to the world?” Tony Fadell, who helped create the iPhone, voiced those words of concern over the self-absorption that can come with too much “iFocus” in our use of technology. He noted that communication devices—though capable of much good—are designed to meet individual needs and aren’t always about what’s best for healthy family and community relationships.

Joseph and his family certainly had a bad case of “iFocus.” His father Jacob “loved him more than any of his other children” and even gave him “a beautiful robe”—making his select affections painfully clear (Genesis 37:3). Jacob’s preferential treatment of his young son showed a lack of good judgement and made Joseph a brightly colored target for his jealous brothers (Genesis 37:4). Relationships were rank as Jacob focused unhealthily on Joseph, the son of the wife he loved (Genesis 29:28-3030:22-24). And when Joseph revealed the content of a dream that implied he would one day rule over his brothers (Genesis 37:6-8), this led them to sink into deep bitterness.

When we focus on ourselves, relationships within our families and within the body of Christ suffer. Instead of “iFocus,” the apostle Paul suggested, we should learn to not “look out only for [our] own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Joseph’s jealous brothers ended up selling him into slavery. Relationships in the family were eventually healed, however, when Joseph humbly forgave them and sought reconciliation (Genesis 45:1-8).

In God’s strength, may we choose to focus on others and their needs—avoiding the pitfalls of “iFocus.”

 

The wicked man’s life, funeral, and epitaph

By: Charles Spurgeon

“And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 8:10

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 16:19-23

Go into Bunhill Fields, and stand by the memorial of John Bunyan, and you will say, “Ah! There lies the head that contained the brain which thought out that wondrous dream of the Pilgrim’s Progress from the City of Destruction to the Better Land. There lies the finger that wrote those wondrous lines which depict the story of him who came at last to the land Beulah, and waded through the flood, and entered into the celestial city. And there are the eyelids which he once spoke of, when he said, “If I lie in prison until the moss grows on my eyelids, I will never make a promise to withhold from preaching.” And there is that bold eye that penetrated the judge, when he said, “If you will let me out of prison today, I will preach again tomorrow, by the help of God.” And there lies that loving hand that was ever ready to receive into communion all them that loved the Lord Jesus Christ: I love the hand that wrote the book, “Water Baptism no bar to Christian Communion.” I love him for that sake alone, and if he had written nothing else but that, I would say, “John Bunyan, be honoured for ever.” And there lies the foot that carried him up Snow Hill to go and make peace between a father and a son, in that cold day, which cost him his life. Peace to his ashes! Wait, O John Bunyan, till thy Master sends his angel to blow the trumpet; and methinks, when the archangel sounds it, he will almost think of thee, and this shall be a part of his joy, that honest John Bunyan, the greatest of all Englishmen, shall rise from his tomb at the blowing of that great trump. You cannot say so of the wicked.

For meditation: In Heaven the saved are still known by name—Abraham, Lazarus; in hell the lost are at best known only by a description—Dives is just the Latin for “a rich man”. See the contrast in Proverbs 10:7. Are the names and burial-places of John Bunyan’s enemies well known even on earth?

Getting There (3)

By Oswald Chambers

Getting There (3)

Where our individual desire dies and sanctified surrender lives. One of the greatest hindrances in coming to Jesus is the excuse of our own individual temperament. We make our temperament and our natural desires barriers to coming to Jesus. Yet the first thing we realize when we do come to Jesus is that He pays no attention whatsoever to our natural desires. We have the idea that we can dedicate our gifts to God. However, you cannot dedicate what is not yours. There is actually only one thing you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself (see Romans 12:1). If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you— and His experiments always succeed. The one true mark of a saint of God is the inner creativity that flows from being totally surrendered to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing Well, which is a continual Source of original life. The Spirit of God is a Well of water springing up perpetually fresh. A saint realizes that it is God who engineers his circumstances; consequently there are no complaints, only unrestrained surrender to Jesus. Never try to make your experience a principle for others, but allow God to be as creative and original with others as He is with you.

If you abandon everything to Jesus, and come when He says, “Come,” then He will continue to say, “Come,” through you. You will go out into the world reproducing the echo of Christ’s “Come.” That is the result in every soul who has abandoned all and come to Jesus.

Have I come to Him? Will I come now?

 

Called By Name

Matthew 4:18-22

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

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( Jesus knew the disciples names before they were called. He knows your name also.)

Called by Name

Called by Name
Read: John 20:11–18 | Bible in a Year: Ezra 3–5; John 20

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” John 20:16

Advertisers have concluded that the most attention-grabbing word that viewers react to is their own name. Thus a television channel in the UK has introduced personalized advertisements with their online streaming services.

We might enjoy hearing our name on television, but it doesn’t mean much without the intimacy that comes when someone who loves us says our name.

Mary Magdalene’s attention was arrested when, at the tomb where Jesus’s body had been laid after He was crucified on the cross, He spoke her name (John 20:16). With that single word, she turned in recognition to the Teacher whom she loved and followed, I imagine with a rush of disbelief and joy. The familiarity with which He spoke her name confirmed for her beyond a doubt that the One who’d known her perfectly was alive and not dead.

Although Mary shared a unique and special moment with Jesus, we too are personally loved by God. Jesus told Mary that He would ascend to His Father (v. 17), but He had also told His disciples that He would not leave them alone (John 14:15–18). God would send the Holy Spirit to live and dwell in His children (see Acts 2:1–13).

God’s story doesn’t change. Whether then or now, He knows those whom He loves (see John 10:14–15). He calls us by name.

Loving Father, living Jesus, comforting Holy Spirit, thank You that You know me completely, and that You love me unceasingly.

The God who created the cosmos also made you, and He calls you by name.

 

Kingdom Life

Kingdom Life

Read:

Matthew 5:1-48
God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs (Matthew 5:3).

When the father of a murdered teen showed a heart of forgiveness to his daughter’s killer, waves of shock rippled through the courtroom. The serial killer, who had sat emotionless while the families of several victims voiced their pain and rage, broke down in tears at this unexpected moment of grace. Though painful, the father chose to show a taste of Christ-like love even in his pain.

Jesus’ ministry from the beginning challenged the natural inclinations of His hearers. The Jewish expectation of the Messiah was one who would conquer their enemies and establish the reign of God’s kingdom on earth. So when Jesus said, “Do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other also. . . . If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles” (Matthew 5:39-41), they were probably confused.

Similarly, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus started off with a series of seemingly contradictory statements. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, He said, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, they shall be comforted, inherit the earth, obtain mercy, be called the sons of God, and see God(Matthew 5:3-10 NKJV).

With these statements, Jesus introduced to His followers a new way of thinking and perceiving the world. While the religious leaders of His day focused on actions, Jesus pointed to the heart as the source of adultery and murder (Matthew 5:21-29).

When Jesus lives in our hearts, we can express His kingdom life and thoughts and reveal to the world a new way of living.

The scales of judgement

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” Daniel 5:27.

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 62

Into those scales I must go. God will not take me on my profession. I may bring my witnesses with me; I may bring my minister and the deacons of the church to give me a character, which might be thought all-sufficient among men, but God will tolerate no subterfuge. Into the scales he will put me, do what I may; whatever the opinion of others may be of me, and whatever my own profession. And let me remember, too, that I must be altogether weighed in the scales. I cannot hope that God will weigh my head and pass over my heart—that because I have correct notions of doctrine, therefore he will forget that my heart is impure, or my hands guilty of iniquity. My all must be cast into the scales. Come, let me stretch my imagination, and picture myself about to be put into those scales. Shall I be able to walk boldly up and enter them, knowing whom I have believed, and being persuaded that the blood of Christ and his perfect righteousness shall bear me harmless through it all; or shall I be dragged with terror and dismay? Shall the angel come and say, “Thou must enter.” Shall I bend my knee and cry, “Oh, it is all right,” or shall I seek to escape? Now, thrust into the scale, do I see myself waiting for one solemn moment. My feet have touched the bottom of the scales, and there stand those everlasting weights, and now which way are they turned? Which way shall it be? Do I descend in the scale with joy and delight, being found through Jesus’ righteousness to be full weight, and so accepted; or must I rise, light, frivolous, unsound in all my fancied hopes, and kick the beam?

For meditation: We all ought to check our weight before God does (2 Corinthians 13:5). The scales of God’s judgement will show in our favor only if Jesus Christ, the Rock of Ages, is in us. Do you need to put on weight

 

In everything ye are enriched by him (1 Cor. 1:5).

Have you ever seen men and women whom some disaster drove to a great act of prayer, and by and by the disaster was forgotten, but the sweetness of religion remained and warmed their souls?

So have I seen a storm in later spring; and all was black, save where the lightning tore the cloud with thundering rent.

The winds blew and the rains fell, as though heaven had opened its windows. What a devastation there was! Not a spider’s web that was out of doors escaped the storm, which tore up even the strong-branched oak.

But ere long the lightning had gone by, the thunder was spent and silent, the rain was over, the western wind came up with its sweet breath, the clouds were chased away, and the retreating storm threw a scarf of rainbows over her fair shoulders and resplendent neck, and looked back and smiled, and so withdrew and passed out of sight.

But for weeks long the fields held up their bands full of ambrosial flowers, and all the summer through the grass was greener, the brooks were fuller, and the trees cast a more umbrageous shade, because the storm passed by–though all the rest of the earth had long ago forgotten the storm, its rainbows and its rain.
–Theodore Parker

God may not give us an easy journey to the Promised Land, but He will give us a safe one.
–Bonar

It was a storm that occasioned the discovery of the gold mines of India. Hath not a storm driven some to the discovery of the richer mines of the love of God in Christ?

Is it raining, little flower?
Be glad of rain;
Too much sun would wither thee;
‘Twill shine again.
The clouds are very black, ’tis true;
But just behind them shines the blue.
Art thou weary, tender heart?
Be glad of pain:
In sorrow sweetest virtues grow,
As flowers in rain.
God watches, and thou wilt have sun,
When clouds their perfect work have done.
–Lucy Larcom

Our Passover Lamb

 

 

Exodus 12:7

‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

Mark 14:12

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

1 Peter 1:18-19

but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,

Revelation 13:8

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

Matthew 26:2

“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”

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Our Passover Lamb

From: Our Daily Journey

Our Passover Lamb

Read:

Luke 22:7-20 
This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. . . . This cup is the new covenant between God and his people (Luke 22:19-20).

Many countries have unique ways to welcome in a new year. Thai people splash water at one another as part of a ritual cleansing. Some Chileans go to cemeteries and sleep near the graves of deceased loved ones. And Estonians participate in feasting a total of seven times on New Year’s Day, symbolizing hoped-for abundance in the months to come.

Jews now celebrate their civil new year with the Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah (Leviticus 23:23-25). But according to the Torah, Passover is their sacred new year (Exodus 12:2). The Passover meal, a family meal (Exodus 12:3-4), commemorates God’s deliverance from the bondage of slavery to live freely as His people.

Hours before He was crucified, Jesus ate a Passover meal with His disciples (Luke 22:7-18). But He turned the ancient meal into something new, revealing its deepest significance. Breaking the bread, Jesus explained, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” As He shared the wine, He said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you” (Luke 22:19-20).

As the true Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:21-23Hebrews 9:14,22), Jesus fulfilled what the ceremony pointed to. He was the perfect sacrifice that cleanses from sin and gives believers full access to God (Hebrews 9:27-2810:12-13).

Believers take part in the Lord’s Supper (communion) as a means of thanking and worshiping Christ, lovingly remembering and experiencing the reality of His sacrifice for us. As God’s family, it’s our privilege and joy to share this meal in fellowship with other believers (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

Getting There (1)

By Oswald Chambers

Getting There (1)

 

The heavenly race

From: Charles Spurgeon

“So run, that ye may obtain.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 11:39-12:2

When zealous racers on yonder heath are flying across the plain, seeking to obtain the reward, the whole heath is covered with multitudes of persons, who are eagerly gazing upon them, and no doubt the noise of those who cheer them onward and the thousand eyes of those who look upon them, have a tendency to make them stretch every nerve, and press with vigour on. It was so in the games to which the apostle alludes. There the people sat on raised platforms, while the racers ran before them, and they cried to them, and the friends of the racers urged them forward, and the kindly voice would ever be heard bidding them go on. Now, Christian brethren, how many witnesses are looking down upon you. Down! Do I say? It is even so. From the battlements of heaven the angels look down upon you, and they seem to cry today to you with sweet, silvery voice, “Ye shall reap if ye faint not; ye shall be rewarded if ye continue steadfast in the work and faith of Christ.” And the saints look down upon you—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; martyrs and confessors, and your own pious relatives who have ascended to heaven, look down upon you; and if I might so speak, I think sometimes you might hear the clapping of their hands when you have resisted temptation and overcome the enemy; and you might see their suspense when you are lagging in the course, and you might hear their friendly word of caution as they bid you gird up the loins of your mind, and lay aside every weight, and still speed forward; never resting to take your breath, never staying for a moment’s ease till you have attained the flowery beds of heaven, where you may rest for ever.

For meditation: Do Spurgeon’s words, spoken on a Friday afternoon from the “Grand Stand, Epsom Race-course” strike you as over-fanciful? The pages of Scripture are full of lessons from the heroes of faith, still speaking to us down the centuries (Hebrews 11:4). They witness to us from their own experience “It can be done; by God’s grace we ran the race; by God’s grace you can run it too” (2 Timothy 4:7).