God’s Completed Works

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Hebrews 1:2

in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

Hebrews 4:3

For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Hebrews 11:3

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

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In Progress or Completed?

From: Our Daily Bread

In Progress or Completed?

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14

It’s satisfying to finish a job. Each month, for instance, one of my job responsibilities gets moved from one category to another, from “In Progress” to “Completed.” I love clicking that “Completed” button. But last month when I clicked it, I thought, If only I could overcome rough spots in my faith so easily! It can seem like the Christian life is always in progress, never completed.

Then I remembered Hebrews 10:14. It describes how Christ’s sacrifice redeems us totally. So in one important sense, that “completed button” has been pressed for us. Jesus’s death did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves: He made us acceptable in God’s eyes when we place our faith in Him. It is finished, as Jesus Himself said (John 19:30). Paradoxically, even though His sacrifice is complete and total, we spend the rest of our lives living into that spiritual reality—“being made holy,” as Hebrews’ author writes.

The fact that Jesus has finished something that’s still being worked out in our lives is hard to understand. When I’m struggling spiritually, it’s encouraging to remember that Jesus’s sacrifice for me—and for you—is complete . . . even if our living it out in this life is still a work in progress. Nothing can stop His intended end from being achieved eventually: being transformed into His likeness (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).

Jesus, thank You for giving Your life for us. Help us trust You as we grow into followers whose lives look more and more like Yours, knowing that You are the one who makes us complete.

God is at work to make us who He intends us to be.

The blind man’s earnest cries

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.’ Mark 10:47–48

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 8:4–15

The world will try to make a crying sinner hold his peace. The world will tell him that he is crying out about something that does not matter, for the book is not true, there is no God, no heaven, no hell, no hereafter. But if God has set you crying, sinner, I know you will not be stopped with that; you will cry yet the more exceedingly, ‘Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.’ Then the world will try pleasure; you will be invited to the theatre, you will be attracted from one ballroom to another; but if the Lord put the cry in your mouth, the intense anguish of your spirit will not be satisfied by the sound of music nor by the shouts of them that make merry. Perhaps the world will call you a fool to be vexed about such things; you are melancholy and have got the mopes. They will tell you that you will soon go where many others have gone—to Bedlam; but if once God has made you cry, you will not be stopped by a fool’s laughter; the agonizing prayer will go up in secret, ‘Have mercy on me.’ Perhaps the world will try its cares. You will be called into more business; you will get a prosperity which will not make your soul prosper; and so it will be hoped by Satan that you will forget Christ, in accumulated wealth and growing cares. But if this be such a cry as I hope it is, poor anxious sinner, you will not be stopped by that. Then the world will affect to look down upon you with pity. Poor creature, you are being misled, when you are being led to Christ and to heaven. They will say you have become the dupe of some fanatic, when, in truth, you are now coming to your senses, and estimating eternal things at their proper value.

For meditation: When one of his subjects starts looking for a new master, Satan can be expected to throw a spanner in the works (Matthew 23:13Luke 11:52). Sadly, as the parable of the sower illustrates, he sometimes succeeds, but we can praise God that Satan often fails (Acts 13:6–12,43–48).

 

Christ’s first and last subject

By: Charles Spurgeon

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17. “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47

Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 3:1-14

If you are renewed by grace, and were to meet your old self, I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company. “No,” say you, “No, sir, I cannot accompany you.” “Why, you used to swear!” “I cannot now.” “Well, but,” says he, “You and I are very near companions.” “Yes, I know we are, and I wish we were not. You are a deal of trouble to me every day. I wish I could be rid of you for ever.” “But,” says Old Self, “you used to drink very well.” “Yes, I know it. I know you did, indeed, Old Self. You could sing a song as merrily as any one. You were ringleader in all sorts of vice, but I am no relation of yours now. You are of the old Adam, and I of the new Adam. You are of your old father, the devil; but I have another—my Father, who is in heaven.” I tell you, brethren, there is no man in the world you will hate so much as your old self, and there will be nothing you will so much long to get rid of as that old man who once was dragging you down to hell, and who will try his hand at it over and over again every day you live, and who will accomplish it yet, unless that divine grace which has made you a new man shall keep you a new man even to the end. Good Rowland Hill, in his “Village Dialogues,” gives the Christian, whom he describes in the first part of the book, the name of Thomas Newman. Every man who goes to heaven must have the name of new-man. We must not expect to enter there unless we are created anew in Christ Jesus.

For meditation: In our testimonies we should own up to what we used to be, but in such a way that we also disown the people we used to be. Don’t be like the biography of a Christian which seems to glory in the sin of the past—reserve all the glory for your Saviour (1 Corinthians 15:9,101 Timothy 1:13-17).

Marvelous Maker

Genesis 1

The Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

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Marvelous Maker

From: Our Daily Bread

Marvelous Maker

How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Psalm 104:24

As an amateur photographer, I enjoy capturing glimpses of God’s creativity with my camera. I see His fingerprints on each delicate flower petal, each vibrant sunrise and sunset, and each cloud-painted and star-speckled sky canvas.

My camera’s powerful zoom option allows me to take photos of the Lord’s creatures too. I’ve snapped shots of a chattering squirrel in a cherry blossom tree, a colorful butterfly flitting from bloom to bloom, and sea turtles sunning on a rocky, black beach. Each one-of-a-kind image prompted me to worship my marvelous Maker.

I’m not the first of God’s people to praise Him while admiring His unique creations. The writer of Psalm 104 sings of the Lord’s many works of art in nature (v. 24). He regards “the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number” (v. 25) and rejoices in God for providing constant and complete care for His masterpieces (vv. 27–31). Considering the majesty of the God-given life around him, the psalmist bursts with worshipful gratitude: “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (v. 33).

While reflecting on the Lord’s magnificent and immense creation, we can look closely at His intentional creativity and attention to detail. And like the psalmist, we can sing to our Creator with thankful praise for how powerful, majestic, and loving He is and always will be. Hallelujah!

Share your favorite photo of God’s creation at Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

God’s works are marvelous, and so is He.

 

Heavenly geometry

‘That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.’ Ephesians 3:17–19

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:4–13

If we shall reach the point indicated in the text, we shall then begin to imitate the love of God in its four aspects. I am sure, if we shall ever learn the breadth of Christ’s love, our love will grow broad: we shall no longer confine our love to our own church, but shall care for all the churches of God; we shall feel an affection not only for Christians of our own name, but to Christians of all names. Then our love will gain length also. We shall love Christ so that we cannot leave off loving him. We shall persevere in love, we shall abide in his love as he abides in it. We shall constantly have the flame of our love going up to heaven. And then our love will acquire depth. We shall be humbled on account of our own sinfulness, we shall sink lower and lower in our own esteem, and our love will become deeper and more grounded as it descends more fully into the core of our nature. And then love will climb the heights. We shall forget the world and the cares thereof; we shall become Christians who lie no longer among the pots, but who have received the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. We shall attain to such a height in our love, that we shall scale the mountain tops of the promises, and with our foreheads bathed in the sunlight shall look down upon the world that still lies in darkness, and rejoice that we are made heirs of light; till our love mounting to heaven shall there be in its height as we appear before the great white throne, and cast our crowns with many a song before him who loved us, with a breadth, and length, and depth, and height of love that even in heaven shall surpass all measurement.

For meditation: God’s love to us is not only to amaze us, but to be our example of how to love him by loving one another (John 13:3415:12Ephesians 5:21 John 4:11,19–21).

 

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From: Streams In The Desert

As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Corinthians 6:10).

Sorrow was beautiful, but her beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the wood, and making little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss below. When Sorrow sang, her notes were like the low sweet call of the nightingale, and in her eyes was the unexpectant gaze of one who has ceased to look for coming gladness. She could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to her.

Joy was beautiful, too, but his was the radiant beauty of the summer morning. His eyes still held the glad laughter of childhood, and his hair had the glint of the sunshine’s kiss. When Joy sang his voice soared upward as the lark’s, and his step was the step of a conqueror who has never known defeat. He could rejoice with all who rejoice, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to him.

“But we can never be united,” said Sorrow wistfully. “No, never.” And Joy’s eyes shadowed as he spoke. “My path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom for my gathering, and the blackbirds and thrushes await my coming to pour forth their most joyous lays.”

“My path,” said Sorrow, turning slowly away, “leads through the darkening woods, with moon-flowers only shall my hands be filled. Yet the sweetest of all earth-songs–the love song of the night–shall be mine; farewell, Joy, farewell.”

Even as she spoke they became conscious of a form standing beside them; dimly seen, but of a Kingly Presence, and a great and holy awe stole over them as they sank on their knees before Him.

“I see Him as the King of Joy,” whispered Sorrow, “for on His Head are many crowns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory. Before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness, and I give myself to Him forever.”

“Nay, Sorrow,” said Joy softly, “but I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great agony. I, too, give myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy that I have known.”

“Then we are one in Him,” they cried in gladness, “for none but He could unite Joy and Sorrow.” Hand in hand they passed out into the world to follow Him through storm and sunshine, in the bleakness of winter cold and the warmth of summer gladness, “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing.”

Should Sorrow lay her hand upon thy shoulder,
And walk with thee in silence on life’s way,
While Joy, thy bright companion once, grown colder,
Becomes to thee more distant day by day?
Shrink not from the companionship of Sorrow,
She is the messenger of God to thee;
And thou wilt thank Him in His great tomorrow
For what thou knowest not now, thou then shalt see;
She is God’s angel, clad in weeds of night,
With ‘whom we walk by faith and not by sight.’

Jesus Is The Prince Of Peace

Isaiah 9

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

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The Prince of Peace

From: Our Daily Journey

The Prince of Peace

Read:

Isaiah 9:6-7Luke 2:1-14
He will be called . . . Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end (Isaiah 9:6-7).

In their book The Lessons of History, historians Will and Ariel Durant note, “War is one of the constants of history. . . . In the last 3,421 years of recorded history, only 268 have seen no war.” The United Nations was formed at the end of World War II “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” so the world could “live together in peace with one another.” But with more than 300 wars fought since 1945, we have yet to experience worldwide peace. Will it ever be realized?

There was once peace on earth, after God first created a harmonious world (Genesis 1:31). But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, this perfect harmony was shattered (Genesis 3:1-19). We’re now a people of conflict. We fight against God, against each other, and within ourselves (Psalm 2:1-3Galatians 5:17Ephesians 2:14).

But God promised a Messiah who would bring everlasting peace. As Isaiah prophesied: “The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called . . . Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

This prophecy was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. To our world of conflict, the angel gave the “good news” of the birth of a baby. With thousands of babies born each year, the angels celebrated this baby, Jesus, as the One who would bring “great joy to all people” (Luke 2:10).

Because of Jesus, peace with God is possible (Romans 5:1). And we can also experience the peace of God (Philippians 4:6-7).

We can also know that peace on earth is a future reality (Isaiah 11:6-9), for Jesus, the Prince of Peace, will come again. Let’s celebrate with the angels, saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased” (Luke 2:14).

Effective Prayer

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  • AUGUST 18, 2018
John 15:7-11

I’ve never met a Christian who didn’t want an effective prayer life. We all long to see the Lord answering our prayers and actively intervening in the concerns and needs we bring before Him, but are we willing to do what’s required? Jesus’ promise of answered prayer is linked with two prerequisites, both found in verse 7 of today’s reading.

“If you abide in Me.” To abide means to remain, dwell, or continue, and according to 1 John 3:24, abiding in Christ is characterized by keeping His commands. Therefore, if we want to pray effectively, we must be committed to obey God in every area of our life. Any rebellion robs us of the wisdom we need in order to pray rightly. It also hinders our fellowship with the Father and keeps Him from hearing and answering our requests.

“And [If] My words abide in you.” We must ask ourselves these questions: Does God’s Word remain, dwell, and continue in me? Am I more preoccupied with talking to God in prayer than with listening to what He’s said in His Word? Scripture is the basis for effective prayer. As we read and meditate upon God’s Word, it convicts us of sin so we can repent and be cleansed. Scripture adjusts our focus from earthly priorities to heavenly ones. It also shapes our thoughts to align with God’s so we’ll know how to pray according to His will instead of ours.

There are no fast and easy shortcuts to a fruitful prayer life. It was meant to develop through a lifestyle of obedience and dedication to the Word. These are cultivated over a lifetime and glorify God by bearing much lasting fruit.

Have You Ever Been Speechless with Sorrow?

By Oswald Chambers

Have You Ever Been Speechless with Sorrow?

The rich young ruler went away from Jesus speechless with sorrow, having nothing to say in response to Jesus’ words. He had no doubt about what Jesus had said or what it meant, and it produced in him a sorrow with no words with which to respond. Have you ever been there? Has God’s Word ever come to you, pointing out an area of your life, requiring you to yield it to Him? Maybe He has pointed out certain personal qualities, desires, and interests, or possibly relationships of your heart and mind. If so, then you have often been speechless with sorrow. The Lord will not go after you, and He will not plead with you. But every time He meets you at the place where He has pointed, He will simply repeat His words, saying, “If you really mean what you say, these are the conditions.”

“Sell all that you have…” (Luke 18:22). In other words, rid yourself before God of everything that might be considered a possession until you are a mere conscious human being standing before Him, and then give God that. That is where the battle is truly fought— in the realm of your will before God. Are you more devoted to your idea of what Jesus wants than to Jesus Himself? If so, you are likely to hear one of His harsh and unyielding statements that will produce sorrow in you. What Jesus says is difficult— it is only easy when it is heard by those who have His nature in them. Beware of allowing anything to soften the hard words of Jesus Christ.

I can be so rich in my own poverty, or in the awareness of the fact that I am nobody, that I will never be a disciple of Jesus. Or I can be so rich in the awareness that I am somebody that I will never be a disciple. Am I willing to be destitute and poor even in my sense of awareness of my destitution and poverty? If not, that is why I become discouraged. Discouragement is disillusioned self-love, and self-love may be love for my devotion to Jesus— not love for Jesus Himself.

 

Jesus Is Reaching Out

Matthew 14

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children

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Jesus Reached Out

Jesus Reached Out
Read: Matthew 14:22–33 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 97–99; Romans 16

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. Matthew 14:31

Sometimes life gets busy—classes are hard, work is exhausting, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and a coffee date is on the day’s schedule. It gets to the point where I force myself to read the Bible for a few minutes a day and tell myself I’ll spend more time with God next week. But it doesn’t take long before I’m distracted, drowning in the day’s tasks, and forget to ask God for help of any kind.

When Peter was walking on water toward Jesus, he quickly became distracted by the wind and waves. Like me, he began to sink (Matthew 14:29–30). But as soon as Peter cried out, “immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him” (vv. 30–31).

I often feel as if I have to make it up to God after being so busy and distracted that I lose sight of Him. But that’s not how God works. As soon as we turn to Him for help, Jesus reaches out without hesitation.

When we’re unsettled by the chaos of life, it’s easy to forget that God is standing in the middle of the storm with us. Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt?” (v. 31). No matter what we’re going through, He is there. He is here. Next to us at that moment, in this moment, ready to reach out and rescue us.

Lord, help me to turn to You in the midst of my busyness and life’s distractions. Thank You for always being here, ready to catch me.

God is waiting for us to turn to Him so He can reach out and help.

Are You Discouraged or Devoted?

By Oswald Chambers

Are You Discouraged or Devoted?

Have you ever heard the Master say something very difficult to you? If you haven’t, I question whether you have ever heard Him say anything at all. Jesus says a tremendous amount to us that we listen to, but do not actually hear. And once we do hear Him, His words are harsh and unyielding.

Jesus did not show the least concern that this rich young ruler should do what He told him, nor did Jesus make any attempt to keep this man with Him. He simply said to him, “Sell all that you have…and come, follow Me.” Our Lord never pleaded with him; He never tried to lure him— He simply spoke the strictest words that human ears have ever heard, and then left him alone.

Have I ever heard Jesus say something difficult and unyielding to me? Has He said something personally to me to which I have deliberately listened— not something I can explain for the sake of others, but something I have heard Him say directly to me? This man understood what Jesus said. He heard it clearly, realizing the full impact of its meaning, and it broke his heart. He did not go away as a defiant person, but as one who was sorrowful and discouraged. He had come to Jesus on fire with zeal and determination, but the words of Jesus simply froze him. Instead of producing enthusiastic devotion to Jesus, they produced heartbreaking discouragement. And Jesus did not go after him, but let him go. Our Lord knows perfectly well that once His word is truly heard, it will bear fruit sooner or later. What is so terrible is that some of us prevent His words from bearing fruit in our present life. I wonder what we will say when we finally make up our minds to be devoted to Him on that particular point? One thing is certain— He will never throw our past failures back in our faces.

 

Pride and humility

From: Charles Spurgeon, Author

“Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.” Proverbs 18:12

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 12:3-6

What is humility? The best definition I have ever met with is, “to think rightly of ourselves.” Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self. It is no humility for a man to think less of himself than he ought, though it might rather puzzle him to do that. Some persons, when they know they can do a thing, tell you they cannot; but you do not call that humility. A man is asked to take part in some meeting. “No,” he says, “I have no ability”; yet if you were to say so yourself, he would be offended at you. It is not humility for a man to stand up and depreciate himself and say he cannot do this, that, or the other, when he knows that he is lying. If God gives a man a talent, do you think the man does not know it? If a man has ten talents he has no right to be dishonest to his Maker, and to say, “Lord, thou hast only given me five.” It is not humility to underrate yourself. Humility is to think of yourself, if you can, as God thinks of you. It is to feel that if we have talents, God has given them to us, and let it be seen that, like freight in a vessel, they tend to sink us low. The more we have, the lower we ought to lie. Humility is not to say, “I have not this gift,” but it is to say, “I have the gift, and I must use it for my Master’s glory. I must never seek any honour for myself, for what have I that I have not received?”

For meditation: Pride can lead us to misuse God’s gifts for selfish ends. A false humility can lead to laziness and disobedience which causes someone else to have to do what we should be doing ourselves. The right balance is to serve the Lord with all humility as the apostle Paul could truthfully claim to have done (Acts 20:19).

Teach Your Children About Jesus

Deuteronomy 6

Love the Lord Your God

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

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Does He Know Me?

Does He Know Me?

By Oswald Chambers

When I have sadly misunderstood Him? (see John 20:11-18). It is possible to know all about doctrine and still not know Jesus. A person’s soul is in grave danger when the knowledge of doctrine surpasses Jesus, avoiding intimate touch with Him. Why was Mary weeping? Doctrine meant no more to her than the grass under her feet. In fact, any Pharisee could have made a fool of Mary doctrinally, but one thing they could never ridicule was the fact that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her (see Luke 8:2); yet His blessings were nothing to her in comparison with knowing Jesus Himself. “…she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus….Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ ” (John 20:14, 16). Once He called Mary by her name, she immediately knew that she had a personal history with the One who spoke. “She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ ” (John 20:16).

When I have stubbornly doubted? (see John 20:24-29). Have I been doubting something about Jesus— maybe an experience to which others testify, but which I have not yet experienced? The other disciples said to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord” (John 20:25). But Thomas doubted, saying, “Unless I see…I will not believe” (John 20:25). Thomas needed the personal touch of Jesus. When His touches will come we never know, but when they do come they are indescribably precious. “Thomas…said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ” (John 20:28).

When I have selfishly denied Him? (see John 21:15-17). Peter denied Jesus Christ with oaths and curses (see Matthew 26:69-75), and yet after His resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter alone. Jesus restored Peter in private, and then He restored him publicly before the others. And Peter said to Him, “Lord…You know that I love You” (John 21:17).

Do I have a personal history with Jesus Christ? The one true sign of discipleship is intimate oneness with Him— a knowledge of Jesus that nothing can shake.

Spontaneous Praise!

By: Merle Mills, Author

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I arrived for my scheduled outpatient tests: an x-ray and a CT scan. Medical procedures always make me fearful. The examination room and table were no exception. Both were cold, matching the ice-cold fear of each heartbeat as I waited patiently for the radiologist to appear.

I was unaware of an attendant in the adjoining room until I heard a female voice softly filling the air with spontaneous praise. The song was familiar, “Holy Ground,” written by Geron Davis. In worship at my Church, it was sung often, and the words always reminded me that wherever I was, the ground became holy, accompanied by the presence of Jesus and angels. My icy heartbeats were warmed as spontaneous praise from the heart of an unashamed praiser helped refocus fear, apprehension, and anxiety, to my Heavenly Father.

After being saved and delivered out of the hands of the Egyptians, Miriam and all the women sang a spontaneous song of victory. Previously, they had focused on their bitterness and bondage (see Exodus 1:14). Now, they were focused on God’s power:

“Sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; He has hurled both horse and rider into the sea.” Exodus 15:21 (NLT)

Paul and Silas were wrongly accused, beaten, and thrown into prison. At midnight, they prayed and sang spontaneous praise songs. These focused songs of praise not only opened the prison doors, but the chains of all the prisoners fell off and the chief jailer was drawn by God’s power. Their singing allowed them the opportunity to share the gospel which was received by him and his entire household. (See Acts 16:25-34.)

Scripture encourages us to sing and make melody in our hearts:

“Sing a new song to the LORD! Let the whole earth sing to the LORD!” Psalm 96:1(NLT)

“Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.” Ephesians 5:19 (NLT)

David committed to singing as a part of his life:

“I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!” Psalms 104:33 (NLT)

The results of my x-ray and scan were both abnormal, but thanks be to our God, successfully treated. I believe the soft spontaneous song of praise, reminding me of being surrounded by angels and the presence of Jesus, invited an inner God-given strength and peace in my soul. Even when I hear this song today, it turns my focus to Almighty God and His indescribable love, power to calm fears, strengthen, and heal, through songs of spontaneous praise.

On earth, I may never know the name of the attendant who was unashamed to offer a spontaneous song of praise to Jesus. That attendant may never know or imagine how her praise impacted the life of this then fearful young woman.

Has our Heavenly Father placed a song of praise in your heart? That song spontaneously sung could inspire you, or someone nearby, warming icy heartbeats, and refocusing fear, apprehension, and anxiety, into the presence of Jesus, and the holy angels.

Heavenly Father, may songs of spontaneous praise about You, Your presence, love, power, and peace, always be in our hearts, and on our lips, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

In waiting, I waited, for the Lord (Psalms 40:1-6, margin).

Waiting is much more difficult than walking. Waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue. It is fine to know that God builds hedges around His people–when the hedge is looked at from the viewpoint of protection. But when the hedge is kept around one until it grows so high that he cannot see over the top, and wonders whether he is ever to get out of the little sphere of influence and service in which he is pent up, it is hard for him sometimes to understand why he may not have a larger environment–hard for him to “brighten the corner” where he is. But God has a purpose in all HIS holdups. “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord,” reads Psalm 37:23.

On the margin of his Bible at this verse George Mueller had a notation, “And the stops also.” It is a sad mistake for men to break through God’s hedges. It is a vital principle of guidance for a Christian never to move out of the place in which he is sure God has placed him, until the Pillar of Cloud moves.
–Sunday School Times

When we learn to wait for our Lord’s lead in everything, we shall know the strength that finds its climax in an even, steady walk. Many of us are lacking in the strength we so covet. But God gives full power for every task He appoints. Waiting, holding oneself true to His lead–this is the secret of strength. And anything that falls out of the line of obedience is a waste of time and strength. Watch for His leading.
–S. D. Gordon

Must life be a failure for one compelled to stand still in enforced inaction and see the great throbbing tides of life go by? No; victory is then to be gotten by standing still, by quiet waiting. It is a thousand times harder to do this than it was in the active days to rush on in the columns of stirring life. It requires a grander heroism to stand and wait and not lose heart and not lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up work and honors to others, to be quiet, confident and rejoicing, while the happy, busy multitude go on and away.

It is the grandest life “having done all, to stand.”
–J. R. Miller

The Lord Speaks

Acts 11:9

“But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’

Revelation 11:12

And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here ” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.

Revelation 18:4

I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;

Revelation 14:13

And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them 

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The Lord Speaks

From: Our Daily Bread

The Lord Speaks

Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Job 40:2

We can find nearly every argument in the book of Job about why there is pain in the world, but the arguing never seems to help Job much. His is a crisis of relationship more than a crisis of doubt. Can he trust God? Job wants one thing above all else: an appearance by the one Person who can explain his miserable fate. He wants to meet God Himself, face to face.

Eventually Job gets his wish. God shows up in person (see Job 38:1). He times His entrance with perfect irony, just as Job’s friend Elihu is expounding on why Job has no right to expect a visit from God.

No one—not Job, nor any of his friends—is prepared for what God has to say. Job has saved up a long list of questions, but it is God, not Job, who asks the questions. “Brace yourself like a man,” He begins; “I will question you, and you shall answer me” (v. 3). Brushing aside thirty-five chapters’ worth of debates on the problem of pain, God plunges into a majestic poem on the wonders of the natural world.

God’s speech defines the vast difference between the God of all creation and one puny man like Job. His presence spectacularly answers Job’s biggest question: Is anybody out there? Job can only respond, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (42:3).

Lord, we have so many questions about life and its unfairness. You have shown Yourself good to us. Help us to trust You for what we cannot understand.

No calamity is beyond God’s sovereignty.

The way of salvation

By: Charles Spurgeon, Author

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 12

What a great word that word ‘salvation’ is! It includes the cleansing of our conscience from all past guilt, the delivery of our soul from all those propensities to evil which now so strongly predominate in us; it takes in, in fact, the undoing of all that Adam did. Salvation is the total restoration of man from his fallen estate; and yet it is something more than that, for God’s salvation fixes our standing more secure than it was before we fell. It finds us broken in pieces by the sin of our first parent, defiled, stained, accursed: it first heals our wounds, it removes our diseases, it takes away our curse, it puts our feet upon the rock Christ Jesus, and having thus done, at last it lifts our heads far above all principalities and powers, to be crowned for ever with Jesus Christ, the King of heaven. Some people, when they use the word ‘salvation,’ understand nothing more by it than deliverance from hell and admittance into heaven. Now, that is not salvation: those two things are the effects of salvation. We are redeemed from hell because we are saved, and we enter heaven because we have been saved beforehand. Our everlasting state is the effect of salvation in this life. Salvation, it is true, includes all that, because salvation is the mother of it, and carries it within its bowels; but still it would be wrong for us to imagine that is the whole meaning of the word. Salvation begins with us as wandering sheep, it follows us through all our confused wanderings; it puts us on the shoulders of the shepherd; it carries us into the fold; it calls together the friends and the neighbours; it rejoices over us; it preserves us in that fold through life; and then at last it brings us to the green pastures of heaven, beside the still waters of bliss, where we lie down for ever, in the presence of the Chief Shepherd, never more to be disturbed.

For meditation: Past salvation from sin’s penalty (justification): present salvation from sin’s power (sanctification): prospective salvation from sin’s presence (glorification)—what a great salvation (Hebrews 2:3). Don’t miss it.

 

Fruitful Spirit

By: Pauline Hylton, Author

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Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. Ps 92:14(NLT)

Big toes crossed underneath the others, legs thin-skinned, injured from years of hard work in tobacco fields.

“I just love the Lord! He’s been so good to me. I’m ready to go anytime.”

By any global standard, Betty is not rich, not even noticeable in a crowd. But as I view this woman’s crinkled face in her simple kitchen I feel honor for her. She is truly bearing eternal fruit in old age.

My desire is to grow old like her. A worn-out body with a Spirit-filled soul.

Since I am careening down the other side of the proverbial hill, looking back, there is understanding. Not of everything, but events and thoughts and actions and words are colored over with the sage view of time.

But getting old is hard. And painful.

My desire is to finish well. We could take a few cues from Betty.

First, she said loved the Lord. It is easy to say, harder to implement. How I learn to love the Lord more is to make spending time with Him a priority. I can’t say I do this every day, but usually, I devote about 20-30 minutes first thing in the morning to read His Word and talk with Him. There is also time to listen. The more I know Jesus, the more I love Him.

She is grateful. We are a cynical society—and generally ungrateful. As I worked in our fields on our farm a few years ago, my thoughts went to a time of slavery and how they did not have a choice about when and how long they worked. I thanked the Lord for choices and when a cloud covered the blazing sun, I thanked God Almighty for clouds.

Lastly, she said she was ready to go anytime.

Paul said to be absent from the body means to be present with the Lord. In fact, Paul said being with the Lord is very much better!

Being ready to meet Jesus is a win-win situation.

But some of you may be hurting now. Whether it is growing old, or you or your family have been diagnosed with a disease, or a myriad of other reasons.

I am sorry, friend. My heart aches for you.

Meditate with me on these words from the Apostle Paul,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

One last word—don’t let sin get in your way of finishing well.

Let’s pray that for each other.

See you in heaven.

Be Humble Before God

Matthew 18

The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

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Humility

By: Arie Leder, Author

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Scripture Reading — Exodus 4:10-16Luke 18:13-14

He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” — Luke 18:13

Our world is hostile to humility; it sees the humble person as a doormat—someone who stands by quietly while others step all over them. The world would rather have us think more of ourselves.

But we are naturally so selfish that increasing our love of self will leave little room for God, not to mention our neighbor. A life built on self-esteem is lonely. What’s more, because humility is often confused with weakness, the lover of self tends not to forgive others.

True humility places all the power of “self” in the service of God and neighbor. Thus God takes hold of Moses’ weak tongue and strengthens him to speak boldly and plainly to Pharaoh. And the humble tax collector throws himself on God’s grace when he says, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Most important, the eternal Son of God takes on the form of a humble servant and dies in our place (see Philippians 2:5-11).

Directed by God’s love, people who are humble in spirit invest themselves in what the world thinks is weakness. Christ’s power strengthens us to love God above all and our neighbors as ourselves. Sharing the good news of God’s love and helping others in need, we have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:15-16).

The world scorns humility. But Jesus Christ’s humility has overcome the world, to the glory of God the Father.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, may your mind live in us daily so that your love and power will guide us in all we do and say. Amen.

 

A Blessing of Peace

The great white throne

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.’ Revelation 20:11

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 2:1–11

The thoughts of many hearts were revealed by Christ on earth, and that same Christ shall make an open exhibition of men at the last great day. He shall judge them, he shall discern their spirits, he shall find out the joints and the marrow of their being; the thoughts and intents of the heart he shall lay bare. Even you, believer, will pass the test before him; let no man deceive you with the delusion that you will not be judged: the sheep appeared before the great dividing Shepherd as well as the goats; those who used their talents were called to account as well as he who buried his pound, and the disciples themselves were warned that their idle words would bring them into judgment. Nor need you fear a public trial. Innocence courts the light. You are not saved by being allowed to be smuggled into heaven untested and unproved, but you will in the righteousness of Jesus pass the solemn test with joy. It may not be at the same moment as the wicked that the righteous shall be judged (I shall not contend for particulars), but I am clear that they will be judged, and that the blood and righteousness of Jesus are provided for this very cause, that they may find mercy of the Lord in that day. O sinner, it is far otherwise with you, for your ruin is sure when the testing time comes. There will be no witnesses needed to convict you, for the Judge knows all. The Christ whom you despised will judge you; the Saviour whose mercy you trampled on, in the fountain of whose blood you would not wash, the despised and rejected of men—it is he who shall judge righteous judgment to you.

For meditation: All will stand before the judgment seat of God and of Christ (Romans 14:102 Corinthians 5:10). What will be the verdict in your case? Will you be cleared for heaven as one who has been justified and acquitted from condemnation by faith in Christ (Romans 5:18:1) or only fit, as an unbelieving sinner, for eternal judgment in hell (Romans 2:5,8–9)?

 

How Will We Count Our Days?

By: Marilyn Nutter

women with planning calendars

“Where did time go? It seems as if my grandchildren started school yesterday, and now in the blink of an eye, they are in high school.”

Over a long-distance phone call, Jane and I reminisced about her grandsons’ toddler days in childcare while we attended Bible study. “They’ve grown up too fast. Lucas is a junior camp counselor and Shawn has a summer job now. Before we know it, they’ll be off to college.”

Our conversation moved to a friend’s retirement. “They may spend half a year in Florida,” she said. “They don’t have definite plans.”

“I’m sad to see people move,” I responded. “My neighbors, who have joined us for backyard picnics for 10 years, moved to another state last week to accept a new job. Ten years of local friendship wasn’t enough.” Our conversation drifted to other news, but life changes and time passing stayed on my mind.

Last summer, our family reunion ended when we felt as if it just started. One afternoon, as I turned pages in scrapbooks and photo albums, I noted some friends and family have gone to heaven. My children’s playmates have grown up and I get birth announcements of their children in the mail. And yes, a few adults have involuntarily changed hair color. We flip our calendar pages and wonder how the months and years have passed so quickly.

Time, and changes that accompany it, are inevitable. The high school graduate makes a career or college decision, a person wonders how to use retirement years, another considers relocation in response to a job offer, and the baby we held in our arms is a young woman about to marry. In life seasons, as Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) reminds us,

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

What do we do about our time? The Psalmist reminds us to pray to measure our time, not in hours or via a calendar, but according to wisdom.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

Our days will pass, and we move from one life stage to the next. Time is a gift. Will we use our days wisely?

In life choices let’s look for direction from God’s Word, pray for insight, seek wise counsel from godly friends, and wait to make thoughtful, not impulsive decisions. How will we most honor God as we seek to number our days and seasons with wisdom?

 

 

The Gift Of Time

Acts 7:17

“But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt,

Ephesians 1:10

with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him

Mark 1:15

and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Habakkuk 2:3

“For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

Acts 12:21

On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them.

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The Gift of Time

From: Our Daily Bread

The Gift of Time
Read: Luke 6:37–38 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 87–88; Romans 13

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

I headed into the post office in a big hurry. I had a number of things on my to-do list, but as I entered I was frustrated to find a long line backing up all the way to the door. “Hurry up and wait,” I muttered, glancing at my watch.

My hand was still on the door when an elderly stranger approached me. “I can’t get this copier to work,” he said, pointing to the machine behind us. “It took my money and I don’t know what to do.” Immediately I knew what God wanted me to do. I stepped out of line and was able to fix the problem in ten minutes.

The man thanked me and then left. As I turned to get back in line, it was gone. I walked straight to the service counter.

My experience that day reminds me of Jesus’s words: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

My wait seemed shorter because God interrupted my hurry. By turning my eyes to others’ needs and helping me give of my time, He gave me a gift. It’s a lesson I hope to remember, next time I look at my watch.

Heavenly Father, all of the time I have is in Your hands, a gift from You. Please show me how to use it to bring glory and honor to You.

Sometimes our to-do list needs to wait.

“Do Not Quench the Spirit”

By Oswald Chambers

The voice of the Spirit of God is as gentle as a summer breeze— so gentle that unless you are living in complete fellowship and oneness with God, you will never hear it. The sense of warning and restraint that the Spirit gives comes to us in the most amazingly gentle ways. And if you are not sensitive enough to detect His voice, you will quench it, and your spiritual life will be impaired. This sense of restraint will always come as a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12), so faint that no one except a saint of God will notice it.

Beware if in sharing your personal testimony you continually have to look back, saying, “Once, a number of years ago, I was saved.” If you have put your “hand to the plow” and are walking in the light, there is no “looking back”— the past is instilled into the present wonder of fellowship and oneness with God (Luke 9:62 ; also see 1 John 1:6-7). If you get out of the light, you become a sentimental Christian, and live only on your memories, and your testimony will have a hard metallic ring to it. Beware of trying to cover up your present refusal to “walk in the light” by recalling your past experiences when you did “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). When-ever the Spirit gives you that sense of restraint, call a halt and make things right, or else you will go on quenching and grieving Him without even knowing it.

Suppose God brings you to a crisis and you almost endure it, but not completely. He will engineer the crisis again, but this time some of the intensity will be lost. You will have less discernment and more humiliation at having disobeyed. If you continue to grieve His Spirit, there will come a time when that crisis cannot be repeated, because you have totally quenched Him. But if you will go on through the crisis, your life will become a hymn of praise to God. Never become attached to anything that continues to hurt God. For you to be free of it, God must be allowed to hurt whatever it may be.

 

Son Flowers

From: Sue Bohnert

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The day before Byron went to be with the Lord, his sister walked in his room with a bouquet of sunflowers behind her back. She yelled, “Surprise!”

He lit up and the whole countenance on his face changed. Byron said, “Oh Lauren, those are beautiful. They look like garden flowers.”

Several times throughout the evening, he would just stare at the flowers. With a sweet look on his face, he would say, “Lauren, thank you so much. I needed those.”

Sunflowers have taken on a whole new meaning for me. Not only are they a symbol of happiness, they’re a reminder of the last few days of being with my son. So, I decided to look up what sunflowers meant:

“Sunflower has recently been adopted as a symbol of happiness, strength, a love of the sun and sunlight and … it is said to always turn its face to the sun.” (WikiAnswers.com, 2009)

Knowing that the sunflower loves the sun really blesses me. I especially like where it says, “the sunflower looks forward for the brightness of tomorrow.” It reminds me of how you and I should be towards the Father’s son, Jesus. We see in the Message Bible in Matthew 17:2, “Sunlight poured from His face.” Just like the sunflower, shouldn’t we also be turning our face towards the Son?

My daughter and I decided to plant a small bed of sunflowers in honor of Byron. It’s really true – these delights will actually follow the sun from morning to night. What really excited me the most was one morning at the break of dawn, I went out to check on the flowers. There they were, after a long night, ready to meet the brightness of a new day.

My pastor has pointed out many times in Genesis that God says a day is the evening then morning. We think of it as morning then evening. The next scriptures confirm this:

“Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.”Psalms 30:5, Amplified

“At night we may cry, but when morning comes we will celebrate.” Psalms 30:5, Message

The same is true in Romans 13:12 (Message),

“The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing!”

We can praise God knowing that after the dark we will always see the light. No matter how dark or long your night has been, always remember the day is coming. I can attest to this truth. Yesterday was one of the darkest days of my life, but I kept looking to the Son. Last night, I went to bed assured that tomorrow would bring a new day!

“Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!” Read Psalms 19 in the Message Bible.

Byron truly is my son flower. By being in constant pursuit of God’s son, Jesus, and loyal to the end, he stepped into the brightness of a new day.

“I’ll never even smell the stench of death. You’ve got my feet on the life-path, with your face shining sun-joy all around.” See Acts 2:27-28 (Message).

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18, Message

Go on! Look to the Son. Your night will end! Whether in Heaven or on Earth, day is coming!!!

Rest In The Lord

 

I Peter 5: 6-9

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

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The Theology of Resting in God

By:  Oswald Chambers

Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? —Matthew 8:26

When we are afraid, the least we can do is pray to God. But our Lord has a right to expect that those who name His name have an underlying confidence in Him. God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the ones who are reliable. Yet our trust is only in God up to a certain point, then we turn back to the elementary panic-stricken prayers of those people who do not even know God. We come to our wits’ end, showing that we don’t have even the slightest amount of confidence in Him or in His sovereign control of the world. To us He seems to be asleep, and we can see nothing but giant, breaking waves on the sea ahead of us.

“…O you of little faith!” What a stinging pain must have shot through the disciples as they surely thought to themselves, “We missed the mark again!” And what a sharp pain will go through us when we suddenly realize that we could have produced complete and utter joy in the heart of Jesus by remaining absolutely confident in Him, in spite of what we were facing.

There are times when there is no storm or crisis in our lives, and we do all that is humanly possible. But it is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely. If we have been learning to worship God and to place our trust in Him, the crisis will reveal that we can go to the point of breaking, yet without breaking our confidence in Him.

We have been talking quite a lot about sanctification, but what will be the result in our lives? It will be expressed in our lives as a peaceful resting in God, which means a total oneness with Him. And this oneness will make us not only blameless in His sight, but also a profound joy to Him.

 

God’s people in the furnace

From: Charles Spurgeon

“I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10

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Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 43:1-7

Beloved, the first thing I will give you is the comfort of the text itself—election. Comfort yourself with this thought: God says, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” “The fire is hot, but he has chosen me; the furnace burns, but he has chosen me; these coals are hot, I do not love the place, but he has chosen me.” Ah! It comes like a soft gale assuaging the fury of the flame. It is like some gentle wind fanning the cheeks; yes, this one thought arrays us in fireproof armour, against which the heat has no power. “Let affliction come—God has chosen me. Poverty, you may come in at the door—God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, you may come, but I will have this by my side for a balsam—God has chosen me. Whatever it is, I know that he has chosen me.” The next comfort is that you have the Son of man with you in the furnace. In that silent bedchamber of yours, there sits by your side one whom you have not seen, but whom you love; and often when you know it not, he makes your bed in your affliction, and smooths your pillow for you. You are in poverty; but in that lonely house of yours that has nothing to cover its bare walls, where you sleep on a miserable straw mattress, you know that the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor; he often treads those bare floors, and putting his hands upon those walls he consecrates them! If you were in a palace he might not come there. He loves to come into these desolate places that he may visit you. The Son of man is with you, Christian.

For meditation: There are some things that can only be proved in times of trouble (Daniel 3:17,25,28,29James 1:121 Peter 1:6,7).

 

Reflections on a Rainbow

From: Truth For Life

The bow is seen in the clouds.

 Genesis 9:14

The rainbow, the symbol of the covenant with Noah, foreshadows our Lord Jesus, who is the Lord’s witness to the people. When may we expect to see the token of the covenant? The rainbow is only to be seen painted upon a cloud. When the sinner’s conscience is dark with clouds, when he remembers his past sin and mourns and laments before God, Jesus Christ is revealed to him as the covenant Rainbow, displaying all the glorious hues of the divine character and declaring peace. To the believer, when his trials and temptations surround him, it is sweet to behold the person of our Lord Jesus Christ—to see Him bleeding, living, rising, and pleading for us. God’s rainbow is hung over the cloud of our sins, our sorrows, and our woes, to prophesy deliverance. By itself a cloud does not give a rainbow; there must be the crystal drops to reflect the light of the sun.

So, our sorrows must not only threaten, but they must really fall upon us. There would have been no Christ for us if the vengeance of God had been merely a threatening cloud: Punishment must fall in terrible drops upon Him. Until there is a real anguish in the sinner’s conscience, there is no Christ for him; until the chastisement that he feels becomes grievous, he cannot see Jesus. But there must also be a sun; for clouds and drops of rain do not make rainbows unless the sun shines. Beloved, our God, who is as the sun to us, always shines, but we do not always see Him—clouds hide His face; but no matter what drops may be falling or what clouds may be threatening, if He shines there will be a rainbow at once.

It is said that when we see the rainbow, the shower is over. It is certain that when Christ comes, our troubles withdraw; when we look on Jesus, our sins vanish, and our doubts and fears subside. When Jesus walks upon the waters of the sea, how profound the calm!

 

A Supernatural Cycle of Blessing

From: Faith To Faith

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

Ecclesiastes 11:1

One of the most exciting things I ever discovered about God’s law of sowing and reaping was the fact that financial harvests are not seasonal. If you plant year round, you can be receiving year round.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying your harvest will come instantly. It usually won’t. You may have to wait for it for several months. What I’m saying is, if you’ll keep planting consistently, you’ll receive just as consistently. If you’ll continually cast your bread on the water, eventually it will come in on every wave!

Of course, some people never get to enjoy that kind of constant blessing. That’s because, instead of giving, they keep waiting to receive. They stand on the beach saying, “I wonder where my prosperity is? As soon as it comes in, I’ll start giving.”

God’s economy doesn’t work that way. He said, “Give and it will be given to you again. The way you measure it, it shall be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). You have to make the first move. You have to send a ship out before your ship can come in.

Think about that next time you’re tempted to complain about the things life brings your way. Remember that whatever you’ve been casting out there is always what you find on down the road. If you’ve been giving doubt, unbelief and fear, that’s what has been coming to you. If you’ve been giving nothing, then nothing is what you get.

You’re holding the seeds of your own future in your hand right now. Step out in faith and use them to put the supernatural cycle of blessing in motion. Start now planting one good seed after another. Eventually you’ll enjoy a good harvest every single day!

Scripture Reading:

Luke 6:31-38

Remember Christ’s Death

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From: God Life

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Prayer, Care, and Share

“Teach Your Disciple About Communion”
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

When you disciple a new Christian, teach them the importance of regularly taking part in the Lord’s Supper, or Communion.

Here’s what you learned about Communion (the Lord’s Supper) from the text above: There are two parts in the Lord’s Supper: The breaking and eating of bread, and the drinking of wine/grape juice. In the breaking and eating of bread we remember His body that was broken to the point of death for us. The drinking of wine/grape juice represents the new covenant between man and God that was sealed in His blood. It is through the blood of Christ, His life given for us on the cross, that we are saved.

It is important that believers should prepare very carefully to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Ask God to reveal any sin in your life, confess and repent of it, and meditate on the significance of Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension into heaven, and His coming again. Scripture warns that partaking of communion in an unworthy way is sinful and that “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).

Most believers take communion together regularly–some more often than others, depending on their church tradition.

If your disciple hasn’t found a church yet, take them to your church so they can take part in communion. Or the two of you can even celebrate communion together. If you have any questions about communion, you should ask your pastor or spiritual leader.

 

Remember

From: Kathy Thomas

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old,” Psalm 77:11 (ESV).

She crammed her final “essentials” into the few remaining nooks and crannies. Coffee… check. Snacks… check. Books… check. Shoes… check. More shoes… check.

“If you hit a pothole, you might as well shout ‘Happy Birthday!’ because that poor little hatchback is going to explode like a piñata.” I grinned, as I surveyed my firstborn’s prized possessions.

Through the glass, I treasured glimpses of my daughter’s heart, revealed by her choices of “essentials” that would accompany her on her 1,200 mile journey to college.

How did I get so old? Where did all the time go? Where did all these shoes come from?

Peeking out from under a pile of blankets, shoes and more shoes, the glittery edges of her beloved scrapbooks sparkled, reminding me that all of my questions had already been answered the night before. As we sorted out which pieces of my daughter’s life would continue with her into this new and uncharted territory, we stumbled across an ugly, old, green plastic tub with her name scrawled across the lid. We dumped out the contents, spilling a flood of memories onto our living room floor, revisiting two decades of adventure and joy, sorrow and loss, victories and failures.

Married at 18, a mother by 19, and again by 20 – this novice mom had been overwhelmed by the thought of trying to remember all of the precious details of my children’s lives. So as each child arrived, they received a plastic tub, where all of their memories were stashed until “one day when I’d have more time” to paste them into neat, little, detailed albums.

But then, number three and four came along. Most of those memories never made it out of their boxes, until last night.

Sprawled across our living room floor were testimonies of God’s faithfulness and blessings, as well as painful trials and struggles He’d used to shape my daughter’s character, building her faith and dependence upon Him. God had taken a little girl with incredibly limited resources and molded her into an incredibly resourceful young lady! Each testimony of His faithfulness in her past served as a promise of His continued faithfulness in her future.

Now, every time I pour out one of those ugly, old, green plastic tubs onto our living room floor, I see God. I see His face in every family portrait, His hand in every movie ticket stub, and His heart in every receipt for cotton candy.

I thank Him for the immeasurable blessings He has poured out on our family. I even thank Him for all of the weakness He has allowed in our lives. The difficulty of our struggles and the depths of our pain have seared the beauty of His rescue deep within our hearts. Without those trials, pride could have caused our memory of His faithfulness, provision, and comfort to fade.

God has been our Father, our Provider, and our Friend. He’s cried tears of sorrow when we suffered loss. He’s made a way for us in the wilderness when there was no way, and He’s snickered under the covers with my children in their tents.

My memory fails me more and more with each passing day. Though I may need to cover my life with sticky notes to remind me to buy bread… Though I may need my younger children to teach me “one more time” how to use my cell phone… Though I may forget what on earth I walked into the pantry for… 50 times a day! I pray that I never forget my good and gracious God!

“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me,” Psalm 63:5-8.

Supremely Significant

From: Joe Stowell

Audio provided by Our Daily Bread Radio.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5

Modern counseling and psychology focus a lot of attention on obsessive behaviors—whether it’s an obsession with food, tobacco, alcohol, pornography, drugs, or even work. But perhaps one of the most overlooked addictions is our obsession with personal significance. Think about the amount of time and energy you spend in maintaining, advancing, expanding, and protecting your sense of significance. You know, making yourself look good, staying on top of the heap, protecting your ego, and living to be more successful than the next guy.

And while it seems like everyone is signed up for this rat race, we need to face up to the reality that the search for significance is a treacherous pursuit personally.

Count the costs. Significance is often gained at the expense of our character as we are willing to lie and cut ethical corners to be viewed well by others. It makes us defensive when someone seeks to improve us through criticism. The pursuit embitters our hearts against God over disappointing and unchangeable personal issues like our size, shape, or color. Pursuing our own significance makes us vulnerable to a host of verbal sins, such as gossip, slander, boasting, lying, and immoral chatter. It’s why we are quick to violate basic principles of stewardship by burdening ourselves with debt in order to accumulate things that supposedly enhance our significance socially and materially. The warning label on being obsessed with your own significance is long and serious.

And, I need to add, being driven to protect and advance our sense of significance renders us unable to serve others unless there is an advantage to be gained; unable to sacrifice for a cause that is not our own and unwilling to suffer for that cause if necessary; unable to surrender to any agenda that impedes the progress of our personal persona. In short, it cripples our ability to love God more than ourselves and to live to bring glory to God since, when we are compelled to glorify ourselves, we are unable to exalt His worthy significance.

So let’s see what we can do about this. At the start of his letter to the Colossians, Paul notes that Jesus is the only truly significant Person: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. . . . All things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. . . . He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:15-18). Yet, as Paul wrote to the Philippians, Jesus did not live to hold on to these things but rather poured himself out for our benefit by humbling himself in obedience to His Father (Philippians 2:6-7).

Don’t miss the point! Jesus—who had every right to celebrate and advance His own significance—chose to serve, surrender, suffer, and sacrifice in order to bring glory to His Father and to rescue us from the grip of hell. And if you have accepted this gift of surrender on His part, you are now a child of God. You already are significant! God is your Father. Significance is no longer a search but a secured reality. And once you are significant in Him, you are free to refocus your obsession to living to glorify His significance and not your own.

So, let the attitude of Christ be in you. It’s a significant pursuit worthy of your obsession!