Monthly Archives: January 2019

Adoption

Ephesians 1:5

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

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The two talents

Charles Spurgeon, Author

“He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Matthew 25:22-23

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Chronicles 29:1-17

If by divine grace—(and it is only by divine grace that this can ever be accomplished)—our two talents be rightly used, the fact that we did not have five, will be no injury to us. You say, when such a man dies, who stood in the midst of the church, a triumphant warrior for the truth, the angels will crowd to heaven’s gates to see him, for he has been a mighty hero, and done much for his Master. A Calvin or a Luther, with what plaudits shall they be received!—men with talents, who have been faithful to their trust. Yes, but know ye not, that there is many a humble village pastor whose flock scarcely numbers fifty, who toils for them as for his life, who spends hours in praying for their welfare, who uses all the little ability he has in his endeavour to win them to Christ; and do ye imagine that his entry into heaven shall be less triumphant than the entry of such a man as Luther? If so, ye know not how God dealeth with his people. He giveth them rewards, not according to the greatness of the goods with which they were entrusted, but according to their fidelity thereunto, and he that hath been faithful in the least, shall be as much rewarded, as he that hath been faithful in much. I want you briefly to turn to the chapter to see this. You will note first, that the man with two talents came to his Lord with as great a confidence as the man that had five. “And he said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents; behold, I have gained two talents beside them.”

For meditation: These words, spoken exactly 34 years before the day on which Spurgeon died, remind us not to covet the gifts of a Spurgeon. Our concern, as believers, should not be how much we have got from God, but how much we gladly use whatever we have got for God (1 Corinthians 4:22 Corinthians 8:12).

 

Join the Revolution

By: Joe Stowell

“I am the way…” John 14:6

In one of my all-time favorite Peanuts cartoons, Charlie Brown is standing on the deck of a cruise ship with a rather disheartened look on his face clutching his unfolded deck chair. Lucy, who always seems to have it all together, has already unfolded her deck chair and is waxing eloquently about life. She says to Charlie that some people set the deck chairs of life to look at all that has gone by, others set their deck chairs to look at all that is in the here and now, and that still others position their chairs to look at all that is ahead. To which Charlie responds, “I can’t even get my deck chair unfolded.”

My guess is that we’ve all had days when we feel more like Charlie Brown than Lucy. Down deep inside—sometimes way down deep inside—there is this nagging feeling that we don’t quite have life figured out. That when we are really honest with ourselves, life isn’t all we thought it would be. Shouldn’t there be something more than the endless to-do lists? And, why does the pressure to perform and prosper make us feel like the proverbial donkey chasing the carrot dangling forever in front of us? And why is it that when we take life by the throat and pull off a smashing success, it quickly morphs into a mere memory as life trudges on?

Want something more—something different? Then pack up your bags and enlist yourself as a Person of the Way. Join the revolution! The revolution headed by the world’s greatest revolutionary, Jesus. I’m not sure what you think about when the thought of Jesus crosses your mind, but my guess is that the word revolutionary rarely surfaces. Yet that is exactly who He is! Missing the point that Jesus came to spark a revolution in this upside-down world—a revolution to take upside-down people and turn them right side up—is to miss the very heart of why He came and to miss the point of life as it is intended to be.

Jesus’ arrival on our planet was an invasion from another world to overthrow the ruthless regime of King Beelzebub and to set earthbound captives free. But the revolution doesn’t stop there. It’s about freeing us sin slaves from the grip of hell in every aspect of our lives. It’s about setting up a whole new way of thinking and living, about giving freed captives a life of purpose and significance. And I don’t mean that it is a revolution whose end game is to get you to go to church more, to keep more rules, or to get busy doing more jobs for God. We already have too many who are on that bandwagon yet have no clue about the revolution. This revolution is about changing the way we think, act, and react and then raising the torch and taking the way into every aspect of our lives—into every encounter, every relationship, every responsibility, and every commodity we own.

If you see yourself as a follower of Jesus, but you still think about your money like everyone else; react to your offenders like everyone else; think about your career like everyone else; live with “you” at the center of your universe like everyone else; think about sex like everyone else; find life to be an endless string of random unfulfilling events like everyone else, then one thing is clear: You have missed the revolution.

The Dilemna Of Obedience

 

Noah Obeyed God

 20 From the birds according to their[e] kind, and from the animals according to their[f] kind, from every creeping thing on the ground according to its[g] kind—two from every kind shall come to you to keep them alive. 21 And as for you, take for yourself from every kind of food that is eaten. And you must gather it to yourself. And it shall be for you and for them for food.” 22 And Noah did according to all that God commanded him; thus he did.

 

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The Dilemma of Obedience

By Oswald Chambers

The Dilemma of Obedience

God never speaks to us in dramatic ways, but in ways that are easy to misunderstand. Then we say, “I wonder if that is God’s voice?” Isaiah said that the Lord spoke to him “with a strong hand,” that is, by the pressure of his circumstances (Isaiah 8:11). Without the sovereign hand of God Himself, nothing touches our lives. Do we discern His hand at work, or do we see things as mere occurrences?

Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance (1 Samuel 3:9). Every time circumstances press in on you, say, “Speak, Lord,” and make time to listen. Chastening is more than a means of discipline— it is meant to bring me to the point of saying, “Speak, Lord.” Think back to a time when God spoke to you. Do you remember what He said? Was it Luke 11:13, or was it 1 Thessalonians 5:23? As we listen, our ears become more sensitive, and like Jesus, we will hear God all the time.

Should I tell my “Eli” what God has shown to me? This is where the dilemma of obedience hits us. We disobey God by becoming amateur providences and thinking, “I must shield ‘Eli,’ ” who represents the best people we know. God did not tell Samuel to tell Eli— he had to decide that for himself. God’s message to you may hurt your “Eli,” but trying to prevent suffering in another’s life will prove to be an obstruction between your soul and God. It is at your own risk that you prevent someone’s right hand being cut off or right eye being plucked out (see Matthew 5:29-30).

Never ask another person’s advice about anything God makes you decide before Him. If you ask advice, you will almost always side with Satan. “…I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood…” (Galatians 1:16).

 

Make Your Decision

by Inspiration Ministries

“Many of His disciples…walked with Him no more…But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…You are… the Son of the living God.’” John 6:66-68 NKJV

How easily we can forget that Bible characters aren’t perfect but very human. This certainly applies to Jesus’ disciples. They had weaknesses and made mistakes. We see these traits when Jesus taught things that did not make sense to some. Unable to understand His message, they decided to stop following Him.

As these people departed, Jesus asked the remaining disciples what they would do. Peter did not pretend to understand everything Jesus said but realized that he needed Him. That He alone had “the words of eternal life.” That Jesus was the Christ. Peter still had questions but knew that he still needed Jesus.

Each of us must make decisions like this in our lives. There may be things about the Bible we may not understand. We may be puzzled by the way God is guiding us or about events He has allowed in our lives.

But we face the same choice Peter did. What is our standard for making decisions? Our own ideas? What makes sense to us? Or will we follow Jesus? Will we have the faith to trust Him, even when there are things we don’t understand?

What is your decision? Make a commitment to follow Jesus unconditionally. Make Him your Lord. Trust Him. Follow Him. Remember: He has “the words of eternal life.” As you commit your way to Him, He promises to direct your path.

 

The shameful sufferer

From: Charles Spurgeon

“Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 9:18-2251-53

You have an enemy who all his life long has been your enemy. His father was your enemy, and he is your enemy too. There is never a day passes but you try to win his friendship; but he spits upon your kindness, and curses your name. He does injury to your friends, and there is not a stone he leaves unturned to do you damage. As you are going home to-day, you see a house on fire; the flames are raging, and the smoke is ascending up in one black column to heaven. Crowds gather in the street, and you are told there is a man in the upper chamber who must be burnt to death. No one can save him. You say, “Why that is my enemy’s house;” and you see him at the window. It is your own enemy—the very man; he is about to be burnt. Full of lovingkindness, you say, “I will save that man if I can.” He sees you approach the house; he puts his head from the window and curses you. “An everlasting blast upon you!” he says; “I would rather perish than that you should save me.” Do you imagine yourself, then, dashing through the smoke, and climbing the blazing staircase to save him; and can you conceive that when you get near him he struggles with you, and tries to roll you in the flames? Can you conceive your love to be so potent, that you can perish in the flames rather than leave him to be burned? You say, “I could not do it; it is above flesh and blood to do it.” But Jesus did it. We hated him, we despised him, and, when he came to save us, we rejected him. When his Holy Spirit comes into our hearts to strive with us, we resist him; but he will save us; nay, he himself braved the fire that he might snatch us as brands from eternal burning.

For meditation: The wonderful determination of Christ and his insistence on carrying out his Father’s will despite all the attempts to distract him (Matthew 16:21-2326:51-54Luke 13:31-33).

Jesus Loves You

 

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. – Deuteronomy 7:9

How precious is your unfailing love, O God! – Psalm 36:7

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. – Psalm 86:5

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. – Psalm 86:15

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

 

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Jesus Loves You

by Inspiration Ministries

“…That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend…the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 NASB

Anna and Susan Warner were devout Christians. Among other things, the sisters taught Sunday school classes for the cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point. When their father died, they turned to writing in an effort to secure an income, and produced a number of best-selling novels.

One of their novels was called Say and Seal. Written in 1860, it included a poem spoken by one of the characters to comfort a child who was dying. The poem described the love of Jesus. While thousands read their novel, that poem had the most impact. It was called “Jesus Loves Me.”

Both children and adults were moved by the simplicity of the poem’s message. Its words still resonate: “Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong.”

In 1861, William Bradbury composed accompanying music, and it became a favorite song for children throughout the world. Like many adults, you may have grown up singing this song. But you may have forgotten the simplicity of its message. As the Warner sisters wrote, “Jesus loves me still today, walking with me on my way.”

If you need comfort or peace today, remember “Jesus loves me! He will stay close beside me all the way.” And remember that He died so Heaven’s gate will “open wide” for you. “He will wash away my sin, let His little child come in.”

 

It’s Not Good to Be Alone

By: Joe Stowell

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone’ ” Genesis 2:18

While reading through the creation narratives in Genesis for the umpteenth time, I was struck by God’s commentary on Adam being alone in the garden. What caught my attention was the observation God made after each stroke of his creative power: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Until, that is, He made Adam. At that point, something was not good: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So He fixed it and did something really good—He made Eve!

A couple of thoughts race through my brain at this point. I couldn’t agree more with God’s assessment—man needs woman! Left to ourselves we would be more like untamed savages than decent, sensitive specimens of humanity. I have no idea how off track my life might be if my wife Martie had not come along. She is a consistent check to my social insensitivities, to my self-serving male perspectives on life, to what color combinations work and which ones don’t, and to making life better for our kids and grandkids. To say nothing of her sensitive heart toward God that stimulates me to want to serve and follow Him with greater enthusiasm. Thankfully, for all of us guys, God didn’t get carried away with how good it all was but saw the single flaw and did something to save the world from men left to themselves! Bravo for that stroke of creative genius. As the French say, Vive la difference!

The other thought that caused me to stop reading long enough to let it sink in, is that being alone is not a good thing for anyone. God made us in His image—which means that we, like Him, are relational beings. In the beginning, it was a literal paradise of fulfilling relationships as God in an unhindered way walked with Adam and Eve in the garden and they enjoyed the fullest experience of intimacy with each other. So, where did loneliness come from? How did the demon of loneliness that haunts many of our hearts today alienate us from the others that we so desperately need?

I want to be clear here and admit that loneliness isn’t always brought on by us or our choices. So this is not a guilt trip. But as the story unfolds, we see the damage of alienation haunting the landscape of life. Adam and Eve hide from God out of fear of getting caught, and Adam blames Eve for his disobedience, which clearly drives a wedge into their flawless intimacy. And the deep fellowship on every satisfying level is now replaced by alienation, blame, distrust, and shame.

Which leaves me wondering, how could people who had it so good end up with everything so out of sync? It all started going south when Eve believed that to live for herself and her own gain was more important than living to love God and Adam. And to make matters worse, Adam followed suit.

The lesson here is huge. Living for what’s “best for me,” while ignoring the needs, wishes, and interests of others always brings alienation and aloneness.

Thank God that He has made a way for us to restore relationships and to recapture a portion of the intimacy of Eden. When we follow the way of Jesus and live to love and serve others, aloneness gives way to intimacy and our self-serving acts of alienation dissolve into a bonding that gets us wonderfully stuck on each other again.

And guys, that should probably start with us since it’s not a good thing for us to be alone!

 

How Could Someone Be So Ignorant!

By Oswald Chambers

How Could Someone Be So Ignorant!
 Who are You, Lord? —Acts 26:15

“The Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand…” (Isaiah 8:11). There is no escape when our Lord speaks. He always comes using His authority and taking hold of our understanding. Has the voice of God come to you directly? If it has, you cannot mistake the intimate insistence with which it has spoken to you. God speaks in the language you know best— not through your ears, but through your circumstances.

God has to destroy our determined confidence in our own convictions. We say, “I know that this is what I should do” — and suddenly the voice of God speaks in a way that overwhelms us by revealing the depths of our ignorance. We show our ignorance of Him in the very way we decide to serve Him. We serve Jesus in a spirit that is not His, and hurt Him by our defense of Him. We push His claims in the spirit of the devil; our words sound all right, but the spirit is that of an enemy. “He…rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of’ ” (Luke 9:55). The spirit of our Lord in His followers is described in 1 Corinthians 13.

Have I been persecuting Jesus by an eager determination to serve Him in my own way? If I feel I have done my duty, yet have hurt Him in the process, I can be sure that this was not my duty. My way will not be to foster a meek and quiet spirit, only the spirit of self-satisfaction. We presume that whatever is unpleasant is our duty! Is that anything like the spirit of our Lord— “I delight to do Your will, O my God…” (Psalm 40:8).

 

The Mood Mender

People in a good mood
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The Mood Mender

By: LInda Washington

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

As I waited at the train station for my weekly commute, negative thoughts crowded my mind like commuters lining up to board a train—stress over debt, unkind remarks said to me, helplessness in the face of a recent injustice done to a family member. By the time the train arrived, I was in a terrible mood.

On the train, another thought came to mind: write a note to God, giving Him my lament. Soon after I finished pouring out my complaints in my journal, I pulled out my phone and listened to the praise songs in my library. Before I knew it, my bad mood had completely changed.

Little did I know that I was following a pattern set by the writer of Psalm 94. The psalmist first poured out his complaints: “Rise up, Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve. . . . Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?” (Psalm 94:2, 16.) He didn’t hold anything back as he talked to God about injustice done to widows and orphans. Once he’d made his lament to God, the psalm transitioned into praise: “But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge” (v. 22).

God invites us to take our laments to Him. He can turn our fear, sadness, and helplessness into praise.

What Are You Aiming For?

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By: Joe Stowell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fill ‘Er Up

By: Beth Patch

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You’ve got to know something’s wrong when you pass numerous broken down cars on your usually smooth commute. In July 2018, a delivery truck had pumped the wrong fuel in underground tanks at several gas stations. Many Virginia motorists who had filled their tanks with Regular gas got Diesel instead. Some cars sputtered down the highway and others seized up entirely.

I’ve often thought about these drivers. It seemed so right filling their cars that day. The pump was labeled Regular. Why would they expect anything else?

King Solomon, one of Israel’s greatest leaders, revered for godly wisdom, wrote about assuming you’re getting the right thing in Proverbs:

“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” Proverbs 14:12 (NLT)

I recognize that path. It’s the avenue society says is best for me, too. The one where I figure out what makes me happy and how to get it — the all-about-me road. I spend my time doing things I enjoy, buying things I like, and seeking a safe, comfortable life. I decide what’s right and wrong, what’s fair and unfair. It does seem right. It seems normal.

What could be wrong with it? I’m not hurting anyone else. We all think this way sometimes. Problem is that kind of thinking can lead us down a dark path.

Solomon says it ends in death. Spiritual Death. Sputtering away from the path God intended. Dying, separated from the abundant life God planned for us.

The first commandment given to Moses says, “You must not have any other god but me.” Exodus 20:3 (NLT)

That includes us. We can’t spend our lives chasing pleasures, living by our own code of ethics, always putting ourselves first. That’s placing us before God — making little gods of ourselves. When we trust and obey God, we put Him in the rightful place as Lord of our lives. We align our wants with what He wants. We respect His authority in our lives as our Heavenly Father.

Jesus Christ is the perfect example of the proper relationship to the Father. He sought time alone with Him, counsel from Him, and He totally surrendered to God’s plan. Even in the face of crucifixion, Jesus said,

“I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42 (NLT)

When Jehovah God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses for His people (Exodus 20:1-20), it was not so much a list of do’s and don’ts, as some might interpret. It was God’s plumb line for humanity. He wanted us to walk in abundant life, not death. Days with purpose.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

Oh Lord Jesus, please help us to know when we are fueling our earthly vessels with the emptiness of this world. We need discernment from the Holy Spirit as we are prone to stray without even knowing it. Accept our confession, oh merciful God. We are guilty of putting ourselves before you. We don’t want to have any other god but You. Please forgive us, change us, and rescue us from ourselves — put us on Your pathway for our lives. Thank you for your unending grace and faithfulness. Amen.

Know The Peace Of God

Matthew 6:25-34

25 Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? 26 Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not ye of much more value than they?

 

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Look Again and Think

By Oswald Chambers

Look Again and Think

A warning which needs to be repeated is that “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches,” and the lust for other things, will choke out the life of God in us (Matthew 13:22). We are never free from the recurring waves of this invasion. If the frontline of attack is not about clothes and food, it may be about money or the lack of money; or friends or lack of friends; or the line may be drawn over difficult circumstances. It is one steady invasion, and these things will come in like a flood, unless we allow the Spirit of God to raise up the banner against it.

“I say to you, do not worry about your life….” Our Lord says to be careful only about one thing— our relationship to Him. But our common sense shouts loudly and says, “That is absurd, I must consider how I am going to live, and I must consider what I am going to eat and drink.” Jesus says you must not. Beware of allowing yourself to think that He says this while not understanding your circumstances. Jesus Christ knows our circumstances better than we do, and He says we must not think about these things to the point where they become the primary concern of our life. Whenever there are competing concerns in your life, be sure you always put your relationship to God first.

“Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). How much trouble has begun to threaten you today? What kind of mean little demons have been looking into your life and saying, “What are your plans for next month— or next summer?” Jesus tells us not to worry about any of these things. Look again and think. Keep your mind on the “much more” of your heavenly Father (Matthew 6:30).

Righteous Among the Nations

By Lisa Samra

For such a time as this.

At Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel, my husband and I went to the Righteous Among the Nations garden that honors the men and women who risked their lives to save Jewish people during the Holocaust. While looking at the memorial, we met a group from the Netherlands. One woman was there to see her grandparents’ names listed on the large plaques. Intrigued, we asked about her family’s story.

Members of a resistance network, the woman’s grandparents Rev. Pieter and Adriana Müller took in a two-year-old Jewish boy and passed him off as the youngest of their eight children from 1943–1945.

Moved by the story, we asked, “Did the little boy survive?” An older gentleman in the group stepped forward and proclaimed, “I am that boy!”

The bravery of many to act on behalf of the Jewish people reminds me of Queen Esther. The queen may have thought she could escape King Xerxes’s decree to annihilate the Jews around 475 bc because she had concealed her ethnicity. However, she was convinced to act—even under the threat of death—when her cousin begged her to not remain silent about her Jewish heritage because she had been placed in her position “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

We may never be asked to make such a dramatic decision. However, we will likely face the choice to speak out against an injustice or remain silent; to provide assistance to someone in trouble or turn away. May God grant us courage.

The Christ of Patmos

By: Charles Spurgeon

“… one like unto the Son of man,… His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow… And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.” Revelation 1:12-18

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 22:41-46

“His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow.” When the Church described him in the Canticles she said “His locks are bushy and black as a raven’s.” How do we understand this apparent discrepancy? My brethren, the Church in the Canticles looked forward, she looked forward to days and ages that were to come, and she perceived his perpetual youth; she pictured him as one who would never grow old, whose hair would ever have the blackness of youth. And do we not bless God that her view of him was true? We can say of Jesus, “Thou hast the dew of thy youth;” but the Church of to-day looks backward to his work as complete; we see him now as the ancient of eternal days. We believe that he is not the Christ of 1800 years ago merely, but, before the day-star knew its place, he was one with the Eternal Father. When we see in the picture his head and his hair white as snow, we understand the antiquity of his reign. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” When all these things were not, when the old mountains had not lifted their hoary heads into the clouds, when the yet more hoary sea had never roared in tempest; ere the lamps of heaven had been lit, when God dwelt alone in his immensity, and the unnavigated waves of ether, if there were such, had never been fanned by the wings of seraphim, and the solemnity of silence had never been startled by the song of cherubim, Jesus was of old in eternity with God. We know how he was despised and rejected of men, but we understand, too, what he meant when he said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” We know how he who died, when but a little more than thirty years of age, was verily the Father of the everlasting ages, having neither beginning of days nor end of years.

For meditation: Glory in the paradoxes of Christ—seen as old, yet young; God and man; A.D. yet B.C.; David’s Son, yet David’s Lord; a Shepherd, yet a Lamb; the Master, yet a Servant; the Great High Priest, yet the Sacrifice; the Immortal who died and rose again!

 

Keep Your Focus On God

 

Colossians 3:2    Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Proverbs 4:25     Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

Matthew 6:33     But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

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Look Again and Consecrate

By Oswald Chambers

Look Again and Consecrate

A simple statement of Jesus is always a puzzle to us because we will not be simple. How can we maintain the simplicity of Jesus so that we may understand Him? By receiving His Spirit, recognizing and relying on Him, and obeying Him as He brings us the truth of His Word, life will become amazingly simple. Jesus asks us to consider that “if God so clothes the grass of the field…” how “much more” will He clothe you, if you keep your relationship right with Him? Every time we lose ground in our fellowship with God, it is because we have disrespectfully thought that we knew better than Jesus Christ. We have allowed “the cares of this world” to enter in (Matthew 13:22), while forgetting the “much more” of our heavenly Father.

“Look at the birds of the air…” (Matthew 6:26). Their function is to obey the instincts God placed within them, and God watches over them. Jesus said that if you have the right relationship with Him and will obey His Spirit within you, then God will care for your “feathers” too.

“Consider the lilies of the field…” (Matthew 6:28). They grow where they are planted. Many of us refuse to grow where God plants us. Therefore, we don’t take root anywhere. Jesus said if we would obey the life of God within us, He would look after all other things. Did Jesus Christ lie to us? Are we experiencing the “much more” He promised? If we are not, it is because we are not obeying the life God has given us and have cluttered our minds with confusing thoughts and worries. How much time have we wasted asking God senseless questions while we should be absolutely free to concentrate on our service to Him? Consecration is the act of continually separating myself from everything except that which God has appointed me to do. It is not a one-time experience but an ongoing process. Am I continually separating myself and looking to God every day of my life?

 

A secret and yet no secret

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.’ ‘A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.’ Song of Solomon 4:12,15

Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 2:12–16

The believer has three principles, the body, the soul, and the indwelling spirit, which is none other than the Holy Spirit of God abiding in the faithful continually. Just such a relationship as the soul bears to the body does the spirit bear to the soul; for as the body without the soul is dead, so the soul without the spirit is dead in trespasses and sins; as the body without the soul is dead naturally, so the soul without the spirit is dead spiritually. And, contrary to the general teaching of modern theologians, we do insist upon it that the Spirit of God not only renovates the faculties which were there already, but does actually implant a new principle—that he does not merely set to rights a machinery which had before gone awry, but implants a new life which could not have been there. It is not a waking up of dormant faculties—it is the infusion of a supernatural spirit to which the natural heart is an utter stranger. Now, we think the first verse, to a great extent, sets forth the secret and mysterious work of the Holy Spirit in the creation of the new man in the soul. Into this secret no eye of man can look. The inner life in the Christian may well be compared to an enclosed garden—to a spring shut up—to a fountain sealed. But the second verse sets forth the manifest effects of grace, for no sooner is that life given than it begins to show itself. No sooner is the mystery of righteousness in the heart, than, like the mystery of iniquity, it ‘doth already work.’ It cannot lie still; it cannot be idle; it must not rest; but, as God is ever active, so this God-like principle is active too; thus you have a picture of the outer life, proceeding from the inner.

For meditation: Whenever God does a work on the inside, it will result in works on the outside. Otherwise the obvious conclusion is that it is not a work of God in the first place. ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.’ (James 2:26) Saving faith is a secret and yet no secret.

 

Free from Frostbite

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Bible in a Year:

Exodus 14–15; Matthew 17

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.

On a winter day, my children begged to go sledding. The temperature hovered near zero degrees Fahrenheit. Snowflakes raced by our windows. I thought it over and said yes, but asked them to bundle up, stay together, and come inside after fifteen minutes.

Out of love, I created those rules so my children could play freely without suffering frostbite. I think the author of Psalm 119 recognized the same good intent in God as he penned two consecutive verses that might seem contradictory: “I will always obey your law” and “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts” (vv. 44–45). How is it that the psalmist associated freedom with a spiritually law-abiding life?

Following God’s wise instruction allows us to escape the consequences that come from choices we later wish we could undo. Without the weight of guilt or pain we are freer to enjoy our lives. God doesn’t want to control us with dos and don’ts; rather, His guidelines show that He loves us.

While my kids were sledding, I watched them blast down the hill. I smiled at the sound of their laughter and the sight of their pink cheeks. They were free within the boundaries I’d given them. This compelling paradox is present in our relationship with God—it leads us to say with the psalmist, “Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight” (v. 35).

 

The Wide Shot

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The Wide Shot

By David C. McCasland

Bible in a Year:

Exodus 12–13; Matthew 16

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation . . . that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

During the television coverage of the inauguration of the first African-American president of the US, the camera showed a panoramic view of the enormous crowd of the nearly two million people who had gathered to witness the historic event. CBS News correspondent Bob Schieffer remarked, “The star of this show is the wide shot.” Nothing else could capture the multitude stretching from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol.

Scripture gives us a glimpse of an even larger throng, united by their faith in Jesus Christ: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation . . . that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

This is not an image of the privileged few, but of the ransomed many from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). Today we are scattered across the globe, where many feel isolated and suffer for their allegiance to Jesus. But through the lens of God’s Word we see the wide shot of our brothers and sisters in faith standing together to honor the One who redeemed us and made us His own.

Let’s join together in praise to the One who brought us out of the darkness and into the light!

 

Powered by Faith

by Inspiration Ministries

“‘Why could we not cast it out?’…‘Because of your unbelief…If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.’” Matthew 17:19-21 NKJV

The disciples were puzzled. They had failed to cast a demon from a boy. But Jesus succeeded. Wondering why they were ineffective, they approached Him privately and asked what they had done wrong.

He told them the problem was their “unbelief.” They just needed faith the size of a mustard seed but needed to put this faith into action. Then “nothing will be impossible for you.”

He said that “this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Jesus had prayed and fasted. He was equipped and prepared. As a result, He was ready to face any situation.

The Bible defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith helps us recognize a world only seen with spiritual eyes. But those preoccupied with the things of this world can be blind to this spiritual dimension.

When our minds are cluttered with thoughts from the world, it can be hard to believe God’s promises, to dwell in the Spirit, to walk by faith.

The Bible reminds us that God’s supernatural power is available to us. But to tap into this power, we need to be people of prayer, with an intimate relationship with God. Thinking His thoughts. Approaching the world His way. Confident to meet every challenge. Ready to put our faith into action.

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalms 23:4).

At my father’s house in the country there is a little closet in the chimney corner where are kept the canes and walking-sticks of several generations of our family. In my visits to the old house, when my father and I are going out for a walk, we often go to the cane closet, and pick out our sticks to suit the fancy of the occasion. In this I have frequently been reminded that the, Word of God is a staff.

During the war, when the season of discouragement and impending danger was upon us, the verse, “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord,” was a staff to walk with many dark days.

When death took away our child and left us almost heartbroken, I found another staff in the promise that “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

When in impaired health, I was exiled for a year, not knowing whether I should be permitted to return to my home and work again, I took with me this staff which never failed, “He knoweth the thoughts that he thinketh toward me, thoughts of peace and not of evil.”

In times of special danger or doubt, when human judgment has seemed to be set at naught, I have found it easy to go forward with this staff, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” And in emergencies, when there has seemed to be no adequate time for deliberation or for action, I have never found that this staff has failed me, “He that believeth shall not make haste.”
Benjamin Vaughan Abbott, in The Outlook

“I had never known,” said Martin Luther’s wife, “what such and such things meant, in such and such psalms, such complaints and workings of spirit; I had never understood the practice of Christian duties, had not God brought me under some affliction.” It is very true that God’s rod is as the schoolmaster’s pointer to the child, pointing out the letter, that he may the better take notice of it; thus He pointeth out to us many good lessons which we should never otherwise have learned.
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“God always sends His staff with His rod.”

“Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deut.33:25).

Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well.
Mclaren

God’s Judgement Is A Big Deal

 

John 5:29

29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Revelation 20:11-13

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and
heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.

Revelation 20:12

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

Revelation 20:13

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.

 

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Waiting on God as a God of Judgment

By: Andrew Murray

Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee. . . For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Isaiah 26:8-9 The LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait upon him. Isaiah 30:18

God is a God of mercy and a God of judgment. Mercy and judgment are forever together in His dealings. In the Flood, in the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, in the overthrow of the Canaanites, we ever see mercy in the midst of judgment. In these, the inner circle of His own people, we see it, too. The judgment punishes the sin, while mercy saves the sinner. Or, rather, mercy saves the sinner, not in spite of, but by means of, the very judgment that came upon his sin. In waiting on God, we must beware of forgetting this: as we wait we must expect Him as a God of judgment.

”In the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee.” That will prove true in our inner experience. If we are honest in our longing for holiness, in our prayers to be wholly the Lord’s, His holy presence will stir up and discover hidden sin. It, will bring us very low in the bitter conviction of the evil of our nature, its opposition to God’s law, and its inability to fulfill that law. The words will come true: ”Who may abide the day of his coming?. . . For he is like a refiner’s fire” (Mal. 3:2). ”Oh that thou wouldest. . . come down. . . As when the melting fire burneth” (Isa. 64:1).

In great mercy, God executes, within the soul, His judgments upon sin, as He makes it feel its wickedness and guilt. Many try to flee from these judgments. The soul that longs for God, and for deliverance from sin, bows under them in humility and in hope. In silence of soul, it says, ”Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered” (Num. 10:35). ”In the way of thy judgments. . . have we waited for thee.”

Let no one who seeks to learn the blessed art of waiting on God, wonder if at first the attempt to wait on Him only reveals more of sin and darkness. Let no one despair because unconquered sins, evil thoughts, or great darkness appear to hide God’s face. Was not, in His own beloved Son, the gift and bearer of His mercy on Calvary, the mercy as hidden and lost in the judgment? Oh, submit and sink down deep under the judgment of your every sin. Judgment prepares the way and breaks out in wonderful mercy. It is written, ”Zion shall be redeemed with judgment” (Isa. 1:27). Wait on God, in the faith that His tender mercy is working out His redemption in the midst of judgment. Wait for Him; He will be gracious to you.

There is another application still, one of unspeakable solemnity. We are expecting God, in the way of His judgments, to visit his earth; we are waiting for Him. What a thought! We know of these coming judgments. We know that there are tens of thousands of professing Christians who live on in carelessness, and who, if no change comes, must perish under God’s hand.

Oh, will we not do our utmost to warn them, to plead with and for them, if God may lave mercy on them! If we feel our lack of boldness, zeal, and cower, will we not begin to wait on God more definitely and persistently as a God of judgment? Will we not ask Him to so reveal Himself in the judgments that are coming on our very friends, that we may be inspired with a new fear of Him and them, and constrained to speak and pray as never yet before?

Verily, waiting on God is not leant to be a spiritual self indulgence. Its object is to let God and His holiness, Christ and the love that died on Calvary, the Spirit and fire that burns in heaven and came to earth, get possession of us to warn and arouse men with the message that we are waiting for God in the way of His judgments. Oh, Christian, prove that you really believe in the God of judgment!

My soul, wait thou only upon God!

 

God’s Overpowering Purpose

By Oswald Chambers

God’s Overpowering Purpose
 I have appeared to you for this purpose… —Acts 26:16

The vision Paul had on the road to Damascus was not a passing emotional experience, but a vision that had very clear and emphatic directions for him. And Paul stated, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). Our Lord said to Paul, in effect, “Your whole life is to be overpowered or subdued by Me; you are to have no end, no aim, and no purpose but Mine.” And the Lord also says to us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go…” (John 15:16).

When we are born again, if we are spiritual at all, we have visions of what Jesus wants us to be. It is important that I learn not to be “disobedient to the heavenly vision” — not to doubt that it can be attained. It is not enough to give mental assent to the fact that God has redeemed the world, nor even to know that the Holy Spirit can make all that Jesus did a reality in my life. I must have the foundation of a personal relationship with Him. Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to proclaim. He was brought into a vivid, personal, overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ. Acts 26:16 is tremendously compelling “…to make you a minister and a witness….” There would be nothing there without a personal relationship. Paul was devoted to a Person, not to a cause. He was absolutely Jesus Christ’s. He saw nothing else and he lived for nothing else. “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Distracted Lives

by Inspiration Ministries

“The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes…they quickly fallvaway.” Matthew 13:20-21 NIV

Here is a fact: As long as we are alive, we will face challenges and uncertainties. We’ll be tempted. We will hear and see things that can distract us and divert our focus.

Many people allow these kinds of distractions to dominate their lives and rob them of God’s blessings. Jesus described these as people with “no root” in them. They are shallow Christians who are quick to compromise if necessary. They may experience His blessings but only for “a short time.”

Jesus taught that there are many reasons we can “fall away.” To be ready, we need to have strong, deep roots that can sustain us in any situation.

He taught that God’s richest blessings are reserved for those who remain focused and determined, never being shaken by distractions. Remaining confident and resolute, standing on God’s Word.

The Bible is filled with God’s promises and the many ways He desires to bless us. He also reminds us that we need to demonstrate uncompromising faith, like the man who received “the seed falling on good soil” (v. 23). People who hear the Word and apply it in their lives. For people with this kind of persistence, God promises multiplied blessings.

Don’t allow “rocky ground” to rob you of God’s blessings. Grow deeper in your faith. Stand on His Word. Walk in His Spirit, renewed through prayer.

We Beheld His Glory

 

The Word Becomes Flesh

John 1

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me [f]is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”

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Transformed by Beholding

By Oswald Chambers

Transformed by Beholding
 We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed
into the same image… —2 Corinthians 3:18

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

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

 

A Bold Witness

by Inspiration Ministries

“Paul and Barnabas grew bold…” Acts 13:46 NKJV

John Hancock became the President of the American Continental Congress in 1775 at a time when the American colonies were seeking independence from England. On the surface, this appeared to be a lost cause: The Americans had far fewer resources.

Born in Massachusetts on this day in 1737, Hancock, like other colonial leaders, knew that he was in a perilous situation. After Congress voted in favor of a Declaration of Independence in 1776, some were afraid to let their opinions be known. But Hancock determined not to be afraid, becoming the first person to sign this Declaration. To be sure everyone knew his stand, he made his signature exceptionally large.

He wanted to show people on both sides that he would not be intimidated. He commented, “I’ll sign it in letters bold enough so the King of England can see it without his spectacles on!”

Many Christians do not have this same conviction about their faith. They seem timid, worried how others might react if they shared their faith. They forget that the Bible calls us to focus on God. That we are to seek His Kingdom, never worrying about the reactions of other people. He looks for people like Paul and Barnabas in the early church, never intimidated but bold in every situation.

Today, seek to be a bold believer. Never be timid or afraid to tell people about your faith. Let the world know that you are a Christian. Be ready to pray for people, share your faith, and proclaim what Jesus has done for you. Write it big! Write it bold for all to see.

Fake Is Not Faith

By: Diane Markins

At church, we look around and may think all those people in the seats around us are holy, spiritual, and wise. They never use bad language, over-indulge at a party, get really mad at their spouse, yell at their kids, complain about their jobs, or watch junk on TV.

Take a closer look. Each and every person sitting in those seats is human and has as many temptations, weaknesses, and personality flaws as you.

If you come to church with this illusion, take the blinders off. If you come to church and try to create this illusion about yourself, take the mask off. The only way we can truly know each other as brothers and sisters in Christ is to be who we really are and let it show.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” Matthew 6:5 (NIV)

There is always room for improvement and the pursuit of Godliness should be a key part of everyone’s life, but there is no room for “perfect Christians” in our church. That’s because they don’t exist this side of Heaven.

Following is an excerpt from a post in the blog of Holly Pelz (used with permission):

…I’ve gone almost my whole life feeling like a failure of a Christian. I always understood my spiritual success to be measured by an unspoken set of rules, and if I did ABCD, I’d be considered a good Christian.

I knew everything about how to appear Godly — how to act, how to worship, pray, respond with “God” answers, etc. I wanted to fit in with the Christian community, but somehow never felt good enough. Eventually, this false me took over completely and I lived in it fully, deceiving even myself at times.

In this existence, I always experienced a significant amount of spiritual envy. I looked at the people around me, wondering what the secret was, how they could be experiencing God so intimately. And I lived with fear. Fear that people might see right through me.

And now … I’m done. The façade of “everything being great, I’ve got it together, I’m a really spiritual person, etc” is exhausting. For the first time in my life, I believe I’m experiencing freedom in Christ, freedom from guilt and freedom in who I am. … My time with God might be a little unconventional, I might go through phases where I feel like an inconsistent mess, and I WILL make mistakes — but it’s okay. I’m okay.

At church (and with church friends), more than any other place, we need to be real and seek authenticity in others. If people are putting you on a pedestal, you only have one way to go: down. If you are admiring or idolizing some “spiritual giant” you will surely be disappointed.

1 Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (NIV)

As we open our lives up and let God’s light shine on it for others to see, they will be more inclined to reciprocate. Timothys will ask for guidance and Pauls will freely offer wisdom as Christ-centered friendships emerge.

Mistakes and failings make us “experts” in helping others avoid the same pitfalls. Only then does the Lord see us as genuinely seeking holiness. That is the measure of real faith and the beginning of spiritual freedom.

Always A Child Of God

 

Matthew 18:2-4

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.

 

Matthew 19: 13-14

13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.

14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

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Always a Child of God

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By Amy Boucher Pye

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

During a church service I attended with my parents, according to the usual practice we held hands while saying the Lord’s Prayer together. As I stood with one hand clasped to my mother’s and the other to my father’s, I was struck by the thought that I will always be their daughter. Although I’m firmly in my middle age, I can still be called “the child of Leo and Phyllis.” I reflected that not only am I their daughter, but I will also always be a child of God.

The apostle Paul wanted the people in the church at Rome to understand that their identity was based on being adopted members of God’s family (Romans 8:15). Because they had been born of the Spirit (v. 14), no longer did they need to be enslaved to things that didn’t really matter. Rather, through the gift of the Spirit, they were “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (v. 17).

To those who follow Christ, what difference does this make? Quite simply, everything! Our identity as children of God provides our foundation and shapes how we see ourselves and the world. For instance, knowing that we are part of God’s family helps us to step out of our comfort zone as we follow Him. We can also be free from seeking the approval of others.

Today, why not ponder what it means to be God’s child?

Get Your Eyes off Yourself

Twila Belk, Author

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But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you.” Exodus 3:11-12 (NIV)

The story in Exodus 3 and 4 is fascinating. Moses, tending his sheep in the desert, sees a burning bush, but the bush isn’t consumed. He goes closer to check it out and hears a voice. “Moses! Moses!” It’s God. Realizing he’s standing on holy ground, Moses removes his sandals.

Then God reveals his great plan: “I’ve seen the misery of the Israelites. I’ve heard them crying because of their slave drivers, and I’m concerned about their suffering. It’s time to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey. Good news, Moses! I’ve chosen you to make this happen.”

If Moses hadn’t been barefoot, he’d be shaking in his boots. “Wait a minute, God. You’re sending me? Who am I to do a job like that? I’m just a grownup basket case. I can’t do it. Can’t you ple-e-e-e-e-a-se send someone else?”

God’s response? “I will be with you. It doesn’t matter who you are, Moses. It matters who I am.”

Once Moses took his eyes off himself, he accomplished amazing things for God.

I’ve had many “Moses moments” in my life. When asked years ago to play piano for Bible Study Fellowship, I questioned why God didn’t choose a better musician to do it. “I’m a scriptural pianist, Lord. My left hand doesn’t know what my right hand is doing.” God reminded me that he didn’t call someone else; he called me.

When God made it clear he wanted me to write, I said, “Lord, how am I supposed to write? I can’t even talk without problems.” God reminded me to trust him.

When God wanted me to become a speaker, I protested. “But Lord, don’t you remember the excuse I gave for not writing? You know how I get tongue-tied.” God reminded me of the time he used a donkey to get his message across.

Each time I’ve feared my inadequacies, my underlying thought process was: “What if I fail or look like a fool?” And God reminds me that it’s not about me; it’s about him. If it’s about him and for him and by him, doesn’t it just make sense that he will help me do his work?

God doesn’t need our help. He can get the job done with us or without us, but he chooses us to carry out particular works so we might be blessed and bless others. We can take courage in the fact that God never gives us a job without equipping us for it. He doesn’t want our competence. He wants our obedience. And if we walk forward, hand in hand with him, he will come through for us every time. Guaranteed.

God, I have big problems when my eyes are on myself instead of on you. I see my insecurities, my weaknesses, and my shortcomings, and I forget that it doesn’t matter who I am. It matters who you are. You don’t want my competence, and you certainly don’t want my excuses. You want my willingness to do what you ask. So rather than questioning, “Who am I?” like Moses did, would you help me to say, “Look who God is”? Lord, I want to accomplish big things for you. The only way for me to do that is to step out in obedience and to trust you for the results. 

 

He withdrew… to a solitary place (Matthew 14:13).

There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music. In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests. During those rests, we foolisly believe we have come to the end fo the song. God sends us time of forced leisure by allowing sickness, disappointed plans, and frustrated efforts. He brings a sudden pause in the choral hymns of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent. We grieve that our part is missing in the music that continually rises to the ear of our Creator. Yet how does a musician read the rest? He counts the break with unwavering precision and plays his next note with confidence, as if no pause were ever there.

God does not write the music of our lives without a plan. Our part is to learn the tune and not be discouraged during the rests. They are not to be slurred over or omitted, nor used to destroy the melody or to change the key. If we will only look up, God Himself will count the time for us. With our eyes on Him, our next note will be full and clear. If we sorrowfully say to ourselves, “There is no music in a rest,” let us not forget that the rest is part of the making of the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson!
–John Ruskin

Called aside–
From the glad working of your busy life,
From the world’s ceaseless stir of care and strife,
Into the shade and stillness by your Heavenly Guide
For a brief time you have been called aside.
Called aside–
Perhaps into a desert garden dim;
And yet not alone, when you have been with Him,
And heard His voice in sweetest accents say:
“Child, will you not with Me this still hour stay?”
Called aside–
In hidden paths with Christ your Lord to tread,
Deeper to drink at the sweet Fountainhead,
Closer in fellowship with Him to roam,
Nearer, perhaps, to feel your Heavenly Home.
Called aside–
Oh, knowledge deeper grows with Him alone;
In secret oft His deeper love is shown,
And learned in many an hour of dark distress
Some rare, sweet lesson of His tenderness.
Called aside–
We thank You for the stillness and the shade;
We thank You for the hidden paths Your love has made,
And, so that we have wept and watched with Thee,
We thank You for our dark Gethsemane.
Called aside–
O restful thought – He doeth all things well;
O blessed sense, with Christ alone to dwell;
So in the shadow of Your cross to hide,
We thank You, Lord, to have been called aside.