Monthly Archives: October 2019

Fear Not God Is With You

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Fear Not

By: Martha Noebel, 1.cbn.com

With everything that is going on in the world today, the spirit of fear seems to be working overtime. We have every reason to fear, but the spirit of fear does not come from God. It can be crippling to anyone who holds on to it.

The devil wants us to be afraid. He wants us to be so overwhelmed that we cannot accomplish the things we need to do. Remember, if God is for us, no one can be against us. We are overcomers! We are to hold fast to God and stand strong.

Recently, I had a personal situation that was causing me much stress and concern. I needed a clear word from the Lord. As I sat on my couch in the middle of the night, I called out to God for a Word that would help me. I hated feeling so badly. I turned in my Bible, looking through many Scriptures, when I came across this one:

Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9,10, NIV).

I felt so much peace as I read it. I had been having feelings that something bad was going to happen to me. I could not shake them at all. Now I felt totally free. All the emotional pain left. Instantly it was gone. Praise the Lord! I knew I was in God’s hands and I needed to continue doing what God had called me to do. I knew I would not be harmed and that God had angels all around me. I knew everything was going to be all right. It didn’t matter what anyone else thought; I knew what God said.

As I was driving the next day, I realized this same Word is true concerning the recent scares we have experienced. We must refuse to worry about what “may” happen. God is going to see us through. He has His angels all around us and we have many Christian friends here for us. Greater still, we have God’s Word and His peace with us 24 hours a day. Even in the middle of the night while everyone else is sleeping, God is awake. He is waiting for us to call out to Him. He is there. He loves us so much. Don’t be afraid… He is there.

“Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence as clear as the dawn and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop your anger! Turn from your rage! Do not envy others – it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land” (Psalm 37:5-9, New Living Translation).

When Fear Chases Me

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV)

My eyes popped open and my heart raced when my phone buzzed at 1 a.m. Good news isn’t usually delivered at that hour.

I hopped out of bed and grabbed my phone to read a text: “Mom, police have my dorm on lockdown and are running up and down the hall shouting. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m scared.”

It was Ashley, my daughter who was a college freshman at the time, more than seven hours away from me.

I tried calling her, but the reception was so bad neither of us could make out what the other was saying. Texting was my only option, so I asked a series of questions trying to get a better handle on what was happening.

My hands were shaking. My heart was racing. And I felt intensely helpless.

When she was a little girl and cried out in the middle of the night, all I had to do was run upstairs. I could sit on the edge of her bed and rub her back. I could let her see me. Calm her with my touch. Be there to whisper reassurances.

But that little girl had grown into a college girl living very far away from me.

I couldn’t sit on her bed, and she couldn’t see me. I couldn’t calm her with my touch. I couldn’t whisper those reassurances with my voice.

All I could do was text her.

And that felt completely inadequate in light of the situation.

Scary images assaulted my mind with all the possible scenarios a completely shaken mama conjures up in moments of frightening uncertainty. I sank down to my knees and begged God to clear my head and give me the words to text that would help.

This was one of those times I wished God would appear in a way my eyes could see and give me clear, step-by-step instructions saying exactly what to do.

But I couldn’t see Him. And no Spirit Finger wrote instructions on my wall. Instead, I felt this gentle nudge to pay attention to what He’d already given me that week: A set of verses a friend texted me and that I’d passed along to another friend, which includes our key verses today.

Psalm 91:1-2, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”

I love that these verses give us a script to say out loud, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Quickly, I texted Ashley these verses and instructed her to say this out loud over and over until she felt some relief from her fear. And you better believe I was saying it out loud over and over as well.

Isn’t it interesting the two words God is called here are refuge and fortress?

A refuge is a quick place you duck into to find shelter. A fortress is a place built intentionally for the purposes of exceptional security. The Hebrew word for fortress is metsudah, with one of its definitions being an “inaccessible place.”

God is not just a quick refuge from the storm, but He’s also the place where fear no longer has access to me.

Fear can’t catch what it can no longer reach.

It’s not that bad things won’t happen to my kids or me. We live in a broken world where broken things happen every day. But as a child of God, I don’t have to live with fear taunting and terrorizing me.

We still don’t know all the reasons why my daughter’s dorm was on lockdown. Thankfully, she and her friends were safe and we all eventually got some sleep that night. I understand that other middle-of-the-night calls don’t turn out so well. I’ve sadly lived through those times too.

But I’m determined to make some imperfect progress when I’m processing fear.

I now know I can feel afraid, but I don’t have to live afraid.

I can say out loud, “Dear God, You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” And then close my eyes and picture Him lifting me to a place where fear can’t hold me.

 

Overcoming Fear

by Inspiration Ministries

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.” – Psalm 27:1-3 NASB

David had many opportunities to be afraid. As a boy, he faced attacks from wild animals. As a young man, he confronted the giant, Goliath, and the armies of Israel’s enemies.

Then David faced the wrath of King Saul, who came to view him as a rival to be eliminated. But, in every situation, David found that he could trust in the Lord and that this trust took away his fears.

There are many reasons why each of us might experience fear. We can be afraid because of the situations we face or the forces that are coming against us. We might feel overwhelmed or unsure of what to do. We might be asked to do something that is difficult. Yet, as David learned, we can be delivered from fear by focusing and depending on the Lord.

David declared that he realized God was his light and salvation. This means that the Lord gives us the right perspective on life. We don’t need to fear wars or opposition, personal problems or uncertainties. We don’t need to be afraid if we make mistakes, have weaknesses, or don’t know what to do.

As we trust in the Lord, He will light our path and provide everything we need. If we focus on Him instead of on our problems, He will give us strength and take away our fears.

Is there any fear in your life? Look to God. Meditate on His promises and confess them as true.

Trust in Him. Let Him be your light and salvation. Make Him your stronghold. You can be safe and secure in Him.

Prayer

Father, You are my light, my salvation, and the stronghold of my life. I will not fear, no matter what happens. I trust in You completely. Thank You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Streams In The Desert

Likewise also the Spirit helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what to pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

This is the deep mystery of prayer. This is the delicate divine mechanism which words cannot interpret, and which theology cannot explain, but which the humblest believer knows even when he does not understand.

Oh, the burdens that we love to bear and cannot understand! Oh, the inarticulate out-reachings of our hearts for things we cannot comprehend! And yet we know they are an echo from the throne and a whisper from the heart of God. It is often a groan rather than a song, a burden rather than a buoyant wing. But it is a blessed burden, and it is a groan whose undertone is praise and unutterable joy. It is “a groaning which cannot be uttered.” We could not ourselves express it always, and sometimes we do not understand any more than that God is praying in us, for something that needs His touch and that He understands.

And so we can just pour out the fullness of our heart, the burden of our spirit, the sorrow that crushes us, and know that He hears, He loves, He understands, He receives; and He separates from our prayer all that is imperfect, ignorant and wrong, and presents the rest, with the incense of the great High Priest, before the throne on high; and our prayer is heard, accepted and answered in His name.
–A. B. Simpson

It is not necessary to be always speaking to God or always hearing from God, to have communion with Him; there is an inarticulate fellowship more sweet than words. The little child can sit all day long beside its busy mother and, although few words are spoken on either side, and both are busy, the one at his absorbing play, the other at her engrossing work, yet both are in perfect fellowship. He knows that she is there, and she knows that he is all right.

So the saint and the Saviour can go on for hours in the silent fellowship of love, and he be busy about the most common things, and yet conscious that every little thing he does is touched with the complexion of His presence, and the sense of His approval and blessing.

And then, when pressed with burdens and troubles too complicated to put into words and too mysterious to tell or understand, how sweet it is to fall back into His blessed arms, and just sob out the sorrow that we cannot speak!
–Selected


No Darkness Dims His Light

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No Darkness Dims His Light

Bruce C. Swaffield, PhD, Author, 1.cbn.com

The recent events in Paris make us keenly aware of the evil that threatens not only our very lives, but our souls as well. When tragedy strikes we turn to God for strength, understanding and hope. What we need to do, above all, is to remember these words from the hymn “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by Edward Mote: “When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace.”

We cannot allow the darkness of this world, however evil and sinister it may be, to keep us from seeing the true light of the world. Far beyond the deaths and injuries of hundreds of persons, there is hope. Hope for those who have perished. Hope for those who are in critical condition. Hope for those who need healing and consolation. Hope for those of us who want peace. Even hope for people who right now want revenge and retaliation.

Naturally, we ask where was God was on that horrific and dark night in Paris, fondly known as the City of Lights. Why didn’t he prevent the senseless murders and injuries? Why didn’t he intercede and stop the assassins and suicide bombers? Why did he let evil triumph?

But that is where we are wrong. Evil did not win, for we know that God has the last and final word in all things. We know, too, that God always is the victor. He proclaimed it more than 2,000 years ago when his son was murdered on a cross. No doubt Mary, Martha, John and dozens of others were asking the same questions we ask today: “Where was God?” “Why didn’t he do something?”

He did! He raised Jesus from the dead and gave salvation to people through the ages and throughout the world. God’s “unchanging grace” was sure and steady then just as it is today. Since the time of Adam and Eve, he promised that a savior would one day be born to bring light and forgiveness to all who would believe. In his Concise Commentary of the Book of John, Matthew Henry said that “Christ is the Light of the world. God is light, and Christ is the image of the invisible God. One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more. What a dark dungeon would the world be without the sun! So would it be without Jesus, by whom light came into the world” (John 8:12-16).

We must never permit the dark deeds of some to blot out or extinguish the one great light of the universe. In him, rests our hope and in us rests his grace.

 

A Light in the Darkness

APRIL 24, 2013

In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.” Exodus 27:21 (NIV)

The memories that burn brightest from my childhood are of our family’s camping trips to the beach. All the hard work of packing the tent, suitcases, sleeping bags and food into the car was worth it when camp was set up and family time began.
My favorite time of the day came as darkness settled, the shouts of children quieted and grills were lit. Often, as we cleaned up from dinner, my mother would take our lantern into the tent to repack our supplies, and I would bask in the glow from the tent and the warm safety of my parents’ presence.
Those memories flooded back as I read Exodus 27 from my daily reading plan. In a meticulous design revealed in the preceding chapters, God laid out the blueprint for the Tent of Meeting, also called the Tabernacle, where He would be worshipped by the Israelites as they traveled from Egypt to Canaan. Sentence after sentence details the fabric, the measurements, and the structure.
When the plan for God’s Tent of Meeting was complete, He began to describe the furnishings. They included a beautiful set of lamps on a lampstand that was to burn continuously inside. This intricate lampstand described in detail in Exodus 25:31-40 was a pure-gold work of art made by the artisans God appointed, and it burned clear olive oil.
Pieces of a greater puzzle began to click into place as I pondered other scriptures and truths explaining the rich symbolism of the Tent of Meeting’s lampstand. I began to see God revealing His plans for us thousands of years ago:
We are the tent. (2 Cor. 5:4)
Jesus is the light. (John 1:4)
The Holy Spirit is the oil. (Zech. 4:1-6)
Fueled by the Holy Spirit, we are called to let Jesus’ light shine through us into the darkness. (Matt. 5:14-16)
Just as the Israelites moved the Tabernacle through the desert sands … Just as my parents pitched a tent in beach sands …
Just as I move through this darkened world …
God provides a Light that shines in the darkness, and He creates a tent (us) to shine through.
For Jesus’ light to pierce the darkness, shining brighter and brighter, we need to become more and more transparent.
For His light to shine continuously, we need to constantly be refueled by the Holy Spirit through prayer, studying and memorizing Scripture, and abiding in Him.
For His light to shatter the inky blackness of this world, we need to fearlessly move our tents into places of darkness where no other light shines.
There is a world of people who long for the safety and presence of Jesus–but they need a beacon to guide them. May we humble tents, who carry the Light, glow brightly everywhere as we travel through this world!
Dear Lord, thank You for allowing me to be a simple dwelling for Your Light. I pray that even as the priests were charged with maintaining the light, I would be faithful to let Your Light shine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Where Is God in the Darkness?

 

That Safe Darkness

You have wrapped yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through. — Lamentations 3:44

“I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer… Where I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — Love — the word — it brings nothing. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.”1

These are the words of Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa, originally named Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu, was born in 1910 and raised in a pious Catholic home in Macedonia. At eighteen, she joined the Sisters of Loreto and was given the name Sister Mary Teresa. The Dublin-based order of Loreto ran missions in India, and that is where Teresa was sent.

While on a train from Calcutta to Darjeeling, Mother Teresa said she heard the voice of Jesus telling her to leave her own religious order for the sake of serving the poor. So she moved to Calcutta. She helped the poor and the sick and was known for helping the terminally ill die with dignity, joy, and comfort.

But it was not just good deeds that drew the world’s attention to the poor Catholic nun — a nun serving the poor doesn’t usually make headlines. Mother Teresa garnered a special audience because of her way with words. She has been called the “poet laureate of the soul” and the “sound-bite saint.” Her writings have encouraged millions into a more radical service of Jesus.

So it was no surprise that some of her letters were released following her death in 1997. However, the world was shocked to discover the extreme struggle with doubt her letters revealed. For nearly fifty years, from 1948 till her death, Mother Teresa wrote privately as one in spiritual anguish, with only one month of relief in 1958.

Listen to a few of her other laments:

“I did not know that love could make one suffer so much… of pain human but caused by divine.”2

“The more I want Him — the less I am wanted. — I want to love Him as He has not been loved — and yet there is that separation —  that terrible emptiness, that feeling of absence of God.”3

Mother Teresa experienced the same desire as Moses — more wanted more. She was so in love with God that the absence of His actual and immediate presence was insufferable to her. A distance lay between her and God that some may see as closeness. But to a lover, even an inch of distance can seem like an infinite gap. An inch can feel like absence.

The more Mother Teresa loved God, the farther she felt from Him.

There is a great story of what it feels like to be far from God in the life of the prophet Jonah. As she told it, Mother Teresa was on a train when God spoke to her, but Scripture does not reveal what Jonah was doing when God came and audibly spoke to him.4 We can assume he was going about his normal life. However, this presence of God was far from normal. God revealed the presence of His voice to Jonah.

The prophet was chosen by God to take a message of repentance to the people of Nineveh, who were known for their violence and wickedness. Though a mighty call was now on his life, Jonah was fearful for his own safety and bitter that God would be willing to save such a wicked people. Nineveh, after all, was a horribly violent town — nicknamed “the city of blood.”5 Jonah wanted nothing to do with this call.

So Jonah did his best to flee from God. He quickly made his way to the sea, where he hired a boat bound in the opposite direction of God’s call. Jonah was now bound for a port city called Tarshish. He thought that putting distance between himself and the location where God showed up would put distance between his responsibility and the command of the Lord. Jonah was not only trying to escape the presence of God. He was trying to flee from the will of God.

The presence and will of God are inescapable.

This was Jonah’s first lesson regarding the presence and absence of God: we don’t get to decide when God is absent and when He is present. Only God can do that. When Jonah tried to run away from the location of God’s presence, he found his escape attempt as futile as trying to outrun the air. You may think that you have put too much distance between yourself and God over the years, but that is impossible. There is nowhere you can flee where God is not already present.6

Neither the presence nor the command of God can be escaped by any swiftness of the legs, any distance of the sea, or in any depth of the earth. When God sets His choice upon an individual, His chase is fiercer than any gale. Like a seasoned hunting dog after its prey, when the scent of our souls is placed in his nostrils, no escape can prove successful.

Francis Thompson, author of the famous poem “The Hound of Heaven,” captured God’s chase of us with visceral imagery:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter. Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,

Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

But with unhurrying chase,

And unperturbed pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

They beat — and a Voice beat

More instant than the Feet —
“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”7

No matter how long it has been since you’ve pulled into the church parking lot. No matter how many times you’ve turned your back on Jesus. No matter how often you drop your cross to pick up old habits. No matter how far gone you think you are from God’s will. No matter how dark the night of your soul may be. You cannot run from heaven’s hound.

Your flight from God and His demand on your life is just as vain as Jonah’s flight to the ships sailing far from Nineveh. All your Christian life you may have thought it was you who was pursuing God, but all along it has been God pursuing you. So no matter how long it has been since you have looked toward the Father, no matter how absent you believe God is, neither the steps of your feet nor the sin of your life can move you one inch away from God’s love if you are in Christ Jesus. It may feel like absence now, but Presence is hot on your trail — even though it may come upon you like a storm.

God Goes Where You Go

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God Goes Where You Go

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 NIV

How comforting it is to know that wherever we go, God is there with us. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations and wonder if God is paying attention. We may feel so alone and even depressed. We can’t feel God’s presence, and we need His guidance and help.

Sometimes friends, spouses, and parents don’t really understand what we are going through. But God does and He cares. God told Joshua to be strong and to have courage. Then He told him a wonderful truth: “The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Yes, that’s right… wherever! We don’t have to feel all alone. God is with us. He is working out the problems, and we don’t even realize it.

But now … the Lord who created you … says: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done. Isaiah 43:1-3, 13 NLT

God is with us, leading us, guiding us, loving us, providing for us — all with His unlimited resources. What do we need? Do we need strength, peace, love, joy, or hope? He has it all. He is longing to pour out His favor and blessing upon us. We need to be open to Him and to trust Him. We need, by faith, to receive what He has for us. It is essential we realize how much He loves us and that He has a good purpose and plan for us.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Ephesians 3:14-16 NLT

This Scripture is awesome. There is nothing that God doesn’t know and can’t do for us. He walks with us every moment of every day. We need to speak these Scriptures to our hearts. The devil can’t stand it when we, in confidence, speak God’s Word. It builds faith in us and gives us the strength to stand.

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! Psalms 139:1-6 NLT

Like David let us declare:

Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Psalms 25:4-5 NLT

You can trust God. No matter what is going on in your life, He is there! God goes where you go.

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT

 

When You Can’t See the Road Ahead

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Go, for your faith has healed you.’ Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.” Mark 10:52 (NLT)

 

I’m not much of a Monday person, but this particular Monday morning, I found myself disliking that dreaded day even more than usual.

Shortly after waking up from a restless night’s sleep, my thoughts drifted toward what the upcoming week might hold. I felt a sense of dread sink into my heart and soon found myself wishing it were already Friday.

Most people long for Friday because it means the beginning of the weekend; however I knew that if the week were over, I would no longer have to worry about what challenges it might bring. If it were Friday, I would already have encountered them, faced them and made some progress in dealing with them.

Yet, the fact remained: It was only Monday.

As anxiety set in, God pricked my heart, reminding me I could either let my anxious thoughts control me throughout the week, or I could choose to be in control of them instead. I could worry myself into a frenzy or ask for His peace to fill my heart. I was blind to what was ahead, but knew God had a crystal-clear view.

In Mark chapter 10, a blind man named Bartimaeus sat beside the road — as he normally did — when he heard a commotion. He soon discovered the large crowd of people following Jesus. And they were all headed his way.

Bartimaeus had no idea what was going to happen. Having no sight, he could have felt threatened and anxious, fearful the crowd might trample him. He could have been concerned he’d be unnoticed and overlooked, yet again. Instead, he focused on what he could see with his heart rather than what he was unable to see with his eyes.

He excitedly began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47b, NIV)

When the people yelled at him to be quiet, he refused and continued to shout, saying, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10: 48b)

His shouting pricked Jesus’ ears.

Jesus stood still, and asked someone to bring the blind man to him. The Bible says Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up and headed straight toward Jesus. (Mark 10:50)

I love that. The blind man threw aside anything that might hinder his running, jumped up all on his own and blindly ran to Jesus.

He ran solely ahead by faith, not by sight — unafraid of falling or bumping into things, nor fearing what might be ahead of him, simply because He heard Jesus’ voice and knew He was there.

Bartimaeus’ eyes caused him to live without sight, but his heart allowed him to live by faith. That small act of blind faith changed his life forever.

As I lay in my bed pondering this sweet story God brought to mind, my heart began to calm. My inability to “see” the upcoming week did not have to hinder my ability to run forward in faith. I could follow Jesus’ voice in blind faith too, if I chose to believe He would watch over my every step, much like He did for the blind man.

I prayed for the strength to live by faith even when I couldn’t see what was ahead. I committed to trust Jesus with all the things He could see coming but I could not.

We can always choose to follow Jesus’ voice, rather than let our blindness keep us paralyzed in anxiousness and pessimism. Just like the blind man, when we choose to follow Jesus’ voice instead of our eyes, our faith can be life-changing, helping us discover peace and blessing.

 

Streams in the Desert – October 29

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

 

He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver (Malachi 3:3).

Our Father, who seeks to perfect His saints in holiness, knows the value of the refiner’s fire. It is with the most precious metals that the assayer takes the most pains, and subjects them to the hot fire, because such fires melt the metal, and only the molten mass releases its alloy or takes perfectly its new form in the mould.

The old refiner never leaves his crucible, but sits down by it, lest there should be one excessive degree of heat to mar the metal. But as soon as he skims from the surface the last of the dross, and sees his own face reflected, he puts out the fire.
–Arthur T. Pierson

He sat by a fire of seven-fold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore,
And closer He bent with a searching gaze
As He heated it more and more.
He knew He had ore that could stand the test,
And He wanted the finest gold
To mould as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems with a price untold.
So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Tho’ we fain would have said Him ‘Nay,’
And He watched the dross that we had not seen,
And it melted and passed away.
And the gold grew brighter and yet more bright,
But our eyes were so dim with tears,
We saw but the fire–not the Master’s hand,
And questioned with anxious fears.
Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,
As it mirrored a Form above,
That bent o’er the fire, tho’ unseen by us,
With a look of ineffable love.
Can we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause us a moment’s pain?
Ah, no! but He saw through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.
So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure,
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat,
Than was needed to make it pure.

Justification By Faith In Christ

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The Long, Hard Journey of Faith

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

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When I became a Christian, I thought all my problems would go away, and God would take care of everything with a snap of His fingers.

The truth is, my life fell apart within weeks of being baptized. Suffice it to say, accepting Jesus and asking Him to be Lord of my life didn’t obliterate the garbage I’d pressed down in the compactor of my heart.

In His mercy and grace, God didn’t bring up all my sins, sinful habits and sinful ways of thinking at one time. I’d have likely despaired if He had.

Instead, He opened my eyes over time. Through His Holy Spirit, I saw the painful truth. I agreed with God about my sins. Even before I was a Christian, I knew when I did wrong. My conscience told me. But the heart is deceitful, and the mind can rationalize and justify any behavior. And we tend to surround ourselves with like-thinkers. I can’t cast blame. Wrongs are done to us by others, but that never excuses us from doing wrong ourselves.

Thankfully, God created us as His masterpiece — His work of art — and He has destined us to accomplish great things in our lifetimes: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10). God knows who and what we are. He offers one way to be saved for all eternity: Accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. No other way. While seeing and acknowledging the truth about myself, I also experienced the amazing grace and love of God.

Coming to Jesus opened my eyes to who I am. I am a sinner. I am human. I am weak. I stumble and fall, even now that I am saved. I am also a daughter of the King. I am loved by God. And He is strong. He is faithful. He keeps His Word. He will never abandon me. He helps me stand again. He gives me the will to keep walking in the steps of Jesus.

But honestly, it can be very hard, working out our salvation. By working, I mean living it, not earning it. As the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2:12b, we are to “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” (NLT)

Friends, the faith journey isn’t easy. Believing is only the first step onto the narrow pathway. The next steps put a believer on the road of trial and blessing as we walk out a new life as a disciple of Christ. We must stick close to Jesus, read His Word, lean in and listen. We need to obey, even when it means personal, painful sacrifice. That’s the long, hard journey of transformation. That’s the kind of faith that impacts the world.

Dear Lord, sometimes I wish this journey of faith were easier. But I know You are with me, guiding each step I take. Nudge me back onto Your path when I wander off. And give me strength to continue pressing on every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Justification by Faith

The Remedy for Paralyzed Sinners, Fallen Saints, and Provincial Christians

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God did his most deadly work to destroy hopelessness and futility and provincial cowardice. He gave up his Son to torture and death. A perfect life, a perfect death, and the decisive work was done.

But there are millions who are numb to hope because of the God-belittling things they have done and how ugly they have become. They don’t lift lofty arguments against God’s Truth; they shrug and feel irretrievably outside. They don’t defy God consciously; they default to cake and television. Except for the periodic rush of sex and sport and cinema, life yawns. There is no passion for significance. For many, no passion at all.

There is a Christian version of this paralysis. The decision has been made to trust Christ. The shoot of hope and joy has sprung up. The long battle against sin has begun. But the defeats are many, and the plant begins to wither. One sees only clouds and gathering darkness. The problem is not perplexing doctrine or evolutionary assaults or threats of persecution. The problem is falling down too many times. Gradually the fatal feeling creeps in: the fight is futile; it isn’t worth it.

Along with this hopelessness and futility, especially since 9/11, provincial cowardice captures many Christian minds. They fear that it may sound conceited to call every people group in the world to trust Christ or perish. It seems too global. Too sweeping. Too universal. To say it takes their breath away. And, worse, it brings down the wrath of the tolerant. What could be more arrogant than to think that the infinite variety of need in all the cultural groups of the world could be met by a single Savior!

It is astonishing that the Biblical gospel of justification by faith alone answers these three human failures: the hopelessness of unbelievers, the feeling of futility from falling down, and the fear of making global claims for Christ.

To the numb and listless sinner, feeling beyond all hope of godliness, the Bible says, “To the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). God justifies the “ungodly.” This truth is meant to break the back of hopelessness.

The connection between the sinner and the Savior is trust, not improvement of behavior. That comes later. It’s this order that gives hope. “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). The basis of this wild and wonderful hope (the ungodly justified) is “Christ for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4, literal translation). Through faith alone God counts the ungodly as righteous because of Christ. “For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Let all who are paralyzed by the weight of sin and the powerlessness to change turn in here.

To the fallen saint, who knows the darkness is self-inflicted and feels the futility of looking for hope from a frowning Judge, the Bible gives a shocking example of gutsy guilt. It pictures God’s failed prophet beneath a righteous frown, bearing his chastisement with broken-hearted boldness. “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light” (Micah 7:8-9). This is courageous contrition. Gutsy guilt. The saint has fallen. The darkness of God’s indignation is on him. He does not blow it off, but waits. And he throws in the face of his accuser the confidence that his indignant Judge will plead his cause and execute justice for (not against) him. This is the application of justification to the fallen saint. Broken-hearted, gutsy guilt.

For the squeamish fellow afraid of making global claims for Christ, the biblical teaching on justification explodes his little world. It says: the deepest problem to be solved is the same for every human being, because every human is a descendant of Adam. And the problem to be solved is that “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” “One trespass led to condemnation for all men.” The only solution to this universal condemnation is a “second Adam” who provides “the free gift of righteousness” to all who hear the gospel and believe (Romans 5:17-19). Therefore Christ, the second Adam, the giver of righteousness, is the only global Savior.

Embrace as your treasure the gift of justification. There is no part of your life where it is not immeasurably precious.

 

Streams IN The Desert

By: L,B. Cowman

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ . . . and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6).

This is our rightful place, to be “seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” and to “sit still” there. But how few there are who make it their actual experience! How few, indeed think even that it is possible for them to “sit still” in these “heavenly places” in the everyday life of a world so full of turmoil as this.

We may believe perhaps that to pay a little visit to these heavenly places on Sundays, or now and then in times of spiritual exaltation, may be within the range of possibility; but to be actually “seated” there every day and all day long is altogether another matter; and yet it is very plain that it is for Sundays and week-days as well.

A quiet spirit is of inestimable value in carrying on outward activities; and nothing so hinders the working of the hidden spiritual forces, upon which, after all, our success in everything really depends, as a spirit of unrest and anxiety.

There is immense power in stillness. A great saint once said, “All things come to him who knows how to trust and be silent.” The words are pregnant with meaning. A knowledge of this fact would immensely change our ways of working. Instead of restless struggles, we would “sit down” inwardly before the Lord, and would let the Divine forces of His Spirit work out in silence the ends to which we aspire.

You may not see or feel the operations of this silent force, but be assured it is always working mightily, and will work for you, if you only get your spirit still enough to be carried along by the currents of its power.
–Hannah Whitall Smith

There is a point of rest
At the great center of the cyclone’s force,
A silence at its secret source;
A little child might slumber undisturbed,
Without the ruffle of one fair curl,
In that strange, central calm, amid the mighty whirl.

It is your business to learn to be peaceful and safe in God in every situation.


Working Together For The Lord

 

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We Work Best When We Work Together

By: Wally Odum, 1.cbn.com

 

Casey Stengel made a comment about the challenge of managing a professional baseball team. His observation applies to life in general. He said, “It’s easy to get good players. Getting’ em to play together, that’s the hard part.”

Each of us faces that issue. How do I blend my abilities and talents with those of other people? How do I cooperate with others so we can reach our goal? That question applies to business, to family life and certainly to our walk with God.

There are individual sports and team sports. Wrestling, boxing and golf are individual sports. You’re on your own! Basketball, baseball and football are team sports. You’re only as successful as the team is. Christianity, and life really, are team sports. The key to success is knowing how to work with others.

Pride and selfishness hinder a team from being successful. Jesus instructed everyone, even leaders, to lay aside pride and live to serve others. The Apostle Paul understood the value of working effectively with others. He emphasized teamwork because he knew that we could only reach our goals through mutual effort.

In his letter to the Philippian church, he passed on advice about successful living:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Paul pointedly addressed a destructive attitude—selfishness. Focus on ourselves and our own interests at the expense of others will ultimately leave any of us isolated and ineffective.

When Paul wrote the Philippians, he mentioned selfish ambition. It is the translation of one Greek word. It meant self-seeking that focuses on the question, “What’s in it for me?” That word was commonly used to describe the political world of that day.

Paul’s additional challenge to consider others better than yourselves wars against selfishness. That advice goes against our fallen human nature. We live in a highly competitive world. We know that winners are rewarded. No one wants to be a loser.

Yet, Paul exhorted us to focus, not on our gifts, and ourselves but on others and their gifts. That doesn’t mean that I deny what God has given me, but it does mean that I value highly what God has given others. Everyone has some skill that makes him or her better than we are at some things. No one has it all, and what God has given others is important to us. Each individual has some unique combination of gifts and personality that gives him or her great value.

Jesus wants His disciples to model unselfishness. During the 1964 Olympics, in the two-man bobsled competition, a British team driven by Tony Nash had just completed its first run and was in second place. Then they made a most disheartening discovery. They had broken a bolt on the rear axle of their sled, which would put them out of the competition.

The great Italian bobsled driver Eugenio Monti, who was in first place, heard of their plight. He removed the bolt from the rear axle of his own sled and sent it to them. The British team placed it on their sled and then raced down the mountain, winning the gold medal. Monti’s Italian team took the bronze medal for finishing in third place.

When asked about his act of sportsmanship, Eugenio Monti modestly replied, “Tony Nash did not win because I gave him a bolt. Tony Nash won because he was the best driver.”

Because of his unselfishness, Monti was given the first De Coubertin Medal for sportsmanship. The award, named after the founder of the modern Olympics, is one of the highest honors an Olympian can receive.

God honors unselfishness. It is the only attitude that will make us winners in the end. As Casey Stengel demonstrated with the New York Yankees, championships are won when individuals play together. It works for church and, what’s more, it works in everyday life. It will work for any of us.

 

The Umpire

 

Scripture Reading — Colossians 3:15-17

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. — Colossians 3:15

Organized sports need referees and umpires. These unbiased officials make decisions on plays, fouls, and other points of order to keep games fair and entertaining. We might not always agree with the calls they make, but things could get chaotic without them.

Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” The word for “rule” here literally means “to act like an umpire.” In this way we can see that the peace of Christ, a result of working things out through God’s wisdom and love, is our reliable guide for decision making and daily living. With the peace of Christ as our guide and goal, we can follow God’s way of goodness, righteousness, and justice for all.

But we often mess things up. The peace of Christ is not always present in our marriages, families, churches, workplaces, and neighborhoods. We often act in line with our old sinful nature instead of seeking God’s wisdom and his peace.

People sometimes think of peace as the absence of war. But it’s far more—it’s about the way things are supposed to be. Having peace in our lives means living into all that Jesus represents, keeping in step with the Spirit of God who has come to live in us (see Galatians 5:22-26).

In our worship today, may the peace of Christ fill our hearts as we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. And may we live by his wisdom and real peace in all our relationships.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, teach us the peace of full life that you came to bring into the world. Amen.

 

Believing Prayer

by Inspiration Ministries

Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. – Mark 11:23 NASB

“Why do I see so little fruit from my ministry?” “Why are members of my church so little helped by my ministry?” These were some of the questions pastors asked Reuben Archer Torrey. His answer? “Neglect of prayer.” He reminded them, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).

Often working in close harmony with Dwight L. Moody, Torrey had seen many miracles and conversions. Born in 1856, he held many crusades around the world before being called to lead what is now Moody Bible Institute.

Torrey observed that many Christians “do not believe in prayer as bringing anything to pass that would not have come to pass even if they had not prayed.” Yes, they pray, but deep down, they don’t really believe that prayer changes things or that their prayers can move mountains.

The same patterns still are true. Many Christians pray at least on a semi-regular basis, but how many really believe that anything is possible if they pray in faith? How many really believe that they can speak to a mountain, and it will “be taken up and cast into a sea?”

How about you? Do you really believe God’s Word? Are you willing to humble yourself and seek His face? Do you really seek first His Kingdom? Do you really believe that prayer matters?

Commit yourself to prayer. Seek God for yourself, for your family, for your country, and for the world.

 

Streams In The Desert

All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me (Psalms 42:7).

They are HIS billows, whether they go o’er us,
Hiding His face in smothering spray and foam;
Or smooth and sparkling, spread a path before us,
And to our haven bear us safely home.
They are HIS billows, whether for our succor
He walks across them, stilling all our fear;
Or to our cry there comes no aid nor answer,
And in the lonely silence none is near.
They are HIS billows, whether we are toiling
Through tempest-driven waves that never cease,
While deep to deep with clamor loud is calling;
Or at His word they hush themselves in peace.
They are HIS billows, whether He divides them,
Making us walk dryshod where seas had flowed;
Or lets tumultuous breakers surge about us,
Rushing unchecked across our only road.
They are HIS billows, and He brings us through them;
So He has promised, so His love will do.
Keeping and leading, guiding and upholding,

To His sure harbor, He will bring us through.
–Annie Johnson Flint

Stand up in the place where the dear Lord has put you, and there do your best. God gives us trial tests. He puts life before us as an antagonist face to face. Out of the buffeting of a serious conflict we are expected to grow strong. The tree that grows where tempests toss its boughs and bend its trunk often almost to breaking, is often more firmly rooted than the tree than the tree which grows in the sequestered valley where no storm ever brings stress or strain.

The same is true of life. The grandest character is grown in hardship.
–Selected

By His Grace I Live And Worship Him

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A Godly Grip on Life

By: Michael Cooper, 1.cbn.com

I once met a man who was frustrated in seeking a new career. He had gone to dental school to become a dentist, but after spending time and money getting the education, he discovered he lacked the dexterity to be a good dentist. For whatever reason, he lacked the strength and skill in his hands to use the dental instruments.

This problem can affect a person in numerous other endeavors. You can learn all about carpentry but lack the ability to hammer a nail straight. You can learn a sport and not have the ability to perform it well. The coach will tell you, “I cannot put in what God left out; no matter how much you want to play.”

Singing, the arts, and a number of other things can be loved and desired, but never attained because certain natural abilities are missing.

The law was given through Moses but the law did not provide the ability to perform the principles it demanded. It left the devotee frustrated and defeated. Paul’s frustration with the law is indicated in Romans 7:18 (KJV):

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” [emphasis mine]

Paul wanted to paint the picture of the glories of God’s precepts, but he lacked the artistic talent. He wanted to score high in the competition against his base nature, but he was uncoordinated and unskilled. The “how to perform” element was missing.

He lacked a grip on the law of God.

Jesus was also a law-giver, establishing a new covenant. However, distinct from Moses, along with His truth He provided grace. In Christ, truth or law is complemented by grace. In Christ, there is a resource by which truth can be performed. That resource provides the ability to grip truth and to live it out.

If we use the analogy of a sword for truth, then grace provides the grip to wield it effectively. Grace provides the strength and the skill to victoriously use truth in the battles of life. The ministry of the Spirit that Jesus inaugurated enables the truth-seeker and the lover-of-the-law to grip truth for life and living. When we hear the sermon, read the Bible, or read a book with important biblical principles, we can grip the truths that we received and begin living by them. We need not be frustrated by a loose or slippery grip.

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” Hebrews 2:1 (KJV)

For Paul, God’s grace was more than something given, idly sitting somewhere; it was something at work within him. He indicates this when he stated,

“… by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10 (KJV)

It was God’s grace that gave him the ability to grip God’s calling and purposes, holding onto them and laboring by the grace of God.

Memory may slip and character may be weak, but the grace of God will give you the grip you need on His truth — the truth that sets you free and overcomes the bondage of Satan’s lies.

Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

 

Grace is Greater

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God.” Hebrews 12:15a (NIV)

 

How difficult is it to push a button on the dishwasher? My vote is “not very,” but that isn’t the point. What made the whole thing ironic is that I was in the middle of writing a sermon on “happiness.” Let me explain …

My wife and I were staying at a condo we’d rented in Florida. We had to check out by 10 a.m. on Friday. Before checkout the renter is asked to do a few things: strip the sheets off the bed, put all the towels in the hallway, take out the trash, then load and start the dishwasher. My wife assigned me dishwasher duty. At about 10:05, an older man and a couple of women walked into the condo, spotted me, and said, “Ummm, we are here to clean. You were supposed to be out of here by 10.”

I apologized, thanked them and told them we were headed out the door. We grabbed our stuff and made our way down to the car. Just before we reached it, the guy came out of our room and yelled down to us in the parking lot, “Hey! Thanks a lot for starting the dishwasher. There’s only a few <BEEP things you’re asked to do and you couldn’t bring yourself to push the <BEEP button?”

I’d just finished writing a sermon explaining that because we have God, our circumstances don’t have to rob us of joy. So, you might think I would respond humbly.

Instead, I thought, Oh, you want to overreact and get sarcastic? I can speak that language. I yelled up at him, “I’m so sorry you had to push that button. I’m sure that had to be exhausting,” and then laughed condescendingly. He yelled back at me, with a few more choice words, and I yelled back at him.

The last thing I heard is him calling me “a worthless <BEEP <BEEP.” I got in the car and slammed the door. I sat there steaming about how I’d been disrespected.

My wife said, “Let’s just go.” Instead of listening, I said, “Oh, no. That man needs to hear some hard truth.” I got out of the car, and then heard my wife tell me, “Say a quick prayer on your way up.”

I headed up the stairs to confront Mr. “Can’t push the button on the dishwasher in the condo but has plenty of energy to yell at me from the third-floor balcony.” After the first flight of stairs, I felt convicted and embarrassed. By the second floor I was telling God I was sorry, and almost immediately it was impressed upon me that I needed to apologize and give the man a tip for his extra work. I opened my wallet, to realize I only had a single bill — which was more than I intended to give him. I thought, Well, apparently giving the man a tip is not what God wants me to do.

I walked into the condo, and he started yelling again. I sensed a voice inside me saying, One more round!

Even though I didn’t feel like it, I said, “I want to apologize. I’m sure it’s frustrating to come in and clean up after someone who doesn’t do the little things. I’m sorry. I want to give this to you for the extra work you have to do and as a way to say thank you.” I held out the money. Almost immediately his eyes welled up with tears. He said, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that,” and began to apologize. Now my eyes were filled with tears. I think we both wanted to hug it out, but instead we just shook hands.

I walked back down the steps, not feeling proud of that moment, but instead brokenhearted it had reached the point it did. I asked myself, How many similar moments had I forgotten about the wisdom from Hebrews 12:15, and missed God’s grace because of my pride?

I wondered: How many times had God wanted me to show grace and humility but I was too arrogant and self-righteous? I sat down in the car, teary-eyed. My wife asked, “What happened?” I told her. She patted me on the leg and said with a smile, “Oh, it’s so cute. You’re growing up.”

It was her playful way of letting me know she was proud of me, but the truth is, when it comes to extending grace over the little things, I should’ve grown up a long time ago.

Maybe you’ve heard countless sermons about grace. Or even read books about grace. But my prayer is that you’ll see this word again for the first time. I tend to think grace is best and most fully understood not by way of explanation alone, but through experience. Otherwise, it really doesn’t have much effect.

I’ve sat through several seminary classes on the subject of grace. I’ve memorized Bible verses that describe grace. But what’s taught me the most? My own story and the stories of others who’ve fully experienced grace.

It’s my prayer you won’t miss grace, but rather will powerfully experience the grace effect in your life — and no matter what you have done, no matter what has been done to you, you will personally experience the truth that grace is greater.

Lord, I am amazed by Your grace in my life. Help me see, understand and be overwhelmed by Your grace again, as I was the first time. Help me to not simply comprehend Your grace, but live it and give it to others. Enable me even today to extend grace to those around me at work, school, home or church, throughout my community. Lord, Your grace is greater than my hurts, mistakes and circumstances. I am grateful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Grace and Mercy

 

Scripture Reading — Ephesians 2:1-10

God … is rich in mercy … ?it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-5 —

Yesterday we reflected on the difference between praise and thanksgiving. Today let’s think about the difference between grace and mercy. Did you notice how both words are used in today’s Bible reading? In verse 4 we read that God is rich in mercy, and in verses 5 and 8 we read that it is by grace we have been saved. What’s the difference? Maybe the best way to explain is to say that mercy is shown when a person does not get what he deserves, and grace is shown when a person gets what he does not deserve. I once heard a preacher illustrate this by asking us to imagine we had been stopped by a police officer for speeding. He said, “If the officer is merciful, he will let you off with a warning instead of a ticket.” The preacher continued, “But suppose the officer then reached into his wallet and gave you a hundred dollars before sending you on your way. In that case, he would be following up mercy with grace.” God’s mercy and grace work in a similar way. When we believe in Jesus, we are spared from the punishment we deserved. And there’s more?we also receive the riches of God’s grace that he freely pours out on us. So let’s offer rich thanksgiving to God! Remember to thank him for giving us what is good. And remember to thank him for not giving us what we deserve.

Prayer

Lord, your mercy is amazing, and your grace never ends. Thank you for sending Jesus to die in our place and for all the riches we have in him. We pray in his name. Amen.

 

To the End of the Age

by Inspiration Ministries

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations … lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:18-20 NASB

Robert Finley was born in Pennsylvania to Christian parents who had come to the New World from Scotland. Attending Princeton College, he prepared for a career as a teacher of languages. But as his son James later wrote, “there were great and pressing calls for ministerial labor in the new settlements of the Carolinas and Georgia.” Robert responded.

This was a bold decision. The “country was in an unsettled state” with “the gloomy clouds of war” hanging over the land. Tensions were high between the colonies and the English government. There also were strong divisions within Americans. Some advocated independence while others remained loyal to England. Eventually these divisions exploded in a violent revolution.

Going to the mission field meant leaving behind friends and family for life in a rugged, often untamed region, without any financial support. There, they faced constant peril and violence. All of his wife’s brothers were killed, and Robert himself was wounded.

But as James wrote, Robert trusted “in God for help and direction.” In the face of dangers and unknowns, he refused to back down and continued preaching the Gospel. Today, Finley is hardly a footnote in history. But he was a hero of the faith. He was more concerned with serving his Master than the world’s rewards. He was willing to leave everything behind to fulfill the Great Commission.

This still is our command until the end of the age.

We Are Bound Together By God’s Love

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The Lesson of the Washcloth

By: Joan Benson, 1.cbn.com

My longtime friend came for lunch, bounding in the door, effusing hugs and giggles with her signature enthusiasm for life. We hadn’t seen each other in-person for several years, but as friends and sisters in Christ, we shared a history that spanned a few milestone-filled decades.

Anne handed me a small gift bag made of colorful cloth, ribbon-tied with flair. At her request, I emptied it onto the counter. Most of the items were practical, yet thoughtful goodies, including a devotional and Scripture verse. My eyes fell to a curious piece of knitting, a small rectangle of dark green yarn. Explaining how she was just learning to knit, Anne proudly held up her first project, a “washcloth.” As she dangled the stitching between us, two rather sizable holes became obvious – not lacey, planned holes for effect. These were irregularly spaced holes where stitches had been accidentally lost.

“I don’t know how those holes got in there,” she announced with an infectious laugh. Thanking her for her thoughtfulness, we went on to enjoy our short time together as couples – eating, sharing, and celebrating friendship.

All too soon, it was time to part. When final goodbyes were said and our friends pulled away, I reached for the small swatch of knitting once more. I was genuinely moved, but I wasn’t sure why. And then I began to understand its significance. Anne had entrusted me with her handiwork – though it was flawed. Would I have taken that risk, or would my pride have overruled?

The Bible tells us,

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, Colossians 3:12,” (NLT).

I had witnessed my friend’s spiritual fruit in action.

Tears bubbled up as I realized that Anne also trusted me with her imperfection. She wasn’t looking for my approval. This small green square of knitting was a reminder of our long-held friendship, a journey not without its own trials and breaches of understanding. Just as Laban declared in Genesis 31:48: “This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today, (NLT)” I knew the washcloth stood as a witness of our covenant relationship. Though not perfect, we were bound together in Christ’s love and forgiveness.

The Lord continued to layer His truths into my heart. What joy that we can come before the Heavenly Throne as imperfect products, flawed by sin, while our Heavenly Father sees us through the filter of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes,” Ephesians 1:4 (NLT).

When we ask for forgiveness, despite our “holes,” our sins, Father God cherishes us as His children. Indescribable grace and mercy!

“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins,” Ephesians 1:7 (NLT).

It became clear that this little washcloth was much more than it would appear. It represented the way God has shown us to live in relationship with one another in the Body of Christ – with humility, trust, and love. It also shouted grace, mercy, and forgiveness – highlighting the loving Covenant with Father God. I knew then that this washcloth would not be used for washing dishes, but for teaching me how to live. Who would have imagined so much truth would be woven into a simple knitted washcloth?

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)

 

Jesus Says, “Come to Me”

come to me when you're hurting

Editor’s note: Jesus Calling is a #1 New York Times bestselling devotional loved the world over. It’s filled with hope, encouragement, comfort, and the reassurance of Jesus’ unending love. The kids’ editions are written just like the adult versions… in the voice of Jesus Himself. Every entry has Scripture to read and memorize.

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Let Me Be Your Everything

I am the vine, and you are the branches. If a person remains in me and I remain in him, then he produces much fruit. But without Me he can do nothing. — John 15:5 ICB

Come to Me when you’re hurting, and I will soothe your pain. Come to Me when you’re filled with Joy, and I will multiply it many times over. I am everything you need, just when you need it.

Television personalities, books, and magazines tell you to watch this or read this, and all your problems will be fixed. You can do it! they say. Be confident! Be strong! Do it all on your own! Put yourself first! But all of this is a trick by the evil one to keep you away from Me. If he can keep you from drawing on My Power, he wins — and you lose.

I have called you to live differently from the world — to depend on Me to meet all your needs. That’s where you’ll find true confidence and strength.

Let Me be your everything. I am all you need.

READ ON YOUR OWN

Philippians 4:19James 1:4

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It All Starts With Me

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. — Genesis 1:1

It all starts with Me — the universe, the earth, your life. And now I want your day to start with Me.

Look around at all the things I have created. The thousands of different animals and birds. The millions of different flowers and trees. A new sunset every day for thousands of years. I am the most creative Being imaginable. And I want to pour some of that same creativity into your life.

Many people get so caught up in their own plans for the future that they don’t see the choices they need to make each day. They just sleepwalk through their days, following the same old boring paths. But if you live close to Me, I will lead you along fresh trails of adventure — showing you new, exciting things.

Don’t worry about what’s on the road up ahead — or which way you should go. When you get to a choice-point, I will help you choose the right way. Stay close to Me, and I will guide you step by step.

READ ON YOUR OWN

Psalm 32:8

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Who I Am

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. — Matthew 1:21

I am God with you. You hear about this so often in church. But don’t ever let it become ordinary. Don’t ever stop living in awe of Me.

Stop and think for a moment about who I am. My Name is Jesus. It means “the Lord saves.” I save you. I save you from the troubles and despair of this world. And I save you from your sins for all eternity.

I am also Immanuel, which means “God with us.” God with you. I am always with you, and I’m always waiting to hear from you. Tell me about whatever makes you happy, whatever upsets you, whatever is on your mind.

Don’t ever get so used to Me that you forget the wonder of who I am or the Joy of knowing Me — the God and Creator of all the universe.

 

Light at evening time

“It shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.” Zechariah 14:7

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 24:13-2128-35

God very frequently acts in grace in such a manner that we can find a parallel in nature. For instance, God says, “… as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, … so shall my word be, …it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” We find him speaking concerning the coming of Christ, “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.” We find him likening the covenant of grace to the covenant which he made with Noah concerning the seasons, and with man concerning the different revolutions of the year—“Seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” We find that the works of creation are very frequently the mirror of the works of grace, and that we can draw figures from the world of nature to illustrate the great acts of God in the world of his grace towards his people. But sometimes God oversteps nature. In nature after evening comes night. The sun has had its hours of journeying; the fiery steeds are weary; they must rest. Lo, they descend the azure steeps and plunge their burning fetlocks in the western sea, while night in her dark chariot follows at their heels. God, however, oversteps the rule of nature. He is pleased to send to his people times when the eye of reason expects to see no more day, but fears that the glorious landscape of God’s mercies will be shrouded in the darkness of his forgetfulness. But instead, God overleaps nature, and declares that at evening time, instead of darkness there shall be light.

For meditation: The text has only ever been true on one occasion in a physical sense (Joshua 10:12-14), but God, to whom even the darkness is light (Psalm 139:12), is always repeating the event spiritually in the lives of his people.

 

Streams In The Desert

By: L. B. Cowman

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:24).

During the Civil War, a man had an only son who enlisted in the armies of the Union. The father was a banker and, although he consented to his son’s going, it seemed as if it would break his heart to let him go.

He became deeply interested in the soldier boys, and whenever he saw a uniform, his heart went out as he thought of his own dear boy. He spent his time, neglected his business, gave his money to caring for the soldiers who came home invalid. His friends remonstrated with him, saying he had no right to neglect his business and spend so much thought upon the soldiers, so he fully decided to give it all up.

After he had come to this decision, there stepped into his bank one day a private soldier in a faded, worn uniform, who showed in his face and hands the marks of the hospital. The poor fellow was fumbling in his pocket to get something or other, when the banker saw him and, perceiving his purpose, said to him: “My dear fellow, I cannot do anything for you today. I am extremely busy. You will have to go to your headquarters; the officers there will look after you.”

Still the poor convalescent stood, not seeming to fully understand what was said to him. Still he fumbled in his pockets and, by and by, drew out a scrap of dirty paper, on which there were a few lines written with a pencil, and laid this soiled sheet before the banker. On it he found these words:

“Dear Father: “This is one of my comrades who was wounded in the last fight, and has been in the hospital. Please receive him as myself. –Charlie.”

In a moment all the resolutions of indifference which this man made, flew away. He took the boy to his palatial home, put him in Charlie’s room, gave him Charlie’s seat at the table, kept him until food and rest and love had brought him back to health, and then sent him back again to imperil his life for the flag.
–Selected

Now you will see what I will do (Exodus 6:1).

 

Healing In The Master’s Touch

Image result for picture verses touched by JesusImage result for picture verses touched by Jesus

Image result for picture verses touched by JesusImage result for picture verses touched by Jesus
Image result for picture verses touched by JesusImage result for picture verses touched by Jesus

Image result for picture verses touched by JesusImage result for picture verses touched by Jesus

 

Touching the Master

By: Merle Mills, 1.cbn.com

“And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, if I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.” Mark 5:25-28 (KJV)

This woman was plagued with an issue of blood for 12 years. To have a cold or a sore throat for a few days is uncomfortable. Whenever I feel those well-known symptoms coming on, I immediately run to the store to purchase an over the counter anti-flu remedy. I want to nip it in the bud. Try to avoid any discomfort. Twelve years? Can you imagine being ill for 12 years? Illness wears our bodies out, not only physically causing weakness, but also emotionally; sometimes causing frustration and irritability. She “had spent all that she had.” Plus, medical care is expensive. The Scripture tells us that “she had heard of Jesus.” I believe she had heard the good news about many who were touched by Jesus, and healed of different diseases, and she began to have hope.

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” Matthew 4:23 (KJV)

Those words would have built her faith. It built mine when diagnosed with cancer in 1989. Faith that a touch from the Master could change situations. A touch from the Master could change circumstances. A touch from the Master could bring hope and heal a sick body. If you have been ill, you more than likely know that regardless of our faith, sickness makes us fearful. Trusting God for healing can be a challenge. Negative thoughts constantly bombard the mind.

Years ago during my illness, even though trusting God for healing, I would think thoughts such as:

  • “Why is this happening to me?”
  • “If this chemotherapy makes me feel so terrible, how can it work?”
  • “Does God really heal?”

Between chemotherapy treatments, I feared my blood count levels would not stabilize. And my fears were not confirmed, because they did. I feared all my hair would fall off, but instead, it grew. I am sure the woman had fears. A touch from Jesus will calm our fears.

“… Be not afraid, only believe.” Mark 5:36 (KJV)

Daily, my prayer is, “Father, touch me today.” Our Heavenly Father waits to hear and to answer that prayer.

“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4 (KJV)

How do we receive a touch from the Master? Trust is the key. The woman with the issue of blood said in her heart: If I only touch the hem of His garment, I shall be healed. She believed all she needed was a touch from Jesus. She trusted and had confidence that if she just touched the hem of His garment, she would be made whole. She had confidence that when she touched Him, she would receive healing.

In response, Jesus touched her. In that moment, she left His presence a healed woman. In response, Jesus too touched me, and I left His presence a healed woman.

Do you need a touch from the Master today? Then lift your voice and say, “Jesus I need your touch.” Believe and have confidence that you will receive His powerful touch!

Father, as I join my faith with those reading these words who need a touch from You, touch and remove fear, touch and build faith, touch and heal. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

God, Touch Our Hearts


Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched. (1 Samuel 10:26)

Just think of what is being said in this verse. God touched them. Not a wife. Not a child. Not a parent. Not a counselor. But God. God touched them.

The One with infinite power in the universe. The One with infinite authority and infinite wisdom and infinite love and infinite goodness and infinite purity and infinite justice. That One touched their heart.

How does the circumference of Jupiter touch the edge of a molecule? Let alone penetrate to its nucleus?

The touch of God is awesome not just because it is God who touches, but also because it is a touch. It is a real connection. That it involves the heart is awesome. That it involves God is awesome. And that it involves an actual touch is awesome.

The valiant men were not just spoken to. They were not just swayed by a divine influence. They were not just seen and known. God, with infinite condescension, touched their heart. God was that close. And they were not consumed.

I love that touch. I want it more and more. For myself and for all of you. I pray that God would touch me anew with his glory and for this glory. I pray that he would touch us all.

Oh, for the touch of God! If it comes with fire, so be it. If it comes with water, so be it. If it comes with wind, let it come, O God. If it comes with thunder and lightning, let us bow before it.

O Lord, come. Come that close. Burn and soak and blow and crash. Or still and small, come. Come all the way. Touch our hearts.

 

Jesus Heals: Hope from the Woman Who Reached Out to Touch Him

Read the story this morning, of the woman who was healed when she reached out to touch the cloak of Jesus. She’d been suffering for years with an illness, a bleeding disorder. She’d been to many doctors and yet still was not made well, in fact the Bible says that she grew worse.

But something compelled her to Christ.

She believed.

She had faith.

She knew where help would be found.

The crowd around Him was large, they followed and pressed close. I can almost see her, making her way through the people, quietly, determined, heart resolute just to reach Him. Just to touch Him. She knew He held power. She’d heard all the stories and here He was, so close, so near.

The crowd didn’t stop her. Her fears didn’t stop her. Maybe she felt unworthy, maybe she struggled with shame. Yet still onward she walked through, until she was close enough…

“…she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.'” Mark 5:27-28

And that was all it took.

Power came through.

The Bible says that “Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” v. 29

Immediately.

God acted on her behalf…”immediately.” Right away.

His Power is able to act fast. His Power is able to heal what doctors say cannot be fixed. His Power is able to do anything that seems impossible to the world.

Jesus knew that power had gone out…He turned around in the crowd, looking, and asked “Who touched my clothes?” v. 30.

His disciples didn’t get it, they said, “What do mean, there’s a whole crowd here, everyone is pressing close…” Yet Jesus knew differently. He saw what they couldn’t. He knew what they didn’t. And He kept looking. I wonder if He noticed her fear. I wonder if His eyes locked on hers. Compassionate, loving, kind, generous eyes.
She came and fell at His feet, trembling in fear, told Him what happened, told Him the truth. Maybe she thought He’d be angry. Or question her, or shame her.

And right there in the midst of her fear and her trembling and her vulnerability, He said these powerful words. Life-changing, inspiring, freedom words, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” v. 34

Maybe sometimes we sit and suffer with wounds that are still bleeding. Maybe it’s a physical illness, maybe it’s an emotional wound, or maybe we’ve drifted spiritually…and the wounds still bleed.

Maybe we look all different places for help, yet forget we can press in towards our Savior. Maybe we forget that He never changes, and He still holds the power to heal and set free. Maybe we don’t believe that He can, or wants to, work on our behalf. Maybe we forget at times, that He’s still the God of miracles, that He can act “immediately,” that He can do in a moment what might take years for us to work through on our own.

Let’s set aside our fears and move towards Him today, in faith. Let’s press in close, and reach out to the One who is All-powerful, compassionate, loving, and kind. He knows already, the wounds we’ve carried, He knows the pain we’ve felt, He knows how much we’ve tried to let go, and fix things in our own power. Let’s choose to believe that our situation or circumstance is never too big for Him to bring healing and freedom. He is Able. Nothing is too difficult for Him.

Grace to you today my friends…He is always within reach. He is never far away. He is close. He is with us.

He cares. He heals. He restores. He redeems.

Go in peace.

Walk in His freedom and healing.

So thankful for our Savior.