Monthly Archives: January 2020

God Is With You In Your Battles

God Is With You Each Day Just As He Is With The Soldier.

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When Life Is Hard

By: Debbie McDaniel, Author, crosswalk.com

God helps you with your battles

 

Whether we recognize it or not, this truth daily confronts us, we face an enemy here in this life. It’s more than what we can see before us. It’s more than another person who we think has wronged us. It’s more than our own struggles and weaknesses we deal with, or the negative self-talk we sometimes battle.

This enemy is real and fierce. He will stop at nothing to try to bring you defeat and destruction. Maybe you’ve noticed too. Because if you’re a believer who is living like salt and light in a dark world, you won’t go for long without encountering obstacles and attacks he’ll hurl your direction. We can be assured, this enemy hates Truth. So if we’re living by it, standing on it, seeking after it, we will be targeted. God’s words are true, this battle is real, many times it feels intense.

But here’s the powerful hope that keeps us strong: God is greater than whatever we face here in this world, and He fights for us still today!

If you’re in the heat of the battle right now, or if the enemy feels hot on your trail, please know you’re not alone, not ever. Neither are you left to fight on your own. Many of us are in the battle with you, and God is the One who fights on our behalf, constantly shielding, protecting, strengthening, even when we’re unaware. We never have to struggle to fend for ourselves, but He’s with us, always, covering us, in all of our days.

He’s given us His words that are powerful and true, so that we’ll have the wisdom to stand strong against the enemy. As I read these verses this morning, the reality struck me again that Paul wrote them while in chains, in prison. Yet the truth is – the enemy, no matter how vicious his schemes, can never chain our spirits that have been set free by Christ. Paul was not silenced by the cruel attacks from dark forces. Neither should we be.

Focusing here today, putting on His armor, staying alert, and praying, that God will equip
believers everywhere to “stand strong.” Press on – courageous and free – never held back by
fear or defeat.  For God has the final victory over our lives…

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Eph. 6:10-18

Remember, your battle today may be more about what is unseen than what you see before you. And when you resist the enemy, God’s word reminds us in James 4:7 that he has to flee.

Stand strong my friends, grace to you this day.

You’re never alone.

He loves you. He fights for you. He is with you.

 

Hope for the Battle Weary

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

Do you ever worry that all of your hard times and suffering will be for nothing? That all of this pain you keep trying to press through is completely and utterly pointless?

I deeply understand that kind of fear and fatigue. What it’s like to pray the same prayers over and over, with little to no change, all while the disappointments linger on and on.

That’s why I wish I could give you a gift today. It’s actually one I received myself in the middle of the most heartbreaking season of my marriage.

When Art and I realized our marriage wasn’t going to make any progress without some professional help, we started seeing an amazing counselor. We spent more than 75 hours in his office. It was all with the understanding that we were on the same page, moving ahead together. All the devastation would be repaired, restored and made right.

But during one of our sessions, my counselor knew we’d leave his office and walk into one of the fiercest seasons of this battle. He took a professionally done frame off his office wall and tore the backing to open it. He pulled out a real purple heart, the high honor the government gave his family when his brother-in-law was killed in the line of duty, trying to save others.

Then he knelt in front of us and placed this priceless medal in my hand.

“Hold on to this, Lysa, for as long as you need it. When the battle gets so fierce you wonder if you will survive, remember this moment of my telling you that you will make it through this. If God gave out purple hearts, you would absolutely receive this high honor. What you are going through won’t be for nothing. Your hurt will not be wasted. It will be for the saving of many lives.”

Speechless, I looked down at this beautifully outrageous gift. The moment stole all my words, and I had nothing to offer back to him but tears. I mouthed the words, “thank you.” I felt brave that day.

Less than a month after we returned home from that counseling appointment, my heart was devastated again.

I couldn’t breathe. The medal was the only physical thing I felt I could hold, when every bit of my life was flying around as shattered debris. I thought we were almost done with that horrific season, and then I realized we hadn’t even started the healing.

And while that purple heart couldn’t heal me, it sure steadied me for the next two years, as Art and I did the hard work to put our marriage back together again.

I want to be that friend who helps steady you today, sweet sister. Because I know what it’s like to feel battle-weary.

I’m sure Joseph, the speaker in our key verse, was familiar with feelings of discouragement and fatigue. How could you be thrown into a pit by your family, sold into slavery and then unfairly imprisoned … without wondering if any good could ever come of your story?

But God had a plan. From pit to palace, Joseph was positioned to spare not only the lives of his family, but the entire nation of Israel. This is why his words to his brothers in Genesis 50:20 are such a beautiful picture of redemption and hope: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

God has a plan for your life, too. The enemy is going to try to trip you and rip you to shreds with the hurtful hisses that all of this suffering is for nothing. Don’t you dare listen.

I’m holding a purple heart in my hand that tells me something different. And it’s not just for me. It’s for you, too. I knew it the minute the counselor put it in my hand, it should be pinned on your chest, too. And if you were here with me today, I’d do just that. I would remind you that your story, surrendered into the hands of God, will not be wasted.

Close your eyes and breathe. You’re brave, beautiful and hand-picked. A decorated soldier in this horrible battle with a glorious ending. I’m declaring over you that the Lord will restore you, redeem you and write His glorious story onto the pages of your life. The journey might not look anything like you planned, but I’m believing with you that God is working things out in ways you cannot yet see.

 

What It Takes to Withstand Evil

By: Stormie Omartian, Author, cbn.com

Before each specific assignment Navy SEALs are given, they thoroughly assess their equipment. Each item they have with them is chosen for a specific reason—to protect themselves, fight the enemy, win the battle, survive, and return safely. Every aspect of their equipment is of the best quality and must be in perfect working order or condition. Because all of this has to be carried with them on their body, they assemble their camouflage uniform with precision and great thought. They know they can’t go into battle safely or effectively if they are missing something important or carrying extra baggage. Everything they take with them is designed to facilitate and anticipate their every need. By the time they are on a mission they are more than ready.

As prayer warriors we must do the same. God doesn’t want us carrying anything that is unnecessary because it will weigh us down and hinder what He has called us to do. And we must not go to battle without the things we need in order to win. Our battle is spiritual, and what we accomplish in the spirit realm is as important as what the highly trained, prepared, and equipped soldier does in the physical. We must know our weapons and be highly skilled in using them. But first we must put on the armor God has given us in order to stand strong against the enemy.

The apostle Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil ” (Ephesians 6:10-11). He didn’t say, “If you are smart you might take up the whole armor.” Or, “If you feel like it and have the time, take up the armor.” Or, “Try to take up the armor at least once or twice a year.” God’s Word says, “Take up the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13). This is not suggested; it is commanded.

The Bible would not have told us to take up the whole armor of God in order to withstand evil if evil could have been withstood without doing that.

To “stand against” literally means to stand in front of and in opposition to the forces and plans of evil. It means to be the one standing after the battle. It also means to stand in preparation for the next battle. Standing against the wiles of the devil certainly doesn’t mean do nothing. If we are to do nothing until He comes, why do we need to wrestle against the enemy? “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Why does Jesus give us spiritual weapons to withstand evil forces if He doesn’t want us to use them?

The reason we must put on the whole armor of God is to withstand evil. We don’t war against people, but against a spiritual hierarchy of invisible power.

The forces of evil are invisible powers with a structure and specific levels of authority. We are not only to use our armor to protect and defend ourselves from them—as important as that is—but also to go on the offensive against them as well. When we do that, we close doors to the enemy and open doors to the will of God to be done on earth. We advance God’s kingdom.

 

Quietness – Streams in the Desert – January 31

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

He giveth quietness (Job 34:29).

Quietness amid the dash of the storm. We sail the lake with Him still; and as we reach its middle waters, far from land, under midnight skies, suddenly a great storm sweeps down. Earth and hell seem arrayed against us, and each billow threatens to overwhelm. Then He arises from His sleep, and rebukes the winds and the waves; His hand waves benediction and repose over the rage of the tempestuous elements. His voice is heard above the scream of the wind in the cordage and the conflict of the billows, “Peace, be still!” Can you not hear it? And there is instantly a great calm. “He giveth quietness.” Quietness amid the loss of inward consolations. He sometimes withdraws these, because we make too much of them. We are tempted to look at our joy, our ecstasies, our transports, or our visions, with too great complacency. Then love for love’s sake, withdraws them. But, by His grace, He leads us to distinguish between them and Himself. He draws nigh, and whispers the assurance of His presence. Thus an infinite calm comes to keep our heart and mind. “He giveth quietness.”

“He giveth quietness.” O Elder Brother,
Whose homeless feet have pressed our path of pain,
Whose hands have borne the burden of our sorrow,
That in our losses we might find our gain.
Of all Thy gifts and infinite consolings,
I ask but this: in every troubled hour
To hear Thy voice through all the tumults stealing,
And rest serene beneath its tranquil power.
Cares cannot fret me if my soul be dwelling
In the still air of faith’s untroubled day;
Grief cannot shake me if I walk beside thee,
My hand in Thine along the darkening way.
Content to know there comes a radiant morning
When from all shadows I shall find release,
Serene to wait the rapture of its dawning–
Who can make trouble when Thou sendest peace?

God Gives Grace To The Humble

1 Peter 5:5-6

Submit to God, Resist the Devil

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,

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Welcome to the Workplace, Lord

Corporate America has a way of taking a toll on everyone. Universally, it appears the office environment is all the same – backstabbing, rumor mills, brown-nosing the boss, pushing to get ahead. It’s a wonder any work gets accomplished with all the extracurricular activity among the worker bees.

It had been a particularly grueling day with a high level of anxiety, conflict, arrogance, nastiness and general tension among my co-workers. I had pushed through the day, counting down the hours to call it a week, and I was looking forward to spending the rest of the evening at home with my husband and boys.

I secluded myself from the office activities long enough to pray: Lord, am I the only one here who gets You today? Do these people even know you exist? And if they do, can you please help them see what a mess they are making of my day?

I felt very alone – very isolated from people who show kindness and compassion to each other — Christian people. God knew I needed to feel some inclusion again, so He made the drive home an interesting one.

Just a mile from the office, I pulled up behind a car with the license plate “1ST PRAY”. Once on the Interstate, I changed lanes and ended up behind a car sporting “13 COR 13” (Corinthians 13:13 – “…the greatest of these is love.”)

I was starting to see God’s message in the traffic. A couple miles up the road, a truck pulled in the lane ahead of me – his bumper sticker said: “Jesus Saves”. In the lane next to him, a car displayed the ichthus (fish).

OK, God, I prayed. It’s very clear. Even when I don’t always see it, I’m surrounded by You and people who love You.

I continued to thank God for providing such a clear visual for me. But in my prayer, I wondered how many days I, too, act in an unpleasant manner, just like my co-workers were doing that day? How many times do others wish they could count on me to provide a Christ-like environment, but I don’t offer them one? Were there days my co-workers also felt isolated from kindheartedness, and I was a reason for their pain?

In 1 Peter 3:8 NASB, he lists the characteristics of a believer as

“… harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.”

I knew how badly I felt that day at work, existing in an environment that reflected none of these qualities. Exodus 23:2 says:

You shall not follow the masses in doing evil …”

And I was sure I had.

For years I’ve driven around with my own ichthus on the trunk, proudly showing other drivers there’s a Christian behind the wheel of my car. And while it gives the impression they’re sharing road space with someone who loves the Lord, it’s not enough. People need, and deserve, to see more than a sign of Christianity.

They need to see Christians living it daily.

“For, the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, …” (1 Peter 3:10-12 NASB)

 

The Fruit of Her Hands

JANUARY 29, 2020

“She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16 (ESV)

At one point in my life, I was terrified to turn to Proverbs Chapter 31 in my Bible.

I could flip from Proverbs 30 over to Ecclesiastes 1 like the pages were glued together. I’m pretty sure in those days I couldn’t have recited a single phrase of the chapter by heart. All I knew was that, whoever that Proverbs 31 woman was, she wasn’t me.

Given my difficult background and unstable home, nothing frightened me more than the fierce, familiar yellow of a tape measure. Because I was sure I wasn’t going to measure up.

Over time, however, I came to love this passage. I no longer saw the Proverbs 31 woman as a threat. I saw her as, quite literally, a host of possibilities. She loved her home, and she also traveled. She was family-oriented and business-oriented. She could throw her head back and laugh over the future, yet she never forgot the poor. I came to like her. And to want to be like her. And to pray to be like her.

The line in the poem that became my unexpected favorite in the last two years is found in verse 16: “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.”

Perhaps she never more beautifully reflected the image of her Creator than when she put her hands to the soil. One of the earliest facts we learn about God is that He is a Planter. A Gardener.

I’m rarely bothered by the reminder that work preceded the fall of humanity in the Garden. Work was not part of the Curse (found in Genesis 3). It was the call of God to come, take part with Him and contribute to His world. He fashioned us with a need to contribute. In fact, I believe it’s quite possible we can live with pain more easily than purposelessness. I think most of us yearn to be part of something important. Something enormous.

And we are.

We who call Jesus Lord are part of the Kingdom of God, called to contribute to the only thing that will outlast time.

But more often than not, it takes time to do what outlasts time. So slow it down a little bit. Take some time. Go deep, not just fast. He’s the Holy Spirit, not the Holy Sprint. Pay attention to the process. Fast fruit is never ripe.

We’re being infected with impatience in our culture. Before a word hits our tongue, we’ve published it on social media. Before the second song in a worship service, we’re checking our phones. We want our online orders overnighted, or at least I do. We want to be grown — without ever growing.

But that’s not God’s way.

He planted the Garden of Eden. He didn’t just landscape it, sliding potted plants off the back of a flatbed truck into pre-fertilized soil from huge plastic bags.

Yes, Proverbs 31:16 has become one of my favorites, especially on a recent project, because I’m reminded that fruit-bearing takes time.

The research, writing, rewriting and fine-tuning process feels like the tilling, planting, grafting, watering, pruning, inspecting and harvesting of a vineyard. I told myself things like, You can’t rush fine fruit. Don’t try to harvest when you ought to be pruning. Take your time. Appreciate the process. This perspective helped immensely.

And this is true of virtually any God-ordained work. It’s His way. In due season, He says you will reap if you do not give up (Galatians 6:9). So what if everybody speeds past you? Let them. If they don’t slow down, all they will have is a harvest of seeds and sprouts. No stalks.

“With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” Whatever work you’re cultivating, that’s a vineyard you’re growing, beloved sister. God intends it to be gorgeous. Take your time, and the fruit will be sweet … and lasting.

Refresh Your Soul with Humility

By: Jon Bloom, desiringgod.com

 

What God Gives the Humble

What the proverb is doing is turning the diamond of a profound truth in the light of God’s wisdom so that we see a different refraction of that light. What is this profound truth? We learn more explicitly further down in the chapter: “toward the scorners [God] is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor” (Proverbs 3:34).

Proverbs 3:34 is one of the most quoted verses in the whole Bible. If you don’t recognize it, that’s probably because you are simply more familiar with the Greek translation of the verse (from the Septuagint), which both the apostles James and Peter famously quote: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:61 Peter 5:5).

“Cultivating humility before God is among the healthiest things we can do for our souls.”

That is the truth-diamond the writer holds up in this chapter: God gives grace, his favor, to the humble. When he turns it one way, the light of God’s wisdom refracts verses 5–6 (“Trust in the Lord with all your heart . . . and he will make straight your paths”). When he turns it another way, it refracts verses 7–8 (“Be not wise in your own eyes . . . [it will be] refreshment to your bones”). Guidance in life and soul-restoration are both graces God gives to the humble.

But since we are so familiar with verses 5–6, let’s linger over the refraction of God’s wisdom we see in verses 7–8 and the grace promised us if we heed it.

You Aren’t as Wise as You Assume

First, look at the command: “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).

To be told, “be not wise in your own eyes,” has a different effect on us than “trust in the Lord with all your heart.” It immediately heightens our awareness of and confronts the “pride of life” (1 John 2:16), the pride we all have as part of our sinful natures. This is the pride that assumes we can adequately understand the knowledge of good and evil, and judge rightly between the two. It is a perilous assumption.

The proverbial author knows how seductively deceptive this pride is and warns us against its folly throughout the chapter. What’s so seductively deceptive is how easily choosing evil can appear wise to us because of the benefits it seems to provide those who do. When we read his examples of evil behavior (Proverbs 3:28–34), we might be tempted to think we’re above such behavior. But the fact is, we notoriously underestimate how confusing things can appear in the pressure of real-life situations, when we are afraid or angry or suffering or threatened.

This command is a great mercy for the complex and difficult situations and decisions we all face. There are times when we need the soul-jolting, in-our-face, direct warning not to trust our own wisdom and to turn away from evil more than to be merely told to trust in God. We need to be reminded how untrustworthy our own wisdom is.

Humility’s Restoring Power

Lastly, look at the powerful promise to those who aren’t wise in their own eyes, but fear God and turn away from evil:

It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:8)

Note the words the writer chooses here: “healing” and “refreshment.” These are restorative terms. Why does he use them?

Because this experienced father knows the violence done to the soul by the doing of evil and the temptation to evil. He knows that “a tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30). He knows what David meant when he wrote, “When I kept silent [about my sin], my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). He knows how evil violates the conscience and creates terrible conflict with God and man. And he wants his son and all of his readers to experience peace (Proverbs 3:2), or to return to peace if he’s strayed into evil.

And the path to deep, refreshing peace from God is living humbly before God.

Humble Yourselves

The apostle Peter was thinking of the truth-diamond in Proverbs 3 when he wrote,

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5–7)

“Guidance in life and soul-restoration are both graces God gives to the humble.”

God gives grace to the humble. To those who humbly trust him with all their heart, he gives the grace of guidance. To those who humbly refuse to be wise in their own eyes, he gives the grace of refreshing peace. To those who humble themselves under his hand, he will give the grace of exaltation. And to those who humbly cast their cares on him, he gives the grace of carrying their cares.

It is good for us to be as familiar with verses 7–8 of Proverbs 3 as we are with verses 5–6. There are times we must remember to trust in the Lord with all our heart, and there are other times we must remember to not be wise in our own eyes. They are similar, related, complementary, yet different refractions of God’s wisdom. And both remind us that cultivating humility before God is among the healthiest things we can do for our souls.

 

Streams in the Desert – January 30

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

I will be as the dew unto Israel (Hosea 14:5).

The dew is a source of freshness. It is nature’s provision for renewing the face of the earth. It falls at night, and without it the vegetation would die. It is this great value of the dew which is so often recognized in the Scriptures. It is used as the symbol of spiritual refreshing. Just as nature is bathed in dew, so the Lord renews His people. In Titus 3:5 the same thought of spiritual refreshing is connected with the ministry of the Holy Ghost–“renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Many Christian workers do not recognize the importance of the heavenly dew in their lives, and as a result they lack freshness and vigor. Their spirits are drooping for lack of dew.

Beloved fellow-worker, you recognize the folly of a laboring man attempting to do his day’s work without eating. Do you recognize the folly of a servant of God attempting to minister without eating of the heavenly manna? Nor will it suffice to have spiritual nourishment occasionally. Every day you must receive the renewing of the Holy Ghost. You know when your whole being is pulsating with the vigor and freshness of Divine life and when you feel jaded and worn. Quietness and absorption bring the dew. At night when the leaf and blade are still, the vegetable pores are open to receive the refreshing and invigorating bath; so spiritual dew comes from quiet lingering in the Master’s presence. Get still before Him. Haste will prevent your receiving the dew. Wait before God until you feel saturated with His presence; then go forth to your next duty with the conscious freshness and vigor of Christ.
–Dr. Pardington

Dew will never gather while there is either heat or wind. The temperature must fall, and the wind cease, and the air come to a point of coolness and rest–absolute rest, so to speak–before it can yield up its invisible particles of moisture to bedew either herb or flower. So the grace of God does not come forth to rest the soul of man until the still point is fairly and fully reached.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our souls the strain and stress;
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the pulses of desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, its beats expire:
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm!

Jesus Gives Us Abundant Life

Jesus the Good Shepherd    John10: 7-10

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came [a]before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

 

 

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You Can Have the Abundant Life Now

By: Brad Henry, cbn.com

2 Corinthians 12:9a “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Here is the dilemma of our lives. How do we earn a living, use the best of our talents, and not cave into pride?

It is OUR choice whom we will serve because each of us has a Free Will. Many Christians are saved, but have no power from the Holy Spirit in their lives. Pride is of the flesh and is powerful for self, but destructive to a Spirit-led life. Let’s look at what the flesh desires.

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:21

What does the Spirit desire?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:22, 23

So how can we live by the Spirit and not the flesh?

Living by the Holy Spirit means that we give up OUR rights and invite Jesus to have full control of our mind, will and emotions. Our Flesh is our body, muscles, joints. Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions. Our Spirit is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ when we are saved and we ask for the Lord to give us His Spirit. So we are distinctively three parts. The battle is in our soul. The soul will either gravitate to the deeds of the flesh or to the fruit of the Spirit.

“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,” Jude 1:20

To build up our faith we need to pray IN the Spirit and not the flesh. Praying in the flesh we can all do. We just pray with no emotion and our prayers feel as though it is a rote prayer. Praying in the spirit is a wonderful gift Jesus has given to each of us.

It is only when our mind is free and uncluttered that the Holy Spirit can start to crucify the deeds of our flesh. We need to get in a quiet place and ask the Lord to pour out His Holy Spirit upon us. We need to allow the Spirit to teach us and lead us into all truth. I have been praying and the Lord will bring up someone for me to call or a scripture passage to go to. That does not happen when I pray in the flesh. The key to praying in the Spirit is surrendering all you have and all you will be to the Lord. When your total dependence is on Him great – and I mean great – things will happen.

“Lord please help EVERYONE reading this right now to be able to pray IN the Spirit. Through your Spirit, may all the strongholds people have been bound by, be stripped away and crucified. We cannot do it by Will Power, but only by the power of your Spirit. Forgive us, Lord Jesus, for a heart that many times wanders and does not seek you. Help us today to start a new path to you that is not side-tracked any longer. I know that so many reading this, Jesus, want to be close to you, but they do not know how. I pray right now that those who try to draw close to you today in prayer – that you Jesus, will reveal to them the peace that comes through your Spirit.” Amen

Please find a quite place to pray, worship, praise, and thank the Lord. Abundant life is in the Holy Spirit, NOT the flesh.

 

How to Love the Life You Have Even If It’s Not the Life You Wanted

By: Tracie miles, proverbs 31

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b (ESV)

There came a time when I had to accept that my life had not turned out the way I thought it would, and no amount of wishing it were different could change it.

Sometimes we come across an unexpected bump in life, causing our plans to derail and our hopes to shatter. Or maybe we simply wake up and realize the life we’re living isn’t the one we expected, much less the one we wanted. As a result, we feel unhappy, joyless and discontent.

Perhaps you can relate.

Maybe you had a dream crushed after years of pursuing it. Perhaps you stayed at a job for years building your retirement fund, only for the company to go bankrupt and take your life savings with it. Perhaps you’ve experienced the heartbreak of infertility when you planned on having a full house. Maybe you had a loved one die far too soon, leaving you feeling alone and lost. Maybe you were struck with an illness that limits your abilities and independence. Or by now, you thought you’d be married but are still single, or maybe you invested years in a marriage that ended painfully in divorce.

Or possibly, nothing earth-shattering has happened at all, and life is the same as it has always been. Same ol’ circumstances, different day. And therein lies the problem: Surely there has to be more to life than this.

Regardless of your reason for feeling unhappy with your life, maybe you think loving the life you have is impossible unless circumstances change.

Trust me, friend, I understand.

The last several years have brought unexplainable sorrow, fear, disappointment and crushed dreams. There were countless days, months in fact, I thought I would never be able to feel truly happy again, much less love my life.

Yet over time, through a lot of faith and tears, God helped me accept that although I couldn’t change the circumstances I found myself in, I could change how I reacted to them. I realized I’ve been given one life to live — this life — and I could either continue to allow adversities to have power over my happiness, or I could embrace God’s promise for abundant life and make it a reality in my own. The choice was mine.

In John 10:10a, Jesus explains there’s a thief who seeks to steal, kill and destroy us. But in John 10:10b, Jesus declares He came to earth so we could not only live life but live it abundantly despite the thief’s intentions. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). Here we see the contrast between the destroyer of happiness and the Giver of joy.

Jesus was explaining He is the answer to experiencing the best life possible despite what life throws at us. He is what gives our lives meaning and joy.

Choosing to learn to love my life, even if it wasn’t the life I had imagined, was the best choice I’ve ever made. It wasn’t always easy, but as I intentionally chose to let Jesus be the source of my joy, even in the midst of less-than-joyful circumstances, my perspectives and feelings changed for the better.

The life you have today, and all it includes or doesn’t include, is the life God has given you. It’s the life you’re supposed to love, despite what it looks like. It’s the only life you have, and the only life you’re going to get. You can live it abundantly with joy based on Christ alone or let life pass you by as you allow problems, disappointments or drudgery to steal your zest for living.

Sweet friend, no matter what you’re going through, loving life is a choice, not a by-product of everything going our way. Our peace, joy, contentment, fulfillment and overall happiness depend on the choice we make.

I now realize it was not only within my reach to love my life again and live it abundantly, but 100 percent within my control, as it is for you.

Your happiness is up to you.

 

What Does it Mean to Have Abundant Life

What Does It Mean to Have Abundant Life?

By Brenda Rodgers

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

Around my daughter’s first birthday, mealtimes became unbearable. She couldn’t communicate with words yet, so she whined, grunted, and threw food. As a solution, I taught her a few words in sign language. The sign for “more” was one of them.

My daughter is now two-and-a-half and articulate for her age, especially with the word “more.” If she begs for something she’ll say the word “more” and sign it. I guess she thinks the sign gives her extra chances of getting what she’s begging for.

As I’ve watched my daughter I’ve asked myself, “Are we much different from toddlers?” From our youngest ages, we desire more. We pine, crave, beg and covet for more. Typically we see this as negative – a part of our sin nature. But what we don’t realize is that our desire for more is God’s design, and He is happy to give it.

God created us to have an insatiable thirst as we live in this world. When sin entered the world, so did discontentment with life. God desires for us to seek more out of life. The problem is we displace our desire for more because of our discontentment.

At first look, we might be tempted to say, “What? I rather have a life of abundance so I can have the stuff I want and be happy!” But when you’re in a state of crisis, what’s worth more – a life full of fear, anxiousness, and tension, or a life full of tranquility and the fruit of the spirit? I think we’d agree that you can’t put a price tag on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

An abundant life comes from following God’s ways, pursuing holiness, and seeking to be more like Him. “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30). As a result, others see the abundant life in you and are led to Jesus through your example: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

God created us to want more. But which kind of “more” will we seek? Abundance in worldly pursuits or an abundant life? The more we desire God, the more abundant our life will be.

 

Streams in the Desert – January 29

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

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early (Psalms 46:5)

“Shall not be moved”–what an inspiring declaration! Can it be possible that we, who are so easily moved by the things of earth, can arrive at a place where nothing can upset us or disturb our calm? Yes, it is possible; and the Apostle Paul knew it. When he was on his way to Jerusalem where he foresaw that “bonds and afflictions” awaited him, he could say triumphantly, “But none of these things move me.”

Everything in Paul’s life and experience that could be shaken had been shaken, and he no longer counted his life, or any of life’s possessions, dear to him. And we, if we will but let God have His way with us, may come to the same place, so that neither the fret and tear of little things of life, nor the great and heavy trials, can have power to move us from the peace that passeth understanding, which is declared to be the portion of those who have learned to rest only on God.

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out.” To be as immovable as a pillar in the house of our God, is an end for which one would gladly endure all the shakings that may be necessary to bring us there!
Hannah Whitall Smith

When God is in the midst of a kingdom or city He makes it as firm as Mount Zion, that cannot be removed. When He is in the midst of a soul, though calamities throng about it on all hands, and roar like the billows of the sea, yet there is a constant calm within, such a peace as the world can neither give nor take away. What is it but want of lodging God in the soul, and that in His stead the world is in men’s hearts, that makes them shake like leaves at every blast of danger?
Archbishop Leighton

“They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever.” There is a quaint old Scottish version that puts iron into our blood:

Who sticketh to God in stable trust
As Zion’s mount he stands full just,
Which moveth no whit, nor yet doth reel,
But standeth forever as stiff as steel!

 

Lessons From The Potter’s House

Jeremiah Chapter 18: 1-6

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Wonderfully Flawed

Missey Butler, Author, cbn.com

I want to share with you a beautiful illustration I heard years ago that still speaks to my heart whenever I have one of those, “I can’t do anything right” days. It is the lesson of “The Cracked Pot.”

Many years ago, in a very poor Middle East village, stood an ancient stone well. Alongside of that well sat two large watering pots. One of them was like new, beautifully formed, even had graceful etchings along its curved handle.

The other, not as new yet still useful, had become cracked over the years. Time after time, the pot was passed over by the people with the exception of a little village girl. She had grown fond of the neglected pitcher. Every day she would choose it instead of the beautiful pot.

One morning, the old pot asked the little girl, “Why do you continue to use me, when you know I am flawed and cannot hold the water you and your family so desperately need?” The little girl spoke not a word but carried the broken pot to a familiar pathway she traveled daily.

With her tiny voice she said, “This is why I pick you.” There before the pot was a row of delicate wildflowers that had bloomed along the trail because of the water that had trickled and leaked from the pot. The buried seeds of the flowers had been watered as she made her way home each day. The cracked pot for the first time had seen its worth through the eyes of a grateful little girl.

Just like the not so perfect piece of pottery, the Potter uses us as God’s creations despite our imperfections. Sometimes, unfortunately, we have to be placed back on the potter’s wheel to be remolded. This is not always a fun process but it is necessary in order to smooth out some of the flaws that God says must go! In even more serious times, God will actually break us and begin the process all over again. All because He’s after something within us that will ultimately produce a vessel of honor for His glory.

“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to Him.” Jeremiah 18:4 (NIV)

Just so you know you are in good company, here are some of the more famous “cracked pots” found in the Bible:

Noah was a Drunk
Elijah was Suicidal
Peter was a Coward
Jacob was a Deceiver
Rahab was a Prostitute
Samson was a Womanizer
Moses had a Self-esteem problem
David was an Adulterer/Murderer
The Samaritan Woman was Divorced (a lot)

We may find ourselves falling on our faces. But just like these heroes and heroines of the faith, God has promised to be our treasure while in these earthen vessels. Hallelujah! We have immutable Deity dwelling in a breakable container. The “Complete One” abiding in the “Incomplete ones.” What a divine paradox!

I find myself today still one of His works in progress. It would not surprise me if one day I discovered, engraved deeply upon this “earthen vessel,” the signature of my loving Maker. Along with it would be the following words:

“Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21 (NKJV)

Then I will truly be a finished masterpiece, ready to bring honor and glory to the Potter’s Hands.

 

The Potter’s Hands

By: David Jeremiah, crosswalk.com

We are, in a literal sense, pottery. We’ve been formed from clay. God physically shaped Adam from the clay of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life. We are all humans, a word that is akin to the term humus, meaning earth or clay. The apostle Paul referred to our bodies as “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV).

But the Bible also tells us that God wants to spiritually fashion us into vessels fit for His use, molded as images of our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul says God wants to form us into “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

The patriarch Job concurred: “Your hands have made me and fashioned me . . .  You have made me like clay” (Job 10:8-9). This gives us a biblical warrant for thinking of the events and influences of our lives as His hands and fingers, shaping us like a potter shaping clay.

Romans 8:28 says that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, but the next verse gives us His purpose: “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

Our heavenly Father wants to use the events we encounter each day as tools with which to shape and sculpt us into the image of Christ. He wants to deepen our faith, to develop within us the quality of perseverance, and to make us watertight containers of His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

If you’re under some sort of pressure right now, visualize the skillful hands of the divine Potter using it for good in your life. Pray as Isaiah did: “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). You can trust His dexterous and expert fingers not to harm, but to help you.

His Hands Are Re-Forming
Sometimes we think we’re unusable, unredeemable. We’ve done something for which we feel shame and guilt, and we think God can no longer do much with us. Our problems are occasionally of our own making, and our pain arises from our own stupidity. But when we bring our sin to the Lord, confess it earnestly, nail it to the cross of Christ, and surrender it to the power of His shed blood, God can take our sins and shame and spin them into a design that glorifies Him.

One night Adelaide Pollard went to church in a state of depression because she felt God wanted her in Africa as a missionary, but she couldn’t raise the support. During the prayer meeting, a woman prayed, “It doesn’t matter what You bring into our lives, Lord. Just have Your own way with us.”

Returning home, Adelaide read the story of the potter and the clay in Jeremiah 18. By bedtime she had written out a prayer of her own, which today is the hymn, “Have Thine Own Way.”

Today make it your prayer as you think of the forming and re-forming hands of the Master Potter who is crafting you and me into vessels of honor, fit for the Master’s use. Ask God to have His own way in your life as He forms — and re-forms — you into His wonderful image.

Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way.
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting yielded and still.

 

It’s Good to Be a Jar of Clay

Clay jars are delicate. They crack easily even though they may seem relatively durable.

On one hand, clay jars are refined by fire. There are several steps to making them, culminating with the kiln. This furnace carries the clay from an unfinished product to a household amenity. But once completed, the slightest nudge on the corner table could send a jar plummeting to its demise. The durability is deceiving. The thick porcelain is more delicate than it appears. No wonder the Bible often describes people as jars of clay. We are like potter’s vessels, waiting to be broken into millions of tiny pieces (Psalm 31:12Isaiah 30:14). We are weak. We get tired and weary. We grow old and frail.

Being a mom to small children, I am faced daily with my weakness. Often it’s in the form of tiredness and impatience. Motherhood can be tiring, but my children are not at fault for my weakness. They are a great joy and blessing. The tiredness part actually becomes another reminder that I am a part of a fallen world. It makes me feel how badly I need a Savior. A scenario that has played out in my home looks like this: I’m tired, yet in my pride I resist rest. After all, there’s so much to do. But then this ‘tiredness without rest’ can lead to impatience with my loved ones.

 

Embracing the Unlikely Asset

What if I instead embraced the fact that I’m a clay jar? What if I didn’t ignore the fact that as a human I really do get tired sometimes? What if I gained a biblical understanding of what it means to be weak? It was recently said, “In God’s economy, our weakness is one of our greatest assets.” But isn’t this hard to believe? It’s hard to believe that weakness can be an asset — that it’s for our good. But what weakness does — like nothing else can — is draw our attention to the One who never grows tired or weary (Isaiah 40:28).

Trying harder in our own power doesn’t solve our weakness. If anything, it exposes more of our weakness. My self-exertion typically leaves me depleted and lacking joy. Jonathan Parnell writes, “Embracing weakness brings more peace because we realize afresh that God loves us by his grace, not because we are strong. Our joy doesn’t rest in our ability, but in the approval God gives us in Christ, the one in whom he chose us before the ages began according to his own purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9).”

This should bring joy to a weak, weary mom! God loves you as you are. He didn’t call you to himself while you were strong, but while you were weak (1 Corinthians 1:27). It was while we were still weak, that Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).

 

Walking with Confidence

That is the great purpose behind why we are called jars of clay. It is to show the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7). We are weak, we are frail, we are lame — and yet, we are chosen. We are loved. “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:28).

Our only boast is in Jesus our Lord who is for us our wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption (verse 30). He is our perfect righteousness, who not only meets us in our weakness, but covers our every sin and deformity by his blood.

Moms, we can walk in our weakness. We can boast in our weakness and confess our need for Jesus. Ironically, this gives us the right kind of confidence. We don’t have to walk with a limp, focused on ourselves. We walk confidently, not in our ability but in the ability of our Savior. We walk confidently not in our strength, but in his. It is good to be a jar of clay.

 

Streams in the Desert – January 28

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

I am jealous over you with God’s own jealousy  (2 Corinthians 11:2) Weymouth

How an old harper dotes on his harp! How he fondles and caresses it, as a child resting on his bosom! His life is bound up in it. But, see him tuning it. He grasps it firmly, strikes a chord with a sharp, quick      blow; and while it quivers as if in pain, he leans over intently to catch the first note that rises. The note, as he feared, is false and harsh. He strains the chord with the torturing thumb-screw; and though it seems ready to snap with the tension, he strikes it again, bending down to listen softly as before, till at length you see a smile on his face as the first true tone trembles upward.

So it may be that God is dealing with you. Loving you better than any harper loves his harp, He finds you a mass of jarring discords. He wrings your heartstrings with some torturing anguish; He bends over you tenderly, striking and listening; and, hearing only a harsh murmur, strikes you again, while His heart bleeds for you, anxiously waiting for that strain–“Not my will, but thine be done” — which is melody sweet to His ear as angels’ songs. Nor will He cease to strike until your chastened soul shall blend with all the pure and infinite harmonies of His own being.
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Oh, the sweetness that dwells in a harp of many strings,
While each, all vocal with love in a tuneful harmony rings!
But, oh, the wail and the discord, when one and another is rent,
Tensionless, broken and lost, from the cherished instrument.
For rapture of love is linked with the pain or fear of loss,
And the hand that takes the crown, must ache with many a cross;
Yet he who hath never a conflict, hath never a victor’s palm,
And only the toilers know the sweetness of rest and calm.
Only between the storms can the Alpine traveller know
Transcendent glory of clearness, marvels of gleam and glow;
Had he the brightness unbroken of cloudless summer days,
This had been dimmed by the dust and the veil of a brooding haze.
Who would dare the choice, neither or both to know,
The finest quiver of joy or the agony thrill of woe!
Never the exquisite pain, then never the exquisite bliss,
For the heart that is dull to that can never be strung to this.

Jesus Loves You and Little Children

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The Reaction – Not the Action

“Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.'” (Matthew 18:2-4NLT)

Greatness in the kingdom of God requires humility. Humility shows itself when pressed for a reaction to an action. It says I will not let what you do to me or say about me discourage me or change how I act and feel (as a Christian).

The world will draw you into sin but woe to the man through which they come. We are responsible for our reactions to sin. My reaction should be based on my values and principles, not on the normal or usual response to another action.

Matthew 18:12-14 tells us the importance of each soul.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”

A normal reaction of the 99 would be, “Hey, what about us? That sheep left us. He’s on his own now.” The opposite of humility is pride. Pride says I made it alone and by myself. They can do the same. Are you ever jealous that a new believer coming from a life of sin is now getting all the attention? That is clearly pride. The prodigal son’s brother had that problem. The story is found in Luke 15:11-31 where a man had two sons. The younger wants his share of his father’s estate, goes off and squanders it all, then goes back home where he is greeted by his dad as if he was a king.

The older son is not happy with the attention given to his brother. Instead of being glad that his brother is back, he is jealous. Most people can relate to someone who we feel is not as worthy as we are and is getting more attention. That also is a pride and a heart issue. Pride causes our reaction to be less than Christ-like.

These are types of situations that require us to pause before giving our “natural” or “typical” replies. We have a new nature that needs to reflect a Christlikeness different from our old nature. I, for one, need to be one who like Ephesians 4:1- 2(NLT) says:

“… lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

 

Grace in the Overwhelm

JANUARY 27, 2020

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)

It seems like I am always in a season of overwhelm.

I can be overwhelmed by family issues, work, school, finances and commitments, often all at the same time.  What’s hard is that these seasons seem unavoidable, and I’m left with little choice but to plow through if I hope to receive a harvest. But I’ve discovered a way to lean into grace in the midst of overwhelm.

When I read Psalm 142, I feel like David gets me. In this psalm, David was hiding in a cave from Saul and his army. He was overwhelmed, and he cried out to God: Lord, I’m tired! I’ve got to look out for traps because people are plotting against me, and no one has my back. I look to the right hoping to see a friendly face and hear a word of encouragement, but I am alone. There is no one to care for me. After feeling all of his feelings, he ultimately proclaims the Lord is his refuge and his portion.

In seasons of overwhelm, my sinful nature becomes evident. Everything is so cloudy that I can’t see Jesus. I get impatient and snappy with family. I try to cut corners and slack on my responsibilities instead of doing what I said I would do because I feel justified by my excuses. I often walk out of step with the Holy Spirit. I am not loving, kind, gentle, self-controlled, peaceful, joyful, patient or faithful.

In times when I am broken down and tired like David, I need grace. I need to experience God’s grace, be strengthened by God’s grace, and be motivated by God’s grace. But I have to go to the throne to get the grace!

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT).

It’s encouraging to me that Jesus can sympathize with my weaknesses. Jesus, too, is familiar with being broken down and tired. He knows how it feels to be tempted to sin, but didn’t. As a result, I have a holy High Priest who beckons me near to the throne of grace despite the foolishness of my life. Because I am forgiven in Jesus, there is grace for me! I can go to God with full confidence that He will not condemn me for all the ways I feel like I failed in the midst of my overwhelm. There is grace upon grace waiting for me to receive it. And there is grace for you, too!

When I am overwhelmed, I will choose to boast about my God:

I feel overwhelmed and tired, but God is able!
I feel like I’m going to snap, but God rescues!
I feel like I’m out here in these streets all by myself, but God is my friend!

And suddenly, I go from being weak to being strong in the grace. I can resist the temptation to let the overwhelm of my life keep me from chasing after the heart of God.

 

Scrubbed Clean

From: faithgateway.org

 

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean. — Ezekiel 36:25 KJV 

My Maggie is an artist; she likes to draw. Being the exuberant soul she is, she prefers larger surfaces. A big white wall is irresistible; tabletops are attractive too. In a pinch Maggie will draw on herself if indelible markers are available.  

Maggie’s fascination with drawing is unique in my parenting experience. When she executed her first large-scale masterpiece, I used the technique that had worked with my other children: I handed her a sponge and made her scrub the wall. It was a big job for a two-and-a-half-year-old, and Maggie didn’t like it at all. But the next day she rushed up to me eagerly and said, “I need a sponge, Mommy! I drawed on the floor!”  

Such persistence is not a matter of mere stubbornness. For Maggie, the joy of swirling a crayon in full-arm rotation is so immense that it has nothing to do with the idea that she’s only supposed to draw on paper. She doesn’t realize she’s being disobedient. Since she’s only two, I don’t find that particularly surprising. She has time to learn.  

I’m a long way from being two. I no longer draw on walls, and I manage to avoid a lot of bigger no-no’s. But there are still many times each day when I do what I feel like doing, without considering what God wants me to do. All too often it’s only when I’m in bed mentally reviewing the day that I even realize that I was disobedient.  

Unlike Maggie, I’m not always cheerful about saying I’m sorry. I’m never quite as willing to admit I’ve done wrong or as eager to get back to the drawing board. But maybe that will come with time.  

 

Streams in the Desert – January 27

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

Stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Peter 5:10).

In taking Christ in any new relationship, we must first have sufficient intellectual light to satisfy our mind that we are entitled to stand in this relationship. The shadow of a question here will wreck our confidence. Then, having seen this, we must make the venture, the committal, the choice, and take the place just as definitely as the tree is planted in the soil, or the bride gives herself away at the marriage altar. It must be once for all, without reserve, without recall.

Then there is a season of establishing, settling and testing, during which we must “stay put” until the new relationship gets so fixed as to become a permanent habit. It is just the same as when the surgeon sets the broken arm. He puts it in splints to keep it from vibration. So God has His spiritual splints that He wants to put upon His children and keep them quiet and unmoved until they pass the first stage of faith. It is not always easy work for us, “but the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after that ye have suffered awhile, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
–A. B. Simpson

There is a natural law in sin and sickness; and if we just let ourselves go and sink into the trend of circumstances, we shall go down and sink under the power of the tempter. But there is another law of spiritual life and of physical life in Christ Jesus to which we can rise, and through which we can counterpoise and overcome the other law that bears us down.

But to do this requires real spiritual energy and fixed purpose and a settled posture and habit of faith. It is just the same as when we use the power in our factory. We must turn on the belt and keep it on. The power is there, but we must keep the connection; and while we do so, the higher power will work and all the machinery will be in operation.

There is a spiritual law of choosing, believing, abiding, and holding steady in our walk with God, which is essential to the working of the Holy Ghost either in our sanctification or healing.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

God Is Our Loving Father And Guide

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How Does God Guide People?

By: Pat Robertson, cbn.com

God’s primary means for giving us guidance is the Bible. “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit'” (John 3:5).

The Bible is our rule book of faith and practice. If we know and understand the scriptures, we will be well on our way to having His guidance. He never guides His people contrary to the clear principles of His written Word.

Second, guidance comes from a knowledge of God Himself. We need to know what pleases Him and what displeases Him. There is no substitute for walking with God, sharing with Him, and talking to Him daily. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). When you do that, you will experience His direction and His correction. You will come to know what His desire is. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). This relationship develops over a long period of time, not instantaneously. Through constant use, your senses become sharpened so that you know good from evil. “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4). Spiritual maturity forms a basis for guidance.

A third key to God’s guidance is found in the book of Proverbs, where we read: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). This means that you are not only to know God, but to trust Him implicitly. Every aspect of your life is to reflect His sovereignty over you. “In all your ways acknowledge Him,” means in your work, in your family, in your personal life, in your thought life, in your recreation, in everything you do, you acknowledge that God is in control of you. Then, lean not on your own understanding. If you think you know all the answers, if you have everything all figured out, then you are leaning on your own understanding. If you trust God, acknowledge Him in the way that you live, and do not lean on your overconfidence or past experience. Let Him guide you.

 

Lord, I Don’t Know What to Do

“Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.” Psalm 25:4 (NLT)

Do you ever feel like you’re going in circles and not making any progress? At least not the kind of progress you were expecting.

Are the constant appeals of our world pulling you in a million different ways, causing you to question if you’re headed in the right direction?

If you’re like me, you have plans and dreams you want to fulfill. But life is confusing at times. And most days it seems like you’re just surviving instead of living out those dreams or accomplishing your goals.

Numerous distractions.

Too many choices.

Endless interruptions.

There have been days I’ve felt like one foot was fixed to the floor, while my other foot scurried in every direction. Expending a lot of energy and mental fatigue, but going nowhere. Can you relate?

Wouldn’t it be awesome to wake up every morning and be assured you’re on the right path towards your goals? To know with certainty that you’re headed in the right direction? To feel confident with each step, without constantly questioning yourself?

Too many times I’ve second-guessed a decision I was confident about. I want so desperately to follow God’s will that I’ll pray, but then feel uncertain, not wanting to make a wrong move. I wonder: Maybe this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing. Maybe this isn’t part of God’s plan for my life.

As I’ve wrestled with indecision and insecurity, I’ve sought God’s Word for help. A few months ago, I found a priceless nugget of truth in the Bible. It addresses our desire for guidance and shows us what to do when we need clear direction.

King David composed these words in a beautiful psalm, tucked within the pages of the Old Testament:

“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” (Psalm 25:4-5).

These verses reveal David’s humble and teachable heart. He wanted to be guided by God and led by His truth. David knew God was his Savior and placed all his hope in the One who created the right path for him.

We find the answers to David’s request for guidance only a few short passages away. Promises we can claim for our own lives:

“The LORD is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands” (Psalm 25:8-10, NLT).

Based on these verses, when our hearts are humble and truly seeking God’s will, we can be confident of this:

1. God will always show us what is right for us.

2. When we get sidetracked, God will direct us back to the right path.

3. We are not alone. God leads and teaches us along the way.

4. God leads those who obey Him with unfailing love and faithfulness.

If you’re unsure about some things in your life, don’t wait another day to figure it out on your own. Ensure your heart is in the right place of humility, and then ask God to help you. Once you’ve asked, trust that God is directing you.

If you know you’ve gotten on the wrong path, seek God for direction instead of looking to the world for answers. As you take steps to follow and obey God’s voice, He will lovingly show you the way.

Months ago I asked the Lord to etch these verses onto my heart and mind, so I’d always have them with me — especially on days when I feel like I’m going in circles and lacking direction.

Today, I’m praying these verses over you.

 

Simplicity in Christ

by Inspiration Ministries

I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 11:3 NASB

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was born 264 years ago this month, was a brilliant musician. As one scholar commented, “he could write down a complicated piece while thinking out another piece in his head, or hear a long piece of music for the first time and immediately write it out, note for note.”

Today his music still is played, revered, and studied. What was his secret? Apart from his extraordinary musicianship, generations of scholars agree that one key was his ability to compose in a way that made everything seem simple and natural.

A musicologist noted how a study of Mozart’s compositions reveals “works which are at once supremely simple and profoundly subtle.” It was as if the music had not been written, but always existed. Nothing ever seems contrived or artificial. Piece after piece is a miracle of balance, beauty, and artistic perfection.

In contrast, many people think that they demonstrate their abilities and skills through complexity. Many even apply this principle to their spiritual lives. Paul warned, for example, that some people were trying to complicate the Christian faith, attempting to lead believers astray by “craftiness.” He reminded them about the “simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

Make sure that you have a simple faith; do not make it complicated. Trust your life to Jesus, and obey His Word. Pray with simple and pure faith, and believe that God will answer your prayers.

 

Streams in the Desert – January 26

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

I have begun to give;…begin to possess (Deuteronomy 2:31).

A great deal is said in the Bible about waiting for God. The lesson cannot be too strongly enforced. We easily grow impatient of God’s delays. Much of our trouble in life comes out of our restless, sometimes reckless, haste. We cannot wait for the fruit to ripen, but insist on plucking it while it is green. We cannot wait for the answers to our prayers, although the things we ask for may require long years in their preparation for us. We are exhorted to walk with God; but ofttimes God walks very slowly. But there is another phase of the lesson. God often waits for us.

We fail many times to receive the blessing He has ready for us, because we do not go forward with Him. While we miss much good through not waiting for God, we also miss much through over-waiting. There are times when our strength is to sit still, but there are also times when we are to go forward with a firm step.

There are many Divine promises which are conditioned upon the beginning of some action on our part. When we begin to obey, God will begin to bless us. Great things were promised to Abraham, but not one of them could have been obtained by waiting in Chaldea. He must leave home, friends, and country, and go out into unknown paths and press on in unfaltering obedience in order to receive the promises. The ten lepers were told to show themselves to the priest, and “as they went they were cleansed.” If they had waited to see the cleansing come in their flesh before they would start, they would never have seen it. God was waiting to cleanse them; and the moment their faith began to work, the blessing came.

When the Israelites were shut in by a pursuing army at the Red Sea, they were commanded to “Go forward.” Their duty was no longer one of waiting, but of rising up from bended knees and going forward in the way of heroic faith. They were commanded to show their faith at another time by beginning their march over the Jordan while the river ran to its widest banks. The key to unlock the gate into the Land of Promise they held in their own hands, and the gate would not turn on its hinges until they had approached it and unlocked it. That key was faith.

We are set to fight certain battles. We say we can never be victorious; that we never can conquer these enemies; but, as we enter the conflict, One comes and fights by our side, and through Him we are more than conquerors. If we had waited, trembling and fearing, for our Helper to come before  we would join the battle, we should have waited in vain. This would have been the over-waiting of unbelief. God is waiting to pour richest blessings upon you. Press forward with bold confidence and take what is yours. “I have begun to give, begin to possess.”
–J. R. Miller

God Is Good All The Time

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God Will Be Good Again Tomorrow

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. . . . Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:1–28)

The circumstances in which David wrote these words were anything but good (1 Samuel 19).

When David cried out — “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! — it was despite what he was suffering, not because he was being flooded with blessings. He was resolved, no matter what came, no matter how hard life got, no matter who betrayed or assaulted him, “I will bless the Lord at all times.”

Anything but Good

David had not yet been crowned king (2 Samuel 5). He was being ruthlessly hunted by the current king of Israel, a man of incredible power and resources (and even more jealousy and anger). As the crowds sang, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7), Saul’s blood boiled and gave birth to a craving to kill the prized son of Jesse.

Saul sent men after David to kill him, but they loved David (1 Samuel 19:1). So, in a moment of rage, he launched his own spear at the young man (19:10). David narrowly escapes and flees. If the enemy at home was not enough, he runs into the hands of another in nearby Gath. Achish, the king of Gath, immediately becomes jealous and hostile toward David. So David pretends to be insane so that they will not kill him. As a result, they let him go.

And leaving that city of hostility and heading back out into a world of opposition and danger, David writes, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8). Refuge with the Lord in the midst of danger is far better than the comfort of safety without him.

Delivered from All Fear

David was facing a thousand more problems than Achish of Gath, but that didn’t keep him from celebrating the grace of God for this answered prayer, for this deliverance. He was able to keep all the cares of the world at bay long enough to say, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

All your fears, David? After he escaped from Gath, Saul slaughtered all the priests at Nob because of David (1 Samuel 22:18). Then Saul pursued David into the wilderness to kill him (1 Samuel 23:15). Eventually, David is forced to return to Gath again (1 Samuel 27:2). They receive him for a while this time, but then the Philistines hated him again and cast him out (1 Samuel 29:11). Then his family and friends were captured in a raid (1 Samuel 30:2), and his own people turned on him to stone him to death (1 Samuel 30:6). God had not delivered David from everything he feared.

But he had delivered him today. Faith in a sovereign and gracious God freed David to rejoice and give thanks in today’s deliverance, today’s victory, today’s mercy — even while tomorrow’s troubles stormed the gates of his mind.

Grace Enough for Today

That is the weak, wounded, and invincible song of Psalm 34. Worship the God of all wisdom and all power, who created and governs the whole universe, and who cares for the daily needs of each of his children. Take refuge in the God whose eyes “are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry” (Psalm 34:15).

When stress and disappointment and fear begin to drown our hope and joy in God, Jesus encourages us to be like King David,

Do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31–33)

God’s new mercy meets us each morning (Lamentations 3:22–23), and yet we’re often too consumed by tomorrow’s trouble to even notice. David models stopping, even in the midst of ongoing uncertainty and distress, to see daily grace, and he calls us to join him in the peace and confidence that seeing brings.

Taste and See the Good

Like a great Father-King, God plans to pour out everything at his disposal to keep you from everything threatening your eternity with him and to satisfy you fully and forever with himself.

God knows the suffering you carry, he knows the hurdles you face, he knows how insufficient and insecure you feel, and he knows exactly what you need. It may not always be safe or pain-free or clear to you in the moment, but he will bring you to a faith and joy and life through hardship that you wouldn’t trade for anything.

Good will not always feel good. In fact, if you hide yourself in him, you will see and feel the goodness of God more clearly and more deeply in your trials. For now, focus on the ways, small or large, he has lovingly cared for you today — taste and see that he really is good — and trust him for that grace to come again tomorrow.

 

Discernment

by Inspiration Ministries

Discover not and disclose not another’s secret. – Proverbs 25:9 AMPC

Recently a major publication urged its readers to collect dirt on others and then forward to them whatever they found. Why? They were looking for dark secrets that might be twisted into stories. Many in the world seem obsessed with this kind of investigation, driven to uncover scoops that can propel their careers.

Politicians eagerly scan the speeches of their opponents, hoping to find statements or actions that can be built into a scandal. Photographers and reporters stalk celebrities, hoping to catch them doing something questionable. These might be common practices in the world, but the Bible urges believers to have different attitudes. In fact, we are to be people of discretion, to be trustworthy. We are to focus on loving people. We are not to be obsessed with revealing the secrets of others. Instead, we are to serve God and be ready to die to self and live for Him to impact lives for His Kingdom.

We are to be people of compassion. As Jesus taught, we are to love “that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good” for our enemies and “[make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). We are not to seek to expose weaknesses or mistakes, but to show love instead.

Remember to ask the Spirit to show us how to see people through His lens to impact lives for the Gospel.

 

Gracious renewal

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘Renew a right spirit within me.’ Psalm 51:10

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:13–15

Let us be moved today to renew our covenant with Christ, or rather to ask him to renew our spirit, because every covenant transaction binds us to it. You believe in the doctrine of election. We do not blush to preach it, and you love to hear it. What does election mean? It means that God has chosen you; very well, if it be so, then you will acknowledge it anew today, by choosing his way and word. You believe in a special and efficacious redemption, that you were redeemed from among men; very well, then you are not your own, you are bought with a price. You believe in effectual calling; you know that you were called out; if it be so, recognise your distinction and separateness as a sacred people set apart by God. You believe that this distinction in you is perpetual, for you will persevere to the end: if you are to be God’s for ever, be his today. And are you not looking for a heaven from which selfishness shall be banished? Are you not expecting a heaven where glory shall consist in being wholly absorbed in Christ? Well then, this day, by all that is coming, as well as by all that is past, let your soul be bound as with cords that cannot be broken to the altar of your God. Backsliders, you that have gone astray, pray this prayer today. He bids you pray it, and he will therefore answer it. The text in the margin reads ‘renew a constant spirit within me.’ You have been froward, wayward, unstable, fickle. Poor backslider, he has put this prayer here for you—‘Renew a constant spirit within me.’

For meditation: While inward spiritual renewal is an ongoing process in the Christian life (2 Corinthians 4:16), it is not to be taken for granted—we are commanded to have our minds renewed (Romans 12:2Ephesians 4:23). Our part in the process of renewal is to wait upon the Lord (Isaiah 40:3141:1).

 

Streams in the Desert – January 25

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

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.
Selected

“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 Love In Action

John’s Gospel    13: 1

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

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God’s Love in Action

By: Cathy Irvin, cbn.com

Valentine’s Day has come and gone but this scene will always be in my mind. I saw a man buying flowers. He bought three big beautiful roses: one pink, one red, and one white. They were wrapped in a clear bag. When I went out of the store I saw him again, bending down in the snow to gather some up; and he was putting it in the bag so the roses wouldn’t wilt before he got them to their destination.

This was a wonderful idea and he was so thoughtful; I knew it represented his love for someone to take special care of his gift.

I thought about Jesus like the man who didn’t want his flowers to wilt and die. Jesus came that we might have life abundantly here and to give us eternal life so we really never have to die either. Yes, we will leave this earth one day in the physical, but our spirit man will live forever. Our earthly body (like a rose) dies, but our spirit is renewed day by day.

Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:15-17 (American Standard Version)

The three roses reminded me of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Father God loved us so much that he gave us His only Son, Jesus, to love and protect us, to heal us and to guide us every day. And He gave us the Holy Spirit to comfort us and empower us to be His witnesses while we are here on earth. Oh, what Love that is ours! He is the best Valentine I could ever have. How about you? There is a song that says “Like a rose trampled on the ground, He took the fall … ” Yes, He paid the price for you and me to have eternal life and an abundant life now.

The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. John 10:9-11 (American Standard Version)

I almost wanted to stop and tell that man how thoughtful I thought he was, but I had a short lunch hour and had to be back to work. But then I thought I could write about the experience and hopefully bless others with the story.

I want to tell others of God’s love and say that perhaps you didn’t have someone that gave you a Valentine rose, candy, or a stuffed animal. It is OK, just take Jesus as your Valentine; love on Him and let Him love on you. Remember He will be your Valentine every day! By the way, you can always buy yourself a rose anytime; and when you look at it think about Jesus – one of His names is “The Rose of Sharon” and He will be with you to brighten up your day.

 

The Depth of God’s Love for Us

July 29, 2019

From: crosswalk.org

 

The Depth of God’s Love for Us

Weekly Overview:

We have a great High Priest who constantly intercedes on our behalf. The Son of God and Man loves you more deeply than you can fathom. He prays for you, that you might walk in the abundant life his death affords you. And in John 17 we get a glimpse into the fullness of his desire for all those who would believe in him. As we dive deeply into the riches of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer this week, may your heart be awakened and your life be transformed by the riches of God’s love.

Scripture:“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:25-26

Devotional:

There is no force more powerful than the love our heavenly Father has for us, his children. His love can move mountains, stop the roaring seas, heal broken bones and wounded hearts, transform lives, and set free those held captive by sin and shame. So great is his love for you and me that he sent his only Son to die that we might live through him. And in John 17:25-26, Jesus makes an unfathomable statement about how great the depth of God’s love is for us:

Do you know that God loves you the way he loves Jesus? His heart is full of affection for you. Jesus always prays perfectly in line with the will of the Father because they are one. So when Jesus prays for God to love us with the same love he has been given, his prayer is in perfect alignment with the heart of our Father.

Romans 8:37-39 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Through the death of Christ, the barrier between us and  relationship with God was torn in two. The wrath of God was satisfied with Jesus’ death, and now we can experience the full depth of his love. Through Christ, we have been made new so that we can finally walk in unhindered fellowship and oneness with a holy, perfect God.

God loves you simply because he loves you. You don’t have to work for his affection. You don’t have to set yourself straight before God can pour out his love over you. The father in the prodigal son story ran out to meet his son before anything had ever been set right. He didn’t know his son was there to apologize. He didn’t care. He simply wanted to love his child. Your heavenly Father feels the same way about you. He longs to love you right where you are, as you are. He longs to fill you with love to overflowing. He longs for us to experience this love and oneness just as Jesus did when he walked the earth.

As you enter into guided prayer, open up your heart and allow God’s grace to settle in. Allow him to free you from works-based religion and guide you to a lifestyle of relationship. God is not an angry taskmaster who shows affection only when you succeed. He is a loving Father who will always love you no matter what. Take time to receive the depth of his love for you today. Allow his love to heal you, transform you, free you, and lead you to the abundant life he has always longed to give.

Guided Prayer:

1. Meditate on the depth of God’s love for you.

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16

2. Where do you need a fresh revelation of God’s grace today? What’s keeping you from receiving the depth of God’s love? In what ways do you need him to show you how good of a Father he truly is?

3. Ask the Spirit to give you a revelation of God’s grace and love for you. Receive God’s presence and rest in his love. Meditate on and renew your mind to how deeply your heavenly Father loves you.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

“So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45.

May the whole of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer be true in your life. May you come into the fullness of what Jesus died to give you. May your life be a wonderful reflection of his love. And may you experience the depth of his love for you in every season. You are a child of the Most High, loving God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love is powerful, real, and available. May your day be full of joy, peace, and purpose in light of God’s glorious grace.

 

Satisfying Your Core Longing

 

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)

Have you ever thought about the true longing of your heart? I’m not talking about a passing craving, intention or goal. I’m talking about the message your heart is desperately longing to hear.

For years, I suppressed the true longing of my heart — to know my presence matters. As a long-time Christ-follower, I was well-acquainted with the gospel story and knew Jesus loves me and had died for me, bringing me freedom and fullness in Him. But I was struggling to let that truth fully settle into my heart and life.

I kept falling into the same ruts, feeling stuck and ashamed year after year. I couldn’t grasp the identity and value I knew I already had, and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel like I was growing more.

Frustration, sadness and loneliness welled up within me, and I became very sensitive to people’s words and actions. I wondered, Is there any sanctification happening within me? Is something wrong with me? Do I have a calling? Can I make any kind of impact on this world?

Though I looked calm and capable on the outside, my inner world was in shambles. I was constantly comparing myself to others, a dangerous game in which I always came up short.

My unwillingness to submit to the Holy Spirit and insistence on going about my life the way I saw fit revealed my idols — the ways in which I tried to satisfy my heart’s core longing apart from Christ.

In biblical times, a cistern was a man-made reservoir dug in the ground or rock to collect and store water. Cisterns were important in Israel because of the long dry season and very few natural water sources. But a broken cistern was completely worthless. Cracked rock or crumbling stone held little to no water. Collecting and storing water in a broken cistern would be about as effective as trying to drink from a cracked coffee cup!

We’re all wired to feel, think and act in certain ways in order to satisfy our core longing. But we forsake our Creator when we try to fulfill this unending craving in our own strength, and we’ll always be left wanting more.

In Jeremiah 2:13, the prophet Jeremiah points out the foolishness of God’s people. The Fall corrupted how we try to satisfy the thirst of our hearts. We look to the broken cisterns of relationships, professional successes, material goods or many other things that can never truly satisfy. These things will never offer true peace to our hearts or relationships.

But there is good news!

Jesus’ life, death and resurrection righted all that is wrong in us so we can bring to life our true longing and purpose. The gospel specifically fulfills each of our hearts’ cries, giving us a spring of Living Water that will never run dry.

When we know, believe and trust that Christ alone can satisfy us, He unlocks deep transformation. Our thirst is quenched, and we are set free to live as His beloved children. We can then use our unique perspectives and amazing qualities to bless others and bring glory to God.

Whatever you’re thirsting for today, may you fully believe and trust you are fully seen and loved by God. He intricately created you and knows your every heart longing. You can find rest and great joy knowing all He has is yours.

 

Trusting God – Streams in the Desert – January 24

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

But the dove found no rest for or the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him… And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf (Genesis 8:9-11).

God knows just when to withhold from us any visible sign of encouragement, and when to grant us such a sign. How good it is that we may trust Him anyway! When all visible evidences that He is remembering us are withheld, that is best; He wants us to realize that His Word, His promise of remembrance, is more substantial and dependable than any evidence of our senses. When He sends the visible evidence, that is well also; we appreciate it all the more after we have trusted Him without it. Those who are readiest to trust God without other evidence than His Word always receive the greatest number of visible evidences of His love.
–C. G. Trumbull

Believing Him; if storm-clouds gather darkly ’round,
And even if the heaven seem brass, without a sound?
He hears each prayer and even notes the sparrow’s fall.
And praising Him; when sorrow, grief, and pain are near,
And even when we lose the thing that seems most dear?
Our loss is gain. Praise Him; in Him we have our All.
Our hand in His; e’en though the path seems long and drear
We scarcely see a step ahead, and almost fear?
He guides aright. He has it thus to keep us near.
And satisfied; when every path is blocked and bare,
And worldly things are gone and dead which were so fair?
Believe and rest and trust in Him, He comes to stay.

Delays are not refusals; many a prayer is registered, and underneath it the words: “My time is not yet come.” God has a set time as well as a set purpose, and He who orders the bounds of our habitation orders also the time of our deliverance.
–Selected

Work While You Wait For God

Image result for pictures of patienceImage result for pictures of patience

Image result for pictures of patienceImage result for pictures of patience
Image result for pictures of patienceImage result for pictures of patience
Image result for pictures of patienceImage result for pictures of patience

Got Time for Patience?

By: LIsa Kibler, cbn.com

I sat there, reading my Bible, and tried to still my jumpy legs. The day ahead filled my thoughts and I hurriedly read. I peeked forward to see how long the chapter was. I have 35 more verses? Ugh. I have so much to do, and I have to read another chapter after this. My morning devotions come first thing (after I have made a cup of tea and peeled a banana). I read through the Bible each year and on the morning I read Exodus 31-33, I rushed to finish. I had to hit the treadmill, do laundry, run to the store, meet my accountability partner for lunch, figure out what to have for dinner and get all the ingredients, and then cook it. On and on my plans went.

In the chapters I read, the account of the grumbling Israelites at Mt. Sinai convicted me.

“When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, ‘”Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”‘ (Exodus 32:1 ESV)

Then it hit me, the impatience of the people at Mt. Sinai was mine. I too sat before the Lord grumbling and stiff-necked. My daily idol of checking things off my list spoiled my precious time with Him. At that realization, I paused to confess my sin and ask the Lord’s forgiveness for my hurried attitude. And I asked Him to open my eyes to all that He wanted to tell me and teach me through His Word.

It does no good to be impatient with God. Every time we try to hurry His actions or our reactions, we chase after other gods, other idols to make ourselves feel better about who we are. So, even knowing what we know about God, sometimes we remain stiff-necked, just as the Israelites were during their days in the wilderness. Yet the Lord answered the entreaties of their intercessor, Moses, and did not blot all of them out. He preserved some. His glory and promises shown, even through their sin of unfaithfulness.

That morning, I made myself slow down and look carefully at how the Lord exposed the great sin of the Israelites. The people supposed that Moses had forgotten them, and that his delay was cause for them to create their own idols to worship. They knew he was with the Lord on the mountain, but they wanted Moses, their visible leader, and they wanted him immediately. Did they so soon forget what God had done? Had they made Moses their idol?

God rescued them from their Egyptian yoke of slavery, and after only three months in the wilderness (safe from their oppressors), they had already groused to Moses about leaving Egypt and its resources (“We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” Numbers 11:5 ESV). God had just given them His commandments in precise detail and promised them their future conquest over Canaan, the Promised Land. They did not know or come to understand their test of faithfulness. They did not know that their time of wandering would be 40 years—40 years of impatient grumbling.

Thank God Moses interceded for them, although not all of them were saved. Actually, all who left Egypt 20-years-old and upward, except Joshua and Caleb, perished before reaching the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb showed faith in the Lord and trusted His promises to lead them in overtaking the inhabitants of the land they were to inhabit. God rew