Monthly Archives: February 2021

God Gives Us Light Not Darkness

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God’s Darkness

planet and outer space

 

Have you ever pondered God’s originality? There’s no need for Him to duplicate. People, snowflakes, fingerprints, all share His uniqueness. This genius carries over into His interactions with us. I’ve discovered something wonderful about Him. He loves to work in the dark.

“Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” Psalm 139:12 (NASB)

I’ve spelunked America’s caves, and without artificial light, you can experience thick darkness. The kind that existed before God commanded light to shine. Because these elements are part of His toolbox, He maneuvers through darkness without difficulty. Just like light. While we fumble and stub toes, He’s busy answering our prayers and comforting us; performing the miraculous in our darkest moments.

As often happens under the right circumstances, people are known for igniting conflict. When the Hebrews were forming their new government following their freedom and “dry” water baptism through the Red Sea; problems arose with whose tribe would serve God directly in His tabernacle. The Lord’s solution was darkness. Each tribe submitted their rod to Moses, who placed all 12 in the tabernacle. God informed He would select the rod of His choice and everyone went off to sleep. In the quiet darkness with a dozen sticks, God famously went to work.

“Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.” Numbers 17:8 (NASB)

In complete darkness, God did the miraculous for His children. Like us, they sought direction and He made it unmistakable. A severed branch came alive and bore buds, blossoms, and ripe almonds. An impossibility became reality in three separate lifecycles. God condensed the growing season when displaying His desires in darkness.

We can likely relate to seasons of uncertainty, experiencing fruitlessness, or feeling severed ourselves. The Almighty gently teaches that being cut off, out of season, or left alone is not the end. While we are limited by the natural, He’s limitless as our Creator. We often question while struggling in the dark, while He moves about unencumbered.

God has no hindrances. Nothing prevents Him from helping or finding us. It’s easy to keep our eyes on the waves instead of Him, and sinking rather than walking results. Fortunately, our Savior is right there to rescue us with a mighty arm.

I’ve found misunderstanding Him will assuredly happen along with forgetting He can operate outside of our boundaries. How reassuring to identify His movements in the darkness; even performing miracles for us there.

Imagine Moses’ joy when entering the tabernacle on the morrow. Stepping inside to find 11 smooth sticks next to one teeming with life though wholly disconnected from it. That single rod pointed the way for generations yet to come; including ours.

Now when faced with decisions that require the Lord’s pristine oversight for my life, I readily take a page from Scripture to point me in the correct direction. God can answer me from anywhere He finds me, and in that cocooned darkness, He quietly prepares my answer.

Perhaps we need to take our concerns to this undisturbed haven more often. A safe place where we can lay our greatest needs before Him in the darkness of His tabernacle before going to sleep. Then share the delight of Moses in finding Heaven’s directives in three different categories.

For in God’s economy, He commands the lifeless to come forth from darkness—and it is so.

 

Through The Bible Devotions

Leviticus 19:18 (NIV) 18“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Love…keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV) Jesus said that this was one of the Laws that summed up all the others (Matthew 22:39,40). I’ll bet when you read that verse, the ‘bear a grudge’ part pricked your heart, or at least provoked a memory. We seem so ready to be offended in this day and age. Jesus warned us that this would be true (Matthew 24:12).

We have lauded self-esteem but forgotten to warn of pride. Pride sets itself above others and demands that others give us respect and honor. If we hear a word spoken against us, we readily forget all the words we have spoken against others and excommunicate that person from our love and grace. In the worst cases, we play the offense over and over in our minds until it festers and becomes an infection in our memories. Just to touch on it brings pain.

Believe it or not, the cause of all that is self, not the one who offended you. If we esteem others better than ourselves, we will examine their words to see if there is truth in them. If there is, we will apologize and adjust our life. If there is not, we will give those words to God and go on loving that person. How many times have we offended God? Does He harbor each offense and bring them up to you every time you want to pray?

Jesus said (paraphrase) that God will treat you as you treat others. It sounds like we better be very generous in our forgiveness, don’t you think?

Meditation: Who do I need to forgive and resume loving?

 

Streams in the Desert – February 28

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

Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually (Heb. 13:15).

A city missionary, stumbling through the dirt of a dark entry, heard a voice say, “Who’s there, Honey?” Striking a match, he caught a vision of earthly want and suffering, of saintly trust and peace, “cut in ebony”–calm, appealing eyes set amid the wrinkles of a pinched, black face that lay on a tattered bed. It was a bitter night in February, and she had no fire, no fuel, no light. She had had no supper, no dinner, no breakfast. She seemed to have nothing at all but rheumatism and faith in God. One could not well be more completely exiled from all pleasantness of circumstances, yet the favorite song of this old creature ran:

Nobody knows de trouble I see,
Nobody knows but Jesus;
Nobody knows de trouble I see–
Sing Glory Hallelu!

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,
Sometimes I’m level on the groun’,
Sometimes the glory shines aroun’
Sing Glory Hallelu!

And so it went on: “Nobody knows de work I does, Nobody knows de griefs I has,” the constant refrain being the “Glory Hallelu!” until the last verse rose:

Nobody knows de joys I has,
Nobody knows but Jesus!

“Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” It takes great Bible words to tell the cheer of that old negro auntie.

Remember Luther on his sick-bed. Between his groans he managed to preach on this wise: “These pains and trouble here are like the type which the printers set; as they look now, we have to read them backwards, and they seem to have no sense or meaning in them; but up yonder, when the Lord God prints us off in the life to come, we shall find they make brave reading.” Only we do not need to wait till then.

Remember Paul walking the hurricane deck amid a boiling sea, bidding the frightened crew “Be of good cheer,” Luther, the old negro auntie–all of them human sun-flowers.
Wm. G. Garnett

Taking a Stand

by Inspiration Ministries

“Stand before Pharaoh … ‘Thus says the Lord: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me … In that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell … that you may know that I am the Lord.”’” – Exodus 8:20, 22 NKJV

Ready to deliver His people, God asked Moses to be His messenger, to speak His words to Pharaoh and all of Egypt. Initially, Moses resisted, telling God he was the wrong man. Finally, he agreed.

As Moses prayed, God gave him the words to say to Pharaoh. God also listened to Moses’ pleas on behalf of the Egyptians. Over time, Moses realized that he had no reason to fear as long as he stayed faithful and depended on God.

Today, some believers don’t seem ready to make the same kind of uncompromising commitment. Like Moses’ initial response, they seem reluctant. Hesitant. Uncertain. The Bible reminds us that God has a plan for each life. He calls and equips us to accomplish His purposes. He looks to see how we respond and whether we trust Him and are ready to move forward by faith.

Today, let God know that you are ready to do His will. Dedicate yourself to His timeless truths. Fill your mind and heart with His Word. Pray and listen to His voice. Declare His promises to be true in your life. Seek to live according to His principles. Be bold in your faith, trusting Him.

Do not give in to the pressure to compromise or worry about popular approval. You may face opposition but if you are faithful, you can trust God to protect and provide for you and use you to accomplish His purposes.

What Is The Way To Heaven?

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Our Spiritual Passport to Heaven

customs person stamping a passport

 

Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. —Romans 5:1

What is the spiritual passport we need to get into heaven? It’s not a heart stamped “Catholic.” If your heart is stamped “Catholic,” you are not going to make it into heaven. It’s not a heart stamped “Baptist.” If your heart is stamped “Baptist,” you are not getting into heaven. Nor are you going to be welcomed into heaven if your heart is stamped “Church of Christ,” or any other denomination. Only a heart stamped “Forgiven” will be welcomed into heaven. That’s all that matters: being forgiven of our sins. No other stamp makes a difference in the presence of God. The Bible has a word for being forgiven. It’s the New Testament word justified, which means “to be declared righteous.” Justified is a legal term that refers to what God does for us when we trust in Christ as Savior. When we put our faith in Christ alone for our salvation, God justifies us—He declares us “not guilty” based on what Christ did for us on the cross. Romans 5:1 says, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The only way we are allowed into heaven is by being forgiven of our sins.

There are not many ways to heaven; there is only one way to heaven, and that is through faith in Christ. I realize that is an unpopular statement today. Many people think there are other routes to heaven. Billionaire Warren Buffett donated 85 percent of his net worth to charity, saying, “There is more than one way to get to heaven, but this is a great way.”  I commend Buffett for his generosity, but he will be surprised when he discovers that he cannot donate his way to heaven. There is only one way to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ.

What “stamp” is on your spiritual passport? Have you been forgiven of your sins through your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior?

God, thank You for making it clear in Your Word that the only way to be welcomed into heaven is through faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Give me the courage to speak Your truth and opportunities to share the gospel today.

Left Alone – Streams in the Desert – February 27

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

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day (Gen. 32:24).

Left alone! What different sensations those words conjure up to each of us. To some they spell loneliness and desolation, to others rest and quiet. To be left alone without God, would be too awful for words, but to be left alone with Him is a foretaste of Heaven! If His followers spent more time alone with Him, we should have spiritual giants again.

The Master set us an example. Note how often He went to be alone with God; and He had a mighty purpose behind the command, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray.”

The greatest miracles of Elijah and Elisha took place when they were alone with God. It was alone with God that Jacob became a prince; and just there that we, too, may become princes–“men (aye, and women too!) wondered at” (Zech. 3:8). Joshua was alone when the Lord came to him. (Josh. 1:1) Gideon and Jephthah were by themselves when commissioned to save Israel. (Judges 6:11 and 11:29) Moses was by himself at the wilderness bush. (Exodus 3:1-5) Cornelius was praying by himself when the angel came to him. (Acts 10:2) No one was with Peter on the house top, when he was instructed to go to the Gentiles. (Acts 10:9) John the Baptist was alone in the wilderness (Luke 1:90), and John the Beloved alone in Patmos, when nearest God. (Rev. 1:9)

Covet to get alone with God. If we neglect it, we not only rob ourselves, but others too, of blessing, since when we are blessed we are able to pass on blessing to others. It may mean less outside work; it must mean more depth and power, and the consequence, too, will be “they saw no man save Jesus only.”

To be alone with God in prayer cannot be over-emphasized.

If chosen men had never been alone,
In deepest silence open-doored to God,
No greatness ever had been dreamed or done.

A jealous God

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘For the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God.’ Exodus 34:14

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Kings 10:15–31

How careful should we be when we do anything for God, and God is pleased to accept of our doings, that we never congratulate ourselves. The minister of Christ should unrobe himself of every rag of praise. ‘You preached well,’ said a friend to John Bunyan one morning. ‘You are too late,’ said honest John, ‘the devil told me that before I left the pulpit.’ The devil often tells God’s servants a great many things which they should be sorry to hear. Why, you can hardly be useful in a Sunday School but he will say to you ‘How well you have done it!’ You can scarcely resist a temptation, or set a good example, but he will be whispering to you ‘What an excellent person you must be!’ It is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence—‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.’ Now God is so jealous on this point that, while he will forgive his own servants a thousand things, this is an offence for which he is sure to chasten us. Let a believer once say, ‘I am,’ and God will soon make him say ‘I am not’. Let a Christian begin to boast, ‘I can do all things,’ without adding ‘through Christ which strengtheneth me,’ and before long he will have to groan, ‘I can do nothing,’ and bemoan himself. Many sins of true Christians, I do not doubt, have been the result of their glorifying themselves. Many a man has been permitted by God to stain a noble character and to ruin an admirable reputation, because the character and the reputation had come to be the man’s own, instead of being laid, as all our crowns must be laid, at the feet of Christ. You may build the city, but if you say with Nebuchadnezzar, ‘Behold this great Babylon that I have built!’ you shall be smitten to the earth. The worms which ate Herod when he gave not God the glory are ready for another meal; beware of vain glory!

For meditation: The temptation to pat ourselves on the back should be the cue for us to recall how the Lord Jesus Christ instructs us to think and speak about our good deeds (Luke 17:10). Any glory resulting from them should go to God (Matthew 5:16).

Simplicity of Obedience

by Inspiration Ministries

“You shall speak all that I command you.” – Exodus 7:2 NKJV

Moses faced a complex situation. God had called him to return to Egypt to free the Israelites from bondage. After his arrival, he and his brother Aaron told the Israelite elders the words that God had given them. They were encouraged that He had seen their affliction, and they believed.

But their hopes quickly turned to disappointment. When Moses and Aaron shared God’s words with Pharaoh, instead of cooperating and letting them go, he increased their burdens.

Moses was confused. Describing to God what had happened, Moses might have expected some new message. But instead, God just repeated His previous direction. The instructions were simple: “You shall speak all that I command you.”

The simplicity of this command became the guiding light for Moses in the days to come. He discovered that he did not need to worry about how anyone else reacted. The only thing that mattered was being obedient to God.

God expects the same thing from each of us. He does not want us worrying about the reactions of other people or our own reputation. He simply asks us to obey Him, speak the words He gives us, and do what He wants us to do.

What situations do you face today? Are you concerned about how others might react? Your reputation? As Moses discovered, events might not proceed as you imagine. God simply expects your obedience and faithfulness.
Obey God. Trust God. Stay faithful.

The Hope Of Righteousness brings joy

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Rejoicing in All Seasons

by Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com

“The hope of the righteous brings joy” (Proverbs 10:28).

I’m currently in the process of moving – but only a few miles away. During the intense first weekend of driving back and forth constantly from the old house to the new apartment, I was always amused when I passed by one curious little house. We began moving in on Valentine’s Day weekend, and this little brick house by the roadside was decked in red and white lights and glowing hearts dotting their lawn. During the daylight it was easy to miss the house, but come nightfall it stood out like a beacon of Valentine’s Day glory.

A few days after Valentine’s Day passed, however, the hue emanating from the house transformed from red to chipper Irish green as the occupants geared up for St. Patrick’s day – complete with shamrocks instead of hearts. My initial reaction to this was something like, Wow. These folks really love their holidays.

As I would drive past the house over the following days and weeks, it got me thinking something else, though. Very few of us embrace change so exuberantly as these (I imagine) quaint little homeowners. Very few of us throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the season of right now. It’s tempting for many of us to leave the Christmas lights up past New Years, simply because it’s hard to let go of the nostalgia of that warm, fuzzy time. Many of us are picky about what we celebrate. Not these folks, though! They seem delighted just to be able to revel in the fact that we have holidays.

That’s an attitude I could probably learn from. I think of Jesus turning water to wine, of all the celebrations, holidays and jubilees that God instituted for the Jews, and I think – God loves an excuse to have joy and celebration! If I can smile, rejoice, and bring attention to a thing of beauty and excitement, I think I should. Just like the people who use every holiday as an excuse to dress up their little house and share a little light with the neighbors.

 

Is This the Right Decision?

LYSA TERKEURST, author, crosswalk.com

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV)

Have you ever had that deep-down knowing of what to do in a situation but ignored it? I understand.

I was home alone one day when a large box was delivered to my doorstep.

The delivery man graciously brought it inside. But I figured it might be a bit much for me to ask him to take it past the foyer, up the stairs, down the hall, and into the den.

So there it sat, this mysterious, heavy box.

Deep inside, I knew this was nothing but some product someone in my family had ordered.

But I didn’t listen to that awareness. I ignored it and listened to my fears instead. You know you’ve watched one too many mystery TV shows when your first thought about a mysterious box sitting in your foyer is that a person with scary intentions could fit inside.

So I kicked the side of the box to see if there was any kind of reflex action from a living thing inside of it. There wasn’t, of course. But then I decided just to be sure, I would stand around the corner from the box to see if I could step out of its line of sight and possibly hear something: a cough, a sneeze, anything.

I could leave no room for doubts, no room at all for any possible bad outcome from this box — a box that I eventually opened with a knife. Just in case. Only to discover a dorm-room refrigerator that someone had ordered.

I wasted half my day worrying about a box that contained a dorm fridge.

But we do this sometimes. We have a decision to make and we have that deep-down knowing. We know what to do. We know what the answer is. But we don’t go with that knowing. We over-process the what-ifs and the maybes until we find ourselves standing around a corner listening to see if a cardboard box containing a refrigerator might sneeze.

Now, there are certainly some decisions that need to be processed. But then there are other decisions we just simply need to say yes or no to and move on.

Find that courageous yes. Fight for that confident no. Know it. State it. Own it.

Sometimes it just comes down to that deep whisper within that says, “Uh-huh, yes.” Or a simple, “No, not that.”

God has woven into us the ability to discern what is best as we closely follow Him. Philippians 1:9-10 says, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (NIV).

Discerning what is best is something we’re capable of doing as we layer knowledge and depth of insight into our lives. Read those verses again and see that gaining knowledge and depth of insight will allow us to develop a trustworthy discernment.

Knowledge is wisdom that comes from acquiring truth.

Insight is wisdom that comes from living out the truth we acquire.

Discernment is wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s reminders of that knowledge and insight.

I know a young mom who has really been struggling with the decision of whether to let her 2-year-old go to preschool a couple of half-days each week. As I listened to her, I felt compelled to ask her three questions:

1. Have you been reading and praying through God’s Word?

2. Have you been applying God’s Word to your mothering?

3. Have you sought godly counsel and insights from wise people who know specifics about your situation?

The answer to all three of those simple questions was yes, so I reminded her that she was assigned by God to be this child’s mother. If she had done these three things, then she had the ability to discern what was best.

It’s not about trusting ourselves. Rather, it’s about trusting the Holy Spirit to do what Jesus promised us in John 14:26“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (NIV).

When we’ve done what we need to do to acquire the knowledge and insight of truth, then the discernment of that truth is there. We must learn to trust and use that discernment because the more we do this, the more wisdom we acquire to make God-honoring decisions.

The Good News About Death

From: InTouch, ministeries
1 Corinthians 15:50-58

The Bible teaches that death is only the beginning for believers. God has prepared an eternal home for us, and the condition for entry is clear: Believe that Jesus died for your sins, and receive His forgiveness. Some people consider this narrow-minded and unfair. But God set up that condition for a reason.

Way back in the garden of Eden, the Lord established a rule to protect His creation: Do not disobey Me. Sin was such a serious matter in His eyes that He determined it deserved the death penalty. Yet ever since Adam and Eve’s transgression, we’ve been bound to slip up because we’re flawed human beings. And God knew that. So, to save us from the consequence of sin, He sent His Son to die in our place. Jesus fulfilled the law while taking our punishment. And three days later He rose again.

God promised in His Word that those who receive Jesus as Savior share in His resurrection. When a believer dies, the heavenly gates open, and he or she has the same triumph over death that Jesus did. In other words, when we leave this world, we do not simply disappear. We continue to worship the Lord in heaven.

How Others See Us

by Inspiration Ministries

“Because they are lazy, therefore they cry out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’” – Exodus 5:8 NASB

When Moses asked to let the Israelites go, Pharaoh evaluated this request in light of his own experience and worldview. To him, Moses’ explanation seemed absurd. He could not conceive that the God of the Hebrews could be real and make this request. The only possible explanation was that the Israelites simply did not want to work.

Pharaoh had his own agenda. He was counting on the Israelites to provide the labor for his designs. Moses’ request conflicted with his agenda. And he didn’t believe the explanation.

Many people react in similar ways to God’s Word. The Bible reminds us that the things of the Spirit are folly in the natural. People can’t “understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV).

As you ponder the way some people respond to the Gospel, remember that this is a spiritual issue, discerned in the Spirit in ways people in the natural may never understand. They are likely to project onto us their own expectations and worldview. Or they may judge us or question our motives.

Remember these facts as you interact with people in the world. Remember how foolish and unrealistic your beliefs and actions might seem.

Ask God to give you discernment about your life and testimony. Pray for His anointing. Seek to apply His principles. Pray for those you know who need the Lord. Pray that He might open their eyes that they might see.

I Want To Stay With You

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I Want to Stay with You

teen boy hugging his mother

Reverend Phil seemed seven feet tall to me when I was a child. He could have been a captain at sea or a firefighter or a police chief, but he was a pastor. One Sunday night, his deep voice caught my attention as he unfolded the story of a wild and violent man whose encounter with Jesus changed everything.

A demon-possessed man roamed the tomb-filled hills of the Gadarenes. Everyone feared him, and no one could tame him. They managed to shackle him, but he broke the chains. Then Jesus came to the area—the one Man who could unshackle his heart.

When the man saw Jesus, he said,

“What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me” (Mark 5:7 NKJV).

Jesus didn’t hurt him; He helped him. The man had many demons, and Jesus sent them all out of the man into a nearby herd of pigs. The pigs “ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned” (Mark 5:13 NKJV).

When the people of the area came out to see what had happened, the man who had been demon-possessed was sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. That made the people afraid. They learned what happened to the pigs and wanted Jesus to leave.

Reverend Phil’s characterization of their attitude toward Jesus, was memorable. It was as if they said to Him, “We don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as You leave here.” The healed man’s reaction was just the opposite: “I don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as I can go with You.”

Does your heart want to stay with Jesus, no matter what? Have you come to love and trust Him so that you could say with the healed man, I don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as I can go with You?

In the book of Ruth, we find someone who inspires us to have a wholehearted devotion to God. Ruth wanted to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi, even when Ruth’s husband had died. This is what Ruth said when Naomi made plans to leave Moab and go back to Judah.

“Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV)

Have you ever loved someone so much that you felt this way about him or her? Have you ever loved God so much, that you said something like this to Him? Wherever You go, I will go. Wherever You stay, I will stay. I am Yours, and You are mine. I will not let go.

Are we willing to give up anything and everything for God? Are we willing to leave behind all of the things that distract us from following Him closely? The more we know Him, the more certain we become that we can trust His heart and rest in His goodness and wisdom. We find that God satisfies our souls and gives us good things. He is a Father who loves us and a Best Friend who shares all of life’s adventures with us. Our hearts will say to Him, “I will stay with You.”

 

Streams in the Desert – February 25

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

I am handing over to you every place you set foot, as I promised Moses. (Josh 1:3)

Beside the literal ground, unoccupied for Christ, there is the unclaimed, untrodden territory of Divine promises. What did God say to Joshua? “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you,” and then He draws the outlines of the Land of Promise—all theirs on one condition: that they shall march through the length and breadth of it, and measure it off with their own feet.

They never did that to more than one-third of the property, and consequently they never had more than one-third; they had just what they measured off, and no more.

In 2 Peter, we read of the “land of promise” that is opened up to us, and it is God’s will that we should, as it were, measure off that territory by the feet of obedient faith and believing obedience, thus claiming and appropriating it for our own.

How many of us have ever taken possession of the promises of God in the name of Christ?

Here is a magnificent territory for faith to lay hold on and march through the length and breadth of, and faith has never done it yet.

Let us enter into all our inheritance. Let us lift up our eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, and hear Him say, “All the land that thou seest will I give to thee.”
A. T. Pierson

Wherever Judah should set his foot that should be his; wherever Benjamin should set his foot, that should be his. Each should get his inheritance by setting his foot upon it. Now, think you not, when either had set his foot upon a given territory, he did not instantly and instinctively feel, “This is mine”?

An old colored man, who had a marvelous experience in grace, was asked: “Daniel, why is it that you have so much peace and joy in religion?” “O Massa!” he replied, “I just fall flat on the exceeding great and precious promises, and I have all that is in them. Glory! Glory!” He who falls flat on the promises feels that all the riches embraced in them are his.
Faith Papers

The Marquis of Salisbury was criticized for his Colonial policies and replied: “Gentlemen, get larger maps.”

Through The Bible Devotions

Leviticus 6:9, 12-13 (NIV) 9“Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar.

12The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. 13The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.

Exodus 29:39f God lit the fire. We must guard that flame carefully and tend it well. Keep it on the altar. It is for God that it burns. Don’t be zealous for any other thing. God has a flame in His heart for us, the same one that took Jesus to the cross. To not have one for Him in our heart is the height of ingratitude and selfishness.

The sacrifice was performed both morning and evening. It remained on the altar through the night. We should send up our prayer sacrifice at least this often and always be a living sacrifice. Ex 39:42 “There I will meet you and speak with you.”

Three times in 5 verses we are told to keep the fire burning. The spiritual picture is clear. You probably remember the children’s song, “Don’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine. Let is shine, let it shine, all the time.” I bet you didn’t realize that song goes all the way back to Leviticus. If the fire goes out, the one that God lit, there is always the temptation for man to relight it. We need the fire of God in our sacrifice, not the fire of man. Man’s fire is zealous but ends up glorifying man and not God. The altar of our hearts should always be prepared for sacrifice on the flame that God lit in us.

Meditation: Is the fire on the altar of my heart burning with God’s fire?

 

Knowing the Lord

by Inspiration Ministries

“Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” – Exodus 5:2 NASB

Approaching Pharaoh, Moses and Aaron positioned themselves as messengers for “the Lord, the God of Israel” (v. 1). Pharaoh was to “Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness” (v. 1). Pharaoh’s response indicated that he had no idea what they were talking about or who they meant by “the Lord.”

This response was not surprising; the Egyptians had their own religion and gods. Yet the sad fact was that Pharaoh did not know God or even know who He was. This admission shows the importance of knowing the Lord and telling others about Him. Moses and Aaron knew Him and were willing to risk everything.

But Pharaoh did not know Him at all. Without a reference to God, Pharaoh developed his own explanations and theories. One goal of the plagues God sent was that Pharaoh and others in the land would “know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 7:5).

This parallels the experience of many people today! They rule their own kingdoms and do not know the Lord. In a variety of ways, God, in His love and compassion, allows them to go through experiences that might open their eyes. These experiences might help them know Him, turn to Him, and declare Him their Lord!

What is your relationship with God? Seek to know Him more intimately. Be His witness, helping others realize that He is real. He is the Lord!

God Is Our Strength and Shield

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80 Bible verses about SecurityPin on Inspiration
Security | Daily Christian Quotes27 Bible Verses about Safety - DailyVerses.net

 

Shower Curtain Security

My neighbor, Edna, found a stray kitten on her porch a few months ago. She already had three grown cats, all of which hated the kitten, so she called me and asked me to take him. I love cats, but hadn’t had one in several years and didn’t think I wanted another one. However, when I heard his baby meow over the phone line, my heart melted.

I don’t know where he had been before Edna’s, but he came to me full of insecurity. He keeps looking for places to hunker down where he can feel secure. One of his favorites is under the shower curtain. I have a curved shower rod and when not in use, the curtain hangs outside the tub, bowing out in the center with the hem dangling a few inches above the floor.

The kitten, Theodore, crouches under the center section. The funny thing is the shower curtain only covers his ears and eyes, leaving his whole body exposed and his whiskers poking out. But he feels safe under the flimsy fabric.

I am reminded of how we can be like Theodore. We look for security in flimsy things, too. My husband and I, seriously concerned about providing enough money for our retirement, invested in the stock market. Having money socked away makes us feel better about the future. But markets have a history of softening, declining and bursting like a bubble. We really don’t know how much money we will end up with.

Some people collect things, even when they can’t afford to. I am reminded of the commercial in which a man who has a huge, fake smile plastered on his face lists all the possessions he owns. At the end he says, still smiling, “Can’t somebody help me? I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.” Surrounding ourselves with a lot of things may feel good for a while, but even if we can afford them, we can’t take them with us when our life is over. We’re simply covering our eyes and ears to the truth that they can’t provide the kind of security that lasts.

A job seems like the answer for many. They spend years training and preparing for their dream job – the one that will make them rich and famous. Someone said fame is fleeting. They were right and jobs can be, too, in our world of layoffs, outsourcing and corporate corruption.

Some search for security in relationships. My mother felt secure in her marriage until it fell apart after 33 years. Marriage is great, and we should feel secure in our marriage relationships, but we are not guaranteed tomorrow. My husband and I have been married almost 29 years and if there ever was a solid marriage we have it, but our health is not promised to last forever. One of us will probably pass away before the other. If marriage were the only thing lending me a sense of security, I might one day be lost without it.

Some people live in war-torn countries and believe if they only had peace, they would feel secure. Unfortunately, military peace doesn’t always bring personal security.

In the parable of Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus said if we build our houses on the sand, then when the rain comes, everything will be washed away. But if we’ve built on the rock, our house will hold up against the worst of storms. Jesus is the rock and the house is our life. Whatever plans we make for our future need to be prayed over and Spirit led. When we hunker down on Jesus our Rock, we really are secure. Anywhere else is behind a flimsy shower curtain.

Through The Bible Devotions

Exodus 40:34-35 (NIV) 34Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

Once the tabernacle was set up according to the instructions Moses received on the mountain, the cloud that had been leading them settled upon it. The glory of the LORD so filled the Tent of Meeting that he could not enter.

Today the tent of meeting is your spirit. God desires to so fill you that your life is overflowing with Him, and little room is left for self to enter in. That is complete Christ likeness. He is taking us all to that place, individually and corporately. One day the work will be done and everything in place, and the glory of the LORD will completely fill us, the tabernacles, and the Tabernacle. He has always been in the process of making a dwelling place for Himself.

The day of completion is the wedding feast of the Lamb. When we see Him we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:1-2). When we are like Him, He can fill us completely. We have a deposit now, a deposit of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). That is deposit of what will someday be in all His fullness. We experience it more and more as we grow in Him.

“Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool; what house will you build me?” says the Lord, “and what shall be the place of my rest?” (Acts 7:49)” Upon this rock I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18) They that believe have entered into rest (Hebrews 4:3a).

Meditation: I am the temple of the living God!

Starved for Faith and Vision

by John UpChurch, crosswalk.com

“Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing’? Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to put an end to this proverb, and they will no longer quote it in Israel.’ Say to them, ‘The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled.” Ezekiel 12:22-23

For me, Dave was that boss. The guy could make every triumph into misery, every completed project into a diatribe for what didn’t go right. Not chewing you out was his way of complimenting a job well done. And, no, I’m not joking. The guy would fire someone I worked with and then come to me the next day to say, “I fired your little friend.”

And yet, for some reason I never understood, Dave liked me from the beginning. He would never have said that, of course, never admitted to not hating someone. But he did. Even as a lackey intern, he put me in charge of projects way above my pay grade. Even as the newbie, he’d let me in on the big stuff we’d be working on in a few months. My position was only supposed to last 30 days, but Dave kept me there for months by making excuses to his bosses about why I should stay.

To be honest, I hated the work. Here I was an English major who was supposed to be editing and writing and changing the world through prose. But I was afraid of trying for that world-changing job. Instead, I got pushed into IT project management for hospitals, which is really just a nice way of saying that I moved computers and loaded software. Over and over.

But it’s funny what happens between a boss and a peon when you’re wearing scrubs and snatching computers from the ICU. For Dave, those moments brought clarity. In a place where alarms signal dying, he’d tell me about his one-time plans to be an architect and the reasons why it couldn’t happen. His rage would disappear with the code blues and rushing nurses. He dreamed for just a moment.

And then we’d be pushing our carts of equipment to a new wing of the hospital, and the sarcasm flooded in to cover the regret. He’d snap back to the snappiness as if the ICU never happened.

Maybe that’s why Dave liked me. He knew I didn’t want to be in those sterile halls either. He knew this detour felt more like a dead end. I was his earlier self.

When I finally quit, Dave didn’t say goodbye. In fact, he avoided me for much of my two-week notice period. His only words about me were to berate the rest of the team with how the “only competent worker” was leaving.

With him, that meant he approved.

Celebrate!

by Inspiration Ministries

“Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.”’” – Exodus 5:1 NASB

God asked Moses to deliver a message to Pharaoh: He wanted His people to “celebrate a feast.” The desire to celebrate was emphasized often. Later, He instructed Moses that they were to celebrate a feast to the Lord. They were “to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance” (Exodus 12:14).

When they were freed from bondage, He told them, Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me” (Exodus 23:14). The Hebrew word here describes moving in a circle, observing a festival, dancing, even being giddy. This was to be a real celebration!

This emphasis demonstrates clearly that celebration is important to God. There is a time for everything, including a time to celebrate (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4). Yet it can be easy to be overwhelmed with our problems. We tend to focus on obstacles and the troubles we face and feel discouraged.

But, as God reminded the Israelites, there are times to stop and celebrate. We need to remember the miracles we have experienced, think about how God has met our needs, reflect on His promises, and praise Him instead of complaining or worrying.

Are you burdened? Weary? Worried? For a moment set these thoughts aside. Just concentrate on God. Think about His goodness! His mercy! Salvation! Healing! Wisdom! And His promises! There may be problems in your life and the world. But remember. God is on the throne! He is sovereign! And He wants you to celebrate!

God Provides

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God Provides73 Bible verses about God, The Provider
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God Provides

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I was barely high enough to peer over the shiny, yellow, laminate countertops in my grandmother’s immaculate kitchen, but it was homemade-noodle making day, and I was overjoyed as I took my rightful place next to her on a worn, red, metal foot stool.

“Always make sure the eggs are at room temperature,” she reminded me as we took turns cracking them into the bright blue earthenware bowl.

The smells of the wonderfully cooked Italian food, glorious food, lovingly prepared by my tiny grandmother in her homespun kitchen are still unmatched today, and those memories remain some of my most cherished!

Being from a large Italian family, all of my favorite and important memories involve food. Banquets and feasts were the centerpiece of every holiday, birthday, and simple Sundays. My grandmother wanted to feed everyone. She loved people with food. Making others happy with food gave her joy. She would bring food to all her friends, cook for those who were sick or just in need of a little TLC. She was always prepared. To her, it was a crime to not have a freezer full of “just in case” lasagnas and cannolis for company!

I believe this is a “no getting around it” inherited trait of just being Italian, at least in my family. I too live to feed everybody and everything. The ducks on the lake outside my home know that all too well.

To me, there would be no worse feeling than to not be able to provide food for my family or being unable to feed my children.

I thought about the children of Israel. While they were endlessly wandering in the wilderness, they needed to fully rely on God to provide food (manna) for them each day. They were not allowed to take any more than a single day’s portion, and if they did, it would rot immediately. There would be no “just in case” food, no “what if God forgets to send it tomorrow” food! They had to have blind faith in what they did not see and wholeheartedly trust they would be able to go out each day and collect fresh food for their children. They had to believe a new day’s supply would be sent to nourish them by God from Heaven.

They had to trust that God would provide!

In Mark 10:36, Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

God is so simple in His love for us. He just wants us to trust him. He asks us to tell him what we need. He says we have not, because we ask not.

By commanding the Israelites to not collect any more food than they needed for one day, God was asking them to totally rely on His merciful grace—the grace that can only come from Him. His grace is sufficient to take care of all we need on any given day.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV), the Lord told Paul,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul’s response was to “boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Sometimes we look ahead—and the mountains we face and the trials and storms that engulf us, seem overwhelmingly impossible to manage. But then God shows up again with a daily helping of His amazing grace and a fresh batch of heavenly manna and says, “Trust me, we will get through this together today, I will be back tomorrow and we will handle tomorrow then.”

When we are weak, He is strong!

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25 (NIV)

Little Children

by Ryan Duncan, crosswalk.com

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

When I was a little kid, I made an amazing discovery. I realized that if I found something I liked and asked the right person “Can I have this?” there was chance they would give it to me. This may not seem all that extraordinary to you, but trust me, to a child this was a goldmine. You see, I didn’t just ask for candy at the grocery store or stuff on TV commercials, I asked for everything. I asked other kids if I could have their toys, I asked the neighbors if I could have their dog, I think I even asked one family if I could have their house. I’m afraid I embarrassed my parents to no end, and by the time my father sat me down and explained that asking someone for all their belongings was rude, most people had stopped inviting our family over for dinner.

Kids can be a real hassle, and when you think about it, you can’t really blame the disciples for their actions in Mark 10. Take a look at the following passage,

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. – Mark 10:13-16

Here’s the thing about children. Children are messy, children are selfish, children are ignorant, and children are incredibly self-destructive. Don’t believe me? A monkey knows better than to stick a butter knife into an exposed wall socket, but let a child have its way and they will do it twice! Despite all this, however, you really can’t help but admire the oblivious, single-minded nature of a child.

If anything, Christians should try learning from their example. Too often we stop ourselves from encountering God because we are afraid we don’t fit the “Christian” criteria. Well, I’ve got news for you; we will always be children in God’s eyes: messy, crazy, self-destructive children. But as long as we make him the single focus of our hearts, He doesn’t care. So take a lesson from these little ones, pursue God recklessly and don’t pay attention to what others think, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

A sermon for Spring

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.’ Song of Solomon 2:10–13

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 74:9–17

The things which are seen are types of the things which are not seen. The works of creation are pictures to the children of God of the secret mysteries of grace. The very seasons of the year find their parallel in the little world of man within. We have our winter when the north wind of the law rushes forth against us, when every hope is nipped, when all the seeds of joy lie buried beneath the dark clods of despair, when our soul is fast fettered like a river bound with ice. Thanks be unto God, the soft south wind breathes upon our soul, and at once the waters of desire are set free, the spring of love comes on, flowers of hope appear in our hearts, the trees of faith put forth their young shoots, the time of the singing of birds comes in our hearts, and we have joy and peace in believing through the Lord Jesus Christ. That happy springtide is followed in the believer by a rich summer, when his graces, like fragrant flowers, are in full bloom, loading the air with perfume; and fruits of the Spirit like citrons and pomegranates swell into their full proportion in the genial warmth of the Sun of Righteousness. Then comes the believer’s autumn, when his fruits grow ripe, and his fields are ready for the harvest; the time has come when his Lord shall gather together his ‘pleasant fruits,’ and store them in heaven; the feast of ingathering is at hand—the time when the year shall begin anew, an unchanging year, like the years of the right hand of the Most High in heaven.

For meditation: Until we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, our souls languish in an eternal winter’s night. Faith in him is the gateway to a new life in which we advance through the seasons of the soul towards eternal day (Zechariah 14:7Revelation 21:2522:5).

Send Someone Else

by Inspiration Ministries

“’O, Lord, please send someone else.’ Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses.” – Exodus 4:13-14 NIV

God told Moses He wanted him to leave the service of his father-in-law, Jethro, and return to Egypt to lead His people into freedom. God described the task and even the response he could expect. Moses reacted with a series of objections. He felt inadequate for the task: “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11).

He complained that he was not “eloquent” enough but was “slow of speech and tongue” (v. 10). He simply did not know what to say and wondered how he would respond to criticism or objections.

God answered every excuse until Moses asked him to send someone else. Suddenly God became furious. What was different? God demonstrated that He welcomed honest questions. But Moses crossed the line when he declared that he would not go. But, finally, he did agree to go – with his brother Aaron.

We may go through similar experiences. As we feel God’s call, we may have questions and concerns. As Paul discovered, all of us have weaknesses and need to depend on God (2 Corinthians 12:10). Remember, He has prepared us for His assignments. We need to trust Him and move forward in faith.

Be ready to respond to God’s call for you. Seek His answers for the strategies and wisdom you need. Ask Him for the necessary resources and abilities. Always trust Him. Move forward in faith.

Dear Lord Heal Our Land

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Heal My Land

usa flag in the background and little girl praying with eyes closed

Are you, like me, weary from all the bad news from around our country and the world? Natural disasters and disease have devastated millions. Financial disasters have wiped out fortunes, retirement accounts, and businesses. Political upheavals are pitting brother against brother and value system against value system. And yes, as the Bible predicted, there are wars and rumors of wars.

What is going to happen to us! How will all this play out? Have we, as some suggest, brought about God’s judgment upon our nations because of our sin and disobedience? Questions, worry, and fear fill our hearts and minds.  What are we to do? Simply stated, the answer is prayer.

Recently at my church’s Men’s Fellowship Breakfast, jovial conversation turned from sports to our world’s economic woes. We shared our thoughts with each other about how these times are affecting our families. One Brother asked, “Why us?  Why now?”

An elderly gentleman who has served God all his life stood up, and with confidence that overshadowed his humble voice proclaimed, “The Lord has never let me down. If we pray, He will help us make it through.”

The word of the Lord says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV).

How can our nations be saved and survive the many disasters in our midst? Do you share my frustration because it seems like our society will not do as God instructs and pray, repent, and humble ourselves before Him? How can we expect His favor when we live any way that we want, with little regard to the word of God? Is there hope for those who follow Christ according the word of God and not pop culture? Yes! Yes, there is hope!

Remember, scripture applies to us individually, and not just corporately as nations. As God honors His word to each obedient individual, then a portion of that nation is blessed. The more individuals who appropriate God’s word, the more that nation that will be blessed. However, it all starts with one. So I ask you to personalize the scripture as I did, and allow God to bless you and heal your land.

“If (Gene) _____, who is called by my name (Christian), shall humble himself, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from his wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive (Gene’s) _____’s sin, and heal (Gene’s) _____’s land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 Personalized).

Though the entire world around us crumbles, the Lord will honor His word to us, if we will heed it. Put your name in the blank, in the scripture. Seek out what you must do to heed His word and God will fulfill His promise for you!

If you align yourself with the freewheeling secular world, then you shall reap with them, suffer, and share in their despair. But if you align yourself with the truth of God’s word, then He will give you peace, and see you through the tough times that try men’s souls. He will make a way for you where there is no way. Your house shall be an oasis in the desert, an ark of safety in a world flooded with crisis.

“Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10 KJV)

The Scars Are All Part of a Beautiful Story

By Debbie McDaniel

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

If you’ve ever been wounded, or have felt like you needed to hide the scars away from painful times in life, know that you’re not alone. Even Jesus faced great insults, wounds, and pain more than we could ever imagine. And He carried His scars right back into that little room where He met his disciples after the Resurrection. Sometimes I’ve wondered why He didn’t choose to let the scars fade away. He’d gained victory over death. He’d made all things new. Yet He still had scars in his hands, His side. (Read the whole story here in John 20:19-29)

Maybe He knew we’d need to be reminded of this truth throughout our own lives: His scars, and ours too, are all part of His beautiful story at work.

He redeems.

He heals.

He sets free.

He restores.

He gives great purpose even through seasons of brokenness and grief.

And the scars are left there to prove it.

We have victory through Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord.

Don’t ever doubt, He knows your way, He understands your pain. He promises to use your every scar and broken place to share his message of hope to a world that needs healing and grace.

Peace to you today.

You are held by a Mighty God, and He has good still in store…

 

The blood-shedding

“Without shedding of blood is no remission” Hebrews 9:22

Suggested Further Reading: John 6:52-59

Here is a garden dark and gloomy; the ground is crisp with the cold frost of midnight; between those gloomy olive trees I see a man, I hear him groan out his life in prayer; hearken, angels, hearken, men, and wonder; it is the Saviour groaning out his soul! Come and see him. Behold his brow! O heavens! Drops of blood are streaming down his face, and from his body; every pore is open, and it sweats! but not the sweat of men that toil for bread; it is the sweat of one that toils for heaven—he sweats “great drops of blood!” That is the blood-shedding, without which there is no remission. Follow that man further; they have dragged him with sacrilegious hands from the place of his prayer and his agony, and they have taken him to the hall of Pilate; they mock him; a robe of purple is put on his shoulders in mockery; and mark his brow—they have put about it a crown of thorns, and the crimson drops of gore are rushing down his cheeks! Ye angels! the drops of blood are running down his cheeks! But turn aside that purple robe for a moment. His back is bleeding. Tell me, demons, who did this. They lift up the thongs, still dripping clots of gore; they scourge and tear his flesh, and make a river of blood to run down his shoulders! That is the shedding of blood without which there is no remission. Not yet have I done: they hurry him through the streets; they fling him on the ground; they nail his hands and feet to the transverse wood, they hoist it in the air, they dash it into its socket, it is fixed, and there he hangs the Christ of God. Blood from his head, blood from his hands, blood from his feet! In agony unknown he bleeds away his life; in terrible throes he exhausts his soul. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” And then see! they pierce his side, and forthwith runneth out blood and water. This is the shedding of blood, sinners and saints; this is the awful shedding of blood, the terrible pouring out of blood, without which for you, and for the whole human race, there is no remission.

For meditation: Even with the shedding of Christ’s blood there is still no forgiveness of sins unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6:53); that is by coming to him and trusting in him (John 6:35).

Lighter than Vapor

by Inspiration Ministries

“Surely men of low degree are a vapor, men of high degree are a lie; if they are weighed on the scales, they are altogether lighter than vapor … if riches increase, do not set your heart on them … power belongs to God.” – Psalm 62:9-11 NKJV

Trusting in other people can seem so natural, so inevitable. We trust in banks and businesses, governments and experts, neighbors and relatives. But the Bible reminds us that even the most stable things and people can change. Even the smartest, best-intentioned people are imperfect.

David said that no one is immune. First, people “of low degree are a vapor.” Just like a vapor, they can vanish quickly. But people “of high degree” are no better. They “are a lie.” In fact, “they are altogether lighter than vapor.”

Many people react to this unstable world by throwing themselves into work. They seek to gain more power, possessions, and money. In this pursuit, some are willing to resort to stealing, cheating, or deception to get ahead.

But David reminded us not to “trust in oppression, nor vainly hope in robbery” (v. 10). Remember how quickly possessions and money fade away: “If riches increase, do not set your heart on them” (v. 10). David said that God told him repeatedly that power belongs only to Him.

In your life, remember that other people may disappoint you. But God never disappoints. The Bible encourages us to look at Him as our rock, our salvation, our stronghold. The things of this world may vanish like a vapor, but He is eternal. You can “trust in Him at all times” (v. 8).

God Prepares His Children’s Heart

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God Prepares the Heart to Answer His Call

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I gave a speech at a church in Indianapolis where they requested one of my speeches titled, “You Want Me to Do What?!  God’s Call and Your Response.”

I had not given that speech in several years, so it brought back many memories. It’s my story of when God called me 11 years ago to leave a teaching job I loved, to go into full-time Christian writing, speaking, and teaching.

When I first felt the call, I was in a total panic. I called my pastor in tears and said, “I think God wants me to leave my job! I don’t want to do that! I love my job!”

She calmed me with these words:  “If you have no desire to leave your job right now, then I don’t think God is calling you to do that YET.”

I must be pretty slow on the uptake because that little word tacked on at the end of her sentence, YET, didn’t register. The dictionary definition of that three-letter word is:  “at a future time.”

I pretended for months that I didn’t understand what that meant. After all, I told myself, I was certain God had called me to the teaching job I loved. (I’m still certain of that.) But slowly over the next nine months, an amazing thing happened. God changed my heart. It was like the nine-month gestation period preparing a baby to be born. Eleven years ago I was literally an infant in Christ, not YET spiritually ready for such a drastic life change. But God graciously provided an incubation period to prepare me.

God showed me the perfect Bible passage to express this idea. The Apostle Paul addressed the church at Corinth with these words:

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.” 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 (NIV)

There’s that little word again:  YET.  Paul was saying the church members at Corinth were still too attached to the world and not mature enough in their faith. Therefore, they needed to be fed like infants. They were not YET ready for solid food, but with the implied promise that they would be ready at a future time.

I still cried when I wrote my resignation letter. I grieved at leaving something I loved, but at the same time, I experienced great joy. God changed my heart until I wanted what He wanted more than anything else in the world. Finally, I was ready to take solid food instead of infants’ milk.

His plan was for me to go in a new, different and exciting direction. In that process, I discovered something wonderful:  God’s call on your life can change. After all, Scripture promises:

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

God’s Will: So Simple It’s Hard

by Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.com

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“God’s will for my life”… how often have you pondered that notion? Studied it? Read untold books about it? Know people who torture themselves trying to locate it?

Well, here we have an obvious chunk of it, even compact and useful just as we like things to be, tucked away at the close of Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica. “This is God’s will for you…,” it says.

Well, yes, it says that, and it sure is pretty – almost poetic – but is it deep enough? Shouldn’t there be more? Is it practical?

Okay. Then let’s go Old Testament. Prophetic. Action-oriented. Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It’s still simple, still bunched in a group of three, still indicating that there’s no big mystery way far out there which must be solved before we know how to act or decide, or how God wants us to act or decide.

So why do we seek for more?

I think it’s because the ridiculously simple, paradoxically enough, is ridiculously hard, and we know it. G.K. Chesterton famously said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”

We could spend a lot of time discussing the ins-and-outs of how easy or hard God’s will is, and where else in His Word we can find snippets of it. One woman from my Bible fellowship class is fond of asking during our lessons, “What does that look like?” Let’s ponder on that for a minute here.

The situation is this: you’ve been sent on a missionary journey via a clear calling from God. The resources were there, the people willing. You are leading your group through a city when you encounter a psychic who keeps taunting you. After a while, through calling on the name of Jesus you cast out the evil spirit within her. Hooray! Score one for the Lord, and your group! But alas, there is no praise here, because those who had been making some cash off the now-set-free woman’s powers aren’t happy with you. They drag your group before local law enforcement, have you beaten, and thrown into prison. Hey now!

At this point, I am saying, “God, this is NOT your will. YOU made it very clear we were to come on this trip, and we even did a miracle for you! Now we’re injured, in jail… I don’t even know how I’m going to get home much less continue to be effective for you from here! I want a telephone, I want a lawyer, and I want you to reveal your ACTUAL will, right now, and suffer no more discomfort while doing what you sent us to do!”

And with that, my missionary journey would come to a close. But not the Apostle Paul’s, not as we have it recorded in Acts 16:16-40  which is one of my all-time favorite passages. Paul, who knew God’s will better than I, and practiced it, knew to “rejoice always.” And so, bloodied and with his feet in stocks, he sings. Seriously, he sings hymns of praise. He also knew to “pray without ceasing,” and so, in verse 25, that’s exactly what you find – Paul and Silas praying… at midnight, even.

The missionaries on this journey got out of God’s way by doing the simple things that God had willed for them to do, so that God was free to let fly with His own big, complex, miraculous will for everyone else. An earthquake shakes open the prison, snapping chains in the process. Prisoners, however, stay where they are. A jailer, about to kill himself, holds his sword, and moments later accepts Jesus into his heart. Then his family joins the flock, all because those he had persecuted chose to “love kindness.”

At every step of the journey, Paul, Silas, and their companions chose to walk humbly, give thanks, and do what was just (speaking of which, once officially released, Paul did have some words of justice regarding their citizenship and treatment for the magistrates).

It’s absolutely amazing to me the ways that God plans to accomplish His Will (big “W”) on earth. His will in my life has already been decided. It is my job to walk humbly, get out of the way, always be in prayer, always rejoicing no matter what situation I’m in. But how often do we come back to the same situation, sitting in my car, simple traffic jam, me needing to be somewhere, telling God, “Did you not ordain that I should do such and such today? Or get this amount of work done so I can spend this amount of time with my family? Then this is on you unless you make such-and-such happen now!”

Sigh… how many miracles have I missed?\Patience in Prayer – Streams in the Desert – February 21

Streams In The Desert

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

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him (Psalms 37:7).

Have you prayed and prayed and waited and waited, and still there is no manifestation? Are you tired of seeing nothing move? Are you just at the point of giving it all up? Perhaps you have not waited in the right way? This would take you out of the right place the place where He can meet you.

“With patience wait” (Rom. 8:25). Patience takes away worry. He said He would come, and His promise is equal to His presence. Patience takes away your weeping. Why feel sad and despondent? He knows your need better than you do, and His purpose in waiting is to bring more glory out of it all. Patience takes away self-works. The work He desires is that you “believe” (John 6:29), and when you believe, you may then know that all is well. Patience takes away all want. Your desire for the thing you wish is perhaps stronger than your desire for the will of God to be fulfilled in its arrival.

Patience takes away all weakening. Instead of having the delaying time, a time of letting go, know that God is getting a larger supply ready and must get you ready too. Patience takes away all wobbling. “Make me stand upon my standing” (Daniel 8:18, margin). God’s foundations are steady; and when His patience is within, we are steady while we wait. Patience gives worship. A praiseful patience sometimes “long-suffering with joyfulness” (Col. 1:11) is the best part of it all. “Let (all these phases of) patience have her perfect work” (James 1:4), while you wait, and you will find great enrichment.
–C. H. P.

Pour Out Your Heart

by Inspiration Editor

“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” – Psalm 62:8 NASB

Throughout his life, David developed relationships with various people whom he trusted. Sadly, there were times when these trusted people let him down. Some failed to keep their promises. Some betrayed him for personal gain. Some simply forgot their commitments.

But through every circumstance, he realized that God always was faithful. He wrote, “My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him” (v. 5). God provided stability and a sure foundation: “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken” (v. 6). He was his “refuge” and “the rock of [his] strength” (v. 7).

The Bible reminds us that we can trust God no matter what others do or say! It can be beneficial to confide in friends or family members, but it is most important to pour out our hearts before God.

This involves spending time with Him, confident in our relationship. It means being willing to share every detail of our needs – every thought, every feeling, every concern. Part of that process involves waiting before Him. David commanded his soul to “wait in silence for God only” (v. 5).

Pour out your heart to God. Release every concern to Him. Tell Him every detail of your needs. Receive His peace. Make Him your rock, your salvation, your stronghold. He is waiting, ready to hear from You. You can trust Him.