Monthly Archives: May 2021

Remembering Those Who Died For Us

Memorial Day in 2021 | Calendar LabsMemorial Day
Memorial Day - Cherry Hills Christian SchoolMemorial Day holiday - College closed - Black Hawk College
Memorial Day Weekend events - WFMJ.comMemorial Day Weekend: Why the Holiday Is Always on a Monday | Time

 

A Memorial Meal

family-dinner

 

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, was instituted to honor Civil War dead. Local observances were held as early as 1866, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried. The first official and large observance took place on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, which held the remains of twenty thousand Union soldiers and several Confederate dead. Five thousand people attended the ceremony.

New York was the first state to declare the holiday, in 1873; other states quickly followed. After World War I, citizens expanded the observances to honor those who died in all American wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday and changed the date to the last Monday in May. In recent years, many use the occasion to decorate the graves of loved ones.

Under God’s direction, the Israelites had “Memorial Day” celebrations to help them remember major events in their history. They celebrated Passover each year to commemorate their miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt. When Jesus ate his last Passover meal, he instituted a new memorial to commemorate the deliverance from slavery to sin that he would accomplish for all believers through his death. As he shared the bread and wine with his disciples, he instructed them to eat and drink in remembrance of him.

The speaker at the first official Memorial Day service urged the audience to tend the graves of the dead soldiers to testify that our country had not forgotten the cost of a free, undivided republic. When we take part in the Lord’s Supper we are testifying that we remember the cost of our salvation. We are celebrating a “Memorial Meal” in honor of the One who won the war against death and sin.

God Is Not Judge Judy

by Kelly Givens, crosswalk.com

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17

Last month I found myself in a situation that needed a good dose of wisdom. I had to make a decision and felt unsure what course of action was best, so over those next few days I prayed for wisdom on what I should do. I also looked for verses in the Bible that talk about wisdom, and was surprised by what I found.

When I think of wisdom, usually the first thing that pops in my head is King Solomon and that poor baby. You probably know the story- God had given Solomon an incredible amount of wisdom, so much so that people from all over were coming to him with their questions and disputes. In this recorded case, two prostitutes came before the king, both claiming to be the mother of the same baby boy, both insisting that the other had stolen the infant after the death of the other’s child. This was obviously before DNA testing, so what could be done? Well, Solomon had a sword brought to him and decided to settle things by cutting the baby in half! Now, that doesn’t seem like a very compassionate king! It sounds more like something Judge Judy would do.

Judge Judy doesn’t want to hear your sob story. Her Honor gets right to the facts, lays down her decision and moves on to the next case, end of story. I realized I was asking God to be the” Judge Judy” of my life- I would present my problem and “ask for wisdom,” but what I really wanted was for God to give me a definite answer that didn’t leave any lingering questions. Obviously, God is not Judge Judy, and this is not the kind of wisdom he gives. So how should we think of wisdom? Let’s go back to Solomon- who really wasn’t like Judge Judy at all.

While it may have seemed bizarre that Solomon was going to cut a baby in half, the king had wisely discerned that the true mother would care more about the safety of the child than her possession of him. And so it was- the mother cried out for the boy’s life to be spared, and Solomon declared her the rightful parent. In doing this, he spared both the child and the women further pain. But this is more than Solomon just being cunning or smart. There’s compassion to this decision too- an essential part of wisdom.

When Solomon asked God for wisdom, God didn’t just fill his head with the right answer to every problem that would ever come up. No- he filled him with “wisdom” as James describes it- he filled him full of consideration, peacefulness, mercy, goodness, impartiality and sincerity. King Solomon wasn’t wise because he knew the law book forwards and backwards, or because he was particularly clever or a good problem solver. He was wise because his decisions flowed from a heart and mind focused on values that are essential to the Kingdom of God. He didn’t bother punishing the one woman for stealing a baby or stoning both women for being prostitutes (which the law would have demanded). His wisdom was compassionate, merciful, and just: it was true wisdom from above.

Streams in the Desert – May 31

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

You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season. (Job 5:26)

A gentleman, writing about the breaking up of old ships, recently said that it is not the age alone which improves the quality of the fiber in the wood of an old vessel, but the straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and of many kinds of cargoes.

Some planks and veneers made from an oak beam which had been part of a ship eighty years old were exhibited a few years ago at a fashionable furniture store on Broadway, New York, and attracted general notice for the exquisite coloring and beautiful grain.

Equally striking were some beams of mahogany taken from a bark which sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years and the traffic had contracted the pores and deepened the color, until it looked as superb in its chromatic intensity as an antique Chinese vase. It was made into a cabinet, and has today a place of honor in the drawing-room of a wealthy New York family.

So there is a vast difference between the quality of old people who have lived flabby, self-indulgent, useless lives, and the fiber of those who have sailed all seas and carried all cargoes as the servants of God and the helpers of their fellow men.

Not only the wrenching and straining of life, but also something of the sweetness of the cargoes carried get into the very pores and fiber of character.
—Louis Albert Banks

When the sun goes below the horizon he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure. And when a great and good man sets, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goes he leaves behind him much of himself. Being dead, he speaks.
—Beecher

When Victor Hugo was past eighty years of age he gave expression to his religious faith in these sublime sentences: “I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest which has been more than once cut down. The new shoots are livelier than ever. I am rising toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but Heaven lights me with its unknown worlds.

“You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets, and the roses as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple.”

A precious drop of honey

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.’ Isaiah 49:16

Suggested Further Reading: Deuteronomy 33:1–5

We have heard of one, an eastern queen, who so loved her husband that she thought even to build a mausoleum to his memory was not enough. She had a strange way of proving her affection, for when her husband’s bones were burned she took the ashes and drank them day by day, that, as she said, her body might be her husband’s living sepulchre. It was a strange way of showing love. But what shall I say of this divine, celestial, unobjectionable, sympathetic mode of showing remembrance, by cutting it into the palms? Words fail to express our intense content with this most admirable sign of tenderness and fond affection. It appears to me as though the King had said, ‘Shall I carve my people upon precious stones? Shall I choose the ruby, the emerald, the topaz? No; for these all must melt in the last general conflagration. What then? Shall I write on tables of gold or silver? No, for all these may canker and corrupt, and thieves may break through and steal. Shall I cut the memorial deep on brass? No, for time would wear it, and the letters would not long be legible. I will write on myself, on my own hand, and then my people will know how tender I am, that I would sooner cut into my own flesh than forget them; I will have my Son branded in the hand with the names of his people, that they may be sure he cannot forsake them; hard by the memorial of his wounds shall be the memorial of his love to them, for indeed his wounds are an everlasting remembrance.’ How loving, then, how full of superlative, super-excellent affection is God toward you and toward me in so recording our names.

For meditation: When he appeared before God on behalf of the people, the Old Testament high priest carried on his clothing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (Exodus 28:9–12,29) and the guilt of the people (Exodus 28:36–38). Our great High Priest has carried in his own body the sins of his people (Isaiah 53:4–61 Peter 2:24), knows every believer by name (John 10:3) and appears before God on their behalf (Hebrews 7:259:24). Are you represented by him?

Be Loyal To God Who Loves You

Stay Loyal to God | Spiritual quotes, Inspirational words, Faith quotes25 Important Bible Verses About Faithfulness To God (Powerful)
God who loves my loyalty. | Scripture verses, Christian facebook cover,  Christian facebookBible Quotes About Loyalty. QuotesGram
For the Lord is a faithful God. - Isaiah 30:18B | Happy sunday quotes,  Faith in god, FaithTop 40 Loyalty Quotes (2021 Update) - Quotefancy
31 Faithful Quotes - Inspirational Words of WisdomBeware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ."  -Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His… | Inspirational scripture, Oswald  chambers, Prayer verses

A Prayer for Memorial Day

By Debbie McDaniel, cbn.com

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

Freedom is a gift, it’s a treasure.  And though we all may agree on that truth, it’s often easy to take for granted the greatest gifts that God has given us in our lives.

But those most precious gifts are never free. They came with a price. With sacrifice. They were worth fighting for. And are still worth fighting for today. Many brave men and women were willing to face hard battles in order for us to enjoy that gift of freedom today.

For all those who have protected our nation, for the men and women in uniform, together, we say “Thank You.”

We take time to remember today, and say a prayer of gratefulness for the many who have been willing to pay a great price for our freedom.  May God help us to live so courageously, may we follow the brave examples of those who have gone before us…

Thank you for reminding us that there’s incredible love and sacrifice displayed when one is willing to stand strong and fight for freedom.

This service of love and sacrifice on behalf of all people, points us directly to the greatest love of all, the very gift and sacrifice of Christ.

Our Savior was willing to pay the ultimate price, so that we can live free. Forever.

Dear God,

We thank you for the freedom you have given to us, and for the price that was paid by Christ so that we could live free. We remember today. The cost of it all. The great sacrifice for freedom.

We thank you for the brave men and women who have fought, and continue to fight, so courageously for our nation. We ask for your covering and blessing over them and their families. We pray that you would be gracious and encircle them with your peace. We pray for your great favor and goodness to be evident in their lives.

Please be with all those who wear the uniform, who serve our communities and nation every single day. We ask that you provide your protection, that you would be their guiding force who leads the way, and their rear guard who keeps them safe from behind. We ask that you would draw them to yourself amidst the dangers they face in a dark world, for you are the Truth, you are the Way, you are the Light.

Help them to walk wisely. To stay covered in your armor. Give them godly discernment. Make them constantly aware of what lurks close by. Help them to be men and women of prayer, realizing that this is where their greatest help comes from. Help them to stay united and strong, bold and resolute, determined and unwavering.

Bless their families. Bless those they love. Give them your great favor, this day, and every day.

Thank you that in our nation today, we are free to worship. We are free to pray. We are free to read your Word.  We are free to speak.  We are free to share. For this, we are incredibly grateful. Yet, we understand how quickly these freedoms can be taken away. Give us an increased awareness of the spiritual battle we’re in. Help us to stand strong in you and for your purposes.

Thank you that as believers, we can be assured, you will never leave us, and are with us always, in this life, and the next.

Thank you for your truth that says, who the Son sets free is free indeed! We know that in you alone, true freedom is found.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen.

 

Big Things Come in Small Packages

Small Gift

 

When I was a kid there were a couple of occasions when my Sunday School class held a contest to see who could memorize the most verses of scripture. Invariably, each time this contest was held the first verse out of everyone’s mouth was John 11:35:

“Jesus wept.”

This is the shortest verse in the English Bible.

The power of John 11:35 is often overlooked because it is so small. When we look at it in light of the larger story, we see something truly wonderful about Jesus. The incident of Jesus weeping comes in the middle of the story of how He raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus was a good friend of Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Lazarus had fallen seriously ill and his sisters sent word to Jesus so Jesus would come and heal their brother. It is mentioned three times in John 11:1-46 that Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Even though none of these three were numbered among Jesus’s 12 disciples, the scripture speaks plainly of His love and affection for them.

Yet, when Jesus gets word that Lazarus is sick, He deliberately delays. Jesus doesn’t run to Lazarus’s side and heal him. Instead, Jesus spends two more days where He is and during that time Lazarus dies. Why? Why did Jesus wait and let His friend whom He loved die? Jesus let Lazarus die because He had a plan. The whole of the matter, from beginning to end, was no mystery to Jesus. The plan from the outset was to raise Lazarus from the dead.

It took another four days for Jesus to get to Bethany, the home of Mary and Martha and where their dead brother, Lazarus, had already been buried. Jesus even missed the funeral. Talk about being late. When Martha finds out Jesus is in town, she rushes out to see Him. In their conversation, we get one of the great verses of hope and promise. Jesus said in John 11:25-26,

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha then goes and gets Mary along with all the others who had been mourning with them.

Now comes the interesting moment. When Jesus sees Mary and Martha and all the people mourning with them, He is moved deeply and weeps as well. Jesus wept. But why? He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew the story was going to have beyond a happy ending. He knew that He was about to do something truly awesome. Yet – Jesus wept. He didn’t try to shush everyone. He didn’t scold them for not having faith. He didn’t try to tell them that everything was going to be ok. He didn’t turn the processional to the tomb into a victory parade. He walked with them and He wept with them.

Jesus wept because He understood and felt their pain and sorrow. God is the God of eternity, but He is also the God of the moment. He doesn’t belittle or dismiss how we feel simply because He knows how He will work everything out. Instead, He walks with us and feels with us in the times of our deepest hurt. Mary, Martha, and the crowd might have thought Jesus was late, but how can the One who can undo anything, including death, be late?

I don’t know what you are going through, but Jesus does. I don’t know how it will work out, but Jesus does. I don’t know how you feel, but Jesus does. Whatever it is, He has a plan. He is walking with you and He feels what you feel. Jesus weeps with you. He isn’t late, and in the end you will see whatever it is that has “died” in your life, raised again. Then, Jesus will rejoice with you.

Streams in the Desert – May 30

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

And they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth. (Rev 14:3)

There are songs which can only be learned in the valley. No art can teach them; no rules of voice can make them perfectly sung. Their music is in the heart. They are songs of memory, of personal experience. They bring out their burden from the shadow of the past; they mount on the wings of yesterday.

St. John says that even in Heaven there will be a song that can only be fully sung by the sons of earth—the strain of redemption. Doubtless it is a song of triumph, a hymn of victory to the Christ who made us free. But the sense of triumph must come from the memory of the chain.

No angel, no archangel can sing it so sweetly as I can. To sing it as I sing it, they must pass through my exile, and this they cannot do. None can learn it but the children of the Cross.

And so, my soul, thou art receiving a music lesson from thy Father. Thou art being educated for the choir invisible. There are parts of the symphony that none can take but thee.

There are chords too minor for the angels. There may be heights in the symphony which are beyond the scale—heights which angels alone can reach; but there are depths which belong to thee, and can only be touched by thee.

Thy Father is training thee for the part the angels cannot sing; and the school is sorrow. I have heard many say that He sends sorrow to prove thee; nay, He sends sorrow to educate thee, to train thee for the choir invisible.

In the night He is preparing thy song. In the valley He is tuning thy voice. In the cloud He is deepening thy chords. In the rain He is sweetening thy melody. In the cold He is moulding thy expression. In the transition from hope to fear He is perfecting thy lights.

Despise not thy school of sorrow, O my soul; it will give thee a unique part in the universal song.
—George Matheson

The Most Precious Memorial

42 Memorial of Jesus' Death ideas | jesus death, jesus, in remembrance of meFuneral Scriptures: Best Bible Verses for Funerals » Urns | Online
25 Millions. will Attend Will You?????? Friday Apirl 3,2015 8.00pm. Kingdom  Hall Jehovah witnesses........ ideas | jehovah, kingdom hall, jehovah's  witnessesMemorial Day Bible Verses, Christian Quotes and Prayers
Jesusrealhope - Yes! Jesus Christ is my everything, i am nothing without  Him 💯 . “All things were made through Him, and wi… | Jesus quotes, Christ, Jesus  christ24 Bible Verses About Hope — Bible Verses About Not Giving Up
Hopeful Bible Verses for Spring - Faith, Hope, and Love Verses11 Bible Verses For Funerals — What To Read At a Funeral

The Most Precious Memorial

 

As I was reflecting on this day, I looked up the word “memorial” in my Bible concordance and was a little surprised at what was written in the subtitle. It said “Forgetfulness of God.” As I thought about this phrase for a moment, I understood. Much like Memorial Day, biblical memorials were set up to avoid forgetting what God had done. They were reminders so people would not forget.

Passover was a reminder to God’s people of the last plague of Egypt which took the first-born of every family who did not have blood applied to the doorpost of their home. This memorial was not meant to remind them of death, but of life and mercy (Exodus 12:14). God provided life when death was imminent. He was merciful to those who believed and obeyed.

There was a memorial for remembering the manna which God provided in the wilderness (Exodus 16:32). Another memorial was established to record the names of the tribes of Israel which God had established as a covenant (Exodus 28:12). As the leader of God’s people into the Promised Land, Joshua even established a memorial for God’s Word. “Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God” (Joshua 24:27). Yet, of all memorials ever established, there is one which stands head and shoulders above all others; and that is the memorial of communion.

When it was time, {Jesus} sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God.” Taking the cup, He blessed it, then said, “Take this and pass it among you. As for Me, I’ll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives.” Taking bread, He blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, given for you. Eat it in My memory.” He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in My blood, blood poured out for you” (Luke 22:14-20, Message).

Although the disciples had little understanding of what Jesus was instituting on this night, it has since become a memorial as He said it would.

The Apostle Paul memorialized the Lord’s Supper in his first letter to the Corinthians instructing them to continue this tradition as a reminder of God’s love and mercy.

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me'” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).

By the Holy Spirit, Paul received instruction to pass on to God’s people the importance of instituting a memorial for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice.

In every memorial, something is established to put people in remembrance of certain facts. In communion, the actual bread and wine (or juice) have no real power in and of themselves. Yet because of what they represent, they have great power for the believer. The bread represents healing for the outward man. Jesus said, “This is My body which is broken for you.” Isaiah prophesied regarding the sacrificial offering of the coming Messiah when he said, “And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Likewise, the cup represents forgiveness for the inward man. “In the same manner {Jesus} took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood.'”

When we study the different memorials set up in remembrance of God’s deliverance or provision, we notice there is never a set timeline for memorials. Each one had its own guidelines. For example, the Passover was to be memorialized once a year, whereas the memorial for God’s people to remember His Word was only a large stone placed under an oak tree. This memorial would be visible to all who passed by, thus establishing a regular reminder throughout the year, not just once. In the same way, the Lord’s Supper (or Communion) has its own timeline. Paul said, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). The key words here are “as often.” In other words, Paul, by the Holy Spirit, was not giving instruction as to a particular day of the year, or month, or even a certain day of the week. He simply said as often as you do this (insinuating whenever it is you take communion) remember there is a purpose.

Jesus warned us about allowing traditions to rob God’s Word of its power and authority. A good example is found in Mark, Chapter Seven. The Pharisees criticized Jesus’ disciples for the way they washed their hands stating it was against Jewish tradition. Jesus outright said to them, “{You} make the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do” (Mark 7:13). I dare say we have done the same with the Lord’s Supper. Communion can become a tradition which we partake of forgetting the real power of its memorial. So Paul said, “As often as you do this, make sure you really remember WHY you do it” (my paraphrase). It’s not about only remembering the bread represents Jesus’ body and the cup represents Jesus’ blood. Communion is about remembering WHY the bread and cup were given. They each respectively remind us of the life we have now been given in Christ Jesus. They are true memorials – possibly the most precious of all memorials. And they are to be taken as often as we’d like… in remembrance of Him.

Through The Bible Devotions

2 Samuel 6:14-16 (KJV) 14And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. 15So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. 16And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

Once David saw that the home in which he left the ark was blessed, He decided to go ahead and bring it to the tabernacle in Jerusalem. This time, he had it carried correctly by the priests. As it was arriving in Jerusalem, he was so overjoyed that he leaped and danced in only an ephod. An ephod was a worshiper’s vest that was highly decorated. It may have come down to the waist or have covered the hips. Either way, his leaping and dancing about must have exposed him. Michael, Saul’s daughter, saw her husband and dancing before the LORD with the women of Jerusalem looking on and became very jealous. She put a damper on David’s joy by rebuking him when he came to bless her. She despised him and became barren.

There is a great variety of worship styles in the church today. Some would get almost as wild as David. The conservatives despise them because of it. If it is to the LORD, and only God can judge that, the conservative camp had better be careful that they do not end up barren like Michael. If they are worshiping the LORD with all their heart and focused upon Him, they are pleasing the heart of God. You don’t have to be expressive to worship with all your heart, but sincere and deep emotion is often expressive.

“Who are we to judge another man’s servant,” the Apostle Paul wrote (Romans 14:4). The worshiper is God’s servant, and whatever style he worships in, God will be the judge as to whether it is appropriate. Mankind judges according to appearance, but God judges the heart. However you worship, let’s catch the excitement that David had for the presence of God within us. Never be complacent about that.

Consider: The Presence is in the tent of the believer’s body. Leap for joy!

Same Terms – Streams in the Desert – May 29

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

I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father. (John 15:15)

Years ago there was an old German professor whose beautiful life was a marvel to his students. Some of them resolved to know the secret of it; so one of their number hid in the study where the old professor spent his evenings.

It was late when the teacher came in. He was very tired, but he sat down and spent an hour with his Bible. Then he bowed his head in secret prayer; and finally closing the Book of books, he said,

“Well, Lord Jesus, we’re on the same old terms.”

To know Him is life’s highest attainment; and at all costs, every Christian should strive to be “on the same old terms with Him.”

The reality of Jesus comes as a result of secret prayer, and a personal study of the Bible that is devotional and sympathetic. Christ becomes more real to the one who persists in the cultivation of His presence.

Speak thou to Him for He heareth,
And spirit with spirit will meet!
Nearer is He than breathing,
Nearer than hands and feet.

—Maltbie D. Babcock

Feeling Helpless

by Inspiration Ministries

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” – Matthew 9:36 ESV

Do you ever get the feeling of being helpless? Of being in situations where nothing seems to be going right? When it just feels that there isn’t anything you can do to make a difference? It’s easy to become discouraged, anxious, depressed. We can feel stretched when we realize the limits of our abilities and how little we really can do on our own.

We need to turn to God in these moments of helplessness. Not in a shallow, superficial way but deeply, profoundly, passionately. We need to surrender completely to His will and admit before Him that we need His help. We are lost without Him. These are moments to practice the principles and promises we find in the Bible. We need to trust in Him with our whole being and not to lean on our understanding. We need to acknowledge Him and have faith in Him.

We remember how Jesus responded when He looked at the crowds who followed Him, He saw helpless people. They were like sheep without a shepherd. Seeing their helplessness, Jesus “had compassion on them.” And He was ready to provide what they needed and lift their spirits.

In those moments when you feel helpless, you can turn to Jesus. As He did with the crowds during His earthly ministry, you can be sure that He has compassion for you. He will provide what you need.

Memorial Day: A Day to Honor Life

25 Important Bible Verses About Loving GodHeartwarming Bible Verses About Family To Remind You of Its Importance
O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and  powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! | Jeremiah 32, Bible apps, Scripture  versesAmazon.com: Hot Sale Bible Verse Quotes God is my strength and power With  Beautiful Flower Foldable Umbrella Compact Umbrella: Sports & Outdoors
37 Bible Verses About Marriage — Best Marriage Scriptures35 Bible Verses About Anger — What the Bible Says About Anger
34 Bible verses about No Other Is God15 Bible Verses About Friendship and the Qualities of a True Friend | by  Dexter Whinfield | Medium
35 Bible Verses About Anger — What the Bible Says About Anger35 Bible Verses About Anger — What the Bible Says About Anger

Memorial Day: A Day to Honor Life

soldier-salute-righthand_SI.jpg
Beth Patch – Senior Producer, cbn.com

Memorial Day – to some it’s merely the beginning of summer and to others it’s a solemn day to remember those who have passed from this life. However, to the war veteran and to the families of fallen soldiers, Memorial Day carries significance so deep that words cannot express their hearts.

When we look into the eyes of those who still mourn these once vibrant men and women, we often sense their loneliness and pain. We hear them choke back tears as they simply say the ranks and names of their military brothers and sisters at a Memorial Day service. White gloves, dress uniforms, rigid posture, and perfectly precisioned salutes represent the reverence and respect flowing from within. Those who have been personally affected by war understand and appreciate this day of remembrance.

What should we say to those who sincerely honor this day? “Happy Memorial Day” doesn’t seem fitting. “I’m sorry for your loss” may be closer to appropriate. What would the fallen soldier want from their comrades and the rest of the country on this day?

In an often quoted Memorial Day speech given in 1884 by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the speaker ended his address with these words, “Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death — of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.”

The American soldier who gave his or her life for U.S. citizens to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness won’t be telling us how to observe the holiday. But I believe that Holmes’ proposition to “think of life, not death” would honor the fallen soldier. Their sacrifice follows the example of Jesus Christ laying down His life for our freedom. It’s selfless love for others – not so others can mourn forever, but live!

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16

Notice that in scripture and in military service, the willingness to give up one’s life is not dependent on the worthiness of the people who benefit from the honorable act. In a perfect world, all who receive freedom and grace would be worthy of such a sacrifice and full of gratitude. But that’s not the way it is anywhere on Earth or in Heaven.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8

We are blessed to be living in a free society. May we honor our American soldiers for the liberty we have in this country. May we also give thanks to Almighty God for the freedom we have to spend eternity with Him because of His gift of forgiveness through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Streams in the Desert – May 28

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

Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” “I will not let you go,” Jacob replied, “unless you bless me.” Then Jacob asked, “Please tell me your name.” “Why do you ask my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. (Gen 32:26,29)

Jacob got the victory and the blessing not by wrestling, but by clinging. His limb was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go. Unable to wrestle, he wound his arms around the neck of his mysterious antagonist and hung all his helpless weight upon him, until at last he conquered.

We will not get victory in prayer until we too cease our struggling, giving up our own will and throw our arms about our Father’s neck in clinging faith.

What can puny human strength take by force out of the hand of Omnipotence? Can we wrest blessing by force from God? It is never the violence of wilfulness that prevails with God. It is the might of clinging faith, that gets the blessing and the victories. It is not when we press and urge our own will, but when humility and trust unite in saying, “Not my will, but Thine.” We are strong with God only in the degree that self is conquered and is dead. Not by wrestling, but by clinging can we get the blessing.
—J. R. Miller

An incident from the prayer life of Charles H. Usher (illustrating “soul-cling” as a hindrance to prevailing prayer): “My little boy was very ill. The doctors held out little hope of his recovery. I had used all the knowledge of prayer which I possessed on his behalf, but he got worse and worse. This went on for several weeks.

“One day I stood watching him as he lay in his cot, and I saw that he could not live long unless he had a turn for the better. I said to God, ’O God, I have given much time in prayer for my boy and he gets no better; I must now leave him to Thee, and I will give myself to prayer for others. If it is Thy will to take him, I choose Thy will—I surrender him entirely to Thee.’

“I called in my dear wife, and told her what I had done. She shed some tears, but handed him over to God. Two days afterwards a man of God came to see us. He had been very interested in our boy Frank, and had been much in prayer for him.

“He said, ’God has given me faith to believe that he will recover—have you faith?’

“I said, ’I have surrendered him to God, but I will go again to God regarding him.’ I did; and in prayer I discovered that I had faith for his recovery. From that time he began to get better. It was the ’soul-cling’ in my prayers which had hindered God answering; and if I had continued to cling and had been unwilling to surrender him, I doubt if my boy would be with me today.

“Child of God! If you want God to answer your prayers, you must be prepared to follow the footsteps of ’our father Abraham,’ even to the Mount of Sacrifice.” (See Rom. 4:12.)

The Great Cost of Freedom

By Debbie McDaniel, crosswalk.org

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Freedom is never free. It’s a precious gift. And often, it comes at a very great cost. Through the years of our nation’s history, countless brave men and women have given their lives in order to protect our country and to allow us to live free today.

But often, we may forget. It’s easy to take for granted what we’ve always had. And most of us alive today have always enjoyed wonderful freedom in our lives, and in our nation.

Yet somewhere along the way, many others have paid and sacrificed dearly for the liberties we enjoy so freely today.

Originally known as Decoration Day after the Civil War in 1868, Memorial Day was established as a national holiday in 1971, a time for pausing to remember all of those who have died while serving in the American armed forces.

This is a day to be thankful.

To remember.

For all those who have protected our nation, for the men and women in uniform, together, we say “Thank You.”

There’s great power and strength in the loyalty of your service, because of these things:

– There’s power in unity and standing strong together.

– There’s power in fighting on behalf of our nation, and for those who cannot fight for themselves.

– There’s power in rising up in courage, pursuing victory for what is right.

– There’s power in knowing that God Himself fights on our behalf.

– There’s power in prayer and in the One who sets us truly free.

May we never forget the cost of it all, the great price that was paid for our freedom, and the courage that our nation was founded on as “One Nation Under God.” Thank you to those who paved the way for our liberty, to those who have fought hard, and were willing to pay such a great price.

May He help us to always stand strong for what we know is true. May He help us to walk in love. May He help us to live brave. For all those who wear the uniform today and for those who have gone before, we pause to pray…and give thanks…and to remember.

The Lord bless you greatly for your service and sacrifice.

And may God bless America!

 

A troubled prayer

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.’ Psalm 25:18

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 11:23–28

A Christian counts sorrow lighter in the scale than sin; he can bear that his troubles should continue, but he cannot endure the burden of his guilt, or the weight of his transgressions. Here are two guests come to my door; both of them ask to have a lodging with me. The one is called Affliction; he has a very grave voice, and a very heavy hand, and he looks at me with fierce eyes. The other is called Sin, and he is very soft-spoken, and very fair, and his words are softer than butter. Let me scan their faces, let me examine them as to their character; I must not be deceived by appearances. I will ask my two friends who would lodge with me, to open their hands. When my friend Affliction, with some little difficulty, opens his hand, I find that, rough as it is, he carries a jewel inside it, and that he meant to leave that jewel at my house. But as for my soft-spoken friend Sin, when I force him to show me what it is that is hidden in his sleeve, I find that it is a dagger with which he would have stabbed me. What shall I do, then, if I am wise? Why, I should be very glad if they would both be good enough to go and stop somewhere else, but if I must entertain one of the two, I would shut my door in the face of smooth-spoken Sin, and say to the rougher and uglier visitor, Affliction, ‘Come and stop with me, for maybe God has sent you as a messenger of mercy to my soul.’ ‘Look upon mine affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sin.’ We must be more express and explicit about sin than we are about trouble.

For meditation: Anything has got to be better than sin; the Christian is not short of alternatives to prefer (Psalm 84:10Matthew 18:8–9Ephesians 4:285:4,11Hebrews 11:25). Are these your sentiments or would you rather hold on to your sin (John 3:19), regardless of what it has done to you (Romans 7:11) and what it will do to you (Romans 6:23)?

Jesus Gives Us Life

Pin on Bible Verses41 Bible Verses about Eternal Life - DailyVerses.net
Top 15 Bible Verses-Jesus Paid It All - Everyday ServantBible Verses about Life - Bible Verse Images
Hopeful Bible Verses for Spring - Faith, Hope, and Love VersesPin on Faith
\
Bible Verses about Life - Bible Verse ImagesJesus Christ Quotes: the very breath of god is in you | Bible quotes,  Biblical quotes, Scripture quotes

 

Crawling Through the Cracks

Golden retriever laying in the grass

 

Since I am the mother of teenagers, you can imagine how my schedule consists of running one here, dropping the other there.

On one particular afternoon, I collected my keys to drive my son to lacrosse practice. Walking through the kitchen, I noticed something on the floor that appeared to be grass or a stick. As I bent down to pick it up, it moved. Grass and sticks do not move. It was then I realized I had a snake in my kitchen.

I am not a former girl scout or a nature girl of any kind. I did what any self respecting female would do, I screamed! My junior knight in shining armor, my 14 year-old son, ran into the room to see what had caused my panic. He immediately said he would get it with his lacrosse stick. His stick has holes in it and the snake can travel through holes. I sent him to grab a shovel out of the garage while I watched the snake.

With a racing heart, I managed to open the back door. After several attempts, he finally scooped the snake up and tossed him out the back door and then I slammed the door shut. When I looked out through the door, I noticed my dog was in the back yard. She had been in the kitchen and hadn’t bothered to help us at all. She’s a golden retriever; you’d have thought she would have tried to retrieve the snake.

When I got home, I was chatting with God and told Him I could have gone all day long without that happening. I could almost hear Him chuckle. God wastes nothing, including our time, so I began asking Him what I could learn from the situation.

How did the snake get inside? Well, I had been cooking on the grill and was going in and out of the house so I had left the backdoor cracked.

This got me to thinking: Is there any area in our lives that we have left cracked, where the enemy can get in? What about watching things on TV that are questionable or reading books that do not honor God? Have we been a party to gossip? Have we spoken harshly to someone or held on to bitterness?

What about my dog, the retriever? It is her job to protect the family, but she didn’t. She was literally laying down on the job. Do we expect others to cover our family in prayer and teach our children about Jesus? Do we think attending church or going to a Christian school or being involved in campus ministries like Fellowship of Christian Athletes gives our children all of the foundation they need?  Are we laying down on the job?

I encourage you to take some time with the Lord and ask Him if there are any doors left cracked that need closing or any areas that you are laying down on the job. God wants the very best for us. In John 10:10 it says:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Jesus wants us to have life to the full, but we must do our part. Are we?

 

Through The Bible Devotions

1 Samuel 30:22-24 22But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.” 23David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the forces that came against us. 24Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.”

David and his men returned from a predicament of marching with the Philistines against Judah. The commanders of the Philistines feared David would turn on them so they sent them back before the battle began. Delivered from that situation, they came home to find their city burned and their families taken captive. David didn’t act without consulting the LORD. The LORD sent him against the Amalekites that had burned their city. It is interesting that Saul lost the kingdom over sparing the Amalekite king, while David is about to come into power after a battle with them.

They had marched so long that one-third of David’s men could not go on. Two-thirds marched on and fought for 24 straight hours, recapturing everything and taking a huge amount of spoil. On returning to the others, some did not want to share the spoils of war. David had the right perspective. He insisted the victory was from God and so all had a right to the spoils. Those who stayed behind and took care of their home are as deserving as those who went into battle.

Some people think that missionaries and pastors will have all the heavenly rewards. They would not be where they are without the prayer and financial support of those who stay behind. The spoils will be shared by all. Even the angels in heaven rejoice over every soul that comes into the Kingdom.

Consider: We are in this together regardless of our part. Am I doing my part?

 

Change is Stressful

by Laura MacCorkle, crosswalk.com

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30, NIV

“Change is stressful.”

I remember my very first boss saying that to me when the direct marketing agency we worked for was undergoing massive restructuring within the various divisions.

It felt like the staff had been thrown into a giant grab bag and then dumped back out. However we landed was where (and with what teams of people) we now worked.

It was ultimately change for the better, but he was right. It was stressful. Figuratively speaking, “dust” that had settled was then being disrupted and wafting about the air causing many of us discomfort as we sneezed and hacked and scratched at our irritated eyes. Why do we have to change? Why do I have to work with this person now? God, I was very comfortable and doing so great with the way things were before. So why are you disrupting my life now?

It didn’t take me long to get over this change, however. Really, it was more annoying than anything else – unlike other changes in our lives that we would probably all agree are automatically “good” things: a new job, getting married, having a baby, etc. Yet, even these types of changes can bring about stress as well as our worlds take on new landscapes.

At the other end of the spectrum, other life changes can be extremely painful for us. Death, moving far away, loss of employment, divorce, disease. Lord, how can this possibly be good? It hurts so much. Why would you purpose this for me? What did I do wrong?

In hindsight, I can see how God has caused all types of changes in my life to effect growth and open doors to new opportunities. Sometimes the changes pained me beyond measure and other times they just kept me awake at night with nervous excitement. But through it all, there was beauty that resulted and the Lord helped me to give him the glory and the strength to make it through all circumstances (Phil. 4.11-3).

Wherever you are today or whenever you are reading this, I’m ninety-nine percent sure that you are going through some sort of change in your life right now. I am, too.

You may be very cognizant of it. It may have you feeling over the moon. Or it may hurt like the dickens. Or the change may be so slow-going and so subtle, that you may not even know you are undergoing it. But whatever it may be, what is most important is how you and I respond to what God is doing in our lives.

Resolve to take Jesus’ yoke upon yourself. Give the change you’re undergoing to him. As we seek him, learn from him and how we can follow him in our daily living, he will be with us. He may not give us the answers we’re looking for or resolve our situations right away. But rest assured, he will surely undergird us and give us strength and joy as we go through whatever change he has ordained in our lives.

 

Anxious Thoughts

by Inspiration Ministries

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” – Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

How many thoughts will you have today? Recent studies by the National Science Foundation suggest that, on average, people have 50,000 thoughts per day. Other studies suggest that this number may reach 70,000! This translates into thousands of thoughts every hour and more than one per second.

What will you think about? Practical things, health and diet, relationships and interests, friends and family, feelings and decisions to be made, spiritual issues, finances, world events, and more.

As thoughts turn over in your mind, at some point you may feel fear or anxiety. You might have concerns that seem impossible to shake. You can find yourself worried. It can seem impossible to be relieved of these burdening thoughts. But the Bible reminds us that God can give you peace and bring calmness to any troubled mind. How?

If you find your mind filled with worries, tell God every detail. Everything that worries you. The Bible promises that He will take away your burdens and give you peace beyond anything you can understand. You can cast all your cares on Him “because he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7).

What worries do you have today? What burdens? God invites you to tell Him every thought. Not just pleasant things but frustrations and failures. Thoughts that weigh you down. Problems you face. Things you don’t understand. Tell Him every detail. Don’t hold back. Let Him give you His peace.

Walk In The Spirit

15 Bible verses about Walking In The SpiritPin on Bible Verses
Walk in the Spirit | Walk in the spirit, Kindness scripture, Bible quotes  about faithWhat does it mean to walk in the Spirit? | GotQuestions.org
Galatians 5:25 - Walk by the Spirit - Free Bible Art Downloads - Bible  Verses To GoPin on Learn about God's Word
15 Bible verses about Walking In The SpiritVERSE OF THE DAY So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the  desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 N… | Verse of the day, Jesus is lord,

It’s Not about Who’s Right or Who’s Wrong

by Stephen Sanders, crosswak.com

It’s not about who’s right or who’s wrong. It is about glorifying God no matter who’s doing what.

In my videographer role at Salem Web Network, I have the privilege of being able to see the best (and worse) the Body of Christ has to offer. Unfortunately, it is probably more bad than good in a lot of cases. But I guess it makes sense when you think about what Jesus said: Matthew 7:12

This variety in the Body of Christ has been an ongoing struggle for me since the work environment I’d been in for the 5 years prior was very sheltered. I was working at a church, so I only saw that perspective on the Christian walk. But now I’m exposed to what seems to be millions of different outlooks on what it means to be a Christian.

A recent Google search revealed to me that there are approximately 38,000 denominations of the Christian faith. I suppose you could probably lump a lot of those together into a few hundred general categories if you wanted to, or even protestant/catholic if you really, really wanted to. But the point is…even if it was 380 instead of 38,000…that is A LOT. But back to the perspectives…

With these 10’s of thousands of denominations come even more views on what is right and what is wrong. What is “Christian” behavior and what isn’t and so forth and so on. It is (and has been for me) a very easy thing to get caught up in if one isn’t careful. In a recent devotional I wrote titled, “don’t let foolishness get the best of you” I shared how easy it has become for Christians to share their voice more boldly online. It’s been over 2 months since I published that article and I’m still processing this whole ordeal; trying to find my place in all of this chaos.

Yesterday I think I finally came to a conclusion: No one is totally right. (Brilliant, I know) No matter how confident we may sound when we claim that, “__________ is what the Bible says about _________,” none of us are right. How could we be? We still live in a sin-cursed world, we all still make mistakes, all still fall short of perfection that only God possesses.

Some of us sound really smart with our proclamations and it can be very easy for someone like myself to become mesmerized with a specific stance on certain matters. But what happens is that these perspectives, once taken to a certain level, become idols of our worship. And that goes for disagreeing with the perspectives just as much as showing allegiance. Let me give you an example.

Pastor _______ writes a book on ______ perspective on ________. Some agree with his refreshing insight while others accuse him of blasphemy. 1000’s of people chime in and before you know it, it has become a bigger topic amongst Christian circles than the Gospel itself. Isn’t that more evil than good? Isn’t that behavior exalting the flesh and not the Spirit?

It becomes even more disturbing when it becomes more personal.

A first-time visitor walks into a church sanctuary or youth group that is more about the issues than it is the Gospel message. They develop a perspective of what Jesus is like from these encounters. After all, that’s why people come to church. To hear about Jesus, right? Will they leave confused not knowing what they’ve just witnessed? Perhaps worse, will they become fascinated and faithfully follow a “man of god” who isn’t Gospel-centered in his preaching.

Galatians 5:16-26 says, “…walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Now the works of the flesh are evident: …enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions…and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love…peace, patience, kindness…gentleness, self-control. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

So, realizing the harm I’ve witnessed firsthand on such matters, I’ve come to the conclusion that humility is key. As a Christian, I must never make certain things “sins” that the Bible doesn’t claim to be sin. I must never make certain spiritual gifts bigger than they actually are. I must never become so involved in perspectives that I lose sight of how the Bible tells me to conduct myself. I must never make definitive statements about anything other than Jesus being God and the only way to eternal life. Because when I do that, it becomes more about me and less about Him.

Through The Bible Devotions

1 Samuel 28:5-7 5When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. 6He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. 7Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.” “There is one in Endor,” they said.

When man becomes unrepentant and justifies his flesh, he will abandon his standards to get what he wants. Saul remained unrepentant and proud to the very end. Faced with a united army of the Philistines, and having vanquished David and his men, he began to fear the outcome of the approaching battle. In fear for his physical life, he inquired of God, but God wouldn’t answer him.

It is interesting to note the usual ways in which the LORD did speak to him in the past. Dreams are one way in which the LORD communicates then and now. When we don’t have the exact instruction in God’s Word, the LORD may reveal His direction in a dream. The Urim is believed to have been stones in the breastplate of the High Priest that would glow in answer to yes or no questions. The last on the list were the prophets. A prophet would have a word from the LORD for Saul, as Samuel had done in the past.

Saul had become the enemy of the LORD by disobedience and pride. He went against the Word of God in calling on a witch to bring up the spirit of Samuel. When we know we are out of God’s will and that God is silent toward us, desperate people will try forbidden means to see the future. If God does not tell you, it is better for you not to know. Do not try to find out the secrets of God through mystical means. It only compounds the sin of rebellion against God. If you are not hearing from God, search out the issues in your heart that must change.

Remember: If you aren’t hearing God’s instruction, the problem may be in your own heart.

 

The River of Blessing beneath the Desert – Streams in the Desert – May 26

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

Then Israel sang this song: “Spring up, O well, sing to it! (Num 21:17)

This was a strange song and a strange well. They had been traveling over the desert’s barren sands, no water was in sight and they were famishing with thirst. Then God spake to Moses and said:

“Gather the people together, and I will give them water,” and this is how it came.

They gathered in circles on the sands. They took their staves and dug deep down into the burning earth and as they dug, they sang,

“Spring up, O well, sing ye unto it,” and lo, there came a gurgling sound, a rush of water and a flowing stream which filled the well and ran along the ground.

When they dug this well in the desert, they touched the stream that was running beneath, and reached the flowing tides that had long been out of sight.

How beautiful the picture given, telling us of the river of blessing that flows all through our lives, and we have only to reach by faith and praise to find our wants supplied in the most barren desert.

How did they reach the waters of this well? It was by praise. They sang upon the sand their song of faith, while with their staff of promise they dug the well.

Our praise will still open fountains in the desert, when murmuring will only bring us judgment, and even prayer may fail to reach the fountains of blessing.

There is nothing that pleases the Lord so much as praise. There is no test of faith so true as the grace of thanksgiving. Are you praising God enough? Are you thanking Him for your actual blessings that are more than can be numbered, and are you daring to praise Him even for those trials which are but blessings in disguise? Have you learned to praise Him in advance for the things that have not yet come?
—Selected

“Thou waitest for deliverance!
O soul, thou waitest long!
Believe that now deliverance
Doth wait for thee in song!

“Sigh not until deliverance
Thy fettered feet doth free:
With songs of glad deliverance
God now doth compass thee.”

Heads Up, Listen!

Jim Poelman, Todaydevotional.com

  

Scripture Reading — Revelation 11:15-19

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah.” — Revelation 11:15

When our children were young, I sometimes used a “heads-up” call as I read a story to them. “Now listen carefully to what comes next,” I would say. I did this because some parts of a story are key to under­standing the whole.

As we read the story of the ­seventh trumpet call, we need to pay close attention and ­listen carefully. This part of God’s ­story is key to understanding who we are and what we are called to do in this world. As God’s witnesses, we need to know that God’s kingdom is advancing right now, even though it may seem at times that the world is thoroughly corrupt and controlled by the forces of evil.

This part of God’s story is shouted by “loud voices in heaven” and reinforced by the twenty-four elders seated around God’s throne. Listen carefully to what heaven announces: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

We need to listen carefully because heaven’s reason for rejoicing is often missed. In our everyday lives, we tend to think that God’s kingdom will come someday and that Jesus, the Messiah, will then “reign forever and ever.” But the announcement is not in the future tense. The ­seventh trumpet call an­nounces that God’s kingdom claims the kingdom of this world now. And this present reality ­changes everything for all who live by faith in Jesus.

Prayer

Jesus, please give us ears to hear that you are King, now and forever! Amen

Do Not Judge People

Pin on off|the|stage25 Bible Verses about Judgment - DailyVerses.net
Pin on So True~Pin on ✝Inspirational bible verses☦
Don't judge, so that you won't be judged! - Evangelical EndtimemachineChristian Quotes On Judging Others. QuotesGram
Don't Judge Someone Just Because They Sin Differently Than You Do - MemLok.comHe came to save, not judge. | Soaking Up The Son

One Light

ship at night with captain steering the boat

 

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5 KJV)

“Captain! I’m not sure I can do this! What if I mess up? What about the sandbars and rocks in this channel? What if I get off course in the dark and how will I know before it’s too late?” Those were the very frantic words of  First Mate Alexander as he steered the ship through Ripside Channel for the first time.

“I once stood exactly where you are. You’ll do fine. Besides, I’ll be standing right here and won’t let you mess up,” the Captain replied.

“Let me tell you the story of how Ripside Channel got its name,” the Captain said. “Years ago, so many ships couldn’t navigate the channel, so the community folks decided something should be done to help protect their sailors. They decided to place a light on top of a high pole in three places. One, right on the beach, and two spaced out further back inland. The trick is to line up all three poles and lights until it looks like only one light. Once you’ve done that, you can sail safely through the channel.

One hour later, a deep sense of relief swept over FM Alexander as the lights came into view. He’d successfully navigated Ripside Channel at night. This was one night he’d always remember.

As Christians, we’d do well to follow the Captain’s advice. We should line up our lives to where we only see one light, the Savior shining like a beacon in our darkness. Although life’s sea has many dangers and disappointments, our Captain has already charted the course and walked in our shoes. If we focus on him, no matter the severity of the storm, we’re promised safe passage into that heavenly shore. Just follow that one light.

Heavenly Father, we ask that you would keep us safely in your care. Help us to focus on our one light who is Christ Jesus. No matter how difficult the way or how dark the night, help us realize we can always trust the word of our Captain. Help us as Christians understand that younger, inexperienced people are watching our lives. They’re looking to see how we rely on you and counting on us to help them through trying circumstances. Help us shine the light of your love in our lives that others may be drawn to you. Amen.

Traveling Mercies

by Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.com

You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day. – Psalm 91:5

With Memorial Day weekend’s arrival, summer travel season has begun, so I’ve been reminiscing upon all the times the Lord has watched out for me on the road through all my journeys. Here are just a few examples:

When I helped my wife – before she was my wife – move from Columbia, South Carolina to Farmville, Virginia, we rented an auto transport to trail her car behind the U-Haul so that we could both ride together in the truck. I had helped load her car onto the transport before we left. We decided to get out of town and onto the interstate before we gassed up. We’d traveled up and down hills, across several railroad tracks, on the interstate, in stop-and-go traffic… and it was raining. You’ll understand the reason I tell you all that momentarily.

When we pulled into the gas station, we realized we didn’t have Valerie’s key chain. It held the keys to her car, her new home, her old home, and several expensive keys to the University of South Carolina. Neither of us had any idea where they could be. I got out of the truck to think… and I spotted them, there on one of the two-inch thick beams of the auto transport. I yelled for Valerie, who came to look. I carefully touched the keys with my fingertips… and they dropped to the ground. Neither of us could believe our eyes, or that those keys had remained there of their own accord over the route we had driven. It had to be the Lord. If not, well, He got the praise and glory anyway.

Another time, when I was just a boy, my mother’s station wagon had a flat tire on a remote stretch of road outside Tucson. My sister and I were in the car as my mother struggled to get the hubcap off. In those days, on that model, a special tool was required to be able to get to the lugnuts. We didn’t have the tool. Just then, a guy rode up on a bike. He happened to have the tool. He handed it to my mother, who to this day swears he was an angel. I’m not sure I can argue with her.

At other times there have been individuals who showed up with just the right help during blowouts, or – believe it or not – airline personnel who actually made my trip better than it could have gone. The most memorable of these instances, truly, have come during times I prayed, read my Bible, and had decided in advance not to get bent out of shape about delays or other problems. One such cross-country trip resulted in an out-of-nowhere upgrade to first class from Philadelphia to Seattle, where I also ended up in a position to calmly solve a dispute between passengers. Indeed, the Lord has been gracious to me in travel.

My wife’s family has a tradition before every trip they take to read Psalm 91. It reminds them that God is their refuge as they go, wherever they go. And of course before every trip we take, my family prays for safety, and mercy… and the opportunity to minister, even if it is an inconvenience to our plans.

One way or another, this prayer is always answered. Still, it’s hard to remind myself of goodness and opportunity in delay. Sometimes I still feel that the trip, the vacation, is my time… that whatever gets in the way shows that the Lord does not care, or did not “bless” our travels. That’s when I remember Paul’s travels. I am certain the Apostle didn’t think shipwrecks and imprisonment were helps toward spreading the Gospel. But in the end, they were. Are our travels – no matter what purpose we think they hold – any different?

Jesus told a story about a traveler who had been robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the road. Those who passed him by had in mind only their own agendas and their desire not to be inconvenienced, even if they were priests by vocation. What would you do? Would you have the time, yearning, and empathy to interrupt your travels to do as the Samaritan did?

Understand that I am not discounting that the Lord must lay on your heart the decision to stop and help, especially in these troubled and dangerous times. But do be open to it. So few times anymore do we venture outside our home or neighborhood. Those times we do should not merely be restful, but ministerial. Pray that God would give you opportunities to serve him – and yes, to see His glory in watching over you! – as you go.

God’s Witnesses

Jim Poelman, daily devotions

Scripture Reading — Revelation 11:3-5

“I will appoint my two witnesses and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” — Revelation 11:3

The “two witnesses” in this story represent the place and the purpose God gives to his church and, by association, to every person who has faith in Jesus. The church is a witnessing community—this is who we are and what we do. We witness to each other and to our communities how life is to be lived “in step with the Holy Spirit” (Galatians 5:25)—“to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly” with God (Micah 6:8). We do this because Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). We are his witnesses.

We need to let this identity define us. There is a persistent notion limiting God’s claim on who we are. We have learned to look to preachers, missionaries, chaplains, and evangelists as full-time kingdom witnesses. But God makes no such distinctions. All who come to Jesus in faith are recipients of the Holy Spirit, who sends us into the world as witnesses (Matthew 28:19-20). Roofers, students, nurses, teachers, miners, chefs, volunteers—all people—are sent to share the good news of life made new in, through, and for Jesus.

The “two witnesses” are not dressed in the latest designer clothing. God dresses us in sackcloth. This is a subtle but firm reminder that we need to drink from the same well of repentance and forgiveness as everyone else does. We witness in humility, not self-­righteousness or pride.

Choice portions

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘The Lord is my portion, saith my soul.’ Lamentations 3:24

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 4:7–19

The love of God changes us into its own image, so that what the Lord says concerning us, we can also declare concerning him. God is love essentially, and when this essential love shines forth freely upon us, we reflect it back upon him. He is like the sun, the great father of lights, and we are as the moon and the planets, we shine in rays borrowed from his brightness. He is the golden seal, and we, his people, are the wax receiving the impression. Our heaven is to be likeness to Christ, and our preparation for heaven consists in a growing imitation of him in all things. See, brethren, how the Lord gives the word, and our heart, like an echo, repeats every syllable. The Lord loves his people, and we love him because he first loved us; he has chosen his saints, and they have also made him their chosen heritage. The saints are precious to Jesus, and unto us who believe he is precious; Christ lived for us, and for us to live is Christ; we gain all things by his death, and for us to die is gain. The church is the looking-glass in which Christ sees himself reflected; she is like a fair songstress taking up the refrain of Jesus’ canticles of love; while he sings, ‘My sister, my spouse,’ she answers, ‘My beloved is mine, and I am his.’ It is most delightful to perceive how, through divine grace, believers come to have the same feeling towards their God which their gracious Lord has towards them. Our two texts present us with an interesting instance: the church is God’s portion, he delights in her, he finds in her his solace and his joy; but God is also, as the result of this, the church’s portion, her full delight and bliss. Beloved, the love is mutual.

For meditation: God has loved us (Malachi 1:2); how are you responding to him? With unbelief, self-justification and self-defence (Malachi 1:2,6–72:173:8,13)? Or with love displayed in thankful trust and obedience (Psalm 56:10–13116:1–2,12–14)? Are you being changed into his image (2 Corinthians 3:18)?

The Subtle Deception of Sin

19 Bible verses about Sin Producing DeathWomen, Eve and Deception | Marg Mowczko
But I am afraid that as the SERPENT DECEIVED EVE BY HIS CUNNING, your  thoughts will be led astray from a sincere a… | Spiritual quotes, Faith  quotes, Wisdom quotesWhat Does 1 John 1:8 Mean?
Bible Verses about deception23 Bible verses about Deceiving Oneself
23 Bible verses about Deceiving Oneself59 Bible verses about Deception

The Subtle Deception of Sin

cyclists

 

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye.” Matthew 7:3 (NIV)

Celebrated cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted he cheated to win. Although it’s been a while since allegations emerged, this was the first time he stopped denying the charges. I read an account of the interview and then fumed about the bad example he set for aspiring athletes, annoyed by his seeming lack of remorse.

And then, as is often His way, the Lord whispered, “You’re like Lance Armstrong.”

“Me? No, I’m not!”

“Remember high school Latin class?”

“Oh. That.”

It began innocently, if cheating is ever innocent. There were only four of us in the class and our teacher was old and partially blind. One day we had a pop quiz and one of the girls slid her open book into her desk and looked up the answers. Soon, the others were doing the same. I resisted until a day when I hadn’t studied the vocabulary. I was going to fail the quiz … unless.

Everyone was doing it. Why shouldn’t I? Soon, an open book in my desk was commonplace. Then, prior to the exam, which we all would exempt because of our high, ill-gotten grades, the one who began the practice of cheating outed us all. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and mad. Why had she exposed us without warning, without giving us a chance to stop? I’d been caught, and my sin was out there for all to know.

“For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 (NLT)

Satan is a sly guy. He convinces us sin is fine, as long as we don’t get caught. He whispers, “Go ahead. You’re safe. No one will find out.” So we reason there is nothing wrong with your tiny sins — jumping a turnstile, running a red light, fabricating reasons for incomplete tasks, blaming others for mistakes, twisting the truth slightly. But don’t be deceived by the father of lies. Sin is sin and all sin is equal. There is no grading scale — no this-sin-is-less-bad-than-another. Every sin has the same effect — separation from God.

Aren’t we all like Lance Armstrong? We cheat and expect not to get caught. We look at others, measure our sin against theirs, and think what I’m doing isn’t as bad. Perhaps the greatest deception of sin is the lies we tell ourselves to justify our actions and attitudes, and the only way to avoid deceiving ourselves is to actively work to stay off the slippery slope of lies. You see, sin has a snowball effect. Once you lie, to yourself or someone else, you usually have to tell another lie to cover the first one.

My grandfather was a wise man. One of his life precepts was: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said.” In other words, if you lie, you have to remember the lie so you can make sure you re-create it later. Most of us aren’t smart enough to juggle that many lies for very long. So why try?

Start today. Make a conscious effort to change the things in your life that you consider “tiny” sins. Ask God to help you. One of the first steps in overcoming sin is admitting what you’re doing is sin and that it’s wrong. Then repent, which means to go in the opposite direction, making an intentional about-face.

While we may be indignant about the sin of others, we’re all just as tarnished as a cheating multi-medal-winning cyclist. Admit it, and then move forward with honesty, believing you can change through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit within. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to make an effort to be more like Him.

 

Faith Like a Little Child

by Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com

“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Mark 10:15).

Most of the times I have heard this quote from Jesus used, it has been a reminder to have simple faith. Christians tend get caught up in theological squabbles, and when it gets intense usually someone will chime in at some point with a reminder that the bottom line is to have childlike faith.

And while obviously divisiveness is to be avoided among brethren, sometimes I think we forget what children are actually like when we use the phrase “childlike” to describe desired attitudes or attributes. As someone who been around children my whole life, I’ve recently had some thoughts on relating this verse to the truth about how (most) children behave.

1. Children require relationship.

If a child is told to do something with no context or established relationship, it is very likely said child will simply be scared, angry, or will even fight. Each one of us is on the journey to build a relationship with God through Christ, but we are each at a different step in the journey. To expect someone without a relationship with God to “have childlike faith” with what they’re struggling in would be a silly as expecting to convince a stranger’s child to do something they did not want to do. Children know less than adults, naturally, but children will very rarely follow you instructions unless they know your face.

2. Children never stop asking questions.

Unfortunately, being told to have faith like a child is often a response given to a hard question. Kind of a wet blanket, huh? But it’s so misguided, because children naturally ask a million questions a minute! Now obviously as they grow older they learn tact (and often learn from endless shushings to ask fewer questions), but innately, children are open to learning and want to learn. They want to know the stories behind traditions, the logic behind chores, and they want to rip the mystery off why we do things the way we’ve always done them. If we are to “be like a little child,” we must never lose our drive to ask questions.

3. You must earn the trust of children.

When I was a very young child, a man in my church body used to make a habit of teasing and tickling the children in the congregation. Most children liked him and didn’t mind his antics, but I was an incredibly sensitive toddler – one who rarely felt at home away from my mother’s arms. I needed my personal space, and very much resented the intrusions of this (admittedly, very well-intentioned) parishioner. At one point when he accosted me, I am told by my family that I calmly ordered him to “never touch me again.” He had not earned my trust with his particular brand of playfulness, and therefore I was not OK with him being inside my bubble. (*disclaimer: don’t worry, I grew out of this sensitivity. This poor man did not remain my arch-nemesis!

This phenomenon can be seen every Sunday morning when children are dropped off in the nursery and crying fits ensue. Is it because they are bad kids? Of course not! It’s because they have itty bitty reasoning capabilities, and all they know instinctively is that they’ve been dumped into the arms of someone who has not earned their trust.

And yet so often we, as adult Christians, are asked to put our trust in the hands of pastors, teachers, or specific caricatures of God before they have actually earned our trust. If we raise a concern with how a pastor leads a congregation, or with how someone in position of leadership interprets the Bible, we are far too often shushed and told to just trust, follow, and believe.

But if we are to be like little children in God’s Kingdom, surely we ought to place our trust where trust is earned! We should be telling each other to look for fruits of the spirit, look for love and truth, and follow those roads. If someone feels discomfort, pain, or abuse from a source of authority, telling them, “you must have childlike faith,” is quite a faulty comparison.

 

Go and Measure

Jim Poelman,  dailydevotions.com

Scripture Reading — Revelation 11:1-4

I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers.” — Revelation 11:1

Here the apostle John is told to measure the temple of God and to count the worshipers. Perhaps the point of this exercise had to do with how many people could come into the temple courts to worship. Would the old temple in Jerusalem be big enough so that the people of God from all nations could worship there?

This got me thinking about the church buildings in the little village where I live. If I were to measure those buildings and count the worshipers who attended there, what would the report look like? I could probably point out the fine architecture and beautiful stained-glass windows, as well as the comfortable dimensions of the buildings. But if I counted the worshipers lately, both congregations would have the same number attending services: zero. That’s because the churches in our area stopped gathering for worship recently to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But God’s church is not real­ly about buildings, is it? What counts is not the size of our church buildings or how many worshipers gather there. What matters to God is that we are faithful witnesses where he plants us.

A child in one of my former congregations once said some wise words to her neighbor who struggled with addiction. She said, “Jane, you need Jesus.” Her small voice was a faithful witness that God used to shine his life-giving light into Jane’s darkness.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for letting us be your witnesses wherever we are. Help us to be faithful. Amen.

Heavenly rest

By: Charles Spurgeon

“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 14:12-16

From Monday morning till Saturday night, many of you will not be able to lay aside your needle and your thread, except when, tired and weary, you fall back on your chair, and are lulled to sleep by your thoughts of labour! Oh! how seasonable will heaven’s rest be to you! Oh! how glad will you be, when you get there, to find that there are no Monday mornings, no more toil for you, but rest, eternal rest! Others of you have had manual labour to perform; you have reason to thank God that you are strong enough to do it, and you are not ashamed of your work; for labour is an honour to a man. But still there are times when you say, “I wish I were not so dragged to death by the business of London life.” We have but little rest in this huge city; our day is longer, and our work is harder than our friends in the country. You have sometimes sighed to go into the green fields for a breath of fresh air; you have longed to hear the song of the sweet birds that used to wake you when you were young; you have regretted the bright blue sky, the beauteous flowers, and the thousand charms of a country life. And, perhaps, you will never get beyond this smoky city; but remember, when you get up there, “sweet fields arrayed in living green,” and “rivers of delight” shall be the place where you shall rest, you shall have all the joys you can conceive of in that home of happiness.

For meditation: The Christian’s rest in heaven will be enriched by the worth of his work for Christ on earth (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). Spurgeon says:- “There, up in heaven, Luther has no more to face a thundering Vatican; Paul has no more to run from city to city, and continent to continent; there Baxter has no more to toil in his pulpit, to preach with a broken heart to hard hearted sinners; there no longer has Knox to “cry aloud and spare not” against the immoralities of the false church.” What will you be missing?