Monthly Archives: June 2021

Christ Offers Us Independence

happy independence day 2019 - Clip Art LibraryShare These Bible Verse Memes - Bible Gateway Blog
Pin on Bible Art JournalingDownload HD Christmas & New Year 2020 Bible Verse Greetings Card &  Wallpapers Free
Political Independence Image Quotation #4 - Sualci QuotesMy Journey: Independence Day Bible Verses
Bible Verses to Reflect on this July 4th - Christianbook.com Blog10 Powerful Bible Verses About Freedom

 

God’s Independence Day

americanbible

 

Beth Patch – Senior Producer, cbn.com

Independence Day — burgers and hotdogs sizzle on grills and fireworks burst in the sky. We eat, maybe hear The Star Spangled Banner, watch fireworks, and go home. July fourth has become commonplace, another day for big sales events and flying an American flag; far removed from the early celebrations marking the end of the Revolutionary War and founding a new country.

However, an Independence Day celebration approaches that will impress the whole world and never be diminished! We don’t know its date and shouldn’t believe anyone who tells us they do. But, no one on earth or in heaven will miss its importance; and it will mark a day of eternal freedom from the greatest oppressor ever – Satan.

It is the day of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ’s return. It is the beginning of real freedom, like no one has ever had before (except Adam and Eve before they sinned). Those who have believed in Christ’s atoning blood for their sins and have trusted and believed in Him, might have what an old preacher of mine used to call “a Hallelujah breakdown!”

This Independence Day will release Christians from the many sins keeping them entangled. Imagine, no more sickness, no more addictions, no more gossip, no more unkindness, no more anything that does not reflect the positive attributes of the love of our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Currently, we have the Holy Spirit to guide, strengthen and comfort us, and give us remarkable power through Christ’s death and resurrection. However, we are still tripped up by sin as long as we live in this fallen world. When Jesus returns, all our ungodliness along with our negative baggage goes away. I can’t think of a better freedom than that.

Actually, the whole scene of Jesus’s return sounds so incredible, I doubt there are words to describe the immense emotional, spiritual and physical response people will have.

The Bible tells us Jesus will return to earth just like He left, through the clouds (Acts 1:11b), with his angels (Matt 16:27), with the trumpet call of God and a loud command (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Scripture says believers in Christ will be changed in a twinkling of an eye and Jesus will destroy all dominion, authority and power standing in opposition to Almighty God (1 Corinthians 15:521 Corinthians 15:24).

Our earthly minds are limited in their comprehension of this miraculous time. It’s a God thing, and try as we may, we can’t peg down the details on how God will accomplish the return of Jesus Christ and the destruction of evil.

Picture the sky filled with God’s mighty angels, the sound of God’s trumpet (which has to be the most beautiful and loudest sounding instrument) and our Lord Jesus shining radiantly as He leads His mighty angelic troop in the sky.

Envision watching victory as Christ and his angels capture Satan and his demons, and justice is completed. It will be more graphic and stirring than any riveting movie Hollywood could ever think of producing.

Many theologians have studied the return of Christ and have disagreed about the order of when things happen and exactly how they happen. These varied opinions on the return of Christ and the disappearance of believers from the earth have created divisions among believers who desperately want to cling to one decided order of the end times.

My response to such division is that it won’t matter how we interpret the end times in Scripture when God’s Independence Day comes. Everything will be revealed in God’s perfect timing. The day will come when we least expect it and we are instructed to be ready as if it were the next moment. So, in case it happens to be today, Happy Independence Day!

 

Streams in the Desert – June 30

“There was silence, and I heard a still voice” (Job 4:16, margin).

A score of years ago, a friend placed in my hand a book called True Peace. It was an old mediaeval message, and it had but one thought–that God was waiting in the depths of my being to talk to me if I would only get still enough to hear His voice.

I thought this would be a very easy matter, and so began to get still. But I had no sooner commenced than a perfect pandemonium of voices reached my ears, a thousand clamoring notes from without and within, until I could hear nothing but their noise and din. Some were my own voices, my own questions, some my very prayers. Others were suggestions of the tempter and the voices from the world’s turmoil.

In every direction I was pulled and pushed and greeted with noisy acclamations and unspeakable unrest. It seemed necessary for me to listen to some of them and to answer some of them; but God said, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Then came the conflict of thoughts for tomorrow, and its duties and cares; but God said, “Be still.”

And as I listened, and slowly learned to obey, and shut my ears to every sound, I found after a while that when the other voices ceased, or I ceased to hear them, there was a still small voice in the depths of my being that began to speak with an inexpressible tenderness, power and comfort.

As I listened, it became to me the voice of prayer, the voice of wisdom, the voice of duty, and I did not need to think so hard, or pray so hard, or trust so hard; but that “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit in my heart was God’s prayer in my secret soul, was God’s answer to all my questions, was God’s life and strength for soul and body, and became the substance of all knowledge, and all prayer and all blessing: for it was the living GOD Himself as my life, my all.

It is thus that our spirit drinks in the life of our risen Lord, and we go forth to life’s conflicts and duties like a flower that has drunk in, through the shades of night, the cool and crystal drops of dew. But as dew never falls on a stormy night, go the dews of His grace never come to the restless soul.
–A. B. Simpson

The Overcoming Spirit

By: Dean Deppe, Today devotions

Scripture Reading — Acts 16:6-10

They tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. . . . Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia . . . begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” — Acts 16:7-9

The book of Acts is the story of the Holy Spirit spreading the good news of Jesus out into the world. The Spirit fills believers in Christ and empowers them to be his witnesses. We like to be comfortable, and we often stay cloistered in our own communities. But the Spirit keeps pushing the church to take risks and spread the gospel to every corner of the world.

The Spirit moved the first Christians out from Jerusalem to Samaria and other nations nearby (Acts 8-10). Then the Spirit appointed missionaries to go to other lands (Acts 13). Our reading today shows that the Spirit wanted to spread the gospel into Europe (Macedonia, Greece, and beyond). So he blocked the missionaries from going another way.

Do you feel the push of the Holy Spirit? Go beyond your comfort zone and get to know someone who doesn’t know Jesus. Keep listening to the Spirit, even if it means changing your plans.

The Holy Spirit overcomes all kinds of problems as well. The Spirit enabled the church to deal with racism (6:1-7), persecution (8:1-9:31), conflict with government (12:1-24), differences among leadership (15:1-16:5), powers of evil (19:13-20), and unbelief (28:23-28). After facing each of these problems, the church grew (Acts 6:79:3112:2416:519:2028:28). Likewise, the Spirit can overcome any fears, anxieties, and hesitations that we may have about sharing the good news.

Prayer

Spirit, give me the courage to share your love with the people you want me to meet today. Amen.

There Is Power In Prayer

Power Through Prayer – Christian Medical & Dental Associations® (CMDA)Power Through Prayer: E.M. Bounds: 9780883688113 - Christianbook.com
Power Through Prayer by E.M. BoundsPower Through Prayer
Power through Prayer - Olive Tree Bible SoftwarePower Through Prayer - Store | Focus on the Family
Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds Audiobook Download - Christian audiobooks. Try us free.Power Through Prayer eBook by E. M. Bounds | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

 

How to Help When You Can’t

elderly couple at hospital

 

A Ruthless Toll on the Unsuspecting

Miles away, I have a friend going through “non-heaven” right now. His wife of over 40 years has been living in a nursing home for the past two years—and he has too. For 20 hours every day, he sits in a recliner listening to his beloved moan and watching her stare into space seemingly unaware of any movements or conversations in her midst. He sleeps only in two-hour intervals to check on her. Never mind the physical demands of caretaking, imagine the emotional cost of watching your spouse’s personality seep away while her strong body persists.

Even as he grieves his loss, guilt riddles my friend. Why is she in that bed and he isn’t? Deep down, love motivates him. He wants the best for her, but he loathes his existence at the nursing home. He and his friends have begged God to take his beloved home to heaven.

Why, Lord? These two have been faithful servants of yours since childhood. They were the ones visiting the nursing home, driving shut-ins to church, and giving time and money to fellow believers. Why did you allow her to be stricken with this insidious disease? She was church treasurer and a singer who spread the good news of your forgiveness and compassion. You healed Aeneas from years of paralysis in an instant (Acts 9:33-35). Please bring her back to life such as you did for Dorcas, another woman who was always doing good. Do it so others might believe (Acts 9:36-37, 40, 42). I beg you, either heal her or take her home.

Yet, despite the cries for help, there she sits, alongside her faithful husband, whose wellbeing is crumbling with hers.

The Disease

Dementia often strikes two innocent victims at once. In The Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver’s Handbook (2018), Dr. Sally Burbank and coauthor Sue Bell, whose husband died from Alzheimer’s, acquaint readers with the staggering proliferation of the disease and its cruel, life-changing effects. In the United States, an estimated 5.5 million people have contracted Alzheimer’s. After diagnosis, life expectancy is seven years. A relative, a close friend, or you are likely to encounter it.

Burbank and Bell’s book has given me a glimpse into my friends’ unenviable existence. This couple has done everything together. Now, they must weather the unstoppable plague that changes everything, as they inch their way toward the dreadful valley for relief.

Misunderstanding

Empathy screams at me to do something. However, I can’t change the inevitable, and I’m frustrated. I’d like to prevent the disease from destroying two loved ones rather than one. Yet urging my caretaker friend to pull away, when it’s not me sitting beside my betrothed—the woman I pledged to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, becomes tantamount to blaming him for his own demise.

Love and good intentions don’t always translate into helpfulness and understanding. Take Job, for example. Unaware that God had allowed Satan to do all kinds of evil to turn him away from the “One who gives and takes away” (Job 1:21), his friends felt compelled to explain why he had fallen on hard times. They blamed him for his problems. However, Job knew better:

“I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you! Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you. But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.” Job 16:2-5 (NIV)

His friends didn’t understand. They couldn’t. They hadn’t walked in his shoes.

Reader, if you ever find yourself wanting to encourage a caretaker of an Alzheimer’s patient, tread carefully. Be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).

 

Today’s Devotions

June 29

1 Kings 20:27-28 27When the Israelites were also mustered and given provisions, they marched out to meet them. The Israelites camped opposite them like two small flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the countryside. 28The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Because the Arameans think the LORD is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the LORD.'”

The patience and mercy of God is amazing. God is still trying to convert evil Ahab. Israel is only a remnant of what it once was. When a king came to plunder Israel, the LORD told Ahab that He would give him the victory so that he would know the LORD was God. He had already seen fire from heaven, the end of a three-year drought at the prophet’s word, and the miraculous preservation of the prophet. Why would God continue to deal with him? The answer is because God is not willing that any should perish. He seeks after the hardest hearts and gives them more proof.

He gave him one victory, but the enemy came again. This second time the enemy was doomed before they started. The people had begun to return to Jehovah because of the ministry of Elijah. The enemy said that Jehovah was a god of the hills and not the plains. Oops! Limiting God is a sure way to end up with your foot in your mouth. He is God over all and will gladly prove it.

Despite being vastly outnumbered, the little bands of Israelites defeated the army of the Arameans. God caused a wall to fall on 27,000 of them. Ahab listened carefully to the prophet’s instruction going into the battle but did not seek his advice on what to do once he had the victory. He reverted to leaning on his own wisdom and made a costly mistake. How like us! Under pressure in an impossible situation, we seek God and He delivers us. Then we go back to our own ways. Keep seeking! Keep obeying!

Remember: We need God’s instruction in difficulties, but we also need it when things are going well. all of our tomorrows.

 

In the Midst of Life Struggles:

by Debbie McDaniel, crosswalkcom

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

There’s so much in this life we can start to feel anxious about, even when we know God’s truth and believe that He’s in control. It can still be a daily battle in our hearts, in our minds.

When we just keep looking all around us, we can easily get defeated. Drained. Impatient. Cynical.

We may find ourselves wrestling with worry. Fear might creep in. We lose our focus because we’re so distracted on all the things that can never really give us strength and hope anyway.

People won’t ever be the answer for our every need. Money, possessions, or success can’t ever satisfy the void deep inside that only God can fill. This world will never be free of all conflict. The government won’t ever fix all of our problems. It can’t. Because no matter who is President, no matter what we face in this life, God’s still on the throne.

5 Reminders of Hope from Psalm 121:

– “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” v. 2 He’s All-powerful. God is a mountain mover and Creator of heaven and earth. He’s with us, always. He breathes help and strength into our souls, into our day.

– “He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.” v. 3 He won’t allow us to fall. We may find ourselves on slippery slopes, or the path we’re walking seems to be full of potholes and obstacles. But the God who knows all, knows our way. And even when we stumble, as our eyes are fixed on Him, He will keep our footsteps firm. For He watches over us and never sleeps or slumbers.

– “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.” v. 5 He keeps us, safe, in His care. He protects us like the shade protects from the heat of the day. Why the “right hand?” Because it is known as the hand that works, so we can be assured that whatever He’s given us to do in this life, His covering of protection rests over all of our work and efforts.

– “The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.” v. 7 He protects us from “all evil,” not some, but “all.” It does not have the final say over our lives. Fear of death, disease, and hardship has lost its sting, for our lives are hidden with Christ in God. No matter who or what we’re rubbing shoulders with each day, God’s power is greater than whatever darkness we might face. For He is the soul-keeper and He holds all of our tomorrows.

Streams in the Desert – June 29

“There we saw the Giants” (Num. 13:33).

Yes, they saw the giants, but Caleb and Joshua saw God! Those who doubt say, “We be not able to go up.” Those who believe say, “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able.”

Giants stand for great difficulties; and giants are stalking everywhere. They are in our families, in our churches, in our social life, in our own hearts; and we must overcome them or they will eat us up, as these men of old said of the giants of Canaan. The men of faith said, “They are bread for us; we will eat them up.” In other words, “We will be stronger by overcoming them than if there had been no giants to overcome.”

Now the fact is, unless we have the overcoming faith we shall be eaten up, consumed by the giants in our path. Let us have the spirit of faith that these men of faith had, and see God, and He will take care of the difficulties.
–Selected

It is when we are in the way of duty that we find giants. It was when Israel was going forward that the, giants appeared. When they turned back into the wilderness they found none.

There is a prevalent idea that the power of God in a human life should lift us above all trials and conflicts. The fact is, the power of God always brings a conflict and a struggle. One would have thought that on his great missionary journey to Rome, Paul would have been carried by some mighty providence above the power of storms and tempests and enemies. But, on the contrary, it was one long, hard fight with persecuting Jews, with wild tempests, with venomous vipers and all the powers of earth and hell, and at last he was saved, as it seemed, by the narrowest margin, and had to swim ashore at Malta on a piece of wreckage and barely escape a watery grave.

Was that like a God of infinite power? Yes, just like Him. And so Paul tells us that when he took the Lord Jesus Christ as the life of his body, a severe conflict immediately came; indeed, a conflict that never ended, a pressure that was persistent, but out of which he always emerged victorious through the strength of Jesus Christ.

The language in which he describes this is most graphic. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifested in our body.”

What a ceaseless, strenuous struggle! It is impossible to express in English the forcible language of the original. There are five pictures in succession. In the first, the idea is crowding enemies pressing in from every side, and yet not crushing him because the police of heaven cleared the way just wide enough for him to get through. The literal translation would be, “We are crowded on every side, but not crushed.”

The second picture is that of one whose way seems utterly closed and yet he has pressed through; there is light enough to show him the next step. The Revised Version translates it, “Perplexed but not unto despair.” Rotherham still more literally renders it, “Without a way, but not without a by-way.”

The third figure is that of an enemy in hot pursuit while the divine Defender still stands by, and he is not left alone. Again we adopt the fine rendering of Rotherham, “Pursued but not abandoned.”

The fourth figure is still more vivid and dramatic. The enemy has overtaken him, has struck him, has knocked him down. But it is not a fatal blow; he is able to rise again. It might be translated, “Overthrown but not overcome.”

Once more the figure advances, and now it seems to be even death itself, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” But he does not die, for “the life also of Jesus” now comes to his aid and he lives in the life of another until his life work is done.

The reason so many fail in this experience of divine healing is because they expect to have it all without a struggle, and when the conflict comes and the battle wages long, they become discouraged and surrender. God has nothing worth having that is easy. There are no cheap goods in the heavenly market. Our redemption cost all that God had to give, and everything worth having is expensive. Hard places are the very school of faith and character, and if we are to rise over mere human strength and prove the power of life divine in these mortal bodies, it must be through a process of conflict that may well be called the birth travail of a new life. It is the old figure of the bush that burned, but was not consumed, or of the Vision in the house of the Interpreter of the flame that would not expire, notwithstanding the fact that the demon ceaselessly poured water on it, because in the background stood an angel ever pouring oil and keeping the flame aglow.

No, dear suffering child of God, you cannot fail if only you dare to believe, to stand fast and refuse to be overcome.
–Tract

 

Be Careful Not To Judge People

Luke 6:37 - Do not judge, and you will not be judged... - Download Image25 Bible Verses about Judgment - DailyVerses.net
Bible Verses On JesusAmen lord! Do Not! | Prayer scriptures, Scripture verses, Biblical quotes
How To Respond to People Who Wrongly Quote the Bible's “Judge Not” |  Anchored in ChristMisused Bible Verses: Matthew 7:1 – Jared Cornutt
Daily Bible Verse on Twitter: "“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do  not condemn, and you will not be condemned… https://t.co/F3SmG1aKNS… "Do not judge, and you will not be... - Rainy Day Bible Verse | Facebook

I’m a New Creation … Why Don’t You Believe Me?

ladies-coffee-women_si.jpg

 

How could her husband trust her? Why should he believe her? Those were the concerns my friend expressed to me as we sipped our coffee. It had been only six months since she ended her affair. She knew her relationship with Jesus Christ was real. She knew she was different. She knew there was no going back, but how could her husband know it too? She was living proof of 2 Corinthians 5:17,

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (NLT)

Her husband told her he forgave her; however, it became evident he was still skeptical. She accepted the fact it would take time to rebuild trust, but she was eager to show him her transformation was real.

I told her she needed a Barnabas. Looking puzzled, I shared the story of the Apostle Paul. Just before his conversion on the road to Damascus when his name was Saul, the Bible says he “was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the LORD’S followers.” Acts 9:1 (NLT)

However, as Saul walked, the LORD revealed Himself and set Saul on a life-changing journey where he would never be the same. God gave him a new name: Paul. The Bible tells us right after his conversion, the Apostle Paul immediately began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues. Again, understandably, the people were skeptical. They even questioned, “isn’t this the same man who caused the devastation in Jerusalem?” Eventually, he traveled to Jerusalem and tried to meet with people, but everyone was afraid. They did not believe he was for real. Then Barnabas!

“Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the LORD on the way to Damascus and how the LORD had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.” Acts 9: 27 NLT

Barnabas advocated for Paul. Like Paul, my friend needed an advocate to help her husband know she was serious about her new faith in her Savior. If only there was a person to speak to her husband on her behalf, he might believe. She knew just the person. Their pastor. They had met with him many times. He knew her story, and he had helped her through her confession, healing, and restoration.

They set up a meeting. Having their pastor verify her remorse and sorrow over her bad decision helped her husband understand her conversion was sincere. The pastor counseled them. There were tears of joy and reconciliation as her husband saw true transformation.

It has been 20 years. Their marriage is stronger than ever. People can change. Saul changed. My friend changed. While transformations can be genuine, people from our past may be reluctant to believe change is real. We may need a Barnabas, an advocate to verify our change and good standing.

Once my friend’s pastor convinced her husband to trust her, there was no stopping the restoration of their marriage. Once Barnabas convinced the apostles to trust Paul, there was no stopping the growth of the new church.

“The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the LORD. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.” Acts 9:31 NLT

It all began when Barnabas declared to the disciples what had taken place. The Apostle Paul went on to spend the rest of his life teaching, preaching, and baptizing.

For anyone who has had a transformation, they know they are a new creation. They know their past is gone. Having others see and believe the change may take some time, and it might help to find a Barnabas!

 

No Turning Back, No Turning Back

By Mike Pohlman, crosswalk.com

No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. — Luke 9:62

I love the old spiritual, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” I hear in it the echo of Luke 9:62. Listen, for example, to the third stanza: “The world behind me, the cross before me. No turning back, no turning back.”

In this simple song we see a profound biblical truth: the Christian life is a constant movement forward to our heavenly home. We are not called to retreat in the face of the many spiritual battles that will crusade against us. We are called to advance in godliness—come what may.

I’ve been indulging lately in a wonderful biography of Ulysses S. Grant by Jean Edward Smith. One theme that persists in Grant’s career as a general was his constant movement forward. Grant, in other words, was always on the offensive. His battle strategy was not to “dig in” and fight a defensive war. He was on the march, pressing the Confederacy into submission. Grant’s persistence—his stubborn determination to move forward and not look back—was summed up succinctly by Abraham Lincoln when he said in response to calls for Grant’s removal in early 1862: “I cannot spare this man; he fights.”

As the sun was setting on the Apostle Paul’s ministry he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Unlike Grant, Paul’s fight was not against flesh and blood, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). But like Grant, Paul left no room for retreat. His life was marked by a steady, determined, rugged movement forward. Consider this astounding example from Acts 14:

But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed (19-23).

Paul was “struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:9). After being stoned and left for dead, he got up and moved forward. “But one thing I do,” Paul said, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

I’m reminded of one of the most moving passages in Smith’s biography of Grant describing an episode after the first day of fighting at Shiloh leaving Grant’s army on the brink of defeat:

Later, sometime after midnight, raining harder now, Sherman went looking for Grant. He had worked five hours to prepare his division to attack, but it seemed hopeless. His men had been thoroughly beaten and Sherman—who would have been the last to say so—thought it important “to put the river between us and the enemy.” This is why he sought Grant, to see when and how the retreat could be arranged. The rain was coming down in buckets, punctuated by heavy thunder and lightning in the background. In this surreal setting Sherman found Grant standing alone under a large oak tree, dripping wet, hat slouched down over his face, coat collar up around his ears, a dimly glowing lantern in his hand, cigar clenched between his teeth. Sherman looked at him for a moment from a distance. Then, “moved” as he put it later, “by some wise and sudden instinct not to mention retreat,” Sherman approached and said, “Well, Grant, we’ve had the devil’s own day, haven’t we?”

“Yes,” answered Grant, puffing hard on his cigar. “Yes. Lick’em tomorrow though.”

Which of us has not experienced a crushing defeat in the Christian life? Against the constant bombardment of the world, the flesh, and the devil we battle everyday to believe the promises of God held out for us in the Gospel. And, if we’re honest, some days we don’t feel like we’re winning at all. In fact, some days defeat feels certain.

But arrayed in the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) we get up by grace ready to “lick’em tomorrow.” We remind ourselves that God in Christ “always leads us in triumphal procession” (2 Corinthians 2:14) “so that [we] may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:3).

 

Streams in the Desert – June 28

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

A door opened in heaven (Rev. 4:1).

You must remember that John was in the Isle of Patmos, a lone, rocky, inhospitable prison, for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. And yet to him, under such circumstances, separated from all the loved ones of Ephesus; debarred from the worship of the Church; condemned to the companionship of uncongenial fellow-captives, were vouchsafed these visions. For him, also a door was opened.

We are reminded of Jacob, exiled from his father’s house, who laid himself down in a desert place to sleep, and in his dreams beheld a ladder which united Heaven with earth, and at the top stood God.

Not to these only, but to many more, doors have been opened into Heaven, when, so far as the world was concerned, it seemed as though their circumstances were altogether unlikely for such revelations. To prisoners and captives; to constant sufferers, bound by iron chains of pain to sick couches; to lonely pilgrims and wanderers; to women detained from the Lord’s house by the demands of home, how often has the door been opened to Heaven.

But there are conditions. You must know what it is to be in the Spirit; you must be pure in heart and obedient in faith; you must be willing to count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ; then when God is all in all to us, when we live, move and have our being in His favor, to us also will the door be opened.
–Daily Devotional Commentary

God hath His mountains bleak and bare,
Where He doth bid us rest awhile;
Crags where we breathe a purer air,
Lone peaks that catch the day’s first smile.
God hath His deserts broad and brown–
A solitude–a sea of sand,
Where He doth let heaven’s curtain down,
Unknit by His Almighty hand.

Surrender To God

37 Inspirational Bible Verses About Surrender | Think About Such ThingsPin on Daughter of the King!
How To Surrender To God - Tearing Down Your Kingdom - Raise Your SwordTo Live Free of Fear, Surrender to God - Pastor Rick's Daily Hope

Top 12 Bible Verses-Surrender to God - Everyday ServantAll to Jesus, we must... - Bible Verses-Psalms-Hymns | Facebook

Pin by Lisa Church on GOALS 6 -- Obstacles | Surrender to god, Quotes about  god, Faith in godBible Verses You Need When You are Worried, Anxious, or Afraid - Life  ReEnvisioned

Why We Need Jesus Every Day

25 Surrender To God Quotes & Images

By Debbie McDaniel, crosswalk.com

 

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'” John 6:35

Not a day goes by that we’re not in need of God’s grace and peace. Every morning we need His Spirit to fill us again, to strengthen us for what’s ahead. Every day we need a fresh word that He speaks to our hearts, that keeps our focus on what’s most important. Trying to run this race of life without Him, will do nothing but drain us dry.

The people of Israel spent 40 years in the desert. Wandering in circles. Times were intense, hot, dry. I’m sure they got weary. But God met them where they were. He made sure they had what they needed. They learned through every hard and grueling step, how much they had to rely on Him.

They were hungry. And God sent manna. Every day a miracle was there, right before their eyes. They just had to pick it up.

“When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’”

The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” Exodus 16:14-19

And just like the people of Israel had to gather it fresh every morning in the wilderness, so it is with us. They couldn’t store it up; they had to look for it daily. And God always provided. Each morning it was there, waiting for them. Every day He made sure it met their needs, they were satisfied, they were nourished, they were cared for. And they never lacked, for God’s resources never run dry.

That’s what He does for us every single morning. Sometimes we miss it, out of busyness or stress. We try to get things going too fast, spinning wildly, trying to get it all done, and sometimes we might start to forget what matters most.

But even for those times, His grace is there. He waits for us. His patience and His peace, it never runs dry.

Each day, His miracles are all around, right before our eyes. We just have to choose to look for them, to pick up His provision, and stay close to His Presence.

God’s got our past covered, our future secured, and there’s more than enough grace for this day.

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'” John 6:35

Jesus is our Bread of Life. He promises that as we come to Him, and pick up with words, spend time first with Him, and allow His truths to nourish our spirits and lives, we will be satisfied.

Peace.

 

Strengthened with Might – Streams in the Desert – June 27

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

The Lord hath sent strength for thee (Ps.68.28, PBV).

The Lord imparts unto us that primary strength of character which makes everything in life work with intensity and decision. We are “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” And the strength is continuous; reserves of power come to us which we cannot exhaust.

“As thy days, so shall thy strength be”—strength of will, strength of affection, strength of judgment, strength of ideals and achievement.

“The Lord is my strength” to go on. He gives us power to tread the dead level, to walk the long lane that seems never to have a turning, to go through those long reaches of life which afford no pleasant surprise, and which depress the spirits in the sameness of a terrible drudgery.

“The Lord is my strength” to go up. He is to me the power by which I can climb the Hill Difficulty and not be afraid.

“The Lord is my strength” to go down. It is when we leave the bracing heights, where the wind and the sun have been about us, and when we begin to come down the hill into closer and more sultry spheres, that the heart is apt to grow faint. I heard a man say the other day concerning his growing physical frailty, “It is the coming down that tires me!”

“The Lord is my strength” to sit still. And how difficult is the attainment! Do we not often say to one another, in seasons when we are compelled to be quiet, “If only I could do something!”

When the child is ill, and the mother stands by in comparative impotence, how severe is the test! But to do nothing, just to sit still and wait, requires tremendous strength.

“The Lord is my strength!” “Our sufficiency is of God” (2 Cor. 3:5from The Silver Lining

 

Surrendering All

by Inspiration Ministries

“None of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
– Luke 14

Judson Van DeVenter could not find direction in his life. Van DeVenter, born on this day in 1855, taught art after attending college. Failing to find satisfaction, he wondered if God wanted him to go into full-time evangelistic work. Yet he continued to struggle.

While conducting a meeting in East Palestine, Ohio, he decided that the only way he could have peace and know God’s will was to surrender his life anew to Jesus. He wrote his decision in the words to a song, called “I Surrender All.”

As he thought about this decision, Van DeVenter wrote, “All to Jesus, I surrender; all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.”

He humbly bowed at Jesus’ feet, ready to forsake “worldly pleasures.” He prayed, “Jesus, take me now.” He asked the Lord to make him “wholly Thine,” that he might feel the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. He told Him, “Lord, I give myself to Thee; fill me with Thy love and power; let Thy blessing fall on me.”

With this deep surrender, Van DeVenter discovered that “a new day was ushered into my life.” He became an evangelist and discovered that “God had hidden a song in my heart.” He found direction and peace by obeying the command of Jesus to leave everything else behind. He had surrendered all.

Do you have any struggles? Do you face decisions about your direction? Your future?

You can find your answer by surrendering your life fully to Jesus. Don’t seek your own way, but submit your thoughts, goals, and ambitions to Him. Seek His will and His Kingdom, not your own.

In absolute surrender, you’ll find perfect peace. He will guide you and give you fulfillment and satisfaction. Don’t wait! Do it right now!

 

What does it mean to surrender to God?

It took me a long time to start writing this post. When I was given the task to write about what it means to surrender to God, I was unable to grasp the concept. Surrender sounds extreme. It is the word correlated with losing a battle; for when the white flag is raised, all is over. But surrendering to God is not the end of something, it is the beginning of all holy things within us.

Never alone

Surrendering your thoughts, feelings, and desires may sound pointless. Perhaps you are trying to distance yourself because you feel abandoned. Hearing nothing but silence can be discouraging.

The truth is that we are never alone. Deuteronomy 3:18 says “The Lord himself will lead you and be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you, so do not lose courage or be afraid.” If you are feeling stagnant, tired, afraid, angry, or really any other negative feelings today, rest in the fact that you are held. The internal conflict of knowing something to be true but feeling that you may be wrong is real. We’re only human; we will never understand what God is up to all the time.

Be honest

There are a lot of things that cause us to be distrustful of God, and it can be really hurtful when someone expects us to blindly trust Him. That’s not to say that He isn’t completely trustworthy — He is. But when deep pain or confusion creeps up on us, it can feel impossible to place our faith in something/someone we can not see. I encourage you to press into that discomfort and distrust. Be honest with God. Tell Him about your distrust. He has just as much compassion and patience as He does anything else. We get so caught up in the feeling of shame that it doesn’t dawn on us to be vocal about our doubts — and we all have them.

Winning the battle

It was never us vs. God. Our lives are filled with constant battles. Some are within; a lot of us struggle with mental health or insecurities that cause us to think less of ourselves. Other points of turmoil happen externally. Relationships with people are hard and sustaining a relationship with the Lord can be hard. But the reality of all of this is that we are not meant to do anything on our own. We often forget that Jesus really is holding our hands through it all. He just wants us to stop carrying our anxieties and pain by ourselves. To raise up our white flag and say, “yes, I need you.” What does it look like for you to raise your white flag to God? I promise it won’t be counted as a defeat. You will triumph when you place your life in the hands of the One who created you.

There Is Freedom In Christ

23 Bible verses about Christian LibertyPin on Jesus saves
10 Bible verses about Liberty41 Bible Verses about the Holy Spirit - KJV - DailyVerses.net
19 Bible Verses about Freedom - NKJV & KJV - DailyVerses.net27 Top Freedom Bible Verses - Scripture About Being Free!

 

Independence Day Every Day

stature-liberty-flag_SI.jpg

 

I can honestly say I never knew the real meaning of freedom. I thought I knew what it meant because I am “American made.” I was born and raised in the United States of America just like those amber waves of grain. I would stand tall and proud while abiding under the mighty banner of the red, white, and blue! I love apple pie and hot dogs. As a high school majorette, I faithfully twirled my baton in many Fourth of July parades. My family would beam with pride as they waved their sparklers under the evening sky. The illuminated showers of cascading fireworks awed us.

I would stand proud, shoulder to shoulder, with my fellow patriots at the baseball park, straining through the heartfelt stanzas of the “Star-Spangled Banner”. I was always quick to place my hand over my heart while nudging my brother to remove his cap as the national anthem was beginning to play.

My heart still swells with pride and my eyes get a little glassy at the sight of our flag waving in the breeze. I am, for the most part, one of the ones who sings the loudest when reaching the part about the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The bottom line was that I could no longer shake the feelings of contradiction nor the whispers of hypocrisy that seemed to mock me and my supposed claim to liberty. So I decided to embark on my own private search to find the missing key that would unlock the chains that held me captive.

One of the advantages of sitting under good biblical teaching was that early on, I learned about three major forces that make it their business to ensure that you and I never find out about our God-given spiritual heritage. These diabolical enemies are the world, the flesh, and the devil.

I had my own recent battle in winning this fight for my spiritual freedom. You see, I struggled with a desire to own many of the pretty things I saw. I believe the biblically correct term for this would be that I am influenced by the lust of the eyes. I had a desire to covet things that did not belong to me.

I would often think, Maybe it’s just a woman thing — you know, part of that whole nesting instinct ladies seem to have. The only problem was I wanted my nest to look the best! Therein lies the problem.

I spent much of my time and energy (not to mention my pocketbook) at modern-day temples known as malls. Many people worship there religiously, as shown by endless, frivolous spending (myself included).

I was returning home from one of those shopping sprees when I saw a one-line message displayed on a local church sign. The words were simple, but they really packed a punch. What it said was life-changing:

“IT COSTS TOO MUCH TO BE OUT OF THE CENTER OF GOD’S WILL.”

Wham! God allowed the words to pierce right through my idol-ridden heart. I found myself pulling into the church parking lot, turning off the car, and lowering my head. I quietly pleaded with God to take from me this desire for material things, as it had consumed me to the point that I was losing my precious freedom. Immediately, I sensed my spirit lift. It happened the moment I agreed with God that the price was too high. I knew that anything replacing Him as the center of my life was an idol. It had to go!

Together, we did an inventory of my heart, and later that same evening, He took me to Galatians 5:1:

“It was for freedom that Christ has made us free; stand firm, lest you fall again under a yoke of slavery”.

I soon began to discover that in Christ, we have already been made free (John 8:36). There is a fight of faith that must be won in order to maintain that freedom. After all, it cost the very life of Jesus Himself. Why wouldn’t it cost me something?

I’ve learned a very valuable lesson. Freedom does NOT come free. For me, it’s a matter of prayerfully placing a guard on my heart and standing firm with my shield of faith.

One of the keys to walking out this freedom is in knowing that the battle has been won. We simply believe that the jail door has already been swung wide open and that at any point we can walk out and stay out! Many times we are the ones who lock ourselves up because we lose sight of who we are and what we have in Christ.

My heartfelt prayer is that all of us who are called by His name would know and understand that it is His desire that we recognize our freedom, not just one day out of the year, but instead rejoice in claiming our own individual emancipation proclamation every day. Our day of reckoning will arrive when we truly let freedom ring by celebrating our spiritual, as well as physical, Independence Day — today and every day!

 

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 26

1 Kings 19:11-12 11The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

Elijah had come to the mountain of God, the place of fresh inspiration. He saw the wind so strong it broke the rocks. The ground shook with an earthquake. A fire followed the earthquake. But God had not passed by him in any of those events. They preceded God. God came in the gentle whisper.

What was this discouraged prophet learning from God’s lesson to Him? Perhaps he thought the fire from heaven would transform the hearts of the people causing a national revolt and return to God. The rain had been a physical sign that God was working through Elijah. They would all surely listen then. But all those physical events only preceded the real work of God, His whisper in each and every heart. That is where the real change comes.

Man is always seeking some great physical sign or manifestation. We want to see, hear, and feel something that will move our senses. God may precede a work in that manner. It may be necessary if people are too immature or off track. But what follows is really where God is. He is in the voice that speaks to the heart and brings a change of attitude to the heart. That is where individuals and nations are changed. God is about to whisper a word to Elijah that will change the course of nations.

Consider: Are you looking for the spectacular and forgetting the power of the whisper? Listen! Be still and know He is God (Psalm 46:10). Realize the power of His whisper to change your life and that of those you come in contact with each day. He may even whisper through you.

 

3 More Habits of Happy People

by Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com

In a previous devotional, I mentioned the first 3 “Habits of Happy People” according to a list I recently found. I figured I would share more Happiness Tips and continue to measure how the wisdom fits into a Christian worldview. So, let’s look at three more habits of happy people…

1. Express gratitude for what you have

Gratitude, or thankfulness, is encouraged throughout Scripture. Just a few verses espousing this attitude include:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” (Psalm 95:2)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).

Followers of Christ are meant to be selfless, other-focused, and God-focused, not wrapped up in our own temporary discontentment. Noticing the blessings we do have, and expressing gratitude for them, helps us remember the big picture: we have already been given the ultimate gift of life through Christ!

2. Dream big

The most important thing the Bible tells us about ourselves is that our identity in Christ, and our status as God’s creations and children, should underscore everything we do. Do you think of yourself as a slave to sin, or to a static, hum-drum life? Well, Paul says:

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).

Co-heirs. Sharing in his glory! According to Christ, God notices the fate of sparrows – so how much more does he care for the hopes and dreams of his sons and daughters? Christ also says that our faith is strong enough to move mountains, and that we will accomplish greater things for his Kingdom than even he did during his ministry. If that doesn’t say “dream big!” – I don’t know what does!

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Not only do the Scriptures encourage us to let go of anxiety over “small stuff” – but God even wants us to relinquish worry over BIG stuff! Consider this passage from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

“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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

 

Unbelief – Streams in the Desert – June 26

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

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? (Rom. 3:3).

I think that I can trace every scrap of sorrow in my life to simple unbelief. How could I be anything but quite happy if I believed always that all the past is forgiven, and all the present furnished with power, and all the future bright with hope because of the same abiding facts which do not change with my mood, do not stumble because I totter and stagger at the promise through unbelief, but stand firm and clear with their peaks of pearl cleaving the air of Eternity, and the bases of their hills rooted unfathomably in the Rock of God. Mont Blanc does not become a phantom or a mist because a climber grows dizzy on its side.
–James Smetham

Is it any wonder that, when we stagger at any promise of God through unbelief, we do not receive it? Not that faith merits an answer, or in any way earns it, or works it out; but God has made believing a condition of receiving, and the Giver has a sovereign right to choose His own terms of gift.
–Rev. Samuel Hart

Unbelief says, “How can such and such things be?” It is full of “hows”; but faith has one great answer to the ten thousand “hows,” and that answer is–GOD!
–C. H. M.

No praying man or woman accomplishes so much with so little expenditure of time as when he or she is praying.

If there should arise, it has been said–and the words are surely true to the thought of our Lord Jesus Christ in all His teaching on prayer—if there should arise ONE UTTERLY BELIEVING MAN, the history of the world might be changed.

Will YOU not be that one in the providence and guidance of God our Father?
–A. E. McAdam

Prayer without faith degenerates into objectless routine, or soulless hypocrisy. Prayer with faith brings Omnipotence to back our petitions. Better not pray unless and until your whole being responds to the efficacy of your supplication. When the true prayer is breathed, earth and heaven, the past and the future, say Amen. And Christ prayed such prayers.
–P. C. M.

Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God.

Be Merciful As God Is Merciful

 

Put on your Armour of God | Jesus faith, Gods mercy, Grace quotesBible Verses about Mercy
27 Bible Verses about Mercy - DailyVerses.net27 Bible Verses about Mercy - DailyVerses.net
8 Best Mercy Bible Verses - Encouraging Scripture12 Bible Verses About Mercy: Learn About God's Mercy and Love
Bible Verses & Quotes About God's Mercy, Compassion, Kindness, Grace,  Mercies – JollyNotes.com25 Bible Verses on the Mercy of God - YouTube

Waves of Mercy

Top 10 Bible Verses About Mercy With Commentary

Picture for a moment the scene of ocean waves continually rolling onto a long sandy beach. The Lord recently revealed to me that His mercy is exactly like those waves, constant and never ceasing.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says,

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” (NLT) 

Without the mercy of God, we’d be finished. For God in His anger can be as fierce as a hurricane and then in His mercy become like a peaceful ocean wave.

God loves us so much and is saddened when we intentionally do things contrary to His will. The pain isn’t surface level with God, but cuts deep within.

Do you remember how crushed you felt the last time a loved one hurt you? If you are like me, you were highly disappointed at their neglect for your feelings. We’ve all been there before. Then, while you might have been angry with the person who wronged you, you were also willing to forgive them because of their heartfelt apology.

Now, by placing God in the same scenario, perhaps we can gain a better understanding of the Father’s heart. Yes, God desires to demonstrate His mercy in our lives. His mercy gives us another chance even after we’ve blown it.

The awesome thing about God is to know what He says in 1 John 1:9,

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (NLT)  

I personally enjoy being at the coast and relaxing to the sound of waves crashing upon the seashore. Whenever I return from spending time there, I am always refreshed and renewed. The ocean can be a treacherous place, but it also shares similar characteristics with its Creator. Everything on earth carries evidence of God’s character and handiwork; however, to me, the ocean is one of the greatest representatives in all of creation. As with God, the ocean is a source of life, strength, and tranquility.

Ocean waves, in particular, are truly amazing. Each time a wave washes up on the beach it carries away a portion of sand from one place to another. As a result, the waves, sand, and beach will always change. God deals with our sin in the same way the ocean deals with sand. He washes over us with His waves of mercy and takes away our sins.

Audio Adrenaline illustrates this clearly in a segment of their song, Ocean Floor: The lyrics speak of the songwriter’s sins, how they haunt him and are ugly. Then it makes the analogy of these sins being washed away by large ocean waves (God’s forgiveness) and they are as gone as the ocean floor is when wiped away by the churning surf.

Every day, God wants us to truly experience His mercy and do what 1 Chronicles 16:34 tells us,

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

 

Today’s Devotions

June 25

1 Kings 19:7-8 7The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

Poor Elijah! He had been on the run and in hiding for three and a half years. He brought a great victory for God and was forced back into hiding again. God sent an angel to deliver the food and water he needed. Elijah was so tired from the spiritual conflict that he needed an angelic alarm clock. He was encouraged to eat to get the strength he needed for the journey.

There is a temptation for those suffering from depression to forget the physical. Elijah needed to eat to get the strength to move to a new setting. We can use a change of scenery. It gets our mind off the problems that have overwhelmed us. Then we can hear from God without the cloud of things troubling us and distorting what He speaks to our hearts.

He traveled to Horeb, the same place Moses got his inspiration. Horeb means “fresh inspiration.” That was what Moses needed too. Moses went from second in Egypt to be a shepherd and had given up the hope of helping his people. When we get to the place of despair that Elijah and Moses were in, we need to get away to a mountain of inspiration. We need to meet with God and hear from Him. We need God’s perspective on our situation. (To be continued.)

Consider: Where do you need to go for some fresh inspiration?

 

Do We Forget Our Larger Enemy?

by Debbie Holloway

“Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light…” (2 Corinthians 11:14)

Have you ever suffered a crushing loss, only to have someone tell you, “Well, it’s all part of God’s plan”? Have you ever projected pure hate or bitterness toward a fellow human being because of violence or deceit displayed by his or her actions? Have you ever watched the news as innocent children die in war, and wondered how God could allow such things to happen?

I’ve been there. I can hazard a guess that we’ve all been there. It’s only natural to lash out at each other during tough times, and we’re also very quick to give God the responsibility for bad things when they happen. But it’s crucial that, when such times come, we mustn’t forget our larger enemy: Satan.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

It almost seems like a silly reminder, doesn’t it? So obvious! Of course Satan exists. References to him are peppered throughout Scripture, and in reading the Gospels we see Christ rise victorious over him once and for all. But unfortunately, Satan has a way of conning even the most steadfast Christians into temporarily forgetting about his existence. I believe we do this mainly in two ways.

Mistake #1: We direct our hate at suffering, injustice, and sorrow toward each other.

We are instruments in many ways, and many people choose to be instruments of darkness rather than of light. But should we truly speak curses on murderers, or should we pray for their repentance? Should we delight when a terrorist is given the death penalty, or should we hold firm in the faith that Christ’s love is strong enough to conquer any heart?

At the end of the day, we must remember that Satan and demonic forces are strong influences in this world, and we all fall prey to the temptation in different ways. The Bible verse that helps me remember not to direct my hate toward another person is Ephesians 6:12:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Mistake #2: We direct our hate at suffering, injustice, and sorrow toward God himself.

Scripture tells us we are to praise God through all things. In no way does this signify that God is, himself, the cause of all things. This mindset can lead to dangerous and depressing ideas about our good Creator. Jesus told his followers,

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

In this, Jesus plainly rejects the notion that evil things (murder, destruction, and disorder) are the result of his will. Yes, God takes those things and repurposes them for good, but God’s will is for life, abundance, and wholeness. When chaos runs rampant, as it often will because of the freedom God gives us to make choices, we must remember that it’s a result of human choice and Satan’s influence – not the desires of God.

The grace and good news is that the Holy Spirit equips us, and we need have no mortal fear of Satan…so long as we remember that he’s still around! James writes,

“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

 

Self-Control 

Scripture Reading — Galatians 5:16-26

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . . and self-control. . . . Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. — Galatians 5:22-25

As we wrap up our reflections on the fruit of the Spirit today, we focus on self-control. In the apostle Paul’s discussion here, we can see that self-control is very important for helping us turn away from “the desires of the flesh.”

But we may wonder, How can we actually practice self-control? How can we turn away from all the sins and “actions of the flesh” that are listed here? Are we strong enough to control our sinful desires on our own? No. We need the power of God the Holy Spirit to guide us.

The self-control that Paul is talking about is not accomplished by the power of our old, sinful self. It can only be accomplished in the power of the new self that we receive through the finished work of Jesus Christ—that is, the new life that comes to us by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

With the new life of the Spirit in us, we have a new self that is led by the Spirit. And because we are led by the Spirit, we can “keep in step with the Spirit.” Like a tree or a vine with the life of the Spirit in us, we can bear “the fruit of the Spirit” such as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

This is the Spirit’s work in us, and we need to surrender our old, selfish, sinful nature each day so that we can live by the control of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Guide us, Lord, to crucify the old, sinful nature “with its passions and desires” so that we will enjoy life in the Spirit. Amen.

We Are Set Free Through Christ

Thomas Jefferson Quote: “The God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the  liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that...”3 Bible verses to encourage those who are being oppressed

Founding Fathers Quotes on Liberty and Freedom in AmericaBenjamin Franklin - They who can give up essential liberty...
123 Bible Verses about Freedom (KJV) | StillFaith29 Bible Verses about Hope - KJV - DailyVerses.net

Passing the Test of Liberty

fourth july parade

Reading today’s headlines, we learn of constant challenges to our liberty. Terrorists’ threats against our nation, economic turmoil, and political struggles are on our minds. But hasn’t that been a constant in the history of our country?

From the very outset of our nation’s birth, our forefathers passed the test of liberty in places like Bunker Hill and Valley Forge. But there has come a steady stream of trials and tests to our nation that we have had to pass in order to remain free. We mustn’t forget the Alamo, the battle of New Orleans, or Gettysburg, and our current heroes who fight a war against global terror.

There has been a test that each generation has had to pass for liberty. And these tests are always given to the individual. A woman, who we’ll call Maria, had always wanted to become a United States citizen, but could not pass the test. Well, after praying with a CBN prayer representative, Maria passed the test of liberty and became a United States citizen!

There once was a young boy named Tommy who was brilliant at an early age. Born and raised in a rural area, he read all of his father’s books by the age of six and had a hunger for knowledge that was unquenchable. He was tested many times in his life but at the age of 14, his father passed away, leaving him to assume the role of head of the house.

In spite of life’s circumstances, he entered college at the age of 17. Maintaining his home with his mother and siblings, at the age of 24, Tommy passed the bar exam and became a lawyer. When he was 27 and away working in another city, his home burned down and he lost all his prized possessions, including his extensive library. In time, he rebuilt his library, had an illustrious career, and passed the test of liberty.

Harriet Powers, a woman freed from slavery after the civil war, suffered hardships and struggled to pass the test of liberty. She was an expert seamstress who made quilts to help support her family of nine children. Few black women could write in those days, but Harriet told the stories of the Bible with the figures she sewed into the panels of her quilts. To see Harriet’s quilts was to get a visual of the great stories of the Bible. She passed the test of liberty and led her family into the free world.

The greatest test of liberty, however, came in a garden in Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus passed the test of liberty for all mankind when He submitted Himself to His Father and said,

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22:42).

He sacrificed His liberty for ours, even to His death on a cross. Now we have liberty in Christ, eternal life that no man or devil in hell can take from us. When we accept Christ Jesus as our savior, we are free!

The test of liberty is an individual test, which we must pass daily. Our struggle, whether spiritual, physical, or financial, is not in vain. Just as we reap the rewards of those who have passed the test before us, we pass the rewards of our tests on to those who come after us.

The Apostle Paul wrote,

“As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

So, pass the test of liberty and be an over-comer like Harriet Powers, the freed slave whose Bible quilt hangs in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC today. Or Maria, who passed the test of liberty and became a United States citizen at 96 years of age! And finally, let’s not forget Tommy, who at the age of 33 passed the test of liberty when he penned these words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Thomas Jefferson, July 4, 1776).

 

The Bible Is Not a Cheat Sheet

by Ryan Duncan, crosswalk.com

Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Psalm 119:33-34

I have a confession to make. Back when I was still in school, I attended a chemistry class that I hated. The building was cold and smelled like chemicals. The lessons were slow, with hours of homework assigned afterward. On top of everything, I had never been good at chemistry, and my frustration usually boiled over faster than our science solutions did.

The class did have one upside though; the way the room was set up allowed me a perfect view of the desks in front of me. So, whenever an exam was held, I cheated. I used a variety of excuses to justify this. Chemistry wasn’t my gift, so why should my GPA suffer? The answers were there, they were available, why shouldn’t I use them? Who cares how I got the answers so long as they’re the right ones?

It was only later that I realized my mistake. Sure, I knew the correct answers, but I didn’t understand how the formulas constructed those answers. Without that, my knowledge of chemistry was surface-level at best. I was completely and utterly lost.

I think sometimes we like to use the Bible as a cheat sheet. When the world confronts us with a problem, we open our Bibles and yell, “See, the Bible says it’s wrong, end of story!” But the Bible was meant to serve as a textbook, not a cheat sheet. If we don’t study God’s word, we won’t understand why Jesus said the things he did. We fail to ask questions, and we breeze through passages without taking time to consider their meaning. We are, quite frankly, bad students.

Try to think of it this way. Before a doctor can heal a person’s illness, they must first understand the disease at work. They have to understand where it came from, what affect it has on the patient’s body, what types of treatment can fix the problem, why those treatments work, and which of the treatments is best for the patient. If the doctor does not understand this, there is a good chance they’ll end up hurting their patient. God calls us to be healers and lights to the world, but without understanding his word first, we become heavy-handed.

We must not be afraid to question our faith. Instead, we must study it with an open mind and faithful heart. That way, when the real exam comes, we pass with flying colors.

Today’s Devotions

From: Daily Devotions.net

June 24

1 Kings 19:2-4 2So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” 3Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

When Ahab relayed the message of Elijah’s victory on Mt. Carmel to Jezebel, she promised to do to Elijah what he had done to the prophets of Baal. In doing so, she made an oath common at the time. She vowed that if she couldn’t do it to him, then the gods could do it to her. God took her up on that. We need to watch carefully the vows that come from our lips. God hears them.

It is hard to imagine her heart being so hard that even after hearing of a mighty miracle of God, she would attempt to murder the instrument of that miracle. Elijah took her threat seriously. He faced the false prophets, but he was afraid to face Jezebel and her army. Going off into the desert, he found a bit of shade to rest under and asked God to take him home. He must have thought that after the great victory, things would suddenly change. The people knew Jehovah was God, so why didn’t they overthrow Ahab and Jezebel? Elijah was burned out. He had fought for his life and the cause of the LORD and came to the climactic point, yet nothing seemed to have changed. Even great men of God despair of life. In God’s time there will be a change in the nation. Elijah had to train a disciple before he could go to his heavenly home. Despair comes upon us at times, but don’t give up. There are things yet to be done. (To be continued.)

Remember: When you are discouraged and downhearted, know that God is sovereign over all. Circumstances will change in His perfect time.

Gentleness 

Scripture Reading — Titus 3:1-8

Remind the people . . . to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. — Titus 3:2

Gentleness is probably the least-talked-about fruit of the Spirit. And even though it is often overlooked, it is one of the most important character traits of people who live by the Spirit. In the Bible, gentleness is also called meekness, and it is a prominent virtue in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus teaches us, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

Our world today does not value gentleness. Instead we are loud, boisterous, rowdy, showy, obnoxious, and pushy. One commentator described our culture in North America as “restless, rootless, and ruthless.” Gentleness is the opposite of these. Gentle folks are not restless but calm and composed, not rootless but stable, not ruthless but respectful. Biblical synonyms for the word gentle include humble, meek, considerate, courteous, respectful, and noble.

We tend to categorize gentle people as wimps. But gentleness is actually the result of bringing great strength under control. In a biblical sense, the strongest people are those who dare to be gentle. And the best example to guide us is Jesus.

Jesus calls out, “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” (Matthew 11:29). To be gentle or meek is to be God-molded, Christ-shaped, and Holy Spirit-directed. Ask the Spirit for an extra measure of gentleness today.

Prayer

Forgive us, Lord, for associating gentleness with weakness. May we as Christians take the lead in being gentle toward everyone. Amen.

God Gives You Victorious Strength

20 Incredible Bible Verses about God's StrengthGod Give Me Strength Quotes God Give Me Strength Quotes Best Images Collections Hd For | Give me strength quotes, Strength quotes god, Quotes about strength
Bible Quotes On Strength - Bible Verses About Strength20 Bible Verses about Strength - Bible Verse Images
38 Bible Verses about Strength - DailyVerses.netGod Gives Strength – Isaiah 40:29 – Weekly Health Scripture
40+ Bible Verses About Strength - Encouraging Scriptures for HopeDear Lord Give me Strength to Carry on | ComfortingQuotes.com | Give me strength, Quotes about strength, Quotes about hard times

 

Terry Meeuwsen: The Source of My Strength

Deuteronomy 33:25 As your days so shall your strength be. The Lord will give you the strength … | Prayers for strength, I need you lord, Spiritual warfare prayers

The book Hiding Place chronicles the life of Corrie ten Boom. Corrie and her family were Dutch believers who hid Jews in their home during the Nazi reign of terror. They were finally arrested and imprisoned for hiding and smuggling Jews to safety. Corrie was the only survivor.

When I consider the condition of the world today – the loss of high moral standards, the increasing instances of violence and drug use, and the basic disregard for human life – I am frightened for us as a nation and am deeply concerned for my children. In a world where rules are scorned and personal rights take precedence over all else, how do I teach my children that some things are worth dying for? Stories like Corrie’s help me to keep on keeping on in my own faith walk and to encourage my children in theirs.

Years ago, at the age of 22, a friend encouraged me to enter the Miss America Pageant. I wanted to study professionally in New York City, and the pageant scholarship was substantial enough to make that dream a reality.

But there was a process to it. You had to enter a local pageant first. If you won that, you went on to a state competition. If you won that, you competed in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for the Miss America title. Oh, the effort I put into that endeavor! It took hours, days, months of discipline and perseverance. There were mock interviews, rehearsals, and workouts. There were sessions on walking, wardrobe, cosmetics, and speech. And singing, singing, singing.

Ultimately I won, and I was given many opportunities and blessings as a result of being Miss America. But I did all that for a crown that will perish. How much more should I be willing to do for a crown that is imperishable?

The Bible is filled with stories of men and women who, in the face of impossible circumstances, persevered and were mightily used of God. I want to be the kind of woman God can count on. Yet, sometimes I look at my own weaknesses or the circumstances around me and am discouraged. I look at my children and the challenges that could face them and am afraid. But then, I lift my eyes to my heavenly Father and am reminded that He is strong.

In The Hiding Place, Corrie expresses her fear to her father and asks how she can be sure she’ll have the courage to walk out her faith if they are caught. Her father says, “Corrie, when we take a train ride, when do you get the ticket to get on the train?” Corrie answered, “When the train is ready to leave.” So it is with our God. We need to keep our heart’s attitude right, but the ability and strength to persevere come from Him.

Lord, make me a woman of conviction, willing to pay the price and finish the race. When I am weary, remind me that You are the source of my strength.

We Never Face Our Battles Alone

by Debbie McDaniel, crosswalk.com

“And the Lord answered, ‘I will be with you…” Judges 6:16

Some days can seem hurried, pressured, and tense. We know God’s truth, we believe His goodness, and yet we still find ourselves struggling, minds racing, before our feet even touch the floor in the morning.

Our focus gets blurred. We start listening to the lies of other voices that do more harm than good. The constant media headlines tell us how dark and broken our world is. Images and reminders all around us shout that we’re “not enough.” The enemy is great at heaping on guilt, condemnation, and fear. The problems we face seem more like giants of impossibility than anything good that God can ever bring from them.

But often, out of His goodness and grace, when we find ourselves right smack in the middle of huge feelings of defeat, God shows up strong.

Many others have been there too. All through the Bible, story after story tells us of those who needed God’s reminders that He was near. With them. Close.

And He never failed, not once.

Gideon found himself feeling weak and afraid. In Judges 6, we find that he and his people were facing great suffering and defeat at the hand of the enemy. He doubted God was even with him. In fact, when an angel showed up, he was threshing his wheat in the pit of a winepress, not up on a hilltop where this was usually done. He was fearful and trying to keep hidden from view of the enemy who’d been raiding their land. The angel spoke straight through to his fear and weakness, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:12

Don’t you love that he called him “mighty warrior” right at the time he felt so discouraged and afraid?

But God sees “mighty” when we see “weak.” He sees victory when we see defeat. He gives hope, when we’re filled with disappointment.

Gideon questioned, “If God was with us, then why did this happen?”

Sounds familiar…ever been there?

“If God is really here, then why?”

“If God is really good, then when?”

“If God really cares, then how?”

And even with the questions, after His people had turned their backs on Him, God is still gracious, patient, loving, and kind. He sends his messenger to encourage, to remind Gideon and all of the Israelites, that He was surely with them.

Yet while staring straight at an angel, Gideon continued to persist with defeated thoughts, “But I am the weakest, I am the least…how can God save Israel?”

“And the Lord answered, ‘I will be with you…” Judges 6:16

Five powerful words. That can see us through anything we face in this life.

“I will be with you.”

God’s presence is real. He gives us strength for every day. The battle can be intense. And some days especially, the enemy seems really strong, and we feel really weary. We can find ourselves wrestling again with the same defeated thoughts that we thought we’d finally laid to rest just the night before. Disappointments come. We struggle with feeling like we haven’t measured up, we listen to the lies that we are “less than…”

But God still answers us. Just like He did for Gideon.

He’s still with us, no matter how we might feel, or what struggles flood our thoughts. He is filling us with the power and grace of His Spirit, just enough for the day.

For this day.

A reminder for your heart, in whatever you might be facing, “The Lord is with you…mighty warrior.”

Peace.

The Waves Were None of His Business – Streams in the Desert – June 23

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

So he said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:29-30)

Peter had a little faith in the midst of his doubts, says Bunyan; and so with crying and coming he was brought to Christ.

But here you see that sight was a hindrance; the waves were none of his business when once he had set out; all Peter had any concern with, was the pathway of light that came gleaming across the darkness from where Christ stood. If it was tenfold Egypt beyond that, Peter had no call to look and see.

When the Lord shall call to you over the waters, “Come,” step gladly forth. Look not for a moment away from Him.

Not by measuring the waves can you prevail; not by gauging the wind will you grow strong; to scan the danger may be to fall before it; to pause at the difficulties, is to have them break above your head. Lift up your eyes unto the hills, and go forward—there is no other way.

“Dost thou fear to launch away?
Faith lets go to swim!
Never will He let thee go;
’Tis by trusting thou shalt know
Fellowship with Him.”

 

A Critical Spirit

by Inspiration Ministries

“When the sons of Israel heard about it, the entire congregation of the sons of Israel assembled at Shiloh to go up against them in battle.” – Joshua 22:12 NASB

After forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites finally approached the Promised Land. But two and a half of the tribes asked to stay on the east of the Jordan. Moses agreed, provided they helped other tribes in their conquests.

After these promises had been fulfilled, Joshua allowed them to return to these lands. Everything seemed fine until it became known that the returning tribes had built an altar east of the Jordan. The other tribes became so concerned that they prepared for war, accusing the two and a half tribes of committing an “unfaithful act” (v. 16).

Tragedy was avoided when these eastern tribes explained that they were not being unfaithful. The altar was just a witness to remind future generations of the true God.

How easy it can be to act like the accusing tribes, to rush to judgment, and to criticize without knowing the facts. To prevent disputes like these, Jesus said that we were to make every effort to solve conflicts in private. We should address issues in public only after private options have been exhausted (Matthew 18:15-18).

Today, seek to learn from the conflict between the Israelites. Follow the teaching of Jesus. Before you rush to judgment, be sure to learn the facts. If you have questions, don’t assume the worst but seek to know the truth. And remember, those who are merciful will obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7).

Freely Received, Freely Give To The World

26 Bible verses about Respect, For EnvironmentBible Verses About Money: 9 Biblical Principles of Money & Possessions
46 Bible verses about Taking Care Of Your Body50 Bible Verses About Peace - Encouraging Scripture Quotes
Coronavirus Bible Verses - What does the Bible say about COVID-19?17 Bible Verses about Overcoming - DailyVerses.net

May We Look Upon the World as Our Parish

44 Bible Verses about the World - DailyVerses.net

In the early 1700s, a small group of religious fugitives formed a village in a part of Germany called Moravia. They named their village Herrnhut which means “The Lord’s Watch.” While Herrnhut had become a community of religious exiles, many spoke different languages and creeds. There were Lutherans, Separatists, Reformed, and others, living side by side. Disagreements developed. Relationships deteriorated.

The community was on the way to ruin when the people decided to “give themselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (see Acts 6:4) They began to study the Bible, hold all-night prayer vigils, and confess their sins to one another.

On August 13, 1727, an amazing miracle happened. There was a baptism and communion service, and the Holy Spirit moved through the room. A spirit of love came over the attendees. Differences dissolved, and they all embraced one another in love and forgiveness.

They established a 24-hour around-the-clock prayer vigil which lasted 100 years. Their vision was based on the passage in Isaiah 62:1-7.

“O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord.” Isaiah 

62:6 NLT

The influence of the continual prayer was far-reaching. Their burden for mission work was birthed. Missionaries were sent all over the world. Many people were influenced by the dedication and commitment of the Moravians including John and Charles Wesley, founders of the Methodist Church and William Carey, missionary to India.

The early church understood continuous prayer was necessary because spiritual warfare is continuous. Prayer became their priority. Shortly after Pentecost, the number of disciples multiplied as did their obligations. It became clear the disciples needed help with responsibilities like taking care of the widows. Instead of sacrificing the ministry of prayer, deacons were chosen to care for the church and its people. The ministry of prayer was paramount, and as the church grew, they understood even more prayer was needed.

The same is true for us today. The ministry of prayer and the ministry of the Word should be a top priority. Can you imagine if we all made prayer a priority? Can you imagine if we all committed to the ministry of the Word? What would our families or communities look like if we all “gave ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word?”

Knowing Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever inspires me to look back and see the work of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am encouraged and motivated to continually pray and seek opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

John Wesley said, I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.”

Let us adopt the calling, “all the world is our parish.” The world is hurting. The world needs the good news of Jesus Christ. Continual prayer and ministry of the Word is the answer. We can learn from the early church. We can grow as the Moravian Church. We are here for such a time as this, and the more we continually seek God through prayer, the more He will accomplish His purpose through us.

The Apostle Paul reminds us of our responsibility in 2 Corinthians 5:20,

“So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” (NLT)

Inoculated with Faith/Hope/Love

by Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.com

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

I remember the morning following the 2012 presidential election, I found myself musing peacefully about what’s important in life. I was finding out, through realizing how little the outcome affected me, how little stock I’d had in the result personally. I was neither dancing in the streets nor cursing the fates like several friends and acquaintances. How was that? Apathy? Ignorance? Internal focus? Eternal security? Just a really easy morning sending the kids off to school?

Then it hit me. It was the theological virtues. I began to compose what became a Facebook status:

“…I do find Faith and Hope such interesting concepts. They’re so powerful. They allow so many to get on with their lives. They inform our decisions and give us empathy for others. They point us towards purpose, toward wrongs to be righted and away from what would harm us. They seem to be in short supply sometimes, even among those who proclaim them while venting frustrations and fears they’d not utter to your face, but they shine brightest in tough times if you let them. And they’re most famously tied to Love. They are still here this day, even if it doesn’t sound like it, for they are the virtues that ‘abide.’

“So I ask regardless of political persuasion: Do you have Faith to loan to the one today who has lost his, or placed it in something temporal and disappointing? Can you spare Hope for one who doesn’t understand that Despair is the only place hope functions?

“These virtues are superior inoculations against whatever goes on around us, the very infusions that make possible a mission of bringing joy, mercy and laughter into the world every day, that elevate ‘I can endure all things’ above a mere platitude. They task one with a job that’ll get you up in the morning, any morning. They bring to our eyes opportunity: chances for justice and charity, and the exercise of freedom. And, good news for me, Faith-Hope-Love is beautifying, for I can think of none who ever saw the application of these virtues – call it Grace – in action and said, ‘Ugly.'”

It wasn’t long before I was tasked with the charge I had just set before others. A forlorn friend messaged me.

“I honestly need prayer. I am sincerely requesting it. I do not feel love, I do not feel any desire to “get past it and heal and show love more now than ever.” …I am disheartened to the point of despair.  …I don’t want to feel this way but I do. And it’s been getting worse all day. Please pray for me. …Considering your FB post earlier, I came to you with my request because I thought that at the least you’d understand.”

After a moment of prayer I responded:

“I have already been praying for you ever since waking early and noting that you were ‘heart sick.’ It can start to feel like a lonely place but you are not alone. I won’t try to talk you off the ledge politically because the timing’s not right and there’s no point in anyone else’s opinion when what’s killing you and eating at you so bad is how ‘uninformed and wrong’ all the opinions out there seem to you. I only hope you can get to the bottom of why it gets to you so bad.

“In microcosm, it reminds me of a HORRIBLE flight to Newark I shared with two of my co-workers back in April. I was convinced that nasty flight was going down. I even posted ugly things about it publicly. I was SO MAD that while I was holding on for dear life while the plane bounced (yes, bounced!) around the sky, none of the other passengers seemed to mind. At least not much. I wanted to scream, ‘Come on, people! This isn’t right! Why did they put us on this plane in these conditions, and why are you taking this jostling?’

“On the other hand, my friend [and Christianity.com editor] Alex really couldn’t understand why I would fret at all. After all, what is the worst that can happen to the believer? Death has no victory, so it’s not that. And fear? What is fear except that from which we’ve already been delivered (death, sin, destruction, loss)? And sovereignty – what does my angry fretting reveal about what I believe about the nature of God?

“Hey, I think it’s quite possible, biblically speaking, and regardless of the results of this particular vote, that things will happen in this country that are ‘undesirable.’ But I also know that through them and despite them I will cherish every moment with my family, try not to hold too tightly to anything eaten by moth or rust, and look for opportunities to help, and to live out my faith, purpose, and morality individually.

“I have no doubt you will be out of this slump at some point. But it may take a while. I daresay you may even want to talk to a counselor about it (I say this as someone who’s done it).

“In the meantime, the simplest (yes, I know that can mean ‘most naive’) thing is to consider experience a good teacher. Nothing yet political, economic or electorial has befallen you or this country that killed either of you. In your 40 years, you have amassed great blessings; do not forget them, or Job 3:25. If you could erase everything in your mind and wake up today to discover the life you have, would your sky be nearly so dark right now?

“Rejoice! Get out of town. Go for a drive in the country with the top down. Go ahead, tell God he’d better know what he’s doing allowing for the kings and counselors of the earth which he has ordained. And then leave it alone for a while. Go the indirect route. Study/read/pray about something else. Help someone else, even by just sending a note or letter to someone you know.

“These are the things that help me when I’m down, when I start hating my own people.

“Speaking of which, I sent friend requests to both ______ and ______ today. I figure it’s time I stopped damming what would flow from my own heart. So please let me encourage you not to start. Much love!”

Rehearse Your Troubles to God – Streams in the Desert – June 22

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

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all transgressions. (Prov 10:12)

Rehearse your troubles to God only. Not long ago I read in a paper a bit of personal experience from a precious child of God, and it made such an impression upon me that I record it here. She wrote:

“I found myself one midnight wholly sleepless as the surges of a cruel injustice swept over me, and the love which covers seemed to have crept out of my heart. Then I cried to God in an agony for the power to obey His injunction, ’Love covereth.’

“Immediately the Spirit began to work in me the power that brought about the forgetfulness.

“Mentally I dug a grave. Deliberately I threw up the earth until the excavation was deep.

“Sorrowfully I lowered into it the thing which wounded me. Quickly I shoveled in the clods.

“Over the mound I carefully laid the green sods. Then I covered it with white roses and forget-me-nots, and quickly walked away.

“Sweet sleep came. The wound which had been so nearly deadly was healed without a scar, and I know not today what caused my grief.”

“There was a scar on yonder mountain-side,
Gashed out where once the cruel storm had trod;
A barren, desolate chasm, reaching wide,
Across the soft green sod.

“But years crept by beneath the purple pines,
And veiled the scar with grass and moss once more,
And left it fairer now with flowers and vines
Than it had been before.

The Grace of Goodness

  Dean Deppe today devotions 

Scripture Reading — Acts 9:36-42

She was always doing good and helping the poor. — Acts 9:36

The fruit of goodness arises from the amazing grace of God. It seeks to help and to right wrongs where it can, providing benefits to others and leading them to give thanks and praise to God (Matthew 5:16).

As we have read in our text for today, Tabitha (Dorcas) “was always doing good and helping the poor.” And when she suddenly became sick and died, the apostle Peter asked God to bring her back to life. And God did that! Tabitha could then continue with her acts of goodness, and because of this miracle “many people believed in the Lord.”

Barnabas, who gave generously to the church and helped Paul (Saul) when he needed a friend, “was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:24; see also Acts 4:36-379:27-28).

Cornelius, one of the first Gentiles (non-Jews) to believe in Jesus, was already “devout and God-fearing,” and “he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly” (Acts 10:2). God sent him a vision, telling him to invite Peter to his house. God also sent Peter a vision, telling him to go and visit Cornelius. So Peter did that, and he shared the good news of Jesus with Cornelius and with a crowd of people who had gathered at his house. And all the people there received the gift of the Holy Spirit that day and were baptized (Acts 10)!

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for the good people in this world. Holy Spirit, breathe your goodness into all your people so that others may see and give praise to the Father in heaven. Amen.

Adopted Into God’s Family

Adopted into Gods Family | Godly Witnesses For ChristAdoption: God's Glorious “Plan A” – enCourage
A Human Picture of God's Plan of Adoption - RonParrs.com: Notes from My  Desk...5 benefits of being adopted into God's family. | Faith, God, Overcoming
Family Ministry: The Difference Between God's Adoption and Ours - Timothy  Paul JonesA NEW FATHER AND A NEW HEART OR THE PERMANENCY OF OUR ADOPTION INTO GOD'S  FAMILY |

 

Adoption Is in God’s Plan

silhouette of a mother, father, and child holding hands and walking together

 

Adoption. What a beautiful concept. And it was God’s idea! It is how God chose to create a family for Himself to be the object of His eternal love and affection (Ephesians 1:5Romans 8:15). In fact, all throughout history, God has woven adoption into His divine plan.

Consider Esther: A young Jewish girl was taken into exile along with her family to Babylon where she was adopted by her elder cousin Mordecai who, “had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.” (Esther 2:7). This girl would become Queen Esther whom God used to facilitate the deliverance of her people. While an evil advisor was hell-bent on exterminating them, Ether’s wise adopted father challenged her with these famous words,

“And who knows if perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

How about Moses: Born at a time when the Pharaoh of Egypt, fearing a rebellion, put to death all newborn Israelite boys. But baby Moses escaped when he was adopted by the Pharaoh’s own daughter. In time, God would use Moses to deliver the entire nation of Israel from slavery.

“The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:9-10)

And Jesus! Even Jesus was adopted! When Joseph learned Mary was pregnant (and knew the child wasn’t his), he hoped to spare her a scandal and planned to call off the engagement. But God came to Joseph in a dream.

“As Joseph considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’” (Matthew 1:20-21)

And so Joseph took Mary as his wife.

Long before time began, God planned a rescue mission. And throughout history, He has weaved adoption into His salvation story.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7)

Praise our Lord for His kindness and goodness and that He chooses to adopt us into His loving embrace!

 

Through The Bible Devotions

June 21

1 Kings 18:17-18 17When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” 18“I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals.

Elijah has been in hiding for three years. Wicked king Ahab searched the nations for him. The drought was so severe that it was destroying the kingdom. When God sent Elijah to meet with the king, the king called him, “the troubler of Israel.” Amazing how the world sees the saint as the evil one. There is a cry in some societies today against “the intolerant Christians.” There will always be a cry against the righteous who stand for integrity and truth. If you represent the LORD, and hold Him as the standard, the world will hate you and blame you for the troubles that stem from the judgments of God. Elijah had come to bring the mercy of God in the form of rain.

He set the record straight when he told Ahab that it was he and his family that were the cause of the trouble in Israel. Why? They had abandoned the LORD’S commands and followed Baals. If God allowed rain when the people looked to Baal for it, He would be encouraging them to have faith in a lie. The mercy of God withheld the rain. The guilty often point their finger at the very ones who are trying to bring the grace and mercy of God into a situation.

There are times when a brother will bring us a harsh word. We must determine whether there is validity in it, or if we are being attacked for our integrity. A heart that is soft toward God will soon know the difference. Ahab did not have such a heart. I trust, by the grace of God, you and I do.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me stand for truth and righteousness regardless of what the world may call me. Help me to bring your grace into a needy world.

 

Mercy, omnipotence, and justice

By: Charles Spurgeon

“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.” Nahum 1:3

Suggested Further Reading: Nehemiah 9:9-31

Have you ever observed that scene in the garden of Eden at the time of the fall? God had threatened Adam, that if he sinned he should surely die. Adam sinned: did God make haste to sentence him? ‘Tis sweetly said, “The Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day.” Perhaps that fruit was plucked at early morn, maybe it was plucked at noon-tide; but God was in no haste to condemn; he waited till the sun was well nigh set, and in the cool of the day came, and as an old expositor has put it very beautifully, when he did come he did not come on wings of wrath, but he “walked in the garden in the cool of the day.” He was in no haste to slay. I think I see him, as he was represented then to Adam, in those glorious days when God walked with man. Methinks I see the wonderful similitude in which the unseen did veil himself: I see it walking among the trees so slowly—if it is right to give such a picture—beating its breast, and shedding tears that it should have to condemn man. At last I hear its doleful voice: “Adam, where art thou? Where hast thou cast thyself, poor Adam? Thou hast cast thyself from my favour; thou hast cast thyself into nakedness and into fear; for thou art hiding thyself. Adam, where art thou? I pity thee. Thou thoughtest to be God. Before I condemn thee I will give thee one note of pity. Adam, where art thou?” Yes, the Lord was slow to anger, slow to write the sentence, even though the command had been broken, and the threatening was therefore of necessity brought into force.

For meditation: There are good and bad ways of taking advantage of God’s apparent slowness (2 Peter 3:3,4,9).

 

Streams in the Desert – June 21

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

Now after some days, when he returned to Capernaum, the news spread that he was at home. (Mark 2:1)

The polyps which construct the coral reefs, work away under water, never dreaming that they are building the foundation of a new island on which, by-and-by, plants and animals will live and children of God be born and fitted for eternal glory as joint-heirs of Christ.

If your place in God’s ranks is a hidden and secluded one, beloved, do not murmur, do not complain, do not seek to get out of God’s will, if He has placed you there; for without the polyps, the coral reefs would never be built, and God needs some who are willing to be spiritual polyps, and work away out of sight of men, but sustained by the Holy Ghost and in full view of Heaven.

The day will come when Jesus will give the rewards, and He makes no mistakes, although some people may wonder how you came to merit such a reward, as they had never heard of you before.
—Selected

Just where you stand in the conflict,
There is your place.
Just where you think you are useless,
Hide not your face.
God placed you there for a purpose,
Whate’er it be;
Think He has chosen you for it;
Work loyally.
Gird on your armor! Be faithful
At toil or rest!
Whate’er it be, never doubting
God’s way is best.
Out in the fight or on picket,
Stand firm and true;
This is the work which your Master
Gives you to do.

—Selected

The inspiring mountain top, the helpful fellowship of “just men,” and betake ourselves to our dim homely Emmaus, or to our dread public Colossae, or even to our far Macedonia in the mission field, quietly confident that just where He has placed us, in the usual round of life, He ordains that the borderland may be possessed, the victory won.