Monthly Archives: August 2021

The Tongue Can Soothe or Damage

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The Forgotten Vital Organ

by Katherine Britton,

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. – Proverbs 18:21

I have decided that many, many medical textbooks are wrong. Each and every one of them has actually left out a vital organ. Yes, they’ve remembered the heart and the brain and even that strange thing called a pancreas (I know it’s important, I just forget why sometimes). But look through the books all you want, and you’ll find not one mention of the most obvious vital organ of all: the tongue.

Then again, I myself often choose to ignore the importance of the tongue. I’d rather not believe it has “the power of life and death.” I’d like to pretend my tongue is more like an appendix or a gall bladder – easy to forget about because it’s not that important – but that’s just not the case. Snapping at my family when I’m tired, nagging, and complaining all release a poison from my tongue that works its way through my whole being (James 3:6). Not only that, I infect others with my attitudes and motivations. I begin to spread a disease.

Contrast that with the “words of the wise,” as Proverbs says many times. Their words heal and strengthen as they spread encouragement, wisdom, peace, and the Gospel message. Oh, and – get this – the wise actually use their tongues less than other people. The more powerful the tongue, the less it needs to be used. It’s like the heart of a well-trained athlete – when someone is really in shape, the beats per minute actually decrease as the heart becomes more and more efficient. In the same way, why don’t I condition my tongue to speak fewer words with more meaning?

In Genesis 1, God spoke into the darkness, and there was light. Those “mere words” created something from nothing, showing the power of speaking out. My pastor in college told us that this verse had meaning for us, too, since we are created in God’s image. We are meant to speak out and bring light from the darkness as He did. That’s the power of the tongue in a crazy world. The question is whether we choose to speak light or just add to the darkness.

That little muscle called the tongue holds the power of life and death. That’s no small matter. So let’s be careful how we exercise it.

Today’s Devotions


August 31

Ezra 10:10-12 10Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. 11Now make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.” 12The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: “You are right! We must do as you say.

When Ezra had heard how the remnant had broken God’s law by marrying the pagan women of the land, he tore his robes and wept and fasted. The people followed his lead and were convicted of sin. It was the people who encouraged him to tell them what to do to set things right with God. Ezra replied with the verses above; confess and do God’s will. Separate yourselves from the people and wives who had those horrible demonic religious practices.

We do not live in Israel and were never forbidden to marry a certain group of people, but the principle remains true. That is why the Apostle Paul told us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). That could apply to marriage or business. When we find we are with people of evil practices, we should not commit ourselves to any type of united endeavor with them. How can two walk together except they be agreed (Amos 3:3)?

But there is a deeper principle. What fellowship does light have with darkness? If we are walking in the light, we will be repulsed by sin and have a desire to show those in darkness the way to be freed from its bondage. Some Christians will play on the edge of the cliff of sin because the allurement is enticing them. Coach Bill McCartney said, “Draw a line where there is a danger of being caught by sin and stay ten yards back.” Don’t walk along the very edge of a cliff.

In this final chapter of Ezra, the men sent their foreign wives and children away. That seems very harsh of God, but the situation existed because of disobedience to God. It was the only remedy. Not dealing with the issue had caused the downfall of Israel in the past. We must cut off from our lives that which is enticing us to sin and send it away from our lives if we are going to go on with God.

Streams in the Desert – August 31

  • 202131 Aug

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:29).

How strong is the snare of the things that are seen, and how necessary for God to keep us in the things that axe unseen! If Peter is to walk on the water he must walk; if he is going to swim, he must swim, but he cannot do both. If the bird is going to fly it must keep away from fences and the trees, and trust to its buoyant wings. But if it tries to keep within easy reach of the ground, it will make poor work of flying.

God had to bring Abraham to the end of his own strength, and to let him see that in his own body he could do nothing. He had to consider his own body as good as dead, and then take God for the whole work; and when he looked away from himself, and trusted God alone, then he became fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able to perform.

That is what God is teaching us, and He has to keep away encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His Word real in fact as well as faith.
–A. B. Simpson

I do not ask that He must prove
His Word is true to me,
And that before I can believe
He first must let me see.
It is enough for me to know
‘Tis true because He says ’tis so;
On His unchanging Word I’ll stand

And trust till I can understand.
–E. M. Winter

The Blessing of Grace

Ephesians 2:4-10Why did God save you? Was it because of His love for you, His mercy for your helpless condition, His desire to rescue you from hell, or His providential choice? All of these answers—along with many others—are correct. But do you know what God’s ultimate reason for salvation is?

According to today’s passage, He saved us “so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). We are not the shining stars of salvation; God is. He saved us in order to display His grace, which is His undeserved favor toward us.

God didn’t bestow grace on us at the moment of salvation, only to leave us on our own to live the Christian life as best we can. No, He lavishes it on us every day of our life. Through Scripture, His grace instructs us how to live righteously in this present age, and it empowers us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires (Titus 2:11-12).

Once God extends His favor to us through Christ, He will never take it away. We are saved by grace, we live in grace, and we will be recipients of it throughout eternity.

Sow in Tears and Reap In Joy

Bible Words ` They That Sow In Tears Shall Reap In Joy Psalms 126:5` Stock  Illustration - Illustration of lords, bible: 191260083They that sow in tears shall reap in joy - CHRISTIAN PICTURES
Scripture Quotes Bible-Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.  (Psalms126:5 NIV) #bible #biblestudy #… | Bible psalms, Bible quotes, Scripture  versesSow in Tears – I Live For JESUS !
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Get the Ducks!

ducks in a swimming pool


Diane Markins cbn, com

This morning my yorkie-poo alerted me that something was going on in the backyard. His barking wasn’t the usual yapping to greet a dog walking near our fence. When I went to investigate, I saw him doing manic laps around the pool, looking up frequently to see if I was paying attention. He had discovered invaders and was beside himself with the thrill of it. A pair of mallards had decided to enjoy a swim and Rocky wasn’t sure what to do about it.

After a few minutes of side-splitting laughter, I encouraged him to go swimming to “get the ducks.” This is a funny little dog who loves to swim and retrieve balls so he went for it, even though the ducks were nearly as big as he is. Naturally, the annoyed birds flew off, leaving Rocky behind victorious.

Rocky’s buddy Ziggy, our sweet Rottweiler, went to K9 heaven about a month ago. When Zig was in the yard, ducks and neighborhood cats didn’t venture near. Now things are different — for Rocky and for all of us in my family. We miss Ziggy and when there is a void that big, things change. Rocky has been mopey, he’s taken to making a fast break into the neighborhood when the door is open and dumps the trash can over when he’s left alone.

But then today there were ducks! He was filled with the joy of a new and exciting experience. I’ve started taking him to work with me (at our business) when I have a short day, something that wasn’t feasible with Ziggy. He also gets more car rides and 100% of the doggie love lavished at our house.

For my little mutt and for all of us there is unexpected joy to be found in the wake of grief and disappointment. When there is discord in one relationship, it may forge an even closer bond in another relationship as you seek comfort and direction. If you get sick you have time to appreciate health, which will hopefully come again. In a bad economy, you learn to rediscover simple pleasures and find out that possibly you have been squandering money when it was plentiful. Psalm 126:5 (TLV) tells us,

“Those who sow in tears will reap with a song of joy.”

Are you stuck in a sad, angry, or bored place? Rather than dumping the trash over (and ticking everyone off), start looking for ducks. There is probably unexpected joy ahead in your own backyard. Ask God to remind you of the joy He’s brought in the past or give you a little unexpected joy today.

“He prays to God, and He is favorable to him, so that he sees His face with joy; for [God] restores to him his righteousness (his uprightness and right standing with God—with its joys).” (Job 33:26 AMPC)

Today’s Devotions


August 30

Ezra 8:21-23 21There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. 22I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” 23So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

When Ezra had gathered everyone for the journey, he proclaimed a fast. It was a time to humbly ask the LORD for His protection. He could have asked for armed guards, but he had already told the king that the gracious hand of God was on everyone who looks to Him. It would not be much of a testimony to turn around and ask for the strength of man after trying to share that with the king. Do we think like this? Do we remember what we have shared of the truth of our LORD with unbelievers and then carefully guard the testimony by being faithful to live in demonstration of it? I’m afraid we water down our words by our actions more than we verify our words by our actions.

I wonder if Ezra thought, “I put my foot in my mouth now! I’m going to have to make this trip with valuable possessions but without armed guards because I told the king God’s hand was on us and against our enemies. We had better pray!”

We are not in the habit of dropping everything, especially eating, and going to God until we get an answer. We could certainly learn from their example here. Ezra says God answered their prayer before they left. It was done before they broke camp. They didn’t have to see it to believe it. In some way that is not recorded, they had the assurance that the prayer was already answered. May the LORD teach us to pray with such fervor and hear the answer with this kind of convinced assurance.

Remember: The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to Him!

Independence of Christianity

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” Zechariah 4:6

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:17-4: 7

The grand thing the church wants in this time, is God’s Holy Spirit. You all get up plans and say, “Now, if the church were altered a little bit, it would go better.” You think if there were different ministers, or different church order, or something different, then all would be well. No, dear friends, it is not there the mistake lies; it is that we want more of the Spirit. It is as if you saw a locomotive engine upon a railway, and it would not go, and they put up a driver, and they said, “Now, that driver will just do.” They try another and another. One proposes that such-and-such a wheel should be altered, but still it will not go. Some one then bursts in amongst those who are conversing and says, “No, friends; but the reason why it will not move, is because there is no steam. You have no fire, you have no water in the boiler: that’s why it will not go. There may be some faults about it; it may want a bit of paint here and there, but it will go well enough with all those faults if you do but get the steam up.” But now people are saying, “This must be altered, and that must be altered;” but it would go no better unless God the Spirit should come to bless us. You may have the same ministers, and they shall be a thousand times more useful for God, if God is pleased to bless them. You shall have the same deacons, they shall be a thousand times more influential than they are now, when the Spirit is poured down upon them from on high. That is the church’s great want, and until that want be supplied, we may reform, and reform, and still be just the same. We want the Holy Spirit.

For meditation: God doesn’t come to us in the most spectacular ways possible (1 Kings 19:11-12). For his idea of power-evangelism see 1 Corinthians 1:17,18,23,242:1-5, also Romans 1:16.

Agur’s Burden

by Inspiration Ministries

“The words of Agur … the pronouncement … I am more stupid than any man, and I do not have the understanding of a man. Neither have I learned wisdom, nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.” – Proverbs 30:1-3 NASB

Who was Agur? The Bible simply tells us he was called “the oracle.” The Hebrew words suggest that he had a burden with a message that grew out of his experience. He recognized his weaknesses, declaring that he was more “stupid” than any other person, realizing how little he understood.

When he thought about God, he realized that his life experiences could not compare. No one could rival His wisdom or knowledge. God is the creator, sovereign over all the earth.

Agur asked his readers a simple question: “What is His name or His Son’s name? Surely you know” (v. 4). He invited his readers to think through this process along  with him and to recognize the obvious conclusions. No one can fully grasp who God is just by observing creation (as noted earlier in that verse).

Agur knew, “every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him” (v. 5). He also recognized how easily we can interject our own interpretations and reject what we don’t understand. So Agur warned us not to add to God’s words (v. 6). He understood the principle, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).

Stay humble before God. Remember, you owe everything to Him. Trust Him. As you humble yourself before Him and study His Word, He promises to give you His wisdom and understanding.

Sow The Seeds Of The Gospel

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Sow the Seeds Where You Are



Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary credited with opening China to the gospel, said of his labors, “I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” Hudson Taylor worked for many years before the people of the Orient were open to hearing about Jesus. Some say he was a special man who accomplished a special work. He spread the seed of God’s word to any who would listen. He trusted God to cause the seed to spring up in each hearer’s heart.

When I heard Hudson Taylor’s story, I thought, “I could never be a missionary.” I was so sure God would call me to another country where I would have to learn a new language and deal with some difficult situations and hardships. But I soon learned the call to His missionary work is not left to a few chosen men and women. Jesus calls us all.

Before Jesus ascended back to heaven, He said,

“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” Mark 16:15 (KJV).

His call to action may never lead you to some faraway land. Your mission field may be within the four walls of your home. Or on your job. Or in the supermarket. Or to the couple next door. Our commission is to tell our sons and daughters, husbands, co-workers and neighbors all the great things Christ has done for us.

We have been given the amazing task of sharing the Good News that Jesus, God’s own son, died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day so that we could be forgiven and receive newness of life. Hurting, lonely, and sin-sick people all around us need to hear God’s message of hope. We have been blessed with the great task of spreading the seed of God’s word. We don’t need to travel to the other side of the world to fulfill our calling to the mission field. All we need to do is sow the seed right where we are.

It may not be comfortable to be a seed-bearer. Psalm 126:6 shows us that seed-bearing may cause tears,

“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed …”

But it carries the promise of an abundant harvest,

“… shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:6 (KJV)

Jesus said,

“… Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” John 4:35 (KJV)

No travel required. Just eyes to see the open doors, ears to hear the Great Commission, and a heart to answer his call. Will you accept your call today and look for someone to share his message of redemption with? “Lift up your eyes”, Jesus said, and welcome to your mission field.

Sweet Perfume

by Ryan Duncan,

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

Some time ago a stranger visited my church’s Sunday service. He arrived early, while the worship team was still setting up, and the minute I saw him I became nervous. It was clear from his appearance that he’d made a lot of bad decisions in life. His cloths were worn and dirty, while his body had been grossly contorted by years of unhealthy living. I remember doing my best to avoid him as I went about my work, hoping that if I ignored him long enough he’d just go away.

Not exactly my finest moment. In fact, I’d say my attitude was no different than Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7:

“Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.’” – Luke 7:36-40

This is one of the biggest dangers we face as Christians: becoming exclusive with the grace of Jesus Christ. The Church is not a showcase for saints, but a place where people of all backgrounds can come and say “I need Jesus”. Neither is God’s love ours to withhold, nor are we more deserving of His mercy than the stranger off the street. In fact, the Bible is pretty clear that Jesus made a habit of knocking “Holy” individuals down to size:

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” – Luke 7:44-50

As for the man at the service, my friend reacted much more graciously. He struck up a conversation with the man and welcomed him to the service. He even agreed to help him go grocery shopping later on in the week. I learned a valuable lesson that Sunday; you cannot love someone by omission, you can only love them through action.

Today’s Devotions


August 29

Ezra 7:9-10 9He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. 10For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.

Three times in Ezra chapter 7 we have the expression, “the gracious hand of his God was on him”. He did certain things because of God’s hand upon him. He had favor with the king and was given whatever he asked for because the gracious hand of God was upon him. He was on his way with more exiles and finances and sacrifices to assist in the rebuilding of Jerusalem and to offer the sacrifices the king had sent. Ezra must have made some kind of impression on the king, but I think he would say that this came about because the gracious hand of his God was upon him.

Of course, God has no physical hand, so what does this mean? When a few generations pass, the apostles would lay their hands-on others so that they would be healed or filled with the Holy Spirit or sent out into a ministry calling. Their hands represent God’s hand to bring God’s children to the fullness of His call upon their lives. The picture of God’s gracious hand upon us should give us a rush of joy and encouragement. Surely every born-again child of God has the hand of the Lord upon him in some degree. What can bring that out in a greater display like that which we see in the life of Ezra?

In the above verses we have the reason why. He devoted himself to studying, obeying, and teaching the Word of God. It’s a simple, clear and powerful answer clearly seen in the passage. It is available to every reader. It is the call upon every reader, for whatever your calling is, you need to study and observe and, in some manner, teach the Word of God. There are only a few things that Scripture encourages us to be devoted to. One is the study of and obedience to the Word. The others are to be devoted to seeking the LORD (Jeremiah 30:21), to doing what is good (Titus 3:8,14) and to prayer (Colossians 4:2). It is impossible to do one without doing them all.

Consider: Would you like the gracious hand of God upon your life? Devote yourself to study, obedience, and teaching His Word.

God Keeps Us From Too Much

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1 Corinthians 10:13(NIV) No temptation has overtaken you except what is  common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted  beyond what you can bear. But whenBiblical Counseling Coalition | Moving Beyond “God won't give you more than  you can handle”


Burned and Blistered

woman wearing hiking boots


When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. (Lamentations 3:29, The Message)

Trouble nipped at my heels. Didn’t seem to matter what kind of shoes I wore, my heels were still blistered. I’d bought new hiking boots, wore them around for a couple of weeks before I hiked. I thought they were broken in.

Once I got to the summit, my heels stung like they were on fire. I pulled off the boots and propped my feet on the bolder. Huge bubbles formed on the sides of my heels. It figured. I was alone … no bandaids, and a two-mile trek back.

It was a hard month. Our lives were shrouded with hurt and frustration and now we had a life-altering decision to make. I’d prayed over a year for a solution while God pondered. So, I hiked the mountain seeking the quiet, hoping for an answer — to listen. Wait. All I got … blisters!

God promises to hear our cries, to guide us. He asks us to pray continually, believe and trust that He will provide resolution. He is a faithful God, good for His promises and true to His children. Even when we feel as though we are about to break, He promises that with every temptation, with every situation, He will make a way of escape. “

… And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV)

What a hope — what a respite we have in Christ.

I blew on the watery blisters then pinched them. Clear fluid drained. I could walk barefoot but the path was filled with sharp rocks. I pressed a tissue against the sores, pulled on my socks and boots and suffered through the sting.

By the time I reached the bottom, I understood what needed to be done. Walk head-on into the fire. It would burn worse than the blisters on my heels but it was the right decision.

When life hits us hard, God encourages us to walk into the flames, just like the three Hebrew boys. Their lives were made fireproof by the faith they held in a mighty God.

My blisters hurt. But they could have been worse. They could have bled. I could have crawled down the mountain instead of walked. Band-Aids, soft socks, and cushy shoes waited at the foot of the trail, but I had to fight through the pain to get to them. And in my trials, I had to look for God’s escape passage.

My boots are broken in now. They’ve molded to my feet and I don’t get blisters anymore, but it took work and wear to get them to a comfortable spot. When I wonder why God calls us into the fire, I remember how He called His Son to the cross and figure any discomfort I feel pales in comparison.

When you seem at wit’s end — blistered and burned, push on. Tough times toughen feet, leading you to an abundance of mountain-top experiences.

Today’s Devotions


August 28

Ezra 4:1-3 1When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel, 2they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” 3But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”

When the people of God get serious about worshiping God, the enemy of our soul always incites our enemies to try and distract us. We see the same statements today. “We all worship the same god. All religions basically teach the same thing. Let us help you.” It may be possible to work together on some social issue, but when it comes to the temple of God, we have nothing in common. We do not serve the same God! We do not teach the same thing! The temple must be holy. That was the problem that brought about the captivity. The worship of Jehovah was mixed with religions of the nations they had displaced. We must be honest about the differences in our faith. If we believe Jesus is the only way to God, we should not be bashful about it, but instead have a loving boldness to share the truth for the sake of their eternal destiny.

Some pastors are not concerned if all the staff knows the Lord as Savior. They believe everyone has a natural gift and can use those gifts for the church. That idea ignores the spirit of this passage. When it comes to building the temple, we need sanctified servants of God, or we will find the work is corrupted and compromised by the enemy.

Once they were told that they could not help, they hired advisors to do two things. The first was to discourage. The second was to cause fear. That is the enemy’s tactic to this day. If he can’t directly get in, he will try to cause discouragement and fear. Those are attitude problems. Don’t give in to them for a moment.

Encouragement: Be strong in the LORD and in the power of His might and build!

Living with Suffering – Streams in the Desert – August 28

  • 202128 Aug

There he proved them (Exod. 15:25).

I stood once in the test room of a great steel mill. All around me were little partitions and compartments. Steel had been tested to the limit, and marked with figures that showed its breaking point. Some pieces had been twisted until they broke, and the strength of torsion was marked on them. Some had been stretched to the breaking point and their tensile strength indicated. Some had been compressed to the crushing point, and also marked. The master of the steel mill knew just what these pieces of steel would stand under strain. He knew just what they would bear if placed in the great ship, building, or bridge. He knew this because his testing room revealed it.

It is often so with God’s children. God does not want us to be like vases of glass or porcelain. He would have us like these toughened pieces of steel, able to bear twisting and crushing to the uttermost without collapse.

He wants us to be, not hothouse plants, but storm-beaten oaks; not sand dunes driven with every gust of wind, but granite rocks withstanding the fiercest storms. To make us such He must needs bring us into His testing room of suffering. Many of us need no other argument than our own experiences to prove that suffering is indeed God’s testing room of faith.
–J. H. McC

It is very easy for us to speak and theorize about faith, but God often casts us into crucibles to try our gold, and to separate it from the dross and alloy. Oh, happy are we if the hurricanes that ripple life’s unquiet sea have the effect of making Jesus more precious. Better the storm with Christ than smooth waters without Him.

What if God could not manage to ripen your life without suffering? 

Understanding Everything

by Inspiration Ministries

“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand everything.” – Proverbs 28:5 NASB

The explosion of new technologies makes it possible to download vast libraries within seconds. Yet, in the face of this overflow of information, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Grappling with our limitations, we can realize that some things are beyond our understanding. But the good news is that we serve the God who created all things and has all knowledge.

The Bible gives us this amazing promise: All limits are removed when we seek God and realize that He is ready and able to give us all the understanding we need. The Bible tells us, “those who seek the Lord understand everything.” Not because we are smarter, but because we depend on Him.

As we encounter situations we don’t understand, we can put this promise into operation. We need to seek God and ask Him for wisdom and understanding. We need to open our minds to His truth.

If you face problems that overwhelm you, use these opportunities to seek God. Ask Him to show you what to do. Fill your mind with His Word. Put His principles into practice. Ask Him to direct your path.

If you feel inadequate or helpless, remember the words of Paul reminding us to draw on God’s strength when we are weak. When we depend on Him, we are strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). Place your trust in God. Have confidence. Believe that He will provide what you need.

Run The Race To Win

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Running to Win

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Let’s face it, we live in a highly competitive world. Whether it’s business, recreation, church, or even the family dinner table, competition seems to rule our lives. I make more money than you. My team is better than yours. Our church gave more to missions and has more members than theirs. I have more food on my plate than you do, and can eat more than you can.

We live with a never-ending push to succeed and win. Of course, this leads us to constantly compare ourselves with others to see how we measure up. How am I doing compared to those around me? If we aren’t winning, if we aren’t out in front, then we are just another in a crowd of faceless losers. The expression in the sports world that sums up this perspective says, “Second place is first loser.”

Sounds rather beastly, doesn’t it? “First loser.” Unless we make it to the top, success has eluded us and satisfaction turns to disappointment. We have been trained to feel this way – it is how this world works. Need an example? Next time you have a chance to watch or participate in a sport or game where there are many contestants pay close attention to the awards given at the end. The Olympics Games is a great example. At the end of every event the gold, silver, and bronze medals are given out. Obviously, the happiest person on the podium is the one with the gold, the one who won. Years of work and sacrifice have paid off and a dream has come true.

Typically, do you know who the next happiest person is? It’s the one with the bronze. Only three medals are given out, and they realize that, after all that time and effort, they came pretty close to going home with nothing. Not that they didn’t want to win, but there is a sense of relief in having received something for their work.

The saddest person is the one in second. They look up to the winner and reflect on just how close they came to their dream, yet still lost. You can usually see it written all over their face. They put on a fake smile that says, “Yay. I got the … silver.” Their sense of worth diminishes because they couldn’t measure up. Never mind that among 6 billion+ people on the planet there is only one other “better person” out there. They are still the first loser among a host of losers.

We have to train ourselves to think differently because the kingdom of God doesn’t work that way. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul writes about his experiences and motivations in working out the calling the Lord had given him;

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NLT)

Notice it says “we” do it for an eternal prize. We can all win! We can all go to heaven because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

However, just getting to heaven isn’t the whole point. In his follow-up letter to the Corinthian church, Paul wrote this:

“For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

We may be in the race to get to heaven, but we are all running our own course. The Lord has a special individualized track for each of us. I’m not running your race, and you aren’t running mine. I won’t be judged for you, and you won’t be judged for me, or anyone else for that matter. The Lord doesn’t measure us against others. Winning not only means making it to heaven. Winning means making the Father proud. Winning means walking out our faith daily. Winning has nothing to do with how we measure up against others, it means how well we measured up against God’s plan for us.

As Paul said, RUN TO WIN! Live for Jesus the way only you can. Because getting to heaven is just the beginning. God has a whole lot more for us than just that.

Today’s Devotions


August 27

Ezra 3:11-13 11With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: “He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.

The altar was built first, and then the foundations for the temple were laid. The priests dressed in their priestly robes, with the instruments prescribed for the singing of praise, began to sing the chorus that had been sung 500 years earlier when the first temple was dedicated. I think we’ll be singing the same song when the last temple, New Jerusalem, is completed. It is the song of endless ages, for the goodness of God never changes.

Surely the elderly were crying with mixed emotions, remembering the sins that brought the temple down, the grace that kept them through the conquest and captivity, and the miracle of returning to their land. God kept His word, but who could have imagined during the destruction that it would ever be possible to build the temple again. The cry that went up was included the joyous praise of the younger people who had only heard of a temple. They had been taught about the sacrifices and the service of the temple. They had heard descriptions, and now they were the ones who would tell their children of seeing the foundations laid.

We have foundations too. The names of the Apostles are on our foundation. When we sing that song in the completed final temple, some will remember when the foundations were laid. They’ll remember hearing the teaching of the life and sayings of Jesus from the Apostles. I imagine there will be a great shout then.

Consider: Stranger and pilgrim in the earth, are you looking for the city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God? You don’t have to wait to sing the song. You can start now singing, “He is good and his love endures forever”.

Taken Aside by Jesus – Streams in the Desert – August 27

  • 202127 Aug

And he took him aside from the multitude (Mark 7:33).

Paul not only stood the tests in Christian activity, but in the solitude of captivity. You may stand the strain of the most intense labor, coupled with severe suffering, and yet break down utterly when laid aside from all religious activities; when forced into close confinement in some prison house.

That noble bird, soaring the highest above the clouds and enduring the longest flights, sinks into despair when in a cage where it is forced to beat its helpless wings against its prison bars. You have seen the great eagle languish in its narrow cell with bowed head and drooping wings. What a picture of the sorrow of inactivity.

Paul in prison. That was another side of life. Do you want to see how he takes it? I see him looking out over the top of his prison wall and over the heads of his enemies. I see him write a document and sign his name–not the prisoner of Festus, nor of Caesar; not the victim of the Sanhedrin; but the–“prisoner of the Lord.” He saw only the hand of God in it all. To him the prison becomes a palace. Its corridors ring with shouts of triumphant praise and joy.

Restrained from the missionary work he loved so well, he now built a new pulpit–a new witness stand–and from that place of bondage come some of the sweetest and most helpful ministries of Christian liberty. What precious messages of light come from those dark shadows of captivity.

Think of the long train of imprisoned saints who have followed in Paul’s wake. For twelve long years Bunyan’s lips were silenced in Bedford jail. It was there that he did the greatest and best work of his life. There he wrote the book that has been read next to the Bible. He says, “I was at home in prison and I sat me down and wrote, and wrote, for joy did make me write.” The wonderful dream of that long night has lighted the pathway of millions of weary pilgrims.

That sweet-spirited French lady, Madam Guyon, lay long between prison walls. Like some caged birds that sing the sweeter for their confinement, the music of her soul has gone out far beyond the dungeon walls and scattered the desolation of many drooping hearts.

Oh, the heavenly consolation that has poured forth from places of solitude!
–S. G. Rees

Don’t Fear What Others Fear

Bret Lamsma, today devotions

Scripture Reading — Isaiah 8:11-18

“Do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.” — Isaiah 8:12

The world around us fears all sorts of things. I was reading a few articles about what people fear the most. Things like heights, snakes, and the dentist top a lot of people’s lists. But so do things like economic disaster, wars, terrorism, and natural disasters. These are things that the world fears.

But the Lord tells Isaiah not to fear what people fear when they don’t live in tune with God. While the rest of the world might be afraid of upheaval and destruction, Isaiah isn’t supposed to fear such things. He isn’t supposed to be afraid of conspiracies or of being physically hurt. He isn’t supposed to be afraid of being too bold or saying the wrong thing. He isn’t supposed to be afraid of what the future might hold. He isn’t even supposed to be afraid of not having a next meal or warm clothes or a place to sleep. While the world might fear and worry over those things, Isaiah isn’t supposed to.

Isaiah is supposed to fear only God. Everything else is in God’s control. He will take care of all things. All that Isaiah has to do is obey God and fear him—that is, honor, worship, and be in awe of him.

We are called to do the same. There are many things to fear in this world. But God doesn’t want us to fear any of them. He wants us to fear only him. So in the fear of the Lord, worship and honor him today in everything you do.


God Helps Us Through Rough Times

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Created to Withstand Turbulence



“We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV

“A bird that fears turbulence will never know how high it can fly,” said African philosopher Matshona Dhliwayo. The statement made me appreciate turbulence, having come off a 15 hour non-stop flight. You see, in order for a plane to reach its final destination, it has to encounter turbulence. Without turbulence, planes cannot take off. During moments of turbulence, the Captain will say, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign. We are now crossing a zone of turbulence. Please return to your seats and keep your seat belts fastened. Thank you.”

As uncomfortable as turbulence can be, planes are built to withstand them. Retired Delta airline Captain Bill Watts said of planes, “It’s a very solid structure. It’s built to extreme safety standards. And if you look at all the statistics, you’ll see that it’s just very rare that an aircraft is affected by it – these acts of turbulence.” What causes turbulence is “crossing a barrier between different currents.” What makes passengers uncomfortable with turbulence is not knowing that it’s part of the process and it will not hurt us, unless our seatbelts are unfastened.

Reflecting on this truth, I realized that we too are built to withstand turbulence because we are made in the image of God. Knowing this truth helps us not be fearful. If life’s turbulences scare us, we will never ascend the heights of life’s purpose. What God expects of us however, is to ALWAYS have our seatbelts on when turbulence occurs.  These three thoughts are the seatbelts that will keep us securely fastened:

  1. God’s DNA Lives in UsGenesis 1:27 and Psalm 139:13 respectively state, “So God created man in His own image … male and female created He them.” “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” When God created us, He injected His unshakeable, undefeated DNA in our system to help us ascend the “barriers between different currents.” So if we face the turbulence of sickness, His DNA of healing is available. If we face the turbulence of sadness, His DNA of joy is available. Every turbulence we encounter is always met with an answered DNA found in our Heavenly father. Allow this truth to sink into our hearts.
  2. The Word of God Guides Us: Psalm 119:105 states, “Thy Word is a lamp until my feet and a light unto my path.” When turbulent times come our way, we need to speak God’s Word over our situation. God says He is watching over His Word to fulfill it. What better confidence to go into a situation knowing we are already victorious because the blueprint declares it.
  3. The Holy Spirit is our HelperJohn 14:16 is Jesus promise to us. “And I will ask the father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” What audacious comfort to know we have a helper on hand 24/7, 365 days a year, including the leap year! Never a day goes by that the Holy Spirit is not available. All we need to do is summon His help and be willing to obey.

So how do we apply these simple truths when we are faced with turbulence? First, we need to speak these truths loudly to ourselves. When we hear what we are saying, it will build faith in us to face turbulence courageously. Second, we need to be grateful to know that turbulence does not last forever. Third, we need to magnify God through our praise. So let us use turbulence as a launching pad to trust God and let us not forget to have our spiritual seatbelts fastened at all times.

Today’s Devotions


August 26

Ezra 3:3 3Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices.

Over 40,000 of the captives returned with that first group, led by Jeshua and Zerubbabel. The amazing thing is they returned with over 7000 servants and animals, personal possessions of gold and silver. Captivity had not been that hard on them. Many had prospered.

When they arrived, the first thing they began to do was to build the altar. The temple footings had not been laid. The walls of the city lay in ruins, but they focused first on the altar. It had been seventy years since a priest had offered the morning and evening sacrifices. As they studied the Law and saw the need for the lamb to be slain for their sins, they were most anxious for the sacrifices to begin.

Before we can do anything of value, we need to be right with God. The blood of the lambs did not wash away their sins, but looked forward to the Lamb of God who would be the perfect sacrifice. They wanted to be obedient to the Word of God and do as they were instructed. Unlike most of the world today, they had a fear of God and His wrath upon sin. They feared God more than they did the people around them who threatened to rob and destroy them. Perhaps this was one good lesson they took from the captivity.

Is the sacrifice more important than your temple and city walls? Is the cross and all that it means more important than your church building, appearances, and physical security? If you understand God’s attitude toward sin, His hatred of evil, then it should be. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

Thank God for the sacrifice of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

What I Really Need Most

AUGUST 26, 2021

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 (ESV)

Have you ever struggled because you know God can do anything, but you can’t understand why He doesn’t seem to be intervening in your situation right now?

You’re trying to hang on to hope, but the more time passes without any apparent change, the harder it is.

In Proverbs 13:12, we’re told, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” The word “deferred” in this verse refers to a hopeless situation that feels long and drawn out. It’s the seemingly unending and disappointing kind of season that can leave us tempted to look at our lives and question, Why is God withholding this from me? Since He’s not intervening, I’ll just try to fix it myself in my way.

This dangerous assumption is reminiscent of when Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were free to eat from any other tree in the garden. But Eve listened to the enemy. She got alone with her own thoughts and assumptions. And it led her to doubt her Father. Instead of heeding His instruction, (Proverbs 13:1) she took control to get what she wanted. What she thought was best. (Genesis 3)

And as soon as she and Adam ate the forbidden fruit …
Perfection ended.
Curses began.
Consequences were unleashed.
And they were banished from the garden.

If only Eve would have noticed the other tree in the garden with her. The tree of life. The tree of God’s best way and perfect provision. It was there for her. She had a choice.

And so do we.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil may not be in our physical sight today, but Satan is certainly making use of that same sense of disappointment, of our hope deferred. He wants us to be so consumed with our unmet expectations that our hearts just get more and more self-reliant and sick of waiting on God.

But God wants us to look to the tree of life.

Charles Spurgeon once preached, “My dear friends, you will never see the tree of life aright unless you first look at the cross … Thus then, Jesus Christ hanging on the cross is the tree of life in its wintertime.”

In the darkest hour this world has ever known, Jesus died on a cross, or “on a tree,” as Galatians 3:13 puts it in most English Bible translations. But just as we know that trees in the wintertime only appear to be dead, so there was a redemptive transformation at work as Jesus hung on the cross.

Your life may be dark and confusing today. But make no mistake — there is a powerful work happening. And Jesus wants us to hear Him saying, “Eve turned to the wrong tree and received death. I hung on a tree to bring you back to life. I am the fulfillment of your every longing. I am your Tree of Life. Look to Me.”

Let’s make a different choice than Eve did. Turn from the deep desire to know all of the reasons and to control all of the outcomes. That knowledge would be a burden, and attempting to control it all will do nothing but entangle you with anxiety and fear.

That’s why God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge it would give them was a burden God never wanted them to carry. And maybe that’s why we don’t have all the answers to our “why” questions. God isn’t trying to be distant or mysterious or hard to understand. He’s being merciful.

We don’t have to know the plan to trust there is a plan. We don’t have to feel good to trust there is good coming. We don’t have to see evidence of change to trust that it won’t always be this hard.

We just have to close our physical eyes and turn our thoughts to Jesus. Fix our thoughts on Him. Say His Name over and over and over. And know that we can trust our Father’s heart and His plans.

Law and grace

“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Romans 5:20

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Peter 3:10-14

There has always been the salt of grace in the world to counteract the power of sin. The clouds have never been so universal as to hide the day. But the time is fast approaching when grace shall extend all over our poor world and be universal. According to the Bible testimony, we look for the great day when the dark cloud which has swathed this world in darkness shall be removed, and it shall shine once more like all its sister planets. It has been for many a long year clouded and veiled by sin and corruption; but the last fire shall consume its rags and sackcloth. After that fire, the world in righteousness shall shine. The huge molten mass now slumbering in the bowels of our common mother shall furnish the means of purity. Palaces, and crowns, and peoples, and empires, are all to be melted down; and after, like a plague-house, the present creation has been burned up entirely, God will breathe upon the heated mass, and it will cool down again. He will smile on it as he did when he first created it, and the rivers will run down the new made hills, the oceans will float in new-made channels; and the world will be again the abode of the righteous for ever and for ever. This fallen world will be restored to its orbit; that gem which was lost from the sceptre of God shall be set again, yea, he shall wear it as a signet about his arm. Christ died for the world; and what he died for, he will have. He died for the whole world, and the whole world he will have, when he has purified and cleansed it, and fitted it for himself. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound;” for grace shall be universal, whereas sin will be destroyed.

For meditation: The believer’s sure and certain hope of being freed completely from the presence of sin then, is a strong motive for seeking to be as free as possible from it now (1 John 3:2,3).


Keep God’s Word In Your Heart

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The Mail Carrier

a mailman delivering mail


I thought it would be easy to navigate my way to the expressway from my new job, but I was not familiar with the neighborhood. To further my confusion, a few street signs were missing. The only sure landmark I had was a child’s soccer ball left in a yard. After passing the ball three times, I pulled my car to the side of the road, wiped sweat from my palms, and prayed. “God, please direct me. I want to go home.”

Suddenly, a mail carrier who was making his rounds made a U-Turn. “Ma’am, what address are you trying to find?” he said.

“I’m looking for I-95.”

The carrier gave directions and I went on my way, confident I could find the expressway. But then, I passed through another intersection with missing street signs. Was that where I was supposed to turn? This time, I did a U-turn, found my soccer ball landmark, and stopped.

The mail carrier’s reflection appeared in my rear-view mirror. “Still looking?” he said as he pulled beside me.

I nodded, trying to hide my flushed face.

“Wait here. I have three more letters to deliver. I’ll be back.” As promised, he returned. Then he led me to the highway.

Sure enough, the intersection with the missing signs was where I was supposed to turn. I can still see the carrier tipping his hat as I boarded the expressway.

Sometimes, navigating decisions in life is like driving with missing street signs. God understands His people need help so He provides His Word.

Psalm 119:11a KJV reads, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart.”

When I commit God’s Word to memory, I can be as confident as the mail carrier who had the streets on his route memorized. I’m guessing he also knew the child who owned the soccer ball, and neighbors by their first names.

Psalm 119:105 KJV reads, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Just like the mail carrier led me to the expressway, God’s Word gives us directions that work.

In each of the 176 verses of Psalm 119, the psalmist encourages me to incorporate the truths of God’s Word into everyday living. Just as the mail carrier helped me to reach my destination, God gives His Word as a safe and reliable guide we can depend on.

Making Space for God to Work

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.” John 6:11 (NLT)

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Collaboration is my favorite kind of work. I call it “Together Work.” Collaboration, partnering with someone who can bring their specific skills and gifts to the table, always makes me far more effective — in my writing, thinking, creating, parenting.

Together Work always makes me better.

The Holy Spirit offers the most powerful kind of Together Work. We can do most things ourselves, but partnering with the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit multiplies everything. God can take our small offering and do something we could never imagine.

The reason we know the truth of Together Work, the reason we know it’s possible and can be part of the fulness of our lives, is because of the Bible. I have fallen in love with the stories and examples of Together Work in the Bible. They start with small promptings, seemingly meaningless whispers, small nudges that might even be hard to pin down. But when people respond to God’s prompting, He draws them into His larger story.

Friend, God’s Word is so applicable to us today, and we can come to love it in our actual lives. The Bible has life-changing things to say about who you are, where you are and the God who’s in the midst of it all. It shows us practically what Together Work with God looks like. One example is the well-known account of Jesus feeding 5,000 people on a hillside, told in all four Gospels.

People from many towns ran ahead along the shore where He was traveling, always trying to anticipate His next move and be the first ones there. The writers tell us the disciples came to Jesus and suggested He may want to send the people away to nearby farms and villages to get something to eat, and Jesus responded in the classic fashion that makes me love Him so much. He said, “You feed them” (Mark 6:37a, NLT).

With what?” they protested, pointing out that catering for this many would require months of wages (Mark 6:37b, NLT).

Jesus asked them, “How much bread do you have?” (Mark 6:38a, NLT). They came back and reported, “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” (John 6:9, NLT).

The text states that there were 5,000 men present, and that doesn’t count the women and children. So the total number of hungry people may have actually been 10,000 to 15,000. Five loaves and two fish? Hardly enough.

John tells us, “Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted” (John 6:11).

Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed more than 5,000 people. What they originally gave Him seemed insufficient, which is basically how I feel every time I give something to God. I’m always like, “Well, I don’t know what this is yet or how You can possibly do something with my feeble attempts here, but You can have them.”

The crazy thing? In His hands, what we give Him is always enough. We feel that our contribution is inadequately meager, but He can use it. In ways we cannot imagine, He multiplies exponentially.

Seeking to fall in love with the Bible in our actual lives is our part of the Together Work we do with God. We do our part of Together Work when we show up to read the Bible, to meditate on what we’re learning, to memorize words and sew them into our memory.

God’s part in Together Work is in the hidden work that we cannot see. It’s invisible, silent and subtle — yet He gives us the strength, wisdom, rest and renewal that only He can provide.

When we show up to do our work, we make space for God to do His. When we make ourselves available, He makes Himself accessible. Together Work.

Streams in the Desert – August 25

  • 202125 Aug

Shut up to faith (Gal. 3:23).

God, in olden time suffered man to be kept in ward by the law that he might learn the more excellent way of faith. For by the law he would see God’s holy standard and by the law he would see his own utter helplessness; then he would be glad to learn God’s way of faith.

God still shuts us up to faith. Our natures, our circumstances, trials, disappointments, all serve to shut us up and keep us in ward till we see that the only way out is God’s way of faith. Moses tried by self-effort, by personal influence, even by violence, to bring about the deliverance of his people. God had to shut him up forty years in the wilderness before he was prepared for God’s work.

Paul and Silas were bidden of God to preach the Gospel in Europe. They landed and proceeded to Philippi. They were flogged, they were shut up in prison, their feet were put fast in the stocks. They were shut up to faith. They trusted God. They sang praises to Him in the darkest hour, and God wrought deliverance and salvation.

John was banished to the Isle of Patmos. He was shut up to faith. Had he not been so shut up, he would never have seen such glorious visions of God.

Dear reader, are you in some great trouble? Have you had some great disappointment, have you met some sorrow, some unspeakable loss? Are you in a hard place? Cheer up! You are shut up to faith. Take your trouble the right way. Commit it to God. Praise Him that He maketh “all things work together for good,” and that “God worketh for him that waiteth for him.” There will be blessings, help and revelations of God that will come to you that never could otherwise have come; and many besides yourself will receive great light and blessing because you were shut up to faith.
–C. H. P

God Loves His Faithful Saints

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Sister Mary of Jordan



I studied colloquial Arabic, trying to speak it fluently. One way I tackled it during my second summer of living in Amman, Jordan was to immerse myself in the language and culture by living in Arabic homes. I chose areas where there were no Americans or other foreigners. In this way, I got to know Sister Mary, or “Ukt” Mary in Arabic, a well known Bible woman. A mutual friend arranged for me to spend part of the summer with her and go with her to all of her meetings.

It is most unusual for an Arab woman to remain single and live alone all her life, but Sister (Ukt in Arabic) did so in order to devote her life to full-time ministry for her Lord. When still a young woman, she began having Bible studies in her home. These grew into a church and became one of the largest, most active Protestant congregations in Jordan.

Each morning and afternoon, Ukt Mary led either a meeting for women or for girls in her house or in other homes in different areas of the city. On Friday mornings, a men’s prayer group met at Ukt Mary’s house. After a time of prayer, they engaged in lively discussions.

Over the years, Ukt Mary developed health problems but she didn’t let these challenges slow her down. She continued to lead Bible studies until her death and trained women to take her place.

Soon after my return from furlough, I heard the details of her death. I have never heard or read of such a death as she experienced. She never feared death but looked forward to leaving this earth to be with Jesus. God forewarned her of death, so she put all of her affairs in order.

The morning of her death, Ukt Mary got up knowing she was going to meet Jesus. She even called her doctor. She had lived her whole life in anticipation of this day. She called relatives and some of her friends to invite them to come over, for she was going home to Jesus.

When they gathered around her, she laid down, waved at them, and said, “Goodbye, world. I’m going to Jesus.” Just like that — she died. Her death, the ideal leave-taking of this world, was a beautiful testimony of the harmony between her and Jesus.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. Psalm 116:15 NIV

Ukt Mary’s life was a response to Jesus’s invitation in Matthew 4:19:

“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (NKJV)

She was always fishing for people’s souls. I think she could have prayed the same prayer Jesus did when He prayed to the Father in John 17:4:

“I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do.” (NIV)

I have never known a person whose life brought more glory to God.

We are not to fear death but follow her example and look forward, filled with excitement and anticipation, to going to our Father’s house.

Streams in the Desert – August 24

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I have all, and abound (Phil. 4:18).

In one of my garden books there is a chapter with a very interesting heading, “Flowers that Grow in the Gloom.” It deals with those patches in a garden which never catch the sunlight. And my guide tells me the sort of flowers which are not afraid of these dingy corners–may rather like them and flourish in them.

And there are similar things in the world of the spirit. They come out when material circumstances become stern and severe. They grow in the gloom. How can we otherwise explain some of the experiences of the Apostle Paul?

Here he is in captivity at Rome. The supreme mission of his life appears to be broken. But it is just in this besetting dinginess that flowers begin to show their faces in bright and fascinating glory. He may have seen them before, growing in the open road, but never as they now appeared in incomparable strength and beauty. Words of promise opened out their treasures as he had never seen them before.

Among those treasures were such wonderful things as the grace of Christ, the love of Christ, the joy and peace of Christ; and it seemed as though they needed an “encircling gloom” to draw out their secret and their inner glory. At any rate the realm of gloom became the home of revelation, and Paul began to realize as never before the range and wealth of his spiritual inheritance.

Who has not known men and women who, when they arrive at seasons of gloom and solitude, put on strength and hopefulness like a robe? You may imprison such folk where you please; but you shut up their treasure with them. You cannot shut it out. You may make their material lot a desert, but “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”
–Dr. Jowett

Today’s Devotions


August 24

2 Chronicles 35:20-22 20After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. 21But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, “What quarrel is there between you and me, O king of Judah? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.” 22Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Neco had said at God’s command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.

Josiah had been a godly king and restored the temple worship, but the prophet had told him God’s judgments were inevitable. In our passage today, Josiah does what seemed good, but not at God’s leading. God warned him through the mouth of a heathen king. Carchemish must have been an ally of Judah and it seemed to make sense to fight together their common threat, Egypt. The words of the king of Egypt should have given Josiah reason to seek God’s plan. When we step out on our own, with our own reason, we can place ourselves in harms way. God is faithful to warn us, even through the lips of an unbeliever. Remember in Jesus’ day when the High Priest said, “It is better for one man to die than the nation to perish”? Though he did not know it, it was a prophetic word (John 11:49-51).

We shouldn’t ignore what unbelievers say when they are rebuking us. It may be the Lord. I have heard unbelievers say, “I thought you trusted in God.” Ouch. God will use those who are unbelievers to remind us to look to Him.

Josiah was a great king and gave the nation one more chance to turn back to God, but he put himself in a position to be taken out of the scene early by not being sensitive to God’s warnings.

Remember: The rebuke from an unbeliever may come at the Lord’s command.

Keep On

Bret Lamsma, today devotions

Scripture Reading — Acts 18:1-17

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.” — Acts 18:9

A pastor friend of mine got up in front of his congregation one morning and spoke boldly. A lot had been going on in the world during the previous weeks and months. He was a bit anxious about what he felt he had to say—but he knew it was the truth, and he knew it had to be said.

What he shared that morning was the good-news message of Jesus. That may sound simple and expected, but sometimes it is not easy to share that message. He reminded everyone that they needed to love one another as Christ loves us. Be people of truth—God’s truth—he said. Don’t hate others. Don’t hurt others.

Speaking out boldly for what you know is right can be frightening. Even if it is right, it might not be popular. In fact, the gospel message of Jesus ­often isn’t popular. It can seem foolish and countercultural. Jesus himself was crucified for it, and many of his followers were persecuted, put in jail, or killed for it as well. Even though speaking boldly can be frightening, the truth can’t be hidden.

Paul was preaching the Word of God, and people were upset with him. But God encouraged him to continue speaking and not to be afraid.

That same encouragement is for us today too. When we have the opportunity to speak the truth of the gospel, we must do so boldly. Even if we are attacked for it, God will be with us.


Present God, help us to speak your truth and your gospel boldly whenever we have the opportunity. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Do Christians Have a Split Personality?

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Do Christians Have a Split Personality?

32 Of The Most Beautiful Bible Verses


What a difference a day makes! Sunday you’re in church where people love you, where you’re at peace with God and filled with love, basking in His presence. Then Monday comes. Home is hectic and disorganized. Every single driver on the road has it in for you, the boss snaps you up for no good reason and your co-workers hate you.

The world has hammered you hard, so when you get back home, everybody had better watch out for your patience is long gone. Sound familiar? We can be one person at church and totally different during the rest of the week if we’re not careful. It’s hard to recognize it in ourselves because we see ourselves as that same good church person all the time, not as a hypocrite. Why do we fail to be the people we think we are? Why do we fail to sustain the personalities we think we have?

The Apostle Paul wrote, “… I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:18-19 NLT)

We tell ourselves that it’s the circumstances that make the difference. Well, it’s more than the circumstances; it’s our split personality!

The Bible says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? …” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT)

The temple of God, as described in the Bible, was divided into three distinct areas. The outer court where anyone could enter, the holy place where the priests enter, and the holy of holies where only the high priest was permitted to enter once a year in order to make a sacrifice for all the people. It is the holiest part of the temple, the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, and the presence of God met and communicated with man. There is a trinity to the temple’s design.

Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and there is a trinity to our design as well. We are a spirit, we possess a soul, and live in a body. Our body is like the outer court of the temple. It is there for the entire world to see. It is our connection to the world through our five senses, without which, we could not communicate with the world.

Our soul is like the holy place in the temple. It’s between our spirit and body.  It is where our mind, will, and emotions rest. It’s our connection between the spiritual and the physical, heaven and earth.

Our spirit is like the holy of holies, the innermost sacred part of the temple. It’s the place where God dwells, heaven is approached, and where we fellowship with the Lord.

Our spirit, soul, and body are in constant rivalry. We determine in our soul if we are going to be more body-oriented or spirit-oriented. This is the struggle we endure. This is where the split happens. The pull and tug between our fleshly body, which craves the things of the world, and our spirit, which craves the things of God, can become fierce unless we keep our body under control and seek God through our spirit. Our body will rule us unless we die to self and embrace the presence of God through our spirit.

We become born again by asking Jesus Christ to forgive our sins and come into our heart. Our spirit becomes alive to God when this happens and we have a new relationship with Him through our spirit. The split personality we were born with becomes one in Christ, and God accepts us as a temple in which He can dwell, through the Holy Spirit.

The split between the things of heaven and the cares of life will always challenge us, but when we submit to God and keep our flesh, that worldly connection, under subjection, we bring the peace from Sunday into the chaos of Monday and all is right with the world.


Streams in the Desert – August 23

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He went out, not knowing whither he went (Hebrews 11:8).

It is faith without sight. When we can see, it is not faith, but reasoning. In crossing the Atlantic we observed this very principle of faith. We saw no path upon the sea, nor sign of the shore. And yet day by day we were marking our path upon the chart as exactly as if there had followed us a great chalk line upon the sea. And when we came within twenty miles of land, we knew where we were as exactly as if we had seen it all three thousand miles ahead.

How had we measured and marked our course? Day by day our captain had taken his instruments and, looking up to the sky, had fixed his course by the sun. He was sailing by the heavenly, not the earthly lights.

So faith looks up and sails on, by God’s great Sun, not seeing one shore line or earthly lighthouse or path upon the way. Often its steps seem to lead into utter uncertainty, and even darkness and disaster; but He opens the way, and often makes such midnight hours the very gates of day.

Let us go forth this day, not knowing, but trusting.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

“Too many of us want to see our way through before starting new enterprises. If we could and did, from whence would come the development of our Christian graces? Faith, hope and love cannot be plucked from trees, like ripe apples. After the words ‘In the beginning’ comes the word ‘God’! The first step turns the key into God’s power-house, and it is not only true that God helps those who help themselves, but He also helps those who cannot help themselves. You can depend upon Him every time.”

“Waiting on God brings us to our journey’s end quicker than our feet.”

The opportunity is often lost by deliberation.


Today’s Devotions


August 23

2 Chronicles 34:27-28 27Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. 28Now I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.'” So they took her answer back to the king.

The son of Manasseh was evil and soon was assassinated. His son Josiah was put on the throne at the young age of eight. By the time he turned sixteen he began to seek the LORD. He purged the nation of idols and ordered the repair of the Temple. In the process the Book of the Law was found. Things had been so bad for so long that the priests did not even know where a copy of the Law could be found.

When the Book of the Law was read to Josiah, he tore his robes and grieved over the sins of his fathers and the judgment promised in the book. Because the Spirit had not yet been poured out, he sent his staff to ask a prophetess living in Jerusalem if this justice was impending. She told them that God was going to keep his word and send the nation into captivity, but because Josiah humbled himself, tore his robes and wept before God, the judgment would not come in his lifetime. His eyes would not see the destruction of Jerusalem.

God is just and keeps His word, but He is also patient and generous. One man’s heart that was tender toward His word postponed the judgment. O that all God’s children would have such a tender heart toward the Word of God. When you read Scripture, do you allow it to speak to you personally and take it to heart as Josiah did? He did not think it was for other people or justify the words because he was not involved. He saw the application was for him personally and his nation and humbled himself. If there is one attribute we need more than any other as we read the Word, it is humility.

Remember: Humility helps us to hear God’s Word and take it to heart, not shrugging it off or appointing it to someone other than ourselves.

Concern for the Needy

by Inspiration Ministries

“How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy.” – Psalm 82:2-4 NASB

Some people approach life as a competition. As Charles Darwin concluded in his theory of evolution, it’s a “survival of the fittest.” Those employing this philosophy feel it is necessary to fight or be trampled. Some justify anything to get ahead or gain an advantage. They willingly distort and deceive, manipulate and bend the rules.

Even Christians can be trapped in this attitude. Thinking like the world, we can become willing to compromise our convictions.

The Bible reminds us that God wants us to trust Him, always do what is right, and apply His principles in every situation. Remember that if we seek first His Kingdom, we can be confident that He will provide all our needs (Matthew 6:33).

The Bible tells us God looks for people with this level of trust and commitment, who are concerned more about His Kingdom than personal rewards. He’s seeking those who stand for eternal values, are ready to fight for what is right, and are moved with compassion.

Ask God to give you His perspective on your life and the world. Ask Him to free you from pride and give you a greater concern for righteousness, justice, and truth. Ask Him to give you a burden for souls and to be more concerned about reaching the lost. Pray that you might use the resources He has given you to meet the needs of others and spread the Gospel.