Monthly Archives: September 2021

My Spirit Rejoices In The Lord

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Who Determines Your Identity?

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by Kelly Givens , crosswalk.com

One year, in between jobs, I worked as a temporary administrative assistant at a financial planning firm… during tax season. It was as challenging as you might imagine. I had no experience in taxes but suddenly found myself surrounded by tax forms, calculators and clients who expected me to have the answers to all of their tax issues. I might as well have been in a foreign country trying to communicate in a language I barely understood.

I started with grand ambitions: I told myself that I would learn all about taxes; I took an incredibly challenging online tax course, learned a ton about deductions and exemptions, and strove to be cheerful and helpful to my colleagues and our clients. Things were going great – I was exhausted but felt helpful, felt like my boss appreciated me and thought my coworkers were glad to have me around. Until the worst imaginable thing happened.

A customer claimed to have dropped off his taxes to be done, but his paperwork was nowhere to be found. All of the most important documents he owned and had trusted to us had somehow vanished. Worst of all, I had been the person handling the coming and going of most of the client’s paperwork the day it went missing, so the blame fell on me.

I was nauseous with anxiety. I felt the cold condemnation of my coworkers as they repeatedly asked me what I had done with this man’s documents. All I could say over and over was, “I don’t know. I don’t remember taking his paperwork. I am so sorry.” I listened as they whispered accusations behind my back. I felt them watching me like a hawk, seeing if I would make any more careless mistakes. Worst of all, my boss was totally stressed out and I felt the weight of everything on me.

I went home that night and cried my eyes out. I prayed fervently that God would somehow miraculously make the documents appear. I prayed for the strength I needed to face work the next day. I truly felt as David did in Psalms 55 when he prayed,

Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
Oh, that I had wings of a dove!
I would flee far away and stay in the desert.

All I wanted was to run away and never face my coworkers again. And I couldn’t even think about what the client would say when he found out that all of his tax information was gone.

My husband and I went to Bible study that night, and together our small group prayed over the situation, prayed that the missing documents would be recovered, and prayed for my peace. One person’s prayer in particular stuck out to me:

Father, I pray that Kelly knows her identity is not in what she does or doesn’t do, but in what you have done for her. I pray she knows that no amount of mistakes could make her any less your daughter.

Those words were a balm to my wounded spirit. I pictured Jesus holding me, reminding me of his great love for me and that even though I had messed up, my mistakes didn’t define me, he did.

I am a daughter of the King. Being reminded that my identity rests not in my success but in Christ’s sacrifice gave me the courage I needed to face another work day. I realized I had been finding my identity in what other people thought of me and in a job well done, instead of resting in the knowledge that no matter what, I am a beloved, redeemed child of God.

The next day at work, the missing files were found. The client had dropped them off in our overnight drop-off box, and the documents were wedged at the top of the chute. While having my name cleared was a relief, I look back and am more thankful for the lesson God taught me. When it comes to my identity, it’s not what I do or don’t do that defines me, it’s what Christ has done for me.

“He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me.”  –Psalm 55:18

Streams in the Desert – September 30

  • 202130 Sep

As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him” (Deut. 32:11-12).

Our Almighty Parent delights to conduct the tender nestlings of His care to the very edge of the precipice, and even to thrust them off into the steeps of air, that they may learn their possession of unrealized power of flight, to be forever a luxury; and if, in the attempt, they be exposed to unwonted peril, He is prepared to swoop beneath them, and to bear them upward on His mighty pinions. When God brings any of His children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count upon Him to deliver them.
–The Song of Victory

“When God puts a burden upon you He puts His own arm underneath.”

There is a little plant, small and stunted, growing under the shade of a broad-spreading oak; and this little plant values the shade which covers it, and greatly does it esteem the quiet rest which its noble friend affords. But a blessing is designed for this little plant.

Once upon a time there comes along the woodman, and with his sharp axe he fells the oak. The plant weeps and cries, “My shelter is departed; every rough wind will blow upon me, and every storm will seek to uproot me!”

“No, no,” saith the angel of that flower; “now will the sun get at thee; now will the shower fall on thee in more copious abundance than before; now thy stunted form shall spring up into loveliness, and thy flower, which could never have expanded itself to perfection shall now laugh in the sunshine, and men shall say, ‘How greatly hath that plant increased! How glorious hath become its beauty, through the removal of that which was its shade and its delight!'”

See you not, then, that God may take away your comforts and your privileges, to make you the better Christians? Why, the Lord always trains His soldiers, not by letting them lie on feather-beds, but by turning them out, and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. This is the way in which He makes them soldiers–not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made; but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets and roaring cannonades, not in soft and peaceful times.

Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? Is He not developing in you the qualities of the soldier by throwing you into the heat of battle, and should you not use every appliance to come off conqueror?
–Spurgeon

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 30

Psalms 22:1, 16, 18 1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

16Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

18They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

One thousand years before Jesus was born, the shepherd king David wrote this prophetic song. We don’t know the details surrounding it. Was he going through some similar circumstance, such as the attempt to murder him by King Saul? Or was he lying on the grass while watching his sheep when the Spirit of God came upon him and he began to sing this song? We can only guess.

What we do know is that a millennium in the future, Jesus would be nailed to a Roman cross and begin to quote this psalm so full of the details of that moment. If God could inspire a shepherd to pen the details of that horrible moment, then surely God is sovereign over it. Though Jesus did not sense God’s presence, He did have His Word in His heart that assured Him that the Father knew exactly what was happening and what would happen.

God had forsaken Jesus because the sin of the world was placed upon Him. The Father is of purer eyes than to behold evil (Habakkuk 1:13). Jesus knew the answer, but the psalm was voiced for us. Dogs were the term that the Jews used for Gentiles. In typical Hebrew style David repeated the expression in different terms, “a band of evil men.” The Roman Gentile soldiers surrounded the scene. Crucifixion, in which the hands and feet were pierced, was invented shortly before Jesus was born. This prophetic word was truly a glimpse into the future.

Clothing in the first century was very expensive. Many people had only one main robe and a cloak for colder weather. Jesus robe was made of one solid weaving and therefore even more valuable. The soldiers divided up the smaller articles of clothing, but to keep the value intact, they decided not to divide the robe. Instead they put each of their names on a stone, put the stones in a jar, and shook the jar until one stone fell out. The person whose name was on that stone won the robe, not knowing that he had just fulfilled the words of an ancient prophecy.

Consider: If God knows the details of every trial His children endure, we can trust Him to see us through trials and into a greater victory than we can imagine, just as He did with His only begotten Son. Trust Him! He knows your future.

God is Enough

Bob Arbogast , Today devotions

Scripture Reading — Luke 23:44-46

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. — Psalm 73:25

Sometimes there is too much wrong in this world! The economy takes your job. Cancer takes your spouse. The river takes your home. Yet even when so much is wrong, God is enough.

But some people skate through life. They seem to have no troubles at all. Their kids run faster. Their jobs pay better. Their dreams shine brighter. And they act like they deserve it, but they don’t. It’s just wrong! Yet even when so much is wrong, God is enough.

It helps to remember Jesus: ­accused by his own people, abandoned by his closest friends, stripped naked and nailed to a cross. It was all so wrong! So wrong that the sun quit shining and Jesus cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33-34). Yet even then, God was enough.

Psalm 73 is a long prayer about how there is too much wrong in this world. It’s a complaint, until the psalmist gains a new perspective. Then the prayer takes a turn: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” In other words, even when so much is wrong, God, you are enough.

At the end of his rope, Jesus releases himself to God: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Because even when so much is wrong, God is enough.

Prayer

Lord God, whom do I have in heaven but you? And besides you, there is nothing on earth I desire. Let that be my prayer, because you are enough. Amen.

A Spiritual Workout

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A Spiritual Workout

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by Ryan Duncan, crosswalk

“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”- 2 Thessalonians 2:15

In some of my previous devotions I’ve written about my habit of working out during the week, and my time at the gym has taught me a few important lessons. First, never go running after eating Mexican takeout unless you want to experiences some excruciating gastro-intestinal distress. Second, always know what a machine does before you try using it or you may end up looking like a complete idiot. Finally, and most importantly, all exercise takes commitment and perseverance. You see, we live in a world that is obsessed with immediate results.

Don’t believe me? Look at the TV commercials that promise rock hard abs in thirty days, or the diet plans that promise to slim our waistline after a week of light work. We are all looking for an easy way out, but if you really want to become strong and healthy, it takes many days of hard work. The same is true for spiritual workouts, just read 1 Thessalonians 5,

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. Brothers, pray for us. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:14-28

I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted just reading that passage. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop it from being true. Save for the grace of God, there are no magical fixes in life. If you want to get physically healthy it means running, dieting, and doing a whole lot of heavy lifting. If you want to become stronger in Christ, you can’t just rely on going to Church each Sunday.

Growing closer to God means forgiving your enemies, encouraging others, and praying continuously day after day. It’s some serious work, and there will be moments when you may get discouraged, but over time when you look back at the things it has allowed God to do in your life, you will know that it was all worth it.

Today’s Devotions

If You Do Not Stand Firm in Your Faith - Your Daily Verse

Morning
September 29

Psalms 19:7-9 7The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

You are reading this devotion today because you believe God’s Word is a need in your life. This passage in Psalm 19 gives a picture of what a great need it is. In all this world, there is one perfect thing, the Word of God. It revives our soul. When you are downcast and need to find hope, the Word of God is the source of hope. It will revive your soul. If you are a simple trusting soul, where should you turn? The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy. Man will always disappoint. Not one man, other than Jesus, has completely trustworthy counsel.

Where can you go for true joy? Happiness will come and go, but the truth of God’s promises to you will give you an inner joy that will endure all circumstances of life. If you need clarity to see the way things really are, you need the radiant light of the Word. It illuminates the motivations of men. It illuminates the motivations of our own hearts. Without the Word of God our hearts would easily deceive us. The Word shines the light of truth on our thoughts and reveals whether they are from our flesh or the Spirit.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. In the Word we see the just judgment on those who turn from God and rebel against Him. We see the treachery and cunning of man’s own heart. The fear of our just God keeps us from playing around with the idea of compromising with sin. Every word of God is pure. You can trust every verse to be completely righteous. Sometimes our carnal mind gets confused by expressions in the Word. We struggle to accept what is written. But if we dig deeper, we find every word to be altogether righteous. Where else could you go to find all these wonderful things? The man or woman who does the same for you, is a man or woman full of the Word of God. They have had their mind renewed by the Word of God.

Fully Known

Bob Arbogast, author

Scripture Reading — Psalm 139:13-18

[Elizabeth] exclaimed [to Mary]: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” — Luke 1:42

Psalm 139 celebrates the intimacy of God’s connection with an individual human being. Just imagine—God knows you completely. God knows everything that can break your heart, and everything that can make your heart skip a beat. How wonderful! Of course, God also knows your selfish daydreams and dark desires. How scary! No wonder the psalm ends like this: “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (v. 24).

God’s intimate connection with you stretches back to the time before you were born, to the time before you were even conceived. God knows you completely: from start to finish, from top to bottom, inside and out. And God loves you completely. How wonderful!

But the psalm takes on more meaning when Jesus says the words “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Just imagine—the Holy Spirit overshadows the virgin Mary, and the Son of God begins to take shape within her. Talk about intimacy! The One who gave life to Mary is now receiving life from Mary. The One who loved Mary before she was born is now loved by Mary before he is born.

Mary is blessed, blessed among all women, to receive the gift of this child. And the child is blessed, blessed among all children, to receive the gift of life through this mother.

Prayer

Holy Lord Jesus, it’s such a gift to be known by you and loved by you. I want to know you in return, and to love you forever. Amen.

Joy in the Lord

by Inspiration Ministries

“How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O LORD, they walk in the light of Your face. In Your name they rejoice all the day, and by Your righteousness they are exalted.” – Psalm 89:15-16 NASB

Many immigrants who came to America in the 19th century were overwhelmed with the freedom they found to worship God. G.D. Hall was among those who ministered to these grateful immigrants.

In August 1899, Hall held a series of services in a small prairie town where he found an intense hunger for God’s Word. Many who attended were poor, but they were “happy in Jesus and satisfied with their lot.”

Some lived in sod houses and had endured many trials. But Hall found that their faith gave them “power to soar above their circumstances.” And they had a great appetite for the Gospel.

Christians can learn many lessons from those immigrants. Amid our modern conveniences, we easily can focus on material comforts. But as those immigrants found, our joy should not be related to our external circumstances. We can experience the joy of the Lord no matter where we are, no matter what’s going on in the world, and no matter how much (or how little) money we have.

Think about your life. Are you so focused on your circumstances that you have forgotten about God? Don’t let anything distract you. Let the joy of the Lord fill your heart. Don’t place your hope in the possessions and pleasures of the world. Start praising God. Worship Him. Sing to Him. Thank Him for what He has done for you. And commit your life to Him.

Hope For The Journey

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A Change in Itinerary: Hope for the Journey

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When April was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, her life turned upside down. She took early medical retirement and her family’s financial security abruptly changed. They relocated and changed schools and churches. The unwanted changes were discouraging as family members adjusted in individual ways.

Marilyn woke up one morning married, but by the day’s end, she took on the new status of “widow”. Her unfamiliar path held heavy grief. A clouded brain made navigating new responsibilities and pressing solo decisions difficult. Drinking morning coffee alone now after having the company of her husband for 42 years, compounded loneliness.

April and Marilyn are not alone in life plans going off course. Perhaps you’ve had a front-row seat to altered plans. Life isn’t going as you thought; dreams are shattered.

At one time or another, we walk an unexpected itinerary. Covid-19 proved that to us. Sometimes our changed plans are inconvenient, and we adapt. We move forward and learn contentment in our Plan B.

At other times, life alterations are permanent. We adjust, or we don’t.

What makes the difference between living in disappointment and defeat versus living in and with hope?

When we live in a circumstance and travel an unexpected path we didn’t seek or want, we need to regain our footing and change our focus to move forward. It’s not easy to do when our eyes are filled with tears or we are distracted by thoughts of what could have been. But if we want to thrive, not merely survive, we need to live intentionally with hope. How can we do that?

  • When life doesn’t go as planned, and changes are hard and unexpected, we can trust the sufficiency of “His glorious grace” lavished on us for daily living (Ephesians 1:6-8 NIV). The apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians encourages us that God’s power is strong for our weakness, and His sufficient grace equips us for our next step (2 Corinthians 9:8, 2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • When the path is disappointing and uncertain, you can trust the words of Ephesians 1:17-19 (NIV) and “ask that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” He promises wisdom when we ask (James 1:5) and insight when we call (Proverbs 2:3-4).
  • When you are tempted to look back and lament, you can pray “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,” and “know His mighty power is active in our lives” (Ephesians 1:20 NIV). We are not traveling alone. He promises guidance over unfamiliar paths (Isaiah 42:16).
  • When we wrestle with shattered dreams, we can rest knowing God is working out His purposes for our best (Ephesians 1:11). The specific trial may not be pleasant or seem good, but God is weaving all together for our good (Romans 8:28). Perhaps that weaving is developing reliance on Him, refining our character, or spending more time in prayer.

Detours, roadblocks, and changes in our life itinerary may be unplanned and disappointing, but we don’t have to be stuck, looking in the rearview mirror. Instead, we can change our focus to God’s perspective.

We can rely on His wisdom, grace, and power to move forward. We may find something different, or more, than what we missed or what we lost. When we trust God, we can live in and with the power of hope.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 28

Psalms 19:1-3 1The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

David looked up at the night sky and saw a declaration of the glory of God. With the Hubble we can see even more wondrous and amazing sights far beyond the range of David’s eyes. But we have a different response. We have the audacity to think we have figured out God. Even macro-physicists include God in their equations. The more we discover the less we realize we know. Today you will find most astronomers believing there must be a God. One astronomer wrote that to find an argument against the existence of God, he had to go to another department. Yet the average person on the street has the impression that astronomers have creation all figured out as a natural process. Let’s hope that more astronomers will speak up about their lack of understanding of all that they see so that our perceptions will be corrected.

One of the sad byproducts of city life is that the stars can barely be seen. Our skies are so polluted that we have hidden the declaration. To replace that effect, we have the pictures from the Hubble continuing to come in as it shoots picture after picture of wonders full of color, design, and phenomena that cause us to marvel. It doesn’t need to be translated into French or Russian. It speaks in every language. It displays the knowledge of an infinite Creator who makes laws, order, and design. When you see those pictures, listen to God.

Consider: The heavens are still declaring the glory of God. Are you listening?

Streams in the Desert – September 28

  • 202128 Sep

In me… peace (John 16:33).

There is a vast difference between happiness and blessedness. Paul had imprisonments and pains, sacrifice and suffering up to the very limit; but in the midst of it all, he was blessed. All the beatitudes came into his heart and life in the midst of those very conditions.

Paganini, the great violinist, came out before his audience one day and made the discovery just as they ended their applause that there was something wrong with his violin. He looked at it a second and then saw that it was not his famous and valuable one. He felt paralyzed for a moment, then turned to his audience and told them there had been some mistake and he did not have his own violin. He stepped back behind the curtain thinking that it was still where he had left it, but discovered that some one had stolen his and left that old second-hand one in its place.

He remained back of the curtain a moment, then came out before his audience and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen: I will show you that the music is not in the instrument, but in the soul.” And he played as he had never played before; and out of that second-hand instrument, the music poured forth until the audience was enraptured with enthusiasm and the applause almost lifted the ceiling of the building, because the man had revealed to them that music was not in the machine but in his own soul.

It is your mission, tested and tried one, to walk out on the stage of this world and reveal to all earth and Heaven that the music is not in conditions, not in the things, not in externals, but the music of life is in your own soul.

If peace be in the heart,
The wildest winter storm is full of solemn beauty,
The midnight flash but shows the path of duty,
Each living creature tells some new and joyous story,
The very trees and stones all catch a ray of glory,
If peace be in the heart.

–Charles Francis Richardson

The great Supreme

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Ascribe ye greatness unto our God.” Deuteronomy 32:3

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

In Protestant countries there is a very strong tendency to priestcraft still. Though we do not bow down and worship images, and do not professedly put our souls into the hands of priests, yet, I am sorry to say it, there is scarce a congregation that is free from that error of ascribing greatness to their minister. If souls are converted, how very prone we are to think there is something marvellous in the man; and if saints are fed and satisfied with marrow and fatness, how prone we are to suppose that the preacher has something about him by which these wondrous things are done; and if a revival takes place in any part of the vineyard, it matters not in what denomination, there is an aptness in the human mind to ascribe some part of the glory and the praise to the mere human agency. Oh, beloved, I am sure that every right-minded minister will scorn the thought. We are but your servants for Christ’s sake. We speak to you, as God helps us, what we believe to be God’s truth; but ascribe not to us any honour or any glory. If a soul is saved, God from first to last has done it. If your souls are fed, thank the Master; be respectful and grateful to the servant as you will be, but most of all thank him who puts the word into the mouths of his servants, and who applies it to your heart. “Oh, down with priestcraft!” even I myself must down with it. “Down with it!” I cry. If I myself like Samson fall beneath its roof, let me fall myself and be crushed, well content in having pulled down or contributed to remove one solitary brick in that colossal house of Satan. Take care, friends, that you put no honour upon any man that you ought to have ascribed unto his Sovereign. “Ascribe ye greatness unto our God.”

For meditation: Why are you using these daily readings? We should thank God for Spurgeon, but many go too far and venerate Spurgeon himself. He reminds us that he too was a man (Acts 10:26) and that the glory belongs not to him but to his and our God (Psalm 115:1).

What Are You Called

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What Are You Called?

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Do you like the name your parents gave you? “Beebe” was my aunt’s name before it was mine, but Grandmother Barbara was always evasive about its origin. Maybe it was her childhood nickname, or maybe it was her way of naming her daughter for both parents—Barbara and Bryan. The name is difficult to spell and most people are reluctant to pronounce it, but the name is still a good one.

In Isaiah 4, God was dealing with His proud and unfaithful children. He told them that He would judge them, but afterwards, those who remained would be called by a special name—a good one.

And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 4:3 NKJV)

Why would they be called “holy”? I did some investigating. I listed 18 Bible verses that use “holy” or “holiness,” and read what my commentaries said about each verse. I peeked into others’ understanding. It was a rich experience.

My basic understanding of holiness was right—set apart from sin and set apart to God, or dedicated to Him.1 My favorite definition was clean.2 True holiness has roots that reach down deeper than what we say and do. It reaches into our hearts—the treasure house of who we are, how we’re wired, and what we value. Holiness warms, enriches, and enlivens the heart with Godliness. It prompts us to think differently, to see more clearly, and to be stirred to greater measures of concern, helpfulness, and lovingkindness. Legalism brings our actions in line with a standard of conduct, but holiness is a transformation of the heart.

What causes that transformation? Taking in the word of God, adjusting ourselves to what it says, and cooperating with God as He uses it to weed and cultivate our minds and hearts.

God wants us to grow in holiness. He said,

“Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16 NKJV).

God’s holiness is comprised of His infinite perfections3 and moral excellence.4 For instance, He is perfect in love, perfect in faithfulness, and perfect in righteousness. He is morally excellent in His character and ways. God is holy and He commands us to be holy—separated from all moral uncleanness and conformed to all moral excellence—“clean.”

The Holy Spirit helps with that process. He is a master Craftsman whose business, ministry, and delight is crafting, fashioning, and sustaining (when we cooperate with Him) holiness within God’s children. He envisions the end product well because it’s His own nature. Holiness is the fruit of the Spirit’s cultivation of our souls—our inner reality. It has distinct “faces” or attributes that are named in Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV): love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. But these faces of holiness, these inner qualities, are also facets of an integrated whole, a likeness to the One who cultivates our souls with truth and love. As we grow in holiness, we are being conformed to the likeness of our God.

How can we make a welcome difference in the world around us? By being holy, clean, which has two parts. The negative—separated from sin—and the positive—conformed to all moral excellence or goodness. Freedom from sin is not a vacuum. A life free from the rule of sin must also be filled with goodness. Holiness lives in a heart, will, and character that are morally excellent in God’s likeness. So as we stay within His embrace and under His tutelage, holiness will grow.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 27

Psalms 8:3-5 3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

The clear night sky is awe-inspiring. One of my favorite places is a canyon lake far from big cities. The night sky appears to be entirely filled with stars. The band of the Milky Way glows with the light of a million stars. We count the shooting stars until we fall asleep. Now we know so much more about the enormity and complexity of that night sky than David did. It should awe us even more when we consider that our God set all that in place. He decreed the laws by which it all functions. Man is increasingly wondering at the mysteries and beauty we see there.

Considering that seemingly infinite space and vast number of worlds, what is man that God is mindful of us? He thinks of each of us continually. Why? What a great priority He has placed upon us as small as we are. He made us a little lower than elohim. The Hebrew word is used for God or angelic beings, and that is why you find some variations in the translation. I prefer “a little lower than God,” since we will judge angels and they are sent to minister to us. It seems that David is in awe of the position God has given man in the order of creation. As small and insignificant as we seem, He has put great priority on us, crowning us with glory and honor.

In light of such honor, our sin is all the more abhorrent. To think that we would rebel against the Almighty, our Maker, who gave us such a lofty position, shows the depravity of our ingratitude. What is man? We are so honored and offered such glory that our minds can scarcely conceive it. Look up into the night sky.

Consider: How should I respond to such a gracious and loving God?

Streams in the Desert – September 27

  • 202127 Sep

I have found an atonement (Job 33:24, margin).

Divine healing is just divine life. It is the headship of Christ over the body. It is the life of Christ in the frame. It is the union of our members with the very body of Christ and the inflowing life of Christ in our living members. It is as real as His risen and glorified body. It is as reasonable as the fact that He was raised from the dead and is a living Man with a true body and a rational soul today at God’s right hand.

That living Christ belongs to us in all His attributes and powers. We are members of His body, His flesh and His bones, and if we can only believe and receive it, we may live upon the very life of the Son of God.

Lord, help me to know “the Lord for the body and the body for the Lord.”
–A. B. Simpson

“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.” (Zeph. 3:17). This was the text that first flashed the truth of Divine healing into my mind and worn-out body nearly a quarter century ago. It is still the door, wide open more than ever, through which the living Christ passes moment by moment into my redeemed body, filling, energizing, vitalizing it with the presence and power of His own personality, turning my whole being into a “new heaven and new earth.”

“The Lord, thy God.” Thy God. My God. Then all that is in God Almighty is mine and in me just as far as I am able and willing to appropriate Him and all that belongs to Him. This God, “Mighty,” ALL Mighty God, is our INSIDE God. He is, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in the midst of me, just as really as the sun is in the center of the heavens, or like the great dynamo in the center of the power-house of my three-fold being. He is in the midst, at the center of my physical being. He is in the midst of my brain. He is in the midst of my nerve centers.

For twenty-one years it has been not only a living reality to me, but a reality growing deeper and richer, until now at the age of seventy years, I am in every sense a younger, fresher man than I was at thirty. At this present time I am in the strength of God, doing full twice as much work, mental and physical, as I have ever done in the best days of the past, and this observe, with less than half the effort then necessary. My life, physical, mental and spiritual, is like an artesian well–always full, overflowing. To speak, teach, travel by night and day in all weather and through all the sudden and violent changes of our variable climate, is no more effort to me than it is for the mill-wheel to turn when the stream is full or for the pipe to let the water run through.

My body, soul and spirit thus redeemed,
Sanctified and healed I give, O Lord, to Thee,
A consecrated offering Thine ever more to be.
That all my powers with all their might
In Thy sole glory may unite.–Hallelujah!

–Dr. Henry Wilson

Beyond Counting

by Inspiration Ministries

“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” – Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

The wave of revival that swept Sweden during the nineteenth century was influenced by hymns written by Lina Sandell. She had a gift for communicating powerful truths in ways that were both clear and practical.

One hymn was inspired by a little boy she saw doing some addition. Sandell heard him say, “I Can’t Count Them All.” Overhearing this innocent comment reminded her of the mercies of God and led her to write a hymn with that title.

In that hymn, Sandell described how she could not fathom “the numberless gifts of God’s mercies.” No matter what previously had taken place, these mercies are “like dew that appears in the morning.” They were brand-new and could not be counted. “Like all of the stars in the heavens, God’s mercies can never be told.”

Realizing these limitless mercies, Sandell only could respond with praise. “For all of that love, my thanksgiving and love to the end of my days.”

The Bible reminds us that with God there are no limits: resources beyond anything we can imagine, power released with just a word, boundless love, unmeasurable forgiveness. In fact, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).

In your life, don’t place restrictions on God. Cast every care on Him. Commit every problem to Him, regardless of how big they may seem to you. With Him, all things are possible.

Walk In The Light

46 Walking in the Light ideas | walk in the light, jesus, faithBut if we walk in the light... | Walk in the light, Gifts of the spirit,  Nature
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Quotes about Walking With God (54 quotes)Quotes about Walking With God (54 quotes)

Walk in the Light of the Lord

man walking his dog on a sunny day

 

Do schedules, deadlines, urgencies, and emergencies crowd out your determination to refresh your heart and mind with Scripture? Do you ever need a little more motivation to be in God’s word on a daily basis and live it out?

Two symbols come together in Isaiah 2:5 (NKJV) to form a beautiful instruction for our lives today:

“Walk in the light of the LORD.”

To walk means to make something your habit of life, your lifestyle, and the light of the LORD is a symbol of God’s word. God wants us to make walking in His light, our lifestyle.

Why is light used as a symbol of God’s word? What do we know about light in the physical world that can inspire us to walk in spiritual light?

  • Light in the physical world shimmers, sparkles, twinkles, and glows. The moon radiates brightness over the earth. The night sky sparkles with jewels of greater and lesser brilliance. The streaming colors of the Aurora Borealis sway back and forth in a brooding dance. Summer fireworks burst and flash to the rhythms of John Philip Sousa and Francis Scott Key. The Eiffel Tower in her glittering evening wear, meditates by the Seine River. Light is beautiful and fascinating.

  • Light also comforts, cheers, and warms us. When the electricity goes out at night, we’re grateful for a flashlight or candle. A campfire’s glow cheers those gathered around it. On a snowy evening, sitting on the hearth near the fire warms our hands, feet, and souls.

  • Light saves lives. A piercing searchlight is cast across frantic waves. It doesn’t rest until it discovers the exhausted survivors of a capsized boat. A lighthouse sends out steady pulses of hope, no matter how violent the storm.

God wants us to take in the light of His word and live it out. But in order to do it, we have to choose it. What motivates us to choose it? Understanding and appreciating the spiritual light of God’s word. Seeing its beauty, and being fascinated by it. Experiencing its comforts, and feeling its warmth. Knowing firsthand the relief of its rescue, and the grace and peace of its hope. Walking in the light of the LORD becomes a way of life that we long for.

  • Spiritual light is beautiful. Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV) reassures us,

    “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

  • Spiritual light is fascinating. Joshua Chapter 10 tells us that God gave Israel more time to defeat its enemies by making the sun stand still.

  • The light of the LORD comforts, cheers, and warms our hearts. Deuteronomy 31:8 (NKJV) says,

    “The LORD, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

  • The light of God’s word saves lives when we respond to it with faith, according to John 3:16.

To walk in the light of truth means to put it to practical use. We don’t just know the truth—we use it. We filter our thinking with it. We steer our choices and decisions by it. We consider the patterns of life in the Bible that are pleasing to God, and adopt them as our own. Those patterns of life are reinforced when we experience their benefits—strength, grace, comfort, help, relief, and spiritual refreshment.

Let’s be inspired by the beauty of spiritual light, and by its comfort, cheer, and warmth, to make God’s word our daily lifestyle. Let’s aspire to the quality of life that comes from practicing this habit of life: Walk in the light of the LORD.

Streams in the Desert – September 26

  • 202126 Sep

We walk by faith, not by appearance (2 Cor. 5:7, RV).

By faith, not appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and Satan may want us to. But God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us.

When we face these precious facts, and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings.

God never gives feeling to enable us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to encourage us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to show that we have already and utterly trusted Him. God gives feeling only when He sees that we trust Him apart from all feeling, resting on His own Word, and on His own faithfulness to His promise. Never until then can the feeling (which is from God) possibly come; and God will give the feeling in such a measure and at such a time as His love sees best for the individual case.

We must choose between facing toward our feelings and facing toward God’s facts. Our feelings may be as uncertain as the sea or the shifting sands. God’s facts are as certain as the Rock of Ages, even Christ Himself, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

“When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.”

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 26

Psalms 2:6-8 6“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. 8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

Many of the psalms look forward in time to the first and second coming of Jesus. Because Jesus is referred to as ‘the son of David’, there are verses written about Solomon that are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.

In the second psalm God is speaking to the nations of the world that refuse God’s instruction. They rebel against His loving decrees. But God is not threatened at all. In fact, He laughs. If all the nations of the earth were to join together to fight against Him, it would not disturb His peace one bit. Then God declares where His sovereign will has placed all authority to rule, in His Son.

The Son was with God from the beginning, but there is a point in human history when he is born of a woman. The birth in Bethlehem was one of the most amazing and supernatural events to ever take place. God stepped into a human body. The Son was willing to set an example for mankind and redeem us through His own obedient death on the cross. God has given Him the right to rule the kingdoms of the earth. One day He will no longer allow man to rebel. The freedom to mock God and His laws and cause the people to suffer will no longer be allowed. Those rulers who would rebel will face the rod of iron. Man keeps trying to make the perfect government and failing. The perfect government is coming.

Meditation: The King of kings will be installed on Zion, God’s holy hill, and will reign in righteousness. Are you letting Him rule in your heart today?

The God of Difficult Places

SEPTEMBER 24, 2021

Kia Stephens
Kia Stephens

“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

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I thought it was going to be a normal phone call.

The tone in her voice let me know this conversation was going to be anything but normal. We bypassed small talk about the weather and current events and took a deep dive into the primary reason for the conversation. “I have cancer,” my mom said.

Those were three words I did not expect her to say ever again. She was an eight-year breast cancer survivor and had been declared cancer-free. “This is not supposed to be happening,” I thought to myself.

It felt shocking and unreal to hear those words come from her mouth. My initial response was anger with God. How could You allow this? I said in my head. Then I reviewed the facts.

My mom needed support, but I am an only child.

My mom needed me to be close to her, but I lived in a different state.

And my mom was in her late 70s and still had a lot of life ahead of her.

The situation seemed so unfair. I felt alone, abandoned and betrayed as I grappled with the news of her diagnosis.

Everything in me wanted God to just make it go away.

In the Bible, there is another woman whose situation seemed unfair.

In Genesis Chapter 16, we are introduced to Hagar. She was the Egyptian maidservant of Sarai (Sarah), wife of Abram (Abraham). Sarai was battling infertility, and as a result, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her” (Genesis 16:2a-b, NIV).

Abram agreed to go along with Sarai’s plan, and Hagar conceived a son named Ishmael. Scripture says when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she despised her mistress. Some translations say that Hagar treated Sarai with contempt.

Then Sarai blamed Abram: “I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me” (Genesis 16:5b, NIV). Sarai then mistreated Hagar, and Hagar fled, attempting to escape the difficult circumstances in her life. As I faced my mother’s diagnosis, I could relate.

At this point, I imagine Hagar felt used, betrayed, isolated and mistreated. She must have felt that her situation was so unfair. Then in Genesis 16:7, “The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert …” (NIV).

Many theologians believe that the angel of the Lord was the Lord in angelic form. Hagar was so valued by God that He came and spent time with her. God did not have to look for her because we know that He is omniscient. I believe the pursuit was for Hagar’s benefit. He wanted her to know she was worth looking for.

He wanted her to know that she was seen and loved by God.

The angel of the Lord pursued, engaged and listened to Hagar. He then instructed her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her” (Genesis 16:9, NIV).

God did not rescue Hagar from her plight. He did not swoop down and remove her from the situation. This is an expectation I have had in my difficult places. I have longed for God to step in and save me from everything hard in my life, instantaneously making all things wonderful and new. Here we see that this was not God’s plan.

Sometimes God will rescue us from difficult places and sometimes He will sustain us in the midst of them. He is still a loving God in both scenarios.

In verses 9-10, the angel of the Lord says, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her … I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count” (NIV).

He is saying, “In the midst of the place where you feel broken, isolated, abandoned and afraid, that is where I am going to bless you.” As a result, Hagar says, “‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me’” (Genesis 16:13).

Hagar reminds us all of God’s tangible love when we are suffering, alone, broken or afraid. She reminds us to see God seeing us in our difficult places. I imagine her saying:

“Even though life is hard, I see God seeing me.”
“Even though I feel alone, I see God seeing me.”
“Even though I’m scared and broken, I see God seeing me.”

She knew God was El Roi, the God who sees.

He remains the same God today. He sees you and me as we walk through our difficult places. He is God enough to sustain us in the midst of them.

My mom continues to undergo cancer treatment. God did not swoop down and save her from her illness. He is, however, sustaining and blessing us both in the midst of this difficult place.

Heirs, not Errors

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Heirs, Not Errors

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“Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child, And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (Galatians 4:7 NLT)

I hadn’t said a word at the Bible study all night. Our subject was what it meant to be an heir of Christ, and I was listening closely from where I sat on the floor in the corner. When I spoke up unexpectedly, everyone turned in my direction as if they’d forgotten I was there.

Now, I’m rarely at ease in a small group, so when everyone’s eyes and ears are on me, I generally get tense and my accent lapses as I trade enunciation for rate of proclamation. Suddenly, halfway through an over-the-speed-limit sentence, I realized I’d pronounced the word heir the same way I had just said the word error in a different context. Thankfully, when I looked around, all the ladies were nodding their heads, understanding me in spite of myself.

Heir and error. How different those words are, and yet how often we can unintentionally interchange them.

Do you see yourself as an heir of Christ? Or as an error of Christ?

I’ve taken a look at myself more than once and prayed, “God, did something happen to the blueprints?” Believing I’m an error is so much easier than believing I’m an heir in a majestic kingdom that will not end.

Error might roll off the tongue easily, but errors are impossible in God’s trade. We may occasionally look like we were assembled with flawed blueprints, but God’s Word assures us that when He looks at us, His chosen children, He sees the righteousness of Jesus—not a pile of mistakes, not a blemish on a previously perfect record, not as an out-of-control project. Righteous. Redeemed. Heirs.

If you see yourself as an error rather than an heir, please hear these words:

“Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan” (Ephesians 1:11 NLT).

Next time you feel like less than an heir apparent, look for the apparent error.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 25

Psalms 1:1-3 1Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

The book of Psalms is a collection of songs of praise. Originally they came in five different books. Many of them were penned by David. In them we find expressed the heart cry of man in nearly every situation. No matter what you are going through you can find a psalm that relates to your situation. I turn to them when I am discouraged, for they often begin with complaint and end in praise.

The first psalm warns us not to keep company with evil people. We are told not to listen to their counsel, stand in their way or sit in their seats. The word ‘blessed’ is translated ‘happy’ in some newer renderings. Blessing implies the goodness of God will be with such a person. Look for these beatitudes throughout Scripture. If the Word gives us instruction as to what to do to find God pouring out His goodness on us, we should give careful attention to that instruction. You will be blessed if you avoid bad company. Man has a natural tendency to gravitate toward mocking and complaint. Don’t!

Instead delight in God’s Word. Think on it day and night. If you will take some time each day to be in the company of the Word, and let Him speak to you, you will have a thought to dwell on that will build you up instead of tearing you down. Avoiding the mocking sinner and filling your mind with God’s instruction will cause you to be blessed.

In typical Hebrew style the psalmist expands on what it means to be blessed in a simile. You will be like a tree that bears fruit planted by a stream. You won’t dry out. You will prosper in everything you do. What a picture! What a promise! If you believe it, then you should act on it. Take time each day to delight in the Word of God. Take a thought with you through the day.

Consider: “If I meditate on God’s Word and don’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, whatever I do will prosper.”

A divided heart

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty.” Hosea 10:2

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:4-12

If we would provoke the anger of the Most High and bring down trying providences on the churches, we have nothing to do but to be divided in our hearts and all will be accomplished. If we wish that every vial may empty out its ill, and that every vessel may withhold its oil, we have but to cherish our bickerings till they become animosities; we have but to nurse our animosities till they become hatreds, and all the work will be fully completed. And if this be the case in the church at large, it is peculiarly true in those various sections of it which we now call Apostolic Churches. Oh, my brethren, the smallest church in the world is potent for good when it has but one heart and one soul; when pastor, elders, deacons, and members, are bound together by a threefold cord that cannot be broken. Then are they mighty against every attack. But however great their numbers, however enormous their wealth, however splendid may be the talents with which they are gifted, they are powerless for good the moment they become divided amongst themselves. Union is strength. Blessed is the army of the living God, in that day when it goes forth to battle with one mind, and when its soldiers as with the tramp of one man, in undivided march, go onwards towards the attack. But a curse awaits that church which runs to and fro and which, divided in itself, has lost the main stay of its strength with which it should batter against the enemy. Division cuts our bowstrings, snaps our spears, houghs our horses, and burns our chariots in the fire. We are undone the moment the link of love is snapped. Let this perfect bond be once cut in twain and we fall down, and our strength is departed. By union we live, and by disunion we expire.

For meditation: Believers are not to try to create “unity” with those who preach another gospel, but we are urged to maintain the unity that already exists between true believers (Ephesians 4:3Philippians 1:27). What would somebody have to report about your church (and your own contribution in it)?

Zion

by Inspiration Ministries

“The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, City of God.” – Psalm 87:2-3 NASB

The Bible reminds us that gates are important in practical ways. They provide ways to enter or exit a room or other structure. But gates also have spiritual significance.

The gates of Zion were of particular importance. After David captured the Zion stronghold (2 Samuel 5:7), it became the site of the temple, the center of religious life for God’s people. Zion became a symbol in every generation for the places where they gathered to worship Him. And its gates had special meaning.

The Bible reminds us how much God “loves the gates of Zion.” These gates symbolize coming into His presence and the place where we fellowship with Him and worship Him. The Bible tells us that we are to “enter His gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100:4). This means coming before Him with hearts overflowing with thanksgiving and praise.

The gates of Zion also represent God’s protection as well as the importance of evangelism. As Jesus said, we are to be like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14), a place filled with joy. We see this when the psalmist wrote that those who sing say, “All my springs of joy are in you” (v. 7).

Seek to enter God’s presence. Fellowship with Him. Worship Him. Seek to be faithful to His call on your life. And be radical in your commitment to His house, people, Word, and Kingdom.

The Blessing

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82 Bible Verses about Blessing - DailyVerses.net15 Thankful Bible Verses — Bible Quotes About Being Thankful

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The Blessing

15 Thankful Bible Verses — Bible Quotes About Being Thankful

Mr. Spock, of Star Trek fame, would raise his hand and say “Live long and prosper.”

This “Vulcan salute,” as it has come to be called, was invented on the set of Star Trek by actor Leonard Nimoy during the filming of the second-season opener, “Amok Time.” What the people didn’t know was that the Vulcan greeting came from Leonard Nimoy’s real-life Jewish heritage. He took it from the ancient blessing the Jewish Priests would bestow upon the Israelites.

The Bible says,

“Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: ‘May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.’ Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.” (Numbers 6:23-27 NLT)

The actual blessing is done with both arms held horizontally in front, at shoulder level, with hands touching, to form the Hebrew letter “shin.” This stands for the Hebrew word for “Shaddai”, meaning “Almighty [God].”

With the hand symbol, the priest was putting the name of God on the people, sealing it upon them.

This is a special blessing God wants all of us to receive. This blessing is so important because it covers us completely in every area of our life, spiritually and materially.

This blessing is so specific that God commanded the Priests to bless the people not using their own words, but rather using an exact formulation for the blessing, prefacing the instruction with the words: “Thus shall you bless.”

This reveals that the blessing comes from the LORD Himself; the priests were a means for transmitting His gracious will. Now that we have Jesus, our Messiah, our Savior, we know that He is The High Priest and that His sacrifice has made it possible for us to enter boldly before God.

So today we can pray, petition, and speak blessings knowing that our voice will be heard, and our words will be fruitful before the Lord our Creator, because of Jesus.

As we continue to study the Priestly Blessing we learn that the people accepted the blessing and responded. So how do we receive and respond to a blessing from our Heavenly Father? We anticipate His blessing with a thankful heart and declare that His Word is so. Here is the blessing that the priests recited, along with the response of the people.

PRIEST: May the LORD bless you and protect you.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

PRIEST: May the LORD shine His face to you and be gracious to you.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

PRIEST: May the LORD turn (or lift up) His face to you and give to you peace.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

You may ask, what does a Jewish blessing have to do with me?

The Bible says,

“And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you” (Galatians 3:29 NLT).

So that means that all of God’s blessings are for us to obtain because Jesus paid the ultimate price. Everything he promised pertains to all of His children.

So let us expect the blessings from God and enjoy His goodness. Be thankful for the gift of His Son Jesus, which is His greatest blessing to us each day of our lives.

Today’s Devotions

Bible Verses for Blessed Be Your Name
Morning

September 24

Job 42:5-6 5My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job had been questioning God, but now it is God’s turn to question Job. The substance of God’s questions asks Job that if he lives in a world full of things beyond his understanding, why should he not be able to figure out what God is presently doing in his life? Such a wonderful Creator should be trusted by His creation to do what is in their best interest.

Job entered into a new relationship with God. Up until that time he had heard of God through lives and stories of others. Now he saw God with his own eyes. He had the same reaction that everyone does. He saw the holiness of God and by contrast, his wretched condition. But didn’t God say Job was righteous? No, God said there was no one on earth like him (1:8). Compared to other men he is blameless and upright. Compared to God he is a sin sick man with a sin-infested nature. Job learned genuine humility from this encounter. The manifest presence of God blows away any deception ideas of our own goodness. We need God’s manifest presence in the church today to see our real condition.

God restored everything that Job had lost, and then doubled it. There is one notable exception. He had as many children as he originally had. Why is that? Why weren’t they doubled? Besides being hard on his wife, they really were doubled. He never lost the first set of children. They merely moved to heaven before Job died. He now has twenty children, even though ten are in heaven. Things are not always as they appear. The book of Job is an exhortation to trust God no matter what you are going through.

Consider: You may never know the reasons for certain trials and struggles, but you can be sure your Creator’s character is impeccable. God will see you through, if you will continue to trust in Him.

The God of Difficult Places

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“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

I thought it was going to be a normal phone call.

The tone in her voice let me know this conversation was going to be anything but normal. We bypassed small talk about the weather and current events and took a deep dive into the primary reason for the conversation. “I have cancer,” my mom said.

Those were three words I did not expect her to say ever again. She was an eight-year breast cancer survivor and had been declared cancer-free. “This is not supposed to be happening,” I thought to myself.

It felt shocking and unreal to hear those words come from her mouth. My initial response was anger with God. How could You allow this? I said in my head. Then I reviewed the facts.

My mom needed support, but I am an only child.

My mom needed me to be close to her, but I lived in a different state.

And my mom was in her late 70s and still had a lot of life ahead of her.

The situation seemed so unfair. I felt alone, abandoned and betrayed as I grappled with the news of her diagnosis.

Everything in me wanted God to just make it go away.

In the Bible, there is another woman whose situation seemed unfair.

In Genesis Chapter 16, we are introduced to Hagar. She was the Egyptian maidservant of Sarai (Sarah), wife of Abram (Abraham). Sarai was battling infertility, and as a result, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her” (Genesis 16:2a-b, NIV).

Abram agreed to go along with Sarai’s plan, and Hagar conceived a son named Ishmael. Scripture says when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she despised her mistress. Some translations say that Hagar treated Sarai with contempt.

Then Sarai blamed Abram: “I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me” (Genesis 16:5b, NIV). Sarai then mistreated Hagar, and Hagar fled, attempting to escape the difficult circumstances in her life. As I faced my mother’s diagnosis, I could relate.

At this point, I imagine Hagar felt used, betrayed, isolated and mistreated. She must have felt that her situation was so unfair. Then in Genesis 16:7, “The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert …” (NIV).

Many theologians believe that the angel of the Lord was the Lord in angelic form. Hagar was so valued by God that He came and spent time with her. God did not have to look for her because we know that He is omniscient. I believe the pursuit was for Hagar’s benefit. He wanted her to know she was worth looking for.

He wanted her to know that she was seen and loved by God.

The angel of the Lord pursued, engaged and listened to Hagar. He then instructed her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her” (Genesis 16:9, NIV).

God did not rescue Hagar from her plight. He did not swoop down and remove her from the situation. This is an expectation I have had in my difficult places. I have longed for God to step in and save me from everything hard in my life, instantaneously making all things wonderful and new. Here we see that this was not God’s plan.

Sometimes God will rescue us from difficult places and sometimes He will sustain us in the midst of them. He is still a loving God in both scenarios.

In verses 9-10, the angel of the Lord says, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her … I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count” (NIV).

He is saying, “In the midst of the place where you feel broken, isolated, abandoned and afraid, that is where I am going to bless you.” As a result, Hagar says, “‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me’” (Genesis 16:13).

Hagar reminds us all of God’s tangible love when we are suffering, alone, broken or afraid. She reminds us to see God seeing us in our difficult places. I imagine her saying:

“Even though life is hard, I see God seeing me.”
“Even though I feel alone, I see God seeing me.”
“Even though I’m scared and broken, I see God seeing me.”

She knew God was El Roi, the God who sees.

He remains the same God today. He sees you and me as we walk through our difficult places. He is God enough to sustain us in the midst of them.

My mom continues to undergo cancer treatment. God did not swoop down and save her from her illness. He is, however, sustaining and blessing us both in the midst of this difficult place.

Take Time To Find God

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Take Time to Find God

daisy flowers laying across a book

 

God desires to be a part of our everyday lives. He longs to show His love for us in special ways. If we will take the time, He will surprise us with special gifts of His love throughout our day.

Recently, this happened to a friend of mine. She took the time to find God. No, she didn’t just get up early in the morning and go outside to sit under a large, budding oak tree. She didn’t just stop and smell the fresh spring breeze and listen to the birds singing their songs of praise to God. She didn’t meditate all day while the warmth of the sun caressed her smiling face. She began her day as she always does — she spent time in the Word and then allowed God to show up in any part of her day that He chose. She went to work, and there were special surprises for her.

The Scripture she read that morning was from the Song of Solomon [Song of Songs in some versions]. It was a precious Scripture that she took with her in her heart. As she entered the building where she works, she saw something on the table in the lobby. She decided that she would pick up the small object and throw it away. She took pride in the area where she works and simply wanted to keep things looking nice. But to her surprise, it was a small flower. Now you say, “What’s the big deal?” Well, here is the Scripture that God gave her that morning:

“For the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up, and the time of singing birds has come, even the cooing of turtledoves” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12, The Book).

It meant so much to her. She giggled and said, “Thank you, Papa” (as she always did when speaking to her heavenly Father) and kept right on walking. God was speaking to her heart about His great love for her. He was sharing with her that just as it was beginning to be spring in the natural realm, in the spiritual realm she was starting into her own springtime. And as we all know, flowers are a sign of spring.

God had allowed someone to leave a special, little flower on that table so that as she entered the building she would discover it and feel His great love for her. Her heart was greatly touched by this incident, and I felt so blessed to be a part of it. I had been right behind her when she walked into the building that morning.

As I thought of how special that moment seemed to her (not knowing about the Scripture God had given her), I knew something very wonderful was happening. As I stepped into the elevator, God spoke to my heart and said, “She took the time to find ME.” She had taken the time to find God. She was continuing the day as we all have to do, working and taking care of family, yet this moment did not escape her.

“Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him! Then he will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring” (Hosea 6:3, The Book).

Needless to say, I took the rest of the day to look for God. I made sure I gave eye contact to everyone I met and shared a kind word and a smile. I wanted to find God in my day, and I wanted to be God’s love to someone who might need to see Him in a tangible way.

We can find God. We can feel His love in wonderful ways. We don’t need to think that He is millions of miles away and too busy to care about our special needs each day.

Take time to find God.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 23

Job 40:6-8 6Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm: 7“Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 8“Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

Once Job had finished justifying himself, his three friends said no more. A younger man then spoke up. He told Job the thing that he had done wrong was to justify himself rather than God. The young man, Elihu, insisted that God’s character was unquestionable.

Then God showed up. He had a few questions to ask Job. His questions served one purpose, to show that God is all-knowing and we are not. We can’t question what He allows because we have so few facts. He sees every aspect in the past, present, and future. How dare we question the character of the Almighty who moment by moment gives us life!

If there was a sin in Job’s response to his condition, it was to justify himself and thereby accuse God. In justifying himself, he was saying that God had made a mistake. True, his friends drove him to it, but he yielded to the temptation to make himself look good, and by contrast said that God was doing something wrong. “Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” God asked.

In times of difficulty, when we cannot understand the reason or purpose for the struggle in our lives, we can count on the integrity and justice of God. The one thing we dare not do is say that God is unjust in His dealing with us. Would you discredit His justice? We must proceed in faith, knowing that our understanding is limited and His is infinite.

Remember: God can take it when we question Him. He understands our weakness. Just don’t push it too far, especially as a poor testimony before others. God may question you.

Struggles of conscience

By: Charles Spurgeon

“How many are mine iniquities and sins? Make me to know my transgression and my sin.” Job 13:23

Suggested Further Reading: John 8:21-47

“Tell me how I can feel the need of my Saviour.” The first advice I give you is this: Particularise your sins. Do not say “I am a sinner;” it means nothing; everybody says that. But say this, “Am I a liar? Am I a thief? Am I a drunkard? Have I had impure thoughts? Have I committed unclean acts? Have I in my soul often rebelled against God? Am I often angry without a cause? Have I a bad temper? Am I covetous? Do I love this world better than the world to come? Do I neglect prayer? Do I neglect the great salvation?” Put these questions and you will soon convict yourself much more readily as being a sinner. I have heard of a hypocritical old monk who used to whine out, while he whipped his back as softly as he could, “Lord, I am a great sinner, as big a sinner as Judas;” and when someone said, “Yes that you are—you are like Judas, a vile old hypocrite,” then he would say, “No I am not.” Then he would go on again, “I am a great sinner.” Some one would say, “You are a great sinner, you broke the first commandment;” and then he would say, “No I have not.” Then when he would go on and say, “I am a great sinner,” some one would say, “Yes, you have broken the second commandment,” and he would say, “No I have not;” and the same with the third and the fourth, and so on right through. So it came to pass he had kept the whole ten according to his own account, and yet he went on crying he was a great sinner. The man was a hypocrite, for if he had not broken the commandments, how could he be a sinner at all? You will find it better not to dwell on your sins as a whole, but to pen them, count them over, and look at them individually, one by one.

For meditation: Christ did not die for a theoretical concept of sin, but for actual sins committed by practising sinners (Matthew 1:2126:281 Corinthians 15:3Galatians1:4Hebrews 1:39:281 Peter 2:241 John 2:2Revelation 1:5).

Sermon no. 336

Calm and Quiet

 By: Bob Arbogast , today devotions

Scripture Reading — Psalm 131:1-3

I have calmed and quieted myself. — Psalm 131:2

Stress levels keep rising. At work, at school, even at home, the pressure is on. Productivity targets climb. Housing bubbles burst. Viruses run out of control. Who can calm down? Who can relax?

Well, maybe I can take a cue from Psalm 131 and not concern myself with things above my pay grade. Maybe I can imagine myself as a toddler snuggling against my mother’s warmth, the gentle rhythm of her breathing soothing me. Ahhh. Can I just stay here?

When Jesus was a toddler, he and his family were refugees in Egypt. What a lot they had experienced! Visits by smelly shepherds and stargazing foreigners. A close escape from Herod’s hit squad. And then months turning into years while they lived as strangers in a strange land.

Yet we can imagine Mary picking up Jesus and wrapping him in her arms. And we can imagine Jesus finding comfort from her warmth and her steady breathing. Out of place in Egypt, threatened back home—none of that was a concern for little Jesus, who rested quietly in his mother’s embrace.

The psalm and Jesus himself invite us to snuggle against the warmth of God’s presence, to rest in God’s embrace, to trust God when the pressure is on, to trust God like Jesus trusted his mother’s arms.

Prayer

It can be hard to calm down, Jesus. Too much is too scary and too far beyond me. With hope in God, help me to share a quiet rest with you. Amen.

Enjoy All Your Years

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Enjoy All Our Years

birthday-boy-cake_si.jpg

 

However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. (Ecclesiastes 11:8)

Twenty-six years ago I drove my wife to the emergency room. For the next eight hours we played backgammon while waiting for her condition to improve. It didn’t. The pain became unbearable; they gave her drugs. This helped, but not enough. My parents were in Atlantic City, gambling. Hers in Charlotte. So there we were, a young couple facing our first life or death moment without friends or family nearby.

I forget what I wore that day. A surf shirt, probably. I do recall wearing a white headband with the word “Coach” printed in blue marker. I guess I was a good coach because later that evening she delivered a baby boy, our first.

Birthdays are a big deal in our family. Not as big as Christmas, but close. Birthdays mark our beginnings and suggest we might leave a lasting impression on others. In our family, when it comes to birthdays, nobody does a better job of celebrating our legacy of life than my cousin Ricky.

A typical “Cousin Ricky” birthday box includes a specially mixed CD with songs from the year you were born, DVD movies tailored to your tastes, toys from the Dollar store and candy. Lots and lots of candy. Sometimes the candy has melted by the time the box arrives, but that’s okay. Chocolate in any condition and shape is good.

In the past I’ve received a plastic whistle (with compass) to help ward of bears and keep me from getting lost on the trails above Black Mountain, old Westerns DVDs, several copies of the movie Jaws (in case the player eats one), CDs with music from Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Beach Boys, Beatles, etc… and candy. Lots and lots of candy.

The writer of Ecclesiastes advises us to enjoy all our years – not just those early ones when people were making a fuss over us. Too often we adults discount birthdays and other days and pretend they’re not a big deal. But they are. Every day is huge. If you don’t think so, try living without one.

I wish every family had a Cousin Ricky. I wish I cared about people as much as Ricky. None of us knows how many years we’ll have together; but it seems to me, setting aside one day out of 365 to acknowledge the life of someone we love is a small testimony to their worth.

The Psalmist writes:

“… all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

When it comes to birthdays, “B” in the moment. Inhale the sweet smell of fresh cut grass on a ball field and hear the sequels of laughter on a playground. Taste and see that God is good today and everyday.

The next time a friend or family member has a birthday, give candy and a song from their good old days. The shipping will probably cost more than the gift but that’s okay. It’s the thought that counts.

And thoughts of love and life are priceless.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 22

Job 31:24-25, 28 24“If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’ 25if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained,

28then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high.

Job continued his defense before his friends. He told how he always helped the needy and took good care of his workers. He said that he was consistent to do those things because he had a fear of God. He knew God required it of him, and that he would be judged if he did not. As we look at Job’s defense, few of us can say that our lives come anywhere close to Job’s. Yet the real standard is not Job but Jesus Christ. Thank God for sending His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.

In the passage for today Job says that he did not trust in his great wealth. Jesus told us it was very hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. Job seems to have been one of the few who could be trusted with wealth but not rely on it for security. He recognized that provision came from God. Though he labored to earn income, he knew God is the Provider. How many of us can be just as secure when our bank accounts are bottoming out as when they are bulging? That can only come when we see God is our security regardless of how much we possess.

He did not even rejoice over his wealth. It is one thing to be thankful and another to find joy in something. Our joy should always be the presence of God in our lives. When wealth becomes our reason for rejoicing we are turning it into an idol that takes God’s place. Job said that both trusting in wealth for security and finding your joy in wealth were both sins to be judged. Both are unfaithfulness to God.

Dear reader, pause and consider if wealth has taken God’s place in your heart as the reason you rejoice. Let us guard our hearts so that we are not seduced by wealth to worship another god. In this passage he groups this sin with worship of the sun and moon, other gods. If you have fallen in this area of making wealth a god, confess your sin, and put God back in His rightful place in your heart. See that He alone is your security and your greatest joy.

Repentance unto life

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Acts 11:18

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 3:1-14

Can they be sincerely penitent, and then go and transgress again immediately, in the same way as they did before? How can we believe you if you transgress again and again, and do not forsake your sin? We know a tree by its fruit; and you who are penitent will bring forth works of repentance. I have often thought it was a very beautiful instance, showing the power of penitence which a pious minister once related. He had been preaching on penitence, and had in the course of his sermon spoken of the sin of stealing. On his way home a labourer came alongside of him, and the minister observed that he had something under his smock-frock. He told him he need not accompany him farther; but the man persisted. At last he said, “I have a spade under my arm which I stole up at that farm; I heard you preaching about the sin of stealing, and I must go and put it there again.” That was sincere penitence which caused him to go back and replace the stolen article. It was like those South Sea Islanders, of whom we read, who stole the missionaries’ articles of apparel and furniture, and everything out of their houses; but when they were savingly converted they brought them all back. But many of you say you repent, yet nothing comes of it; it is not worth the snap of the finger. People sincerely repent, they say, that they should have committed a robbery, or that they have kept a gambling-house; but they are very careful that all the proceeds shall be laid out to their hearts’ best comfort. True repentance will yield “works meet for repentance;” it will be practical repentance. Yet farther. You may know whether your repentance is practical by this test. Does it last or does it not?

For meditation: As with faith, repentance without works is dead. Jesus could tell that the repentance of Zacchaeus was practical and real (Luke 19:8-9).

Impacting Lives

by Inspiration Ministries

“The witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’” – Acts 7:58-60 NASB

When he arrived in America in December 1891, Samuel Morris did not know anyone. He had journeyed across the Atlantic from his native Africa, driven to grow in his faith and particularly to meet Pastor Stephen Merritt. On the day he arrived, through miraculous circumstances, he met Merritt, telling him, “I have just come from Africa to talk to you about the Holy Ghost!”

Although just nineteen, Samuel had the right priorities. He had given up everything to grow closer to God. That first night in America, he led 17 men to the Lord at a prayer meeting.

Trusting totally in God, he enrolled in Taylor University, where he made a dramatic impact. Lives were transformed by his faith, his hunger for the Word, and his prayers, which he called “talking to my Father.”

In May 1893, Samuel died after contracting a severe cold. He was only twenty-one. Although his life was brief, he touched countless people. Inspired by his dream of returning to Africa, many students became missionaries. Others experienced life-changing transformations.

The Taylor University president described Morris as “a divinely sent messenger of God,” sharing how he moved others with his “simple faith in God.”

The Bible describes how Stephen, another young man, also died at a young age. Yet he left an example that changed the life of Saul of Tarsus and others. Remember, God can use you. Hunger for His presence. Be ready to serve Him.