Monthly Archives: April 2022

Troublesome Times, Yet No Fear

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Fear Not: Bible Verses and Tools to Overcome Your Fear - Kristi WoodsFear Not! 33 Verses about Fear and Anxiety to Remind Us God is in Control
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Troublesome Times, Yet No Fear

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Lina Johnson – Prayer Center Coach

Have you been watching the news? There is no doubt the times we live in are troublesome. It can be shocking what people will do to one another.

Then there are the natural disasters. One comes and, before the people can recover, another one strikes somewhere else.

It can all be overwhelming. However, God is not overwhelmed, nor is He surprised!

Luke 21:8-19 is a great reminder that God is all-knowing. Jesus prophesies as to what is to come. It is not all good news. It certainly was not what the disciples hoped to hear. However, it does end in a glorious promise in verses 18 and 19:

But not a hair of your head will perish! By standing firm, you will win your souls. (NLT)

How marvelous God is! Jesus not only warns us what is to come, He also shares the hope that through Him we can overcome!

God has faithfully told us our options and their consequences from the beginning. In Genesis 2:16-17 He told Adam:

But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

God knew Adam would fail. He knows we will sometimes fail. However, we do not need to fear, because God always has a plan. Revelation 13:8 tells us Jesus was the plan from the beginning:

… the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made.

God knew Jesus would need to come and die on a cross to make things right. We have no need to fear. God has a plan, He is for us, and He loves us.

First John 4:18 informs us about God’s love casting out fear.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

God’s love is perfect and no matter what we face, or how crazy this world gets, His love is always there for us, to rescue us. Romans 8:35-39 states it this way:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We, therefore, have hope and confidence in our God. Do not let the events around you, or even those in your life, cause you to fear. Trust in the Lord for He is good.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

April 30

Joshua 22:7b-8 7b When Joshua sent them home, he blessed them, 8saying, “Return to your homes with your great wealth–with large herds of livestock, with silver, gold, bronze and iron, and a great quantity of clothing–and divide with your brothers the plunder from your enemies.”

The tribes of Gad, Rueben, and half of Manasseh had done their duty. They stayed more than five extra years fighting alongside their brothers to secure a place for them. Because of their integrity in keeping their word they were rewarded with their portion of the spoils from the enemies. They were not going back empty handed.

Those that stayed behind to watch out for their territory and protect the women and children were to receive their share of the spoils of war. They hadn’t risked their lives to capture in battle, but they did do the job assigned to them. I imagine the homes these men returned to were in much better shape because of those who stayed behind.

Not everyone is called to go out on the field and win the masses. We are all called to be witnesses. We are all called to be servants. Some are called to stay by the stuff and keep the home fires burning. Will they receive any less than those who risked their lives for the sake of the Gospel? Not if that was their calling. If they were obedient to God where they were, they will share in the spoils of war. They will receive their portion. It is not the role you fill but your faithfulness in doing what you are called to do. Remember, Christ says, “Well done good and FAITHFUL servant.

Consider: Do I recognize the victory belongs to all God’s faithful servants?

Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle: 365 Sermons

By: Charles Spurgeon

Justification and glory

‘Whom he justified, them he also glorified.’ Romans 8:30

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 21:22–22:5

If I might very hastily divide this glory into its constituent elements, I think I should say it means perfect rest. ‘There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God;’ life in its fullest sense; life with emphasis; eternal life; nearness to God; closeness to the divine heart; a sense of his love shed abroad in all its fulness; likeness to Christ; fulness of communion with him; abundance of the Spirit of God, being filled with all the fulness of God; an excess of joy; a perpetual influx of delight; perfection of holiness; no stain nor thought of sin; perfect submission to the divine will; a delight and acquiescence in, and conformity to that will; absorption as it were into God, the creature still the creature, but filled with the Creator to the brim; serenity caused by a sense of safety; continuance of heavenly service; an intense satisfaction in serving God day and night; bliss in the society of perfect spirits and glorified angels; delight in the retrospect of the past, delight in the enjoyment of the present, and in the prospect of the future; something ever new and evermore the same; a delightful variety of satisfaction, and a heavenly sameness of delight; clear knowledge; absence of all clouds; ripeness of understanding; excellence of judgment; and, above all, an intense vigour of heart, and the whole of the heart set upon him whom our eye shall see to be altogether lovely! I have looked at the crests of a few of the waves as I see them breaking over the sea of immortality. I have tried to give you the names of a few of the peaks of the long alpine range of glory. But where are my words, and where are my thoughts? ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’

For meditation: We cannot comprehend the glory of our Christian inheritance (1 Corinthians 13:121 John 3:2), which is the opposite of what we deserve as those who ‘have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). Are you ‘justified by faith’ in the Lord Jesus Christ and able to ‘rejoice in hope of the glory of God’ (Romans 5:1–2)?

What’s Next?

Douglas MacLeod,   Today Devotions,

SCRIPTURE READING — MARK 16:6-8

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

 Mark 16:8

These final sentences in Mark 16 have left a lot of people puzzled. (Though some Bibles include more verses, those are not included in the earliest manuscripts.) We might wonder if maybe Mark misplaced the last page of his book or if it later got lost. The ending seems hasty and even gloomy. We’d expect the women to be happy and eager to spread the news of Jesus’ rising. But instead they are silent and afraid.

As noted earlier this month, we can be thankful that many other Bible passages help to explain the resurrection. And the books of Matthew, Luke, and John share other details of what happened next and how others met the risen Jesus that day and in the weeks ahead.

In blunt honesty, though, Mark describes the reality of that day: the resurrection of Jesus was so alarming that it brought disorientation and fear. This also shows that the women did not yet have the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1-2).

Instead of leaving us thrilled, Mark’s account challenges us to search out the rest of the story and to figure out how God calls us to respond to the risen Jesus. The resurrection has set in motion a new chapter that is still being told, still unfolding. And we enter into the story ourselves as we listen and follow where Jesus leads next.

How has Easter and the risen Lord affected your life?

Jesus Is Alive And Not Dead

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God of the Living and not the Dead

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John Struzzo – Prayer Center Assistant Coach/Recruiter, cbn.com

I am so glad that Jesus tells us:

“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Luke 20:38 (NIV).

This verse brings comfort to me knowing that all of us who live and die in Christ are alive forevermore with Him. This has special meaning to me since my mom died about a year-and-a-half ago from COVID-19. She was a woman of great faith and believed in Jesus. She is not dead but is truly alive with Christ.

Soon after my mom’s passing, my dad also passed away. Yet, he is not dead; he asked Jesus into his life and to forgive him for his sins. I had the privilege of leading my dad to Christ many years before his passing, and he is also alive with Christ.

I believe the Lord has given me a picture of them together with the greatest smiles you can imagine. They are in the care of the Lord Himself—safe in His hands. I look forward to the day I will see them again.

I am so thankful to Jesus for His giving my mom and dad eternal life. This eternal life is made absolutely clear in this very familiar verse:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

I would not want to be separated for one second from Jesus, and I can’t even imagine life without a relationship with Him. Jesus is clear that we have the freedom to accept or reject Him—in both life and death:

“I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8:24

My heart’s desire and prayer for all is that we believe that Jesus is the one He claims to be, and so we will not die our sins. Jesus says that our new birth is a spiritual birth. By believing in Jesus who is the Savior of the world, we are born again. The Holy Spirit Himself guarantees our:

Inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:14.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

April 29

Joshua 21:44-45 44The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. 45Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

In the eyes of the people God had provided everything He had promised. He had given them rest from their enemies. He fought for them and gave them victory. Is it any different for us today? Will the LORD fight your battles for you and keep all His promises to you? Absolutely! You can count on it. It may not always be in the way you imagine or be easy. Battles are good for us.

In the history of Israel, this period seems to be their most faithful period. These years of battles and victories seem to have the least amount of compromise and murmuring. Does that tell us anything? We wonder why life seems to be so full of struggle. Perhaps we would be worse off if we had no battles before us to keep us on our knees, asking for God’s help.

We often wonder if we will ever see the end of conflict, a time when the battles are over, and we can rest. Yes, it is coming. The LORD will give us rest, but not in this life. Oh, you will have breaks between battles, but we need the battles to grow and move forward. We need to keep taking the land as long as we are here. When there was no outer enemy to fight, Israel’s history showed that they turned inward and lost the battles with idolatry and discontentment. Thank God for battles. Keep taking the land. In God’s time you will have rest.

Streams in the Desert – April 29

  • 202229 Apr

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are (James 5:17).

Thank God for that! He got under a juniper tree, as you and I have often done; he complained and murmured, as we have often done; was unbelieving, as we have often been. But that was not the case when he really got into touch with God. Though “a man subject to like passions as we are,” “he prayed praying.”  It is sublime in the original–not “earnestly,” but “he prayed in prayer.” He kept on praying. What is the lesson here? You must keep praying.

Come up on the top of Carmel, and see that remarkable parable of Faith and Sight. It was not the descent of the fire that now was necessary, but the descent of the flood; and the man that can command the fire can command the flood by the same means and methods. We are told that he bowed himself to the ground with his face between his knees; that is, shutting out all sights and sounds. He was putting himself in a position where, beneath his mantle, he could neither see nor hear what was going forward.

He said to his servant, “Go and take an observation.” He went and came back, and said–how sublimely brief! one  word–“Nothing!”

What do we do under such circumstances?

We say, “It is just as I expected!” and we give up praying. Did Elijah? No, he said, “Go again.” His servant again came back and said, “Nothing!” “Go again.” “Nothing!”

By and by he came back, and said, “There is a little cloud like a man’s hand.” A man’s hand had been raised in supplication, and presently down came the rain; and Ahab had not time to get back to the gate of Samaria with all his fast steeds. This is a parable of Faith and Sight–faith shutting itself up with God; sight taking observations and seeing nothing; faith going right on, and “praying in prayer,” with utterly hopeless reports from sight.

Do you know how to pray that way, how to pray prevailingly? Let sight give as discouraging reports as it may, but pay no attention to these. The living God is still in the heavens and even to delay is part of His goodness.
Arthur T. Pierson

Each of three boys gave a definition of faith which is an illustration of the tenacity of faith. The first boy said, “It is taking hold of Christ”; the second, “Keeping hold”; and the third, “Not letting go.”

King of My Life

by Inspiration Ministries

“On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.'” – Revelation 19:16 NASB

Jennie Hussey grew up in New Hampshire. There, she dedicated much of her life to caring for her sister who was an invalid. In her free time, Jennie liked to write poems about her faith and the difference Jesus had made. In 1921, she wrote a poem that told of how she had surrendered her life to serve Him.

She realized that Jesus set an example by being a servant and dying for our sins. She wrote, “King of my life, I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be; lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow, lead me to Calvary.”

She expressed what Jesus went through for her. She wrote about her desire to see the tomb where Jesus had been buried. And she realized that she needed to take up her cross daily and follow Him.

She prayed, “May I be willing, Lord, to bear daily my cross for Thee; even Thy cup of grief to share, Thou hast borne all for me.” Everything in life pointed to what Jesus had done for her: “Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget Thine agony; lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.”

Remember what Jesus has done for you. Some day, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. Crown Him the King of your life. Commit everything to Him. He is “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Pray in Faith, Trusting God’s Promises

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Pray in Faith, Trusting God’s Promises

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Gordon Robertson – President and CEO, CBN

When we look at the world through eyes of faith, we see things differently. As Romans 1:17 says,

The righteous shall live by faith (ESV).

We don’t earn our way to heaven; we simply believe God—even when that faith is tested.

Abraham’s faith was tested at the moment of the promise. God told him,

“Count the stars …So shall your descendants be” (Genesis 15:5).

Despite having no heir, how did Abraham respond?

And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (v. 6).

Abraham’s faith was rewarded with the birth of his son Isaac. And the same faith Abraham had as he looked at the stars and believed God was also conveyed to his servant Eliezer.

In all likelihood, Eliezer was an idol worshipper purchased by Abraham in Damascus on the way to the Promised Land. Yet there was something special about him. Not only did he become the chief steward over Abraham’s entire household; he was also entrusted with finding a wife for his master’s son—a nearly impossible task.

He was sent to a land he didn’t know, to a people he hadn’t met, with the sacred trust of finding a bride for Isaac, who couldn’t go. Yet Eliezer must have known he could completely trust God because Abraham’s life showed that God would not fail.

The servant obediently made the long journey. He arrived with the camels, the jewelry, and the dowry money—but he didn’t know who it was for. So he prayed,

“O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham” (Genesis 24:12)

Notice how he specifically asked for success on behalf of his master. When we pray, we ask for success—but for whose sake? If it’s for “me, myself and I,” that’s the wrong trinity.

In his prayer, Eliezer had an amazing revelation. He prayed that the girl who offered to water his camels would be the one he was seeking. Indeed, the young woman who watered his camels was Abraham’s relative Rebekah. Eliezer believed God, and the answer was revealed.

So when you pray, do you have confidence that God will answer? Are you fully persuaded? Do you believe Him? That belief will be credited to you as righteousness.

The Lord has tasked all of us with evangelizing the world. When we believe God, we take Him at His word and say, “He is able.” We pray for success—not for our own sake, but for the sake of those who have never heard the Gospel. And when we impart faith to others, they are empowered to step out in faith and trust Him for the journey ahead. God bless you!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

April 28

Joshua 14:13-14 13Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.

Caleb reminisced with Joshua about spying out the Promised Land some forty-five years earlier. He reminded Joshua about how faithful he was to report that they could take the land because of his godly convictions. Then he reminded Joshua about the promise Moses had made to him. He could have whatever land he walked on. Caleb picked the Hebron area. There were still fortified cities with giants in them, but Caleb knew the LORD was with him. He felt as strong at eighty-five-years old as he did at forty.

Joshua blessed Caleb and honored Moses’ promise, because Caleb wholeheartedly followed the God of Israel. It sounds like Caleb was going to take the area with his own clan, without the assistance of the other tribes. What a guy! Eighty-five-years-old and he’s ready to take on giants and start a new homestead.

What was Caleb’s secret? He wholeheartedly followed the God of Israel. He stuck with his convictions despite what the majority said. He did not fear but recognized the hand of God was with him, no rationalization, no justification, just convictions backed up by action.

Do you have a spirit like Caleb’s? Why or why not? He wasn’t born with it. It was instilled in him because he was willing to believe God.

Meditation: The LORD rewards those who follow Him with their whole heart.

An Imperishable Body

  1 CORINTHIANS 15:42-44

With the resurrection of the dead . . . the body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable. . . .

A curious by-product of all the precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic was that colds and flu didn’t spread as much as in earlier years. With more people staying home, those common diseases couldn’t spread so widely. Even so, many, many people got sick with COVID-19, and many of us know someone who died from it.

Ultimately the final answer to our physical struggles—such as pain, sickness, brokenness, death, body-image issues, and more—will be realized in the resurrection. Our present bodies are perishable, imperfect, weak, and limited—but because of Jesus, all who believe in him will one day be raised to a new capacity as imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual.

In the book of Revelation we read that when Jesus comes again, there will be no more death or mourning or pain or tears, and the tree of life will grow by the river of the water of life (Revelation 21-22). Amazing!

All of these things will be good for us, and we will enjoy life to the full—but really the main point in all this is to give greater glory to God. The resurrection of Jesus, which brings the promise of our own resurrection, shows us what God is doing to make all things new again so that all things, our bodies included, can more wonderfully declare the glory of God!

Pursuing the Lord

Seeking God isn’t about following rules; it’s about enjoying His presence.

April 28, 2022

Psalm 119:1-8

We all have ambitions and desires, but as believers, we should weigh them against God’s Word. As important as our earthly pursuits, responsibilities, and relationships may be, they cannot compare to the value of a life spent seeking our heavenly Father.

What does it mean to seek God? The phrase describes a wholehearted effort to know the Father and follow Him more closely. Those who pursue this kind of fellowship with God are determined to spend time with Him. They also want to forsake anything that could hinder growth in their relationship with the Lord. God’s committed followers claim His promises and trust Him to fulfill His Word. Their experiences with the Lord bring amazing satisfaction yet cause them to hunger for more of Him.

The Christian life is meant to be an ongoing pursuit of God. To walk through the door of salvation and stand still, without drawing any closer to Him, is to miss the treasures that are available in Christ. Those who seek the Lord soon discover that knowing Him is the greatest reward of all.

Don’t Let the Rock Cry Louder

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Don’t Let the Rock Cry Louder

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Nia Taylor, cbn.com

The Gospel of Luke tells us:

“When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

“I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:37-40 (NIV)

There are times when I feel numb, and it is so hard to even cry out to you. It is like the devil has a hold of my tongue.

I know the Lord has authority over situations that bring me down because if I use my language, I can speak my way out of it. My praise is my power, and when my strength is dim, I have to increase my praise even if I have to force my flesh to cry out. Listening to music helps, reading psalms helps, opening my mouth and singing whatever song on my heart helps, and singing songs specific to my situation helps. I will not let the Pharisees or the negative people in my life stop my praise or speak against my circumstances. I won’t let them silence me, so you should not let them silence you. Don’t let the devil’s negative thoughts stop your praise even when you are in a dry place. Use your mouth and cry out unto the Lord.

God’s words have the power to raise people from the dead; your words have the power to praise you out of a bad situation. God is worth our praise! There is nothing He won’t do for you. Let us shout and receive Him in every moment, good or bad. We should trust that the Lord hears our cries, shouts, praise, and song. He loves to listen to our voices. Let our voices be heard here and in the heavenly realms!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

April 27

Joshua 10:12-13 12On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: “O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” 13So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.

Kings of the land gathered to attack the Hivites who had made peace with Israel. Joshua was a man of integrity. He honored the treaty with the Hivites even though it had been made through deceit. The LORD encouraged Joshua to attack the kings and not be afraid. God even caused hailstones to take out the fleeing armies of the kings.

There were so many soldiers in confusion that Joshua asked God to give him more time. God answered that prayer by almost doubling the hours in that day. This was not a natural phenomenon, and it cannot be explained. It was miraculous. It was God doing what He had promised to do.

It was not as though the Israelites had been perfect. This whole battle was due to failure to consult the LORD. But their heart was right with God. They recognized their mistake and were obedient. This time God’s instruction was to go and defeat the enemy. God took a bad situation and used it to give them a one-day victory over five kings, expediting their victory over the land.

Because you made a mistake in the past that has consequences today does not mean the LORD can’t use it for your good. Listen to Him today. Obey Him today and watch what looks like a problem turn to a blessing when God fights for you.

Consider: If your heart is right with God, He can even turn mistakes into victories.

Streams in the Desert – April 27

  • 202227 Apr

And the one who lives! I was dead, but look, now I am alive – forever and ever – and I hold the keys of death and of Hades! (Rev 1:18)

Flower! Easter lilies! Speak to me this morning the same dear old lesson of immortality which you have been speaking to so many sorrowing souls.

Wise old Book! let me read again in your pages of firm assurance that to die is gain.

Poets! recite to me your verses which repeat in every line the Gospel of eternal life.

Singers! break forth once more into songs of joy; let me hear again the well-known resurrection psalms.

Tree and blossom and bird and sea and sky and wind whisper it, sound it afresh, warble it, echo it, let it throb and pulsate through every atom and particle; let the air be filled with it.

Let it be told and retold and still retold until hope rises to conviction, and conviction to certitude of knowledge; until we, like Paul, even though going to our death, go with triumphant mien, with assured faith, and with serene and shining face.

If Christ were dead there would be need to sorrow,
But He has risen and vanquished death for aye;
Hush, then your sighs, if only till the morrow,
At Easter give your grief a holiday.
—May Riley Smith

A well-known minister was in his study writing an Easter sermon when the thought gripped him that his Lord was living. He jumped up excitedly and paced the floor repeating to himself, “Why Christ is alive, His ashes are warm, He is not the great ’I was,’ He is the great ’I am.’” He is not only a fact, but a living fact. Glorious truth of Easter Day!

We believe that out of every grave there blooms an Easter lily, and in every tomb there sits an angel. We believe in a risen Lord. Turn not your faces to the past that we may worship only at His grave, but above and within that we may worship the Christ that lives. And because He lives, we shall live also.
—Abbott

Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle: 365 Sermons

Duration: 365 days

The Lord’s care of His people

‘He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye.’ Zechariah 2:8

Suggested Further Reading: Ecclesiastes 8:10–14

I am not one of those who look upon everything that happens in this world as being a judgment from God. If a boat goes down to the bottom of the sea on a Sunday, I do not look upon that as a judgment on those who are in it, any more than if it had gone to the bottom on a Monday; and though many good people get frightened when they hear one affirm this doctrine, yet I cannot help their frights, but like my Master I must tell them that they who perish so are not sinners above all the sinners that be in Jerusalem. I looked the other day at Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and I saw there an illustration of that deeply-rooted mistake of Christian people, concerning God’s always punishing men’s sins in this life. Foxe draws a picture of a Popish priest who is insulting the faith, speaking lightly of the blood of Jesus, and exalting Mary, and he drops down dead in the pulpit; and Foxe holds him up as a picture of a great sinner who dropped down dead for speaking lightly of Jesus, and the good man affirms the wicked priest’s death to be a judgment from heaven. Well, perhaps Foxe is correct, but still I do not see the connection between his dropping down dead and the language he employed, for many a preacher who has been exalting Christ has fallen down dead in the pulpit; and happy was it for such a man that he was engaged in minding his charge at the time. The fact is, providence smites good men and bad men too; and when the storm rages, and the hurricane howls through the forest, not only are the brambles and briars shaken and uprooted, but goodly oaks crack and break too. We are not to look for God’s judgments, except in special cases, in this life. This judgment is in the world to come.

For meditation: Beware of jumping to false conclusions. The apostle Paul was the frequent victim not only of persecution (2 Corinthians 11:23–25), but also of natural accidents (2 Corinthians 11:25–27). The latter were not inconsistent with him being in the centre of God’s will (Acts 27:21–26).

The Perverse Generation

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The Perverse Generation

Today's Verse - John 8:12 (KJV) - Emmanuel Baptist Church

Sarah Phillips, Crosswalk.com

“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?” Luke 9:41

There is much written today about how the world has lost touch with God and morality. It’s easy to view the past with rose-tinted glasses, to believe in “the good old days” or reminisce about a golden era.  We do this in the Church all the time, often pointing to one practice that, if resurrected, would surely turn this generation around.

“If only the women still wore head coverings in church… ”

“If only we sang ancient hymns… ”

“If only young men and women got married earlier… ”

Don’t read me wrong here… these issues are important. But the stark reality is, every generation has fallen short of God’s glory. Every generation has sinned. Does this sound familiar?

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

How often have I been tempted to mutter these words when encountering today’s teenagers? But this quote is attributed to Socrates by Plato. Apparently, teens weren’t doing so well in the ancient world either. The fallen nature of man has followed us through the ages, plaguing the youth and old alike. Our broken nature manifests itself in so many ways… from the darkest sins to our lack of basic manners and courtesy.

Jesus himself seemed to grow weary of the sins of his own day. I imagine the openinscripture was expressed with a mix of sadness and righteous anger.

But what is the rest of the story? Even as his sinful followers surrounded him, Jesus healed the spiritual and physical afflictions of a possessed boy. We see here that going back to the “good old days” doesn’t have the power to save us. It’s the person of Jesus Christ who saves. This is the miracle of Easter: The incredible mercy of a God who would be justified in staying angry forever after the golden era of Eden went terribly wrong. He hears our cries for redemption – weak though they may be – and saves us.

Is the world worse today than it was yesterday? Does it matter? God’s patience and mercy for our “perverse and unbelieving generation” reveal the depths of his divine love. And those forgiven the most sins have the greatest number of reasons to rejoice.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

April 26

Joshua 9:14-15 14The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD. 15Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.

After Israel conquered Ai, the Hivites that occupied nearby towns concocted a deception to save their lives. They sent a group of men that pretended they had come on a long journey. They had bags of moldy bread and looked travel weary.

They were really the next towns that Israel would battle. The leaders of Israel saw the dry wineskins, the patched sandals, and the worn bags with moldy bread and believed their story. Besides, it was kind of uplifting to hear how people in far off lands had heard the testimony of what God was doing for them. Great testimony wasn’t it?

They ate together and made a treaty with these deceivers. They had believed what their eyes had seen instead of consulting with the LORD. Now there was nothing they could do but put those people to work serving Israel. They could not take their lands as God had purposed.

Satan is the Great Deceiver. He often brings in subtle lies that make you feel good about yourself. It may even look like it is giving glory to God. We must consult the LORD. We must ask God to lead and not be led by our natural senses. We are easily tricked, but God is never deceived. He will always give us the best advice. Our failure to do so may not be a total loss, but it is not the highest and best that God had planned for us. Consult God in His Word, in prayer, with godly counsel, and walk by faith not by sight.

Consider: Am I trusting God, or my senses?

Streams In The Desert – April 26

  • 202226 Apr

April 26

An Hour In The Garden

“He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when evening was come, he was there alone” (Matt. 14:23).

The man Christ Jesus felt the need of perfect solitude — Himself alone, entirely by Himself, alone with Himself. We know how much intercourse with men draws us away from ourselves and exhausts our powers. The man Christ Jesus knew this, too, and felt the need of being by Himself again, of gathering all His powers, of realizing fully His high destiny, His human weakness, His entire dependence on the Father.

How much more does the child of God need this–himself alone with spiritual realities, himself alone with God the Father. If ever there were one who could dispense with special seasons for solitude and fellowship, it was our Lord. But He could not do His work or maintain His fellowship in full power, without His quiet time.

Would God that every servant of His understood and practiced this blessed art, and that the Church knew how to train its children into some sense of this high and holy privilege, that every believer may and must have his time when he is indeed himself alone with God. Oh, the thought to have God all alone to myself, and to know that God has me all alone to Himself!
–Andrew Murray

***

Lamertine speaks in one of his books of a secluded walk in his garden where his mother always spent a certain hour of the day, upon which nobody ever dreamed for a moment of intruding. It was the holy garden of the Lord to her. Poor souls that have no such Beulah land! Seek thy private chamber, Jesus says. It is in the solitude that we catch the mystic notes that issue from the soul of things.

A MEDITATION

My soul, practice being alone with Christ! It is written that when they were alone He expounded all things to His disciples. Do not wonder at the saying; it is true to thine experience. If thou wouldst understand thyself send the multitude away. Let them go out one by one till thou art left alone with Jesus. . . . Has thou ever pictured thyself the one remaining creature in the earth, the one remaining creature in all the starry worlds?

In such a universe thine every thought would be “God and I! God and I!” And yet He is as near to thee as that–as near as if in the boundless spaces there throbbed no heart but His and thine. Practice that solitude, O my soul! Practice the expulsion of the crowd! Practice the stillness of thine own heart! Practice the solemn refrain “God and I! God and I!” Let none interpose between thee and thy wrestling angel! Thou shalt be both condemned and pardoned when thou shalt meet Jesus alone!
–George Matheson

God’s Purpose in Our Hardships

We may not always perceive God’s presence during hardship, but He promised He’ll always be with us.

Genesis 37

We all go through difficult seasons. When we’re hurting but see no relief for the future, what can we be sure of?

God is with us in our troubles. He gives us what we need—whether it’s His love and strength, a sense of security, or the knowledge that we are not alone. Jesus knows what it’s like to suffer, be rejected, and lose a loved one. He comprehends the temptations and obstacles we face. What’s more, He carries our burdens (Psalm 68:19) and offers peace for our hurting heart. The God who walks with us is not limited by anything (Matthew 19:26), so there’s no reason be afraid.

God has a purpose for allowing hard times. In the book of Genesis, Joseph could not see God’s intentions when his brothers were plotting against him—and neither will we, most of the time. But Joseph knew the Lord’s character and trusted Him through the many trials that came his way. And Joseph’s faith was rewarded when he ultimately rescued his family (Genesis 45:1-8).

We are called to live a life of faith. That means we are to believe God’s promises even if our circumstances confound us. When troubles surround you, remember what is true: God will never desert you nor abandon you (Hebrews 13:5), and His good purposes will always be accomplished (Isaiah 14:27).

 

Rewards for Following Jesus

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Rewards for Following Jesus

Quotes About Heavenly Rewards. QuotesGram
John Struzzo – Prayer Center Assistant Coach/Recruiter

As a believer in Christ, the greatest reward is having a relationship with Jesus! I am so eternally grateful for this relationship which I enjoy, but it’s not all that God has given me. In Luke 18:29-30, Jesus says:

“No one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life” (NIV).

I can’t help but think of all the fellow believers God has put in my path who have been blessings to me. I have been able to bless others as well. I am thinking of one believer who has gone out of his way to pour encouragement in to my life. We used to work together, but God called him to a new assignment in a different state. He still prays for me and reaches out to me by text every Sunday to encourage me, share Scriptures and let me know he is praying for me. He is a true gift from the Lord, and I have benefitted from this relationship by being willing to follow Jesus!

My life has been enhanced and blessed by having such relationships in my life. And they will never end because I will be with these believers in Heaven. Thankfully, following Jesus leads to the ultimate destination of eternal life in Heaven with Him. I so look forward to that time. Apostle Paul looked forward to that time as well when he said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

God has been so good to me, and He has been my provider. He even let me know that He was my provider when I was wondering why I had not made as much money as I thought I should be making as a real estate agent, and why I had not been more successful. God clearly let me know that if He wanted to give me more houses to sell that He could do it. I received that message knowing that ultimately God is my provider.

For believers, let me encourage you to realize and count all the blessings you have in life that God has given you: you are part of the family of God and you get to go to Heaven and have eternal life with Christ and all other fellow believers. If you are not a believer, let me encourage you to become one so that you may also enter in to eternal life with Him and to be a part of the family of God here on earth and in the age to come!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

April 25

Joshua 7:1a, 4-5a 1But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things… 4So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5awho killed about thirty-six of them.

Everything in Jericho belonged to the LORD. He gave the victory, and as a sign of faith that the LORD would deliver the rest of their enemies into their hands, they were to give everything to God. One man, Achan, kept some of the spoils of war. He buried them under his tent. He must have thought that no one would ever know the difference.

When Israel went to the next battle, they chose a small city named Ai. They sent just 3,000 soldiers, for they thought the size of the city would warrant no more than that. To their surprise they were defeated and lost 36 men. Why? After such a miraculous victory over a much larger city, what went wrong?

Joshua fell on his face and cried out to God. God told him to get up and deal with the sin of Israel. There is a principle here that relates to us today. Because God is holy, He does not bless hidden sin. He cannot overlook rebellion. Achan was just one man, but he held up the whole nation. His actions indirectly caused the death of those 36 men. God said Israel had sinned, when in fact it was one man. Until that sin was dealt with, God would not bless their actions.

The same can be true in our life. We cannot be act in rebellion in any way and still have the blessing of God. It is true for our families, for our churches, our cities, and our nation. We need to allow God to expose the sin, so that we can forsake it, find forgiveness, and be blessed. 13He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Consider: Have I done something that would stop the blessing of God?

Streams In the Desert – April 25

  • 202225 Apr

And there was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre (Matt. 27:61).

How strangely stupid is grief. It neither learns nor knows nor wishes to learn or know. When the sor rowing sisters sat over against the door of God’s  sepulchre, did they see the two thousand years that have passed triumphing away? Did they see any thing but this: “Our Christ is gone!”

Your Christ and my Christ came from their loss; Myriad mourning hearts have had resurrection in the midst of their grief; and yet the sorrowing watchers looked at the seed-form of this result, and saw nothing. What they regarded as the end of life was the very preparation for coronation; for Christ was silent that He might live again in tenfold power.

They saw it not. They mourned, they wept, and went away, and came again, driven by their hearts to the sepulchre. Still it was a sepulchre, unprophetic, voiceless, lusterless.

So with us. Every man sits over against the sepulchre in his garden, in the first instance, and says, “This woe is irremediable. I see no benefit in it. I will take no comfort in it.” And yet, right in our deepest and worst mishaps, often, our Christ is lying, waiting for resurrection.

Where our death seems to be, there our Saviour is. Where the end of hope is, there is the brightest beginning of fruition. Where the darkness is thickest, there the bright beaming light that never is set is about to emerge. When the whole experience is consummated, then we find that a garden is not disfigured by a sepulchre.

Our joys are made better if there be sorrow in the midst of them. And our sorrows are made bright by the joys that God has planted around about them. The flowers may not be pleasing to us, they may not be such as we are fond of plucking, but they are heart-flowers, love, hope, faith, joy, peace–these are flowers which are planted around about every grave that is sunk in the Christian heart.

Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel

By: Charles Spurgeon

The cry of the heathen

“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over unto Macedonia, and help us.” Acts 16:9

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

There is no fear of any one becoming improvidently liberal. You need not be frightened that anyone here will give a thousand pounds this morning. We provide ample accommodation for those who feel inclined to do so. If anyone should be overtaken with such an enormous fit of generosity, we will register and remember it. But I fear there are no people like Barnabas now. Barnabas brought all he had, and put it into the treasury. “My dear friend, do not do that; do not be so rash.” Ah! he will not do that; there is no necessity for you to advise him. But I do say again, if Christianity were truly in our hearts; if we were what we professed to be; the men of generosity whom we meet with now and hold up as very paragons and patterns would cease to be wonders, for they would be as plentiful as leaves upon the trees. We demand of no man that he should beggar himself; but we do demand of every man who makes a profession that he is a Christian, that he should give his fair proportion, and not be content with giving as much to the cause of God as his own servant. We must have it that the man who is rich must give richly. We know the widow’s mite is precious, but the widow’s mite has been an enormously great loss to us. That widow’s mite has lost Jesus Christ many a thousand pounds. It is a very good thing in itself; but people with thousands a year talk of giving a widow’s mite. What a wicked application of what never can apply to them. No; in our proportion we must serve our God.

For meditation: We are instructed to give in proportion (2 Corinthians 8:12), in pleasure (2 Corinthians 9:7) and in privacy (Matthew 6:2-4). How do you calculate how much you should be giving to God’s work each week? In prayer?

Following Christ

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Following Christ

following Christ

 

John Struzzo – Prayer Center Assistant Coach/Recruiter

I know what it is like to follow Christ. When we follow Him, we show that we trust Him and believe He will provide for us and fulfill His promises.

I know a thing or two about following Christ. Regarding my wedding and marriage, God let me know that the lady I was dating was someone He had in mind for me. He even let me know when we would be married and who He wanted as the pastor to marry us.  I am so glad we followed Christ’s lead because I had the peace of knowing that God was for this marriage. Beyond having this peace, by following Christ we were able to experience the fruit of following Christ—the pastor at our wedding shared the Gospel during the ceremony and we believe that at least one person accepted the Lord Jesus into her life that day.

I also experienced what it is like to follow Christ when I went back to school to get a Master of Divinity degree at Regent University. God let me know this was the school He had in mind for me. Although it was not revealed at first when this would happen, it did happen after about 28 years of waiting. I tried to go a year before God wanted me to go, but I didn’t have God’s peace. So, I decided to wait. The following year things seemed to fall into place for me and my wife to go. And we had peace about moving forward. We had to get rid of enough of our belongings (except for two items we sent ahead of us by mail) to be able to travel across country in our car. It turned out well because we were doing what Jesus tells us to do: let go of what we are holding onto here on earth to put Him first and follow Him (Luke 18:22).

We learned about trusting in the Lord and how God makes our paths straight in a very real way. It brought to life my favorite Scriptures in the Bible, Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV).

We were completely dependent upon God to provide everything.

Thankfully, going to Regent was what He wanted, so He had everything prepared for us. Just like He has prepared for you. We just need to move forward in faith and follow Christ. And when we move in faith, God will move on our behalf to provide everything we need to serve Him. How true is the Scripture:

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Today’s Devotions

Morning

April 24

Joshua 6:16-17 16The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city! 17The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.

What an unconventional battle plan the Commander gave to Joshua! We need to get our battle plans from the Lord. He knows how to go about it in a way that will bring Him all the glory. When other enemies of Israel heard of how God brought victory over Jericho, it gave Israel a psychological advantage.

In Israel’s case the shout was an expression of praise to God. In the battle Gideon led, they shouted, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon.” They probably shouted something similar here. When they shouted, the walls fell inward and the army marched straight in.

Since this was the first city (firstfruits), and God was giving the victory, everything in it was to be dedicated to God. The gold and silver were to go into the treasury, and everything else was to be burned. The spies’ promise to Rahab was carefully kept.

When you go into battle be sure and to get your battle plans from the Commander. Give Him the praise and the glory for the victory. The honor is due Him. His way is the best way. Keep those promises you made along the way. Give to God what is God’s.

Consider: Are you getting your battle plans from man or from the Commander in Chief? We need to hear from Him for each battle we face.

Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle

By: Charles Spurgeon

General and yet particular

‘Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.’ John 17:2

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 5:21–33

You know that passage: ‘Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.’ How did he love the church? He loved the church with a special love, far above that which he gives to others, or else according to that metaphor a husband ought to love his wife and love every other woman just as much. That is the natural inference of that text; but you clearly see there must have been a special love intended in the husband towards the wife, and so there must be a special love in Christ. He loved the church and gave himself for it. Now do you not think, brethren, as there are two sets of texts in the Bible, the one of which very clearly speaks about the infinite value of the atonement (e.g. 1 Timothy 2:61 John 2:2), and another which very evidently speaks about the intention of that atonement being for the chosen and for the chosen only (e.g. John 10:11Ephesians 5:25Revelation 14:4), that the best way is to believe them both, and to say, ‘Yes, I see it—as the result of Christ’s death all men are put under the system of mediatorial grace so that Christ has power over them; but the object of his doing this is not that he may save all of them, but that he may save out of these all which he now has in his own hand—those whom the Father has given him.’ The farmer trusts me with all his sheep in order that I may sever from them twenty which he has marked. A father tells me to go into the midst of his family, his whole family, in order that I may take out of it one of his sons to be educated. So God gives to Christ all flesh, says the text, but still always with this definite and distinct purpose that he may give eternal life to those whom he has given to him.

For meditation: As ‘the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe’ (1 Timothy 4:10), God displays common grace to all people and special grace to his chosen people. Christians should likewise ‘do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith’ (Galatians 6:10).

A Hopeful Curiosity, Today Devotions

  ACTS 17:24-32

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”

—  Acts 17:32

In our reading today from Acts 17, the apostle Paul was preaching in Athens, Greece, about Jesus and the resurrection. Paul told the people that he could tell they were very religious because there were statues and shrines and temples to gods in every part of the city. There was even “an altar with this inscription: ‘to an unknown god’” (Acts 17:16-23). So Paul used that idea to tell his listeners about God the Father and Jesus the Son, whom the people of Athens did not know yet.

In this way Paul shared the good news that God, who created everything, now calls on people everywhere to repent of their sin, because he sent his Son, Jesus, to pay the price for all our sin. Jesus gave up his life on a cross for our sake even though he had committed no sin. And then God proved his power over sin and death by raising Jesus from the dead.

Though Paul’s words were dismissed by some of the people who heard him, others were curious and wanted to hear more.

The gospel can be sneered at—or, with a hopeful curiosity, we can ask to hear more about the wonderful things God has done for us by raising Jesus from the dead.

Lord of life, though we do not understand every­thing about the resurrection, give us a hopeful curiosity about all that it means for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

In Our Midst

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In Our Midst

 

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Marissa Nordlum – Email Analyst

“One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.” Luke 17:20-21 NLT

Just like the Pharisee who asked Jesus in Luke 17, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”, sometimes I get caught longing for eternity and to be in Heaven with our Lord and our loved ones. The things of this earth can cause us to become weary and long for Heaven. And while that longing of eternity with Christ will someday be fulfilled, we can find joy here on this earth as God is with us even now. I am reminded by Jesus’ words that the Kingdom is already here in our midst, and every day we can experience His presence.

Because of our belief that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was resurrected to give us eternal life, we can experience God’s presence in our lives. We can see His work in our lives and the lives of others when we position our spiritual eyes to be open to seeing Him move. While sin and death are present and part of our lives, even greater is God’s grace and His hand at work! It is in Him that we can put our hope!

From the air we breathe, to the people we interact with, to the amazing miracles taking place all around us, God’s kingdom is always advancing here on this earth. Every day, we can look for the Kingdom of God at work in our lives. Even in trials, there are millions of little miracles taking place all around us:  new life being born, salvation prayers being prayed, healing taking place, addiction being overcome, families being restored, and even lives entering into eternity are all evidence of the Kingdom of God at work in and on the earth.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the things of this world that may distract our attention or focus from seeing the hand of God. Today my prayer is that our hearts would be positioned to see and experience the Kingdom of God, every day of our lives. Would you pray with me?

Children of the Resurrection

  LUKE 20:27-38

By:   Douglas MacLeod, Today Devotions

“They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.”

—  Luke 20:36

Researching your family tree is a popular hobby these days, with so many records available through ancestry websites. I was surprised to learn that my own family history makes a connection with a president of the United States!

In our reading for today, Jesus was challenged and mocked by some of his antagonists, who gave him a trick question about family ties after the resurrection. His reply rerouted their nonsense into a wonderful teaching about the life-changing reality that comes from the resurrection.

Instead of requiring us to sort through family names and the births and deaths of ancestors, the resurrection raises a new reality. Whether one is married or not, childless or not, or male or female, everyone matters because all believers in Christ are children of God, “children of the resurrection.”

This does not disrespect or diminish anyone’s family or relationships. Family ties are enhanced in this new perspective as the resurrection redefines family and community. We are all invited to open our hearts and lives to include others whom we might not think of as part of our family. And we can join with others to become part of the worldwide family of God. Our identity as children of the resurrection is that we are all equally loved and valued as God’s children.

Thanks be to God for the family of God!

Dear God, thank you for the comfort of being forever safe, loved, and cherished because of all that Jesus has done for us as your children! Amen.

Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel

By: Charles Spurgeon, Park Street

A divine challenge

“Thus saith the Lord, let my people go, that they may serve me.” Exodus 8:1

Suggested Further Reading: James 3:3-6

Moses goes to Pharaoh yet again, and says, “Thus saith the Lord, let my people go, that they may serve me.” And at one time the haughty monarch says he will let some go; at another time he will let them all go, but they are to leave their cattle behind. He will hold on to something; if he cannot have the whole he will have a part. It is wonderful how content the devil is if he can but nibble at a man’s heart. It does not matter about swallowing it whole; only let him nibble and he will be content. Let him but bite at the fag ends and be satisfied, for he is wise enough to know that if a serpent has but an inch of bare flesh to sting, he will poison the whole. When Satan cannot get a great sin in he will let a little one in, like the thief who goes and finds shutters all coated with iron and bolted inside. At last he sees a little window in a chamber. He cannot get in, so he puts a little boy in, that he may go round and open the back door. So the devil has always his little sins to carry about with him to go and open back doors for him, and we let one in and say, “O, it is only a little one.” Yes, but how that little one becomes the ruin of the entire man! Let us take care that the devil does not get a foothold, for if he gets but a foothold, he will get his whole body in and we shall be overcome.

For meditation: Beware of giving Satan a window of opportunity (Ephesians 4:27), it is amazing how much damage can be caused by something apparently little (1 Corinthians 5:6Hebrews 12:15).

Rejoicing in His Grace

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Rejoicing in His Grace

 

20 Bible verses about Promised Joy

 

Gordon Robertson – President and CEO, CBN

Although God ordained three major feasts for His people, many Christians are only familiar with the first two: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, or Passover, and the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. Yet the third also has great significance. It’s the Feast of Tabernacles—a special week each fall when families build temporary shelters outside their homes.

Essentially the idea is to cement in ourselves the fact that we are sojourners. While we may have houses with good roofs over our heads, the reality is that we are here temporarily. And the older I get, the more I understand just how temporary life is.

It’s a yearly reminder that we are looking for a city, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). All of our efforts here on earth should be oriented toward that place in eternity.

God said:

“You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. … The Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice” (Deuteronomy 16:13-15)

Notice that it’s not just for the head of the household—and that twice God gives the command to rejoice. This is a party for everybody!

And it will be celebrated even after Jesus returns. Zechariah 14:16 says,

It shall come to pass that everyone … shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Torah readings for this week are called the Intermediate Days. As Christians, we are certainly living in the Intermediate Days between Jesus’ first and second coming. So how do we rejoice during this in-between time? One Torah reading includes God’s promise in Exodus 33:19,

“I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

So, while waiting for the prophetic fulfillment of Christ’s glorious return, rejoice that the Lord has chosen you for His service—and remember that He has compassion and grace for you every day of the year. God bless you!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

April 22

Joshua 5:11-12 11The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan.

Israel celebrated their first Passover in the Promised Land. As soon as they ate the food of that land, the manna stopped. I wonder if the next morning they got up by habit to go out and collect it. For forty years God had provided angels’ food for them every day. Now that they are home, they can eat of the good of the land that God had given them.

God provides for us. He is Jehovah Jireh, the LORD provides. He won’t give us too much, but He will give us enough to sustain us. As we travel through life, if we have a need, the LORD will provide. We can count on our daily manna. As long as we go out to gather it and don’t try to keep it overnight, we will always be able to fill our jars. We will have just enough.

But that land to which we are going will have abundance and variety. The Lord will still be our portion and our cup, but instead of coming from above, He will be all around us. One day the angel of the second death will pass over us because of what Jesus did in our place. Then we will be home and eating freely of the abundance of the land.

Meditation: I’m on my way to something better. This world is not my home.

Streams in he Desert – April 22

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He knoweth the way that I take (Job 23:10).

Believer! What a glorious assurance! This way of thine–this, it may be, a crooked, mysterious, tangled way–this way of trial and tears. “He knoweth it.” The furnace seven times heated–He lighted it. There is an Almighty Guide knowing and directing our footsteps, whether it be to the bitter Marah pool, or to the joy and refreshment of Elim.

That way, dark to the Egyptians, has its pillar of cloud and fire for His own Israel. The furnace is hot; but not only can we trust the hand that kindles it, but we have the assurance that the fires are lighted not to consume, but to refine; and that when the refining process is completed (no sooner–no later) He brings His people forth as gold.

When they think Him least near, He is often nearest. “When my spirit was overwhelmed, then thou knewest my path.” Do we know of ONE brighter than the brightest radiance of the visible sun, visiting our chamber with the first waking beam of the morning; an eye of infinite tenderness and compassion following us throughout the day, knowing the way that we take?

The world, in its cold vocabulary in the hour of adversity, speaks of “Providence”–“the will of Providence”–“the strokes of Providence.” PROVIDENCE! what is that? Why dethrone a living, directing God from the sovereignty of His own earth? Why substitute an inanimate, death-like abstraction, in place of an acting, controlling, personal Jehovah?

How it would take the sting from many a goading trial, to see what Job saw (in his hour of aggravated woe, when every earthly hope lay prostrate at his feet)–no hand but the Divine. He saw that hand behind the gleaming swords of the Sabeans–he saw it behind the lightning flash–he saw it giving wings to the careening tempest–he saw it in the awful silence of his rifled home.

“The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” Thus seeing God in everything, his faith reached its climax when this once powerful prince of the desert, seated on his bed of ashes, could say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.

A Place for the Lord

by Inspiration Ministries

“Remember … in all [David’s] affliction; how he swore to the LORD … ‘I certainly will not enter my house, nor lie on my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes … until I find a place for the LORD.'” – Psalm 132:1-5 NASB

David knew he needed to find “a place” for the Lord. He was thinking about a physical location, a “dwelling place” (v. 5). He wanted a devoted area where he could worship God without interruptions.

But the principle he described has broad implications. This can be a place in our hearts and minds. It can be a part of our daily schedule when we can concentrate on God, call on His name, read His Word, and listen for His voice apart from the distractions of the world.

The psalmist indicated that finding this place was a matter of urgency. He vowed not to rest until he found it. He was demonstrating that his relationship with God was his highest priority. Nothing else was more important.

The Bible tells us that God looks for this kind of dedication. We may think we are pleasing to Him and that we are spiritually mature. But we need to give Him a place of preeminence. As we place Him first in our lives, we can expect Him to pour out more of His blessings.

Today, think about your schedule and priorities. What kind of place does God have in your life? Have you allowed other activities to become dominant? Do you spend quality time praying and studying the Word? Make sure that you “find a place for the Lord.” Make this a priority!

Unique or Not?

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Unique or Not?

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Vernell Windsor – Prayer Center Coach, cbn.com

Growing up, I thought my family was unique. Others have probably thought the same about their families. Who could dispute it? My parents sternly warned us not to tell our “business” to others under threat of punishment! We went to Mass and ate fish on Fridays (I did not like fish). My siblings and I attended Catholic schools and got good grades. We knew our parents loved us and not much else mattered. Unique, right?

I remember being five or six and wanting a pack of chewing gum from the Ben Franklin store we visited. I snuck it when my mother wasn’t looking. When my crime was discovered, my father gave me a terrible spanking. Ben Franklin never had to worry about me taking anything again… ever! My dad put the fear of God in me and I love him dearly for it! Unique, right?

As a tween, my siblings and I were playing ball in the house. Did I mention that we were told not to do this? As fate would have it, we broke the ceiling light. We had that look of terror on our faces because we knew what was going to happen when my Father got home. He lined us up according to age and the “party” began. I don’t know about you, but my father could whip off that leather belt in a New York minute—one, two, three, and bam! That was another fear-and-trembling moment in our lives. Unique, right?

My family was a closely knit one that looked out for its own. We had challenges, but a lack of love was not one of them. My sister followed me everywhere. My parents required her to tag along. Consequently, we would do anything for one another (then and now).

My heart races with emotion as I read about King David and his family. The prophet Nathan rebuked King David after he committed adultery:

“Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.” Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house.” 2 Samuel 12:10-11 (NKJV)

The king paid a heavy price for his sin.

Second Samuel 13 presents a jaw-dropping family drama. (Read 2 Samuel 13:1-39.) No sacred secrets here! I read in wonderment, as Amnon went from loving (perhaps lust better describes those feelings) his sister Tamar to committing violence against her, to hating her.

Imagine going to care for your ill brother but getting violated instead. This traumatic deed made the king “very angry,” but we do not read about him punishing his son. Cultural differences do require some consideration, but our hearts sadly weep for Tamar.

Tamar’s brother, Absalom, did not respond like their father. Perhaps Amnon had even forgotten the incident? Two years later, Absalom slew his brother. This whole account portrays family dysfunction at its worst! Thank God for grace and mercy!

I think I’ll keep my unique family just as we are!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

April 21

Joshua 5:8-9 8And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed. 9Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.

Upon crossing the Jordan Joshua was commanded to circumcise all the males. All those who crossed the Jordan had been born during the wanderings in the wilderness. For some reason they waited until they arrived in the Promised Land to be circumcised.

This was a great act of faith. They are in the enemies’ territory, and the pain makes them unable to fight. There are 40,000 armed men laying helpless until they heal. Their history included the account of when they had slaughtered a village that was unable to fight because of circumcision. But this was God’s order, and by faith, they obeyed and trusted God to protect them. I think the Lord does the same with us, asking us to make ourselves vulnerable to our enemies, and yet trust in Him to keep us safe.

All through this wilderness wandering we had heard the whine about how good they had it in Egypt. There were numerous plans to return. Once they even had a vote to elect someone to guide them back. God had taken them from Egypt but could not get Egypt out of them. They needed to cooperate but refused. Now that that generation had died and the new generation was circumcised to God, the reproach of Egypt is finally gone. Egypt is out of them. Is the world out of you? Gilgal sounds like the Hebrew word for ‘roll’. Let God roll Egypt (worldliness) out of your life so that all your desire is toward Him.

Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel:

By: Charles Spurgeon

The carnal mind

“The carnal mind is enmity against God.” Romans 8:7

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 5:6-11

Let me suppose an impossible case for a moment. Let me imagine a man entering heaven without a change of heart. He comes within the gates. He hears a sonnet. He starts! It is to the praise of his enemy. He sees a throne, and on it sits one who is glorious; but it is his enemy. He walks streets of gold, but those streets belong to his enemy. He sees hosts of angels; but those are the servants of his enemy. He is in an enemy’s house; for he is at enmity with God. He could not join the song, for he would not know the tune. There he would stand; silent, motionless; till Christ should say, with a voice louder than ten thousand thunders, “What doest thou here? Enemies at a marriage banquet? Enemies in the children’s house? Enemies in heaven? Get thee gone! Depart ye cursed, into everlasting fire in hell!” Oh! sirs, if the unregenerate man could enter heaven, I mention once more the oft-repeated saying of Whitefield, he would be so unhappy in heaven, that he would ask God to let him run down into hell for shelter. There must be a change, if you consider the future state; for how can enemies to God ever sit down at the banquet of the Lamb? And to conclude, let me remind you—and it is in the text after all—that this change must be worked by a power beyond your own. An enemy may possibly make himself a friend, but enmity cannot. If it be but an adjunct of his nature to be an enemy he may change himself into a friend; but if it is the very essence of his existence to be enmity, positive enmity, enmity cannot change itself. No, there must be something done more than we can accomplish.

For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ has done for us much more than he commanded his disciples to do for their enemies (Luke 6:27-28).