Monthly Archives: February 2023

Soften a Hardened Heart

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Soften a Hardened Heart

person writing in a notebook with a pen


Janice Moore –

Have you ever taken a class, and had a tough time understanding the concepts? In high school, many years ago, I took an algebra class. I worked hard but could not understand a lot of the information. I just did not get it. I developed a hard heart towards algebra. I finally dropped the class. And regrettably, I developed an apathetic attitude toward the teacher as well.

In Mark 6, the disciples took part in the feeding of thousands. They announced to Jesus that they only had five loaves and two fish. However, after they fed everyone, they took up twelve baskets full of fragments of the loaves and fish.

Later, in the early morning hours, they saw Him walking on the water. The Scriptures say they were amazed seeing him walking on the water, but they did not understand about the loaves. And their hearts were hardened. Clearly, they also did not understand what was happening when He walked on the water. Jesus was teaching them who He is—one miracle after the other, but they just did not get it and their hearts were hardened.

They all ate and were satisfied. And the disciples picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces [of the loaves], and of the fish (Mark 6:42-43 AMP).

But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost, and cried out [in horror]; for they all saw Him and were shaken and terrified. But He immediately spoke with them and said, “Take courage! It is I (I AM)! Stop being afraid” (Mark 6:49-50).

because they had not understood [the miracle of] the loaves [how it revealed the power and deity of Jesus]; but [in fact] their heart was hardened [being oblivious and indifferent to His amazing works] (Mark 6:52).

Thankfully, we know that Jesus continued to teach and show them who He is and what He is capable of. The disciples persevered and did not give up, because we know they performed their own miracles, raising the dead, healing the sick, and many other miraculous acts told in the book of Acts.

Initially, I did not get why their hearts were hardened since they were major participants in the miracle of feeding the thousands. However, God reminded me of the hard heart that I developed towards algebra.

Eventually, I took the algebra class again in summer school and persevered and I got it. I got an “A” in the class, and I developed a love for algebra and math. The teacher was so incredible, she made it so easy to understand. My hard heart was gone.

When we witness a miraculous event, and we don’t get it, God eventually opens our understanding and reveals His good purposes to us. Then we realize it is a God thing. His hand was in it all the time. It is revelation knowledge. We become delighted because God has softened our hearts.

And with all your acquiring, get understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation] (Proverbs 4:7).

Father, I pray that our eyes are opened to understand and see Your miracles. When we cannot understand or grasp what You are teaching us, help us continue to persevere until we get understanding and revelation. I pray that our hearts will not become hardened, and You will continuously show us more of Your hand at work until we get it. Lord, show us miracles that we missed, so we can look back with an understanding heart and say that was God’s miracle-working power.

God Will Hold You

FEBRUARY 28, 2023

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah‬ 41‬:13‬ (NIV)‬‬



She came into the hospital for a major operation that involved multiple surgeons and skill sets. When I entered her room, she was alone, yet she seemed so calm and at ease.

As the operating-room nurse who would care for her during her surgery, I grabbed her hand, and she smiled up at me from the stretcher. Maybe it was a strong desire for relief that made her appear undisturbed about what was to come, or maybe she was this serene every day, but I found myself in awe of her bravery.

This woman was from another country, and we could not speak each other’s languages. What she was facing was very serious, and she was surrounded by people she couldn’t even communicate with.

Later, as I watched her complicated operation unfold, I knew that even if we had spoken the same language, there were no words I could have offered her. All I could do was hold her hand and pray.

My friend, you might be struggling right now with what appears to be a monumental obstacle. It might seem like no matter how many people you’ve encountered, no one can even offer up words to guide you through. You may feel like you alone are face to face with your pain.

But I want to remind you of what Isaiah 41:13 says: “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

In the midst of your struggle and suffering, remember God is with you. He is holding your hand and reminding you not to fear. He will indeed help you.

You are not alone in this life or your situation. And even when it seems like there’s no one around who you can communicate with, no one who understands what you’re going through, God is with you. He cares, and He understands.

No diagnosis, divorce, disappointment or defeat is too big for Him to handle, so “let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV). We can surrender our burdens, our stress and our worry to God today.

And after we’ve made it through these life-altering situations, looking on with awe at all we’ve survived, we can be sure to give God the glory for all He’s held us through.

A Prayer for the Grieving

By Emily Rose Massey,

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, ESV).

Several years ago, I watched my husband, his parents, and my sister-in-law experience the deepest pain imaginable – pain so difficult that it physically hurt. The night my husband, Paul, received the news that his brother was in a tragic drowning accident, I held him as we both cried, huddled on the couch. He kept grabbing his chest and saying, “I miss him so much. This hurts so bad.” Each day after that moment, we continued to put one foot in front of the other as we walked through the pain with Jesus, trusting that He would continue to heal our broken hearts and believing we will see our precious brother (who was also a believer) again in heaven someday.

Not only did I sense the nearness of God after we lost our dear brother, but the scriptures flooded my heart with hope. This passage from 1 Thessalonians reminded me to keep my mind fixed on eternity:

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, ESV).

What a beautiful reminder to all who might be experiencing pain and grief right now! We may feel pain and sorrow, but that does not mean we have no hope! Our life is only a vapor (James 4:14); this place is not our home. We have a promise that one day every tear will be wiped away, and pain will be no more (Revelation 21:4).

The Bible is full of truth about eternity and wisdom on how we should live our lives while we are still here on earth. Jesus doesn’t promise that we will escape pain here on earth, but He does promise that He will be with us always (Matthew 28:20).

In your pain and sorrow, cry to the Lord and walk with the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to bring you true comfort and peace while guiding you into truth about the Kingdom to come. Soon and very soon, we will be with Him forever where His perfect love will be all we ever experience. Until then, keep drawing near to Him and He will faithfully draw near to you, just as His Word promises us.

Today’s Devotions


February 28

Leviticus 19:18 18“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Love…keeps no record of wrongs. 1Corinthians 13:4 Jesus said that this was one of the Laws that summed up all the others (Matthew 22:39,40). I’ll bet when you read that verse, the ‘bear a grudge’ part pricked your heart, or at least provoked a memory. We seem so ready to be offended in this day and age. Jesus warned us that this would be true (Matthew 24:12).

We have lauded self-esteem but forgotten to warn of pride. Pride sets itself above others and demands that others give us respect and honor. If we hear a word spoken against us, we readily forget all the words we have spoken against others and excommunicate that person from our love and grace. In the worst cases we play the offense over and over in our minds until it festers and becomes an infection in our memories. Just the passing thought of it brings pain.

Believe it or not, the cause of all that is self, not the one who offended you. If we esteem others better than ourselves, we will examine their words to see if there is truth in them. If there is, we will apologize and adjust our life. If there is not, we will give those words to God and go on loving that person. How many times have we offended God? Does He harbor each offense and remind you of them every time you want to pray? Jesus said (paraphrase) that God will treat you as you treat others. It sounds like we had better be very generous in our forgiveness!

Meditation: Who do I need to forgive and resume loving?

Jesus Marveled

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Jesus Marveled



Lina Johnson – Prayer Center Coach

Many years ago, I worked at a nationally known theme park. I loved my job, but for the first two years, I took things for granted. You see, parks like this often have a ticket exchange with other parks and attractions. This is an opportunity for employees to visit the other locations, either free or at a discounted rate. The park I worked for had such an exchange. However, I was so focused on working that I missed out completely on this opportunity for two years.

Being a wife and mom of two boys at the time, you would think I’d want to use such an opportunity. Something changed after those first two years. It was as if I heard about this ticket exchange for the first time. Suddenly, it seemed important, even valuable. I made a point of scheduling time to use those benefits with my family and coworkers. Over the next four years, we had so much fun. I marvel even now at my choices during the first two years. I just took for granted it would be there.

Do we do that with Jesus? Do we ever take for granted that we already know all there is to know about Him? The people in Jesus’ hometown made that mistake and truly missed out.

In Mark 6:1-6 (NKJV), Jesus is in His hometown. These people knew Jesus, or at least they thought they did. They had watched Him grow up, so they thought He was just the son of Joseph. They closed their hearts to the truth. They refused to see who He was, and their unbelief caused Jesus to marvel (v.6). I don’t know about you, but if Jesus is going to marvel at me, I want it to be because of my faith!

Because of their unbelief, Jesus was limited to only small miracles of healing (v.5). He went around teaching. I can only imagine His heartache as He shared with the people, hoping they would receive His words, accept the truth, and be set free.

In Matthew 23:37, we get a glimpse of the heart of our Lord:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

He must have felt this way about those He grew up with. Does He feel this way about you and me? Are we believing and receiving all He has for us?

Just as I, for two years, saw “just a job,” these folks only saw a man, a carpenter. And as I realized there was more than just a job for me, we must realize there is more to Jesus! We must keep reading His Word and spend time with Him so we can gain revelation of who He truly is—and then be able to enjoy the benefits of being a child of God!

Experiencing the Calm You Crave

FEBRUARY 27, 2023

“Say to him: Calm down and be quiet. Don’t be afraid or cowardly because of these two smoldering sticks, the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram, and the son of Remaliah.” Isaiah 7:4 (CSB)

It’s that phone call in the middle of the night as the parent of a rebellious teen.

Or it’s the loss of a close friendship over a misunderstanding.

Maybe it is the sudden sickness of an aging parent or a criticism from your co-worker delivered unexpectedly at work.

So many moments in time can threaten to steal our peace of mind and cause worry to seep into our souls.

On those days when I start to fret, I’d like to say that I quickly “put my Jesus on,” taking my worries to the Lord in prayer. But if I’m being honest, the first thing I typically think about doing is chatting about it with my husband or a friend. I’m always certain they will give me some great advice that will help to calm my fears.

But the words of counsel from those at the top of my contacts list aren’t the only reason I want to pick up the phone to call them.

It also has to do with my own words. You see, when I start to feel worry welling up in my heart, my lips want a piece of the action. I just can’t seem to stop talking about my troubles at hand! And sometimes my talking turns into complaining.

It can be healthy to talk about what weighs us down, especially with a godly friend, spouse or counselor, as it allows us to see all sides of a situation and process our emotions. However, complaints and gossip are counterproductive. (James 5:9)

In the seventh chapter of Isaiah, we happen upon the Old Testament prophet Isaiah conveying a message from God to King Ahaz regarding a troubling situation in Israel. Thankfully, Isaiah’s message was one of reassurance. Even though the two invading kings, Rezin and Aram — “smoldering sticks” — were threatening, ultimately they would not prevail (Isaiah 7:4).

God spoke to Isaiah in today’s key verse:

“Say to him: Calm down and be quiet. Don’t be afraid or cowardly because of these two smoldering sticks, the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram, and the son of Remaliah” (Isaiah 7:4).

Isaiah’s script for the little pep talk began with this five-word directive: “Calm down and be quiet” (Isaiah 7:4a). The original Hebrew word shamar used in this verse means “to be careful, to watch, to take note and to wait” (or “calm down”). And the meaning of the Hebrew word shaqat, translated “be quiet,” means “to refrain from making noise, to be peaceful, pacified, to be at rest, or to be undisturbed.”

When facing trying times, our hearts and minds don’t naturally go to a place of peaceful rest. We aren’t elated to watch and wait. And our souls are far from undisturbed.

But this passage isn’t saying these feelings and actions are our initial and innate response. Far from it. They are thoughts and actions we must purposefully pursue. When we determine to center our minds on God rather than on the problem at hand, we can experience the calm He offers us. When we fix our eyes on God and watch Him work, the Lord will help us not to be shaken or unsettled.

Next, Isaiah was to deliver a second five-word sermon: “Don’t be afraid or cowardly …” (Isaiah 7:4b). While the Hebrew equivalent of “afraid” has the same meaning as our English word, the Hebrew word for “cowardly” (rakak) is more nuanced. This verb refers to growing soft, weak or fainthearted.

When the worries and cares of life begin to make us fear — weakening our resolve and causing us to be faint of heart — may we remember this ancient advice from God to the king: to calm down and be quiet. It worked for King Ahaz, and it can benefit us today.

Instead of making noise with our mouths by grumbling to a friend to try to solve our problems, let’s decide we will honor God in our conversations. And we will look to the Lord to find rest and discover His peace. Only when we do that will we finally find our hearts undisturbed.

Let’s bend our knees in prayer before grabbing the phone, taking our cares to King Jesus first.

Left Alone – Streams in the Desert – February 27

  • 202327 Feb

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day (Gen. 32:24).

Left alone! What different sensations those words conjure up to each of us. To some they spell loneliness and desolation, to others rest and quiet. To be left alone without God, would be too awful for words, but to be left alone with Him is a foretaste of Heaven! If His followers spent more time alone with Him, we should have spiritual giants again.

The Master set us an example. Note how often He went to be alone with God; and He had a mighty purpose behind the command, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray.”

The greatest miracles of Elijah and Elisha took place when they were alone with God. It was alone with God that Jacob became a prince; and just there that we, too, may become princes–“men (aye, and women too!) wondered at” (Zech. 3:8). Joshua was alone when the Lord came to him. (Josh. 1:1) Gideon and Jephthah were by themselves when commissioned to save Israel. (Judges 6:11 and 11:29) Moses was by himself at the wilderness bush. (Exodus 3:1-5) Cornelius was praying by himself when the angel came to him. (Acts 10:2) No one was with Peter on the house top, when he was instructed to go to the Gentiles. (Acts 10:9) John the Baptist was alone in the wilderness (Luke 1:90), and John the Beloved alone in Patmos, when nearest God. (Rev. 1:9)

Covet to get alone with God. If we neglect it, we not only rob ourselves, but others too, of blessing, since when we are blessed we are able to pass on blessing to others. It may mean less outside work; it must mean more depth and power, and the consequence, too, will be “they saw no man save Jesus only.”

To be alone with God in prayer cannot be over-emphasized.

If chosen men had never been alone,
In deepest silence open-doored to God,
No greatness ever had been dreamed or done.

Stirring Up Gentleness

  PROVERBS 15:1-4,

todaysdevotion, com

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

  Proverbs 15:1

Think about a time when someone made you angry. May­be they cut you off in traffic. Perhaps they made a rude comment on social media. Or maybe someone made you feel stupid, and you were embarrassed in front of your peers. In any of these situations, it’s easy to fire back a defensive response.

But if we act out in anger, we will only make the situation worse. Our sinful nature wants to get back at the person who has offended us, but that is not the peaceful approach Scripture calls us to.

Our proverb for today points us to the way of Jesus, who told his disciples, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). This is one of the few times Jesus actually listed attributes of himself. He is gentle and humble in heart.

As Jesus also showed, there is a place for anger in situations where God is being mocked or injustice is being allowed (see Mark 11:15-17), but those moments are few and far between. And as Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:26, “In your ­anger do not sin” (see also Psalm 4:4). That’s the way Jesus operates.

The next time someone makes you angry, how might you respond with a gentle spirit?

Lord, grant me humility and a gentle spirit so that I can show your love and wisdom to the people around me. Purge anger from me so that I can be like you. Amen.

Love That Overcomes

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Love That Overcomes

troubled young man praying


Gordon Robertson – President and CEO, CBN

There’s an interesting story in Numbers that contrasts two ways of looking at obstacles. The Israelites have escaped slavery in Egypt and traveled to the edge of the Promised Land. And before they all enter, Moses sends 12 men to spy it out.

One spy named Caleb comes back with this report:

“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30)

What a great faith statement! Unfortunately his confidence was not shared by others.

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. There we saw the giants; … and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:31, 33)

Why did they have that viewpoint? Because of how they viewed themselves. If we look at a problem and say, “I’m just a grasshopper,” then we fail before we start. We defeat ourselves if we think we can’t go somewhere or do something that God has commanded.

In our world today, we can face all kinds of threats and fears. Yet we need to resist and declare, “We can overcome this.”

What image are we made in—a grasshoppers? No. We are made in the image of God.

So now the question is, do we act like Him? Do we think like Him? And most importantly, do we love like Him?

As John 3:16 says,

“God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son.”

Let His heart of love resonate through everything that you do.

Love casts out fear. Love overcomes all obstacles. Faith works through love. When you have that, you are reflecting the image of the Father. You’re truly becoming like Him.

Paul, who faced incredible persecution, wrote,

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

When we do this, we are more than overcomers. As Romans 8:37 explains, we are more than conquerors through the love of Christ given to us. We need to view ourselves as God’s love extending to a hurting world. And when we overflow with His love, no obstacle can stand—for His love never fails. God bless you.

Meeting Jesus on Holy Ground

By Rev. Kyle Norman, Crosswalk. com

“Do not come any closer, “God said, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5)

As a priest, I have witnessed myriads of strangers randomly stop at the church and sit quietly in our pews. It happens more than you would think. In fact, it happened just the other day. A young woman came walking into our church on a Thursday morning. She wasn’t looking for money or food but guidance; she felt lost and confused and didn’t know where to go or what to do. Seeing our steeple in the distance, she headed in our direction, feeling a desperate need to be in God’s presence.

As I sat with her, she described what was going on in her life, the trauma she was recovering from and the struggles that seemed to follow her. As I placed my hand on her shoulder for prayer, she erupted in deep and agonizing cries. She wept more forcefully than I have heard someone weep. And as I anointed her with oil and prayed for Christ’s light and protection, she whispered “thank you Jesus for being here.”

We all know the age-old truth: the church is not a building – the church is the body of Christ, the community of the faithful. This is true. Still, we cannot deny that sacred spaces are important in our spiritual lives. We see this throughout the Bible. Amid being ushered into God’s most holy presence, Moses is instructed to remove his sandals and recognize the “holy ground” upon which he stood (Exodus 3:5). Similarly, following his vivid dream in Bethel, Jacob exclaimed, “Surely the Lord is in this place” (Genesis 28:16). He then erects a monument in testimony to that reality. Later, as Israel journeyed through the desert, the “tent of meeting” was erected as a place to receive divine inspiration. These places weren’t just random places of personal or religious nostalgia; they were set apart for the unique, special, and defined purpose of meeting God.

The people of faith have always responded to God’s invitation to enter holy ground. The Temple was vital to Israel, and the early disciples were “always in the temple praising God” (Luke 24:53). Later, when persecutions arose, and the disciples were ejected from the temple, holy ground shifted to other locations: houses, rivers, and catacombs. For the early Christians, and for us, having a defined place where we meet with the living God is an essential part of our faith lives.

Finding such holy ground is easier than it first may appear. Creation holds a myriad of opportunities for cultivating sacred spaces. Celtic Christianity, for example, has a long history of naming mountain tops, riverbeds, and forest paths as “thin spaces”– places where heaven and earth meet uniquely and powerfully. Our favorite place in creation can easily become a sacred space. In fact, Jesus said to Nathanial that he observed him “sitting under the fig tree” (John 1:48). This text indicates that the fig tree was a place where Nathanial went to draw near to God. It was a place of meditation, biblical study, and prayer.

A quiet room or a corner in the house can easily be reserved for such activity. Simply place your Bible, along with a prayer book or devotional guide, perhaps, in that location. You may light a candle or hang a cross if you choose. Such things help create an atmosphere conducive to the time of prayer. Of course, if one does not have an entire room free to designate, you simply attend to prayer or Bible reading from the same location every day. Simply choose a specific end of the couch or a corner of the kitchen table and consistently engage in your devotions from this place. It then becomes holy ground or sacred space.

Defend against Temptation

From:: Charles Stanley, Intouch ministries

James 1:12-16

To build a defense against temptation, we must understand how it works. Every sin originates as a thought, often the result of a flaming arrow the Evil One shoots our way (Eph. 6:16). If a believer holds on to the thought, it becomes a fantasy—the chance to imagine what it would be like to pursue that notion without actually doing so. The problem with fantasies is that they can easily become entangled with a person’s emotions. This creates a desire, which brings the believer to the point where a choice must be made: he or she must either consent to the sin or refuse. This process is quite dangerous, as the progression from thought to choice can be almost instantaneous.

Wise believers determine ahead of time to resist temptation—before it enters their consciousness. There are two cornerstones to a good defense: the commitment to obey God, and the recognition that He is in control and has limited what Satan can do (1 Cor. 10:13).

We can further fortify our defense when temptation actually comes. Satan has a way of spotlighting the pleasure of sin until that’s all we see. But with conscious effort, we can retrain our focus to take in the bigger picture: Is this choice a violation of God’s Word? What are the consequences? Am I prepared to pay that price?

No defense against temptation is complete without Scripture and prayer. Every moment spent meditating on the Word and communicating with God builds our faith. As the bulwark around our mind and heart strengthens, we are ever more prepared to douse Satan’s flaming arrows.

Streams in the Desert – February 26

  • 202326 Feb

But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. (2 Cor 12:9)

The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day’s work. I felt very wearied, and sore depressed, when swiftly, and suddenly as a lightning flash, that text came to me, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” I reached home and looked it up in the original, and at last it came to me in this way, “MY grace is sufficient for thee”; and I said, “I should think it is, Lord,” and burst out laughing. I never fully understood what the holy laughter of Abraham was until then. It seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was as though some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry, and Father Thames said, “Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for thee.” Or, it seemed after the seven years of plenty, a mouse feared it might die of famine; and Joseph might say, “Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee.” Again, I imagined a man away up yonder, in a lofty mountain, saying to himself, “I breathe so many cubic feet of air every year, I fear I shall exhaust the oxygen in the atmosphere,” but the earth might say, “Breathe away, O man, and fill the lungs ever, my atmosphere is sufficient for thee.” Oh, brethren, be great believers! Little faith will bring your souls to Heaven, but great faith will bring Heaven to your souls.
C. H. Spurgeon

His grace is great enough to meet the great things
The crashing waves that overwhelm the soul,
The roaring winds that leave us stunned and breathless,
The sudden storm beyond our life’s control.

His grace is great enough to meet the small things
The little pin-prick troubles that annoy,
The insect worries, buzzing and persistent,
The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy.

Annie Johnson Flint

There is always a large balance to our credit in the bank of Heaven waiting for our exercise of faith in drawing it. Draw heavily upon His resources.

Trusting God Through the Fog

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Trusting God Through the Fog

woman walking next to a lake on a foggy day


Carolyn B. Fraiser – cbn staff

Many years ago, I had a vision. I stood at the top of a mountain and stared at two paths in front of me. The path to the left winded down a slope into the valley. The view was beautiful. The sky was clear. The future promised everything I had ever hoped for: marriage, family, and ministry in my local church. But something was missing.

The path on the right was rocky and led straight into a forest dense with fog. It twisted and turned until it disappeared into the darkness. The future on this path held no promise to fulfill any of my dreams—just uncertainty. But beyond the fog, I heard God calling my name. “Follow me.”

Giving up control has never been easy for me. I like to have a solid plan—a map that shows me where I am going and exactly how I am going to get there. Taking one step at a time by faith doesn’t come naturally. Instead of trusting God, I often fight against Him, even when I know He wants what’s best for me.

I can imagine this was how the Israelites felt after they left Egypt—and everything they had ever known—to follow God into a wilderness. They had no road map. They did not know their destination. The only directions they had were to follow the cloud over the tabernacle. Sometimes that cloud lifted within a day, and they moved on. But other times, it stayed in place—for a long time.

In this way, they traveled and camped at the LORD’s command wherever he told them to go (Numbers 9:18 NLT).

No wonder some of them grumbled. I would have, too! My will would have been fighting for more information—for greater control. But Moses kept reminding them that God had promised something wonderful on the other side, something better—a promised land! Their only other choice? To return to Egypt—to the very place where they once lived as slaves.

That’s where our will pulls us, isn’t it? Back to the very place of bondage: the place where we tried to make it on our own and failed, the place outside of God’s ultimate will for us. After tasting the freedom that God called us to, returning to our old lives doesn’t seem that appealing anymore, does it? So, we press on, “forgetting what is behind and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13b).

So even in the midst of their grumbling, the vision of what awaited them pulled the Israelites forward, like a voice calling their names beyond the fog.

I knew which path God wanted me to take, but it wasn’t easy. I had no idea where that journey would take me. Some days, the prospect of walking into the unknown was exciting and full of adventure. Other times, I simply grew weary—waiting days, months, or even years before seeing any sign of movement.

I wish I could say that I never grumbled or complained. I can’t. But along that journey, God began to restore some of my dreams—in His own way, in His own time. Other dreams, I had to completely surrender and bury along the roadside. As I did, God filled those empty places with something better—Himself.

As we enter the season of Lent, take a moment to ask yourself: Am I totally surrendered to God? With uplifted hands, release whatever control you are holding onto and simply allow Him to guide you along the path He wants for you.

How God Shows Us the Path We Can’t See

FEBRUARY 24, 2023

“He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them water as abundant as the seas; he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers.” Psalm 78:15-16 (NIV)

d2.24-23I was lost again, driving in circles in our new town for the hundredth time. My phone’s GPS was just as confused as I was. When I consulted it for directions, my location didn’t even appear on the map.

After trying to reroute, I called my husband to ask for help. He had worked in the area for several months before we purchased a home there and was familiar with parts of town I hadn’t explored.

Later that week, he encouraged me to learn several routes to get to the same place. That way, I would know multiple ways to get home, even when I was detoured or my GPS failed. But for years, I didn’t follow his advice. I knew one route to my destination, and if I couldn’t take that route, I was completely disoriented.

Sometimes this same type of thinking overtakes my spiritual life. I have a specific need or request in mind, and I map out the steps to fulfill the need. But because life and God do not adhere to my well-laid-out plans, I often encounter a detour.

My obsession with getting from point A to point B keeps me from seeing there are multiple ways God can provide what I need. We serve a God who creates roads unknown to any GPS, but my limited vision keeps my eyes locked on my way.

In Psalm 78, Asaph recounts countless miracles God performed after delivering Israel from Egypt. He used the most unlikely circumstances to show His power and created a way in one impossible situation after another:

“He split the rocks in the wilderness and gave them water as abundant as the seas; he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers” (Psalm 78:15-16).

But even though the Israelites repeatedly witnessed God’s miraculous power, they wandered in the desert for 40 years. Like me, they roamed in circles. And when they finally got to the promised land, they sent spies to scout it and were fearful of entering because of the army they would face. (Numbers 13-14) Instead of remembering their God who makes a way, they only saw the opposition.

How do we remember we serve a God of limitless possibilities? When we only see one solution to our problem, how do we shift our focus toward the God of infinite vision?

Honest confession. When we tell Him how we’re feeling and what our hang-ups are, He often answers in ways we can’t comprehend.

Following the outline of many of the psalms, my prayers go something like this:

  1. An honest admission to God about what I’m feeling.
  2. A call for God to open my eyes to the truth.
  3. A recognition of God’s unfailing love.
  4. A decision to praise God despite the roadblock I’m facing.

Here’s the miracle: When I practice this in my daily life, God opens my eyes and shows me the path I can’t see on my own. My admission of my lack shows me new possibilities in Him.

God won’t leave us stuck when we come to Him with an honest plea for guidance. He longs to be our Guide. And when we come to Him, He just might show us a path we’ve never seen before, overflowing with hope and opportunity.

Streams in the Desert – February 25

  • 202325 Feb

I am handing over to you every place you set foot, as I promised Moses. (Josh 1:3)

Beside the literal ground, unoccupied for Christ, there is the unclaimed, untrodden territory of Divine promises. What did God say to Joshua? “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you,” and then He draws the outlines of the Land of Promise—all theirs on one condition: that they shall march through the length and breadth of it, and measure it off with their own feet.

They never did that to more than one-third of the property, and consequently they never had more than one-third; they had just what they measured off, and no more.

In 2 Peter, we read of the “land of promise” that is opened up to us, and it is God’s will that we should, as it were, measure off that territory by the feet of obedient faith and believing obedience, thus claiming and appropriating it for our own.

How many of us have ever taken possession of the promises of God in the name of Christ?

Here is a magnificent territory for faith to lay hold on and march through the length and breadth of, and faith has never done it yet.

Let us enter into all our inheritance. Let us lift up our eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, and hear Him say, “All the land that thou seest will I give to thee.”
A. T. Pierson

Wherever Judah should set his foot that should be his; wherever Benjamin should set his foot, that should be his. Each should get his inheritance by setting his foot upon it. Now, think you not, when either had set his foot upon a given territory, he did not instantly and instinctively feel, “This is mine”?

An old colored man, who had a marvelous experience in grace, was asked: “Daniel, why is it that you have so much peace and joy in religion?” “O Massa!” he replied, “I just fall flat on the exceeding great and precious promises, and I have all that is in them. Glory! Glory!” He who falls flat on the promises feels that all the riches embraced in them are his.
Faith Papers

The Marquis of Salisbury was criticized for his Colonial policies and replied: “Gentlemen, get larger maps.”

The people’s Christ

By: Charles Spurgeon

“I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” Psalm 89:19

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 1:1-11

How exalted was he in his ascension! He went out from the city to the top of the hill, his disciples attending him while he waited the appointed moment. Mark his ascension! Bidding farewell to the whole circle, up he went gradually ascending, like the exaltation of a mist from the lake, or the cloud from the streaming river. Aloft he soared; by his own mighty buoyancy and elasticity he ascended up on high—not like Elijah, carried up by fiery horses; nor like Enoch of old, of whom it could be said he was not, for God took him. He went himself; and as he went, I think I see the angels looking down from heaven’s battlements, and crying, “See the conquering hero comes!” while at his nearer approach again they shouted, “See the conquering hero comes!” So his journey through the plains of ether is complete—he nears the gates of heaven—attending angels shout, “Lift up your heads, ye everlasting gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors!” The glorious hosts within scarce ask the question, “Who is this king of glory?” when from ten thousand thousand tongues there rolls an ocean of harmony, beating in mighty waves of music on the pearly gates and opening them at once, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” Lo! heaven’s barriers are thrown wide open and cherubim are hastening to meet their monarch,

“They brought his chariot from afar,
To bear him to his throne;
Clapp’d their triumphant wings and said,
“The Saviour’s work is done.”

Behold he marches through the streets. See how kingdoms and powers fall down before him! Crowns are laid at his feet, and his Father says, “Well done, my Son, well done!” while heaven echoes with the shout, “Well done! Well done!” Up he climbs to that high throne, side by side with the Paternal Deity. “I have exalted one chosen out of the people.”

For meditation: Our ascended Lord Jesus Christ—his principal posture (he sits), his persistent pleading (he intercedes), his patient preparation (he waits to return)—Hebrews 10:11-13.


Crossing Over: God’s Not Done With You

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Crossing Over: God’s Not Done With You

person walking in a forest


Wendy Griffith –

Jesus said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Mark 4:35 (NIV)

What do you do when God closes a door—but the new door that you know He has for you hasn’t appeared or manifested yet?

Welcome to Transition!

We’ve all been there and some of you may be going through it right now.

Transition is defined as the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

It’s not an easy or comfortable place to be. You feel unsettled and restless. Tried-and-true systems, or ways of doing things that used to work perfectly, don’t seem to work anymore. Maybe even some relationships that used to work now feel strained or not as important.

When you’re in transition, you’re not where you used to be, but you haven’t arrived at your next destination yet. You just feel strange, and it forces you to look around and see what needs to change.

I don’t like change. I have a hard time with technology because it’s always changing. But when you enter a time of transition, you have no choice but to change—to move, to shift, to evolve, to make the necessary adjustments—because you can’t stay where you are any longer… even if you don’t yet know where you’re going!

Now maybe God has been unfeathering your nest for a while and making things uncomfortable for you—just like a mama eagle does for her babies so that they will want to get out of the nest and learn to fly!

It might seem cruel at first, but then, the mama eagle knows that unless she kicks her babies out—they’ll never be able to learn to fly or provide for themselves; nor would they ever know the joy of feeling the wind beneath their wings as they soar above the clouds and through the beautiful blue skies.

God’s Not Done with You

If you’ve been kicked out of your comfy nest or you’re going through transition, you need to know that God is not done! God’s not done with you. He’s simply taking you to “the other side.” Mark 4:35-41 tells the story of Jesus doing this with His disciples:

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” … A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey.”

Stay in the Boat

Even if it feels like all hell is breaking out around you and Jesus appears to be asleep in the boat with His head on a comfy pillow—trust Him! He’s the God who can calm the seas with one word—and He’s the only one who can get you through the storm and safely to the other side.

The good news is, when you get there you’ll have a great story to tell, just like the disciples did when they finally made it safely to the other side.

God loves you and wants you to fulfill your destiny.

If you’re going through transition, it’s because He has something better for you. Stay in the boat—Jesus will get you to the other side.

Streams in the Desert – February 24

  • 202324 Feb

Many came to him and began to say, “John performed no miraculous sign, but everything John said about this man was true!” (John 10:41)

You may be very discontented with yourself. You are no genius, have no brilliant gifts, and are inconspicuous for any special faculty. Mediocrity is the law of your existence. Your days are remarkable for nothing but sameness and insipidity. Yet you may live a great life.

John did no miracle, but Jesus said that among those born of women there had not appeared a greater than he.

John’s main business was to bear witness to the Light, and this may be yours and mine. John was content to be only a voice, if men would think of Christ.

Be willing to be only a voice, heard but not seen; a mirror whose surface is lost to view, because it reflects the dazzling glory of the sun; a breeze that springs up just before daylight, and says, “The dawn! the dawn!” and then dies away.

Do the commonest and smallest things as beneath His eye. If you must live with uncongenial people, set to their conquest by love. If you have made a great mistake in your life, do not let it becloud all of it; but, locking the secret in your breast, compel it to yield strength and sweetness.

We are doing more good than we know, sowing seeds, starting streamlets, giving men true thoughts of Christ, to which they will refer one day as the first things that started them thinking of Him; and, of my part, I shall be satisfied if no great mausoleum is raised over my grave, but that simple souls shall gather there when I am gone, and say,

Dependent on the Vine

By Emily Rose Massey,

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5, ESV).

Anxiety (and depression) has been plaguing my life on and off since I was a child, and it is still something that I wrestle with to this day. I used to think that my struggle with anxiety and depression made me a very weak Christian who lacked faith in God. But that, my dear friends, is not true.

Because sin exists in the world, so do sickness and brokenness, and no one is exempt from any of it. Although we have been redeemed and our eternal salvation is secure in Christ, as believers, we still are subject to suffering in this fallen world that we live in. God may not cause pain, mental illness, disease, or traumatic experiences, but in His great sovereignty, He does allow it.

For me, there came a point in time where I stopped rebuking the devil for all the anxiety and depression I was experiencing and shifted my focus on God Almighty, the only One who could help me through my pain and give me wisdom on what was going on with my body. Whether the anxiety was caused by overwhelming thoughts that I chose to dwell upon fearfully or a hormonal imbalance occurring in my body, God has always remained faithful and near to me in the midst of my suffering. My faith in Him has not waivered, even if my emotions and thoughts did.

Although prayer may not conquer every moment of panic or worry, it is my lifeline to stay connected to the source of peace and life, to abide in the Vine (John 15) so I don’t dry up. I also remember to arm myself with the truth of God’s Word that helps me renew my mind day by day and strengthens my faith, and gives me hope. We need to stay connected to Jesus, for just as verse 5 in John 15 tells us, apart from Christ, we can do nothing:

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5, ESV).

How God Shows Us the Path We Can’t See

FEBRUARY 24, 2023

“He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them water as abundant as the seas; he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers.” Psalm 78:15-16 (NIV)

d2.24-23I was lost again, driving in circles in our new town for the hundredth time. My phone’s GPS was just as confused as I was. When I consulted it for directions, my location didn’t even appear on the map.

After trying to reroute, I called my husband to ask for help. He had worked in the area for several months before we purchased a home there and was familiar with parts of town I hadn’t explored.

Later that week, he encouraged me to learn several routes to get to the same place. That way, I would know multiple ways to get home, even when I was detoured or my GPS failed. But for years, I didn’t follow his advice. I knew one route to my destination, and if I couldn’t take that route, I was completely disoriented.

Sometimes this same type of thinking overtakes my spiritual life. I have a specific need or request in mind, and I map out the steps to fulfill the need. But because life and God do not adhere to my well-laid-out plans, I often encounter a detour.

My obsession with getting from point A to point B keeps me from seeing there are multiple ways God can provide what I need. We serve a God who creates roads unknown to any GPS, but my limited vision keeps my eyes locked on my way.

In Psalm 78, Asaph recounts countless miracles God performed after delivering Israel from Egypt. He used the most unlikely circumstances to show His power and created a way in one impossible situation after another:

“He split the rocks in the wilderness and gave them water as abundant as the seas; he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers” (Psalm 78:15-16).

But even though the Israelites repeatedly witnessed God’s miraculous power, they wandered in the desert for 40 years. Like me, they roamed in circles. And when they finally got to the promised land, they sent spies to scout it and were fearful of entering because of the army they would face. (Numbers 13-14) Instead of remembering their God who makes a way, they only saw the opposition.

How do we remember we serve a God of limitless possibilities? When we only see one solution to our problem, how do we shift our focus toward the God of infinite vision?

Honest confession. When we tell Him how we’re feeling and what our hang-ups are, He often answers in ways we can’t comprehend.

Following the outline of many of the psalms, my prayers go something like this:

  1. An honest admission to God about what I’m feeling.
  2. A call for God to open my eyes to the truth.
  3. A recognition of God’s unfailing love.
  4. A decision to praise God despite the roadblock I’m facing.

Here’s the miracle: When I practice this in my daily life, God opens my eyes and shows me the path I can’t see on my own. My admission of my lack shows me new possibilities in Him.

God won’t leave us stuck when we come to Him with an honest plea for guidance. He longs to be our Guide. And when we come to Him, He just might show us a path we’ve never seen before, overflowing with hope and opportunity.

God, thank You that Your vision is not limited by our hang-ups and stubbornness. When we only see one way out of our struggle, help us to shift our focus toward You and Your infinite wisdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Heart Test

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A Heart Test

a heart test


Lorie Hartshorn –   CBN, com

My dad was experiencing health struggles. As a result, the doctor gave him a heart monitor to wear for almost two weeks. It wasn’t comfortable or convenient, but he was willing to wear it so the doctors could determine the state of his heart.

Jesus gave his listeners a heart test in Mark 4. He tells the story of a farmer going out to sow seeds and that the seeds landed on different soil types. The seeds Jesus refers to in the story are his teaching. Will it sink into their hearts and minds and change them, or will they go away and forget what they’ve learned? What would our response be?

The first soil or heart is a well-worn path with no soil. The second was rocky with very little soil, the third was full of thorn bushes, and the fourth was good. Here’s a little test for you to pause and reflect on. How is the condition of your heart?

When you hear or read God’s Word, what is your response?

  1. Hear it, but it does not affect you.
  2. Hear it and initially receive it, but when trouble comes, you don’t believe it anymore.
  3. Hear it, but the worries of this life and desire for other things are more important.
  4. Hear it and receive it as God’s truth, letting it sink deeply into your mind and heart and change you.

What would your test results show? Be honest. Which number represents your heart?  I hope you picked number four because Jesus tells us that there are significant results when our hearts are open. Here’s what He says in Mark 4, verse 20.

“But what is sown on good soil represents those who open their hearts to receive the message and their lives bear good fruit—some yield a harvest of thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold” (TPT)!

A heart that is open, teachable, and obedient to the Word of God is key to living a life where you continually bear good fruit. Galatians 5:22-23a tells us what that fruit is.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (NIV).

This fruit isn’t just for you to enjoy, but it multiplies itself in the life of others! This amazing kingdom principle is only possible if we have hearts like good soil—open, teachable, and willing to receive Jesus’ teaching in our life.

So how’s your heart?

Perhaps life has caused you to have a hard heart. The troubles and cares of this life have taken away your ability to be open to what Jesus wants to say to you. Perhaps it is simply busyness that has kept you from hearing God speak to you, and you have not spent time hearing or reading the Word of God. Jesus asks you to surrender your hurts, disappointments, and troubles to Him. He wants permission to make your heart soft and receptive so that He can produce His good fruit in you. Are you willing?

Pray: Lord Jesus, I open my heart to receive the Word of truth and welcome You to grow lots of fruit in me. Reveal to me the things that have hardened my heart. I confess my worry and focus on the world around me. I welcome You to teach me and change me. Help me to obey Your Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Streams in the Desert – February 23

  • 202323 Feb

And there came a lion (1 Samuel 17:34).

It is a source of inspiration and strength to come in touch with the youthful David, trusting God. Through faith in God he conquered a lion and a bear, and afterwards overthrew the mighty Goliath. When that lion came to despoil that flock, it came as a wondrous opportunity to David. If he had failed or faltered he would have missed God’s opportunity for him and probably would never have come to be God’s chosen king of Israel.

“And there came a lion.” One would not think that a lion was a special blessing from God; one would think that only an occasion of alarm. The lion was God’s opportunity in disguise. Every difficulty that presents itself to us, if we receive it in the right way, is God’s opportunity. Every temptation that comes is God’s opportunity.

When the “lion” comes, recognize it as God’s opportunity no matter how rough the exterior. The very tabernacle of God was covered with badgers’ skins and goats’ hair; one would not think there would be any glory there. The Shekinah of God was manifest under that kind of covering. May God open our eyes to see Him, whether in temptations, trials, dangers, or misfortunes.
–C. H. P.

A solemn warning for all churches

“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4

Suggested Further Reading: John 14:18-24

Do you meet with many men who hold communion with Christ? Though they may be godly men, upright men, ask them if they hold communion with Christ, and will they understand you? If you give them some of those sweetly spiritual books, that those who hold fellowship love to read, they will say they are mystical, and they do not love them. Ask them whether they can spend an hour in meditation upon Christ, whether they ever rise to heaven and lay their head on the breast of the Saviour, whether they ever know what it is to enter into rest and get into Canaan; whether they understand how he has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; whether they can often say,

“Abundant sweetness while I sing
Thy love, my ravish’d heart o’erflows;
Secure in thee my God and King
Of glory that no period knows.”

Ask them that, and they will say, “We don’t comprehend you.” Now, the reason of it is in the first part of my sermon—they have defiled their garments, and therefore Christ will not walk with them. He says “Those that have not defiled their garments shall walk with me.” Those who hold fast the truth, who take care to be free from the prevailing sins of the times, “These,” he says, “shall walk with me; they shall be in constant fellowship with me; I will let them see that I am bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh; I will bring them into the banqueting-house; my banner over them shall be love; they shall drink wine on the lees well refined; they shall have the secrets of the Lord revealed unto them, because they are the people who truly fear me: they shall walk with me in white.”

For meditation: Do you have to confess that you have no idea what Spurgeon is talking about? If so, he must be talking about you!

The Right Way

  PROVERBS 14:11-12

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

—  Proverbs 14:12

Many of us have had moments when we have looked back on a past decision and wondered, “How did I ever think that was a good idea?” Yet at the time, that decision or choice probably seemed right to us.

There’s a reason why people say, “Hindsight is 20/20.” This means you can often see a situation more clearly (as with 20/20 vision) after it has passed and you have had time to learn from some of the choices you have made. Our own ability to see clearly in the present moment is limited. And what appears to be a right decision or right thinking in the moment can sometimes do more harm than good.

Jesus warned his disciples that following him would not be easy or even look like a good idea at times. He spoke about the costs of being his disciple, but he also promised that his way leads to life. He said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

In other words, there can be many ways that appear to be right (even religiously) and seem more attractive than the way of Jesus, but they will bring misery and destruction in the end.

Is there a road in your life that might be taking you away from Jesus? What can you do about that?

Lord and Savior, by the power of your Spirit, give me discernment and wisdom to know the way to follow you faithfully. Amen.

God Has a Purpose for You

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God Has a Purpose for You

hand holding a compass in the sunshine


Have you ever asked God: What is my purpose in life? If so, I’m right there with you. Sometimes life can throw you a curveball, or storms may crash upon the shores of your heart that make you question God’s will for your life—and if that’s where you’re at today, friend, I want to encourage you.

Today’s Scripture readings for CBN’s “Bible in a Year” plan are Numbers 3 – 4, and Mark 3:20-35 (if you haven’t had a chance to read those yet, take a moment to do so). When you dive into the Old Testament book of Numbers, you see in the first few chapters the grand organization of the nation of Israel and instructions for how the tabernacle is to be run (which was the dwelling place for God’s Spirit at the time).

As you read chapter 3, you see that certain tribes and clans are called to perform sacred duties and tasks in the tabernacle. For example, Aaron (Moses’ brother) and his sons were called to be the priests, and the tribe of Levi was called to assist them. As you move into chapter 4, you see this organizational chart continue to be written out. The Lord then calls the specific clans within the tribe of Levi, such as the Kohathites and Gershonites, to perform duties like handling the most sacred objects for transport (Numbers 4:4-6), general service, and carrying loads (Numbers 4:24-27).

By now, you might be thinking, what’s the point of all of this? And again, I’m right there with you. As we digest this passage let’s:

  • remember the spirit and purpose of the law (see Galatians 3:23-25)
  • not forget that Jesus’ death and resurrection have fulfilled the purpose for that way of life (see Matthew 5:17). We now live in an era where we each are like a tabernacle, housing the Spirit of God.

Let’s take a step back and see the bigger picture. Though each tribe, clan and individual within the nation of Israel had a specific task or duty to perform, they all served a larger purpose—to serve and obey the Living God.

If you’re questioning God’s purpose for your life, let this be a reminder: Don’t let the details overwhelm the purpose. As sons and daughters of God, we are all called to the amazing, life-giving purpose of serving Jesus. Don’t get stressed out because you’re not exactly sure how that’s going to look, just focus on the bigger picture—serving God in every area of your life.

Let the Holy Spirit guide you step by step, day by day, and eventually you’ll look at your life and see that God was guiding you into the beautiful and unique destiny He had for you all along. The path might get bumpy, have unexpected turns, but God is faithful. You can trust Him and bank on the fact that as you continue to abide in Him each day, His plans and purposes for your life are bright and full of wonder.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Streams in the Desert – February 22

  • 202322 Feb

If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:23).

Seldom have we heard a better definition of faith than was given once in one of our meetings, by a dear old colored woman, as she answered the question of a young man how to take the Lord for needed help.

In her characteristic way, pointing her finger toward him, she said with great emphasis: “You’ve just got to believe that He’s done it and it’s done.” The great danger with most of us is that, after we ask Him to do it, we do not believe that it is done, but we keep on helping Him, and getting others to help Him; and waiting to see how He is going to do it.

Faith adds its “Amen” to God’s “Yea,” and then takes its hands off, and leaves God to finish His work. Its language is, “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him; and he worketh.”
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

I simply take Him at His word,
I praise Him that my prayer is heard,
And claim my answer from the Lord;
I take, He undertakes.

An active faith can give thanks for a promise, though it be not as yet performed; knowing that God’s bonds are as good as ready money.
–Matthew Henry

Passive faith accepts the word as true
But never moves.
Active faith begins the work to do,
And thereby proves.
Passive faith says, “I believe it! every word of God is true.
Well I know He hath not spoken what He cannot, will not, do.
He hath bidden me, ‘Go forward!’ but a closed-up way I see,
When the waters are divided, soon in Canaan’s land I’ll be.
Lo! I hear His voice commanding, ‘Rise and walk: take up thy bed’;
And, ‘Stretch forth thy withered member!’ which for so long has been dead.
When I am a little stronger, then, I know I’ll surely stand:
When there comes a thrill of heating, I will use with ease My other hand.
Yes, I know that ‘God is able’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, sometime, will to me come true.”
Active faith says, “I believe it! and the promise now I take,
Knowing well, as I receive it, God, each promise, real will make.
So I step into the waters, finding there an open way;
Onward press, the land possessing; nothing can my progress stay.
Yea, I rise at His commanding, walk straightway, and joyfully:
This, my hand, so sadly shrivelled, as I reach, restored shall be.
What beyond His faithful promise, would I wish or do I need?
Looking not for ‘signs or wonders,’ I’ll no contradiction heed.
Well I know that ‘God is able,’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, at this moment can come true.”
Passive faith but praises in the light, When sun doth shine.

Active faith will praise in darkest night– Which faith is thine?

Is Rumination Good or Bad?

By Meg Bucher,

“Be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most out of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT

3 am. Again. I snapped out of a restful sleep to lie awake thinking …Re-runs were beginning to take up too much real estate in my mind.

The Bible tells us to keep a tight reign on our thought life, lest we follow it down rabbit holes which can leave us stuck in a moment we can’t get out of. Yet, we are not supposed to live thoughtlessly. Rumination, another word for overthinking, can be good or bad … or good and bad.

Rumination is “the act of pondering or musing on something; the act or process of chewing the cud, as cows, deer, and some other animals do.” Animals with multiple stomachs literally return pieces of food to their mouths to re-chew a second time. To “chew the cud” means to rethink something. “In a sense,” William Hwang Psy.D. explains,“when we are going over past events in our minds, again and again, we are behaving like our fellow ‘ruminants’ in the animal world.”

Synonyms to the word rumination include reflection, meditation, anticipation, consideration, contemplation, hope, intuition, logic, rationalization, speculation, study, understanding, and realizing. Some good habits, others bad, and still others could be either or a mix of both. “Psychologists have suggested that rumination is actually a type of emotional avoidance with regard to our experiences,” William Hwang Psy.D. explains,  “In focusing our attention on thinking about content of experiences, we often avoid making contact with the emotions these experiences inspire. In turn, avoidance of emotions leads to a lack of emotional processing. Just like with food, we need to properly process and digest our emotions, or else we have bigger problems down the line.”

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “be careful how you live.” Proverbs 12:25 says, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” We have the power to flip worried thoughts into encouraging words. When we do, ruminating on what we have to be thankful for in life, and how good God is …those are productive ruminations.

Stringing the Pearls of Your Beautiful Story

FEBRUARY 22, 2023

“… the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46 (NKJV)

The most precious keepsake in my jewelry drawer is a string of my mother’s pearls. They were a gift to her from my father in the second decade of their marriage.

Imagining her wide-eyed, opening a fancy box and finding a string of real pearls inside, always makes me smile. For one thing, it was the only piece of jewelry she owned, besides a humble wedding ring, that wasn’t costume jewelry. For a second thing, my parents had a rocky marriage, and I cherish hints of happy seasons.

The clasp on the necklace is old and weak, so I’m too afraid to wear the pearls. Still, I hold them often, rolling them with my fingertips, and think of my mom. And her mom. And my daughters. And my daughter’s daughters. All of us women who’ve longed to find beautiful lives even after fairy tales proved fraudulent.

The pearls are yellowed now, perhaps from age, but I smile as I wonder if a blend of cigarette smoke, cologne and Clairol hair color might have contributed. Life has a way of rubbing off on our pearls, doesn’t it?

I’ve spent the last year or so looking back over my life. A common inclination of those who reach that famous age benchmark of 65 suggests — wrongly, I believe — that it’s all downhill from here. But I savor life and relationships more than ever and find myself more secure and at deeper peace.

The words of Scripture are so dear to me after all the years of looking to God through them that I often can’t read my Bible without tears welling up. My soul still teems with life and purpose, but let’s admit I’m at a fine age for praying Psalm 90:12: “… teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom” (NKJV).

As I looked back over the past year, I drew a timeline from my birthdate to the present. I placed bold dots where the most life-shaping events or seasons of my journey took place — whether positive or negative — and labeled them. Until now, I’d been reluctant to take a sequential look back because, in my thinking, it had all been such a jumbled mess. Too much pain and failure. Too much sin and defeat. Too many tears and regrets.

But an uncanny thing became clear to me: how often something wonderfully providential came next to something wildly painful. So many hard things have happened, but goodness and mercy have indeed followed me all the days of my life. (Psalm 23:6)

That timeline became a string to me, and those dots became pearls. I realized that each element — bad or good — had caused the “one pearl of great price,” as God’s Kingdom is called in Matthew 13:46, to increase in value to me.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)

Have you, like me, needed Jesus so badly?

Looking back, was He there for you, even if you see Him only in hindsight?

Did those life-shaping things ultimately increase, in your eyes, the surpassing value of the one thing no one can take from you?

Then, lo and behold, you did find a beautiful life, one that will only increase in worth with time and trust. Faith is the clasp on your string of pearls. Faith in Christ and His power to redeem your life will keep those pearls from getting lost.

One Nation Under God

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One Nation Under God

American flag with a Bible in front and a cross on top of the Bible


Jonathan Macnab – cbn. com

Do you have hope for our nation? It’s a question many are asking in light of the struggles the U.S. has faced in recent years. To some, the future seems dim as political turmoil and economic woes overshadow the path forward. And it’s an important question today, of all days, as we remember and honor those who’ve accepted the tremendous stewardship of leading the United States of America. Yet there is a far more important question to ask just now. Do you have hope in our nation and its leaders?

In the end, where our hope is will determine the direction of our lives. Consider the people of Israel—God’s chosen people. He called them out of Egypt to be a holy nation, a people set apart for His purposes. As God gave them a national identity, He set their constitution in stone, providing a written rule of law to guide their life and practice. Blessing was promised if they followed the law:

“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase… And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid… I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you… I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Leviticus 26:3-12).

But if they disregarded that law, the consequences would be dire. The nation would struggle in every way: economically, militarily, and beyond. And what was the number one thing God was concerned about? You shall not make idols for yourselves… for I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 26:1). God was their Lord—their leader—and they had no right to put anything in His place. They couldn’t set up false gods, which means they couldn’t put their hope in something or someone they had chosen for themselves. Although eventually, they did just that, making a golden calf in the wilderness and then demanding a king in the days of the judges. They wanted a ruler made in their own image.

And here we are today, struggling with what leaders in which to place our trust, often putting our hope in elections or money or social progress instead of God, and as a nation walking away from both God’s law and our own constitution in some cases. Then we wonder why things aren’t going so well for the economy, and we look for someone to blame. But we can only blame ourselves for not exalting God to the highest place as a country, for not putting our trust in our true leader alone.

Jesus is the hope of the world—the Lord, the one whose government will increase forever (Isaiah 9:7).

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Hebrews 1:3).

He showed us what it would be like to have a man in whom we could trust—and there is no other. He displayed complete authority over demons and over men, over sickness and over sin, and only He is truly committed to justice.  In the end, every knee will bow to Him. And right now, He is the only hope for our society’s true ills. Only He can change the human heart!

So this President’s Day, let’s honor Jesus by trusting in Him alone for our future hope, and by obeying His command to honor those in leadership over us. Whoever our leaders are, there is an honor due to their positions as those whose responsibility it is to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good (1 Peter 2:14). In that very passage, Peter called God’s people to honor the emperor, the Roman overlord whose empire often persecuted Christians because of their countercultural lifestyles. That means it’s not too much to ask for us to honor our leaders. We also ought to pray for all those in authority, asking for God to bring a level of peace that will allow us to serve Him well (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Today’s Devotions


February 20

Exodus 32:31-32 31So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32But now, please forgive their sin–but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

While Moses was on the mountain receiving God’s instructions, the people had gone their own way, insisting that Aaron make them a god to lead them. Freed from the bondage of Egypt and now thinking they are free of a moral leader, they threw caution to the wind and gave in to their lusts. While Aaron formed a golden calf from their donated earrings, the people partied wildly.

God told Moses to return to the people, for they had already broken the commandments He had just given. God described the people as stiff-necked. In other words, if you call to them, they will not turn their head to hear. They go their own way. God said He will destroy them and make a nation for Himself with Moses’ children. Moses pled to God with the above prayer. Imagine if Moses had not had such a heart for the people. The nation would be called the Children of Moses, not the Children of Israel. Here we see the real heart of an intercessor. Paul the Apostle had the same burden for Israel. These men shared the heart of their LORD.

God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that we would not perish. How much are you willing to give of yourself for the lost around you? Ask God for a heart for others like Moses and Paul had, and most of all, like our heavenly Father, who is not willing that any should perish.

Consider: Do we carry such a burden for those whom God has called? Would we give up our eternity to gain theirs?

Streams in the Desert – February 20

  • 202320 Feb

Nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matt. 17:20).

It is possible, for those who really are willing to reckon on the power of the Lord for keeping and victory, to lead a life in which His promises are taken as they stand and are found to be true.

It is possible to cast all our care upon Him daily and to enjoy deep peace in doing it.

It is possible to have the thoughts and imaginations of our hearts purified, in the deepest meaning of the word.

It is possible to see the will of God in everything, and to receive it, not with sighing, but with singing.

It is possible by taking complete refuge in Divine power to become strong through and through; and, where previously our greatest weakness lay, to find that things which formerly upset all our resolves to be patient, or pure, or humble, furnish today an opportunity — through Him who loved us, and works in us an agreement with His will and a blessed sense of His presence and His power — to make sin powerless over us.

These things are DIVINE POSSIBILITIES, and because they are His work, the true experience of them will always cause us to bow lower at His feet and to learn to thirst and long for more.

We cannot possibly be satisfied with anything less — each day, each hour, each moment, in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit — than to WALK WITH GOD.
–H. C. G. Moule

We may have as much of God as we will. Christ puts the key of the treasure-chamber into our hand, and bids us take all that we want. If a man is admitted into the bullion vault of a bank, and told to help himself, and comes out with one cent, whose fault is it that he is poor? Whose fault is it that Christian people generally have such scanty portions of the free riches of God?

Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves

By Lynette Kittle,

“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” – Matthew 22:39

How far are you willing to go to love your neighbor as yourself? Especially when it comes to addressing an issue with a fellow believer. Such as, are you willing to say something to your social media friend if they start posting unkind comments, photos, and videos? Or do you believe ignoring or not reacting to their post is taking a stand and letting them know your thoughts on it?

As simple and easy as that is to do, it’s pretty risk-free and leaves much room for miscommunication and misunderstanding. Or are you willing to be a true friend and go the extra mile? Are you willing to risk saying something privately to your friend because you love them and care about them and their Christian walk and witness, genuinely concerned about how they are coming across on social media?

I’m not suggesting calling a friend out directly on the post and embarrassing them in front of their peers, as doing so can make the person speaking out look unkind, too. But realize that not saying anything is exactly what it sounds like, saying nothing. Truly loving others involves stepping out when it feels uncomfortable. It’s caring more about them than how they might react to our reaching out to them in love.

Truth and Consequences
Recently I reached out to a couple of Christian friends on social media concerning some of their posts. In doing so, one ignored my message completely, keeping her questionable social media photo posted. Although she read it and didn’t unfriend me, she also didn’t respond to my message either. Another believing friend also didn’t reply to my message but did remove his post. Still, reaching out to love our neighbors comes with risks and consequences, ones we have to be willing to receive and accept. These include being ignored, rejected, and scorne

So is it even worth the effort? In my opinion, absolutely, and as Romans 12:10 urges us, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Honoring others includes caring enough about their Christian walk and witnessing to not look the other way when we see them stumbling, influenced, or led astray by worldly thinking and methods.

How Open Are We to Godly Correction?
As Christians, isn’t it good to be open to correction? Doesn’t doing so express our love, care, and concern for each other? 1 Timothy 3:16 explains how “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

So when we see what seems like a fellow believer wandering off from what the Bible teaches, is it okay to lovingly approach them in the hopes of helping them to evaluate their actions and attitudes? Honestly, if we’re truly seeking to live out the truths revealed in God’s Word, don’t we want someone to reach out and help us get back on track? If not, then maybe we want to examine our own hearts to see if pride keeps us from being open to godly correction.

Unwilling to receive correction, or even consider it, reveals a more serious issue than any social media post. Proverbs 11:2 uncovers the danger of resistance to having our actions and attitudes critiqued, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

As well, Proverbs 16:18 reminds us how serious and dangerous pride is in our lives gone unchecked, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Although not every comment that comes from others may be biblical or valid, it’s wise for us to at least consider it by checking our own heart, what God says about the situation in His Word, and by asking Him to reveal the truth of the matter to us.

The One With Power and Authority


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The One With Power and Authority

sunrise on the horizon


Lorie Hartshorn –

What kind of Jesus do you worship? That might sound like a strange question, but it’s essential, especially in today’s culture. Many people like the sound of Jesus and would even say they believe in Jesus—but do they believe in the Jesus of the Bible or a man-made version of Him? The Enlightenment thinkers would tell us to reject any authority unless it aligns with our personal reason. This subjective reasoning has led people to reject God’s supernatural miracles and question anything outside of reason. Skepticism replaced faith.

In Mark 1:23-27, we see Jesus operating in His full authority over the demonic. We read that, while Jesus was teaching, a demon-possessed man shouted, “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (v. 24 NLT).

Imagine if this happened in one of our churches today while the pastor was preaching. In many cases, the person would simply be removed for causing a disturbance, but Jesus wasn’t fazed or uncomfortable. He didn’t try to explain it away or dismiss it. He did what the Son of Man would do. He took authority over it and told it to be quiet.

But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him (v. 25-26).

The demons knew who Jesus was. They knew His authority and that He had come to expose them. They were, and are, afraid of Jesus’ power. Demons will try to deceive people into thinking they have more authority than Jesus. This is why many people in our culture are fascinated with the spiritual realm. But are they more powerful? No! Demons recognize the power and authority of Jesus more than people. They try to keep us blind to it and to worship a Jesus that is good but not powerful. Like the people in the crowd that day, we, too, need to be reminded of the authority and power of Jesus. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

It’s easy to look at these verses and get so focused on the unclean spirit that we miss the man whom he inhabited. What happened to him? He was healed. He was set free.

We need to break out of our skeptical mindsets and recognize that many people today, both inside and outside of the church, are controlled or under a high degree of influence from the demonic. Jesus’ power to deliver and heal is available today. Jesus wants to set people free. The amazing thing about how He accomplishes this is that He chooses to use us!

In Luke 10:19, Jesus gave authority to the His disciples over the demonic when He said,

“Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.”

Jesus’ last words to His disciples before leaving this earth were a reminder that He has authority over everything and that they are to go in that same authority (Matthew 28:18).

So, what kind of Jesus do you worship? What kind of Jesus do you serve? Is He King of Kings and Lord of Lords with authority and power over every demon? If so, are you living your life in light of this truth that He has given you His authority? This is why you can live without fear of Satan and His schemes and participate with God in bringing His kingdom here on earth. One of the greatest acts of compassion is to deliver a suffering person from the torment of the demonic. This is the will and desire of God to set captives free (Luke 4:18).

Let’s walk in the authority that Jesus gave us as His disciples and pray for the oppressed, commanding the demonic to leave in the name and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the Jesus we worship and serve.

Seeking Counsel

  PROVERBS 12:15

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to ­advice.

—  Proverbs 12:15

As children, we learn to ask for help if there’s something we aren’t sure about. We raise a hand in the classroom; we bring questions to adults who might have answers for us. We want to learn things, so we ask for help, information, and advice as we need it.

For many of us, this tends to change as we grow older. We start believing that being independent and figuring things out on our own is most important. We become less inclined to ask for help or advice because we don’t want to seem weak.

Oftentimes our own experience or expertise may be enough. And not all advice is good advice, as many of us learn along the way.

But our verse from Proverbs today gives a helpful reminder that it is foolish to become wise in our own eyes, to believe that we always know what’s best, or to assume that our way is always right.

Asking for advice or for help does not make us weak. It expands our ability to discern complicated situations. Often someone who is wiser or more experienced can see or understand the situation better than we can. And sometimes God puts people in our lives specifically for that reason.

Jesus himself was not afraid to ask for advice or wisdom—­particularly in prayer to his Father in heaven. Will we follow his example?

Father, keep me from thinking I always know what is best. Give me the humility to ask you for wisdom and to seek advice from others who are wiser than I am. Amen.

Stop Worrying about Tomorrow

By Clarence L. Haynes Jr.,

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34

On Monday, July 16, 2012, I was on a conference call along with approximately one hundred of my work colleagues. During this call, the regional vice president got on the phone and announced that as of this Friday, you will no longer be employed. Needless to say, all the people on the call were in complete shock.

In 2017, I was visiting my mom’s house with my son, and suddenly he started trembling uncontrollably because he had a high fever. We were unsure of what was going on, so we called 911 and had him taken to the emergency room. That one trip to the emergency room turned into a month-long stay in the hospital.

Why am I telling you these things? The reason is that, in both instances, they caused me to worry. If I were to ask you right now, what are you worried about? What would it be? Some of you may be worried about the economy and rising inflation which are making everything more expensive. Others are worried about their future, wondering if they will ever be able to retire. Still, others are worried about what is happening in our society and what our nation will look like in the years to come. Whether your worries are like these or they are entirely different, we have an instruction here that we simply cannot overlook. We should not be worried about tomorrow.

What Causes Worry?
When you strip away all the things that can lead to worry in your life, they all point to the same cause, which is uncertainty. If you have confidence and a plan for how things are going to work out, chances are your anxiety levels go way down. If you are unsure about what will happen and don’t see the way forward, the natural inclination is to worry. When I lost my job, and when my son was sick, I was uncertain of the next steps, which made me anxious and nervous about tomorrow.

When you don’t know what lies ahead, or if this is the first time you have walked a certain path, it can lead to concern, which gives birth to worry. That’s why Jesus telling us not to worry about tomorrow makes perfect sense, yet we find it difficult to do. Even more so when we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. How then can we look at the realities of life straight on and not be worried? We find the answer to the question in the previous verse.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33

I can say with almost one hundred percent certainty if you are worried about tomorrow, you are not seeking the kingdom of God today. The reason seeking the kingdom of God is so crucial is seeking his kingdom means you are seeking his wisdom, his provision, his protection, his peace, and his will. Placing your trust in him for your tomorrow helps you know how to live today. Failure to do this produces worry, which does not help you face the challenges of today and does nothing to prepare you for the obstacles that lie ahead. I can assure you God is not worried about tomorrow, and if your trust is in him, then you don’t have to be eithe

Don’t Be a Worrier, Be a Seeker.
Jesus never said we would not have difficulties. He said he doesn’t want you worrying about them. The only way not to do this is by seeking his kingdom first. When you do this, you find God has more than enough supply to meet whatever the demand is you will face tomorrow. God doesn’t want you worrying about tomorrow because he needs you present in today. When you worry, you often make poor decisions, and it is those choices you make today that will affect your tomorrow. Worry produces fear, and fear paralyzes you so that you become ineffective today and unprepared for tomorrow. So let’s do what Jesus said and not worry about tomorrow. Instead, let’s seek God today. As you find refuge in him, you discover he has already made provision for tomorrow, so you can set all your worries aside and rest easy today.

Today’s Devotions


February 19

Exodus 31:13 13“Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

The Israelites had weekly Sabbaths (a day of rest), but they also had new moon Sabbaths and other special Sabbath days related to their feasts. On those days, there were restrictions as to how much they could do and how far they could go. All these were designed to have them take time to contemplate the God they served. They were to be still for a day to focus upon God. The above verse teaches that the reason for the Sabbath was to know who the LORD is and that He is the One who makes us holy. It seems that they missed the whole point of the exercise and concentrated on the rules surrounding the Sabbath instead of the purpose. They thought that keeping the rules made them holy, when it is clearly the LORD who makes us holy.

They had the example in Abraham who was declared right with God by simply believing in God before he had done anything the Lord asked. They also had the example of Moses, the man who recorded this passage. He was a murderer and failed miserably when he tried to do it his own way. But when we know we can’t do it ourselves, that holiness is unattainable by our efforts, we finally look to the LORD who makes us holy. Though at that time they did not understand how, they simply needed to believe He would. It is the trust placed in God, not a detailed understanding of the process that makes men right with God, both then and now. He makes us holy. His work will transform our lives when our trust is placed in Him.

Meditation: It is the LORD who makes you holy when your trust is in Him to do so.

Obedience to the Faith

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Obedience to the Faith



Gordon Robertson – President and CEO, CBN

Paul uses an interesting phrase in both the opening and the closing of his letter to the believers in Rome. He speaks of obedience to faith in Romans 1:5, then says in Romans 16:25-26 (NKJV),

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ … for obedience to the faith.

How do you become established in faith? It’s all His work. It’s not based on what you do or don’t do, but on what He has already done. He is able to establish you so that you won’t be moved or blown by winds of doctrine.

The Gospel Paul preaches is all about Jesus Christ and Him crucifiedas he writes in 1 Corinthians 2:2. That is the singular event in all history, separating B.C. from A.D. It is the cross, which is fully sufficient. Jesus will establish you. It’s Jesus,who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).

Only He can do all of that.

Jesus declares in His first sermon,

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15).

What is the kingdom of God? It’s simple: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is what Jesus teaches His followers to pray in Matthew 6:10. We want to pray heaven down to earth. That’s the kingdom.

Jesus goes on to say in Mark 1:15,

“Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

We must change our thinking and believe the Good News. It is by faith that we are justified unto salvation.

And in Romans 16:26-27, God commands that this Gospel be made known to all nations—to everyone. Why? For obedience to the faith. This means that when God’s Word says it, you believe it.

A good example is the Virgin Mary when the angel tells her:

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

Mary asks how this can happen since she is a virgin, and the angel replies:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. … For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:35, 37).

Mary knows very well that if she is pregnant and unmarried, she will face shame and rejection. She could even be stoned to death.

Yet she answers,

“Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

That is obedience to the faith—God announces, and I believe.

Another example is the life of Jesus. Luke 4:21 records how He stands up in the synagogue, reads from the scroll of Isaiah, and announces,

“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

He takes to heart Psalm 40:7-8, which says: “In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will.”

That is obedience to the faith.

Jesus says that those who believe in Him will do even greater miracles than He did. He says that all the fullness of God would be in us, and that the power God has given to Him, He gives to us. These are some powerful promises—and they are ours today!

As Paul states in 2 Corinthians 1:20-21:

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God.

We are called to take this Gospel into all the world, yet some Christians think, “I’m not worthy. I haven’t studied the Bible enough. I don’t know the Greek and Hebrew.” That is not obedience to the faith.

What if Mary had told the angel, “Sorry, no—I’m not your gal”?

God knew her, and God knows you. While Jesus was dying, He knew about you—for the prophecy in Isaiah 53:10 tells us, When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed.

We are His seed. We are His descendants! From the cross He could see into the future, and we satisfy Him.

The Bible says,

We have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts (2 Peter 1:19).

This is talking about the born-again experience, when you know that Jesus has been born in your heart. You become impregnated by the Holy Spirit, and the day star arises in your heart. People are dwelling in darkness, and we need to be that light shining in a dark place.

So let’s not miss out on anything God has for us. Since all of His promises to us are Yes and Amen, let’s believe every single one of them. And, like Mary, let’s declare, “Let it be to me according to your word.”

The Anticipated Stamp Album – Streams in the Desert – February 18

  • 202318 Feb

Have faith that whatever you ask for in prayer is already granted you, and you will find that it will be (Mark 11:24).

When my little son was about ten years of age, his grandmother promised him a stamp album for Christmas. Christmas came, but no stamp album, and no word from grandmother. The matter, however, was not mentioned; but when his playmates came to see his Christmas presents, I was astonished, after he had named over this and that as gifts received, to hear him add, “And a stamp album from grandmother.”

I had heard it several times, when I called him to me, and said, “But, Georgie, you did not get an album from your grandmother. Why do you say so?”

There was a wondering look on his face, as if he thought it strange that I should ask such a question, and he replied, “Well,  mamma, grandma said, so it is the same as.” I could not say a word to check his faith.

A month went by, and nothing was heard from the album. Finally, one day, I said, to test his faith, and really wondering in my heart why the album had not been sent, “Well, Georgie, I think grandma has forgotten her promise.”

“Oh, no, mamma,” he quickly and firmly said, “she hasn’t.”

I watched the dear, trusting face, which, for a while, looked very sober, as if debating the possibilities I had suggested. Finally a bright light passed over it, and he said, “Mamma, do you think it would do any good if I should write to her thanking her for the album?”

“I do not know,” I said, “but you might try it.” A rich spiritual truth began to dawn upon me.

In a few minutes a letter was prepared and committed to the mail, and he went off whistling his confidence in his grandma. In just a short time a letter came, saying:

“My dear Georgie: I have not forgotten my promise to you, of an album. I tried to get such a book as you desired, but could not get the sort you wanted; so I sent on to New York. It did not get here till after Christmas, and it was still not right, so I sent for another, and as it has not come as yet, I send you three dollars to get one in Chicago. Your loving grandma.”

As he read the letter, his face was the face of a victor. “Now, mamma, didn’t I tell you?” came from the depths of a heart that never doubted, that, “against hope, believed in hope” that the stamp album would come. While he was trusting, grandma was working, and in due season faith became sight.

It is so human to want sight when we step out on the promises of God, but our Savior said to Thomas, and to the long roll of doubters who have ever since followed him: “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”
–Mrs. Rounds

Frustrated with Prayer and Loving It

By Rev. Kyle Norman,

“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)

Have you ever felt dissatisfied with your prayers? Have you felt that despite your best efforts, you have never plumbed the depths of everything that prayer can offer you? Have you looked longingly to the saints before you, wishing to uncover a fraction of the prayerful intimacy they seemed to enjoy? I know I have.

When I was in seminary, learning how to be a pastor, we were made to attend a service of prayer every morning. Before breakfast, we would all gather in the chapel and go through the liturgy of Morning Prayer. Every day, rain or shine, snow or sun, we would be expected to gather. While I was dutiful in this activity, I struggled with it. Inwardly I felt lost and restless. Although I desired a deeper connection with Christ, my prayer times were filled with questions: Was I praying correctly? Was I praying for the right things? Was I praying long enough?

And then there were the doubts. Why didn’t I hear a response? Why didn’t I receive prophetic messages? Was the Lord even listening to me?

For many years, I condemned myself for these feelings. Although I loved prayer and would speak about my “prayer life,” secretly, I felt I was describing something of which I was only scratching the surface. At times, I’m sad to say this dissatisfaction with prayer drove me away from prayer, even as a pastor. I believed that all the struggles I was having, the ways that my prayers did not seem as robust as they should be, indicated that I was failings in prayer.

But what if this isn’t the case? What if frustration in our prayer life is a sign of our deepening faith, not the absence of it? What if our feelings of inability in prayer indicate the movement of the Spirit deep within?

We can spend an exorbitant amount of time condemning ourselves for our own frustrations and perceived lack. We believe that such things highlight our lack of faith. But deeper prayer always begins with a sense of restlessness, a desire for more. Satisfaction in our prayer life is indicative of a stalled prayer life. The Lord always calls us forward beyond the boundaries of our comforts. This is as true in our prayer life as it is for our call to witness. Thus, frustration in prayer is but Christ’s invitation to journey deeper with him. Prayerful frustration indicates that the Holy Spirit works within us to move us toward deeper prayer experiences.

The saints before us, to whom we often turn, knew this reality well. Their lessons on prayer did not come from a point of mastery but from the heart of desire. They desired more in prayer. It is because they wrestled with things like wandering minds and worldly distractions that they learned the deeper way of Christ.

Man’s thoughts and God’s thoughts

Author: Charles Spurgeon

‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ Isaiah 55:8–9

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 10:1–18

There is an idea in the mind of many of you that the plan of just trusting in Christ, and being pardoned on the spot, is too simple to be safe. You want a plan which involves a host of Latin and Greek and all kinds of thing; you want a long palaver of baptism, confirmation, confession, and I know not what; but the gospel is, ‘Trust Jesus, and live.’ ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ It is too simple, you think, to be safe. Now, it is a well-known fact that the simplest remedies are the most potent and safe; and certainly, the simplest rules in mechanics are just those upon which the greatest engineers erect their most wonderful constructions. The moment you get to complexity you get into a snarl, and are on the brink of weakness. Simplicity, how solid it is! See the old-fashioned plan of putting a plank across the village brook—that was the old way of making a bridge. Well, then, somebody came in and invented an arch—a grand invention, certainly, but not in all cases suitable. The Menai tubular bridge is nothing more than the old plan of a plank thrown across the brook, and more and more great engineers revert to simplicities. When man grows wisest, he comes back to where he was when he started. I suppose that a swan sailing across a lake gave to the navigator the best possible model of a vessel, to which navigation will always have to keep close if it would keep close to the true and beautiful. Now, as in nature simplicity is strength, so is it certainly in grace. Trust Christ and live!

For meditation: Pride makes us reluctant to accept a salvation which affords us no personal credit or glory (2 Kings 5:9–14). Are you rejecting God’s free gift of forgiveness in Christ and complicating your life with wasted efforts, which will never result in a satisfactory conclusion (Isaiah 55:1–2)?