Be Prepared To Share Your Faith

 

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“Ready in Season”

From: Utmost.org

Many of us suffer from the unbalanced tendency to “be ready” only “out of season.” The season does not refer to time; it refers to us. This verse says, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season.” In other words, we should “be ready” whether we feel like it or not. If we do only what we feel inclined to do, some of us would never do anything. There are some people who are totally unemployable in the spiritual realm. They are spiritually feeble and weak, and they refuse to do anything unless they are supernaturally inspired. The proof that our relationship is right with God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not.

One of the worst traps a Christian worker can fall into is to become obsessed with his own exceptional moments of inspiration. When the Spirit of God gives you a time of inspiration and insight, you tend to say, “Now that I’ve experienced this moment, I will always be like this for God.” No, you will not, and God will make sure of that. Those times are entirely the gift of God. You cannot give them to yourself when you choose. If you say you will only be at your best for God, as during those exceptional times, you actually become an intolerable burden on Him. You will never do anything unless God keeps you consciously aware of His inspiration to you at all times. If you make a god out of your best moments, you will find that God will fade out of your life, never to return until you are obedient in the work He has placed closest to you, and until you have learned not to be obsessed with those exceptional moments He has given you.

 

APRIL 24, 2015

From: Crosswalk.com

Breaking the Cycle of Toxic Thoughts
LEAH DIPASCAL

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)

I saw the blue flashing lights in my rear view mirror, and knew it was not a good sign. A quick glance at the speedometer revealed I was going faster than intended.

I quickly began to build my case as I pulled over to the side of the road. With my two toddlers in the back seat, I was sure this would be an easy fix. After all, once the police officer heard my reasons for being distracted, he would certainly let me off the hook with a simple warning, a gentle smile and a cheerful, “Have a good day, ma’am!”

That’s not exactly how it went down.

Despite my attempts to explain, the police officer didn’t budge. It didn’t matter that I was lost in an unfamiliar section of town. It didn’t matter that my friend had just given birth to her second child, or that I’d spent hours preparing a meal for her family.

I was secretly hoping the lingering aroma of chicken fettuccini would prove my point. But despite all my good intentions and lengthy explanations, the officer proceeded with four words no one wants to hear: “License and registration, please.”

Five minutes later, I was back on the road with a nasty speeding ticket sitting on my dashboard. It might as well have been a neon sign flashing the words: loser, busted, cursed.

We cried the whole way home. My kids cried because they knew Mommy was veryupset. I cried — not because I was sad or embarrassed — but because I was angry.

What kind of officer gives a ticket to a good person who prepares a meal for a friend in her time of need? Sure, I was guilty of going a tad over the speed limit, but the consequences seemed harsh and I felt completely justified.

As the day went on, my anger mounted and my invisible stress barometer climbed to new heights. I couldn’t stop thinking about our brief and aloof conversation. Over and over, I mentally replayed alternative dialogues: I should have said this … What if he’d said that? …

By the end of the day, I had a fierce headache, a knot in my stomach and a “don’t-go-near-her attitude.” All the over-analyzing, replaying and mental back talk created a toxic mess in my mind and body, making an unfortunate situation worse.

My choice to speed produced the hefty consequence of a ticket and a marked driving record. But choosing to fixate my thoughts on the problem was like dousing gasoline on a tiny spark. That spark had become a consuming fire, distracting me from the real blessings God had for me that day — like the little ones in the back seat of my car and getting home safely.

In today’s key verse, Moses challenges the people of Israel to choose between life and death, a blessing and a curse. How? By choosing wisely. To love God, obey His commands and place Him above all else in their lives.

Today, we’re faced with the same challenge. Will we love God and choose His way to experience life and blessings, or will we choose our way and set ourselves up for some potentially explosive consequences?

Our words, actions and reactions are a direct result of our thought life. Left to our own sinful nature, we can easily find ourselves in a cycle of toxic thinking, choosing and reacting.

To be women who choose wisely, we have to go to the Source of all wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (NIV).

Freedom doesn’t come in making our own choices. Freedom comes by seeking God’s perfect wisdom to choose wisely in every area of our lives.

Friend, where are your choices taking you today? Are your thoughts, words, actions and reactions reflecting who you are in Christ? Let’s encourage one another to choose wisely and live in the blessed freedom that God has already made available to us.

 

Streams in the Desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Twas by a path of sorrows drear
Christ entered into rest;
And shall I look for roses here,
Or think that earth is blessed?
Heaven’s whitest lilies blow
From earth’s sharp crown of woe.
Who here his cross can meekly bear,
Shall wear the kingly purple there.

 

April 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evening

April 25

Luke 1:46-49 (NIV) 46And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name.

The angel Gabriel shared a secret with Mary. He told her that her cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant. Mary, now pregnant herself, went to see her. As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, the baby in her womb jumped. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke a word of revelation. She knew that Mary was the mother of her Lord! She told Mary she was blessed among women.

Then Mary uttered her song of praise. She acknowledged the blessing God had given her, the greatness of the miraculous conception. Then she added that God’s name is holy. Yes! He is utterly apart from creation and yet He is imminently present. He is completely pure, and yet He even became physically present to redeem fallen man.

In the womb of Mary, tiny hands were forming. Those hands had designed Mary. They had set the earth in motion. They had thrown the stars in space. This was the miracle of all miracles, that God could become physically manifest. It was the greatest expression of love ever seen. It would culminate in the cross and ultimately resurrection. If you can accept this miracle, all the other miracles are only natural results of this one. Either this story is the greatest lie the world has ever known and Christmas is a total distortion of history, or God became a man to redeem you and me. If it is true, and the life of Jesus verified it, then we had better heed the words of the God who physically manifested Himself for our sake.

In a metaphoric way, the baby growing in Mary’s womb is like Christ being formed in us. As time marches on, more and more of the life of Christ should be formed within us, until He is manifested in our lives.

Consider: Let that life in you be expressed in all His fullness.

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