Category Archives: Children

Give Them The Light of the Gospel

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A Christian’s Halloween Story

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I remember it like it was yesterday. Samuel, my seven-year-old son pranced around ready to put on his Halloween costume.

“Mom, can I put it on now? Please, can I Mom?”

“After dinner.”

Pizza, the fast and easy meal had become the Halloween tradition for my son and me.

As soon as we ate, Samuel raced to his bedroom, put on his scary costume and grabbed his bag.

“Honey, you understand you can only go in our circle of condos where I can see you.”

“I will, Mom. I promise.” And with that, he swooshed out the door.

Samuel stayed within the boundaries. While I wanted to keep an eye on him, I also wanted to give candy to any little treat-seekers who ventured our way.

When Samuel returned, the look on his face clawed into my heart.

“Honey, what’s wrong?”

He threw his empty trick-or-treat bag on the sofa.

“Nobody came to the door.”

That was one of those “Mommy Moments” I didn’t know how to handle. My heart cried.

Why didn’t anyone come to the door?



We were new to that city, so I wasn’t comfortable driving him around to strangers’ houses. We did the next best thing I could think of. We hung out together and watched a movie.

Years passed. Times changed. Halloween changed. My son grew up.

There was a lot of emphasis about Halloween beginning as a pagan holiday. Sometimes, Christians were urged not to participate.



I kept asking: So, God, What Should We Do about Halloween?



Brian and I lived in a neighborhood where we expected a lot of little children. What should we do?

We finally figured it out. We turned off the lights and hid out from those little pumpkins.
We could hear the muffled voices of the children and their parents talking and laughing as they traipsed down our street in search of treats.

Brian and I remained silent. Our house remained dark.

Was Hiding in the Dark on Halloween Night the Right Solution?



No! Absolutely not!

It bothered both of us.

I could still feel the disappointment in my son when no one opened the door for him so many years ago. Now, I don’t want to be the one who disappoints other little children.

Besides that, the Bible tells us …

“… You are to influence them, not let them influence you!” Jeremiah 15:19 (TLB)

Clearly, we had not influenced anyone hiding in the dark.

Another year passed. More prayers.

Again, Brian and I prayed about how to handle Halloween.

“God, how do you want us to handle this holiday? I believed Halloween was like a children’s holiday where parents and children in the neighborhood had fun together. But now, is our participation condoning something evil? I don’t think so.  God, please guide us.”

After our prayers…

God Gave Us a Halloween Plan! 



We went to the stores and bought little goodie bags and lots of candy. Then we purchased little Christian brochures to put into the bags. We picked out the best ones we could find for little children.

In advance, Brian and I packed our candy and brochures. We decorated our door with a fall wreath and placed a straw doll and talking pumpkin close to our basket of goodies. We flipped on the lights. We were ready to welcome Halloween!

Since we began our Halloween ministry, we’ve lived in several different states. In the past eight years, we’ve had approximately 750 children come to our door and receive their treat bag. There is no other holiday where Brian and I give out so many tracts about Jesus.

These brochures have the potential to be little seeds for Jesus-maybe hundreds of them as they add up year after year.



”Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow — perhaps it all will.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 (TLB)

Now It’s Your Turn. How Will You Handle Halloween?

11 Cast your bread upon the waters,
    for you will find it after many days.
Give a portion to seven, or even to eight,
    for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.
If the clouds are full of rain,
    they empty themselves on the earth,
and if a tree falls to the south or to the north,
    in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.
He who observes the wind will not sow,
    and he who regards the clouds will not reap.

As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb[a] of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Expect Him on the Ordinary Road – Streams in the Desert – October 22

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Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside, of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush” (Exod. 3:1,2).

The vision came in the midst of common toil, and that is where the Lord delights to give His revelations. He seeks a man who is on the ordinary road, and the Divine fire leaps out at his feet. The mystic ladder can rise from the market place to Heaven. It can connect the realm of drudgery with the realms of grace.

My Father God, help me to expect Thee on the ordinary road. I do not ask for sensational happenings. Commune with me through ordinary work and duty. Be my Companion when I take the common journey. Let the humble life be transfigured by Thy presence.

Some Christians think they must be always up to mounts of extraordinary joy and revelation; this is not after God’s method. Those spiritual visits to high places, and that wonderful intercourse with the unseen world, are not in the promises; the daily life of communion is. And it is enough. We shall have the exceptional revelation if it be right for us.

There were but three disciples allowed to see the transfiguration, and those three entered the gloom of Gethsemane. No one can stay on the mount of privilege. There are duties in the valley. Christ found His life-work, not in the glory, but in the valley and was there truly and fully the Messiah.

The value of the vision and glory is but their gift of fitness for work and endurance.
–Selected

The High Priest standing between the dead and the living

“And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.” Numbers 16:4748

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 4:14-5: 10

Jesus, the propitiator, is to be looked upon as the ordained one—called of God as was Aaron. Settled in eternity as being the predestined propitiation for sin, he came into the world as an ordained priest of God; receiving his ordination not from man, neither by man; but like Melchisedec, the priest of the most high God, without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, he is a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Stand back, sons of Korah, all of you who call yourselves priests. I can scarce imagine that any man in this world who takes to himself the title of a priest, unless he takes it in the sense in which all God’s people are priests,—I cannot imagine that a priest can enter heaven. I would not say a thing too stern or too severe; but I do most thoroughly believe that an assumption of the office of priest is so base an assumption of the priestly office of Christ, that I could as well conceive of a man being saved who called himself God, as conceive of a man being saved who called himself a priest; if he really means what he says, he has so trampled upon the priestly prerogative of Christ, that it seems to me he has touched the very crown jewels, and is guilty of a blasphemy, which, unless it be repented of, shall surely bring damnation on his head. Shake your garments, you ministers of Christ, from all priestly assumption; come out from among them; touch not the unclean thing. There are no priests now specially to minister among men. Jesus Christ and he only is the priest of his Church. He has made all of us priests and kings unto our God.

For meditation: Because the Christian has a Father in heaven, he is not to call any man his spiritual father on earth (Matthew 23:9); because the Christian has a great High Priest in heaven (1 Timothy 2:5), he is not to regard any man as his priest on earth. We are no longer living in Old Testament times!

Getting Ahead

by Inspiration Ministries

“Behold, the head of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life; so the LORD has given my lord the king vengeance this day on Saul and his descendants.” – 2 Samuel 4:8 NASB

Recab and Baanah were raiders who were valuable warriors for King Saul. After Saul died, these men tried to win David’s favor by assassinating Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son. They thought this would clear the way for David to be king. They fully expected David to be pleased and to reward them.

But to David, Ish-bosheth was not a rival, but “a righteous man” and God’s anointed. David had these “wicked men” executed for their crime (v. 11). He didn’t live by their rules.

These raiders show the extent to which some people go to get ahead. In the world around us, we see people willing to do just about anything to get results. They will lie or cheat. Deceive, distort, and spread rumors. In every situation, we need to remember, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

The world may encourage you to believe that the end justifies the means, and you can do anything to accomplish your goals. But remember that God is watching you. He has higher standards. He has given you His Word. And He promises to reward you if you obey Him, please Him, serve Him.

Make sure that you first seek His Kingdom. Obey His Word and live by His principles. Pray for others in the body of Christ. Don’t think of them as rivals but as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

God Gives Good Things To Us

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Remember the Good Things

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Every Autumn, just as the seasons are changing, I take a moment to bake something wonderful. It’s a special occasion, one that I hold close to my heart, and I mark it each year with a favorite confection, whether it’s cookies or cupcakes or a really big cake. I have some fun, pour my heart into my creation, and share it with my family and friends as a reminder of all that God has done for me and, really, for all of us.

I haven’t decided what I’m baking yet this year, but it’s been on my mind as the days have grown shorter and sweet memories begin to bubble up. A few years ago, I was miraculously delivered from a sin that I couldn’t manage to leave behind no matter what I tried. I prayed for years, I changed my habits, I talked with Christian counselors, but I had come to the point where I thought, “maybe this is just the thorn in my side that I’ll be fighting until I die.”

At the very least, I’d gone from believing my sin was too big for God to handle to realizing that God was willing to work with me. He was willing to transform me, and I was okay with taking time to do that. But then there came a night when I told a friend, “I think God’s gonna do it. He’s going to set me free,” and only a few minutes later, He did.

This was a moment I believed defined my walk with God. It was definitely a turning point, and in the years following, I’ve made a point not to forget it. It’s vital for us to remember that God is merciful to us, and to remember just how merciful he can be. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15-16:

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (NLT)

When God set me free, I told him that I would glorify His name. I told Him that if He did the impossible and broke a cycle that I was too weak to overcome, I’d tell other people that He can do that for them too. As it’s said in Isaiah 63:7,

“I will tell of the Lord’s unfailing love. I will praise the Lord for all he has done …” (NLT)

God tells us to remember the things He’s done. It’s easy to forget, and I’ll admit I have days when I don’t go out of my way to be grateful for how far God has brought me in my life. He’s done such incredible things for me, and if I can manage to mark these events and share them with others, I’ll go out of my way to do them! I hope you have something to celebrate this season, and that God’s goodness will be on your mind.

Father God, thank you for your goodness, grace, and mercy. Thank you for all you do in our lives and for the ways you work with us to make us holy and righteous before you. I lift up whoever is reading this and ask that you remind them of how You have worked in their lives. Give them the same abundant grace and mercy you have given me, and let them experience turning points in their faith that they can share with others to glorify You. Amen. 

(1 Timothy 1:15-16“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (NLT))

 

Streams in the Desert – October 21

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For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Cor. 5:1).

The owner of the tenement which I have occupied for many years has given notice that he will furnish but little or nothing more for repairs. I am advised to be ready to move.

At first this was not a very welcome notice. The surroundings here are in many respects very pleasant, and were it not for the evidence of decay, I should consider the house good enough. But even a light wind causes it to tremble and totter, and all the braces are not sufficient to make it secure. So I am getting ready to move.

It is strange how quickly one’s interest is transferred to the prospective home. I have been consulting maps of the new country and reading descriptions of its inhabitants. One who visited it has returned, and from him I learn that it is beautiful beyond description; language breaks down in attempting to tell of what he heard while there. He says that, in order to make an investment there, he has suffered the loss of all things that he owned here, and even rejoices in what others would call making a sacrifice. Another, whose love to me has been proven by the greatest possible test, is now there. He has sent me several clusters of the most delicious fruits. After tasting them, all food here seems insipid.

Two or three times I have been down by the border of the river that forms the boundary, and have wished myself among the company of those who were singing praises to the King on the other side. Many of my friends have moved there. Before leaving they spoke of my coming later. I have seen the smile upon their faces as they passed out of sight. Often I am asked to make some new investments here, but my answer in every case is, “I am getting ready to move.”
–Selected

The words often on Jesus’ lips in His last days express vividly the idea, “going to the Father.” We, too, who are Christ’s people, have vision of something beyond the difficulties and disappointments of this life. We are journeying towards fulfillment, completion, expansion of life. We, too, are “going to the Father.” Much is dim concerning our home-country, but two things are clear. It is home, “the Father’s House.” It is the nearer presence of the Lord. We are all wayfarers, but the believer knows it and accepts it. He is a traveller, not a settler.
–R. C. Gillie

The little birds trust God, for they go singing
From northern woods where autumn winds have blown,
With joyous faith their trackless pathway winging
To summer-lands of song, afar, unknown.

Let us go singing, then, and not go sighing:
Since we are sure our times are in His hand,
Why should we weep, and fear, and call it dying?
‘Tis only flitting to a Summer-land.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

October 21

Psalms 89:30-33 30“If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, 31if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, 32I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; 33but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.

In this psalm about God’s promises to David we see in a shadow God’s promises to the “Son of David”, Christ Jesus. We are His offspring, His seed, in Biblical terms (Isaiah 53:12). In type then, we see God’s attitude toward us when we sin. We are still sons, but God is neither indulgent nor ruthless. He will not let us go on without dealing with our sin, but He does not deal with it in a way that would crush us or cause His heart to turn from us.

That flogging often goes ignored by us at first. We chalk it up to circumstances, refusing to examine our hearts. When it comes to our own heart, we can be our worst deceiver and the most gullible of fools. We seem to find a justification for anything we wish to indulge in. Meanwhile the heart of our Father aches, knowing He is going to have to afflict us in a more serious way to get us to open our eyes.

When that happens, we cry out and ask, “Where is the God of love we once knew?” His love is still with you, but it is being expressed in faithfulness to turn you from the sin you refuse to admit is clouding your heart and judgment. Through it all, He weeps with you, hurts with you, as any loving father would when dealing severely with his own children. Thank God for His faithful love, even when it comes in the form of painful discipline. His love will not allow you to go on deceiving yourself.

God’s Perfect Timing

by Inspiration Ministries

“In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. ‘Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?’ he asked. The Lord said, ‘Go up.’ David asked, ‘Where shall I go?’ ‘To Hebron,’ the Lord answered.” – 2 Samuel 2:1 NIV

Saul was dead. Israel’s civil war was over. Now, what was David to do? It seemed time for him to take the throne as king. Some could not understand why he had not acted earlier. After all, he already had been anointed as king.

But David had learned the importance of waiting for God’s time. So, he acted not when he could have, but “in the course of time.” After seeking God, he moved forward only after receiving His clear direction – at the right time, God’s time.

David’s life was a testimony to the importance of waiting on God, a principle reinforced throughout his writings. He wrote, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). And, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).

As David demonstrated, to be used by God, we need to act when He directs. We always need to be sensitive to His leading and guidance. And we must remain patient – patient for God to prepare the way, for the right circumstances, for the time to be right, and for our training to be complete.

Make sure you are sensitive to God’s timing for the challenges you face. Seek His directions for your decisions. Don’t make assumptions but listen for His guidance. His time may not be your time. Wait and be ready to move forward only as He directs.

Give thanks To God For His Blessings

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Frost on the Pumpkin, Dust on the Bible

a pumpkin with frost on it

I remember waking up to the radio alarm one day to the refrain, “Hello country bumpkin, how’s the frost out on the pumpkin?” My wife and I laughed and laughed at such words to be awakened with. In this season of the fall harvest when pumpkins seem to spring up everywhere, I think about those days of innocence, those days when our biggest concern was the frost on the pumpkin.

At this time of the year our nation celebrates Halloween’s many activities, which includes carving out pumpkins and sitting them on the front porch steps. It has become a family tradition for millions of people. Yet very few use the bounty of the pumpkin for food.

One year at this time we had so many real pumpkins on our porch, fake pumpkins in the flowerbeds, and even giant blow up plastic pumpkins in the front yard that we earned the title, “The Pumpkin house,” from the neighborhood kids. But we didn’t eat a single one! (Pumpkin, not kids).

Now here we are again in the fall season when these orange spheres show up in front yards like dandelions on a summer day. We surround ourselves with this beautiful bounty as decoration but the food within we discard on newspaper.

The Bible says,

“Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee” (Psalm 116:7 KJV).

Are we enjoying the bounty?

The poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who was born in Massachusetts in 1807, wrote:

The Pumpkin” (1850)
Oh! Fruit loved of boyhood! The old days recalling.
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!

Back in the olden days, a carved pumpkin was placed on the family hearth to keep evil spirits from coming down the chimney and into the home to do their dastardly deeds.

Today, in homes across America many have replaced this use of the carved pumpkin with the Bible. Now bear with me a moment. We set the Bible out on the coffee table, enjoy its beauty, and yet rarely pick it up. We know that it holds a bounty within, yet we don’t feast on the rich food of the word when it’s sitting right here in front of us. We dust it, and display it with pride when visitors come, yet how many times, like the pumpkin, does it end up just sitting on a newspaper?

The food within the Bible nourishes our spiritual man within, yet we are starving ourselves and allowing the spirits to enter our homes through the modern-day chimney, the television. Now that’s scary. Wouldn’t our fore-bearers be aghast if they could see us today? We might call them superstitious for trying to ward off evil spirits with a carved pumpkin, but what would they say about us for not even trying?

The wonderful bounty of the pumpkin awaits the pies, while the life-giving food in the Bible awaits our eyes. This season, when you see the pumpkin carved so ingeniously and sitting on the porch, remind yourself of the Bible written so divinely and sitting on your table. It has a candle within which will never go out and will keep every evil spirit at bay.

Inside the Bible it says,

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

So hello, County Bumpkin! How’s the frost out on the pumpkin? Hello, modern rival! How’s the dust out on the Bible? Happy Feasting!

 

1 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.

10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.

11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

12 They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

 

Streams in the Desert – October 20

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“And the peace of God, which transcends all our powers of thought, will be a garrison to guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7)

There is what is called the “cushion of the sea.” Down beneath the surface that is agitated by storms, and driven about with winds, there is a part of the sea that is never stirred. When we dredge the bottom and bring up the remains of animal and vegetable life we find that they give evidence of not having been disturbed in the least, for hundreds and thousands of years. The peace of God is that eternal calm which, like the cushion of the sea, lies far too deep down to be reached by any external trouble and disturbance; and he who enters into the presence of God, becomes partaker of that undisturbed and undisturbable calm.
–Dr. A. T. Pierson

When winds are raging o’er the upper ocean,
And billows wild contend with angry roar,
‘Tis said, far down beneath the wild commotion,
That peaceful stillness reigneth evermore.

Far, far beneath, the noise of tempest dieth,
And silver waves chime ever peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce soe’er it flieth,
Disturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea.

So to the heart that knows Thy love, O Purest,
There is a temple sacred evermore,
And all the babble of life’s angry voices
Dies in hushed silence at its peaceful door.

Far, far away, the roar of passion dieth,
And loving thoughts rise calm and peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce soe’er it flieth,
Disturbs the soul that dwells, O Lord, in Thee.

–Harriet Beecher Stowe

Christ’s estimate of his people

By: Charles Spurgeon

“How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb; honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.” Solomon’s Song 4:10,11

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

When he comes and begins to praise you, and tells you, “That your lips drop as the honeycomb, that all your actions smell of myrrh, and that your love is better than wine, and that the thoughts under your tongue are better to him than wine and milk,” what will you say? “Oh, Lord, I cannot say thou art mistaken, for thou art infallible; but if I dared so think thou art mistaken, I should say, “Thou art mistaken in me;” but Lord I cannot think thou art mistaken, it must be true. Still, Lord, I do not deserve it; I am conscious I do not and I never can deserve it; still if thou wilt help me, I will strive to be worthy of thy praise in some feeble measure. I will seek to live up to those high praises which thou hast passed upon me. If thou sayest, “My love is better than wine;” Lord, I will seek to love thee better, that the wine may be richer and stronger. If thou sayest, “My graces are like the smell of ointment,” Lord, I will try to increase them, so as to have many great pots filled with them; and if my words drop as the honeycomb, Lord, there shall be more of them, and I will try to make them better, so that thou mayest think more of such honey; and if thou declarest that the thoughts under my tongue are to thee like honey and milk, then, Lord, I will seek to have more of those divine thoughts; and if my daily actions are to thee as the smell of Lebanon, Lord, I will seek to be more holy, to live nearer to thee; I will ask for grace, that my actions may be really what thou sayest they are.”

For meditation: Do you serve God because you feel you ought to, out of a sense of duty? Or because you want to, out of a sense of his love and acceptance of you in Christ? God’s grace should motivate us to obey him even more than God’s law does (Romans 6:15).

Thank You Father For Your Protection

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Our Protective Heavenly Father

woman driving and having a near accident

 

I recently attended a Bible study on Psalm 23. We are all probably familiar with the first verse of that psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” For me, this has always conjured up images of a gentle leader providing perfect guidance. A shepherd certainly does that. But during this study, I learned that the shepherd will lie down at the gate to the field where the sheep are kept to protect them from all harm.

As I listened to the teacher, I was reminded of all the times the Lord has protected me, and I began writing them down. I thought of 10 right away, and the list is still growing. But one example has always stood out to me.

I was preparing to drive a group of teenagers to a church meeting. As I pumped gas into my car a powerful feeling came over me that got my full attention and I heard in my mind the words, “Pray for protection.”

My thoughts turned to the precious cargo I would be transporting that evening as I prayed.

That night, as we were getting close to our destination, I saw traffic cones all along the side of the road. It was pitch black as there were no streetlights on this road. Suddenly, a car came out from between the cones and passed in front of me, and I had no time to even touch my brakes. The car came so close in front of me that it seemed like metal went through metal.

This was in the days before airbags and I can’t imagine what would have happened that day if I had plowed into that car at full speed. To this day, it fills my heart with gratitude to the Lord.

I used to wonder why the Lord didn’t just protect us. Why did He ask me to pray? Now, I realize, had He just protected us, I would have thought, “Oh my gosh, that was close!” and went on my way. But because of the experience while pumping gas, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that this was God at work, watching over His precious children.

I remember my pastor once told a story about the day his daughter was in a car accident. He said at that moment he would have tried to run through a wall if he had to, in order to get to her.

As I heard my pastor say that I thought, “What a picture of our Heavenly Father.”

To be sure my pastor is a loving father, but it’s not possible for anyone to love us more than our Heavenly Father.

Isaiah 58:8 says,

“… the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.“

That means He’s always got my back. He’s always looking out for me and, like my pastor, when one of his kids is in trouble, He will move heaven and earth to get to them.

 

(Isaiah 58?8

… 7 Isn’t it to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your home, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Thenyour lightwill break forthlike the dawn,and your healingwill comequickly.Your righteousnesswill gobefore you,and the gloryof the LORDwill be your rear guard.9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry out, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and malicious talk,…)

Streams in the Desert – October 19

  • 202119 Oct

“The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them” (Num. 10:33).

God does give us impressions, but not that we should act on them as impressions. If the impression be from God, He will Himself give sufficient evidence to establish it beyond the possibility of a doubt.

How beautiful is the story of Jeremiah, of the impression that came to him respecting the purchase of the field of Anathoth. But Jeremiah did not act upon this impression until after the following day, when his uncle’s son came to him and brought him external evidence by making a proposal for the purchase. Then Jeremiah said: “I knew this was the word of the Lord.”

He waited until God seconded the impression by a providence, and then he acted in full view of the open facts, which could bring conviction unto others as well as to himself. God wants us to act according to His mind. We are not to ignore the Shepherd’s personal voice but, like Paul and his companions at Troas, we are to listen to all the voices that speak and “gather” from all the circumstances, as they did, the full mind of the Lord.
–Dr. Simpson

“Where God’s finger points, there God’s hand will make the way.”

Do not say in thine heart what thou wilt or wilt not do, but wait upon God until He makes known His way. So long as that way is hidden it is clear that there is no need of action, and that He accounts Himself responsible for all the results of keeping thee where thou art.
–Selected

“For God through ways we have not known,
Will lead His own.”

Self-delusion

by: Charles Spurgeon

‘Many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.’ Luke 13:24

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 12:15–21

I marvel not that so many are deceived, when I see the careless way in which you deal with religion. When men have to do with their estates, they are very careful; they fee a lawyer to go back over the title-deeds perhaps for two or three hundred years. In trade they will hurry hither and thither to attend to their commercial engagements; they would not launch into speculations, nor would they run great risks; but the soul, the poor soul, how men play with it as a toy, and despise it as if it were worthless earth. Two or three minutes in the morning when they first roll out of bed, two or three odd minutes in the evening, when they are nearly asleep—the fag-ends of the day given to their souls, and all the best part given to the body! And then, the Sabbath! How carelessly spent by most people! With what indifference do you lend your ears too often to the preaching of the Word! It is an old song; you have heard it so many times; heaven has become a trifle to you, hell is almost a jest, eternity a notion, and death but a bugbear. Alas! it is a marvel that there are not more deceived. The wonder is that any find the gate, that any discover eternal life, when we are so, so mad, so foolish, so insane, as to trifle where we ought to be awfully in earnest, and to play and toy, where the whole heart is all too little to be given to a work of such dread, such everlasting importance. God help us, since it is so easy to be deceived, to search, and watch, and look, and test, and try, that we be not found castaways at the last!

For meditation: Satan does not need to deceive us, when we are doing his dirty work by deceiving ourselves. Beware of delusions of wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:18), self-satisfaction (Galatians 6:3), hearing God’s Word without applying it (James 1:22), a loose tongue (James 1:26) and claims to sinless perfection (1 John 1:8). These are all paths to self-deceit.

When the Mighty Fall

by Inspiration Ministries

“Your beauty, Israel, is slaughtered on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! Saul and Jonathan, beloved and delightful in life, And in their deaths they were not separated; they were swifter than eagles, they were mightier than lions.” – 2 Samuel 1:19, 23 NASB

The headline screamed the astonishing message: “How quickly the mighty can fall!” What had happened? A major corporation had lost $7 billion in market value in just four days! A week earlier, the company had appeared secure and profitable. Then after several unexpected developments, its value vanished as if it never existed.

These events remind us of just that the things of this world are so temporary. Companies that seem invincible can crumble suddenly. The famous quickly can become invisible. Overnight, popular personalities can be forgotten. The best of friends can become enemies. Investors can lose their profits. The powerful can become weak and helpless.

When David spoke about the fall of the mighty, he was referring to the deaths of Saul and his son Jonathan. David had seen the downfall of many mighty men. As a boy, he had defeated the giant Goliath. He had led Israel into battle against enemies with many advantages. With a relatively small army, he had outfoxed Saul and his legions. Then Saul and Jonathan died in battle, men who
previously had been so mighty.

David learned that God alone is mighty. As he once asked, “Who is the King of glory?” The answer? “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (Psalms 24:8).

Nations may rise and fall. Businesses may come and go. Market values may increase or decrease. But God never changes! You can depend on Him.

Resist Temptation and Pray For Strength

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Diana’s Lamp

young girl in a dimly lit room with a table lamp

 

“Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 NIV)

I was six years old and in big trouble. I’d done something horrible.

It happened at the house of Diana, my nine-year-old neighbor, a tall, gentle girl who was kinder to me than all the other big kids.

A bunch of us were playing in Diana’s room when gravel crunching in the driveway announced the arrival of Diana’s father, a grizzly bear of a man – towering and burly, with a deep military voice. He was very strict and often barked orders to Diana and her little brothers, who knew they had better obey immediately.

We all knew.

When he drove up that day, everyone suddenly remembered a reason to go home.

I saw the sad look on Diana’s face as the other kids fled, so I stayed.

After tiring of board games, Diana picked up her baton and suggested we go outside to twirl; a hard-and-fast rule allowed no batons or balls inside the house. I grabbed my baton and couldn’t resist trying to impress Diana by whirling it around my neck.

The sound of shattering glass froze my heart as Diana’s bedside lamp crashed to the floor. Then the huge shadow of Diana’s father filled the doorway.

Diana intentionally stepped between her father and me as his face turned crimson and a large vein on his forehead began to pulsate. “Who’s responsible for this?” his voice boomed as he eyed the shards of ruined lamp on the floor.

Immobilized by fear, I stared mutely at the mess, unable to breathe.

Diana held up her baton and answered, “It’s my fault, Daddy.” She gently pushed me into the hallway and closed the door behind me.

I listened outside the door, quivering, as Diana’s dad shouted about rules, learning responsibility, and paying for a new lamp with her own money.

When I heard things escalating, I couldn’t take any more. I blindly ran, not stopping until I was in my own room, sobbing on my bed. I knew Diana was at that moment receiving the worst kind of punishment in my place. I deserved that belt, but she willingly took the pain for me.

I had to do something. I shook my piggy bank and gathered the handful of coins that fell out. Still weeping as I ran, I stumbled back to Diana’s front door.

Diana answered my knock with red, puffy eyes. Yet she smiled. I was forgiven. It made my heart hurt.

I held out my pitiful offering, knowing it wouldn’t be nearly enough to pay for the lamp. But Diana shook her head.

“No,” she said softly. “Keep your money. It was an accident. It’s all over now, so let’s not talk about it anymore.”

And we didn’t. Not that day. Not ever.

But I’ve never forgotten. Even now, decades later, a warm tear escapes when I think about Diana’s lamp. My friend willingly sacrificed herself on my behalf through every lash of that belt.

I realize now that in her selfless actions, Diana exemplified what Jesus did for me – and for you. He sacrificed Himself in our place, accepting our rightful punishment and loving us through every lash of the whip and pounding of nails into His flesh.

Even unto death.

How, then, can we not be moved when we consider the Sacrificial Lamb suffering so that we might have life everlasting?

“He was beaten that we might have peace; he was lashed – and we were healed!” (Isaiah 53:5 TLB)

Let Me Take Care of That for You

174 Bible Verses about Temptation (KJV) - StillFaith

by Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

I recently had a bit of a three-ring-circus to deal with trying to pay a toll. Our lovely Richmond, VA is indeed a beautiful city, but we sure do have some tolls. In fact, depending on where you’re going and from where you’re coming, you may have to pay 3 or 4 tolls in one trip. That happened to me a few weeks ago. As I left the office (right in the middle of the city) and headed southside to visit a friend, I realized too late that I didn’t have enough cash to pay the final toll. With a sigh, I asked for a receipt from the toll booth and went on my way.

I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say I talked to far too many people on the phone, hand-delivered my toll payment in some city office, and still got a “Toll Violation” notice in the mail. This resulted in mild deflation of my spirits. My family said, “Debbie, don’t worry. Just call them and explain.” I tried to, but was informed that not only was there no record of my payment, but that I would be forced to pay an extra $13 (on a 70 cent toll!) for a vague “Administration” fee.

Come on, I kept thinking. I’m just trying to live my life and pay my toll.

In one last valiant move to get some help, I walked back to the aforementioned office on my lunch break the next afternoon. As it so happened, a high ranking administrator happened to be there right when I was. As I explained the situation, he made a copy of my toll notice and immediately got someone on the phone.

“I can dismiss this for you,” he said.

“What do I need to do?” I asked, skeptical. “Who do I need to call and follow up with?”

“Nope. Nothing,” he said. “Here’s my card. If you get another notice, just call me.”

I left the office that day with a spring in my step and a burden off my shoulders. I was no longer going to be hounded by the toll agencies!

“See, we told you,” my family said. “You shouldn’t have worried.”

Isn’t our relationship with Christ a lot like that, sometimes? I feel like I have worried and fretted about so many things, only to realize in retrospect that God was trying to tell me, “Baby, let me take care of that for you.”

Jesus told his disciples,

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

The Still Powerful Meaning of ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’

prayer for family time in car

The ‘Jesus take the wheel’ meaning resonated with me personally during my husband’s knee replacement surgery and recovery.

When he retired ten years ago, we moved to a small mountain community sixty miles from shopping and the Veteran’s Hospital where he had his surgery. Several years ago, we bought the car of his dreams, our only functioning car. We went everywhere together with him as the designated driver. Occasionally, I would drive locally, but for the most part, he was at the wheel.

Everything changed after his knee surgery. I had to do all the driving in a car I wasn’t familiar with on curvy mountain two-lane roads and on streets in town I had never driven before. On one particular morning, I had to leave home at 6:00 A.M. to pick him up at the VA Hospital. I sat in the driver’s seat and literally prayed, “Jesus take the wheel. I’m depending on you to help me make this difficult journey.”

16 Bible Verses about Temptation - DailyVerses.net

‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ Meaning

The ‘Jesus take the wheel,’ meaning originated with a song written by Brett James, Hillary Lindsey, and Gordie Sampson recorded by Carrie Underwood. The ballad tells of a mother deep in thought about her difficult year while driving too fast on a snowy Christmas Eve when the car spins out on black ice. Unable to control the car, she throws her hands in the air and cries out for Jesus to take the wheel and help her and her baby in the backseat. When the car finally rests on the side of the road, she ultimately realizes she needs to restore her faith and let Jesus take control of all her life.

What Does It Mean for Jesus to ‘Take the Wheel’?

The song Jesus Take the Wheel resonated with many people who have tried to live their life on their own terms, often with devastating results. Maybe they had never given their heart to Jesus, or at one time knew the comfort of surrendering to Jesus then snatched back control to navigate life themselves. Traveling through life on our own terms will always end in a crash either emotionally, physically, or mentally, but always spiritually.

The Christian life is one of constant submission of our ways to the Lord’s ways. It’s often a tug-of-war between letting Jesus take the wheel in our life and wrestling it away from him thinking we know better than he does what’s best for us. We know there can only be one person in the driver’s seat, but we’re not always willing to let that person be Jesus. We’re often backseat drivers trying to argue with Jesus about how we should live or we push him completely out of our life and take over the wheel ourselves.

The hardest part for my husband during his knee surgery recovery was to let me drive without repeatedly giving me his opinion and directions from the passenger seat. We had many discussions that he had to relax and just let me drive because I was the only one at the time who could safely get us to our destination. I needed his confidence, encouragement, and prayers. He literally had to surrender the wheel and trust me.

It was hard for him to let me take control of the car and it’s just as hard for us to let Jesus safely get us to our destinations in life.

How Can We Let Jesus Take the Wheel in Our Own Lives?

Just like my husband continually struggled with giving up control to me every time we got in the car, giving up control of our life to Jesus is a lifetime daily struggle for all of us. It doesn’t come easy and it’s not instant the moment we become Christians. Being a Christian and living by biblical principles is a continuously evolving process as our faith matures and we learn to trust that God wants the best for us, even when we can’t visibly see or even sense it.

Jesus knew that our humanness would make it extremely difficult for us to turn our lives completely over to him when we couldn’t see him visibly, so he made sure we had ways to communicate with him in our Spirit.

God Is With You Always

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The 23rd Psalm
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
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Seasons of Hope

by Sarah Phillips, crosswalk.com

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

It’s the time of year when nature inspires a sense of awe in us. As leaves die, they give forth one final burst of color brighter than the paint on an artist’s palette. The sky takes on an unusually crisp blueness and the sun’s low, golden rays cast whimsical shadows. We feel energized as autumn breezes stir up the color around us and chase away the dense summer air.

For me, autumn has always been a “second spring.” A playful time, promising us that life, although soon to be hidden in the dead of winter, will only be invisible for a short while. When the days are gray, cold, and hard, I remember that only a few short weeks ago, the world was light and lively and in only a few weeks more, color will return.

As the author of Ecclesiastes reminds us, God designed life to run in cycles or seasons. Yet how often do we approach this life with expectations of perpetual summer, only to struggle with anxiety and disappointment when winter inevitably interrupts? I know I am guilty of this.

I spent time with my twin sister over this beautiful Fall weekend, and in the course of conversation, she revealed to me how approaching life as a series of seasons gives her perspective as a young wife and mom. “I’ve seen couples apply much pressure to their family life, expecting every week to live to the standard of the last, just as happy or productive, just as evenly paced. I think it takes a lot of burden off when you accept that this week will not necessarily look like last week, and that some seasons of life will be better than others.”

Knowing there is a natural rhythm, a “time to weep and a time to laugh,” gives us permission to let go of perfectionist expectations of our lives. It lightens our burdens by giving us hope for the future in the midst of trial and prepares us for times of struggle – until the day comes when there will be no more winter and no more tears.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

October 17

Psalms 66:10-12 10For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. 11You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. 12You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.

Becoming a Christian does not mean that all trials will cease and life suddenly become as smooth as it can be. On the contrary throughout Scripture we see God’s people enduring trials that nearly crush them. Paul the Apostle promised that if we suffer with Him, we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12).

What is this difficult life we are called to all about? God is refining us. In the Father’s eyes the work is done, but here on earth as we live out our day to day life, we find the old person we once were is trying to reestablish his ways in us. It was our familiar pattern, and one we would easily slip back into. Through the difficult situations we face, God shows us the old ways that we are tempted to cling to. If we try them again, we find they are contrary to our new life. It is like the refining of a metal. The heat brings up the lighter contaminants so that they can be removed. One old silversmith said that he knew when the silver refining process was finished when he could see his reflection in the silver. God is looking for His reflection in you.

In the end God brings us out into a place of abundance. For many, that will not be in this life. You may have to wait for heaven. Oh, but what a place of abundance! Those who died in faith, and did not receive the promises in this life, go to a better reward (Hebrews 11:39-40). You are not alone in your suffering. Let the Comforter comfort you.

Consider the eternal great reward and endure by the grace of God. He will bring you out into a place of abundance!

Streams in the Desert – October 17

  • 202117 Oct

“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

They were living to themselves; self with its hopes, and promises and dreams, still had hold of them; but the Lord began to fulfill their prayers. They had asked for contrition, and had surrendered for it to be given them at any cost, and He sent them sorrow; they had asked for purity, and He sent them thrilling anguish; they had asked to be meek, and He had broken their hearts; they had asked to be dead to the world, and He slew all their living hopes; they had asked to be made like unto Him, and He placed them in the furnace, sitting by “as a refiner and purifier of silver,” until they should reflect His image; they had asked to lay hold of His cross, and when He had reached it to them it lacerated their hands.

They had asked they knew not what, nor how, but He had taken them at their word, and granted them all their petitions. They were hardly willing to follow Him so far, or to draw so nigh to Him. They had upon them an awe and fear, as Jacob at Bethel, or Eliphaz in the night visions, or as the apostles when they thought that they had seen a spirit, and knew not that it was Jesus. They could almost pray Him to depart from them, or to hide His awfulness. They found it easier to obey than to suffer, to do than to give up, to bear the cross than to hang upon it. But they cannot go back, for they have come too near the unseen cross, and its virtues have pierced too deeply within them. He is fulfilling to them His promise, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).

But now at last their turn has come. Before, they had only heard of the mystery, but now they feel it. He has fastened on them His look of love, as He did on Mary and Peter, and they can but choose to follow.

Little by little, from time to time, by flitting gleams, the mystery of His cross shines out upon them. They behold Him lifted up, they gaze on the glory which rays from the wounds of His holy passion; and as they gaze they advance, and are changed into His likeness, and His name shines out through them, for He dwells in them. They live alone with Him above, in unspeakable fellowship; willing to lack what others own (and what they might have had), and to be unlike all, so that they are only like Him.

Such, are they in all ages, “who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”

Had they chosen for themselves, or their friends chosen for them, they would have chosen otherwise. They would have been brighter here, but less glorious in His Kingdom. They would have had Lot’s portion, not Abraham’s. If they had halted anywhere–if God had taken off His hand and let them stray back — what would they not have lost? What forfeits in the resurrection? But He stayed them up, even against themselves. Many a time their foot had well nigh slipped; but He in mercy held them up. Now, even in this life, they know that all He did was done well. It was good to suffer here, that they might reign hereafter; to bear the cross below, for they shall wear the crown above; and that not their will but His was done on them and in them.
–Anonymous

The Comforter

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 1:10-1222-25

I have heard many fanatical persons say that the Holy Spirit revealed this and that to them. Now that is very generally revealed nonsense. The Holy Spirit does not reveal anything fresh now. He brings old things to our remembrance. “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have told you.” The canon of revelation is closed; there is no more to be added. God does not give a fresh revelation, but he rivets the old one. When it has been forgotten, and laid in the dusty chamber of our memory, he brings it out and cleans the picture, but does not paint a new one. There are no new doctrines, but the old ones are often revived. It is not, I say, by any new revelation that the Spirit comforts. He does so by telling us old things over again; he brings a fresh lamp to manifest the treasures hidden in Scripture; he unlocks the strong chests in which the truth has long lain, and he points to secret chambers filled with untold riches; but he creates no more, for enough is done. Believer! There is enough in the Bible for thee to live upon for ever. If thou shouldst outnumber the years of Methuselah, there would be no need for a fresh revelation; if thou shouldst live till Christ should come upon the earth, there would be no necessity for the addition of a single word; if thou shouldst go down as deep as Jonah, or even descend as David envisaged into the belly of hell, still there would be enough in the Bible to comfort thee without a supplementary sentence. But Christ says, “He shall take of mine and shall show it unto you.”

For meditation: The Spirit of truth who guides into all the truth (John 16:13) does not work independently of Jesus the truth (John 14:6), the only true God (John 17:3) and the word of truth (John 17:17). Otherwise “What is truth?” (John 18:38).

The Church Is To Do God’s Will

Scripture Art | Creative | Free Church Resources from Life.ChurchPresentation of Jesus at the Temple - Wikipedia
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Fill ‘er Up

by John UpChurch, crosswalk.com

“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.” –  Colossians 1:24-26

Right after I got married, I gave up computer software updates and PC troubleshooting for something a bit more… down to earth, you could say. I needed work in my new hometown, and since employers weren’t tracking me down and forcing jobs on me, I gravitated toward the only available option: construction. With a booming housing market at the time, finding enough to do wasn’t a problem.

But finding motivation was a problem. Going from a specialized, higher-paying job in computers, where I mostly sat at my desk all day, to cleaning up cinder blocks, wrestling with insulation, and scrubbing windows—that was quite the humbling thing. Honestly, I’d never had to do any real manual labor in my life before that (yes, I was coddled). The heat and pain and bloodied hands were all new to me.

The first few weeks, after a particularly arduous day of gophering around the jobsites, I’d come home and crash on the living room floor. My muscles weren’t used to the beating they took, and they made sure I knew about it.

Slowly, however, with all the wood slinging and nail pounding and putty slapping, things changed. The nights of carpet collapses became less frequent, and my hands didn’t split open nearly as often (unless you count the numerous times I stabbed myself with a chisel). In fact, I came to enjoy the process of seeing something come together, seeing a house take shape.

My spiritual growth has come in a similar fashion—just without the splinters. At first, the failures dragged me down and beat me up. The rejections when I tried to share my newfound faith stung. The transformation cut deep. But as I grew and as God worked in me, something changed. The pain still stings and the transformation still cuts (that never stops), yet I began to see the pain as an important part of the overall process. Christ is building something in me—and in His Church.

As humans, we all suffer. But as Christians, we fill up on suffering. Sounds bad, but the point is that instead of us letting the suffering go to waste, God uses it for the good of other believers (and our own). He takes the pain and makes it passion, passion that spills out as love for our brothers and sisters.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

October 16

Psalms 63:1-3 1O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

David had an all-encompassing desire to be close to God, to be in His presence. In the sixty-first psalm he said he wanted to live in God’s tent forever. In this passage he compares it to being thirsty and not being able to find water. He knew what that was like, living in Judah. The hill country had long dry seasons, and if the cistern you were counting on was dry, it was a long way to the next one. What is it we seek? What do we long for and how desperately?

He longed for the presence of God, because he had encountered God in worship in the sanctuary. At that time the tabernacle was still in use. The temple would be built by his son Solomon. That tabernacle is probably referring to God’s tent that David said he wanted to live in forever. There in worship, he had an encounter with God that so captivated his soul that it became all he longed for. It was a vision of the power and glory of God. Have you had an encounter with God that has captured your desires? You can find it in His Word. You can find it as David did in worship. If you ask for it, with a motivation of wanting to desire God in a greater way, He will answer. You are praying His will.

What did David understand when he beheld the power and glory of God? He saw God’s love is better than life itself. He saw the love of God that passes understanding. As we see His love in a greater way, it births in us a greater love for Him because love begets love. His response to that revelation was to glorify God. The Apostle Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know the love of Christ in all its dimensions so that they might be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Prayer: Lord, help me to know your love in all its dimensions.

Stumbling Blocks – Streams in the Desert – October 16

  • 202116 Oct
  • Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, (Heb 12:1)
  • There are weights which are not sins in themselves, but which become distractions and stumbling blocks in our Christian progress. One of the worst of these is despondency. The heavy heart is indeed a weight that will surely drag us down in our holiness and usefulness.
  • The failure of Israel to enter the land of promise began in murmuring, or, as the text in Numbers literally puts it, “as it were murmured.” Just a faint desire to complain and be discontented. This led on until it blossomed and ripened into rebellion and ruin. Let us give ourselves no liberty ever to doubt God or His love and faithfulness to us in everything and forever.
  • We can set our will against doubt just as we do against any other sin; and as we stand firm and refuse to doubt, the Holy Spirit will come to our aid and give us the faith of God and crown us with victory.
  • It is very easy to fall into the habit of doubting, fretting, and wondering if God has forsaken us and if after all our hopes are to end in failure. Let us refuse to be discouraged. Let us refuse to be unhappy. Let us “count it all joy” when we cannot feel one emotion of happiness. Let us rejoice by faith, by resolution, by reckoning, and we shall surely find that God will make the reckoning real.
    —Selected
  • The devil has two master tricks. One is to get us discouraged; then for a time at least we can be of no service to others, and so are defeated. The other is to make us doubt, thus breaking the faith link by which we are bound to our Father. Lookout! Do not be tricked either way.
    —G.E.M.
  • Gladness! I like to cultivate the spirit of gladness! It puts the soul so in tune again, and keeps it in tune, so that Satan is shy of touching it—the chords of the soul become too warm, or too full of heavenly electricity, for his infernal fingers, and he goes off somewhere else! Satan is always very shy of meddling with me when my heart is full of gladness and joy in the Holy Ghost.
  • My plan is to shun the spirit of sadness as I would Satan; but, alas! I am not always successful. Like the devil himself it meets me on the highway of usefulness, looks me so fully in my face, till my poor soul changes color!
  • Sadness discolors everything; it leaves all objects charmless; it involves future prospects in darkness; it deprives the soul of all its aspirations, enchains all its powers, and produces a mental paralysis!
  • An old believer remarked, that cheerfulness in religion makes all its services come off with delight; and that we are never carried forward so swiftly in the ways of duty as when borne on the wings of delight; adding, that Melancholy clips such wings; or, to alter the figure, takes off our chariot wheels in duty, and makes them, like those of the Egyptians, drag heavily.

SPEAK the TRUTH

 By: A.J. Gretz, Author, Today Devotions

Scripture Reading — Matthew 5:33-37

“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” — Matthew 5:37

Oath-making isn’t common in many cultures today.

But have you ever taken a “sick day” from work when you were not sick? Have you ever told your friend that you forgot to do something you said you would do, although you really just didn’t feel like doing it? Have you ever told a coworker that you have finished a project—and then you hurry to finish it quickly, hoping they won’t notice?

We bend and stretch the truth all the time. Pastor Tim Mackie of the Bible Project calls this “airbrushing” the truth. Just as a photo studio might airbrush a person’s photo to remove blemishes or wrinkles, so we tend to “airbrush” the boring, inconvenient, or incriminating parts of our lives in order to make ourselves look better.

We do this out of our insecurity. We don’t trust that we will be liked and accepted the way we are—with all of our faults, inconsistencies, and boring ­stories.

But Jesus is clear in this passage. Our yes should be yes. And our no should be no. As God’s distinct people in the world—as salt and light—we know that our words are part of our witness.

Jesus is calling us to be people of integrity, knowing that we are secure in God’s love for us as his children.

Prayer

Father, forgive me when I fail to honor my word, or when I stretch the truth to try to appear better than I am. Help me to rest in your love and to speak the truth in every situation. Amen.

God Is Our Guide and Shield

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Spider Webs

Spider webs

 

Recently, I caught up with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in weeks. She’s the kind of person who always has something interesting going on, and over lunch, she shared all the amazing events that happened to her over the summer.

I certainly didn’t envy her, because a lot of those things were difficult to go through. However, she had a grand tale to tell nonetheless.

At one point, she said, “If they made a movie out of my life, I think it would be action/adventure. What about you?”

I thought for a  moment, then said, “My life is more like one of those 18th-century English novels that they make you read in high school. Sure, it will be revered as a classic one day, but for the most part, it’s long, boring and there are huge chunks where nothing is going on.”

As soon as I said it, I regretted it. I felt like it was taking a cheap shot at God’s handiwork. During a quiet moment on the car ride back, I prayed, I’m sorry, Lord. I know You’re working in my life, and You’ve got a plan. It’s just that sometimes You’re a little… well, slow.

You understand what I meant, right? There are seasons in your life where you’re in a holding pattern. Every day looks dreadfully like the last one. You wake up one morning and find you’re still in the same house, with the same job, doing the same old things. Your friends moved on, got married, had babies, etc., and you’re still eating Chinese take-out and watching Lifetime TV on Friday nights. You’ve got faith that God has a brighter future for you, but for right now, you’re stuck in a rut.

I certainly felt that way. However, the next day I noticed something interesting that changed my perspective.

Lately, the spiders in my neighborhood have gotten out of control. First of all, they’re the size of silver dollars, and they’re everywhere! Just in time for Halloween, I suppose. You don’t see them much during the day, but they’re often hanging out at night and in the wee hours of the morning. Frankly, they creep me out.

One morning I was walking my dog and noticed the increase of spider webs along my block. It seemed like out of nowhere these things just popped up. And that wouldn’t be strange normally, but I’m not talking about a little string dangling from a corner. I’m talking about huge, elaborate webs that stretch between trees. They’re massive as though they’re out of a movie. I thought, Who has time to build something like this? I mean, I know they don’t have jobs, but come on! I never see these spiders move, and overnight, they’ve taken over.

I felt the Lord say, Yes, it’s interesting what can be accomplished in the midnight hours.

Of course! While we are all sleeping, these guys are slowly weaving their homes. Strand by strand, these little web-slingers work diligently even though we never see it. It’s no wonder they are part of God’s creation.

I praise you, LORD, for being my guide. Even in the darkest night, your teachings fill my mind. Psalm 16:7 (CEV)

You see where I’m going with this, because you may also be in your midnight hour. You’ve been at work when no one else noticed, building up your faith in the dark. It doesn’t look like you’ve got anything – certainly not anything sturdy enough to hang on to. However, God wants you to keep working. Keep praying. Keep believing. Keep speaking those things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17).

Dawn is coming, and when the sun hits the dew on your web just right, you’ll see a beautiful masterpiece in the morning light. People will stop and stare in amazement. They will marvel at what faith created and be encouraged by all that can be done in the darkness.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

October 15

Psalms 56:2-4 2My slanderers pursue me all day long; many are attacking me in their pride. 3When I am afraid, I will trust in you. 4In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

There are times in life when it seems the whole world has unjustly conspired against you. Slander can turn your good reputation into one in which people unwittingly believe lies about you. Those who join together to bring you down have believed the slander and think they are serving a righteous cause. It is their pride that tells them they are more righteous than you, and therefore they must see that you are removed from the place of respect that your life has earned.

It can seem that life is out of control, that evil has a free reign. That is a fearful thought. If there is no justice, if lies can destroy the innocent, what hope is there of any kind of godly achievement in life? That would cause anyone to fear. But when we are afraid, we need to look to where all power truly lies. It is not in the power of slander. It is not in evil destructive powers, even though it may appear so at the moment. To God belongs power and might. Those who trust in Him are never disappointed. We turn to His unfailing promises and find faith that moves us beyond the present to the promised outcome.

When we see life from this perspective, we can say with David, “What can mortal man do to me?” He can lie, slander, and deceive; he can even beat and kill my mortal body, but all power and might belong to God. I will be eternally rewarded for my trust in Him. My enemies will either be conquered by Him, as I was, and become my brothers, or they will be punished for their rebellion against His love and truth. Every knee will bow! Either way, righteousness and truth will prevail. I can count on it. His Word has never failed and it never will.

Consider: When you are afraid, trust in Him. What can mortal man do?

What Will Your Legacy Be?

by Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com

One of the most spiritually provocative songs I’ve ever heard is called War Sweater by the band Wakey!Wakey!.

“New York is dangerous, littered with thieves
We’ve no morals here, we just do as we please…”

…sings the narrator in the opening lines. He continues:

“But I don’t want to go home where they all stare at me
‘Cause I’m tattooed and fired up and drunk and obscene.”

I’m sure many of us can picture a similar “wayward” family member or friend. But why exactly does this narrator feel so uncomfortable with this scrutiny? He explains in the following chorus:

“You wear your religion like a War Sweater
You ask for the truth, but you know you could do so much better
And you sat on your fences, and you’ve screamed “no retreat!”
…So what will your legacy be?”

Every time the singer repeats that phrase, “what will your legacy be?” I get knots in my stomach. Because I know my actions and my words will create whatever legacy I leave behind. Reputations are not created by beliefs – rather they come about by observed behavior. No one will remember me simply for getting all my doctrine right or wrong.

They will remember, though, if I wear my religion like a War Sweater. If I thrash my faith about like a flag and scream in the faces of unbelievers. Sadly, many Christians have created such legacies for themselves. Emperor Constantine created the legacy of Christianity’s ties to the government. The Crusaders connected Christianity with war. Even today there are self-professing Christians who stand on street corners and picket funerals, wearing their religion like a War Sweater.

But my faith, my religion, informs me of something better. My religion tells me to do what the Word says, not merely listen to it (James 1:22). My religion does not allow me to sit on a pedestal and judge; it says to to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13). My religion tells me (Psalms 149:4) that salvation cannot come through pride. My religion does not stand for violently demanding all people bow to my standards; rather, it tells me that, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

So take a look at the words you speak, at the people you mock, at the bumper stickers adorning your car.

Are you wearing your religion like a War Sweater?

What will your legacy be?

God Forgives Us Of Our Sins

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness.” “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” “Love
prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”  I John 1: 9
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For My Own Sake

teen-reading-bible_si.jpg

 

When I really need to hear the voice of God in my life, I find myself escaping into the words of Isaiah. I’m intrigued by God’s words, His active speaking through dialogue, which always strikes me.

One morning, as I read my Bible before class, I stumbled across what is now my favorite verse, Isaiah 43:25 (NIV),

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

I stared at this verse as my heart dove out of my chest and into these words, deeper and deeper, and swaddled itself in the insane amount of intentional love I found there.

I tend to fall into that category of folks who know they’re forgiven and receive it but still can’t shake the “wretch like me” attitude. As I stared at this verse, God took that attitude, turned it on its head, and shook it until understanding wove itself through every thread of my heart.

I pictured God saying these words to me. Like He was suddenly sitting in my tiny room with me, leaning over my Bible and saying, “For my sake. Forgiving you is about Me, not you. It’s that want you near me. want to be with you.”

This verse comes right after God is telling the Israelites how they haven’t brought Him offerings and didn’t call on Him. Rather they have “burdened” Him with sins and “wearied” Him. (Isaiah 43:24)

How many times had I done the same? How many times had I told God with my mouth that I loved him, but done something contrary to what a love for God looked like? I’d stopped counting, and I was left wanting to prove the love I thought had been overshadowed by my sins. I wanted to draw close to the God I loved.

It was never about me. It’s about God’s love for me. It’s the great story of … everything. It was never about us.

I took my Bible with me everywhere in the days following. I couldn’t part from the love that kept echoing in my heart, “For my own sake.”

We see this same principle echoed throughout everything — God forgiving our sins for His sake because He made us and desires us. Nearly a chapter later, in Isaiah 44:23 (NIV), Isaiah writes,

“Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.”

Cast off that “wretch like me” attitude, because God has forgotten your sins, redeemed you, and loves you! He frees us to sing for joy and shout it out — we’re commanded to embrace this attitude of joy because we have such a strong foundation for it. If you’ve asked for forgiveness, He’s given it to you. So why not take hold of it?

Our redemption is something to be celebrated and enjoyed. Love the gift He’s given you!

Difficulty Is the Very Atmosphere of Miracle – Streams in the Desert – October 14

  • 202114 Oct

The angel of the Lord came upon him (Peter) and a light shined in the prison; and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off (Acts 12:7).

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God… And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one’s bands were loosed (Acts 16:25-26).

This is God’s way. In the darkest hours of the night, His tread draws near across the billows. As the day of execution is breaking, the angel comes to Peter’s cell. When the scaffold for Mordecai is complete, the royal sleeplessness leads to a reaction in favor of the favored race.

Ah, soul, it may have to come to the worst with thee ere thou art delivered; but thou wilt be delivered! God may keep thee waiting, but he will ever be mindful of His covenant, and will appear to fulfill His inviolable Word.
–F. B. Meyer

There’s a simplicity about God in working out His plans, yet a resourcefulness equal to any difficulty, and an unswerving faithfulness to His trusting child, and an unforgetting steadiness in holding to His purpose. Through a fellow-prisoner, then a dream, He lifts Joseph from a prison to a premiership. And the length of stay in the prison prevents dizziness in the premier. It’s safe to trust God’s methods and to go by His clock.
–S. D. Gordon

Providence hath a thousand keys to open a thousand sundry doors for the deliverance of His own, when it is even come to a desperate case. Let us be faithful; and care for our own part which is to suffer for Him, and lay Christ‘s part on Himself, and leave it there.
–George MacDonald

Difficulty is the very atmosphere of miracle — it is miracle in its first stage. If it is to be a great miracle, the condition is not difficulty but impossibility.

The clinging hand of His child makes a desperate situation a delight to Him.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

October 14

Psalms 55:12-14 12If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. 13But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, 14with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.

The deepest pain is from betrayal by those we have placed our trust in, those who are closest to us. It was after three years of Jesus pouring into Judas’ life, and immediately after washing his feet as an expression of love, that He was betrayed by him. We hurt so much because we have such love for that person. We expected just the opposite from him. We sowed love, and we expected love in return.

This is one reason churches have such internal conflict. We sacrifice for one another with one goal in mind. We experience special times together, and from that conclude that our hearts are one in our mission and purpose. Then someone becomes offended by something, intentional or unintentional. He begins to look for fault in the one who offended him. The offense may even have been an expression of love or a complete misunderstanding. Then the offended one offends. The wounds become deeper and the attitudes more bitter, until Satan has achieved his goal, division.

Once the cycle begins, there is only one way out. Unconditional forgiveness, expressed because of the supernatural love of God in our hearts. You can’t work it up or try hard to express it. It must come from God. Only His love can say of the ones driving nails into him, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” We must see as he sees, that the battle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual powers and principalities. It is never personal, no matter how personal it seems. Division in the body of Christ is satanically inspired in the weakest. We can’t dismiss sin and leave it buried, for leaven will permeate the whole. We can love and forgive the weak one and encourage repentance and restoration.

Remember: Has someone offended you? Don’t let the cycle begin. Refuse to play Satan’s game. Do everything possible to restore your relationship with the offender but begin by asking God for His love for that person.

Be Yourself

by Stephen Sanders , Crosswalk.com

Have you ever had someone tell you to, “Just be yourself and everything will work out”? It sounds so simple doesn’t it?  “Be Yourself.”  What does that even mean? After all, if we could simply “be ourselves,” then wouldn’t the world that surrounds us be a lot different?

I often wonder what friendships would be like if we could simply be who we are inside; to not feel so much pressure to be less or more of an individual than we think we are supposed to be. One thing I’ve begun to focus on in recent months is being the same person everywhere I am no matter who I’m around; but that’s a lot easier said that done.

Don’t get me wrong. I totally realize that none of us are exempt to sin. 1 John 1:8-10 says this: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Can you see how not dealing with sin appropriately keeps us from being ourselves?  Behavior like this causes us to trick ourselves into thinking we are someone who we really aren’t. When we ignore or hide sin, it breeds all kinds of issues, not only in us, but also in the body of Christ.

So how should sin be handled?  How can you “be yourself?”  Well, here are 3 things that will certainly get us going in the right direction: Confession, confrontation and forgiveness.

We all know that we are supposed to confess our sins to God, but what about confessing our sins to one another?  Where does that fit into the picture?  The answer lies within James 5:16, which instructs us to, “…confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  Why isn’t the confession of sins more of a focus in the church today?  Shouldn’t we be doing this every chance we get if it results in “healing and righteousness?”

Secondly, there is confrontation.  Jesus says in Matthew 18:15-17 that, “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.  But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church…” Notice that this scenario starts with someone taking the initiative to point out the sin.  Also notice that this person risks not only putting his friend in an uncomfortable situation, but also being humiliated in front of others if he is wrong about his assessment. It’s easy to see why the church struggles with this; it’s not a simple solution.

Lastly, we have forgiveness.  After discussing confrontation and confession, doesn’t forgiveness make a lot more sense now?  There is a very good reason why Jesus instructed us to forgive, “seventy times seven times ” in Matthew 18:22.  Jesus knew we were going to be surrounded by sinful people because we live in a sinful world.  Rather than avoiding it, we need to be brave enough to be the one who chooses to forgive sin unconditionally and infinitely.  Our reaction to sin determines the impact it is able to have on us.  Who knows?  Our reaction may even be so powerful that it may stop that sin in its tracks before it affects others too!

The Fire Had No Power Other Them

Daniel Chapter 3      Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
Daniel 03 - Fiery furnace - Scene 04 - The fourth man | Bible CartoonsShadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego are joined by Jesus in the Babylonian fiery  furnace. | Fiery furnace, Jesus art, Bible verse art

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The Risk of Faith

Bible open to Gospel of John

 

Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den because he prayed three times a day to his God. But the Lord protected him, and the ferocious beasts lay down and purred.

Not far from there, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were thrown into a blazing fire because they refused to bow down and worship a golden statue. Instead, they declared,

“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18 NKJV)

Their faith didn’t depend on whether they escaped. They were fully prepared to risk everything, which meant they didn’t serve the Lord only during the good times. They didn’t trust God only to get their way. There was nothing selfish about their prayer, their life, or their religion. Their faith in God was genuine, even when it resulted in persecution. Even when it meant risking their lives. Death was certain, and they knew it—unless God did a miracle. Either way, they were determined to be faithful.

The fire was so hot that the soldiers escorting them to the flames died on the spot. But for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, not a hair on their head or their arms was singed, and not a thread of their clothing burned. They never even felt the heat. It was like they were taking a walk in the park on a cool, breezy day.

When the smoke cleared, King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, and to his amazement, there was a fourth man in the flames with them. The king couldn’t believe his eyes. Daniel 3:25 reports Nebuchadnezzar’s amazement.

“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25 NIV)

Daniel understood the dangers of breaking the law and praying to his God. Hungry lions can easily tear a man apart. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego knew the risks when they decided not to bow to the king’s statue.

However, God intervened, and Daniel survived to tell the King once more about the goodness and reality of the true God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, encountered the Lord right there in the middle of the blazing heat.

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews makes it clear that not everyone who takes the risk of faith will escape pain or death. I would encourage you to read the entire chapter, but verses 32–38 show how the situations turned out for some of God’s people. And verse 39 adds,

“These were all commended for their faith…” (Hebrews 11:39 NIV)

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ always involves risk. Some will face ridicule. Others might lose their jobs. Some are abandoned by their family. Others experience physical torture. Some will survive. Others may die. What is God asking you to risk?

The bottom line is that your faith will cost you something. God is calling you to accept the challenge, count the cost, and take the risk.

Christians in many places around the world are experiencing persecution at this moment. In the same way, it might cost you something to follow Jesus. But like those men in the book of Daniel, you can be faithful regardless of the outcome, because the fourth man in the fire is going to be there with you.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

October 13

Psalms 51:16-17 16You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

This is from David’s prayer of repentance after his sin was exposed. During the time between his fall into sin and the confrontation by Nathan the prophet, David must have gone to sacrifice to the Lord. All the singers he assigned were in place, lifting praises to God. He would have brought a lamb or goat that was without blemish to the priest. As the sacrifice burned upon the altar, he would have ceremoniously lifted his hands to heaven in prayer. He may have even brought thank offerings and celebrated one of the feasts of the Lord, all the while knowing in his heart that he was a murderer and adulterer.

Once he finally faced how hard his heart had become, he realized that going through the motions was not what God was after. The motions and ritual did not ease his guilty conscience. What was God looking for? A broken heart! A contrite spirit! That was all that God would accept. The sacrifices were given but were not accepted, and David knew it. The lack of peace in his heart told him that God was after something else. Once he admitted his sin, his heart broke and he realized that brokenness was the real sacrifice. Now his future sacrifices would be accepted.

Have you felt that gnawing pain of your worship falling flat? Something in your heart is telling you that all is not well between you and God. You do everything you are supposed to but there is no intimacy between you and God. You don’t sense His acceptance. Check your heart. You don’t need a prophet to tell you. The Holy Spirit can point it out. Unforgiveness, bitterness, a complaining spirit, or some overt sin you hide from the world but justify in your mind may be the source of the broken relationship.

Action: Confess your faults one to another that you might be healed. To tell a trusted friend or advisor, to get it out of the darkness and into the light will help you forsake it and live.

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

MORNING

“Godly sorrow worketh repentance.”
2 Corinthians 7:10

Genuine, spiritual mourning for sin is the work of the Spirit of God. Repentance is too choice a flower to grow in nature’s garden. Pearls grow naturally in oysters, but penitence never shows itself in sinners except divine grace works it in them. If thou hast one particle of real hatred for sin, God must have given it thee, for human nature’s thorns never produced a single fig. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”

True repentance has a distinct reference to the Saviour. When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon sin and another upon the cross, or it will be better still if we fix both our eyes upon Christ and see our transgressions only, in the light of his love.

True sorrow for sin is eminently practical. No man may say he hates sin, if he lives in it. Repentance makes us see the evil of sin, not merely as a theory, but experimentally–as a burnt child dreads fire. We shall be as much afraid of it, as a man who has lately been stopped and robbed is afraid of the thief upon the highway; and we shall shun it–shun it in everything–not in great things only, but in little things, as men shun little vipers as well as great snakes. True mourning for sin will make us very jealous over our tongue, lest it should say a wrong word; we shall be very watchful over our daily actions, lest in anything we offend, and each night we shall close the day with painful confessions of shortcoming, and each morning awaken with anxious prayers, that this day God would hold us up that we may not sin against him.

Sincere repentance is continual. Believers repent until their dying day. This dropping well is not intermittent. Every other sorrow yields to time, but this dear sorrow grows with our growth, and it is so sweet a bitter, that we thank God we are permitted to enjoy and to suffer it until we enter our eternal rest.

EVENING

“Love is strong as death.”
Song of Solomon 8:6

Whose love can this be which is as mighty as the conqueror of monarchs, the destroyer of the human race? Would it not sound like satire if it were applied to my poor, weak, and scarcely living love to Jesus my Lord? I do love him, and perhaps by his grace, I could even die for him, but as for my love in itself, it can scarcely endure a scoffing jest, much less a cruel death. Surely it is my Beloved’s love which is here spoken of–the love of Jesus, the matchless lover of souls. His love was indeed stronger than the most terrible death, for it endured the trial of the cross triumphantly. It was a lingering death, but love survived the torment; a shameful death, but love despised the shame; a penal death, but love bore our iniquities; a forsaken, lonely death, from which the eternal Father hid his face, but love endured the curse, and gloried over all. Never such love, never such death. It was a desperate duel, but love bore the palm. What then, my heart? Hast thou no emotions excited within thee at the contemplation of such heavenly affection? Yes, my Lord, I long, I pant to feel thy love flaming like a furnace within me. Come thou thyself and excite the ardour of my spirit.

“For every drop of crimson blood

Thus shed to make me live,

O wherefore, wherefore have not I

A thousand lives to give?”

Why should I despair of loving Jesus with a love as strong as death? He deserves it: I desire it. The martyrs felt such love, and they were but flesh and blood, then why not I? They mourned their weakness, and yet out of weakness were made strong. Grace gave them all their unflinching constancy–there is the same grace for me. Jesus, lover of my soul, shed abroad such love, even thy love in my heart, this evening.