Category Archives: Family

Live Abundantly Through Christ

John 10:10

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Psalm 16:11

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Romans 12:1

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

 

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How We’re Called to Live

From: Our Daily Journey

How We’re Called to Live

Read:

2 Corinthians 5:14-21
[God] gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).

I found myself in a tense, combustible situation—standing between two groups of angry people who were nose to nose, boiling over with rage and hatred. One group spewed vile, dehumanizing words at the other; then that group spewed vile, dehumanizing words back. In that volatile space, both groups completely lost perspective of the other’s humanity. Locked in an intractable posture of opposition, neither side would acknowledge any common ground. Neither side would consider there might be some way to resolve their differences or even begin any kind of constructive conversation. Both sides felt wronged and wanted only to punish their foe.

In contrast, when Jesus confronted sin, His ultimate goal was always reconciliation. Jesus’ mission was to reach out to those who “were far away from God” and bring them near (Ephesians 2:13). He reached out to all of us, though we’ve all rebelled against God and resisted His love. He moved right past our ignorance and our protests in order to offer us healing. “God was in Christ,” Paul tells us, “reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

And this posture of reconciliation isn’t merely the way Jesus lived but also how He calls us to live. Christ “gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Now He’s chosen to reconcile the world through us. “We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

In conflicts, we should never seek revenge. Rather, we should seek healing and reconciliation. We’re not to inflict pain on those who have wronged us but seek the possibility of forgiveness and the divine mending Jesus brings.

 

The Concept of Divine Control

By Oswald Chambers

The Concept of Divine Control

Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct in this passage for those people who have His Spirit. He urges us to keep our minds filled with the concept of God’s control over everything, which means that a disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, “My heavenly Father knows all about this!” This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise. Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those people who have His Spirit, and it works on the following principle: God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?

Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but is an attitude of the mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7).

Got Joy?

By: Kathy Schultz

I have recently spent some joyless days, days where the joy of the Lord was not my strength. These were times I cried and could not even begin to smile, much less laugh. Circumstances had changed and I was not a happy camper. You probably have had moments like these as well.

Christians have often quoted the last part of Nehemiah 8:10:

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (NIV)

The truth of this statement is that it is not ourjoy, but HIS joy that is our strength. I had been looking for my own joy and it could not be found.

I went to the Bible to see what it had to say about joy. I found many scriptures and stories about joy and laughter. I reread the story of Sarah laughing when she heard God say she was going to have a child. (Genesis 18) This laughter came from unbelief, a nervous laughter. I’ve had that type of laughter and it always hid how I felt at the moment. Thankfully, God did not leave Sarah there but gave her the promised child. We can imagine the joy she must have had when the promise became true! It was the Lord who fulfilled the promise. In my mind, I can picture her laughing again, but this time with real joy.

King David did not always experience joy. The book of Psalms is full of him crying out to the Lord. But David found that in God’s presence was the fullness of joy. Joy was not found in himself but in God.

“… you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

We all have times when things go wrong and suddenly God gives us the ability to laugh. I began to remember times in my life when laughter had calmed the chaotic moment. Once, while my family and I were camping at the beach, a storm suddenly came up and the rain began to come down by the buckets. The campsite we had picked was clean but was at a low ground level. Some experienced campers told us we should dig a trench around our tent to keep the rain out. The only available shovels were our children’s toys. What a sight we were, four adults digging around a tent in the rain with toy shovels. In the midst of the downpour, we all began to laugh. God had given us the ability to see the situation with humor.

You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Isaiah 55:12 (NLT)

Joy is even one of the fruits of the Spirit. It isn’t something we do, but something we can ask to be given. It is God’s gift to us. I certainly need this gift – to have God’s joy in my life.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

Joy could shine through us if we would let God have his way with us. I have to admit, I was not allowing God’s joy to shine through me. I resolved to get in God’s presence and have the joy restored, not mine, but His joy. There is a difference. I want to remember that God can restore my joy and give me laughter. I want to live as the scriptures say “in joy and peace.”

Yes, in our lives we will experience difficult moments. The scriptures tell us that even Jesus wept, and there is no sin in weeping.

“… weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5(NIV)

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (NIV)

After Jesus wept, He restored Lazarus to life again. Those who loved Lazarus must have experienced great joy!

“God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.” Luke 6:21 (NLT)

May you, along with me, ask God to restore your joy. Remember, apart from God’s presence, there is no joy!

 

Timeless Beauty

Romans 10:15

How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”

1 Peter 3:3-4

Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Timothy 2:9

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,

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Timeless Beauty

From: Our Daily Journey

Timeless Beauty

Read:

Ephesians 4:1-16
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church (Ephesians 4:15).

Each year, my son and I travel to the other side of the country to spend time with his honorary grandparents, Gwen and Jim Johnson. It’s not possible for me to express the significance of these visits and all that my son and I learn from this remarkable couple, each of whom are in their mid-nineties.

Though no longer able to skydive, Jajja (grandmother) Gwen did parachute from the sky on her ninetieth birthday! The Johnson’s model a deep faith in Jesus, a contagious zest for life, an unwavering commitment to service, and an undeniable love for and devotion to each other.

Throughout their more than 70 years of marriage, Gwen and Jim have exemplified Ephesians 4:2-3 as they’ve treated each other humbly and gently—and that still continues in their golden years. Because they know and trust Jesus, they continue to “be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of . . . love” (Ephesians 4:2). They know that each minute they have on earth is more time to serve Him and His children and to love each other.

Their example of profound love has been evident to my son and me again and again. But this past summer, at the swimming pool, as we watched Jim tenderly rub suntan lotion on Gwen’s shoulder, I thanked God for allowing my son to witness unconditional love between a husband and a wife.

Grandpa Jim and Jajja Gwen, to all who know them, are an example of the beauty that results when people choose to “make every effort to keep [themselves] united in the Spirit, binding [themselves] together in peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

When we allow the Holy Spirit and Scripture to guide us, nothing can veil the beauty God intended for us to experience in our relationships.

 

My Life’s Spiritual Honor and Duty

By Oswald Chambers

My Life’s Spiritual Honor and Duty

Paul was overwhelmed with the sense of his indebtedness to Jesus Christ, and he spent his life to express it. The greatest inspiration in Paul’s life was his view of Jesus Christ as his spiritual creditor. Do I feel that same sense of indebtedness to Christ regarding every unsaved soul? As a saint, my life’s spiritual honor and duty is to fulfill my debt to Christ in relation to these lost souls. Every tiny bit of my life that has value I owe to the redemption of Jesus Christ. Am I doing anything to enable Him to bring His redemption into evident reality in the lives of others? I will only be able to do this as the Spirit of God works into me this sense of indebtedness.

I am not a superior person among other people— I am a bondservant of the Lord Jesus. Paul said, “…you are not your own…you were bought at a price…” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul sold himself to Jesus Christ and he said, in effect, “I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the gospel of Jesus; I am free only that I may be an absolute bondservant of His.” That is the characteristic of a Christian’s life once this level of spiritual honor and duty becomes real. Quit praying about yourself and spend your life for the sake of others as the bondservant of Jesus. That is the true meaning of being broken bread and poured-out wine in real life.

 

Order and argument in prayer

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.’ Job 23:3–4

Suggested Further Reading: Daniel 9:1–19

The true spiritual order of prayer seems to me to consist of something more than mere arrangement. It is most fitting for us first to feel that we are now doing something that is real; that we are about to address ourselves to God, whom we cannot see, but who is really present; whom we can neither touch nor hear, nor by our own senses can apprehend, but who, nevertheless, is as truly with us as though we are speaking to a friend of flesh and blood like ourselves. Feeling the reality of God’s presence, our mind will be led by divine grace into a humble state; we shall feel like Abraham, when he said, ‘I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.’ Consequently we shall not deliver ourselves of our prayer as boys repeating their lessons, as a mere matter of rote, much less shall we speak as if we were rabbis instructing our pupils, or as I have heard some do, with the coarseness of a highwayman stopping a person on the road and demanding his purse of him; but we shall be humble yet bold petitioners, humbly importuning mercy through the Saviour’s blood. We shall not have the reserve of a slave but the loving reverence of a child, yet not an impudent, impertinent child, but a teachable obedient child, honouring his Father, and therefore asking earnestly, but with deferential submission to his Father’s will. When I feel that I am in the presence of God, and take my rightful position in that presence, the next thing I shall want to recognise will be that I have no right to what I am seeking, and cannot expect to obtain it except as a gift of grace, and I must recollect that God limits the channel through which he will give me mercy—he will give it to me through his dear Son. Let me put myself then under the patronage of the great Redeemer.

For meditation: In emergencies believers can pray to God on the spur of the moment (Nehemiah 2:4). At other times it is only right and proper to take both care and time (Nehemiah 1:4Matthew 6:5–7).

Jesus Endured Much To Save Us

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not [a]puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, [b]thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

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Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

By Oswald Chambers

Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

This verse reveals the humiliation of being a Christian. In the natural realm, if a person does not hit back, it is because he is a coward. But in the spiritual realm, it is the very evidence of the Son of God in him if he does not hit back. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but you must make it an opportunity to exhibit the Son of God in your life. And you cannot imitate the nature of Jesus— it is either in you or it is not. A personal insult becomes an opportunity for a saint to reveal the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not, “Do your duty,” but is, in effect, “Do what is not your duty.” It is not your duty to go the second mile, or to turn the other cheek, but Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will always do these things. We will not say, “Oh well, I just can’t do any more, and I’ve been so misrepresented and misunderstood.” Every time I insist on having my own rights, I hurt the Son of God, while in fact I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I will take the blow myself. That is the real meaning of filling “up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24). A disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor.

Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself. We are always looking for justice, yet the essence of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is— Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

 

Our miseries, messengers of mercy

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.’ Hosea 6:1–2

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 116:12–19

A missionary was preaching to a Maori tribe in New Zealand. He had been telling them of the suffering love of Christ, how he had poured forth his soul unto death for them; and as he concluded, the hills rung to the thrilling question ‘Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.’ Then stood forth a plumed and painted chief, the scarred warrior of a thousand fights, and as his lips quivered with suppressed emotion, he spoke. ‘And did the Son of the Highest suffer all this for us men? Then the chief would like to offer him some poor return for his great love. Would the Son of God deign to accept the chief’s hunting dog? Swift of foot and keen of scent, the tribe has not such another, and he has been to the chief as a friend.’ But the missionary told him that the Son of God had need of no such gifts as these. For a moment the chief paused; then as a new thought struck him, suddenly despoiling himself of his striped blanket he cried with childlike earnestness, ‘Perhaps he who had not where to lay his head will yet accept the chieftain’s blanket. The poor chief will be cold without it, yet it is offered joyfully.’ Touched by love’s persistency, the missionary tried to explain to him the real nature of the Son of God; that it was not men’s gifts but men’s hearts that he yearned for. For a moment a cloud of grief darkened the granite features of the old chief; then as the true nature of the Son of God slowly dawned upon him, casting aside his blanket he clasped his hands, and looking right up into the blue sky, his face beaming with joy, he exclaimed ‘Perhaps the Son of the Blessed One will deign to accept the poor chief himself!’

For meditation: Christ chiefly gave us himself (Galatians 2:20); blessings come with him (Romans 8:32Ephesians 1:3). From you God chiefly wants yourself, not your material possessions, but your repentance and faith in him, the Saviour of the world.

 

Agents of God’s Glory

From: Joe Stowell, Author

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

A friend of mine is an agent for professional athletes. His whole career is based on representing his clients to teams in hopes of securing them the best possible salary and contract package. For each of his clients, he has a portfolio that highlights their statistics—height, weight, career highlights, awards, you name it. At a moment’s notice, he can give you a clear picture of the athlete’s accomplishments and abilities.

Every once in a while, my agent friend and I will talk about some of the athletes he represents. He has a couple of big names on his list, and I’ve found myself thinking, “Wow, you’re an agent for him? No way! That would be amazing.” But when I think about it, you and I have a far greater privilege and calling. We are agents of God—hired by the price He paid on the cross—to spread the “stats” of His glory everywhere we go.

Of course we know that God is totally self-sufficient and that His worth isn’t based on what other people think. But this fallen world needs to be reminded of how incredible and vast our God is. The psalmist points out that the heavens declare His glory. Creation speaks loud and clear about His creative power and divine nature. His Word paints a magnificent picture of His glory, recording the drama and wonder of God’s interaction with His people. And we have, on a daily basis, the responsibility of reflecting and representing God’s glory in this world.

His “portfolio” of glory staggers the imagination. It encompasses His personal, unconditional love. It draws in His broad and limitless mercy—mercy that patiently holds back His hand of judgment. His credentials include perfect wisdom, undiminished holiness, unflinching faithfulness, perfect justice, and the realities that He is all-powerful and all-knowing. Simply put, His glory is all that He is in His all-surpassing, praiseworthy, stunning perfection.

So how do we reflect His glory? On this side of heaven, as fallen sinful creatures, we do it imperfectly. However, as we begin to grasp how immense and incredible God’s glory is, it starts to show up in our lives. As we demonstrate mercy and forgiveness to a friend that has wounded us, we are agents of God’s mercy. When we remain faithful to our relationships, loving others through thick and thin, we are reflecting the glory of God’s unconditional love. When our hearts of compassion move us to act on behalf of the poor, the needy, and the marginalized, we are representing our God’s heart of justice and compassion. As our lives begin to line up with the principles of God’s Word, we highlight the glory of God’s perfect wisdom. His “portfolio” is on display for a needy and watching world.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that the purpose of our redemption—God buying us back—was that we might glorify God. You are His agent today. There is no greater privilege or calling!

Produce Good Fruit By Faith

Acts 20:35     In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

1 Timothy 5:8     But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:1     Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,

Leviticus 19:32     the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

1 Timothy 5:4    But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.

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Faith-Fueled Care

From: Our Daily  Journey

Faith-Fueled Care

Read:

James 2:14-26
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless (James 2:17).

My parents were married one year when my dad’s mother fell ill and came to live with our family. “Gran” had diabetes and was too weak to walk. Because we lived on an upper floor of an apartment building with no elevator, my father carried her up and down the stairs. Mom prepared special meals for her, bathed her, cut her nails and gave her regular insulin injections.

Gran had never been the easiest woman, but now she became unpredictable and caring for her was a real challenge. I was too young to remember her, but mom often spoke of the way God helped her to love her mother-in-law. In time, with much prayer, a good diet, and special care, Gran grew stronger and was eventually able to walk again.

My mom believed what James taught, that “faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless” (James 2:17). It’s our actions that make our faith evident (James 2:21-26). What are these actions produced by faith? They’re not giving special attention to the rich and well-connected at the expense of the poor and marginalized (James 2:1-5,8-13). Instead, they’re showing mercy (James 2:13) and meeting others’ needs as we’re able (James 2:14-17).

When we focus on faith to the exclusion of practical care, we become irrelevant. In the same way, however, emphasizing good behavior alone denies our total dependence on God’s grace. It’s because we’re saved by God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:8) that true believers will reflect faith and loving action (James 2:24).

We might wish to happily coast through this life, merely looking forward to the day when we’re with Jesus. But God wants us to put our faith into action. He intends to accomplish beautiful things on this earth by working in and through us.

 

The Price of the Vision

By Oswald Chambers

The Price of the Vision

Our soul’s personal history with God is often an account of the death of our heroes. Over and over again God has to remove our friends to put Himself in their place, and that is when we falter, fail, and become discouraged. Let me think about this personally— when the person died who represented for me all that God was, did I give up on everything in life? Did I become ill or disheartened? Or did I do as Isaiah did and see the Lord?

My vision of God is dependent upon the condition of my character. My character determines whether or not truth can even be revealed to me. Before I can say, “I saw the Lord,” there must be something in my character that conforms to the likeness of God. Until I am born again and really begin to see the kingdom of God, I only see from the perspective of my own biases. What I need is God’s surgical procedure— His use of external circumstances to bring about internal purification.

Your priorities must be God first, God second, and God third, until your life is continually face to face with God and no one else is taken into account whatsoever. Your prayer will then be, “In all the world there is no one but You, dear God; there is no one but You.”

Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision.

 

Arlene Pellicane July 13, 2018
Waiting for the Shout
ARLENE PELLICANE

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (NKJV)

I’m waiting for my parents to come home. 

No, they aren’t wayward or lost. Actually, they are happily on a long vacation while I am missing the greatest babysitters in the world (also known as grandparents). I can hardly stand the wait until they return. They live right in our neighborhood and shower our family of five with love … and feed us delicious dinners. (Bonus!)

Knowing they are coming back soon puts a smile on my face. My mom, who is constantly laughing, has a loud voice that I love and miss. I’ve never had to ask her to speak up or repeat herself. I can hear every word, crystal clear. People know when she has entered a room. 

Friends, as much as I look forward to my parents’ return, there’s a day coming that’s even more exciting than being reunited with family. Jesus is coming back, and when He enters the atmosphere, everyone will know it. He will come back with a shout no one will be able to miss! 

Our key verse describes His triumphant return, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). This mighty sound is likened to a shout, a voice and a trumpet. Imagine what people will say about this thunderous noise piercing heaven and earth. Those who do not know Christ will no doubt wonder, “What was that???” 

You will know. 

It will be the ultimate sound of joy for every believer. It will be reunion-time! We will be with the Lord, with the dead in Christ who have gone before us. 

Let’s take a closer look at two of the Greek words the Apostle Paul uses in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 to describe this event: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor [epiphaneia] of his coming [parousia]” (NIV).

Epiphaneia means “appearance” or “visible manifestation.” We will hear the shout and we will also see His brilliance. Christ will destroy the antichrist with the brightness of His coming. Parousia means “coming” or “presence.” This term was often used in secular Greek literature to refer to the visit or presence of a king or important dignitary. When the King of kings comes on the scene, you will see pomp and majesty beyond anything you’ve ever dreamed of. 

So when you feel discouraged by the news or the circumstances of your life, remember His shout is coming. Paul exhorted the Christians in Thessalonica to comfort each other with reminders of their destiny: “We who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18, NIV). 

You are on the winning side. Just as Christ came as a baby, someday He will return as a victorious King. God doesn’t take vacations. He is constantly working behind-the-scenes on your behalf and mine. 

Are you waiting expectantly, looking to heaven with hope? It’s easy to forget the promises and prophecies in the Bible when day-to-day duties scream for our attention. But let us remember — we are waiting for the Lord’s return with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. What a day that will be! 

Lord, we’re so encouraged to know You are returning as the triumphant King. You will come and bring justice on the earth, and defeat Your enemies. I look forward to Your glorious return with hope and gratitude. Help me point more people to You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (NIV)

Revelation 19:11-12a, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.” (NIV) 

Don’t Let Anger Rule Your Life

I Like Being Angry

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Last week, somebody—a Christian, in fact—told me he liked being angry. When I questioned if he really meant it, he repeated, “Yes, I like being angry.”

He then added, “It makes things happen.”

Like anger? Because it makes things happen?Oh, it makes things happen all right, but none of it is good. The results of anger are bad. It brings hurt and destruction. I’ve seen a wife curl up in a fetal position when her husband started ranting and raving. I’ve known rebellious teens turn away from God because of their parents’ anger. The news is full of cruelty and murder that comes from it. How could anyone like anger?

Like being angry? I was horrified at the thought. He spoke those words on the spur of the moment. I’m not sure he would stand by the comment, but I kept thinking about it nonetheless.

In Colossians 3:8, God tells us,

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.” (NASB)

With God’s Word so clear, how can a Christian like anger? The Lord’s intent is confirmed in Ephesians 4:31,

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (NASB)

God wants us to get rid of our anger. However, as I contemplated the concept of liking to be angry, I realized that maybe it is not uncommon to like anger. It’s just not common to admit it. In fact, I became aware that there have been times when I liked being angry. Why? Because I felt like it would make things happen.

The times I remember were times when I was hurt by somebody close to me—somebody I expected to care for and protect me, not to harm me. When the injury was unexpected and deep, I wanted the offender to hurt too. I didn’t want to forgive until he/she apologized—or until he/she suffered too.

I always worked through it. I always came to a place of forgiving. However, there were times, especially with my husband—the one closest to me— that I hurt back before I forgave. Later, I always regretted the harm I caused, but that didn’t necessarily prevent it from happening again.

Why? Because in the moment I liked being angry! I thought it could make things happen, that I could get my way, or that it would even the score.

Recently, I ran across an explanation of why we like anger: “Anger is the weak person’s imitation of strength.”

I like anger when I feel wounded and weak. I like it because it makes me feel strong. However, that strength is imitation. It’s fake. It doesn’t deliver what I really want, and I always regret what happens through that artificial strength.

When we are wronged and feel weak, we don’t have to make things happen. Paul said,

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10, NASB)

It is only as we are weak, and thus trust in God, that He shows Himself strong through us. He rarely intervenes when we try to defend ourselves instead of trusting Him. On the other hand, He will fight for us if we stay weak and yield to Him. We won’t need imitation strength if we learn to appreciate our weakness.

Teach me, Lord, to be glad in my weakness, and to seek Your strength when I’m wronged.

 

He hath acquainted himself with my beaten path. When he hath searched me out, I shall come out shining (Job 23:10, free translation).

“Faith grows amid storms” — just four words, but oh, how full of import to the soul who has been in the storms!

Faith is that God-given faculty which, when exercised, brings the unseen into plain view, and by which the impossible things are made possible. It deals with supernaturals. But it “grows amid storms”; that is, where there are disturbances in the spiritual atmosphere. Storms are caused by the conflicts of elements; and the storms of the spiritual world are conflicts with hostile elements. In such an atmosphere faith finds its most productive soil; in such an element it comes more quickly to full fruition.

The staunchest tree is not found in the shelter of the forest, but out in the open where the winds from every quarter beat upon it, and bend and twist it until it becomes a giant in stature this is the tree which the mechanic wants his tools made of, and the wagon-maker seeks.

So in the spiritual world, when you see a giant, remember the road you must travel to come up to his side is not along the sunny lane where wild flowers ever bloom; but a steep, rocky, narrow pathway where the blasts of hell will almost blow you off your feet; where the sharp rocks cut the flesh, where the projecting thorns scratch the brow, and the venomous beasts hiss on every side.

It is a pathway of sorrow and joy, of suffering and healing balm, of tears and smiles, of trials and victories, of conflicts and triumphs, of hardships and perils and buffetings, of persecutions and misunderstandings, of troubles and distress; through all of which we are made more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

“Amid storms.” Right in the midst where it is fiercest. You may shrink back from the ordeal of a fierce storm of trial…but go in! God is there to meet you in the center of all your trials, and to whisper His secrets which will make you come forth with a shining face and an indomitable faith that all the demons of hell shall never afterwards cause to waver.
–E. A. Kilbourne

 

A simple sermon for seeking souls

From: Charles Spurgeon

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13

Suggested Further Reading: Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

“I thought,” said somebody addressing me one day, “I thought when I was in the garden, surely Christ could take my sins away, just as easily as he could move the clouds. Do you know, sir, in a moment or two the cloud was all gone, and the sun was shining. Thought I to myself, the Lord is blotting out my sin.” Such a ridiculous thought as that, you say, cannot occur often. I tell you, it does, very frequently indeed. People suppose that the greatest nonsense in all the earth is a manifestation of divine grace in their hearts. Now, the only feeling I ever want to have is just this,—I want to feel that I am a sinner and that Christ is my Saviour. You may keep your visions, and ecstasies, and raptures, and dances to yourselves; the only feeling that I desire to have is deep repentance and humble faith; and if, poor sinner, you have got that, you are saved. Why, some of you believe that before you can be saved there must be a kind of electric shock, some very wonderful thing that is to go all through you from head to foot. Now hear this, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: …That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart…. Thou shalt be saved.” What do you want with all this nonsense of dreams and supernatural thoughts? All that is wanted is, that as a guilty sinner, I should come and cast myself on Christ. That done, the soul is safe, and all the visions in the universe could not make it safer.

For meditation: “God be merciful to me a sinner” was Christ’s description of a man calling upon God and being justified (Luke 18:13,14). Any insistence on special experiences and strange happenings is an evidence of having departed from Christ, the head of the church (Colossians 2:18,19).

God Is With You

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.        Isaiah 40:31 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.            11 Thessalonians 5:11 

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.    Isaiah 43:2 
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Lessons in Encouragement

From: Our Daily Journey

Lessons in Encouragement

Read:

1 Samuel 23:1-18
Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God (1 Samuel 23:16).

Every now and then, I receive a note from a friend telling me how blessed she’s been by something I wrote. Often these messages arrive as I’m wondering whether my words make any difference. In the past I expressed my gratitude for her kindness. But lately I’ve come to an even greater awareness of how helpful her encouragement has been to me. Knowing that people are being impacted by my writing helps me to recognize God’s hand in my work and to rely even more on His guidance.

Like my friend, Jonathan was a source of strength and encouragement to David. On the run from King Saul, David found an unlikely ally in the crown prince. Once, while roaming the wilderness, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ Jonathan reassured him. ‘My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you . . . .’ So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the LORD . Then Jonathan returned home” (1 Samuel 23:16-18).

Not long after this incident, David’s position was twice betrayed—once by people he had just helped. When Saul went after David, he ended up vulnerable to attack from David’s men. But, striving to honor God, David spared Saul’s life (1 Samuel 24:1-15).

David spent several years wondering when the prophecy of him becoming king would be fulfilled. During this time, he was often surrounded by supporters. But even when alone and despondent, he learned to find encouragement in God (1 Samuel 30:6).

May we, like Jonathan, play the part of an encourager in the life of others. And like David, may we learn to draw encouragement from the One who is ever present in our troubles.

 

Solid Rock and Sinking Sand

From: Joe Stowell, Author

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24

Over the past several years we’ve seen hurricanes wreak mind-boggling destruction. When a hurricane hits, countless homes and lives are washed into the sea, and the things people count on the most don’t hold up to the storm’s furious surges.

We all have hurricanes in our lives: the out-of-the-blue surprises that leave us reeling from their blows. A phone call from the doctor, a word about a wayward child, a dreaded pink slip, a betrayal by a trusted friend. Our lives have a lot of potentially grim news on the horizon, and none of us are exempt. The issue is not whether a Katrina is in your forecast; the issue is how you deal with it when it comes.

When I was a kid, we sang a song in Sunday school about a man who built his house on the sand. This man may have thought it cool to build his house near the beach, but when the storm hit it was bad news for him. The song was based on one of those in-your-face stories Jesus often told to catch our attention. This story illustrates what life is like when we hear His teaching and then go our merry way and do whatever we please. Jesus warned: If you live like that, given enough time and a big enough storm, your life will slide into a heap of rubble. And, as Jesus said, you can expect that it will fall “with a great crash” (Matthew 7:27).

But against the backdrop of the “sand house” sliding into the sea, Jesus taught that there was another way to live, a better way. He wants us to build the house of our lives on a rock-hard foundation, on Him. Solid lives, He taught, are lives built by people who not only hear His words but also put them into practice. When the storms come, houses built on the rock of obedience and a cultivated trust in who God is and what He has taught us, stand unscathed when the skies eventually clear.

So, the question is, what kind of house are you building—or, more specifically, what are you counting on for security and stability in your life? The sinking sand of life on your own terms, the fickle rush of popularity, the shaky ground of a prestigious career or lifestyle, or the soft soil of living for comfort and cash? As okay as you might think some of these pursuits may seem, none of them will sustain you in the midst of a hurricane-force storm. What you need is to build on the granite foundation of truth—God’s truth as found in His Word.

As Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet, it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).

If you’re not sure how solid your foundation is, stop construction. Commit to living your life on God’s terms, not your own—then build away. No storm that comes will threaten your life when you are built on the Rock.

 

Spiritual Eyes

By: Pam Morrison, Author

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

Years ago, we moved to Kansas so that my husband might take a job. Up to this point, we lived east of Atlanta on a few heavily wooded acres. Our babies were born and brought home to our cedar-sided cabin with its broad front porch. This place was a little “piece of heaven” for us – a small acreage surrounded by neighbors, some in subdivisions, others on their own few acres. Many afternoons, I hiked across the pasture of the neighboring land to see my best friend, Barbara, and her boys. With this move to Kansas, we longed to capture the same lifestyle – a country home with plenty of neighbors, yet a spacious place to raise children. We set out to explore land north of the metro area.

I remember how my heart sank as we drove up and down county roads. This was not the dense greenery of Atlanta. Field after broad, flat, farm field stretched before my eyes, houses only here and there. I thought, “If we choose this, what will life be like? Where will I find friends, playmates OUT HERE?” My husband would have a long commute into the city and most days would be spent without his company or help. Yet, he seemed so set on intensifying our country experience. I tried hard to remain enthused.

We did choose this area and moved temporarily into a home in a subdivision near a small town. My husband was not yet satisfied. He still wanted to be “out farther.” He perused want ads looking for land until he finally found a wonderful deal, the size acreage that he yearned for at a fair price. Now, I love the country too. I just feared isolation and loneliness.

I remember the first time we drove by to look at this great find. “What a mess!” was my first thought. There was a “basement house” – some form of primitive earth contact house, only it looked like a concrete bomb bunker. There was a falling down barn. I could only imagine how many brown recluse spiders were holding a convention in it! Piles of trash, broken fences, and barb wire entangled in hedge rows were everywhere.

My husband saw something beyond the present, however. As the old barn was pushed down into a pond site, the basement house buried, and the fences cleared, we poured a foundation. The day finally came when we sat in white wicker rockers on the front porch, the flower beds filled with bridal wreath spirea, iris, and much more. We had a beautiful home and little children from town and church and even from down the road became new friends.

I have often thought of my first response and my husband’s response to the land as symbolic for how we react to many of life’s experiences. How differently we see our circumstances depending on “the eyes” we are using. When we see things in the natural, we may see nothing, obstacles, or more sorrow and think, “Nothing good can come from this. Nothing will change. There is no hope. It can’t get better.” When we look with “natural” eyes, our hearts can be so heavy. But what happens when we look at the same picture with “spiritual” eyes, the eyes of faith? I so often think of the book of Hebrews and its writer’s wonderful description of Abraham:

“By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” (Hebrews 11:11-12 NIV)

“As good as dead!” Can’t you see old Abraham looking down at age-spotted hands and over at Sarah, seeing more of the same, scratching his head, yet proclaiming, with all his heart, “The One who made this promise is FAITHFUL. I choose to believe!!”

Today, if you are discouraged, seeing your circumstances as if they are an “old house and a broken down barn,” may the Lord help you see what can rise up out of what looks only like ruins. Choose to believe His promise that He has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

God’s Love Is Deep

A Prayer for the Ephesians

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

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God of the Depths

From: Our Daily Bread

God of the Depths
Read: Job 41:12–34 | Bible in a Year: Job 41–42; Acts 16:22–40

There is the sea, vast and spacious, . . . and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. Psalm 104:25–26

“When you go to the deep sea, every time you take a sample, you’ll find a new species,” says marine biologist Ward Appeltans. In one recent year, scientists identified 1,451 new types of undersea life. We simply don’t know the half of what’s down there.

In Job 38–40, God reviewed His creation for Job’s benefit. In three poetic chapters, God highlighted the wonders of weather, the vastness of the cosmos, and the variety of creatures in their habitats. These are things we can observe. Then God spoke of the mysterious Leviathan—for an entire chapter. Leviathan is a creature like no other, with harpoon-deflecting armor (Job 41:7, 13), graceful power (v. 12), and “fearsome teeth” (v. 14). “Flames stream from its mouth . . . smoke pours from its nostrils” (vv. 19–20). “Nothing on earth is its equal” (v. 33).

Okay, so God talks about a huge creature we haven’t seen. Is that the point of Job 41?

No! Job 41 broadens our understanding of God’s surprising character. The psalmist expanded on this when he wrote, “There is the sea, vast and spacious, . . . and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there” (Psalm 104:25–26). After the terrifying description in Job, we learn that God created a playpen for this most fearsome of all creatures. Leviathan frolics.

We have the present to explore the ocean. We’ll have eternity to explore the wonders of our magnificent, mysterious, playful God.

Our exploration of creation teaches us about the Creator.

 

A Longer Process

From: Our Daily Journey

A Longer Process

Read:

1 Peter 2:9-12
Live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will . . . give honor to God (1 Peter 2:12).

By nearly all accounts, the founder of a prominent multinational technology company was a difficult man to work for. Early on, his abrasive tone and management style caused many employees to leave the company. But those who endured his initial rudeness often came to win their boss’ respect, and eventually developed a productive relationship with him. But that positive relationship was the fruit of a longer process; it certainly wasn’t instantaneous.

In today’s passage, when Peter describes how we should interact with non-believers, he implies a level of disagreement or hostility mentioning that they will “accuse you of doing wrong” (1 Peter 2:12). Often this idea becomes the foundation for how we relate to non-believers: We think we’re so different in perspective and behavior that it’s pointless to share any sort of relationship with them.

But in truth, that hostility isn’t the end of the story, but only a midpoint of a larger process. Although it’s true that we can often have profound disagreements with non-believers, our behavior, when it’s truly Christ-like, can result in their receiving “God’s mercy” (1 Peter 2:10). They may be so affected by how we live that they can’t help but “give honor to God” (1 Peter 2:12). Such a transformation isn’t possible if we turn away from them at the first sign of conflict.

It’s far too easy (and natural) to avoid or abandon a difficult relationship, especially one in which there’s a major disagreement. But we shouldn’t be too quick to turn our backs on those who don’t yet know Christ, no matter how profound our disagreements. If we do, we miss out on the chance to show them “the goodness of God,” and how He can live in them as well (1 Peter 2:9).

 

The Spiritually Lazy Saint

By Oswald Chambers

The Spiritually Lazy Saint

We are all capable of being spiritually lazy saints. We want to stay off the rough roads of life, and our primary objective is to secure a peaceful retreat from the world. The ideas put forth in these verses from Hebrews 10 are those of stirring up one another and of keeping ourselves together. Both of these require initiative— our willingness to take the first step toward Christ-realization, not the initiative toward self-realization. To live a distant, withdrawn, and secluded life is diametrically opposed to spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it.

The true test of our spirituality occurs when we come up against injustice, degradation, ingratitude, and turmoil, all of which have the tendency to make us spiritually lazy. While being tested, we want to use prayer and Bible reading for the purpose of finding a quiet retreat. We use God only for the sake of getting peace and joy. We seek only our enjoyment of Jesus Christ, not a true realization of Him. This is the first step in the wrong direction. All these things we are seeking are simply effects, and yet we try to make them causes.

“Yes, I think it is right,” Peter said, “…to stir you up by reminding you…” (2 Peter 1:13). It is a most disturbing thing to be hit squarely in the stomach by someone being used of God to stir us up— someone who is full of spiritual activity. Simple active work and spiritual activity are not the same thing. Active work can actually be the counterfeit of spiritual activity. The real danger in spiritual laziness is that we do not want to be stirred up— all we want to hear about is a spiritual retirement from the world. Yet Jesus Christ never encourages the idea of retirement— He says, “Go and tell My brethren…” (Matthew 28:10).

A Sure Foundation

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Foundations Of Nations

Joshua 6:26

Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.”

 

Foundations Of Buildings

Matthew 7:24-27

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

 

Spiritual Foundations

1 Corinthians 3:11

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

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A Sure Foundation

From: Our Daily Journey

A Sure Foundation

Read:

Isaiah 33:1-13
In that day he will be your sure foundation (Isaiah 33:6).

Mary’s life today as an office manager and single mother is vastly different from her previous years spent with an abusive husband. Her married life involved intense cycles of injury and apology. When authorities finally ended the violence by jailing her spouse, Mary moved to a new location. There, friends and family helped her begin to rebuild her life after her painful ordeal. During the healing process, Mary was able to co-found Healing Hearts Ministry as a way to help others rebuild their lives after the trauma and devastating effects of domestic abuse.

The people of ancient Israel had to deal with the fear, trauma, and effects of enemy invasions. During those frightening times, God wanted them to know they could trust Him as their ultimate source of help. God said He would be their “strong arm each day and [their] salvation in times of trouble” (Isaiah 33:2), the One they could depend on as their “sure foundation” (Isaiah 33:6).

The Israelites needed this image of God as a solid place to stand when they faced the threat of large-scale violence, death, and loss. An Assyrian victory would result in the collapse of their communities and way of life (Isaiah 33:7-9). They would be marched away to a distant land and have to permanently identify themselves as citizens of a new nation. Everything would be in flux.

Times of transition show us our undeniable need for God. Whether we’re escaping an abusive relationship, breaking free from destructive habits, or trying to turn a long-held dream into reality, we need something steady to hold on to. God is our unchanging rock (Malachi 3:6). Through it all He’s pleased to steady us with knowledge, wisdom, and the assurance of our salvation through Jesus.

 

One of God’s Great “Don’ts”

By Oswald Chambers

One of God’s Great

Fretting means getting ourselves “out of joint” mentally or spiritually. It is one thing to say, “Do not fret,” but something very different to have such a nature that you find yourself unable to fret. It’s easy to say, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7) until our own little world is turned upside down and we are forced to live in confusion and agony like so many other people. Is it possible to “rest in the Lord” then? If this “Do not” doesn’t work there, then it will not work anywhere. This “Do not” must work during our days of difficulty and uncertainty, as well as our peaceful days, or it will never work. And if it will not work in your particular case, it will not work for anyone else. Resting in the Lord is not dependent on your external circumstances at all, but on your relationship with God Himself.

Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God.

Have you been propping up that foolish soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God to handle? Set all your opinions and speculations aside and “abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about whatever concerns you. All our fretting and worrying is caused by planning without God.

 

Stephanie Raquel July 4, 2018
Lord, Help Me Honor Your Miracles
STEPHANIE RAQUEL

“Then Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘In the future your children will ask, “What do these stones mean?”’” Joshua 4:21 (NLT)

Every 4th of July, the United States launches into full celebration mode. 

We mark this federal holiday with parades and fireworks, honoring July 4 as the birthday of the USA, because that’s when the Continental Congress approved the final wording for the Declaration of Independence in 1776. 

Not only is it our national birthday, July 4 is also my spiritual birthday. It marks the season of my life when I renewed my faith in Jesus, culminating in a week-long event that began on July 4. It’s a date I’m good at silently thanking God for and remembering, but I wish I were better about actually celebrating it.

It’s easy to celebrate Christmas and Easter. I also love honoring birthdays and other significant dates. But commemorating such a personal faith day? God gave me eternal life … and adopted me as a part of His family. Knowing what God has done through His Son Jesus, I’d like to get better at acknowledging such miracles.

I take comfort knowing I’m not the only one needing a reminder. God gave the Israelites directions to recognize God’s faithfulness as they navigated their way into the Promised Land.

In the book of Exodus, God used Moses to lead the nation of Israel out of slavery. Then Moses assigned 12 representatives from each tribe to go scout the Promised Land for 40 days. All but two scouts (Joshua and Caleb) thought the land was inhabited with fierce giants. The whole nation erupted in fear and anger, plotting ways to find a new leader to take them back to Egypt. (Numbers chapters 13 and 14)

God was displeased with their faithlessness. The result? Ten of those 12 scouts died from a plague, and God told Moses that due to their distrust, the entire nation would wander in the wilderness one year for each day the scouts were assigned to survey the land, until that generation had passed. 

This meant that an 11-day journey would take 40 years. Fast-forward four decades.

The Israelites finally approached the Promised Land. This was a huge deal, one God didn’t want His chosen to forget. He led them right to the edge of the Jordan River, then parted the flowing waters. Suddenly, millions of men, women and children (plus the Ark of the Covenant) walked across dry land. And the minute they’d crossed over, the rushing river returned.

To ensure they would always remember His faithfulness, God ordered them to take 12 large stones from the middle of the dry riverbed, right where the priests stood with the Ark of the Covenant, and create a memorial from them. 

He next gave this directive in Joshua 4:21-24 …

“Then Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘In the future your children will ask, “What do these stones mean?” Then you can tell them, “This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” For the LORD your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the LORD’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the LORD your God forever.’” 

God wanted the Israelites to remember the miracle of what He had done. So He had them collect dry stones from the middle of the riverbed, tangible proof of God’s miracle. Then they were instructed to tell others. The reason? The world will know how tenderly God loves us when we begin sharing our stories.

Deep in my heart, I try to remember my “dry stones” — the many miracles I’ve personally witnessed, including my spiritual birthday. But some days, I still need God’s help to recognize all He’s done.

On good days and bad, but especially on challenging days when I think it sure would be “easier” to slip into old patterns and head back into “slavery” … Lord, help me see and honor the incredible things You’ve done. Help me remember and celebrate how You’ve led me to true freedom, using big miracles and small. 

What tales of God’s greatness do you have to tell? How has He rescued you? Maybe like me, you could use a gentle nudge to meaningfully share what God’s done in your life. The world desperately needs more reasons to celebrate — especially when we honor God’s powerful hand at work!

God Sees You

Job 13:27

“You put my feet in the stocks And watch all my paths; You set a limit for the soles of my feet,

Job 16:9

“His anger has torn me and hunted me down, He has gnashed at me with His teeth; My adversary glares at me.

Psalm 139:16

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

2 Corinthians 12:19

All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved

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I See You

From: Our Daily Bread

I See You
Read: Psalm 121 | Bible in a Year: Job 25–27; Acts 12

The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:8

When Xavier was two, he darted into one aisle after another in a small shoe store. Hiding behind stacks of shoeboxes, he giggled when my husband, Alan, said, “I see you.”

Moments later, I saw Alan dash frantically from aisle to aisle, calling Xavier’s name. We raced to the front of the store. Our child, still laughing, ran toward the open door leading to the busy street outside.

Within seconds, Alan scooped him up. We embraced as I thanked God, sobbed, and kissed our toddler’s chubby cheeks.

A year before I became pregnant with Xavier, I’d lost our first child during the pregnancy. When God blessed us with our son, I became a fearful parent. Our shoe store experience proved I wouldn’t always be able to see or protect our child. But I discovered peace as I learned to turn to my only sure source of help—God—when I struggled with worry and fear.

Our heavenly Father never takes His eyes off His children (Psalm 121:1–4). While we can’t prevent trials, heartache, or loss, we can live with confident faith, relying on an ever-present Helper and Protector who watches over our lives (vv. 5–8).

We may encounter days when we feel lost and helpless. We may also feel powerless when we can’t shield loved ones. But we can trust that our all-knowing God never loses sight of us—His precious and beloved children.

Thank You for watching over our loved ones and us, Lord.

God always keeps His eye on His children.

 

The Concentration of Personal Sin

By Oswald Chambers

The Concentration of Personal Sin

When I come into the very presence of God, I do not realize that I am a sinner in an indefinite sense, but I suddenly realize and the focus of my attention is directed toward the concentration of sin in a particular area of my life. A person will easily say, “Oh yes, I know I am a sinner,” but when he comes into the presence of God he cannot get away with such a broad and indefinite statement. Our conviction is focused on our specific sin, and we realize, as Isaiah did, what we really are. This is always the sign that a person is in the presence of God. There is never any vague sense of sin, but a focusing on the concentration of sin in some specific, personal area of life. God begins by convicting us of the very thing to which His Spirit has directed our mind’s attention. If we will surrender, submitting to His conviction of that particular sin, He will lead us down to where He can reveal the vast underlying nature of sin. That is the way God always deals with us when we are consciously aware of His presence.

This experience of our attention being directed to our concentration of personal sin is true in everyone’s life, from the greatest of saints to the worst of sinners. When a person first begins climbing the ladder of experience, he might say, “I don’t know where I’ve gone wrong,” but the Spirit of God will point out some definite and specific thing to him. The effect of Isaiah’s vision of the holiness of the Lord was the directing of his attention to the fact that he was “a man of unclean lips.” “He touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged’ ” (Isaiah 6:7). The cleansing fire had to be applied where the sin had been concentrated.

God’s Independence Day

By: Beth Patch, Author

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Independence Day — burgers and hot dogs sizzle on grills and fireworks burst in the sky. We eat, maybe hear The Star Spangled Banner, watch fireworks, and go home. July fourth has become commonplace, another day for big sales events and flying an American flag; far removed from the early celebrations marking the end of the Revolutionary War and founding a new country.

However, an Independence Day celebration approaches that will impress the whole world and never be diminished! We don’t know its date and shouldn’t believe anyone who tells us they do. But, no one on earth or in heaven will miss its importance; and it will mark a day of freedom from the greatest oppressor ever – Satan.

It is the day of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ’s return. It is the beginning of real freedom, like no one has ever had before (except Adam and Eve before they sinned). Those who have believed in Christ’s atoning blood for their sins and have trusted and believed in Him, might have what an old preacher of mine used to call “a Hallelujah breakdown!”

This Independence Day will release Christians from the many sins keeping them entangled. Imagine, no more sickness, no more addictions, no more gossip, no more unkindness, no more anything that does not reflect the positive attributes of the love of our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Currently, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, to strengthen us, to comfort us, and to give us power through Christ’s death and resurrection. However, we are still tripped up by sin as long as we live in this fallen world. When Jesus comes, all our ungodliness along with our negative baggage goes away. I can’t think of a better freedom than that.

Actually, the whole scene of Jesus’s return sounds so incredible, I doubt there are words to describe the immense emotional, spiritual, and physical response people will have.

The Bible tells us Jesus will return to earth just like He left, through the clouds (Acts 1:11b), with his angels (Matt 16:27), with the trumpet call of God and a loud command (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Scripture says believers in Christ will be changed in a twinkling of an eye and Jesus will destroy all dominion, authority, and power standing in opposition to Almighty God (1 Corinthians 15:521 Corinthians 15:24).

Our earthly minds are limited in their comprehension of this miraculous time. It’s a God thing, and try as we may, we can’t peg down the details on how God will accomplish the return of Jesus Christ and the destruction of evil.

Picture the sky filled with God’s mighty angels, the sound of God’s trumpet, which has to be the most beautiful and loudest sounding instrument, and our Lord Jesus shining radiantly as He leads His mighty angelic troop in the sky.

Envision watching victory as Christ and his angels capture Satan and his demons, and justice is completed. It will be more graphic and stirring than any riveting movie Hollywood could ever think of producing.

Many theologians have studied the return of Christ and have disagreed about the order of when things happen and exactly how they happen. These varied opinions on the return of Christ and the disappearance of believers from the earth have created divisions among believers who desperately want to cling to one decided order of the end times.

My response to such division is that it won’t matter how we interpret end times scriptures when God’s day of Independence comes. Everything will be revealed in God’s perfect timing. The Independence Day of our God will come when we least expect it and we are instructed to be ready as if it were the next moment. So, in case it happens to be today, Happy Independence Day!

Be God’s Light In The Workplace

James 5: 1-16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
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Image result for pictures of praying with coworkersImage result for pictures of praying with coworkers
Image result for pictures of praying with coworkersImage result for pictures of praying with coworkers
Image result for pictures of praying with coworkersImage result for pictures of praying with coworkers

More than Co-workers

More than Co-workers

Read:

Romans 16:1-16
Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus (Romans 16:3).

Abbie had been working in the same company for two years when she began to realize that her colleagues were more than just people who happened to work in the same place. They were an important part of her life. So she began to learn more about them, and they would sometimes even share a meal together. Even though some co-workers were difficult to relate to, Abbie and her colleagues began to create an environment where everyone could grow and develop together.

The apostle Paul had an amazing team of more than twenty co-workers whom he listed by name in his letter to believers in Rome (Romans 16:1-16). One of the reasons he listed each might have been to establish credibility with the church there—letting them know he knew many of their leaders. But he probably also simply wanted to affirm and honor his colleagues by name.

The stories of each of these people are not known in detail. But Paul lists some amazing facts. Phoebe was a deacon, which is translated in some versions as servant, and she helped many believers including Paul (Romans 16:1). Priscilla and Aquila had suffered persecution, yet they persevered and at one time even risked their lives for Paul (Romans 16:3-4Acts 18:2). Epenetus was the first believer in Asia Minor, who probably led many others there to become believers (Romans 16:5).

Although Paul was focused on advancing the kingdom of God, he didn’t do it alone, nor did he treat his co-workers as mere tools in his mission. Instead, he sought to develop and encourage them by speaking positively about them and giving specific examples of things he appreciated about them. Whenever possible, may we also seek to encourage and honor our colleagues in their work for Christ’s kingdom.

Personal service

From: Charles Spurgeon

“O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.” Psalm 116:16

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 6:15-23

A liberty to be holy is a grander liberty than a licence to be sinful. A liberty to be conscientious; a liberty to know forgiven sin; a liberty to trample upon conquered lusts, this is an infinitely wider liberty than that which would permit me to be the comfortable slave of sin, and yet indulge the elusive hope that I may one day enter the kingdom of heaven. The largest expressions that can ever be used by the boldest minister of free grace, cannot here be exaggerations. Luther may exhaust his thunders, and Calvin may spend his logic, but after all the grand things that have been spoken about the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, we are freer than those men knew. Free as the very air he breathes is the Christian, if he lives up to his privileges. If he is in bondage at all, it is because he has not as yet yielded his spirit fully to the redeeming and emancipating influence of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the fullest and widest sense therefore, the believer may cry, “Thou has loosed my bonds.” Nor is this liberty merely consistent with the profoundest and most reverent service, but the service is, indeed, a main characteristic of the exalted freedom. “Truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid.” This does not conflict with the sentence that follows it,—“Thou hast loosed my bonds.” This fact of my being God’s servant is to me a proof and evidence, and a delightful fruit and effect of my having had my bonds loosed by the great emancipator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Service then, as well as liberty!

For meditation: The Christian has been freed from being a slave of sin in order to become a servant of God. Does your lifestyle illustrate this (Galatians 5:13)?

The dove’s return to the ark

‘But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot.’ Genesis 8:9

Suggested Further Reading: Mark 12:28–34

We must love something, or some one. Man was not made to live alone, and therefore no man lives unto himself. Our heart must flow like a river, or it corrupts like a stagnant pool. Some have great hearts, and they require a great object on which to spend their love. They love fondly and firmly, too fondly and too firmly for earthly love. These are they who suffer from broken hearts. They have so much love that when they set it upon an unworthy object they reap a proportionate degree of misery and disappointment. Now let me say solemnly that no heart of a child of God will ever be satisfied with any object or person short of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is room for wife and children, there is room for friend and acquaintance, and all the more room in one’s heart because Christ is there, but neither wife, nor children, nor friends, nor kinsfolk can ever fill the believers’s heart. He must have Christ Jesus; there is no rest for him elsewhere. Do I address any believer who has been making an idol? Have you set up any god in your heart? Have you loved any creature so as to forget your Saviour? Be it child, or husband, or friend, take heed of the sin of idolatry. You cannot, you shall not find rest for the sole of your foot in the creature, however fair that creature may seem. God will break your idol before your eyes, or if he suffer that idol to stand, it shall remain to plague and curse you, for ‘thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.’ ‘Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?’ Give your hearts to the Lord Jesus and he will never disappoint you. Lean on him with all your weight of affection, for he will never fail you.

For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ has told us that we must love both God and man, but he has also specified who should come first (Mark 12:28–30), who should come second (Mark 12:31) and where we should place the emphasis (Matthew 10:37).

The Conditions of Discipleship

By Oswald Chambers

The Conditions of Discipleship

If the closest relationships of a disciple’s life conflict with the claims of Jesus Christ, then our Lord requires instant obedience to Himself. Discipleship means personal, passionate devotion to a Person— our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a vast difference between devotion to a person and devotion to principles or to a cause. Our Lord never proclaimed a cause— He proclaimed personal devotion to Himself. To be a disciple is to be a devoted bondservant motivated by love for the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not truly devoted to Jesus Christ. No one on earth has this passionate love for the Lord Jesus unless the Holy Spirit has given it to him. We may admire, respect, and revere Him, but we cannot love Him on our own. The only One who truly loves the Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit, and it is He who has “poured out in our hearts” the very “love of God” (Romans 5:5). Whenever the Holy Spirit sees an opportunity to glorify Jesus through you, He will take your entire being and set you ablaze with glowing devotion to Jesus Christ.

The Christian life is a life characterized by true and spontaneous creativity. Consequently, a disciple is subject to the same charge that was leveled against Jesus Christ, namely, the charge of inconsistency. But Jesus Christ was always consistent in His relationship to God, and a Christian must be consistent in his relationship to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to strict, unyielding doctrines. People pour themselves into their own doctrines, and God has to blast them out of their preconceived ideas before they can become devoted to Jesus Christ.