Category Archives: Marriage

Stay Close To God

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

 

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Keeping Close

From: Our Daily Journey

Keeping Close

Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Deuteronomy 6:8

My mile-long walk home from dropping off my daughter at her school gives me the opportunity to memorize some verses from the Bible—if I’m intentional about doing so. When I take those minutes to turn over God’s Word in my mind, I often find them coming back to me later in the day, bringing me comfort and wisdom.

When Moses prepared the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, he urged them to hold close to God’s commands and decrees (Deuteronomy 6:1–2). Wanting them to flourish, he said they should turn these instructions over in their minds and discuss them with their children (vv. 6–7). He even said to tie them to their wrists and bind them to their foreheads (v. 8). He didn’t want them to forget God’s instructions to live as people who honored the Lord and enjoyed His blessings.

How might you consider God’s words today? One idea is to write out a verse from Scripture, and every time you wash your hands or take a drink, read the words and turn them over in your mind. Or before you go to sleep, consider a short passage from the Bible as the last act of the day. Many are the ways of keeping God’s Word close to our hearts!

Lord God, thank You for giving us the Bible, which is a wellspring for life. Help us to read and digest it today.

Surround yourself with God’s Word.

 

Judgment and the Love of God

By Oswald Chambers

Judgment and the Love of God

The Christian servant must never forget that salvation is God’s idea, not man’s; therefore, it has an unfathomable depth. Salvation is the great thought of God, not an experience. Experience is simply the door through which salvation comes into the conscious level of our life so that we are aware of what has taken place on a much deeper level. Never preach the experience— preach the great thought of God behind the experience. When we preach, we are not simply proclaiming how people can be saved from hell and be made moral and pure; we are conveying good news about God.

In the teachings of Jesus Christ the element of judgment is always brought out— it is the sign of the love of God. Never sympathize with someone who finds it difficult to get to God; God is not to blame. It is not for us to figure out the reason for the difficulty, but only to present the truth of God so that the Spirit of God will reveal what is wrong. The greatest test of the quality of our preaching is whether or not it brings everyone to judgment. When the truth is preached, the Spirit of God brings each person face to face with God Himself.

If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that He was unable to equip us to accomplish, He would be a liar. And if we make our own inability a stumbling block or an excuse not to be obedient, it means that we are telling God that there is something which He has not yet taken into account. Every element of our own self-reliance must be put to death by the power of God. The moment we recognize our complete weakness and our dependence upon Him will be the very moment that the Spirit of God will exhibit His power.

 

STREAMS IN THE DESERT – MAY 5

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When they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushs… and they were smitten (2 Chron. 20:22).

Oh, that we could reason less about our troubles, and sing and praise more! There are thousands of things that we wear as shackles which we might use as instruments with music in them, if we only knew how. Those men that ponder, and meditate, and weigh the affairs of life, and study the mysterious developments of God’s providence, and wonder why they should be burdened and thwarted and hampered–how different and how much more joyful would be their lives, if, instead of forever indulging in self-revolving and inward thinking, they would take their experiences, day by day, and lift them up, and praise God for them.

We can sing our cares away easier than we can reason them away. Sing in the morning. The birds are the earliest to sing, and birds are more without care than anything else that I know of. Sing at evening. Singing is the last thing that robins do. When they have done their daily work; when they have flown their last flight, and picked up their last morsel of food, then on a topmost twig, they sing one song of praise.

Oh, that we might sing morning and evening, and let song touch song all the way through.
–Selected

Don’t let the song go out of your life
Though it chance sometimes to flow
In a minor strain; it will blend again
With the major tone you know.

What though shadows rise to obscure life’s skies,
And hide for a time the sun,
The sooner they’ll lift and reveal the rift,
If you let the melody run.

Don’t let the song go out of your life;
Though the voice may have lost its trill,
Though the tremulous note may die in your throat,
Let it sing in your spirit still.

Don’t let the song go out of your life;
Let it ring in the soul while here;
And when you go hence, ’twill follow you thence,
And live on in another sphere.

In The Beginning God

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Before the Beginning

From: Our Daily Bread

Before the Beginning
 
 

You loved me before the creation of the world. John 17:24

“But if God has no beginning and no end, and has always existed, what was He doing before He created us? How did He spend His time?” Some precocious Sunday school student always asks this question when we talk about God’s eternal nature. I used to respond that this was a bit of a mystery. But recently I learned that the Bible gives us an answer to this question.

When Jesus prays to His Father in John 17, He says “Father, . . . you loved me before the creation of the world” (v. 24). This is God as revealed to us by Jesus: Before the world was ever created, God was a trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)—all loving each other and being loved. When Jesus was baptized, God sent His Spirit in the form of a dove and said, “This is my Son, whom I love” (Matthew 3:17). The most foundational aspect of God’s identity is this outgoing, life-giving love.

What a lovely and encouraging truth this is about our God! The mutual, outgoing love expressed by each member of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is key to understanding the nature of God. What was God doing before the beginning of time? What He always does: He was loving because He is love (1 John 4:8).

God, thank You for Your overflowing, self-giving love.

We are created in the image of a God who is loving and relational.

 

Why Did Jesus Leave?

From: Our Daily Journey

Why Did Jesus Leave?

Read:

John 16:5-16
But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come (John 16:7).

I hate goodbyes. Especially if I’m close to the one with whom I’m parting ways. I can only imagine the disciples’ pain when Jesus said goodbye, although He assured them He’d see them again soon (John 16:16).

It’s been two thousand years, and we still haven’t seen Jesus return. Yet He told the disciples it was best for them that He ascend to the Father, so they’d receive His Spirit (John 16:7).

But why was this best?

The Spirit indwells and empowers believers. Ten days after Jesus’ ascension, the disciples heard “a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm” (Acts 2:2). The disciples “began speaking in other languages,” and Peter told the amazed crowd they were witnessing the promised arrival of the Spirit (Acts 2:4,33).

The Spirit’s coming detonated an explosion of world evangelism. Empowered by the Spirit, believers would bear witness to Jesus “in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Because of the Spirit, we are never alone as we witness to Christ.

The Spirit persuades. Jesus said the Spirit would “convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment” (John 16:8). Believers don’t need to win arguments or outtalk others to be effective witnesses. We need only testify to what Jesus has done and allow the Spirit to work in others’ hearts.

The Spirit guides. Jesus said the Spirit would “guide [the disciples] into all truth,” explaining what they could not yet bear (John 16:12-13). The disciples wrote down these truths, which were collected into our New Testament. We now can open our Bibles and through the Spirit’s leading hear from Jesus Himself. The disciples’ goodbye was necessary for our hello.

 

Vicarious Intercession

Vicarious Intercession

By Oswald Chambers

Beware of thinking that intercession means bringing our own personal sympathies and concerns into the presence of God, and then demanding that He do whatever we ask. Our ability to approach God is due entirely to the vicarious, or substitutionary, identification of our Lord with sin. We have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.”

Spiritual stubbornness is the most effective hindrance to intercession, because it is based on a sympathetic “understanding” of things we see in ourselves and others that we think needs no atonement. We have the idea that there are certain good and virtuous things in each of us that do not need to be based on the atonement by the Cross of Christ. Just the sluggishness and lack of interest produced by this kind of thinking makes us unable to intercede. We do not identify ourselves with God’s interests and concerns for others, and we get irritated with Him. Yet we are always ready with our own ideas, and our intercession becomes only the glorification of our own natural sympathies. We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means a radical change of all of our sympathies and interests. Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them.

Am I stubborn or substituted? Am I spoiled or complete in my relationship to God? Am I irritable or spiritual? Am I determined to have my own way or determined to be identified with Him?

A Change Of Perspective

Matthew 5

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

(These teachings from Jesus were the opposite from the teaching of the Jews in most cases.)

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.    

Jesus taught about perspective in the Sermon on the Mount.  Matthew 5,6, and 7.
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A Change in Perspective

From: Our Daily Bread

A Change in Perspective

It troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God. Psalm 73:16–17

My hometown had experienced its heaviest winter in thirty years. My muscles ached from hours of shoveling the unrelenting snow. When I stepped inside after what felt like a fruitless effort, weary as I kicked off my boots, I was greeted by the warmth of a fire and my children gathered around it. As I gazed out the window from the shelter of my home, my perspective of the weather shifted completely. Instead of seeing more work to do, I savored the beauty of frosted tree branches and the way the snow blanketed the colorless landscape of winter.

I see a similar, but much more poignant, shift in Asaph when I read his words in Psalm 73. In the beginning, he laments the way the world seems to work, how wrongs seem to be rewarded. He doubts the value of being different than the crowd and living for the good of others (v. 13). But when he enters the sanctuary of God, his outlook changes (vv. 16–17): he remembers that God will deal with the world and its troubles perfectly and, more importantly, that it is good to be with God (v. 28).

When we’re chilled by the seemingly ceaseless problems in our world, we can enter God’s sanctuary in prayer and be warmed through by the life-altering, perspective-changing truth that His judgment is better than ours. Though our circumstances may not change, our perspective can.

Lord, I admit I quickly become frustrated with the way things appear. Help me to see the way You do.

God gives us the right perspective.

 

Vital Intercession

By Oswald Chambers

 Vital Intercession

As we continue on in our intercession for others, we may find that our obedience to God in interceding is going to cost those for whom we intercede more than we ever thought. The danger in this is that we begin to intercede in sympathy with those whom God was gradually lifting up to a totally different level in direct answer to our prayers. Whenever we step back from our close identification with God’s interest and concern for others and step into having emotional sympathy with them, the vital connection with God is gone. We have then put our sympathy and concern for them in the way, and this is a deliberate rebuke to God.

It is impossible for us to have living and vital intercession unless we are perfectly and completely sure of God. And the greatest destroyer of that confident relationship to God, so necessary for intercession, is our own personal sympathy and preconceived bias. Identification with God is the key to intercession, and whenever we stop being identified with Him it is because of our sympathy with others, not because of sin. It is not likely that sin will interfere with our intercessory relationship with God, but sympathy will. It is sympathy with ourselves or with others that makes us say, “I will not allow that thing to happen.” And instantly we are out of that vital connection with God.

Vital intercession leaves you with neither the time nor the inclination to pray for your own “sad and pitiful self.” You do not have to struggle to keep thoughts of yourself out, because they are not even there to be kept out of your thinking. You are completely and entirely identified with God’s interests and concerns in other lives. God gives us discernment in the lives of others to call us to intercession for them, never so that we may find fault with them.

 

Let Someone Hold Up Your Arms

Shaunti Feldhahn , Author

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Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. — Exodus 17:12, NLT

It gets me every time—my eyes well up as I watch the video of Olympic sprinter Derek Redmond, who massively injured his hamstring midway through his race in the 1992 Barcelona games. He started hopping toward the finish line, his pain palpable as he boldly tried to finish the race, even though he had no hope of winning a medal. Even more touching is what Redmond’s father did next. Jim Redmond leapt out of the stands and shook off security guards as he ran to help his son reach his goal. The picture of a father holding up his son as he wept in pain and disappointment makes it one of the most inspiring moments in Olympic history. It’s such a clear visual of the raw, messy, beautiful lengths to which we go to serve and love someone we care about.

We like to identify with the father in that story because we can probably imagine doing something similar for someone we love. But if we’re honest, there are times in our busy, stressful lives when we are more like the injured runner. It sometimes seems as if we cannot take one more step forward without falling on our face. Whether it’s a troubled relationship, a bad diagnosis, our child’s behavioral issues at school, job insecurity … it all weighs heavy on us, and sometimes it feels like we can’t go on.

Of course, we women like to limp along and pretend we can handle it on our own. We actually do a banner job of it. But you know what? There are people in our lives who want to leap the railing, run to our side, and grab hold of us as we try to reach the finish line. People who would consider it an honor to walk alongside us and be our companions during the difficult parts of our race.

We need to let them grab our arms and help.

Yes, it means being vulnerable. It means the secret will be out that we cannot handle everything on our own. It feels risky, even embarrassing, to ask for help. But the beauty of allowing someone to help us as we limp toward the finish line brings tears to the eyes—a display of love (both in the giving and the receiving) that reminds us that we are never, ever alone.

Question to Consider: 

Have you ever come alongside someone as they struggled? Think about how honored you felt to help them. Now think about someone who has offered to help you. Pray for God’s help to set aside your pride and allow them to take hold of your arms and help you across the finish line today.

Longing For God

Jeremiah 29:13

‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Matthew 7:7-8

 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Luke 11:9-10

 

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.

2 Corinthians 6:2

for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”–

 

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Longing for God

From: Our Daily Bread

Longing for God

My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Psalm 84:2

One day my daughter was visiting with our one-year-old grandson. I was getting ready to leave the house on an errand, but as soon as I walked out of the room my grandson began to cry. It happened twice, and each time I went back and spent a moment with him. As I headed out the door the third time, his little lip began to quiver again. At that point my daughter said, “Dad, why don’t you just take him with you?”

Any grandparent could tell you what happened next. My grandson went along for the ride, just because I love him.

How good it is to know that the longings of our hearts for God are also met with love. The Bible assures us that we can “know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16). God doesn’t love us because of anything we have or haven’t done. His love isn’t based on our worthiness at all, but on His goodness and faithfulness. When the world around us is unloving and unkind, we can rely on God’s unchanging love as our source of hope and peace.

Our heavenly Father’s heart has gone out to us through the gift of His Son and His Spirit. How comforting is the assurance that God loves us with love that never ends!

Loving Lord, thank You for Your compassion for me, proven at the cross. Please help me to obey and love You today.

God longs for us to long for Him.

 

Candace Cameron Bure May 2, 2018
A Call for Kindness
CANDACE CAMERON BURE

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:4-5 (ESV)

Any Batman fans out there? Remember how Gotham citizens alerted Batman when they were in need? They used the Bat-Signal, illuminating the darkness with the bright symbol of their hope as a sign for their hero to come help.

That’s my mission. I’m sending a kindness light as a symbol of my hope in humanity, a signal for us all to get to work. 

Like the crime-ridden streets of Gotham, this planet is a mess. The news is scary, relationships are messy, and kindness seems to be on the endangered species list. But I have great hope. I believe it’s possible to carry ourselves with grace and dignity, even in a culture aiming to celebrate anger and division. I have a deep desire to raise up an army of kind and classy women to impact all we encounter — and in turn, the world.

These are the kinds of everyday heroes our world needs more of. And here’s where I hope you’ll hear me. You don’t need a cape to become this kind of hero. Or unique influence, advanced education or special technology. This job isn’t exclusively for the experts. In fact, all amateurs welcome!

The one requirement to be a kindness hero? Be willing. All you have to do is show up, start small and keep at it.

But before you enlist, let me give this disclaimer: We cannot do this on our own.

I’m a firm believer there’s a difference between an empowered woman and one who’s in-powered by the Holy Spirit. This is not a pep talk. I’m not giving you a list of feel-good mantras to ramp up your confidence in your own abilities.

If Christ isn’t the source of my actions toward others, being kind will come from a selfish, me-focused attitude. Kind toward others, expecting them to always be kind back … and likely getting my feelings hurt when they don’t. This doesn’t change a thing.

Here’s a snapshot of what we’re trying to avoid: “We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” (Titus 3:3, ESV).

Kindness is learned. It doesn’t come naturally. Because of sin’s damage, we can’t love others well, but that’s only part of the story. The good part comes next, as today’s key verse shows. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5 ESV, emphasis mine).

Though we didn’t deserve it, Jesus responded with goodness and kindness. He’s the ultimate example of graciousness. How humbling! We can respond to others with kindness because we’ve received kindness ourselves — and not just any kindness, but the most extravagant display of kindness in human history!

That’s just how loved we are. And we start living lives of kindness and purpose when we realize how much God loves those around us, too.

This is where God’s Spirit invites us to move from a me-first mentality into a faith-first mentality. We need God’s help to see the people around us as the image bearers they are.

We don’t need to be empowered with a long list of dos and don’ts or a rah-rah pep talk for how to treat each other. Rather, we need to be in-powered by the Holy Spirit to see everyone through the eyes of love. No exceptions. Your husband, your best friend, your pastor. Plus the grouchy cashier, the silent strangers in the elevator, the real men and women hiding behind avatars on Facebook, the mailman. God’s love is fierce and passionate for everyone.

When we submit our lives to God’s plan, passionately pursuing our mission to bring Him glory, He’ll take our small acts of kindness and multiply them in ways we cannot imagine. Ever notice kindness is contagious? Sometimes all it takes is a cheerful customer service rep or a whistling stranger to turn our day around. Who knows who you’ll inspire to treat others well because of your example! Trust the ripple effect. Believe it, and do your part. I’ll do my best to do mine.

The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all (Ps. 103:19).

Some time since, in the early spring, I was going out at my door when round the corner came a blast of east wind–defiant and  pitiless, fierce and withering–sending a cloud of dust before it. I was just taking the latchkey from the door as I said, half impatiently, “I wish the wind would”–I was going to say change;  but the word was checked, and the sentence was never finished.

As I went on my way, the incident became a parable to me. There came an angel holding out a key; and he said: “My Master sends thee His love, and bids me give you this.” “What is it?” I asked, wondering. “The key of the winds,” said the angel, and disappeared.

Now indeed should I be happy. I hurried away up into the heights whence the winds came, and stood amongst the caves. “I will have done with the east wind at any rate–and that shall plague us no more,” I cried; and calling in that friendless wind, I closed the door, and heard the echoes ringing in the hollow places. I turned the key triumphantly. “There,” I said, now we have done with that.”

“What shall I choose in its place?” I asked myself, looking about me. “The south wind is pleasant”; and I thought of the lambs, and the young life on every hand, and the flowers that had begun to deck the hedgerows. But as I set the key within the door, it began to burn my hand. “What am I doing?” I cried; “who knows what mischief I may bring about? How do I know what the fields want! Ten thousand things of ill may come of this foolish wish of mine.”

Bewildered and ashamed, I looked up and prayed that the Lord would send His angel yet again to take the key; and for my part I promised that I would never want to have it any more. But lo, the Lord Himself stood by me. He reached His hand to take the key; and as I laid it down, I saw that it rested against the sacred wound-print.

It hurt me indeed that I could ever have murmured against anything wrought by Him who bare such sacred tokens of His love. Then He took the key and hung it on His girdle. “Dost THOU keep the key of the winds?” I asked. “I do, my child,” He answered graciously. And lo, I looked again and there hung all the keys of all my life. He saw my look of amazement, and asked, “Didst thou not know, my child, that my kingdom ruleth over all?”

“Over all, my Lord!” I answered; “then it is not safe for me to murmur at anything?” Then did He lay His hand upon me tenderly. “My child,” He said, “thy only safety is, in everything, to love and trust and praise.”
–Mark Guy Pearse

Waiting For The Lord’s Return

Luke 12:35-40

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. “Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.

 

Waiting With Anticipation Is Rough Sometimes
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Waiting in Anticipation

From: Our Daily Bread

Waiting in Anticipation
 
 

I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130:6

Every May Day (May 1) in Oxford, England, an early morning crowd gathers to welcome spring. At 6:00, the Magdalen College Choir sings from the top of Magdalen Tower. Thousands wait in anticipation for the dark night to be broken by song and the ringing of bells.

Like the revelers, I often wait. I wait for answers to prayers or guidance from the Lord. Although I don’t know the exact time my wait will end, I’m learning to wait expectantly. In Psalm 130 the psalmist writes of being in deep distress facing a situation that feels like the blackest of nights. In the midst of his troubles, he chooses to trust God and stay alert like a guard on duty charged with announcing daybreak. “I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning” (v. 6).

The anticipation of God’s faithfulness breaking through the darkness gives the psalmist hope to endure even in the midst of his suffering. Based on the promises of God found throughout Scripture, that hope allows him to keep waiting even though he has not yet seen the first rays of light.

Be encouraged if you are in the middle of a dark night. The dawn is coming—either in this life or in heaven! In the meantime, don’t give up hope but keep watching for the deliverance of the Lord. He will be faithful.

Please bring light to my darkness. Open my eyes to see You at work and to trust You. I’m grateful that You are faithful, Father.

God can be trusted in the light and in the dark.

 

A Bigger Shovel

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6

It’s interesting to me that Jesus taught more about money than any other subject. He consistently talked about the importance of generosity and the deadly danger of greed. To the man who asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him, Jesus responded by warning, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). And in Luke 6:38Jesus taught, “Give, and it will be given to you . . . pressed down, shaken together and running over.” To disciples distracted by financial needs, Jesus assured them that the Father knows they need such things as food and clothes: “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:22-31).

God’s plan is simple—give to gain. In other words, give to the kingdom and God will take care of your needs.

The great British preacher Charles H. Spurgeon once learned about this kind of trust while trying to raise money for poor children in London. He went to Bristol hoping to collect £300 (which in those days was a huge amount of money) for London’s homeless children. At the end of the week of meetings, many lives had been changed and his financial goal had been reached. That night, as he bowed in prayer, Spurgeon was clearly prompted to give the money to a co-laborer of Christ named George Mueller.

“Oh no, Lord,” answered Spurgeon, “I need it for my own dear orphans.” Yet Spurgeon couldn’t shake the idea that God wanted him to part with it. Only when he said, “Yes, Lord, I will,” could he find rest.

With great peace, he made his way the next morning to Mueller’s orphanage and found the great man of prayer on his knees. The famous minister placed his hand on Mueller’s shoulder and said, “George, God has told me to give you the £300 I’ve collected.”

“Oh, my dear brother,” exclaimed Mueller,” I’ve just been asking him for exactly that amount!” The two servants of the Lord wept and rejoiced together.

When Spurgeon returned to London, he found an envelope on his desk containing more than £300. The Lord had returned the £300 he had obediently given to Mueller, with 300 shillings of interest!

Spurgeon learned what another generous believer once said: “I shovel out, and God shovels in, and he has a bigger shovel than I do.” And while the return may or may not be monetary, you can be sure that your heart will overflow with the joy of giving generously and seeing His kingdom prosper.

And you don’t have to look back a hundred plus years to discover stories about the overflowing generosity of God to people who cheerfully give their money to the needs of others and God’s work. Just ask those who have discovered the joy of giving. They’ve got plenty of stories to prove the point. Let me invite you to get a few stories of your own!

 

Faith— Not Emotion

By Oswald Chambers

Faith— Not Emotion

For a while, we are fully aware of God’s concern for us. But then, when God begins to use us in His work, we begin to take on a pitiful look and talk only of our trials and difficulties. And all the while God is trying to make us do our work as hidden people who are not in the spotlight. None of us would be hidden spiritually if we could help it. Can we do our work when it seems that God has sealed up heaven? Some of us always want to be brightly illuminated saints with golden halos and with the continual glow of inspiration, and to have other saints of God dealing with us all the time. A self-assured saint is of no value to God. He is abnormal, unfit for daily life, and completely unlike God. We are here, not as immature angels, but as men and women, to do the work of this world. And we are to do it with an infinitely greater power to withstand the struggle because we have been born from above.

If we continually try to bring back those exceptional moments of inspiration, it is a sign that it is not God we want. We are becoming obsessed with the moments when God did come and speak with us, and we are insisting that He do it again. But what God wants us to do is to “walk by faith.” How many of us have set ourselves aside as if to say, “I cannot do anything else until God appears to me”? He will never do it. We will have to get up on our own, without any inspiration and without any sudden touch from God. Then comes our surprise and we find ourselves exclaiming, “Why, He was there all the time, and I never knew it!” Never live for those exceptional moments— they are surprises. God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never consider our moments of inspiration as the standard way of life— our work is our standard.

Breaking The Chains

Acts 12: 6-8
6   On the night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, with sentries standing guard at the entrance to the prison.
8   “Get dressed and put on your sandals,” said the angel. Peter did so, and the angel told him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.”…
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Breaking the Chains

From: Our Daily Bread

Breaking the Chains

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. Ephesians 1:7

We found our visit to Christ Church Cathedral in Stone Town, Zanzibar, deeply moving, for it sits on the site of what was formerly the largest slave market in East Africa. The designers of this cathedral wanted to show through a physical symbol how the gospel breaks the chains of slavery. No longer would the location be a place of evil deeds and horrible atrocities, but of God’s embodied grace.

Those who built the cathedral wanted to express how Jesus’s death on the cross provides freedom from sin—that which the apostle Paul speaks of in his letter to the church at Ephesus: “In him we have redemption through his blood” (Ephesians 1:7). Here the word redemption points to the Old Testament’s notion of the marketplace, with someone buying back a person or item. Jesus buys back a person from a life of slavery to sin and wrongdoing.

In Paul’s opening words in this letter (vv. 3–14), he bubbles over with joy at the thought of his freedom in Christ. He points, in layer after layer of praise, to God’s work of grace for us through Jesus’s death, which sets us free from the cords of sin. No longer do we need to be slaves to sin, for we are set free to live for God and His glory.

Lord God, through the death of Your Son, You have given us life forever. Help me to share this gift of grace with someone today.

Jesus redeems us from the slavery of sin.

Freed for Justice

From: Our Daily Journey

Freed for Justice

Read:

Romans 5:1-56:13-18
Use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God (Romans 6:13).

I once heard Ken Wytsma, founder of the Justice Conference, comment on the surprising skepticism many have about whether justice is central to the gospel. He reflected ironically, “The gospel is that unjust people are reconciled to a just God to be a just people . . . but justice isn’t related to the gospel?”

Justice is central to the heart of God—the One who “gives justice to the oppressed,” “lifts up those who are weighed down,” “protects the foreigners,” and “cares for the orphans and widows” (Psalm 146:7-9).

In an unjust world, it’s often easier to say we love our neighbors than to seek justice for them—which may involve resisting powerful forces and often comes at a high cost. But if our fears prevent us from seeking justice for others, we aren’t walking in the freedom and joy that is ours in Jesus. As Paul reminds us in Romans 5, those who “confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory” (Romans 5:2) should see suffering as an opportunity to grow into people of endurance and character (Romans 5:3-5).

When we live in fear of what others might say or do if we stand up for what’s right, in effect we’re still living in bondage. As Paul put it starkly, we have two choices: “You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living” (Romans 6:16).

It’s when we fearlessly “use [our] whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God” (Romans 6:13)—led and strengthened by Him—that we show we’re truly walking in the joy and “freedom of [His] grace” (Romans 6:14).

Today, as Nelson Mandela—fearless opponent of apartheid in South Africa—once put it, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

Spontaneous Love

By Oswald Chambers

 Spontaneous Love

Love is not premeditated– it is spontaneous; that is, it bursts forth in extraordinary ways. There is nothing of precise certainty in Paul’s description of love. We cannot predetermine our thoughts and actions by saying, “Now I will never think any evil thoughts, and I will believe everything that Jesus would have me to believe.” No, the characteristic of love is spontaneity. We don’t deliberately set the statements of Jesus before us as our standard, but when His Spirit is having His way with us, we live according to His standard without even realizing it. And when we look back, we are amazed at how unconcerned we have been over our emotions, which is the very evidence that real spontaneous love was there. The nature of everything involved in the life of God in us is only discerned when we have been through it and it is in our past.

The fountains from which love flows are in God, not in us. It is absurd to think that the love of God is naturally in our hearts, as a result of our own nature. His love is there only because it “has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 5:5).

If we try to prove to God how much we love Him, it is a sure sign that we really don’t love Him. The evidence of our love for Him is the absolute spontaneity of our love, which flows naturally from His nature within us. And when we look back, we will not be able to determine why we did certain things, but we can know that we did them according to the spontaneous nature of His love in us. The life of God exhibits itself in this spontaneous way because the fountains of His love are in the Holy Spirit.

 

The Fruit Of The Holy Spirit

 The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

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The Fruit of Joy

From: Our Daily Journey

The Fruit of Joy

Read:

Galatians 5:16-26
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

I love how joy can bubble up, unbidden. It can surprise me when I walk next to a gurgling brook or when I catch a glimpse of the faces of family and friends. Even when I fret about the friend whose feelings I’ve hurt, I can seek God’s help and peace as I release to Him my anxiety and receive the gift of His joy.

The apostle Paul listed joy as a fruit of the Spirit when he wrote to the church at Galatia because it’s something the Holy Spirit brings about in a believer’s life. Paul yearned that the Galatians would experience the Spirit’s grace, because many of them were being led astray by some who wanted them to adopt various rules and regulations (Galatians 1:6-7). He didn’t want them weighed down with requirements God hadn’t established; rather, he wanted them to live out of God’s freedom, which would result in the fruit He would bring to life within them: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

We may think that Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit is exhaustive, but in naming the nine qualities, he was actually following a common Greek practice of outlining virtues and vices. He roots this list, however, in what God effects in His children, that is, how Christ living within them brings transformation and change (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We can’t demand or create joy from ourselves or from others. We can, however, ask God to give us His joy as we rest in His presence, have fellowship with others, and look with wonder at His creation around us. And we can pray that as He cultivates in us His joy that this fruit would be something sweet and refreshing we can share with others.

 

Sweet savor

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘I will accept you with your sweet savor.’ Ezekiel 20:41

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 11:20–30

The Saviour’s character has all goodness in all perfection; he is full of grace and truth. Some men, nowadays, talk of him as if he were simply incarnate benevolence. It is not so. No lips ever spoke with such thundering indignation against sin as the lips of the Messiah. ‘He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap;’ his ‘fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor.’ While in tenderness he prays for his tempted disciple, that his faith may not fail, yet with awful sternness he winnows the heap, and drives away the chaff into unquenchable fire. We speak of Christ as being meek and lowly in spirit, and so he was, but his meekness was balanced by his courage, and by the boldness with which he denounced hypocrisy. ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! …Ye fools and blind; …ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?’ These are not the words of the milksop some authors represent Christ to have been. He is a man—a real man throughout—a God-like man—gentle as a woman, but yet stern as a warrior in the midst of the day of battle. The character is balanced; as much of one virtue as of another. As in Deity every attribute is full orbed; justice never eclipses mercy, nor mercy justice, nor justice faithfulness; so in the character of Christ you have all the excellent things, ‘whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report;’ you have them all; but not one of them casts a shadow on another; they shine each and all with undimmed splendour.

For meditation: Is this the Jesus you love and worship, or do you only believe in a ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild’? Failure to accept fully the Lord Jesus Christ of the New Testament, is to follow a ‘false Christ’ (Matthew 24:24) or ‘another Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 11:4), an idol of your own or somebody else’s imagination. That is no better than following Baal or some other false god!

 

Christ’s people—imitators of him

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 4:11-16

I will ever maintain—that by grace we are saved, and not by ourselves; but equally must I testify, that where the grace of God is, it will produce fitting deeds. To these I am ever bound to exhort you, while you are ever expected to have good works for necessary purposes. Again, I do not, when I say that a believer should be a striking likeness of Jesus, suppose that any one Christian will perfectly exhibit all the features of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; yet my brethren, the fact that perfection is beyond our reach, should not diminish the ardour of our desire after it. The artist, when he paints, knows right well that he shall not be able to excel Apelles; but that does not discourage him; he uses his brush with all the greater pains, that he may at least in some humble measure resemble the great master. So the sculptor; though persuaded that he will not rival Praxiteles, will hew out the marble still, and seek to be as near the model as possible. Just so the Christian man; though he feels he never can mount to the height of complete excellence, and perceives that he never can on earth become the exact image of Christ, still holds it up before him, and measures his own deficiencies by the distance between himself and Jesus. This will he do, forgetting all he has attained, he will press forward, crying, Excelsior! Going upwards still, desiring to be conformed more and more to the image of Christ Jesus.

Gracious Uncertainty

By Oswald Chambers

 Gracious Uncertainty

Our natural inclination is to be so precise– trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next– that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, “Well, what if I were in that circumstance?” We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been.

Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life– gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God– it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, “…unless you…become as little children…” (Matthew 18:3). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, “…believe also in Me” (John 14:1), not, “Believe certain things about Me”. Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in– but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.

 

 

 

Give Praise To Christ The Lord

Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago.     Isaiah 25:1 

Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you.      Exodus 23:25 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. 
Praise the Lord.           Psalm 150:6 

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Where to Worship

From: Our Daily Journey

Where to Worship

Read:

John 4:19-24
The time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem (John 4:21).

During a visit to Melbourne, Australia, my hosts took me on a mini-tour of the city. Along the way, they pointed out some buildings that had been converted from churches to bars. I’ve learned that this is a common practice—not only in Australia, but around the world. Troubled, I wondered what the future held for places of worship. Imagine my elation when I read of a bar that’s reversing the trend and returning to its roots as a church!

As important as physical spaces of worship are, true worship doesn’t depend on a specific kind of building or location. Jesus taught this when the Samaritan woman He’d met asked, “Why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” (John 4:19-20). Rather than commend one location or condemn the other, Jesus replied, “Dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem” (John 4:21).

Considering that the temple and synagogues were at the center of religious life in Jesus’ day, this response must have taken the woman by surprise. Knowing this, Jesus went on to explain, “The time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. . . . For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

When we absorb the truth that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), we can begin to understand why worship isn’t confined to one kind of physical location. As we stand in God’s presence, filled with His Spirit, any place can become a place to experience and worship Him.

 

What You Will Get

By Oswald Chambers

 What You Will Get

This is the firm and immovable secret of the Lord to those who trust Him– “I will give your life to you….” What more does a man want than his life? It is the essential thing. “…your life…as a prize…” means that wherever you may go, even if it is into hell, you will come out with your life and nothing can harm it. So many of us are caught up in exhibiting things for others to see, not showing off property and possessions, but our blessings. All these things that we so proudly show have to go. But there is something greater that can never go– the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

Are you prepared to let God take you into total oneness with Himself, paying no more attention to what you call the great things of life? Are you prepared to surrender totally and let go? The true test of abandonment or surrender is in refusing to say, “Well, what about this?” Beware of your own ideas and speculations. The moment you allow yourself to think, “What about this?” you show that you have not surrendered and that you do not really trust God. But once you do surrender, you will no longer think about what God is going to do. Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions. If you totally abandon yourself to God, He immediately says to you, “I will give your life to you as a prize….” The reason people are tired of life is that God has not given them anything— they have not been given their life “as a prize.” The way to get out of that condition is to abandon yourself to God. And once you do get to the point of total surrender to Him, you will be the most surprised and delighted person on earth. God will have you absolutely, without any limitations, and He will have given you your life. If you are not there, it is either because of disobedience in your life or your refusal to be simple enough.

 

Streams In The Desert

God Prepares Heros

When the Israelites cried out for help to the Lord, he raised up a deliverer for the Israelites who rescued them. His name was Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Lord’s spirit empowered him and he led Israel. When he went to do battle, the Lord handed over to him King Cushan-Rishathaim of Aram and he overpowered him (Judg 3:9-10)

God is preparing His heroes; and when opportunity comes, He can fit them into their place in a moment, and the world will wonder where they came from.

Let the Holy Ghost prepare you, dear friend, by the discipline of life; and when the last finishing touch has been given to the marble, it will be easy for God to put it on the pedestal, and fit it into its niche.

There is a day coming when, like Othniel, we, too, shall judge the nations, and rule and reign with Christ on the millennial earth. But ere that glorious day can be we must let God prepare us, as He did Othniel at Kirjath-sepher, amid the trials of our present life, and the little victories, the significance of which, perhaps, we little dream. At least, let us be sure of this, and if the Holy Ghost has an Othniel ready, the Lord of Heaven and earth has a throne prepared for him.
—A. B. Simpson

“Human strength and human greatness
Spring not from life’s sunny side,
Heroes must be more than driftwood 
Floating on a waveless tide.”

“Every highway of human life dips in the dale now and then. Every man must go through the tunnel of tribulation before he can travel on the elevated road of triumph.”

Christ Was Risen From The Dead

Luke 24

The empty tomb    (The women came early to the tomb)

24 Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing. The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee, that the Human One[a]must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words. When they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven and all the others.10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. 11 Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women. 12 But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home, wondering what had happened.

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Shuddering and Wild

From: Our Daily Journey

Shuddering and Wild

Read:

Matthew 28:1-10
The women . . . were very frightened but also filled with great joy (Matthew 28:8).

After the cross finished its cruel work, Jesus’ bewildered friends laid His ravaged body in a cold tomb. Night fell, and an eerie silence descended. Jesus’ followers huddled in grief and confusion. What do you do when your entire world crumbles with violent implosion? What’s left when everything you thought you knew, everything you’d hoped in, lies smoldering in ashes? What do you do when God has died?

Mary Magdalene and another Mary, compelled by fierce love, went to Jesus’ grave. But nearing the tomb, their upheaval only intensified. A “great earthquake” shook the ground, and a blazing angel whose “face shone like lightning” sat atop the stone rolled from the empty tomb (Matthew 28:2-3). Even the Roman guards “shook with fear when they saw [the angel], and they fell into a dead faint” (Matthew 28:4).

The angel told the disoriented women shocking news: Jesus was alive. The Savior, bloodied and lifeless, had been laid in a grave; but then He miraculously left the tomb. Rushing from the grave to announce this impossible fact, the women were simultaneously “very frightened but also filled with great joy” (Matthew 28:8). Poet and novelist Reynolds Price describes the women as “shuddering and wild.” Fear andjoy—isn’t that a strange tandem?

There’s a kind of fear that debilitates and ravages. But when we encounter God, we discover another kind of fear: a holy trembling that evokes humility and awe. This holy fear doesn’t make us cower in terror, but it bends our hearts and hopes toward God. When we encounter the Jesus who rose from the dead and who promises to overwhelm every kind of death for us, it shakes our soul. It shakes away all the false fears, unleashing profound joy and hope.

The Lord’s care of His people

From: Charles Spurgeon

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

Suggested Further Reading: Ecclesiastes 8:10–14

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

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

 

Gospel missions

From: Charles Spurgeon

“And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” Acts 13:49

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 28:16-20

The claim of authority ensures a degree of progress. How did Mohammed come to have so strong a religion in his time? He was all alone, and he went into the market-place and said, “I have received a revelation from heaven.” He persuaded men to believe it. He said, “I have a revelation from heaven.” People looked at his face; they saw that he looked upon them earnestly as believing what he said, and some five or six of them joined him. Did he prove what he said? Not he. “You must,” he said, “believe what I say, or there is no Paradise for you.” There is a power in that kind of thing, and wherever he went his statement was believed, not on the ground of reasoning, but on his authority, which he declared to be from Allah; and a century later, a thousand sabres had flashed from a thousand sheaths, and his word had been proclaimed through Africa, Turkey, Asia, and even in Spain. The man claimed authority—he claimed divinity; therefore he had power. Take again the increase of Mormonism. What has been its strength? Simply this—the assertion of power from heaven. That claim is made, and the people believe it, and now they have missionaries in almost every country of the habitable globe, and the book of Mormon is translated into many languages. Though there never could be a delusion more transparent, or a counterfeit less skilful, and more lying upon the very surface, yet this simple pretension to power has been the means of carrying power with it. Now, my brethren, we have power; we are God’s ministers; we preach God’s truth; the great Judge of heaven and earth has told us the truth.

For meditation: Christ preached with authority which made men sit up and take notice (Luke 4:31-37). His power has not weakened, but are we limiting him in any way (1 Corinthians 1:172:4,5)?

The Widow’s Faith

Luke 7:11-17

Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son

11 Soon afterward[a] he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus[b]gave him to his mother.

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(These pictures are widows throughout  the Bible)
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The Widow’s Faith

From: Our Daily Bread

The Widow’s Faith

The pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. Matthew 6:32

It is pitch dark when Ah-pi starts her day. Others in the village will wake up soon to make their way to the rubber plantation. Harvesting latex is one of the main sources of income for people living in Hongzhuang Village, China. To collect as much latex as possible, the trees must be tapped very early in the morning, before daybreak. Ah-pi will be among the rubber tappers, but first she will spend time communing with God.

Ah-pi’s father, husband, and only son have passed away, and she—with her daughter-in-law—is providing for an elderly mother and two young grandsons. Her story reminds me of another widow in the Bible who trusted God.

The widow’s husband had died and left her in debt (2 Kings 4:1). In her distress, she looked to God for help by turning to His servant Elisha. She believed that God cared and that He could do something about her situation. And God did. He provided miraculously for the dire needs of this widow (vv. 5–6). This same God also provided for Ah-pi—though less miraculously—through the toil of her hands, the produce from the ground, and gifts from His people.

Though life can make various demands on us, we can always draw strength from God. We can entrust our cares to Him, do all we can, and let Him amaze us with what He can do with our situation.

Father, thank You for Your patience when I trust in my own resources and turn to You only as a last resort. Teach me to seek Your help in all I do.

We may face situations beyond our reserves, but never beyond God’s resources.

The Supreme Climb

From: Utmost.org

April 26 

The Supreme Climb

By Oswald Chambers

A person’s character determines how he interprets God’s will (see Psalm 18:25-26). Abraham interpreted God’s command to mean that he had to kill his son, and he could only leave this traditional belief behind through the pain of a tremendous ordeal. God could purify his faith in no other way. If we obey what God says according to our sincere belief, God will break us from those traditional beliefs that misrepresent Him. There are many such beliefs which must be removed– for example, that God removes a child because his mother loves him too much. That is the devil’s lie and a travesty on the true nature of God! If the devil can hinder us from taking the supreme climb and getting rid of our wrong traditional beliefs about God, he will do so. But if we will stay true to God, God will take us through an ordeal that will serve to bring us into a better knowledge of Himself.

The great lesson to be learned from Abraham’s faith in God is that he was prepared to do anything for God. He was there to obey God, no matter what contrary belief of his might be violated by his obedience. Abraham was not devoted to his own convictions or else he would have slain Isaac and said that the voice of the angel was actually the voice of the devil. That is the attitude of a fanatic. If you will remain true to God, God will lead you directly through every barrier and right into the inner chamber of the knowledge of Himself. But you must always be willing to come to the point of giving up your own convictions and traditional beliefs. Don’t ask God to test you. Never declare as Peter did that you are willing to do anything, even “to go …both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). Abraham did not make any such statement— he simply remained true to God, and God purified his faith.

God’s estimate of time

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ 2 Peter 3:8

Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 3:1–15

With God there is neither past, present, nor future. He takes for his name the ‘I AM.’ He does not call himself the ‘I was,’ for then we should conceive that he used to be something which he is not now, that some part of his character had changed, or some attribute ceased from existence; for there is an ominous sound of annihilation in the sound of the word, ‘he was.’ Is it not rather a knell for the dead, than a name for the living? Nor does our Lord God speak of himself as the ‘I shall be,’ for that might lead us to imagine that he is not now something which he is to be in the ages to come: whereas we know that his being is perfect, his essence infinite, his dominion absolute, his power unlimited, and his glory transcendent. Development is out of the question; he is all today that he will be in the future. Of the Lord Jesus we read that he is the everlasting Father, and yet he has the dew of his youth. Childhood, manhood and old age belong to creatures, but at the right hand of the Most High they have no abode. Growth, progress, advancement, all these are virtues in finite beings, but to the Infinite the thought of such change would be an insult. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow belong to dying mortals; the Immortal King lives in an eternal today. He is the I AM; I AM in the present; I AM in the past; and I AM in the future. Just as we say of God that he is everywhere, so we may say of him that he is always; he is everywhere in space; he is everywhere in time. God is today in the past; he is today already in the future; he is today in that present in which we are.

For meditation: The fact that God never changes is absolutely fundamental and essential to the wellbeing and survival of his people (Malachi 3:6Mark 12:26–27Hebrews 13:5,8James 1:17).

David’s dying prayer

From: Charles Spurgeon

“Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.” Psalm 72:19

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8

Is there not one among you that can win a laurel wreath? Have I not one true Christian heart here that is set for work and labour? Have I not one man that will devote himself for God and for his truth? Henry Martyn! Thou art dead; and is thy mantle buried with thee? Brainerd, thou sleepest with thy fathers; and is thy spirit dead too, and shall there never be another Brainerd? Knibb, thou hast ascended to thy God; and is there nowhere another Knibb? Williams, thy martyred blood still crieth from the ground; and is there nowhere another Williams? What! Not among this dense mass of young and burning spirits? Is there not one that can say in his heart, “Here am I, send me”? “This hour, being saved by God’s grace, I give myself up to him, to go wherever he shall be pleased to send me, to testify his gospel in foreign lands”? What! Are there no Pauls now? Have we none who will be apostles for the Lord of hosts? I think I see one who, putting his lips together, makes this silent resolve—“By God’s grace I this day devote myself to him; through trouble and through trial I will be his, if he will help me; for missionary work or for anything else I give up my all to God; and if I may die as Williams did, and wear the blood-red crown of martyrdom, I will be proud; and if I may live to serve my Master, like a Brainerd, and die at last worn out, here I am, do but have me, Master; give me the honour of leading the forlorn hope, of leading the vanguard of Christianity; here I am, send me.”

For meditation: The earth is going to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God (Habakkuk 2:14). Every believer has a contribution to make towards that goal, big or small. Are you playing your part?