Category Archives: Health

Burning Your Ships

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Burning Your Ships

by Ryan Duncan, crosswalk.com

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:33

Every now and then, when I’ve got some time to spare, I’ll turn on the History Channel and let myself get lost in the past. Recently, I started watching a documentary on the Age of Exploration, when the kingdoms of Europe were sending out ships to explore the Americas. To the Europeans, the New World was a place of limitless promise but also great danger. Faced with new cultures, strange animals, and deadly plagues, many explorations returned home in failure.

Then in February 1519, an explorer named Hernando Cortez was commissioned by the Spanish Crown to sail to the Yucatan and conquer it in the name of Spain. Cortez and his army set out at once, and when they reached the shores of the Yucatan, Cortez turned to his men and said,

“Burn the boats.”

Cortez refused to let turning back be an option. For the sake of his mission, it would be all or nothing. To many of us, this may sound a bit extreme, but as it turns out, Jesus had the same principle when he started his ministry.

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” –Luke 9:57-62

Being a true Christian is something bold and dangerous. We live in a world that loves compromises, and teaches us that we are free to pick and choose what parts of religion we want to follow. Christ is different. When we become his followers, he tells us to take up our crosses and never look back. To follow him is all or nothing. So take some time today and renew your relationship with Christ, because God never claims a victory until he finally gets it all.

 

God’s Provision in Our Moment of Greatest Need

EMILY G. STROUD, author, crosswalk.com

“He does not ignore those who need help. He does not hate them. He does not turn away from them. He listens when they cry for help.” Psalm 22:24 (ERV) 

My mom has Alzheimer’s.

It’s rare for me to say it out loud. The label. The diagnosis. This was not the plan for my parents’ golden years in retirement. This is a shattered dream.

Alzheimer’s is a slow, painful process of dying that forces family members to continually grieve each and every stage of loss. There is no ripping off of the proverbial “Band-Aid.” And just when you think you have figured out your new normal, it changes again.

For many years, my approach to my mother’s Alzheimer’s was to try to “fix” her. I’m a financial advisor by trade, and people come to me to create plans to “fix” and manage their financial lives.

I treated my mom’s diagnosis just like a client case study. I had action plans and spreadsheets listing the contact information for the very best people to care for her emotional, physical and financial needs. I thought if I worked hard enough, we could change the trajectory of her future health.

But none of it worked the way I thought it would, leaving me devastated. I begged God to explain to me why she had to continue to suffer. Like David in Psalm 22, I cried out to Him, and as David testifies in Psalm 22:24, God stepped in to my moment of greatest need: “He does not ignore those who need help. He does not hate them. He does not turn away from them. He listens when they cry for help.”

God told me through His Holy Spirit that my job was not to fix her. My job was to love her well through every stage and to listen. Don’t correct her when she repeats herself or asks the same question over and over. Do help her live as comfortably as possible with the correct care. But don’t think for one minute that I needed to fix her.

God is the only one in the business of “fixing” people. Even then, He loves us well through every stage of our lives — through the messes and confusion and in our moments of greatest need.

And you know what else I soon realized? My mom doesn’t need the fixing I can provide. She knows exactly who her heavenly Father is and that her salvation is real and her eternity in heaven is secure. She would love to tell you all about it. This is a truth that she still knows, understands and lives out each and every day. She is at peace.

Helping care for her has changed me — making me a better friend, parent and advisor to others. I am more empathetic and authentic. It has drawn me closer to my heavenly Father and kept me on my knees praying for wisdom and guidance, dependent on Him.

God has also reminded me over and over that He loves us through the helpers He’s brought to our family. We are reminded often that He “… does not ignore those who need help” (Psalm 22:24) through the care my mom receives from nurses, therapists and other caregivers at her nursing home. They are truly acting as the hands and feet of Jesus.

God will provide for all of our needs. It may look different than what we ever imagined or even planned for. It certainly may not be glamorous, but God will provide.

For example, my parents bought long-term care insurance many years ago just after my father had triple bypass heart surgery. We thought he might be the one who would need long-term care one day. That insurance has been a monumental financial blessing to our family. We never imagined my mom having Alzheimer’s or being the recipient of the insurance when it was purchased many years ago. However, she now benefits financially and is very well taken care of.

Friend, while I don’t know your specific situation or what your “greatest need” is right now, God does. He is intimately acquainted with your struggles, and He sees the ways you may be trying to fix them on your own. Choose to surrender those struggles and the fixing to Him today … and then watch how He draws you close and provides just what you need at just the right time.

 

Refusing to Listen

by Inspiration Ministries

“Take handfuls of soot … The ashes will spread like fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, causing festering boils to break out on people and animals throughout the land.” – Exodus 9:8-9 NLT:8-9 NLT

God asked Pharaoh to let His people go. It seemed like a simple request. But Pharaoh refused. In response, God sent a series of plagues. The first plagues were inconvenient and irritating to Pharaoh, but he found them relatively easy to resist.

Then came the sixth plague, as boils broke out on people and animals throughout the land. Boils are known to be particularly uncomfortable. For the Egyptians, these would have been horribly painful. We get some idea of the impact when we consider the suffering of Job, who was struck with “terrible boils from head to foot” (Job 2:7).

We can be sure that God had no delight in sending boils. But Pharaoh remained stubborn and refused to listen or change. He was prepared to let his people suffer rather than yield and respond to God.

Many people are like this, refusing to listen to God. They continue to go their own way, blind to the impact of their disobedience. The Bible makes clear that God desires to bless us and help us make the right decisions. But this means cooperating with Him, not insisting on our own ways but listening to Him. It means obeying His Word and being sensitive to His correction.

Learn from Pharaoh’s experience. Submit your ways to God. Let Him direct your path. As He leads, be ready to change. Always seek to do things His way and listen to Him.

What’s In Your Heart?

10 I, the LORD, search the heart; I examine the mind to reward a man according to his
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What’s In Your Heart?

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“Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.” Mark 7:14-15 (NLT)

While preparing to go to work today, thoughts of malice and pride oozed out in my thoughts as I drove the back roads of the North Carolina foothills. I’m glad I am not like them, and They don’t really know how hard I work played like a warped record through my head. It seemed as if I couldn’t stop these thoughts from erupting out of my heart.

In the last part of Mark 7, Jesus goes on to teach how a heart can be filled with all kinds of wicked stuff. I realized that was the condition of my heart. Once I realized that, I repented. The idol of my heart had been others’ opinion of me, rather than God’s.

Sometimes when people think badly of me, it is deserved since I am a sinner saved by God’s grace. Other times, it’s not deserved. In fact, sometimes people might think badly of me when I do what is right. You may have experienced this, too.

Let’s consider our Lord. People were so disturbed by Him — what He said and did — they crucified Him. And unlike prideful me, He was without any sin.

I guess that is the startling thing when I truly begin to grasp the Gospel. It is undeserved and unmerited. God became man. Jesus lived a sinless life and died a horrific death for someone like me. Like you.

Scripture says this in Romans 5:6-8,

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (NLT)

Understanding the Gospel causes utter humility and profound thankfulness. The God of the universe loved me enough to visit this sin-sick planet for me.

Amazing grace. Amazing love. Amazing God.

 

Through The Bible Devotions

Numbers 11:4-6 (NIV) 4The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost–also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

They started wailing again. It’s easy to join a pity party. The rabble and troublemakers are always among us. They point people toward the temporal and not to Jesus, the eternal. They point to the things that you do not currently possess and not to the blessings at hand. They crave the things of the world and not the things of God.

Did the manna cost? Here they are with miraculous provision and they are whining for something more exotic. It would be hard to have the same meal day after day, and a miracle loses its awe to us when we see it daily. How we remember the good but not the bad! Their babies were fed to the crocs and their backs to the whips, but they want to go back for a nice dinner.

The real problem is that they are not hungry for God. Jesus said that He is the manna that comes down from heaven. They are tired of focusing on one thing. They’d like a little worldly diversion. It shows they had not grown spiritually, and though they were out of Egypt, Egypt was not out of them. Watch out for the allurement of the world. It promises its delicacies but neglects to tell you of the price you will pay for them or how temporal their satisfaction is. The Promised Land has plenty to satisfy, but you must be prepared by learning to put first things first. Which will it be for you, forward, or backward?

Prayer: Lord, keep my heart satisfied with You, the true bread from heaven.

 

A sight of self

‘But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. ‘ Isaiah 64:6–7

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 26:9–20

When you really feel your sinfulness, and mourn it, do not stop here; never give yourself any rest till you know that you are delivered from it, for it is one thing to say ‘Ah, I do sin,’ but it is quite another thing to say ‘He has saved me from my sin.’ It is one thing to have a repentance which makes you leave the sin you loved before, and another thing to talk about repentance. Ah, I have sometimes seen a child of God when he has sinned, and I have seen his broken-hearted actions, and heard his piteous confessions, and I can say that my heart goes out toward the man in whom there are tears of repentance of the right kind. It is one of the fairest sights that is seen under heaven when a believer who has gone wrong is willing to say, ‘I have sinned,’ and when he no more sets himself proudly up against his God, but humbles himself like a little child. Such a man as that shall be exalted. But I have seen—and it is a fearful sight to see—I have seen one who can sin and repent, and sin and repent. O that dry-eyed repentance is a damnable repentance! Take heed of it, brethren. I have known a man who professed to have been converted years and years ago, who, ever since that pretended conversion, has lived in a known sin, and yet he thinks he is a child of God because after he has fallen into the sin he has a little season of darkness arising from his conscience, but he quiets that conscience after a time, and presumptuously says, ‘I will not give up my hope.’ Oh, that is an awful thing. God deliver you from dry-eyed repentance, for it is no repentance.

For meditation: Repentance is a change of mind; are you tempted to repent of your repentance? That would be an attempt to short-change God and can easily develop into a vicious circle. For God’s attitude to such behaviour see Jeremiah 34:12–17.

Treasured Memories

by Inspiration Ministries

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it … How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” – Psalm 137:1-4 NKJV

Bedřich Smetana became a champion of his people. Born on this day in 1824 in what today is the Czech Republic, he thought of becoming a pianist but eventually turned to composition. These efforts came with a price. He frequently struggled financially and experienced tragedy with the death of his wife. Nonetheless, he continued to compose, certain this was his calling.

He experienced a milestone in 1879 while writing his masterpiece “My Country.” Particularly memorable was the section depicting the Moldau, a river beloved by his people.

Similar stories are echoed by people throughout the world, who are stirred by native folk songs in many ways. Special stories and traditions surround important and memorable rivers and mountains all around the world.

We see the impact of treasured memories in the response of Israelites who had been taken into captivity in Babylon. They just couldn’t sing happy songs while trapped in a foreign land. They wept as they remembered Zion, filled with emotional memories about their home.

For them, Jerusalem was more than a city. It symbolized their relationship with God as well as His presence.

Are there places with special attachments for you? Do you get emotional thinking about people who have impacted you? Do you respond with fondness thinking about the moments when you had a particularly precious encounter with God or when you had a spiritual breakthrough?

Treasure these moments and memories.

The River Of God’s Will

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The River of God’s Will

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Do you ever wonder where you stand in the will of God? Every day we make decisions concerning our life, and in many cases, the lives of our family. How do we know we are making the right decisions? What about the consequences if we are wrong? How can we know we are right? 

A bad decision at the wrong time could have an earth-shattering effect on our lives, and the lives of those close to us, if we are wrong.

The Bible tells us,

“All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” Isaiah 53:6 (NLT)

However, we know that a correct decision can culminate in a cascade of blessings for our family and us. I was an 18-year-old Air Force Airman stationed far from home for the first time when I first seriously sought God’s will for my life. My high school sweetheart was awaiting my return as we had plans to marry.  We both wanted God’s will in our life, not wanting to make a mistake that could end in divorce.

So on one hot Texas Sunday morning, I knelt in an altar and submitted my will to God’s will. I placed our plans in God’s hands and with a sincere heart asked His will in our lives. I told God that if He had other plans for our lives, or even wanted me to remain single and become a missionary, I would do it. I found out later, that at the same time, she was in the altar at our home church back in Virginia, asking God the same thing. We both submitted our wills to God, and He let us know that our marriage was His will. Thirty-six years later, we’re still blessed by staying in the center of His will.

It is imperative that we find God’s will in our life, for His will is actually what’s best for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Being in the will of God is like being in the center of a fast-flowing river.

In the center of the river the flow is strongest and fastest. The further away from the center of the river you drift, the slower and less directed the flow. You’re still in the flow, but it’s not as strong or sure.

In the center of God’s will, His guidance is strongest and most sure. But the further away from the center of God’s will you drift, the slower you move, and the guidance, direction, and protection you would have received from Him is weaker and less effective, almost indiscernible. You move from His perfect will into His permissive will, and then out of His will altogether.

Wading to the edge of the river, you eventually step out and find yourself on the shore of your pride and independence, and the river flows on without you. Likewise, stepping out of God’s will, you are on your own, left to your own devices as the will of God moves on without you. Out of the river, you try to make your way, but it’s more difficult to move forward, because there are obstacles.

You try to move parallel to the river, keeping it in sight, but there are obstacles in the path, forcing movement around them. This causes you to travel in a different direction than the river, which is now so far away that it can’t even be seen. Trying to serve or even follow God when you are out of His will becomes frustrating because of the obstacles that force movement further away from God’s plan for your life. Bad relationships, wrong career choice, poor health, lack of education, and finances are only some of the wrong roads on which you might find yourself. Subsequently, your life ends up on a wrong path or stuck at a dead end going nowhere.

My old friend decided one day to wade out from the center of the river of God’s will. He found himself interested in another woman as he waded to the edge of the river. Then he stepped out of the river of God’s will and left his wife and family. He wandered about for many months until he came to his senses and decided to return. He came back to the river, saw his place, and dove in. He swam back into the center of God’s will, returning to his family, his church, and his God. And there he remains to this day.

Now, you could make your way back to where you left the river of God’s will, try to re-enter, and find the place that was originally meant for you, but that’s not always practical. Maybe your spot in the river has already moved on, or your place was filled with another.

Do not despair! There is another place for you in the river. God’s will and plan for your life yet waits!  Make your way directly to the river of God’s will at whichever point along life’s journey you now find yourself.

Get back in the river. Wade out from the shore and into the flow. Don’t be satisfied with an ankle deep, knee deep, or waist deep place in the river of God’s will.

Remember God’s Word,

“Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1 (NLT)

Abandon yourself, head over heels, to the center of the river where the flow is strongest and most sure, flowing in the will of God.

Streams in the Desert – March 1

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked (Eccles. 7:13).

Often God seems to place His children in positions of profound difficulty, leading them into a wedge from which there is no escape; contriving a situation which no human judgment would have permitted, had it been previously consulted. The very cloud conducts them thither. You may be thus involved at this very hour.

It does seem perplexing and very serious to the last degree, but it is perfectly right. The issue will more than justify Him who has brought you hither. It is a platform for the display of His almighty grace and power.

He will not only deliver you; but in doing so, He will give you a lesson that you will never forget, and to which, in many a psalm and song, in after days, you will revert. You will never be able to thank God enough for having done just as He has.
–Selected

We may wait till He explains,
Because we know that Jesus reigns.
It puzzles me; but, Lord, Thou understandest,
And wilt one day explain this crooked thing.
Meanwhile, I know that it has worked out Thy best–
Its very crookedness taught me to cling.
Thou hast fenced up my ways, made my paths crooked,
To keep my wand’ring eyes fixed on Thee;
To make me what I was not, humble, patient;
To draw my heart from earthly love to Thee.
So I will thank and praise Thee for this puzzle,
And trust where I cannot understand.
Rejoicing Thou dost hold me worth such testing,

I cling the closer to Thy guiding hand.
–F.E.M.I.

Rahab’s faith

“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” Hebrews 11:31

Suggested Further Reading: James 2:18-26

Rahab’s faith was a sanctifying faith. Did Rahab continue a harlot after she had faith? No, she did not. I do not believe she was a harlot at the time the men went to her house, though the name still stuck to her, as such ill names will; but I am sure she was not afterwards, for Salmon the prince of Judah married her, and her name is put down among the ancestors of our Lord Jesus Christ. She became after that a woman eminent for piety, walking in the fear of God. Now, you may have a dead faith which will ruin your soul. The faith that will save you is a faith which sanctifies. “Ah!” says the drunkard, “I like the gospel, sir; I believe in Christ:” then he will go over to the Blue Lion tonight, and get drunk. Sir, that is not the believing in Christ that is of any use. “Yes,” says another, “I believe in Christ;” and when he gets outside he will begin to talk lightly, frothy words, perhaps lascivious ones, and sin as before. Sir, you speak falsely; you do not believe in Christ. That faith which saves the soul is a real faith, and a real faith sanctifies men. It makes them say, “Lord, thou hast forgiven me my sins; I will sin no more. Thou hast been so merciful to me, I will renounce my guilt; so kindly hast thou treated me, so lovingly hast thou embraced me, Lord, I will serve thee till I die; and if thou wilt give me grace, and help me so to be, I will be as holy as thou art.” You cannot have faith, and yet live in sin. To believe is to be holy. The two things must go together. That faith is a dead faith, a corrupt faith, a rotten faith, which lives in sin that grace may abound. Rahab was a sanctified woman.

For meditation: Faith has to be seen to be believed (Joshua 2:17-21).

A Real Difference

by Inspiration Ministries

“On that day I will deal differently … where my people live … so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people.” – Exodus 8:22-23 NIV

In many ways, believers are just like nonbelievers. We all are human beings and go through the same kinds of challenges. As Jesus said, God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

The message is simple: Believers are not superhuman. We all are just “jars of clay.” All our abilities are gifts from God (2 Corinthians 4:7).

This is true so nonbelievers can look at our lives and see the difference that God makes and turn to Him. Faith and belief sustain us. We can be transformed by Biblical principles. Anyone can know God. Anyone can be forgiven. Unbelievers can also see why we need to be born again.

Yet, as He sent plagues in Egypt, God promised to “deal differently” with regions where His people lived. This was to “make a distinction” between His people and others, making sure there was no question that He was God, and they were His.

He was demonstrating that there are ways in which God treats His people “differently.” The fact is that we are different because of our relationship with Him. He makes the difference.

Today, seek the differences that God can make in your life. Apply the principles in His Word. Pray. Commit your needs to Him. Get to know Him more intimately. Be filled with His Spirit. Trust Him.

God Gives Us Light Not Darkness

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God’s Darkness

planet and outer space

 

Have you ever pondered God’s originality? There’s no need for Him to duplicate. People, snowflakes, fingerprints, all share His uniqueness. This genius carries over into His interactions with us. I’ve discovered something wonderful about Him. He loves to work in the dark.

“Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” Psalm 139:12 (NASB)

I’ve spelunked America’s caves, and without artificial light, you can experience thick darkness. The kind that existed before God commanded light to shine. Because these elements are part of His toolbox, He maneuvers through darkness without difficulty. Just like light. While we fumble and stub toes, He’s busy answering our prayers and comforting us; performing the miraculous in our darkest moments.

As often happens under the right circumstances, people are known for igniting conflict. When the Hebrews were forming their new government following their freedom and “dry” water baptism through the Red Sea; problems arose with whose tribe would serve God directly in His tabernacle. The Lord’s solution was darkness. Each tribe submitted their rod to Moses, who placed all 12 in the tabernacle. God informed He would select the rod of His choice and everyone went off to sleep. In the quiet darkness with a dozen sticks, God famously went to work.

“Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.” Numbers 17:8 (NASB)

In complete darkness, God did the miraculous for His children. Like us, they sought direction and He made it unmistakable. A severed branch came alive and bore buds, blossoms, and ripe almonds. An impossibility became reality in three separate lifecycles. God condensed the growing season when displaying His desires in darkness.

We can likely relate to seasons of uncertainty, experiencing fruitlessness, or feeling severed ourselves. The Almighty gently teaches that being cut off, out of season, or left alone is not the end. While we are limited by the natural, He’s limitless as our Creator. We often question while struggling in the dark, while He moves about unencumbered.

God has no hindrances. Nothing prevents Him from helping or finding us. It’s easy to keep our eyes on the waves instead of Him, and sinking rather than walking results. Fortunately, our Savior is right there to rescue us with a mighty arm.

I’ve found misunderstanding Him will assuredly happen along with forgetting He can operate outside of our boundaries. How reassuring to identify His movements in the darkness; even performing miracles for us there.

Imagine Moses’ joy when entering the tabernacle on the morrow. Stepping inside to find 11 smooth sticks next to one teeming with life though wholly disconnected from it. That single rod pointed the way for generations yet to come; including ours.

Now when faced with decisions that require the Lord’s pristine oversight for my life, I readily take a page from Scripture to point me in the correct direction. God can answer me from anywhere He finds me, and in that cocooned darkness, He quietly prepares my answer.

Perhaps we need to take our concerns to this undisturbed haven more often. A safe place where we can lay our greatest needs before Him in the darkness of His tabernacle before going to sleep. Then share the delight of Moses in finding Heaven’s directives in three different categories.

For in God’s economy, He commands the lifeless to come forth from darkness—and it is so.

 

Through The Bible Devotions

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

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

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

Believe it or not, the cause of all that is self, not the one who offended you. If we esteem others better than ourselves, we will examine their words to see if there is truth in them. If there is, we will apologize and adjust our life. If there is not, we will give those words to God and go on loving that person. How many times have we offended God? Does He harbor each offense and bring them up to you every time you want to pray?

Jesus said (paraphrase) that God will treat you as you treat others. It sounds like we better be very generous in our forgiveness, don’t you think?

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

 

Streams in the Desert – February 28

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually (Heb. 13:15).

A city missionary, stumbling through the dirt of a dark entry, heard a voice say, “Who’s there, Honey?” Striking a match, he caught a vision of earthly want and suffering, of saintly trust and peace, “cut in ebony”–calm, appealing eyes set amid the wrinkles of a pinched, black face that lay on a tattered bed. It was a bitter night in February, and she had no fire, no fuel, no light. She had had no supper, no dinner, no breakfast. She seemed to have nothing at all but rheumatism and faith in God. One could not well be more completely exiled from all pleasantness of circumstances, yet the favorite song of this old creature ran:

Nobody knows de trouble I see,
Nobody knows but Jesus;
Nobody knows de trouble I see–
Sing Glory Hallelu!

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,
Sometimes I’m level on the groun’,
Sometimes the glory shines aroun’
Sing Glory Hallelu!

And so it went on: “Nobody knows de work I does, Nobody knows de griefs I has,” the constant refrain being the “Glory Hallelu!” until the last verse rose:

Nobody knows de joys I has,
Nobody knows but Jesus!

“Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” It takes great Bible words to tell the cheer of that old negro auntie.

Remember Luther on his sick-bed. Between his groans he managed to preach on this wise: “These pains and trouble here are like the type which the printers set; as they look now, we have to read them backwards, and they seem to have no sense or meaning in them; but up yonder, when the Lord God prints us off in the life to come, we shall find they make brave reading.” Only we do not need to wait till then.

Remember Paul walking the hurricane deck amid a boiling sea, bidding the frightened crew “Be of good cheer,” Luther, the old negro auntie–all of them human sun-flowers.
Wm. G. Garnett

Taking a Stand

by Inspiration Ministries

“Stand before Pharaoh … ‘Thus says the Lord: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me … In that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell … that you may know that I am the Lord.”’” – Exodus 8:20, 22 NKJV

Ready to deliver His people, God asked Moses to be His messenger, to speak His words to Pharaoh and all of Egypt. Initially, Moses resisted, telling God he was the wrong man. Finally, he agreed.

As Moses prayed, God gave him the words to say to Pharaoh. God also listened to Moses’ pleas on behalf of the Egyptians. Over time, Moses realized that he had no reason to fear as long as he stayed faithful and depended on God.

Today, some believers don’t seem ready to make the same kind of uncompromising commitment. Like Moses’ initial response, they seem reluctant. Hesitant. Uncertain. The Bible reminds us that God has a plan for each life. He calls and equips us to accomplish His purposes. He looks to see how we respond and whether we trust Him and are ready to move forward by faith.

Today, let God know that you are ready to do His will. Dedicate yourself to His timeless truths. Fill your mind and heart with His Word. Pray and listen to His voice. Declare His promises to be true in your life. Seek to live according to His principles. Be bold in your faith, trusting Him.

Do not give in to the pressure to compromise or worry about popular approval. You may face opposition but if you are faithful, you can trust God to protect and provide for you and use you to accomplish His purposes.

What Is The Way To Heaven?

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Our Spiritual Passport to Heaven

customs person stamping a passport

 

Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. —Romans 5:1

What is the spiritual passport we need to get into heaven? It’s not a heart stamped “Catholic.” If your heart is stamped “Catholic,” you are not going to make it into heaven. It’s not a heart stamped “Baptist.” If your heart is stamped “Baptist,” you are not getting into heaven. Nor are you going to be welcomed into heaven if your heart is stamped “Church of Christ,” or any other denomination. Only a heart stamped “Forgiven” will be welcomed into heaven. That’s all that matters: being forgiven of our sins. No other stamp makes a difference in the presence of God. The Bible has a word for being forgiven. It’s the New Testament word justified, which means “to be declared righteous.” Justified is a legal term that refers to what God does for us when we trust in Christ as Savior. When we put our faith in Christ alone for our salvation, God justifies us—He declares us “not guilty” based on what Christ did for us on the cross. Romans 5:1 says, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The only way we are allowed into heaven is by being forgiven of our sins.

There are not many ways to heaven; there is only one way to heaven, and that is through faith in Christ. I realize that is an unpopular statement today. Many people think there are other routes to heaven. Billionaire Warren Buffett donated 85 percent of his net worth to charity, saying, “There is more than one way to get to heaven, but this is a great way.”  I commend Buffett for his generosity, but he will be surprised when he discovers that he cannot donate his way to heaven. There is only one way to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ.

What “stamp” is on your spiritual passport? Have you been forgiven of your sins through your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior?

God, thank You for making it clear in Your Word that the only way to be welcomed into heaven is through faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Give me the courage to speak Your truth and opportunities to share the gospel today.

Left Alone – Streams in the Desert – February 27

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A jealous God

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘For the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God.’ Exodus 34:14

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Kings 10:15–31

How careful should we be when we do anything for God, and God is pleased to accept of our doings, that we never congratulate ourselves. The minister of Christ should unrobe himself of every rag of praise. ‘You preached well,’ said a friend to John Bunyan one morning. ‘You are too late,’ said honest John, ‘the devil told me that before I left the pulpit.’ The devil often tells God’s servants a great many things which they should be sorry to hear. Why, you can hardly be useful in a Sunday School but he will say to you ‘How well you have done it!’ You can scarcely resist a temptation, or set a good example, but he will be whispering to you ‘What an excellent person you must be!’ It is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence—‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.’ Now God is so jealous on this point that, while he will forgive his own servants a thousand things, this is an offence for which he is sure to chasten us. Let a believer once say, ‘I am,’ and God will soon make him say ‘I am not’. Let a Christian begin to boast, ‘I can do all things,’ without adding ‘through Christ which strengtheneth me,’ and before long he will have to groan, ‘I can do nothing,’ and bemoan himself. Many sins of true Christians, I do not doubt, have been the result of their glorifying themselves. Many a man has been permitted by God to stain a noble character and to ruin an admirable reputation, because the character and the reputation had come to be the man’s own, instead of being laid, as all our crowns must be laid, at the feet of Christ. You may build the city, but if you say with Nebuchadnezzar, ‘Behold this great Babylon that I have built!’ you shall be smitten to the earth. The worms which ate Herod when he gave not God the glory are ready for another meal; beware of vain glory!

For meditation: The temptation to pat ourselves on the back should be the cue for us to recall how the Lord Jesus Christ instructs us to think and speak about our good deeds (Luke 17:10). Any glory resulting from them should go to God (Matthew 5:16).

Simplicity of Obedience

by Inspiration Ministries

“You shall speak all that I command you.” – Exodus 7:2 NKJV

Moses faced a complex situation. God had called him to return to Egypt to free the Israelites from bondage. After his arrival, he and his brother Aaron told the Israelite elders the words that God had given them. They were encouraged that He had seen their affliction, and they believed.

But their hopes quickly turned to disappointment. When Moses and Aaron shared God’s words with Pharaoh, instead of cooperating and letting them go, he increased their burdens.

Moses was confused. Describing to God what had happened, Moses might have expected some new message. But instead, God just repeated His previous direction. The instructions were simple: “You shall speak all that I command you.”

The simplicity of this command became the guiding light for Moses in the days to come. He discovered that he did not need to worry about how anyone else reacted. The only thing that mattered was being obedient to God.

God expects the same thing from each of us. He does not want us worrying about the reactions of other people or our own reputation. He simply asks us to obey Him, speak the words He gives us, and do what He wants us to do.

What situations do you face today? Are you concerned about how others might react? Your reputation? As Moses discovered, events might not proceed as you imagine. God simply expects your obedience and faithfulness.
Obey God. Trust God. Stay faithful.

The Hope Of Righteousness brings joy

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Rejoicing in All Seasons

by Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com

“The hope of the righteous brings joy” (Proverbs 10:28).

I’m currently in the process of moving – but only a few miles away. During the intense first weekend of driving back and forth constantly from the old house to the new apartment, I was always amused when I passed by one curious little house. We began moving in on Valentine’s Day weekend, and this little brick house by the roadside was decked in red and white lights and glowing hearts dotting their lawn. During the daylight it was easy to miss the house, but come nightfall it stood out like a beacon of Valentine’s Day glory.

A few days after Valentine’s Day passed, however, the hue emanating from the house transformed from red to chipper Irish green as the occupants geared up for St. Patrick’s day – complete with shamrocks instead of hearts. My initial reaction to this was something like, Wow. These folks really love their holidays.

As I would drive past the house over the following days and weeks, it got me thinking something else, though. Very few of us embrace change so exuberantly as these (I imagine) quaint little homeowners. Very few of us throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the season of right now. It’s tempting for many of us to leave the Christmas lights up past New Years, simply because it’s hard to let go of the nostalgia of that warm, fuzzy time. Many of us are picky about what we celebrate. Not these folks, though! They seem delighted just to be able to revel in the fact that we have holidays.

That’s an attitude I could probably learn from. I think of Jesus turning water to wine, of all the celebrations, holidays and jubilees that God instituted for the Jews, and I think – God loves an excuse to have joy and celebration! If I can smile, rejoice, and bring attention to a thing of beauty and excitement, I think I should. Just like the people who use every holiday as an excuse to dress up their little house and share a little light with the neighbors.

 

Is This the Right Decision?

LYSA TERKEURST, author, crosswalk.com

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV)

Have you ever had that deep-down knowing of what to do in a situation but ignored it? I understand.

I was home alone one day when a large box was delivered to my doorstep.

The delivery man graciously brought it inside. But I figured it might be a bit much for me to ask him to take it past the foyer, up the stairs, down the hall, and into the den.

So there it sat, this mysterious, heavy box.

Deep inside, I knew this was nothing but some product someone in my family had ordered.

But I didn’t listen to that awareness. I ignored it and listened to my fears instead. You know you’ve watched one too many mystery TV shows when your first thought about a mysterious box sitting in your foyer is that a person with scary intentions could fit inside.

So I kicked the side of the box to see if there was any kind of reflex action from a living thing inside of it. There wasn’t, of course. But then I decided just to be sure, I would stand around the corner from the box to see if I could step out of its line of sight and possibly hear something: a cough, a sneeze, anything.

I could leave no room for doubts, no room at all for any possible bad outcome from this box — a box that I eventually opened with a knife. Just in case. Only to discover a dorm-room refrigerator that someone had ordered.

I wasted half my day worrying about a box that contained a dorm fridge.

But we do this sometimes. We have a decision to make and we have that deep-down knowing. We know what to do. We know what the answer is. But we don’t go with that knowing. We over-process the what-ifs and the maybes until we find ourselves standing around a corner listening to see if a cardboard box containing a refrigerator might sneeze.

Now, there are certainly some decisions that need to be processed. But then there are other decisions we just simply need to say yes or no to and move on.

Find that courageous yes. Fight for that confident no. Know it. State it. Own it.

Sometimes it just comes down to that deep whisper within that says, “Uh-huh, yes.” Or a simple, “No, not that.”

God has woven into us the ability to discern what is best as we closely follow Him. Philippians 1:9-10 says, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (NIV).

Discerning what is best is something we’re capable of doing as we layer knowledge and depth of insight into our lives. Read those verses again and see that gaining knowledge and depth of insight will allow us to develop a trustworthy discernment.

Knowledge is wisdom that comes from acquiring truth.

Insight is wisdom that comes from living out the truth we acquire.

Discernment is wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s reminders of that knowledge and insight.

I know a young mom who has really been struggling with the decision of whether to let her 2-year-old go to preschool a couple of half-days each week. As I listened to her, I felt compelled to ask her three questions:

1. Have you been reading and praying through God’s Word?

2. Have you been applying God’s Word to your mothering?

3. Have you sought godly counsel and insights from wise people who know specifics about your situation?

The answer to all three of those simple questions was yes, so I reminded her that she was assigned by God to be this child’s mother. If she had done these three things, then she had the ability to discern what was best.

It’s not about trusting ourselves. Rather, it’s about trusting the Holy Spirit to do what Jesus promised us in John 14:26“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (NIV).

When we’ve done what we need to do to acquire the knowledge and insight of truth, then the discernment of that truth is there. We must learn to trust and use that discernment because the more we do this, the more wisdom we acquire to make God-honoring decisions.

The Good News About Death

From: InTouch, ministeries
1 Corinthians 15:50-58

The Bible teaches that death is only the beginning for believers. God has prepared an eternal home for us, and the condition for entry is clear: Believe that Jesus died for your sins, and receive His forgiveness. Some people consider this narrow-minded and unfair. But God set up that condition for a reason.

Way back in the garden of Eden, the Lord established a rule to protect His creation: Do not disobey Me. Sin was such a serious matter in His eyes that He determined it deserved the death penalty. Yet ever since Adam and Eve’s transgression, we’ve been bound to slip up because we’re flawed human beings. And God knew that. So, to save us from the consequence of sin, He sent His Son to die in our place. Jesus fulfilled the law while taking our punishment. And three days later He rose again.

God promised in His Word that those who receive Jesus as Savior share in His resurrection. When a believer dies, the heavenly gates open, and he or she has the same triumph over death that Jesus did. In other words, when we leave this world, we do not simply disappear. We continue to worship the Lord in heaven.

How Others See Us

by Inspiration Ministries

“Because they are lazy, therefore they cry out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’” – Exodus 5:8 NASB

When Moses asked to let the Israelites go, Pharaoh evaluated this request in light of his own experience and worldview. To him, Moses’ explanation seemed absurd. He could not conceive that the God of the Hebrews could be real and make this request. The only possible explanation was that the Israelites simply did not want to work.

Pharaoh had his own agenda. He was counting on the Israelites to provide the labor for his designs. Moses’ request conflicted with his agenda. And he didn’t believe the explanation.

Many people react in similar ways to God’s Word. The Bible reminds us that the things of the Spirit are folly in the natural. People can’t “understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV).

As you ponder the way some people respond to the Gospel, remember that this is a spiritual issue, discerned in the Spirit in ways people in the natural may never understand. They are likely to project onto us their own expectations and worldview. Or they may judge us or question our motives.

Remember these facts as you interact with people in the world. Remember how foolish and unrealistic your beliefs and actions might seem.

Ask God to give you discernment about your life and testimony. Pray for His anointing. Seek to apply His principles. Pray for those you know who need the Lord. Pray that He might open their eyes that they might see.

I Want To Stay With You

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I Want to Stay with You

teen boy hugging his mother

Reverend Phil seemed seven feet tall to me when I was a child. He could have been a captain at sea or a firefighter or a police chief, but he was a pastor. One Sunday night, his deep voice caught my attention as he unfolded the story of a wild and violent man whose encounter with Jesus changed everything.

A demon-possessed man roamed the tomb-filled hills of the Gadarenes. Everyone feared him, and no one could tame him. They managed to shackle him, but he broke the chains. Then Jesus came to the area—the one Man who could unshackle his heart.

When the man saw Jesus, he said,

“What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me” (Mark 5:7 NKJV).

Jesus didn’t hurt him; He helped him. The man had many demons, and Jesus sent them all out of the man into a nearby herd of pigs. The pigs “ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned” (Mark 5:13 NKJV).

When the people of the area came out to see what had happened, the man who had been demon-possessed was sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. That made the people afraid. They learned what happened to the pigs and wanted Jesus to leave.

Reverend Phil’s characterization of their attitude toward Jesus, was memorable. It was as if they said to Him, “We don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as You leave here.” The healed man’s reaction was just the opposite: “I don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as I can go with You.”

Does your heart want to stay with Jesus, no matter what? Have you come to love and trust Him so that you could say with the healed man, I don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as I can go with You?

In the book of Ruth, we find someone who inspires us to have a wholehearted devotion to God. Ruth wanted to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi, even when Ruth’s husband had died. This is what Ruth said when Naomi made plans to leave Moab and go back to Judah.

“Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV)

Have you ever loved someone so much that you felt this way about him or her? Have you ever loved God so much, that you said something like this to Him? Wherever You go, I will go. Wherever You stay, I will stay. I am Yours, and You are mine. I will not let go.

Are we willing to give up anything and everything for God? Are we willing to leave behind all of the things that distract us from following Him closely? The more we know Him, the more certain we become that we can trust His heart and rest in His goodness and wisdom. We find that God satisfies our souls and gives us good things. He is a Father who loves us and a Best Friend who shares all of life’s adventures with us. Our hearts will say to Him, “I will stay with You.”

 

Streams in the Desert – February 25

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Through The Bible Devotions

Leviticus 6:9, 12-13 (NIV) 9“Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar.

12The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. 13The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.

Exodus 29:39f God lit the fire. We must guard that flame carefully and tend it well. Keep it on the altar. It is for God that it burns. Don’t be zealous for any other thing. God has a flame in His heart for us, the same one that took Jesus to the cross. To not have one for Him in our heart is the height of ingratitude and selfishness.

The sacrifice was performed both morning and evening. It remained on the altar through the night. We should send up our prayer sacrifice at least this often and always be a living sacrifice. Ex 39:42 “There I will meet you and speak with you.”

Three times in 5 verses we are told to keep the fire burning. The spiritual picture is clear. You probably remember the children’s song, “Don’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine. Let is shine, let it shine, all the time.” I bet you didn’t realize that song goes all the way back to Leviticus. If the fire goes out, the one that God lit, there is always the temptation for man to relight it. We need the fire of God in our sacrifice, not the fire of man. Man’s fire is zealous but ends up glorifying man and not God. The altar of our hearts should always be prepared for sacrifice on the flame that God lit in us.

Meditation: Is the fire on the altar of my heart burning with God’s fire?

 

Knowing the Lord

by Inspiration Ministries

“Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” – Exodus 5:2 NASB

Approaching Pharaoh, Moses and Aaron positioned themselves as messengers for “the Lord, the God of Israel” (v. 1). Pharaoh was to “Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness” (v. 1). Pharaoh’s response indicated that he had no idea what they were talking about or who they meant by “the Lord.”

This response was not surprising; the Egyptians had their own religion and gods. Yet the sad fact was that Pharaoh did not know God or even know who He was. This admission shows the importance of knowing the Lord and telling others about Him. Moses and Aaron knew Him and were willing to risk everything.

But Pharaoh did not know Him at all. Without a reference to God, Pharaoh developed his own explanations and theories. One goal of the plagues God sent was that Pharaoh and others in the land would “know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 7:5).

This parallels the experience of many people today! They rule their own kingdoms and do not know the Lord. In a variety of ways, God, in His love and compassion, allows them to go through experiences that might open their eyes. These experiences might help them know Him, turn to Him, and declare Him their Lord!

What is your relationship with God? Seek to know Him more intimately. Be His witness, helping others realize that He is real. He is the Lord!

God Is Our Strength and Shield

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Security | Daily Christian Quotes27 Bible Verses about Safety - DailyVerses.net

 

Shower Curtain Security

My neighbor, Edna, found a stray kitten on her porch a few months ago. She already had three grown cats, all of which hated the kitten, so she called me and asked me to take him. I love cats, but hadn’t had one in several years and didn’t think I wanted another one. However, when I heard his baby meow over the phone line, my heart melted.

I don’t know where he had been before Edna’s, but he came to me full of insecurity. He keeps looking for places to hunker down where he can feel secure. One of his favorites is under the shower curtain. I have a curved shower rod and when not in use, the curtain hangs outside the tub, bowing out in the center with the hem dangling a few inches above the floor.

The kitten, Theodore, crouches under the center section. The funny thing is the shower curtain only covers his ears and eyes, leaving his whole body exposed and his whiskers poking out. But he feels safe under the flimsy fabric.

I am reminded of how we can be like Theodore. We look for security in flimsy things, too. My husband and I, seriously concerned about providing enough money for our retirement, invested in the stock market. Having money socked away makes us feel better about the future. But markets have a history of softening, declining and bursting like a bubble. We really don’t know how much money we will end up with.

Some people collect things, even when they can’t afford to. I am reminded of the commercial in which a man who has a huge, fake smile plastered on his face lists all the possessions he owns. At the end he says, still smiling, “Can’t somebody help me? I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.” Surrounding ourselves with a lot of things may feel good for a while, but even if we can afford them, we can’t take them with us when our life is over. We’re simply covering our eyes and ears to the truth that they can’t provide the kind of security that lasts.

A job seems like the answer for many. They spend years training and preparing for their dream job – the one that will make them rich and famous. Someone said fame is fleeting. They were right and jobs can be, too, in our world of layoffs, outsourcing and corporate corruption.

Some search for security in relationships. My mother felt secure in her marriage until it fell apart after 33 years. Marriage is great, and we should feel secure in our marriage relationships, but we are not guaranteed tomorrow. My husband and I have been married almost 29 years and if there ever was a solid marriage we have it, but our health is not promised to last forever. One of us will probably pass away before the other. If marriage were the only thing lending me a sense of security, I might one day be lost without it.

Some people live in war-torn countries and believe if they only had peace, they would feel secure. Unfortunately, military peace doesn’t always bring personal security.

In the parable of Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus said if we build our houses on the sand, then when the rain comes, everything will be washed away. But if we’ve built on the rock, our house will hold up against the worst of storms. Jesus is the rock and the house is our life. Whatever plans we make for our future need to be prayed over and Spirit led. When we hunker down on Jesus our Rock, we really are secure. Anywhere else is behind a flimsy shower curtain.

Through The Bible Devotions

Exodus 40:34-35 (NIV) 34Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

Once the tabernacle was set up according to the instructions Moses received on the mountain, the cloud that had been leading them settled upon it. The glory of the LORD so filled the Tent of Meeting that he could not enter.

Today the tent of meeting is your spirit. God desires to so fill you that your life is overflowing with Him, and little room is left for self to enter in. That is complete Christ likeness. He is taking us all to that place, individually and corporately. One day the work will be done and everything in place, and the glory of the LORD will completely fill us, the tabernacles, and the Tabernacle. He has always been in the process of making a dwelling place for Himself.

The day of completion is the wedding feast of the Lamb. When we see Him we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:1-2). When we are like Him, He can fill us completely. We have a deposit now, a deposit of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). That is deposit of what will someday be in all His fullness. We experience it more and more as we grow in Him.

“Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool; what house will you build me?” says the Lord, “and what shall be the place of my rest?” (Acts 7:49)” Upon this rock I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18) They that believe have entered into rest (Hebrews 4:3a).

Meditation: I am the temple of the living God!

Starved for Faith and Vision

by John UpChurch, crosswalk.com

“Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing’? Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to put an end to this proverb, and they will no longer quote it in Israel.’ Say to them, ‘The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled.” Ezekiel 12:22-23

For me, Dave was that boss. The guy could make every triumph into misery, every completed project into a diatribe for what didn’t go right. Not chewing you out was his way of complimenting a job well done. And, no, I’m not joking. The guy would fire someone I worked with and then come to me the next day to say, “I fired your little friend.”

And yet, for some reason I never understood, Dave liked me from the beginning. He would never have said that, of course, never admitted to not hating someone. But he did. Even as a lackey intern, he put me in charge of projects way above my pay grade. Even as the newbie, he’d let me in on the big stuff we’d be working on in a few months. My position was only supposed to last 30 days, but Dave kept me there for months by making excuses to his bosses about why I should stay.

To be honest, I hated the work. Here I was an English major who was supposed to be editing and writing and changing the world through prose. But I was afraid of trying for that world-changing job. Instead, I got pushed into IT project management for hospitals, which is really just a nice way of saying that I moved computers and loaded software. Over and over.

But it’s funny what happens between a boss and a peon when you’re wearing scrubs and snatching computers from the ICU. For Dave, those moments brought clarity. In a place where alarms signal dying, he’d tell me about his one-time plans to be an architect and the reasons why it couldn’t happen. His rage would disappear with the code blues and rushing nurses. He dreamed for just a moment.

And then we’d be pushing our carts of equipment to a new wing of the hospital, and the sarcasm flooded in to cover the regret. He’d snap back to the snappiness as if the ICU never happened.

Maybe that’s why Dave liked me. He knew I didn’t want to be in those sterile halls either. He knew this detour felt more like a dead end. I was his earlier self.

When I finally quit, Dave didn’t say goodbye. In fact, he avoided me for much of my two-week notice period. His only words about me were to berate the rest of the team with how the “only competent worker” was leaving.

With him, that meant he approved.

Celebrate!

by Inspiration Ministries

“Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.”’” – Exodus 5:1 NASB

God asked Moses to deliver a message to Pharaoh: He wanted His people to “celebrate a feast.” The desire to celebrate was emphasized often. Later, He instructed Moses that they were to celebrate a feast to the Lord. They were “to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance” (Exodus 12:14).

When they were freed from bondage, He told them, Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me” (Exodus 23:14). The Hebrew word here describes moving in a circle, observing a festival, dancing, even being giddy. This was to be a real celebration!

This emphasis demonstrates clearly that celebration is important to God. There is a time for everything, including a time to celebrate (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4). Yet it can be easy to be overwhelmed with our problems. We tend to focus on obstacles and the troubles we face and feel discouraged.

But, as God reminded the Israelites, there are times to stop and celebrate. We need to remember the miracles we have experienced, think about how God has met our needs, reflect on His promises, and praise Him instead of complaining or worrying.

Are you burdened? Weary? Worried? For a moment set these thoughts aside. Just concentrate on God. Think about His goodness! His mercy! Salvation! Healing! Wisdom! And His promises! There may be problems in your life and the world. But remember. God is on the throne! He is sovereign! And He wants you to celebrate!

God Provides

Philippians 4:19 God Will Supply All Your Needs - Free Art Downloads -  Bible Verses To GoUnderstanding Bible Verses – Philippians 4:19- God Will Supply All Your  Needs | Darrell Creswell - A Study of Christian Grace
God Provides73 Bible verses about God, The Provider
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God Provides

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I was barely high enough to peer over the shiny, yellow, laminate countertops in my grandmother’s immaculate kitchen, but it was homemade-noodle making day, and I was overjoyed as I took my rightful place next to her on a worn, red, metal foot stool.

“Always make sure the eggs are at room temperature,” she reminded me as we took turns cracking them into the bright blue earthenware bowl.

The smells of the wonderfully cooked Italian food, glorious food, lovingly prepared by my tiny grandmother in her homespun kitchen are still unmatched today, and those memories remain some of my most cherished!

Being from a large Italian family, all of my favorite and important memories involve food. Banquets and feasts were the centerpiece of every holiday, birthday, and simple Sundays. My grandmother wanted to feed everyone. She loved people with food. Making others happy with food gave her joy. She would bring food to all her friends, cook for those who were sick or just in need of a little TLC. She was always prepared. To her, it was a crime to not have a freezer full of “just in case” lasagnas and cannolis for company!

I believe this is a “no getting around it” inherited trait of just being Italian, at least in my family. I too live to feed everybody and everything. The ducks on the lake outside my home know that all too well.

To me, there would be no worse feeling than to not be able to provide food for my family or being unable to feed my children.

I thought about the children of Israel. While they were endlessly wandering in the wilderness, they needed to fully rely on God to provide food (manna) for them each day. They were not allowed to take any more than a single day’s portion, and if they did, it would rot immediately. There would be no “just in case” food, no “what if God forgets to send it tomorrow” food! They had to have blind faith in what they did not see and wholeheartedly trust they would be able to go out each day and collect fresh food for their children. They had to believe a new day’s supply would be sent to nourish them by God from Heaven.

They had to trust that God would provide!

In Mark 10:36, Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

God is so simple in His love for us. He just wants us to trust him. He asks us to tell him what we need. He says we have not, because we ask not.

By commanding the Israelites to not collect any more food than they needed for one day, God was asking them to totally rely on His merciful grace—the grace that can only come from Him. His grace is sufficient to take care of all we need on any given day.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV), the Lord told Paul,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul’s response was to “boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Sometimes we look ahead—and the mountains we face and the trials and storms that engulf us, seem overwhelmingly impossible to manage. But then God shows up again with a daily helping of His amazing grace and a fresh batch of heavenly manna and says, “Trust me, we will get through this together today, I will be back tomorrow and we will handle tomorrow then.”

When we are weak, He is strong!

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25 (NIV)

Little Children

by Ryan Duncan, crosswalk.com

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

When I was a little kid, I made an amazing discovery. I realized that if I found something I liked and asked the right person “Can I have this?” there was chance they would give it to me. This may not seem all that extraordinary to you, but trust me, to a child this was a goldmine. You see, I didn’t just ask for candy at the grocery store or stuff on TV commercials, I asked for everything. I asked other kids if I could have their toys, I asked the neighbors if I could have their dog, I think I even asked one family if I could have their house. I’m afraid I embarrassed my parents to no end, and by the time my father sat me down and explained that asking someone for all their belongings was rude, most people had stopped inviting our family over for dinner.

Kids can be a real hassle, and when you think about it, you can’t really blame the disciples for their actions in Mark 10. Take a look at the following passage,

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. – Mark 10:13-16

Here’s the thing about children. Children are messy, children are selfish, children are ignorant, and children are incredibly self-destructive. Don’t believe me? A monkey knows better than to stick a butter knife into an exposed wall socket, but let a child have its way and they will do it twice! Despite all this, however, you really can’t help but admire the oblivious, single-minded nature of a child.

If anything, Christians should try learning from their example. Too often we stop ourselves from encountering God because we are afraid we don’t fit the “Christian” criteria. Well, I’ve got news for you; we will always be children in God’s eyes: messy, crazy, self-destructive children. But as long as we make him the single focus of our hearts, He doesn’t care. So take a lesson from these little ones, pursue God recklessly and don’t pay attention to what others think, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

A sermon for Spring

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.’ Song of Solomon 2:10–13

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 74:9–17

The things which are seen are types of the things which are not seen. The works of creation are pictures to the children of God of the secret mysteries of grace. The very seasons of the year find their parallel in the little world of man within. We have our winter when the north wind of the law rushes forth against us, when every hope is nipped, when all the seeds of joy lie buried beneath the dark clods of despair, when our soul is fast fettered like a river bound with ice. Thanks be unto God, the soft south wind breathes upon our soul, and at once the waters of desire are set free, the spring of love comes on, flowers of hope appear in our hearts, the trees of faith put forth their young shoots, the time of the singing of birds comes in our hearts, and we have joy and peace in believing through the Lord Jesus Christ. That happy springtide is followed in the believer by a rich summer, when his graces, like fragrant flowers, are in full bloom, loading the air with perfume; and fruits of the Spirit like citrons and pomegranates swell into their full proportion in the genial warmth of the Sun of Righteousness. Then comes the believer’s autumn, when his fruits grow ripe, and his fields are ready for the harvest; the time has come when his Lord shall gather together his ‘pleasant fruits,’ and store them in heaven; the feast of ingathering is at hand—the time when the year shall begin anew, an unchanging year, like the years of the right hand of the Most High in heaven.

For meditation: Until we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, our souls languish in an eternal winter’s night. Faith in him is the gateway to a new life in which we advance through the seasons of the soul towards eternal day (Zechariah 14:7Revelation 21:2522:5).

Send Someone Else

by Inspiration Ministries

“’O, Lord, please send someone else.’ Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses.” – Exodus 4:13-14 NIV

God told Moses He wanted him to leave the service of his father-in-law, Jethro, and return to Egypt to lead His people into freedom. God described the task and even the response he could expect. Moses reacted with a series of objections. He felt inadequate for the task: “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11).

He complained that he was not “eloquent” enough but was “slow of speech and tongue” (v. 10). He simply did not know what to say and wondered how he would respond to criticism or objections.

God answered every excuse until Moses asked him to send someone else. Suddenly God became furious. What was different? God demonstrated that He welcomed honest questions. But Moses crossed the line when he declared that he would not go. But, finally, he did agree to go – with his brother Aaron.

We may go through similar experiences. As we feel God’s call, we may have questions and concerns. As Paul discovered, all of us have weaknesses and need to depend on God (2 Corinthians 12:10). Remember, He has prepared us for His assignments. We need to trust Him and move forward in faith.

Be ready to respond to God’s call for you. Seek His answers for the strategies and wisdom you need. Ask Him for the necessary resources and abilities. Always trust Him. Move forward in faith.