Category Archives: Inspiration

Be Steadfast IN Your Faith

Be Steadfast       II Peter 3

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

 _______________________________________________________

25 Best Bible Verses for Times of Adversity - Encouraging ScriptureBible Verses for Strength in the Hard Times - Peaceful Home
Morning Bible Verses | Powerful Messages To Start The Day20 Bible Verses about Joy and Happiness - Bible Verse Images
20 Bible Verses about Joy and Happiness - Bible Verse ImagesPg 18 August Memory Verse - First Church
Bible Verse with Watercolor Flower Border - This Steadfast Love ...Nebraskans copying Scripture chapters to create the Corona Bible ...

Setting Christ-Centered Goals

Have you heard them yet? Scores of people talking about “New Year’s resolutions?” Have you tried making those kinds of promises to yourself, only to find that they usually never last beyond January 31st?

Shortly after becoming a Christian, I began making resolutions “before God” and declaring everything from losing weight and eating better, to reading more good books and turning off the television.

Dare I say it? They didn’t last long. What happens? How do our good intentions derail so easily? Should Christians even engage in the practice of making resolutions? We would probably all be surprised how many do not.

Obviously, resolutions are helpful and productive when they are accompanied by heartfelt “resolve.” This is perhaps the problem that confronts too many of us — we are simply not serious enough to change. We get caught up in the moment, making some declarations we don’t really mean, and are not willing to follow through to fulfillment. But we desire to change. We sense a need to change. Every January 1st brings another opportunity to effect change. So, what happens to the change?

For centuries, January 1st has marked more than the beginning of the Gregorian calendar year. This date holds an almost spiritual sense of completion (of the previous year) and expectation (of the coming year). There is a natural awareness of change at this time of year. Even those tradtional symbols of year end — the old man with the long beard, and the baby in diapers — spell newness and impending change. But how does this relate to the believer? Can we anticipate change just because of the new calendar year? Is God motivated by our calendar observances?

“For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6, NKJV). We take great comfort in knowing that the Ancient of Days never changes. The Alpha and the Omega has no beginning and no end. We rejoice in the revelation that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 12:8). Changelessness is part of the very nature of God. But change IS part of the nature of man. God has created us to change, and His revealed will for mankind changes, not because of a character flaw on His part, but because our nature requires and thrives on change.

Consider God’s revelation to Jeremiah (29:11):

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Imagine God thinking about our future! He desires us to have hope — a confident expectation of blessing and provision in the days ahead. Hope causes us to walk forward into our future with faith and anticipation, even though we don’t know every detail concerning our future.

Someone once said that if God showed us every detail of our lives, all at one time, we would sit down at that point and refuse to face another day! We were not created to contain omniscience (the quality of knowing everything) like God. So, He reveals our future to us in portions we can digest — like a loving parent feeding their child only the texture and amount of food that their child can sustain. God wisely only reveals what we can understand, perceive, and apply at that time.

Knowing this, I am intrigued by the scriptures that speak of God declaring and doing “new” things:

  • “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isaiah 42:9).
  • “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
  • “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’ … indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it” (Isaiah 46:9-11).

Careful and thoughtful study of these scriptures show us that God is not intending to do something capricious or whimsical. He is deliberately leading each of us to specific moments of destiny with which He is already completely familiar!

Several years ago, I listened intently to a Christian teacher ministering from Habakkuk 2:1-4 concerning living by vision, and learning to establish God-centered goals for our lives. This teacher very passionately taught that we must first discern the vision of God for our lives by taking time to hear God’s voice in prayer. From that point, as Habakkuk records, we should “write the vision and make it plain…” so that “…he may run who reads it.” The teacher taught that God’s vision is His will for our lives, and that we should write on paper what we perceive His will and destiny for us to be. We must also be careful to note that:

“the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry (forever).”

From this place of perceiving God’s will, the Christian teacher suggested that we should all begin to establish God-centered goals from His perceived will as a means of ensuring accountability and productivity. I began then to see that setting goals wasn’t about what I wanted to do, but what I believed God could do through me!

We must understand that God is sovereignly in control of our today and our tomorrow! So then, He enables us by grace to point ourselves toward the target of His perceived will for our life. With His will in mind, we can make a measurable impact in His Kingdom and significantly change our world by making goals that agree with God. What about Providence, you ask? All the time that we pursue our goals, we remain mindful that He has ultimate say in our destiny. His destiny for us doesn’t change each day. But our destiny is a journey, and our perception may become clouded by sin, doubt or ungodly assumptions. These areas must be corrected — minor course changes along the journey.

The Apostle James taught us to make plans with the qualifier “if the Lord wills” (James 4:13-17). Surely we’ve heard that response from someone asked about their plans: “Well, Lord willing, and if the creek don’t rise!” We must understandably make sufficient room in our goals and objectives for God’s course changes and adjustments. But the sovereignty of God is no excuse for human inactivity, procrastination, or irresponsibility. God is much bigger and mightier than our missteps. Wouldn’t we all rather be pursuing a spiritual goal that might need adjustment, than to be doing nothing for the Kingdom out of fear that we might miss His will?

Will this year be full of spiritual milestones and accomplishments, or another year of “shoulda-coulda-woulda?” Someone once said that “Goals are the rudder of our lives, and God’s wisdom is the wind filling the sails.” I suggest that our year will be more fulfilling if we are able to recognize significant Kingdom exploits (Daniel 11:32) made by setting godly goals! If we will challenge our hearts to trust in what we perceive God’s will to be for our lives, and write down several motivating thoughts concerning His will, in January 2003 we will sense His peace and pleasure.

The box to the right is a suggested format for areas to set goals in our Christian life. I encourage you to print this portion, or copy to another document for your careful and prayerful consideration. We are not just spiritual or just physical beings. Our goals should encompass many areas of our life: spiritual, physical, mental, social relationships, and stewardship. Now, formulate one or two goal statements for each area and write them in the spaces provided.

Remember to make your goals S.M.A.R.T. — Specific (not just lose weight, but instead “lose 35 pounds”); Measurable (can you tangibly show you met the goal?); Attainable (“bring about world peace” is WAY too lofty!); Realistic (“never eat chocolate again” — gallant thought, but better to say limit it to one day a week!); and Timely (set a date — not too soon, and not too late — but time constraints are helpful to bring about change).

Ready to set a goal focus for this year? Make this faith declaration with me:

“In agreement with God’s Word that says God intends to give me ‘a future and a hope,’ I offer these goals and plans to Him as a gift from my heart. I challenge myself to see exploits done for His Kingdom through my life. I will ‘redeem the time’ during this next year. I fully understand that all goals are subject to change and to the perfect will of God. By His help these dreams of my heart shall become reality!”

 

The Old Chevy

old chevy car

 

When we drove up to the historic motel on Route 66, an old Chevy parked out front caught our eye. It had to be more than 65 years old, and though the paint was faded, worn-off, and rust-eaten, the car still exuded a certain charm and beauty. A couple of the tires were flat, and one window was permanently open. Yet, it had a stately dignity that spoke of a time when it ruled the road.

Once upon a time, this automobile was the lifeline for an entire family. Dad drove it to work; Mom took it shopping. Weekends were for family outings, and Sundays for going to Church. Each summer she took her family to a far-off destination, and special occasions saw her at family get-togethers. The kids learned to drive behind that huge steering wheel and longed for the day they might get a car of their own: something new, shiny, and fast, with the latest technology.

But the old Chevy had long ago been discarded. Removed to the junkyard, where it sat for a decade: unwanted, untended, and ignored. Just taking up space.

Sometimes we look at people that way. We have no time for the elderly, no interest in what they have to offer or what they’ve accomplished. They had their day in the sun; now it’s our turn. We look at people of different ethnicities similarly. We too easily disregard their importance, their feelings, their dreams and ambitions, and what they can contribute to the community or the church. We treat children as though they were worth less than adults, and teens as if they should be banished to a remote island.

The Bible, on the other hand, tells us to honor people, value them, and care for them. To look for the beauty and the charm that are still there in every human being. Romans 12:10, for example, says

“… in honor giving preference to one another; …” (NKJV)

James 1:27 reminds us that

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their affliction, …” (LEB)

In other words, we’re supposed to honor those in society who are helpless or in less fortunate circumstances.

The writer of Job 7:1-2 adds to this discussion by recognizing the dignity of the common person and by identifying with the hireling and the slave.

“Do not mortals have hard service on earth? Are not their days like those of hired laborers? Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired laborer waiting to be paid, …” (NIV)

In context, Job is saying there’s no difference between the rich and the poor, the master and the slave, when it comes to how hard life can be. There’s no difference in that we all want rest at the end of the day, we all want a better life for our family, we all have hopes and dreams, we all need love and friendship, and we all crave acceptance and respect.

The apostle Paul summarizes in Philippians 2:3, where he simply says we are to

“… value others above yourselves …” (NIV)

The woman who owned the roadside hotel told us that a lot of her customers expressed an interest in old cars and the way life used to be on Route 66. So, she called a friend who had a junkyard and asked if there was an old car she could buy. Her friend gave her the Chevy and brought it to her motel, where it has attracted attention and sparked conversation among people from all over the country.

The Depth Of God’s Love For Us

25 Encouraging Bible Verses About God's Love For Us (Powerful Read)18 Bible Verses About God's Love - Bible Verses About Love
25 Encouraging Bible Verses About God's Love For Us (Powerful Read)18 Bible Verses About God's Love - Bible Verses About Love
Top 15 Bible Verses-Does God Really Love Us? - Everyday ServantGod's Love Bible Verses and Devotionals - Todays Bible Verse
18 Bible Verses About God's Love - Bible Verses About Love18 Bible Verses About God's Love - Bible Verses About Love

 

The Depth of God’s Love for Us

From: Crosswalk.com

We have a great High Priest who constantly intercedes on our behalf. The Son of God and Man loves you more deeply than you can fathom. He prays for you, that you might walk in the abundant life his death affords you. And in John 17 we get a glimpse into the fullness of his desire for all those who would believe in him. As we dive deeply into the riches of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer this week, may your heart be awakened and your life be transformed by the riches of God’s love.

Scripture:“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:25-26

Devotional:

There is no force more powerful than the love our heavenly Father has for us, his children. His love can move mountains, stop the roaring seas, heal broken bones and wounded hearts, transform lives, and set free those held captive by sin and shame. So great is his love for you and me that he sent his only Son to die that we might live through him. And in John 17:25-26, Jesus makes an unfathomable statement about how great the depth of God’s love is for us:

O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Do you know that God loves you the way he loves Jesus? His heart is full of affection for you. Jesus always prays perfectly in line with the will of the Father because they are one. So when Jesus prays for God to love us with the same love he has been given, his prayer is in perfect alignment with the heart of our Father.

Romans 8:37-39 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Through the death of Christ, the barrier between us and  relationship with God was torn in two. The wrath of God was satisfied with Jesus’ death, and now we can experience the full depth of his love. Through Christ, we have been made new so that we can finally walk in unhindered fellowship and oneness with a holy, perfect God.

God loves you simply because he loves you. You don’t have to work for his affection. You don’t have to set yourself straight before God can pour out his love over you. The father in the prodigal son story ran out to meet his son before anything had ever been set right. He didn’t know his son was there to apologize. He didn’t care. He simply wanted to love his child. Your heavenly Father feels the same way about you. He longs to love you right where you are, as you are. He longs to fill you with love to overflowing. He longs for us to experience this love and oneness just as Jesus did when he walked the earth.

As you enter into guided prayer, open up your heart and allow God’s grace to settle in. Allow him to free you from works-based religion and guide you to a lifestyle of relationship. God is not an angry taskmaster who shows affection only when you succeed. He is a loving Father who will always love you no matter what. Take time to receive the depth of his love for you today. Allow his love to heal you, transform you, free you, and lead you to the abundant life he has always longed to give.

Guided Prayer:

1. Meditate on the depth of God’s love for you.

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16

2. Where do you need a fresh revelation of God’s grace today? What’s keeping you from receiving the depth of God’s love? In what ways do you need him to show you how good of a Father he truly is?

3. Ask the Spirit to give you a revelation of God’s grace and love for you. Receive God’s presence and rest in his love. Meditate on and renew your mind to how deeply your heavenly Father loves you.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

“So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

May the whole of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer be true in your life. May you come into the fullness of what Jesus died to give you. May your life be a wonderful reflection of his love. And may you experience the depth of his love for you in every season. You are a child of the Most High, loving God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love is powerful, real, and available. May your day be full of joy, peace, and purpose in light of God’s glorious grace.

 

You Just Gotta Know!

When was the last time you were at a place in your life where you just weren’t sure of anything? Your work? Your ministry? Your calling by God? Your sanity? God’s love? The love of others? Your faith? Oh, yes, we have all been there. In all of our lives, there are times when we are weak, exhausted, under stress, or physically ill and these are times when Satan takes advantage of us and tries to convince us that God’s love cannot be real.

Recently, the Holy Spirit reminded me of verses in Psalm 62 where King David seems to have been in a place not unlike the one I described above. He opens this psalm by saying,

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2 (NIV)

In verse 11, David summarizes the entire Psalm in this way,

“God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times: Power, O God, belongs to you; unfailing love, O Lord, is yours…” Psalm 62:11-12 (NLT)

Because David was an Israelite, he would have known the Scriptures from the time he was a small child. David had learned that God declared His strength over and over throughout history.  He would have known of the history that the Israelite nation had with God and the mighty miracles He had performed on their behalf. God had shown his strength on behalf of David time and again in battle during his reign as king of Israel. David certainly remembered the first time that God’s strength had come to his aid very publically and Goliath fell with only a single stone thrown from David’s slingshot. David knew, without question, that God was strong from both reading about and experiencing that strength.

When God spoke that He was strong, David heard that message, but he also heard that the Lord was loving. I believe that David heard this message with his heart. No matter the state of David’s life, God’s love never departed from him. Yes, David sinned greatly. Yes, David experienced doubt. Yes, David’s family was a complete mess. But God’s love for David never changed.

We are not so different from David. It matters not where we are – physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually — God’s love never changes. His heart is always full of love for us. Christ didn’t die for us IF we would behave. He died for us in spite of our behavior, in spite of our doubt and our sin. It is amazing to realize that Christ called Judas Iscariot to be one of his chosen 12 disciples, knowing that Judas would betray Him. Yet, Jesus never treated Judas differently than any of the other 11 men He called to be disciples.

Sometimes we get to a place in our life where we must be reminded that God loves us. There are times when we absolutely must know this above all else! It is the only thing that can bring us through what life hands us OR what we get ourselves into.

David goes on to remind us in Psalm 63:3-5 that God’s love is all that will satisfy us:

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” (NIV)

This is your reminder, beloved, that God’s love never quits, it never gives up on you, it satisfies completely, and it is available to you in an endless supply. He reveals it in His Word, in His creation, through others who love you, and especially in the salvation that is offered only through Jesus. Drink it in, my friend. There is an abundant supply!

 

The Depth of God’s Love for Us

From: Crosswalk.com

Weekly Overview:

We have a great High Priest who constantly intercedes on our behalf. The Son of God and Man loves you more deeply than you can fathom. He prays for you, that you might walk in the abundant life his death affords you. And in John 17 we get a glimpse into the fullness of his desire for all those who would believe in him. As we dive deeply into the riches of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer this week, may your heart be awakened and your life be transformed by the riches of God’s love.

Scripture:“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:25-26

Devotional:

There is no force more powerful than the love our heavenly Father has for us, his children. His love can move mountains, stop the roaring seas, heal broken bones and wounded hearts, transform lives, and set free those held captive by sin and shame. So great is his love for you and me that he sent his only Son to die that we might live through him. And in John 17:25-26, Jesus makes an unfathomable statement about how great the depth of God’s love is for us:

O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Do you know that God loves you the way he loves Jesus? His heart is full of affection for you. Jesus always prays perfectly in line with the will of the Father because they are one. So when Jesus prays for God to love us with the same love he has been given, his prayer is in perfect alignment with the heart of our Father.

Romans 8:37-39 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Through the death of Christ, the barrier between us and  relationship with God was torn in two. The wrath of God was satisfied with Jesus’ death, and now we can experience the full depth of his love. Through Christ, we have been made new so that we can finally walk in unhindered fellowship and oneness with a holy, perfect God.

God loves you simply because he loves you. You don’t have to work for his affection. You don’t have to set yourself straight before God can pour out his love over you. The father in the prodigal son story ran out to meet his son before anything had ever been set right. He didn’t know his son was there to apologize. He didn’t care. He simply wanted to love his child. Your heavenly Father feels the same way about you. He longs to love you right where you are, as you are. He longs to fill you with love to overflowing. He longs for us to experience this love and oneness just as Jesus did when he walked the earth.

As you enter into guided prayer, open up your heart and allow God’s grace to settle in. Allow him to free you from works-based religion and guide you to a lifestyle of relationship. God is not an angry taskmaster who shows affection only when you succeed. He is a loving Father who will always love you no matter what. Take time to receive the depth of his love for you today. Allow his love to heal you, transform you, free you, and lead you to the abundant life he has always longed to give.

 

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

 

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16

2. Where do you need a fresh revelation of God’s grace today? What’s keeping you from receiving the depth of God’s love? In what ways do you need him to show you how good of a Father he truly is?

3. Ask the Spirit to give you a revelation of God’s grace and love for you. Receive God’s presence and rest in his love. Meditate on and renew your mind to how deeply your heavenly Father loves you.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

“So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

May the whole of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer be true in your life. May you come into the fullness of what Jesus died to give you. May your life be a wonderful reflection of his love. And may you experience the depth of his love for you in every season. You are a child of the Most High, loving God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love is powerful, real, and available. May your day be full of joy, peace, and purpose in light of God’s glorious grace.

 

Learn To Lean On Jesus

Bible Quotes, Verses, Prayers, Stories & More: The Daily Grace ...Pin by Ka Mathies on Inspire in 2020 (With images) | Spiritual ...
66 Bible Verses about the Spirit - DailyVerses.net66 Bible Verses about the Spirit - DailyVerses.net
535 Best Spiritual Life images | Spiritual life, Life, Spirituality33 Bible verses about Spiritual Life
Pin by The 700 Club on Spiritual Life (With images) | Christian ...Bible Verses About Life You Should Know

Learning to Lean Hard on Jesus … in Me

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)

As a young girl, I was deeply impressed by Solomon’s request for wisdom.

I read the Old Testament story of Solomon, the heir to his father King David’s throne. Following David’s death, Solomon became king and was overcome with the weight of his new responsibility. So Solomon asked God, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10, NIV). In response, God poured out His blessing on Solomon and granted him an abundance of wisdom and knowledge unmatched by any earthly king before or after him.

If Solomon could ask God to give him wisdom, then why couldn’t I do the same? So I began praying. Continually. Consistently. And I believe God has answered my prayer as I’ve opened my heart, mind and life to the One who is the Counselor: God’s Holy Spirit.

I’ve never been more grateful for the Counselor’s guidance than I was when I learned I had breast cancer last year. The diagnosis plunged me into a deep dependency on the Lord, caught up in a whole new world of options and decisions that would shape my journey through cancer treatment.

Not just in my cancer journey but also in my faith journey, I’ve realized every major decision — especially ones involving others — needs to be confirmed by Scripture to ensure I am indeed hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. Although I can never be absolutely certain I have heard the Spirit accurately, as I take Him at His Word and act on it by faith, the decision is confirmed by circumstances that follow and by confirmation within my own spirit.

Have I ever made wrong, unwise decisions? Oh my, yes!

The unwise ones loom so large in my memory that I can easily feel swept into a downward spiral. But I have learned, and am still learning, to lean hard on the Holy Spirit — my Counselor — even in letting go of the past. I’ve realized if God said, Anne, I forgive you, and He has, then who am I to say back to Him, Thank You, God, but I can’t forgive myself? Are my standards higher than His? So I’ve simply had to bow my head and allow His grace to wash over me.

The writer of Proverbs (which many believe was King Solomon) encourages us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). I must lean on Him in utter dependency as I intentionally, specifically and personally ask for His counsel, claiming His promise from James 1:5 that He gives wisdom without finding fault.

The best adviser, the best business manager, the best life coach is the Counselor God Himself. He is readily available. 24/7. Without charge. If we want to live our very best lives, we cannot go our own way, follow our own logic or somehow conclude we know best. If we follow the Spirit’s leading, there’s no reason to think we’ll end up with less than if we do it our way. Or that getting what we want will make us happier than what He wants. Or that we don’t need Him for every decision.

What do you need the Counselor for right now?

Are you confronting cancer, as I have, and the related choices of doctors, surgery, treatments and follow-up? Or maybe you need wisdom for other pending decisions? A relationship. Career. Education. Friendship.

Do you need direction? Discretion? Discernment? Deliverance? Talk to your Counselor. Pour out your heart. Be honest. Transparent. Lean hard on the One who is Jesus in you.

Never Out of the Game

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39 NASB)

In 1993, the Buffalo Bills played the Houston Oilers in the wildcard game of the American Football Conference playoffs. Minutes into the third quarter, the Bills were down 35 to 3. Slowly the seats cleared in Rich Stadium, Buffalo, New York, as disappointed Bills fans had given up and were heading home. Next, the unlikeliest of events occurred. In less than a quarter of gameplay, the Bills scored four straight touchdowns. In what remains the greatest comeback in NFL history, the Bills ended up winning in overtime, 41 to 38. Hearing of the Bills mounting comeback over the radio, hundreds of fans who had earlier left the game decided to return, climbing the stadium fences in time to see the closing minutes.

The Bills never gave up. A chief reason, for what has gone down in football legend as “The Comeback,” was the play of backup quarterback Frank Reich who threw for four touchdowns. Although a lesser-known fact, Reich also holds the record for the greatest comeback in college football. In 1984, he overcame a 31-point deficit in a win for the Maryland Terrapins.

Growing up a Bills fan, I’ll never forget “The Comeback.” Today, it’s not only football fans who are inspired by this iconic 1993 game. Hailed by some as the “comeback king” of football, Frank Reich is a dedicated believer and motivational speaker. He uses the legacy of his giant sports comebacks as keynotes in his speeches, giving God credit for his victories.

God has used the story of Reich’s come from behind wins on the playing field to inspire others to have faith and not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:16). Reich’s life and message taps into a profound truth lying at the heart of the Christian faith—with God on our side, we’re never out of the game.

Even though sometimes it seems we’re slipping or losing ground, with Jesus, defeat is never the end of the story. Despite our disappointments in life—be it a bad half of play in a sporting game or a missed opportunity in our home life, church, or the workplace—we needn’t lose hope. In fact, we have every reason to press forward and mount our own comeback when it seems everything is at a loss. When we glance at the scoreboard of life and think the game is over—it isn’t. The tomb is empty. He has risen. The only one defeated in this game is death. The eyes of faith always look ahead to a comeback win, as the love of Jesus overcomes every deficit.

 

Mary and Martha’s Vineyard

50+ Interesting Vineyard Photos Pexels · Free Stock Photos

Life gets busy. Really busy. We’re stretched in numerous directions while facing a litany of endless deadlines. It’s always something before we collapse into bed in the wee hours.

Martha knew all about this. The busy sister. The world can’t run without invested Marthas. God knows this and intentionally gave Marthas their drive. Male or female, this personality organizes, coordinates, produces and runs countries. Without Marthas, life would be disorganized and primary.

Mary knew about this too. The devoted sister. Same world can’t run without intuitive Marys. God likewise designed this personality and gave Marys their perception. They listen, observe, advise, and savor life’s beauty. Without Marys, life would be regimented and exhausting.

Marys need Marthas and Marthas need Marys. But both need The Vineyard.

The Bethany Sisters are meticulously highlighted for our review. Their types run throughout Scripture; however, Luke fastened them to parchment. Jesus was so comfortable with their polarized strengths that His itinerary wove its way to their doorstep. Chef Martha, Innkeeper Mary, and Concierge Lazarus made their Judean address a five-star stopover. The “Vineyard” was booked for a stayover.

The Vineyard. An enriched field brimming with hearty vines, guaranteed to produce under the watchful oversight of the Vinedresser. He’s careful to ensure mature fruit; requiring pruning for the best harvest and vitality of the plant. Strategic pruning, which while momentarily unpleasant, brings the Vinedresser in closest proximity to us.

It’s non-accidental to find ourselves with both sisters’ priorities. We locate Martha fluttering about her well-organized kitchen. The Master and Company have arrived and 13 hungry mouths await her culinary prowess. Lazarus readied foot washing for their guests while Mary stood alongside her sister cutting vegetables in preparation. Wrong. She’s seated at her place of joy: Christ’s feet. The heat of the kitchen caused more than the fire to flare.

…“Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Then tell her to help me.” Jesus answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed. And Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her.” Luke 10:40-42 (MEV)

Cue the 21st century. Texting, social media, 60-hour workweeks, aging parents, worn brake pads, family illnesses, missed deadlines, and more month than money. An overabundance of Martha maladies. And if we stop, dare to slow down, what disasters will result? Who’s going to complete it if we don’t do it ourselves as galvanized taskmasters?

God lovingly calls us out of our hot kitchens to the cool oasis of His presence. Offered long overdue relaxation, He motions to a soft pillow beside Him. It’s the only way to recalibrate from life’s demands, for our Good Shepherd knows we must be made to lie down in green pastures for soul restoration.

It’s true; mankind cannot live by bread alone. We’re not mere humans but spiritual beings as well; needing to feed on every word that proceeds from God’s mouth. Everyone must satiate the Mary factor woven into us that nourishes our deepest needs. Bake Martha’s bread and savor its provision, but the menu items of hungering and thirsting after righteousness hold utmost priority in God’s economy. This is the good part—Christ referenced to all Marthas—that cannot be taken away.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 (NASB)

The cares of this world will assuredly be overseen by its Creator, while He invites drinking deeply of His living water. Wisely invest in your Mary side. Your Martha is depending on it.

 

Streams in the Desert – June 1

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

The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. (Exod 14:15)

In the past he said to them, “This is where security can be found. Provide security for the one who is exhausted! This is where rest can be found.” But they refused to listen. (Isa 28:12)

Why dost thou worry thyself? What use can thy fretting serve? Thou art on board a vessel which thou couldst not steer even if the great Captain put thee at the helm, of which thou couldst not so much as reef a sail, yet thou worriest as if thou wert captain and helmsman. Oh, be quiet; God is Master!

Dost thou think that all this din and hurly-burly that is abroad betokens that God has left His throne?

No, man, His coursers rush furiously on, and His chariot is the storm; but there is a bit between their jaws, and He holds the reins, and guides them as He wills! Jehovah is Master yet; believe it; peace be unto thee! be not afraid.
–C. H. Spurgeon

“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
The storms are raging on God’s deep—
God’s deep, not thine; be still and sleep.

“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s hands shall still the tempter’s sweep—
God’s hands, not thine; be still and sleep.

“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s love is strong while night hours creep—
God’s love, not thine; be still and sleep.

“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s heaven will comfort those who weep—
God’s heaven, not thine; be still and sleep.”

I entreat you, give no place to despondency. This is a dangerous temptation—a refined, not a gross temptation of the adversary. Melancholy contracts and withers the heart, and renders it unfit to receive the impressions of grace. It magnifies and gives a false coloring to objects, and thus renders your burdens too heavy to bear. God’s designs regarding you, and His methods of bringing about these designs, are infinitely wise.
–Madame Guyon

The Lord Is Merciful And Gracious

25 Best Grace Bible Verses – Encouraging ScriptureTop 10 Bible Verses About Mercy With Commentary
12 Bible Verses About Mercy: Learn About God's Mercy and Love12 Bible Verses About God's Mercy to Help You Deeply Feel His ...
Pin on Inspirational quotes8 Best Mercy Bible Verses - Encouraging Scripture
27 Bible Verses about Mercy - DailyVerses.net25 Bible Verses on the Mercy of God - YouTube

Waves of Mercy

Picture for a moment the scene of ocean waves continually rolling onto a long sandy beach. The Lord recently revealed to me that His mercy is exactly like those waves, constant and never ceasing.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says,

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” (NLT) 

Without the mercy of God, we’d be finished. For God in His anger can be as fierce as a hurricane and then in His mercy become like a peaceful ocean wave.

God loves us so much and is saddened when we intentionally do things contrary to His will. The pain isn’t surface level with God, but cuts deep within.

Do you remember how crushed you felt the last time a loved one hurt you? If you are like me, you were highly disappointed at their neglect for your feelings. We’ve all been there before. Then, while you might have been angry with the person who wronged you, you were also willing to forgive them because of their heartfelt apology.

Now, by placing God in the same scenario, perhaps we can gain a better understanding of the Father’s heart. Yes, God desires to demonstrate His mercy in our lives. His mercy gives us another chance even after we’ve blown it.

The awesome thing about God is to know what He says in 1 John 1:9,

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (NLT)  

I personally enjoy being at the coast and relaxing to the sound of waves crashing upon the seashore. Whenever I return from spending time there, I am always refreshed and renewed. The ocean can be a treacherous place, but it also shares similar characteristics with its Creator. Everything on earth carries evidence of God’s character and handiwork; however, to me, the ocean is one of the greatest representatives in all of creation. As with God, the ocean is a source of life, strength, and tranquility.

Ocean waves, in particular, are truly amazing. Each time a wave washes up on the beach it carries away a portion of sand from one place to another. As a result, the waves, sand, and beach will always change. God deals with our sin in the same way the ocean deals with sand. He washes over us with His waves of mercy and takes away our sins.

Audio Adrenaline illustrates this clearly in a segment of their song, Ocean Floor: The lyrics speak of the songwriter’s sins, how they haunt him and are ugly. Then it makes the analogy of these sins being washed away by large ocean waves (God’s forgiveness) and they are as gone as the ocean floor is when wiped away by the churning surf.

Every day, God wants us to truly experience His mercy and do what 1 Chronicles 16:34 tells us,

 

Our God of Mercy

From: INTouch, ministries
Psalm 145:8-21

God isn’t stingy with mercy. The sunshine you enjoy on a beautiful day also warms everyone else in your area. Good health, jobs, education, families, and friends are all the result of God’s mercy over His creation. Even those who don’t recognize or thank Him for His goodness are recipients of it. However, His universal mercy is only temporal and cannot save anyone eternally.

There’s a limit to God’s mercy because it cannot contradict His other attributes—like holiness, righteousness, and justice. Sin must be punished in order for God to remain just. And without justice, mercy and forgiveness would be meaningless. This dilemma was the reason Jesus Christ came to earth to die: He satisfied God’s justice by bearing the penalty for our sins.

Although God offers the mercy of salvation to all through the gospel of Jesus Christ, only those who accept Him by faith receive it. Yet so many think lightly of divine kindness, tolerance, and patience; they fail to realize that these blessings should draw them to repentance (Rom. 2:4). These people trample underfoot His mercy and continue on their merry way, oblivious to the fact that justice, not mercy, awaits them in eternity.

Even believers can abuse God’s plentiful mercy by engaging in deliberate sin while telling themselves, “He’ll forgive me.” But as the ones who are redeemed and given eternal life, we should be overwhelmed with love and gratitude for what Christ did. Giving up the heavenly rights, authority, and comforts due the sinless Son of God, Jesus came and suffered divine justice for our sins so we could receive His Father’s mercy.

 

How to Rely on God Through Difficult Times

By: Joyce Meyer

Do you remember the last time you experienced a challenging or difficult situation? Maybe you’re in the middle of one right now. We usually don’t get excited about going through them. In fact, when trouble comes, we sometimes ask, “Why is this happening?”

 

Many times, things happen that we simply don’t understand. But that’s okay—God doesn’t expect us to have everything figured out. We can trust that He knows and will take care of everything. He wants us to look to Him and say, “God, I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I’m trusting You to take care of me.”

The truth is, when we are facing difficult situations that we don’t understand, one of the best things we can do is to trust God. It allows Him to take the wrong things that have happened and work them out for our benefit. Romans 8:28 (NIV) says, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

We can trust that He is with us through every challenge we face, and we are ultimately going to come out stronger in the end.

Over the years, God has taught me so much about what it means to trust Him. For example, years ago, I really had to trust God when He told me to quit my job so I could stay home and study God’s Word more. Even though God was preparing me for full-time ministry, it was hard because we were short $40 each month of what we needed just to pay our monthly bills.

For six years, we had to have a miracle every month in our finances, and it didn’t make any sense to me at all why it was taking so long for our breakthrough. But God was teaching me how to trust Him for everything. I look back now and know that God was using this situation for my good and preparing me to do what I’m doing in ministry now.

Getting Comfortable with Not Knowing

I have learned from personal experience that putting my trust in God means there will be some unanswered questions. That was a hard lesson for me because I naturally want to understand everything…to know what’s going on so I can feel like I’m in control.

It’s just human nature to try and figure things out. So, when we’re in the middle of a situation, we can quickly find ourselves trying to reason our way through it. We generally want to know “Why, God, why?” or “When, God, when?” We want to know now how everything is going to work out.

But when we trust God, we have to get comfortable with not knowing everything—not knowing how God is going to accomplish what needs to be done and not knowing when He will do it.

Instead, God wants to direct our paths (see Psalm 23:3; Psalm 37:23), and that means He sometimes leads us in ways that don’t make sense to us. If we try to figure everything out, we will experience struggle and confusion. But there is a better way.

Instead, we can completely lean on Him, believing He wants what’s best for us. I know it’s easier said than done, especially when “life” happens—when we can’t quite see how everything’s going to work out and we’re tempted to take matters into our own hands.

But Proverbs 3:5-8 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight…

Entering God’s Rest

Saying we trust God is one thing, but when we really trust Him and lean on Him, we enter His rest. It’s a special kind of rest that you can have even in the middle of difficult circumstances. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to have all the answers, but you are trusting God to take care of you.

Most of us have spent our lives trying to take care of ourselves, but we must learn to trust our lives to His care. When we try to do things in our own strength and leave God out, we just get worn-out and frustrated. But when we fully lean on God, it brings us His peace. When we stop trying to figure everything out, God can be God in our life.

I want to encourage you to trust God completely in every area of your life. Remember that He is always on your side and He is fighting for you as you go through the challenges in your life. He loves you and has your best interest at heart at all times, and He is close to you when you’re hurting most (Psalm 34:18).

 

Streams in the Desert – May 31

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

You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season. (Job 5:26)

A gentleman, writing about the breaking up of old ships, recently said that it is not the age alone which improves the quality of the fiber in the wood of an old vessel, but the straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and of many kinds of cargoes.

Some planks and veneers made from an oak beam which had been part of a ship eighty years old were exhibited a few years ago at a fashionable furniture store on Broadway, New York, and attracted general notice for the exquisite coloring and beautiful grain.

Equally striking were some beams of mahogany taken from a bark which sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years and the traffic had contracted the pores and deepened the color, until it looked as superb in its chromatic intensity as an antique Chinese vase. It was made into a cabinet, and has today a place of honor in the drawing-room of a wealthy New York family.

So there is a vast difference between the quality of old people who have lived flabby, self-indulgent, useless lives, and the fiber of those who have sailed all seas and carried all cargoes as the servants of God and the helpers of their fellow men.

Not only the wrenching and straining of life, but also something of the sweetness of the cargoes carried get into the very pores and fiber of character.
—Louis Albert Banks

When the sun goes below the horizon he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure. And when a great and good man sets, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goes he leaves behind him much of himself. Being dead, he speaks.
—Beecher

When Victor Hugo was past eighty years of age he gave expression to his religious faith in these sublime sentences: “I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest which has been more than once cut down. The new shoots are livelier than ever. I am rising toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but Heaven lights me with its unknown worlds.

“You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets, and the roses as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple.”

God Will Give Beauty For Ashes

Isaiah 61 :: NIV. and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

 

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Hand written on 5 x 7 decorative paper using watercolor and ...HE GAVE ME BEAUTY FOR ASHES

Isaiah 61:3 Beauty for Ashes, Bible Verse, Orchid Postcard | Zazzle ...Daily Prayer Isaiah 61:3 | Daily Bible Verse
BEAUTY FOR ASHES - R. J. Stevens MusicBeauty For Ashes!” – Word For Life Says…
The Word For The Day Quotes, bible verse, bible quote, christian ...Isaiah 61:3 Beauty for Ashes, Bible Verse, Orchid Ceramic Tile ...

 

 

God Can Bring Beauty from Ashes

By: Debbie McDaniel   Crosswalk.com

 

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3 KJV

Throughout the Bible and ancient practices, ashes have often been the symbol of deep repentance and grief.

As the days of Lent are acknowledged each year, we see all around us the visual reminders of ashes on foreheads, and we are reminded of this one Truth, “…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Gen. 3:19

Not exactly a nice, happy thought to get your day going. But the reality of it all sinks in deep. Because, as many of us know, life is not always “happy.”

Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s dark. And it leaves its mark, like ashes of grief, in the deepest parts of our souls, where no one but God can really see.

You may understand if you’ve ever felt these ashes:

  • You’ve ever lost a loved one or had to say good-bye too soon, left to journey through dark days of grief, wondering if you’d ever be able to carry on without them at your side…
  • You’ve ever received a hard diagnosis, faced the fear of the unknown, and felt the effects of disease and pain…
  • You’ve ever set at the bedside of a dying friend, and held a hand that once was strong, whose life had been cut short from the ravages of cancer…
  • You’ve ever been to a funeral for a sweet baby, or a precious child, and watched endless tears flow from hurting souls of a Mama and Daddy….
  • You’ve ever been deeply wounded, betrayed, abused, or mistreated…
  • You’ve ever walked through the fire of hard situations and wondered if you’d come out the other side…

Yes, it’s true, life is not always happy. It’s not always easy. It deals harshly sometimes, it seems unfair, and we may wonder where God is, or why He didn’t stop that difficult event or illness from happening.

Job was there too. This righteous man who loved and honored God. Yet he lost everything. It crumbled around him, all he held dear. And he knew without God, he was nothing. And we find him in the beginning of the book of Job, “…he sat in the ashes.” Job 2:8

Daniel was there. He and the people had suffered under captivity, he prayed to God on behalf of his people, that God would have mercy. He repented, and confessed his own sin, his deep need for Him. He knew where true strength and help came from, “Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3

Tamar was there. She had trusted and yet was betrayed. David’s own daughter had been taken advantage of, raped, and she was left on her own, alone, with no hope for her future, to pick up the broken pieces of shattered life. “And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went.” 2 Sam. 13:19

And they may have wondered too…

Where was God in it all? Where is He now? Deep grief, crime, captivity, illness, death of loved ones, shattered hope, and broken dreams?

What Beauty for Ashes Really Means:

His Truth says this: He was there. In the midst of it all.

And though we may not always see it, or feel it, or even understand it, we can know beyond a doubt, that He is now. Still. He is with us.

“To provide for those who grieve…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” Isaiah 61:3

For He will never leave us or forsake us, His love for us in greater than we could ever imagine, though we live in a world where we face trouble many days.

Jesus reminds us in John 16:33“In this world you will have trouble, but take courage, for I have overcome the world.”

And that’s the key to the ashes that cover our days in this life. The deeper Truth that shines through every bit of our grief, and pain, and sin, is this, Christ came to set us free. Christ came to redeem. Christ came to bring hope. Christ came to bring beauty from ashes.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Is. 61:1-3

He never intends for us to stay stuck in our sin, pain, or deep sorrow. He heals and restores, He calls us onward, He reminds us that in Him, we have great purpose and hope.

There’s beauty and greatness behind every mark of darkness. The ashes will fall away, they don’t stay forever, but His greatness and glory shine forever through every broken place and flaw we’ve struggled through.

He conquered death. He lives forever. He reigns in glory. And we have victory in Him.

Take courage dear friends who are facing deep battles. He is greater than any enemy we face in this life. We overcome because He has overcome and our lives are hidden in Christ. May God cover you with peace, may He bring healing in the face of hard news, may He bring deep, abiding joy that makes no sense to the world, may He bring comfort and care as He wraps you in His arms. The God of miracles fights for you today, and He is Mighty.

There’s still beauty ahead…straight out of ashes. Christ redeems. Grace.

 

Finding Beauty in the Mess

“To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness …” Isaiah 61:3a (TLB)

“Heather, I’m so sorry to tell you this, but it seems as though you will not be able to have children naturally.”

My doctor’s words pierced my already wounded heart and quickly made their way through my body threatening to consume me. He continued to explain how the previous tests and procedures had led him to this conclusion, but I’d already heard all I needed to hear … I wanted to get out of there. The next thing I remember was walking through the sea of pregnant women in the waiting area and rushing for the door.

Once my feet hit the sidewalk, I gasped for air, crying hysterically. I made my way to my car, the world before me a hopeless blur. When I arrived home I collapsed on my bed, desperate for God, but too broken to pray.

Three years on this painful path of infertility lead me to a seemingly hopeless place. I was certain there was only one way for me to become a mother. With the confirmation of my broken womb, I mourned the loss of my fertility and watched my dreams burn up around me until all that remained was a pile of ashes … it was my worst-case scenario.

But here’s the thing about our worst-case scenarios: They are powerless against an all-powerful God.

Ten years have passed since that dark day.

This morning, like most mornings, the pitter-patter of tiny feet making their way across the hardwood floors woke me. I sat up in bed and was promptly tackled by my curly haired, sparkly girl: “Good morning mommy!”

Before I could respond, two more sets of happy eyes and wiggly limbs climbed onto my bed, forcing me to lie back down for morning snuggles.

You see, I thought there was only one way for me to become a mom. But in the ashes of my pain and desperation, small bright green buds began sprouting up all around me. As God set me on a path toward adoption, I soon found strength in place of my fear.

Over the years, as I brought not one, not two, but three children home to be mine, the gladness of motherhood overshadows the mourning of infertility. And on days like today, as I lie in the very bed where I once wept out of desperation, I am overwhelmed with peace.

The truth is: This one beautiful life we get to live is messy. So often we trip over our hopes and desires, only to fall into the messes we’ve been avoiding all along. What I’m discovering is when we fall into the very mess we hoped to avoid, we often find God’s goodness there.

My three children may not have my eyes, but they do have my heart and call me Mom. And they have shown me that my finite plans will always be overshadowed by an infinite God.

Maybe today you find yourself sitting in a pile of ashes, feeling desperate. While our hopes and desires and plans for our lives are finite, an infinite God Who loves us can take our messiest messes and make something beautiful.

Streams in the Desert – May 30

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

And they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth. (Rev 14:3)

There are songs which can only be learned in the valley. No art can teach them; no rules of voice can make them perfectly sung. Their music is in the heart. They are songs of memory, of personal experience. They bring out their burden from the shadow of the past; they mount on the wings of yesterday.

St. John says that even in Heaven there will be a song that can only be fully sung by the sons of earth—the strain of redemption. Doubtless it is a song of triumph, a hymn of victory to the Christ who made us free. But the sense of triumph must come from the memory of the chain.

No angel, no archangel can sing it so sweetly as I can. To sing it as I sing it, they must pass through my exile, and this they cannot do. None can learn it but the children of the Cross.

And so, my soul, thou art receiving a music lesson from thy Father. Thou art being educated for the choir invisible. There are parts of the symphony that none can take but thee.

There are chords too minor for the angels. There may be heights in the symphony which are beyond the scale—heights which angels alone can reach; but there are depths which belong to thee, and can only be touched by thee.

Thy Father is training thee for the part the angels cannot sing; and the school is sorrow. I have heard many say that He sends sorrow to prove thee; nay, He sends sorrow to educate thee, to train thee for the choir invisible.

In the night He is preparing thy song. In the valley He is tuning thy voice. In the cloud He is deepening thy chords. In the rain He is sweetening thy melody. In the cold He is moulding thy expression. In the transition from hope to fear He is perfecting thy lights.

Despise not thy school of sorrow, O my soul; it will give thee a unique part in the universal song.
—George Matheson

“Is the midnight closing round you?
Are the shadows dark and long?
Ask Him to come close beside you,
And He’ll give you a new, sweet song.
He’ll give it and sing it with you;
And when weakness lets it down,
He’ll take up the broken cadence,
And blend it with His own.

 

Elijah’s appeal to the undecided

By: Charles Spurgeon

“How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: if Baal, then follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21

Suggested Further Reading: John 13:12-19

I insist that it is your bounden duty, if you believe in God, simply because he is God, to serve him and obey him. I do not tell you it is for your advantage—it may be, I believe it is—but that I put aside from the question; I demand of you that you follow God, if you believe him to be God. If you do not think he is God; if you really think that the devil is God, then follow him; his pretended godhead shall be your plea, and you shall be consistent; but if God be God, if he made you, I demand that you serve him; if it is he who puts the breath into your nostrils, I demand that you obey him. If God be really worthy of worship, and you really think so, I demand that you either follow him, or else deny that he is God at all. Now, professor, if thou sayest that Christ’s gospel is the only gospel, if thou believest in the divinity of the gospel, and puttest thy trust in Christ, I demand of thee to follow out the gospel, not merely because it will be to thy advantage, but because the gospel is divine. If thou makest a profession of being a child of God, if thou art a believer, and thinkest and believest religion is the best, the service of God most desirable, I do not come to plead with thee because of any advantage thou wouldst get by being holy; it is on this ground that I put it, that the Lord is God; and if he be God, it is thy business to serve him. If his gospel be true, and thou believest it to be true, it is thy duty to carry it out.

For meditation: Four things God will not accept—hypocrisy (Luke 6:46), half-heartedness (Luke 9:59-62), double-mindedness (James 1:6-8) and lukewarmness (Revelation 3:15,16).

Jesus Is The Resurrection And The Life

The most important events in human history are the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. … Jesus made this wonderfully profound statement that changed the world, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25). The resurrection is our great hope.

 

The Story of Lazarus Bible Study GuideThis is a painting of the resurrection of Lazarus. He was buried ...
Into The King's Garden: Lazarus Came Forth & So Did OthersLazarus Raised from the Dead - Bible Story Verses & Summary
Easter Quotes. Easter Bible Verses. Family Devotional.Resurrection Topical Sermon Ideas, Bible Verses and Quotations ...
Easter Bible Verses: 7 Scriptures About The Resurrection of Jesus ...21 Bible verses about Resurrection, Of The Dead

Come Out from the Tomb

Have you ever felt as though the burdens you encounter and the cares of the world have drawn the very life out of you? Well, I have good news for you! God wants you to “come out from the tomb.”

He wants to raise you from the dead and give you new hope and strength to endure the difficulties of life.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 (NIV)

We entomb ourselves with the sins of the world, allowing our lives to be wrapped in the shroud of despair. Because we have forsaken the “joy of the Lord,” we no longer have the strength to fight!

“This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b (NIV)

“The king rejoices in your strength, Lord. How great is his joy in the victories you give!” Psalm 21:1 (NIV)

As we continue in this state, we begin to grieve for who we once were in Him. We long for the sweet communion that once bloomed in our hearts. The merriment of that relationship is lost and the door to the tomb begins to close. Our worship no longer smells sweet but is a disappointing odor to God and those around us.

Our God is very capable of raising the dead and bringing complete restoration in our lives just as He raised Lazarus from the dead. He had to come out from the tomb.

Sometimes God allows us to be placed in the tomb to serve as a testimony to others when He brings us out.

“Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.” John 12:17 (NIV)

This is relative to my situation when suddenly I was thrust into the role of a single parent. I allowed the sins of worry, unbelief, and doubt to take control. There was no joy in my life and depression allowed me to die. It was impossible to help anyone else because there wasn’t enough strength to help myself. Now the door to my tomb was closed.

As I lay there in my state of lonely depression, God ministered to my heart that He was there. He promised that He would never leave nor forsake me. Immediately, strength came back into my soul.

The stone to my tomb rolled back as He whispered Romans 8:28 in my heart:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)

God used my situation as a witness to encourage others by giving them hope to live. We must focus our attention on Him, so we, like Lazarus, will be able to hear His voice when He calls: “Come out from the tomb.”

No matter what your affliction or bondage is, God is able to raise you from the dead spiritually. When we place our faith and trust in Him, as we lie silently beneath the cares of life, He will do for us just as He did with Jesus. He will raise us from the dead, roll away the stone and say, “Come out from the tomb” and live.

 

What Does Jesus Mean When He Says, “I am the resurrection and the life” in John 11:25?

By:  Meg BucherWriter , Author, crosswalk.com

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” John 11:25

Our Savior came to earth to testify to God’s Truth, His Truth. And in doing so as a human He chose to feel what we feel. Jesus’ life on earth, death on the cross, and resurrection, was and is the way God chooses to shower mercy on us. God, who is love, sacrificed His Son in the greatest act of love the world will ever know. John, self-proclaimed, “one who Jesus loved,” was Christ’s earthly best friend. Much like the way he saw himself changed because of Jesus, his Gospel brings the love God has for us, and the way He sees us, to life. We are all the ones Jesus loves!

John leaned on his Savior at the Last Supper. His Gospel account is rich with the friendship the two men shared. As John retells the story of Jesus raising His friend Lazarus from the dead, he camps out on a pivotal Gospel truth. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. It is in Jesus, we find true life and resurrection from the death our sins warrant. As believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died for our sins and was raised from the dead, we are raised to new life in Christ.

Who Is the Resurrection and the Life in John’s Gospel?

Life is a major theme and concept of John’s Gospel. The word life occurs 36 times in his Gospel compared to no more than 17 in any of the other Gospel accounts. “Jesus did not merely have the power to resurrect,” Moody Bible Commentary explains, “His claim I am the resurrection and the life makes Him the very source of resurrection and all life.” John recorded seven, notably the Biblical number signifying perfection, of Jesus’ profound “I am” statements:

“I am the Bread of Life.” (John 6:35)

“I am the Light of the World.” (John 8:129:5)

“I am the Gate.” (John 10:7)

“I am the Good Shepherd.” (John 10:11,14)

“I am the Resurrection and the Life.” (John 11:25)

“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6)

“I am the True Vine.” (John 15:1)

Out of the seven, three contain the word “life:” “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35); “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” (John 11:25)and “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. “All of God’s sovereignty is mediated through Christ, and it hinges on his power over death in his resurrection,” preached John Piper. One person of our Triune God, Jesus, came to earth fulfilling over 300 Old Testament prophecies with His birth alone. “Everyone who lives refers to one’s physical life since it is followed by and believes in Me,” Moody Bible Commentary explains, “Only in this life does one have the chance to believe in Christ (Hebrews 9:27).”

The New Testament contains four Gospel accounts, all of which focus mostly on the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. John’s purpose is clear: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)“Life is Christ’s gift (John 10:28and he, in fact, is ‘the life’ (John 14:6),” explains the NIV Study Bible, “Life in living fellowship with God- both now and forever.

The Meaning and Context of John 11:25, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life”

Jesus had friends during His life on earth. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were among His close friends. At this point in John’s narrative, Jesus receives word that Lazarus is sick and dying. Instead of rushing to His friend’s side with a miraculous healing, Jesus stays back for two more days. “This sickness will not end in death,” Jesus said, “No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). When He finally arrives, Mary and Martha are distraught. Martha tries to piece together what she knows about Jesus and His teachings but struggles to fully understand why Jesus didn’t come before her brother died. “Jesus comforts Martha in her grief and gives her an eternal hope all because she stopped to listen to what He had to say,” wrote Yvonne Morgan for Beloved Women.

Our Savior weeps with us. He truly knows how we feel. At the sight of His friends’ pain, He felt sadness. Though He must have known it would cause His friends pain, Jesus was always obedient to His Father in Heaven. Everything He said and did glorified God the Father. He raised Lazarus from the dead with a command, and suddenly the truth becomes clearer for those who witnessed him walk out of the tomb.

“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40

There are seven signs in the Gospel of John, one of them being Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead: Changing water into wine (John 2:1-11); healing an official’s son (John 4:43-54); healing a disabled man at the Bethesda pool (John 5:1-15); feeding the 5, 000 (John 6:1-14); walking on water (John 6:16-21); healing the man born blind (John 9:1-12); and raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44) (NIV Study Bible notes on Jn 11:25). Lazarus had been dead for days. In fact, his sister warned Him of the smell as Jesus approached the tomb. “Only as we confront the reality of death will we appreciate the hope of the resurrection,” wrote Constantine Campbell for desiringGod, “There is nothing like death to make us desire resurrection.”

Many had seen His miracles, including Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. But to raise someone from the dead was a possibility that escaped them. At one point, Martha says to Jesus: “…if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:21-22). When Jesus tells her that her brother will rise again  (John 11:23), Martha repeats what she knows of Jesus’ teachings but still fails to connect them to who He is: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” And to that, Jesus replied: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Raising the dead is something only God is capable of. “Jesus raises the dead because he is the resurrection,” preached John Piper. Jesus not only gives resurrection and life, He is Resurrection and Life. “Our ultimate hope,” John Piper explains, “is not simply to be with Christ in immaterial existence, but to have resurrected bodies.” He was with God in the beginning (Genesis 1 and John 1), came to earth to live, died on the cross, and was raised to life; He now sits at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is eternal, which is what we become … in Him.

 

Jesus Is the Resurrection and the Life

By: John Piper, desiringgod.com

John’s Gospel told us last week that the reason Jesus did not go to heal Lazarus when he heard he was sick was because he loved him and his sisters Mary and Martha. He would stay where he was, and let Lazarus die, because he loved them. Verses 5–6: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So [therefore!], when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

And the explanation that Jesus gave for how letting him die was love came in verse 4: “This illness does not lead to death [though he will die, that’s not the goal or the point]. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” In other words, it was more loving to put Lazarus through death and his sisters through grief, if that would reveal more of God’s glory to them and more of the glory of Christ. Jesus loves us by showing us himself.

Receiving Grace in Seeing Jesus

“Jesus loves us by showing us himself.”

This is absolutely fundamental to the main purpose of this Gospel — and the whole Bible. In John 1:14–16, John writes, “The Word [the eternal Son of God] became flesh [became human] and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Then in verse 16, he relates the demonstration of that divine glory to us. Verse 16: “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” So the pattern is this: Jesus reveals his divine glory — glory as of the only Son from the Father — and we behold it, and from its fullness we receive grace.

So the incarnate revealing of the glory of God in Christ, climaxing with the cross and the resurrection, and our seeing it is the way we receive grace — that is, the way we are saved and receive all the promises of eternal life.

How Jesus Loves Us

So this whole Gospel is built around revelations of the glory of God in Jesus. And what we saw last week is this new emphasis that this is the way Jesus loves us. He does not mainly love us in this life by sparing us suffering and death. He mainly loves us by showing us and giving us himself and his glory. God loves us mainly by giving us himself and all that he is for us in Jesus. Jesus loves us mainly by giving us himself and all that God is for us in him.

Don’t measure the love of God for you by how much health and wealth and comfort he brings into your life. If that were the measure of God’s love, then he hated the apostle Paul. Measure God’s love for you by how much of himself he shows you. How much of himself he gives you to know and enjoy.

God’s Love in Giving Himself to Us

Before we see all this worked out in Bethany (verses 17–44), consider two confirmations from two other texts. For example, someone might say: but when I think of the love of God I think of John 3:16. Me too. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God’s love is the gift of eternal life at the cost of his Son. Yes. Yes. Yes!

But what is the heart and essence of eternal life? Jesus tells in John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” The essence of eternal life is the never-ending knowing of God the Father and God the Son. For God so loved the world, that at the cost of his Son’s life, he brought us into an everlasting knowing, admiring, loving, enjoying of himself and Jesus. The love of God is the gift of himself. And the greatness of that love increases in proportion to the greatness of his glory.

Jesus’s Love in Manifesting Himself to Us

And here’s a second confirmation that we are on the right track. In John 14:21, Jesus says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” What a wonderful statement! “I will love you, and manifest myself to you.” That is how I will love you.

“The love of God is the gift of his glorious self.”

Oh, how many of us can testify to this reality with thankfulness and joy. In the days of suffering and loss, in the days of darkness, and when it seemed that all around our souls would give way, Jesus loved us — not first by taking away the suffering or the loss or the darkness, but first by giving us himself in ways that could not have been ours without this painful season. If you demand that God love you the way the world expects to be loved in this life, you won’t know what it is to really be loved by God. The love of God is the gift of his glorious self.

Because he loved Lazarus and Mary and Martha, he stayed two days longer and let them walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and then went and showed them his glory.

So let’s go with him.

Invincible Until the Cross

In verse 7, he says, “Let’s go.” And his disciples remind him in verse 8 that just a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to kill him. Are you sure? After last weekend’s message, several of you have asked me about Jesus’s strange answer in verses 9–10. He says, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

What’s he saying? They say, “If you go to Judea, you’re going to run into a mob and get stoned.” And Jesus says, “No, I won’t. There are twelve hours in the day, and I am going to walk in the light of that day. And so I won’t be in the dark, and so I won’t stumble into a stoning mob. I will arrive at my appointment with the cross exactly when I intend to — at the end of that day.”

Be Grateful When God Blesses You

2 Corinthians 9:8-10 NIV

8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”Psalm 112:9 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

Bible Verses About Blessings - Blessings From GodBible Verses About Blessing From God: The Way to Be Blessed by God
 Pin on jesus.1 John 4: 15-16 God is Love - Blessings and Joy
80 Bible Verses about Blessing - DailyVerses.netBible Verses About Blessings: 20 Good Scripture Quotes
 20 Bible verses about God Swearing Blessings80 Bible Verses about Blessing - DailyVerses.net

The Blessing

Mr. Spock, of Star Trek fame, would raise his hand and say “Live long and prosper.”

This “Vulcan salute,” as it has come to be called, was invented on the set of Star Trek by actor Leonard Nimoy during the filming of the second-season opener, “Amok Time.” What the people didn’t know was that the Vulcan greeting came from Leonard Nimoy’s real-life Jewish heritage. He took it from the ancient blessing the Jewish Priests would bestow upon the Israelites.

The Bible says,

“Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: ‘May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.’ Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.” (Numbers 6:23-27 NLT)

The actual blessing is done with both arms held horizontally in front, at shoulder level, with hands touching, to form the Hebrew letter “shin.” This stands for the Hebrew word for “Shaddai”, meaning “Almighty [God].”

With the hand symbol, the priest was putting the name of God on the people, sealing it upon them.

This is a special blessing God wants all of us to receive. This blessing is so important because it covers us completely in every area of our life, spiritually and materially.

This blessing is so specific that God commanded the Priests to bless the people not using their own words, but rather using an exact formulation for the blessing, prefacing the instruction with the words: “Thus shall you bless.”

This reveals that the blessing comes from the LORD Himself; the priests were a means for transmitting His gracious will. Now that we have Jesus, our Messiah, our Savior, we know that He is The High Priest and that His sacrifice has made it possible for us to enter boldly before God.

So today we can pray, petition, and speak blessings knowing that our voice will be heard, and our words will be fruitful before the Lord our Creator, because of Jesus.

As we continue to study the Priestly Blessing we learn that the people accepted the blessing and responded. So how do we receive and respond to a blessing from our Heavenly Father? We anticipate His blessing with a thankful heart and declare that His Word is so. Here is the blessing that the priests recited, along with the response of the people.

PRIEST: May the LORD bless you and protect you.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

PRIEST: May the LORD shine His face to you and be gracious to you.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

PRIEST: May the LORD turn (or lift up) His face to you and give to you peace.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

You may ask, what does a Jewish blessing have to do with me?

The Bible says,

“And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you” (Galatians 3:29NLT).

So that means that all of God’s blessings are for us to obtain because Jesus paid the ultimate price. Everything he promised pertains to all of His children.

So let us expect the blessings from God and enjoy His goodness. Be thankful for the gift of His Son Jesus, which is His greatest blessing to us each day of our lives.

 

5 Truths about God’s Blessings Over You
By:  Lisa Apella

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

The people of Israel had been camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai for almost a year after leaving Egypt. They had received God’s 10 commandments and his full law and built the tabernacle according to God’s precise instructions.

Now, on the cusp of moving toward the promised land and going into battle, God commanded the high priest Aaron to pronounce this blessing over the people. Because we hear these words recited so often, we can lose the awe that God would bless so extravagantly. Let’s dig out 5 truths in God’s blessing over you.

1.God is the source of all blessing. Although often referred to as the priestly or Aaronic blessing, these words weren’t written by men. They are God’s words spoken through his priests to his people. God is a God who blesses. In fact, when God created Adam and Eve, the first thing He did was to bless them. {Gen 1:28} And the last thing Jesus did? He blessed his apostles. As Jesus was taken into heaven, he was blessing his apostles. {Luke 24:50-51}

While these words are often spoken as a prayer or petition, there is no “will you” or “may you” found here. God has proclaimed this blessing and has commanded that it be spoken over His people.

2. God blesses us personally. Six times, these verses repeat “you” and each time it is in the singular form. Rather than blessing Israel corporately in these verses, God of the universe blesses each one personally. In a crowd of more than 2 million, God saw each one. God sees you. God knows you intimately, cares for you individually and blesses you personally.

3. God bends down to benefit us.The Hebrew word for bless means to kneel down. Used metaphorically here, it shows that God bends down to give us Himself and with that, all of His benefits – His faithfulness, mercy, forgiveness, grace, love, comfort, joy, hope, guidance, redemption, adoption, acceptance and more. Ephesians 1:3 tells us we have every spiritual blessing through Jesus. Because God is infinite, we can never reach the end of His blessing.

4. God blesses as a father to his child. How can God lift His countenance upon us if He is in heaven and we are on earth? Doesn’t he look down upon us? These words are a picture of a father lifting his child in his arms above him. Just as that father lifts up his beaming face to that child, God shines His full pleasure, His full goodwill, and His full joy over you as His child.

5. God’s blessing brings peace.Who doesn’t want peace? But God’s peace is more than the absence of strife. The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, stems from the word which means restoration back to the original state. God’s peace means not just harmony, but completeness and wholeness, rest and welfare, soundness and safety.

Take heart today. In a world that is often hard and chaotic, God has bent down to bless you personally. God of infinite benefits gives them to you. And though the world may frown, God’s beaming countenance is upon you. Today, child, walk in the fullness of Your Father’s extravagant blessing.

 

Third Level Blessing

While attending a Ministering Spiritual Gifts Conference, I heard a teaching by Apostle John Burkholder of Buffalo, NY, who taught on Luke 6:38:

“Give and it will be given to you a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

He says he regularly prays Luke 6:38 over his personal offerings. One day, as he prayed this verse, God told him he was praying it wrong. Apostle John asked, “How?” The Lord stated it was not enough to pray for his offering to blessed, but he needed to pray for those who were to bless him, that they would be blessed to be able to give. Then the Lord took it to another level, not only was he to pray for blessings for those who were to bless to him, but also pray for those who were to bless the givers, so that they could bless him.

This is a third level blessing, going beyond simple addition into multiplication of blessings. God is a God of multiplication. We see this at creation; God commanded every living thing to be fruitful and multiply (not add).

This is true in blessings as well as praying for others to be blessed. If we pray in the matter stated above, our blessings will be multiplied as well. So as you give your tithes and offerings, pray for those who are to give to you to be blessed, then for those who are to bless them to receive a blessing.

I prayed over my offering that afternoon and on Sunday at church. My wife has had some physical issues keeping her from working for more than two years. (God has been faithful in His provision for us). We and her doctors agreed that she should apply for disability. So, she filled out all the paperwork and submitted it. Her claim was promptly rejected. She appealed and was scheduled for an appeals hearing on the next Tuesday.

At the hearing, I was told I could say nothing, so I just sat there and prayed quietly in the Spirit. The judge said it appeared my wife qualified for disability and we would be notified in seven to 10 days of his decision. We were excited and praised God.

Three days later, our attorney called with the news that the judge’s decision had already been given and he ruled in our favor! She stated it would be at least two months before we received any back payments (two years’ worth) and then we’d receive monthly checks. We again rejoiced.

Then, one week later, the lawyer called saying she did not understand it, but the check was already processed and mailed. We were stunned. We received a check for two years’ worth of back payments. Praise the Lord! A manmade timetable of over 70 days was reduced to 10 days! We tithed on what we received and I again prayed over it and am waiting to see what God does.

I want to encourage you, when you give your tithes and offerings, pray for God’s blessing. Then go beyond that and pray for others to be blessed so they can bless you. Finally, take it to the third level of blessing, pray for those to be blessed that are to bless those who are to bless you. Then, watch and see what God will do.

 

Contagious Courage

MAY 25, 2020

“When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.” Exodus 2:3-4 (ESV)

Not so long ago, I realized I was missing something in my life.

It started when my daughters, both social workers, began exposing me to pain-filled situations that I knew very little about. My lack of proximity to hardship kept me from feeling the pain of many in our community.

Spurred by the courage of my daughters, I began breaking out of the comfort of my own social circle, befriending women in my community who’ve suffered great loss and who needed a trusted friend.

This has not been easy for me. I want to be brave, but still struggle to overcome fear of the unknown.

God’s Word is helping me overcome this fear, especially through the story of some women found in Exodus 1 and 2.

If their story were a play, it could look like this:

Act 1: Shiphrah and Puah, two midwives in Egypt, are commanded by Pharaoh to kill all male babies as soon as they are born. Yet the women fear God more than Pharaoh, and they let the babies live.

Act 2: In between labor pains, Shiphrah, Puah and Moses’ mother, Jochebed, discuss their options should Jochebed’s third child be a boy. In hushed tones, they piece together a plan. How would Jochebed disguise her newly-changed body? Answer questions about her delivery? How long could they keep him a secret?

As they make their plans, they recall God’s past faithfulness to help the Hebrews. While creating these God-inspired plans, their confidence in God grows, and their fear of their fierce enemy weakens.

Courage can overcome fear when we rehearse the faithfulness of God.

Act 3: Our key verse is played out: “When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him” (Exodus 2:3-4).

Miriam, Moses’ sister, watches the basket-boat float on the Nile. When Pharaoh’s daughter calls for the basket to be brought to her, Miriam steps up, a child giving royalty advice on how to take care of the baby.

Curtains close.

Was the courage of Shiphrah, Puah and Jochebed contagious? Did it help empower Miriam to step up? I believe it did.

These women show how a ripple effect can take place when one person takes a daring step, and others witness it.

Like these women, I want contagious courage, too … to step out of my comfort zone and bring change and courage to another. The Lord is helping me reach out to those suffering to try to help lighten their pain. Though we don’t all look the same or share the same background, we have the same blood running through our veins. Together, we’re being brave, learning and serving together to push past our differences to forge new friendships.

I’m catching on to the courage of brave women who have gone before me. Though at times I feel scared about what I don’t know and have yet to learn, Jesus’ love is empowering me to take one small step at a time.

As my daughters have inspired me, can I inspire you to be courageous in your world today as well?

Step out to notice someone who needs a loving touch.

Invest in your community, and share the love of Jesus that you’ve experienced. If we step out in faith like these women, the Lord will help us to step into and be a part of contagious courage.

Jesus Said, “Judge Not!”

Bible Verses On Jesus19 Bible verses about Not Judging
Pin on Bible verses25 Important Bible Verses About Judging Others (Must-Read)
Luke 6:37 - Do not judge, and you will not be judged... - Download ...Don't judge, so that you won't be judged! - Evangelical Endtimemachine
Luke 6:37 - Forgive and Be Forgiven - Free Art Download – Bible ...120+ Best Bible Verses about Justice (with Pictures, Video & PDF)

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged

CBN.com — One of our besetting sins is our judgment of one another. This despite the fact that our Master, Jesus Christ, has commanded us not to be judgmental.

So often our ideas about others are based on totally false assumptions or erroneous presentations by others about the person or persons in question. We often go through life thinking conclusions that have little or no basis in reality.

Case in point: I recently met a person whom I have heard vilified by many professing followers of Christ. Well, the person I met – and the person I had heard about turned out to be two completely different persons.

This individual was kind, soft-spoken, brilliant, and a follower of Christ. Wow, were my sources ever wrong! Therefore my perceptions were mistaken. How sad it would have been to have lived my whole life believing the false reports.

Remember, Israel had to stay in the wilderness for forty years after believing false reports from ten of the twelve spies sent into the Promised Land. It is somehow in our nature more acceptable to believe bad reports than good ones.

Scripture commands us in Philippians 4:8 to do this:

“Fill your minds, on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

Outward appearances are a poor criteria upon which to make conclusions about anyone. And other testimonies can be false as well. Judge not that ye be not judged! These are strong words and a powerful commandment from our Lord, one that He expects to be followed. Oh, and one thing more: bearing a false witness about someone else is also a sin.

 

Judge Not!

“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:2 (NIV)

Teaching our 15-year-old son to drive has been a learning experience – for him and me! In typical God-fashion, the lessons haven’t always been about driving. Only God could take an average street corner and turn it into a life-lesson seared into my soul. Here’s what happened on a not-so-average afternoon.

After taking short trips on side roads, I decided my son Josh was ready for the “big time.” So we headed to Costco after school on a main thoroughfare. Since I don’t normally drive at that time of the day, I was unprepared for the amount of traffic. Josh was doing well until the light turned red just as he was pulling up to make a right turn. Since traffic was heavy, he was already going slowly, but instead of stopping, I could tell Josh intended to keep going.

“Stop, Josh,” I said quietly as the car kept rolling.

“Stop, Josh” I said a little louder. The car kept rolling, although it did slow. In a split-second, I could tell Josh was going to turn right on a red and I could see oncoming traffic starting to move. Why wasn’t Josh stopping? I started to panic.

“Josh STOP!!” I yelled, and he slammed on the brakes.

“Mom, you’re freaking me out,” Josh gasped.

“Josh, you’re freaking ME out!” I answered as we both sat there in shock. Josh explained that he thought I meant for him to slow down when I said “stop.” I didn’t have time to sort out his thought process on that one, because just then the light turned green and Josh turned right … legally and safely.

I told Josh I was sorry for yelling at him, he said he was sorry he didn’t listen to me and we were back on good ground. At least I thought so until seconds later a young guy who had been behind us at the light, pulled up on our left and motioned for us to roll down the window. Thinking there was something wrong with a tire, we did and he said, “Hey, if you are going to act like that, take your sticker off your car.” Then he sped off. Josh was shaken and I was just plain mad. I knew he was talking about our church window decal and I alternated between anger at his judgmental attitude and shame that someone might think badly about God because of a driving incident. But anger was the predominate emotion. I couldn’t stand that someone would judge me or my son without knowing anything about us.

I stewed over that the whole day, until God started speaking to my spirit about a judgmental attitude I’d had earlier that week. Something had happened at church that I let bother me. It wasn’t a sin issue, merely an oversight on someone’s part. But it concerned me. In fact, I had worked it up in my mind their lack of attention was wrong and I was going to tell someone about it. For days, I thought about how to say it and to whom. Then this happened.

I’m confident God allowed me to experience the bitter side of judgment so that I would see how hurtful it is. My judgmental attitude at church was clouding my love and compassion for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are serving God in wonderful ways and impacting many lives. I was convicted of my attitude, asked God’s forgiveness, and thanked Him for teaching me a lesson before I spoke any potentially hurtful words.

Jesus spoke these words to His followers, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2 NIV). I definitely experienced being judged, and it wasn’t pleasant. Nor was my judgment on others pleasant.

As I’ve thought about and prayed over this issue more, I’ve come to realize that I can still share my thoughts with those in charge at church (or anywhere else), so long as my heart and my attitude don’t contain a hint of judgment. But then again, I might not. I’ll definitely do an attitude check before letting any thought take root, or any potentially judgmental word come out of my mouth.

 

Judge Not?

What the Bible Really Says About Love

Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1–2).

This teaching of Jesus is widely misunderstood. A common reduction we often hear is, “Don’t judge me.” What’s interesting is that this reduction is the inverse application of Jesus’s lesson. Jesus is not telling others not to judge us; he’s telling us not to judge others. What others do is not our primary concern; what we do is our primary concern. Our biggest problem is not how others judge us, but how we judge others.

Caution: Judge at Your Own Risk

Actually, when Jesus says, “Judge not,” he’s not really issuing a prohibition on judging others; he’s issuing a serious warning to take great care how we judge others. We know this because Jesus goes on to say,

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3–5)

“How we judge others says far more about us than how we are judged by others.”

It’s not wrong to lovingly help our brother remove a harmful speck from his eye. It’s wrong to self-righteously point out a speck in our brother’s eye when we ignore, as no big deal, the ridiculous log protruding from our own.

So, Jesus is placing, as it were, a neon-red-blinking sign over others that tells us, “Caution: judge at your own risk.” It is meant to give us serious pause and examine ourselves before saying anything. Our fallen nature is profoundly selfish and proud and often hypocritical, judging ourselves indulgently and others severely. We are quick to strain gnats and swallow camels (Matthew 23:24), quick to take tweezers to another’s eye when we need a forklift for our own. It is better to “judge not” than to judge like this, since we will be judged in the same way we judge others.

Jesus takes judgment very seriously. He is the righteous judge (2 Timothy 4:8), who is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). He does not judge by appearances, but judges with right judgment (John 7:24). Every judgment he pronounces issues from his core loving nature (1 John 4:8).

Therefore, when we judge, and Scripture instructs Christians to judge at times (1 Corinthians 5:12), we must take great care that our judgment, like Christ’s, is always charitable.

Be Quick to Believe Innocence

The first way to take great care how we judge is to be slow to pronounce guilt when evidence is scant or hearsay or ambiguous. This runs counter not only to fallen human nature, but also our media-saturated culture that encourages hair-trigger judgments. We are wise to practice something codified in our judicial system.

In the United States, when a person is accused of a legal transgression, but the evidence against him is inconclusive, our jurisprudence demands we presume his innocence until sufficient evidence can demonstrate his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Such demonstration is typically not quick or easy.

Be Thorough Before Pronouncing Guilt

Circumstantial evidence is not placed before a “reasonable” judge who then renders a verdict based merely on his judicial common sense interpretation. Millennia of human history have taught us that appearances can be deceiving and “reasonable” people have conscious and unconscious biases that shape how they interpret evidence.

“We are quick to take tweezers to someone else’s eye while we need a forklift for our own.”

So, our courts demand a rigorous process of evaluating evidence in an effort to ensure that deceptive appearances and biases do not distort the truth. This process requires diligence, patience, and restraint. And while reasonable doubt regarding a person’s guilt persists, we are bound to believe — at least in a legal sense — the best about that person. We give him “the benefit of the doubt.”

When Paul wrote, “love believes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7), he was talking about this kind of charitable judgment. Christians are called to believe the best about each other until sufficient evidence confirms beyond a reasonable doubt that a transgression has occurred.

Aim for Restoration

When evidence does confirm that a transgression has occurred, a second way we take great care how we judge is to “aim for restoration” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

If we’re personally involved in such a situation, our goal in confronting someone caught in sin or, if necessary, initiating a process of church discipline, is to gain back our brother or sister (Matthew 18:15). Our goal is not punitive, but redemptive. We must vigilantly remain “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave [us]” (Ephesians 4:32). Even if the guilty person is unrepentant and fellowship must be severed, the purpose remains redemptive for the offender (1 Corinthians 5:5) and for the church (1 Corinthians 5:6).

Keep Quiet If Possible

If we’re not personally involved or are distant observers, we can still aim for the person’s restoration by, if possible, not saying anything. A wise rule of thumb: the greater our distance, the greater our ignorance. And ignorant commentary about a person or situation is never helpful and is usually nothing more than gossip or slander, which Jesus calls evil (Matthew 15:19).

“Our goal in confronting a Christian caught in sin is to gain back our brother or sister.”

We must remember how faulty our perceptions are and how biases distort our judgment. We often think we understand what’s going on, when in reality we do not. From a distance, love covering a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8) looks like not repeating a matter (Proverbs 17:9).

Judge with Right Judgment

How we judge others says far more about us than how we are judged by others. This is why God will judge us in the manner we judge others, not in the manner they judge us. Therefore, we must judge with right judgment (John 7:24). And right judgment is charitably quick to believe innocence, charitably slow to pronounce guilt, charitably redemptive when it must be, and charitably silent if at all possible.

And when in doubt, “judge not.”