Category Archives: Devotion

Rest in God’s Promises

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Rest in God’s Promises

person reading a book with a cup of coffee

 

Robyn Hattingh – cbn.com

It’s easy to get caught up with to-do lists, social activities, and work. We live in a society where if we aren’t performing and achieving, we can feel anxious. I certainly feel this regularly. At the beginning of 2021 I decided that I was not achieving enough with my life—even though I had just gotten married and had other struggles to contend with—and I started studying again. I have always wanted to study psychology, but rather than thinking about the practicalities of taking on a four-year part-time course at that stage of my life, I just went for it.

Now, a year-and-a-half later, even though I managed to keep up with the workload and do well, I’ve had to take a break. At the time you read this, I’ll be in the middle of maternity leave with my first child. And while this is an incredible blessing, I have such anxiety about not performing. I want to achieve things. I have a checklist to complete every day. I have assignments and exams that help me feel like I am moving forward in life. For some reason, I don’t feel satisfied unless I am so busy that I’m exhausted and overwhelmed.

Burnt out.

The perfect way to describe the mode many of us live in. Too many responsibilities, spread too thin, expectations that are way too high. Even in churches and Christian communities, these expectations and ways of living are very much the reality.

But God has a promise for us in Philippians 1:6,

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

God is assuring us that since He started good work in us, He will bring it to completion through Jesus Christ. We don’t need to work any harder, achieve anymore, or burn ourselves out to achieve the only work that really matters—His work. By living in relationship and obedience to Him, we’re doing enough. Who we are and what we’re doing is enough simply because the God of miracles created us. And because He started the good work in us, we can rest in His promise of bringing it to completion through Jesus Christ.

Today I am resting in His promises. I trust that He formed my baby perfectly and in His timing. I trust that through this journey of motherhood, His good works are continuing. I am trusting that who I was created to be is enough for His kingdom and His purposes for me.

I hope and pray that you can feel reassured by this promise, too. That you believe that you are enough, what you’re doing is enough, and God created you for a time such as this. His good purpose for your life does not rest solely on you, but He will bring it to completion. Rest in that and carry it with you as you continue doing the work and activities you need to do.

5 Lessons from Proverbs 5

By Aaron D’Anthony Brown, crosswalk.com

“Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil, in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword.” (Proverbs 5:3-4)

The Forbidden Woman

“Can a man embrace fire and his clothes not be burned?” asks one of the proverbs (Proverbs 6:27). The answer to this rhetorical question is obvious, as is our innate desire for sin, especially the sexual kind. God intended for sex to be an act that honors spouses, and honors Him, but much like other sins, mankind’s creativity for wrongdoing knows no bounds.

From billboards to social media, to movies on the big screen, or the device we keep in our pockets, if you want to find sex, you don’t have to look far. Young children access porn on a moment’s notice online, while some adults form groups with the sole purpose of fornicating.

Our fleshly weakness may explain why there are various passages in Scripture that warn us about uncontrolled desire. One such place is Proverbs 5, where a father cautions his son about the “forbidden woman.” Today, his wise words can serve to enlighten and strengthen us as well.

Whether we are nearing temptation, have already given in, or are seeking to remain strong, there is something each of us can learn from these five lessons on sexual temptation from Proverbs 5.

1. Establish Boundaries (Proverbs 5:1-2)
Living in a world of sin, something we all need is boundaries. Unfortunately, many of us learn this after answering the call of temptation. Too many parents give their children unmitigated access to the internet. And too many adults refuse to limit their own access for fear of missing out. No boundaries is like a wide-open door, an invitation for anything outside to come in.

Know your limits, and don’t test them. Approaching your boundary is a sign that you’re nearing a bad choice.

2. Humanize the Person (Proverbs 5:5-6)
The forbidden woman is a person, just like you, just like me. And just like us, no one chooses to sell their body when they think there is a better way to make money. Only people who have been abused, molested, and broken from early childhood pursue prostitution as a legitimate way to work. The same goes for the woman on the corner of a busy city and for the woman appearing in a late-night movie.

When we humanize people, we stop treating them as tools for ou pleasure. They are people with emotions, goals, thoughts, and struggles exactly like us. They have family, friends, and more. If we knew them, whether as a relative, friend, or acquaintance, would we want them to engage in such behavior?

3. Flee (Proverbs 5:8)
Possibly the most underrated advice when facing temptation is to run. Flee. Escape the fire before you get burned. Saying no to sin early on is like pulling out a seed from the ground. Uprooting a tree is a much more difficult task.

4. Know the Consequences (Proverbs 5:9-14)
One reason we succumb to lust is that we either don’t know, or we ignore the consequences. The easiest way to resolve this issue is by ensuring that we not only know the consequences of our actions, but that we meditate on them. This is especially true if we are in seasons or places in life where temptation is higher.

Knowing what possible bad outcomes await can be sure motivation to walk the straight path.

5. Enjoy Marriage (Proverbs 5:15-19)
If marriage is a part of your life, then enjoy the blessing that God has given you. Realize that your spouse will never match up to lust. They will never look, act, or talk like those people we lust after. That’s because your spouse is real. Honor and appreciate that realness.

If you’re single, pray to God for strength to remain chaste and for discernment as to where you can put your sexual energies. Sex is a want, not a need, but no one denies that libido exists. Find a way to put that energy toward serving the community, a hobby, or anything positive that gets your mind off of sex.

Streams in the Desert – October 5

  • 20225 Oct

After a while, the stream dried up because there had been no rain in the land. (1 Kings 17:7)

 

The education of our faith is incomplete if we have not learned that there is a providence of loss, a ministry of failing and of fading things, a gift of emptiness. The material insecurities of life make for its spiritual establishment. The dwindling stream by which Elijah sat and mused is a true picture of the life of each of us. “It came to pass … that the brook dried up”—that is the history of our yesterday, and a prophecy of our morrows.

 

In some way or other we will have to learn the difference between trusting in the gift and trusting in the Giver. The gift may be good for a while, but the Giver is the Eternal Love.

 

Cherith was a difficult problem to Elijah until he got to Zarephath, and then it was all as clear as daylight. God’s hard words are never His last words. The woe and the waste and the tears of life belong to the interlude and not to the finale.

 

Had Elijah been led straight to Zarephath he would have missed something that helped to make him a wiser prophet and a better man. He lived by faith at Cherith. And whensoever in your life and mine some spring of earthly and outward resource has dried up, it has been that we might learn that our hope and help are in God who made Heaven and earth.
—F. B. Meyer

Thy Redeemer

By: Charles Spurgeon

“And thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:14

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 118:5-14

Hear Jehovah, the everlasting Father, saying, “I will help thee.” “Mine are the ages: before the ages began, when there were no worlds, when nothing had been created, from everlasting I am thy God. I am the God of election, the God of the decree, the God of the covenant; by my strength I did set fast the mountains; by my skill I laid the pillars of the earth, and the beams of the firmament of heaven; I spread out the skies as a curtain, and as a tent for man to dwell in; I the Lord made all these things. I will help thee.” Then comes Jehovah the Son. “And I also, am thy Redeemer, I am eternal; my name is wisdom. I was with God, when there were no depths, before he had digged the rivers, I was there as one brought up with him. I am Jesus, the God of ages; I am Jesus, the man of sorrows: ‘I am he that liveth and was dead, I am alive for evermore.’ I am the High Priest of thy profession, the Intercessor before the throne, the Representative of my people. I have power with God. I will help thee.” Poor worm, thy Redeemer vows to help thee; by his bleeding hands he covenants to give thee aid. And then in comes the Holy Spirit. “And I,” saith the Spirit, “am also God—not an influence, but a person—I, eternal and everlasting co-existent with the Father and the Son—I, who did brood over chaos, when as yet the world was not brought into form and fashion, and did sow the earth with the seeds of life when I did brood over it,—I, that brought again from the dead your Lord Jesus Christ, the Shepherd of the sheep, I who am the Eternal Spirit, by whose power the Lord Jesus did arise from the bondage of his tomb—I, by whom souls are quickened, by whom the elect are called out of darkness into light—I, who have power to maintain my children and preserve them to the end—I will help thee.”

For meditation2 Corinthians 13:14: what a mighty benediction!

Treasures in Jars of Clay

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Treasures In Jars Of Clay

woman-eyes-closed

 

Terry Meeuwsen – Co-Host – The 700 Club

The Bible says,

“Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NKJV).

It also says,

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

We are in a battle that has eternal significance. On the surface, it may seem like a personal struggle with some mental or physical area of weakness. That’s what Satan would love for you to think. This is your problem, your weakness, your failure. And it’s bigger than you are. How he loves to see us defeated in these areas of our lives.

For years, I tried to battle these areas of temptation in my life by drumming up willpower, gritting my teeth, and digging in my heels. Once in a while, I’d have a victory, but more often than not I’d end up on my face, riddled with guilt before the Lord. Have you ever seen a cat toy with a mouse before finishing it off? The cat will sometimes sit in condescending amusement watching its prey struggling to escape. That’s how I felt Satan toyed with me as I struggled to overcome. Then I’d fail and think to myself, “How can I be so weak? I know the Lord; I love the Lord; I know what is right, and I want to change. What’s wrong with me?”

If you are in such a struggle about anything, begin reading at verse 7 in chapter 7 of the book of Romans. As you read on into chapter 8 of Romans, you’ll come to an incredible solution:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Sprit” (Romans 8:5).

How do we live in accordance with the Spirit?

“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15).

The word Abba actually translates to “Daddy.”

This, dear friends, is the key to overcoming. When you are in the throes of temptation, run to the Father! Get into His presence and tap into His power. The Bible tells us that in our weakness God is strong. His presence puts our problems in perspective and floods us with a sense of protection, peace, and power.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been defeated and are filled with guilt, remember,

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Don’t let the enemy rub your face in the dirt. God’s forgiveness is always extended to us. The Bible says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. When you are in trouble, run to the heart of the Father.

Abba, Father! Help me! The storm is threatening to overwhelm me, and I am weak. I confess my sins and I ask for Your forgiveness. Fill me with Your Spirit and teach me Your ways. Give me the mind of Christ and a vision for who I am in You. I stand on Your Word, which says that “We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” I rest in You, my Father.

Streams in the Desert – October 4

  • 20224 Oct

So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning (Job 42:12).

Through his griefs Job came to his heritage. He was tried that his godliness might be confirmed. Are not my troubles intended to deepen my character and to robe me in graces I had little of before? I come to my glory through eclipses, tears, death. My ripest fruit grows against the roughest wall. Job’s afflictions left him with higher conceptions of God and lowlier thoughts of himself. “Now,” he cried, “mine eye seeth thee.

And if, through pain and loss, I feel God so near in His majesty that I bend low before Him and pray, “Thy will be done,” I gain very much. God gave Job glimpses of the future glory. In those wearisome days and nights, he penetrated within the veil, and could say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Surely the latter end of Job was more blessed than the beginning.
–In the Hour of Silence

“Trouble never comes to a man unless she brings a nugget of gold in her hand.”

Apparent adversity will finally turn out to be the advantage of the right if we are only willing to keep on working and to wait patiently. How steadfastly the great victor souls have kept at their work, dauntless and unafraid! There are blessings which we cannot obtain if we cannot accept and endure suffering. There are joys that can come to us only through sorrow. There are revealings of Divine truth which we can get only when earth’s lights have gone out. There are harvests which can grow only after the plowshare has done its work.
–Selected

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seamed with scars; martyrs have put on their coronation robes glittering with fire, and through their tears have the sorrowful first seen the gates of Heaven.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

October 4

Psalms 28:7-9 7The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. 8The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. 9Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Most of us would not consider shepherding a training ground for a national leader, but that was God’s choice to train David. When the bear and lion came to tear the flock, David knew his strength was not sufficient. He learned to rely on the strength of the Lord. When his heart trusted in the LORD, he found help and ended up writing a song of victory to the LORD.

He goes on to say the LORD is your strength, too. He knew it was true for everyone, for he was just a commoner when he began to find the strength that comes from God. His shepherd heart asked God to save the people and bless them. He knew he could do his best, but only God can save and bless. Then he asked for a very deeply symbolical request. “Be their shepherd and carry them forever.”

When a particular sheep would repeatedly wonder from the flock and get separated, it was in danger of being lost to predators. The shepherd had to exercise severe discipline to save the sheep’s life. He would break the leg of the sheep and then reset it and carry that sheep until the leg healed. That sheep would grow so attached to the shepherd that it would never again stray. Sometimes the only way to save us is to take us through a difficulty that drives us to the LORD. As we cling to Him and He to us, we learn that is a wonderful place to be. When the difficulty passes, we find ourselves remaining there. Look at your painful experiences in the light of this picture and you will have a different perspective on them. Remember, the shepherd took on a burden for a period of time because he cared for the sheep.

Remember the expression, “This is going to hurt me a lot more than it does you?” It did. It does. Let that touch your heart today.

Fear not

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:14

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 8

Behold the heavens, the work of God’s fingers; behold the sun guided in his daily march; go ye forth at midnight, and behold the heavens, consider the stars and the moon; look upon these works of God’s hands, and if ye be men of sense and your souls are attuned to the high music of the spheres, ye will say, “What is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him?” My God! When I survey the boundless fields of heaven, and see those ponderous orbs rolling therein—when I consider how vast are thy dominions—so wide that an angel’s wing might flap to all eternity and never reach a boundary—I marvel that thou shouldst look on insects so obscure as man. I have taken the microscope and seen the insect upon the leaf, and I have called him small. I will not call him so again; compared with me he is great, if I put myself into comparison with God. I am so little, that I shrink into nothingness when I behold the almightiness of Jehovah—so little, that the difference between the microscopic creature and man dwindles into nothing, when compared with the infinite chasm between God and man. Let the mind rove upon the great doctrines of the Godhead; consider the existence of God from before the foundations of the world; behold him who is, and was, and is to come, the Almighty; let the soul comprehend as much as it can of the Infinite, and grasp as much as possible of the Eternal, and I am sure if you have minds at all, they will shrink with awe. The tall archangel bows himself before his Master’s throne, and we shall cast ourselves into the lowest dust when we feel what base nothings, what insignificant specks we are, when compared with our all-adorable Creator.

For meditation: Nothing is too big for God (Proverbs 30:4); nothing is too small for God (Proverbs 30:24-28). What is man? Both weak and wicked (Proverbs 30:2,3,32). But God still cares (Proverbs 30:5).

You Are Loved, You Are Chosen

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Chosen, Now What?

I Am Chosen | graceitsagodthing
Fiorella Montoya – CBN, com

Do you love surprises as much as I do? I think that Jesus is an expert on that since every day He does something different in my life. A little over a year ago, Jesus introduced Himself to me, a 23-year-old journalist with a desire to learn who was working on a recording set surrounded by lights, microphones, and people with enormous hearts, not only for their work but for their work for Jesus. My job title could have been “God’s production assistant.”

God can also do something different or surprising in your job or church ministry—wherever He has chosen to place you. God chose us and gave us a name and a life for His service. He sits down and takes control he describes in the prophecy about Ethiopia.

This is what the LORD says to me: “I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest” (Isaiah 18:4 NIV).

Imagine Someone with His gaze fixed on our day-to-day life. Sometimes it seems strange, although it is beautiful to know that there is such a great covering over us. And yet, our role simply begins when we first open our eyes to Him. As with an edited piece of video, opening our eyes is only the first scene, followed by the acts that God wants to perform in our lives.

As human beings we carry fears and sometimes those fears are magnified when we forget who walks in front of us. If you still don’t know your purpose, I recommend that you start by accepting that you are chosen by God, then abandon your fears, and start the movie of your own life.

In Isaiah, the people of Egypt were warned that they would be struck down and their strength would be exhausted, but when they cried out to God, He would be there to defend them. The same thing happens when you or I give in to fear.

It will be a sign and witness to the LORD Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them (Isaiah 19:20).

The world offers us temptations and there are hundreds of voices around waiting for us to deviate from our divine purpose. Perhaps thoughts like, I can’t, I’m not qualified, I’m too young, or I’m too old are part of the fears that can knock on your door but recognizing that God walks hand in hand with you is the key to defeating doubts and overcoming fears.

Now, your job is to create the rest of the scenes that God planned for your life. Ask Him to help you do that today. He chose you; now what? He will watch over you to fulfill the beautiful purpose He has for your life. Know with confidence that He walks before you and will be a shield against any fear.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

October 3

Psalms 27:1, 4 1The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?

4One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

David declared the LORD to be his light and his salvation. It was the presence of the LORD in his life that enabled him to see things as they really were, that kept him from stumbling in the darkness. It was the presence of the LORD in his life that saved him out of all his difficulties. The LORD was his salvation. He didn’t lean on self to understand or to get him out of danger. He recognized that his help came from the LORD.

He goes on to say that men cannot make him afraid. If God is sovereign, and He has become my light and my salvation, what can man do to me? With the LORD as his stronghold, he always knew where to run for safety. Do you turn to God first in all your fears and concerns? Is He your light and salvation, the stronghold of your life? Without that, men will cause you to fear. Situations will overwhelm you. With that assurance, you will always know that the will of the God who loves you will be done. He will see you through anything men or demons can dish out.

And if you are called home, you will be in His presence forever. What is the worst man can do -kill me? Then I will end up where I long to be, gazing upon the beauty of the LORD and seeking Him in His heavenly dwelling place. David may have been referring to the tabernacle, but I think his mind moved from the earthly to the reality in heaven. His great desire was to spend eternity gazing upon God. Somewhere in those years of shepherding or training under Saul, he must have had a vision of the beauty of God. That became the one thing his soul sought after. We need a vision like that so that He becomes our singular focus. Then, if illness strikes, or men threaten, like the Apostle Paul, we can say, “To die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Consider: Make the LORD your singular focus.

Streams in the Desert – October 3

  • 20223 Oct

And after the earthquake a fire; and after the fire a sound of gentle stillness” (1 Kings 19:12, RV margin.)

A soul, who made rapid progress in her understanding of the Lord, was once asked the secret of her easy advancement. She replied tersely, “Mind the checks.”

And the reason that many of us do not know and better understand Him is, we do not give heed to His gentle checks, His delicate restraints and constraints. His is a still, small voice. A still voice can hardly be heard. It must be felt. A steady, gentle pressure upon the heart and mind like the touch of a morning zephyr to your face. A small voice, quietly, almost timidly spoken in your heart, but if heeded growing noiselessly clearer to your inner ear.

His voice is for the ear of love, and love is intent upon hearing even faintest whispers. There comes a time also when love ceases to speak if not responded to, or believed in. He is love, and if you would know Him and His voice, give constant ear to His gentle touches. In conversation, when about to utter some word, give heed to that gentle voice, mind the check and refrain from speech.

When about to pursue some course that seems all clear and right and there comes quietly to your spirit a suggestion that has in it the force almost of a conviction, give heed, even if changed plans seem highest folly from standpoint of human wisdom.

Learn also to wait on God for the unfolding of His will. Let God form your plans about everything in your mind and heart and then let Him execute them. Do not possess any wisdom of your own. For many times His execution will seem so contradictory to the plan He gave. He will seem to work against Himself. Simply listen, obey and trust God even when it seems highest folly so to do. He will in the end make “all things work together,” but so many times in the first appearance of the outworking of His plans,

“In His own world He is content
To play a losing game.”

So if you would know His voice, never consider results or possible effects. Obey even when He asks you to move in the dark. He Himself will be gloriously light in you. And there will spring up rapidly in your heart an acquaintanceship and a fellowship with God which will be overpowering in itself to hold you and Him together, even in severest testings and under most terrible pressures.
–Way of Faith

The Holiness of God

God is perfectly just and merciful.

October 3, 2022

Revelation 4:1-11

The scene in today’s passage gives us a glimpse of a holy God who is worthy of mankind’s worship. He’s perfectly pure in His thoughts, motives, choices, and actions, and His holiness is also revealed in His separateness from all evil and transgression. Since God cannot tolerate or ignore sin, every wrong must be punished—with the penalty paid either by the offender or by an adequate substitute. And Jesus Christ is the fully sufficient substitute who paid what every one of us owed. What’s more, He’s the only one who can reconcile sinful mankind to God.

The Son of God took on human flesh and lived a sinless life. Then, as 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV) tells us, Jesus “bore our sins in his body on the cross” to pay the penalty of divine wrath. His resurrection is the proof that the sacrifice was acceptable to His heavenly Father. All who trust in Christ as their substitute are reconciled to God, but those who reject the Savior must themselves bear God’s wrath for their sin.

If we’ll acknowledge our unworthiness, confess our sins, and trust in Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf, our sins will be forgiven. The Judge of all humanity declares us not guilty. What’s more, He also credits us with Christ’s righteousness. And someday we’ll join the saints in heaven praising our gracious, holy God.

Let Your Little Light Shine

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Let Your Little Light Shine

lighting a candle using a wooden match stick

Remember those first days, weeks, or months after you accepted Jesus as your Savior? Everywhere I went people would say, “You look different, you have this glow!” I was hungry to learn about Him and so eager to be like Him! But, has it happened to you that as time passes you start getting more comfortable and suddenly you realize that sometimes you’re not as eager anymore? Or is it just me?

God made me take a good look at myself a while ago. I had been sharing my apartment with a friend for a few years, but my friend was not always keeping her part of the responsibilities. Many times I was the only one attending to the upkeep. Even though I tried different ways of communicating these issues and my feelings to her, she was not listening. And so the friendship became strained; nothing I did was working and I couldn’t deal with the state of our living conditions.

One day, my brother, who’s a pastor, said to me, “Sis, I’m going to tell you this as God is telling me to tell you… You must love her!” My jaw dropped to the floor; I was speechless! Then I began to cry, and I said to him, “How? I’ve done everything I know how to do!”

That word stayed with me for a couple of weeks, and one morning as I was driving to work, suddenly it dawned on me, and I said out loud, “What a hypocrite, how can I say that I love God when I can’t stand my friend!” I remember getting to my office, locking the door behind me, and telling God, “Daddy, I forgive her and I place her into Your hands. I’ve done on my own all that I can and I’m letting go of her. If You want me to love her, Daddy, You have to put that love in my heart for her, because right now I don’t have it.”

God changed my heart and filled me with His love. Even though we no longer live together and the friendship is not as close as it once was, I can be there for my friend if she needs me without feeling angry or resentful. The peace that I have in my heart is amazing.

See, we get comfortable with the idea that doing good deeds makes us more like Jesus. But there is so much more than that. The Bible says,

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)

I learned that God didn’t want me to carry that burden. All I needed to do was talk to Him, be honest about what I was feeling, and He would give me the answer. When we follow Jesus’ example, we will always find out that love is the key ingredient. When we surrender to God’s will, we always be on the right path, and we will be the light that God want us to be here in this world.

I know life can be hard and stressful at times, but I also know the promises that God has for me and for you. Our walk with God must be intentional, not comfortable; ask God to examine your heart every now and then, see where you are, listen to what God tells you to do. Be  obedient and don’t let the worries of life turn off your light.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of Light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10)

 

Give Me More of God

Why Spiritual Intimacy Can Feel Elusive

Jon Bloom, desiringGod.org

Deep in the heart of every true disciple of Jesus is a deep longing for more of God. But what is this more we desire? We might each describe our want somewhat differently, depending on how this longing refracts through our biology, history, and theological influences. To some degree, none of us has words for it. But at the core, what we desire is to really know God — to know him in the intimate ways that only love knows.

And we have this desire because, by God’s unfathomable grace toward us in Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9), he first has known and loved us (1 Corinthians 8:31 John 4:19). It is his great desire, one he expresses in the promise of Jeremiah’s great prophecy (quoted in full in Hebrews 8):

This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:33–34)

At the heart of the new covenant is God’s great desire that we “shall all know” him.

Known by Love

You don’t need to know Hebrew (or Greek) to discern the knowing God desires. It is the knowing of relational intimacy, of deep friendship — the kind of knowing that only love knows. For to truly know God is to love God.

“To truly know God is to love God.”

The role of love in intimately knowing someone is profound. On one hand, we cannot intimately love someone we do not know. So, knowledge must precede love. But on the other hand, the deep love of intimate friendship is the door to even deeper knowledge of the beloved, because intimate friends entrust themselves and so disclose more of themselves to each other. So, there is an intimate knowledge accessible only through the deep love that results from and produces even more profound trust.

We see one illustration of this dynamic in play at the end of John 6, when, as a result of hearing Jesus say offensive-sounding things, “many of his [wider group of] disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (John 6:66). But the twelve didn’t leave him. Why? Because, to use Peter’s words, that they had “come to know” that he was “the Holy One of God” (John 6:69).

For eleven of them, this knowledge wasn’t merely intellectual; they had come to love him and trust him, even when he confused them. And because they trusted him, Jesus disclosed to them “secrets of the kingdom” he didn’t disclose to others (Luke 8:10). To really know Jesus was to really love Jesus, which was the door to knowing Jesus more. This is what Jesus is getting at when he later says to them,

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. (John 14:21)

The Way Is Simple

Notice the simplicity in those words: Jesus will manifest himself to whoever loves him. And two sentences later, he says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). If we love Jesus, both the Father and the Son will manifest themselves to us through the “Spirit of truth” who “dwell[s] in” us (John 14:17).

These are precious and very great promises (2 Peter 1:4). The way to know the triune God intimately, to experience the relational communion promised in the new covenant, is not complex. Jesus calls us to keep his commandments, or keep his word, which is essentially what he means when he says, “Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). Jesus doesn’t give us a list of rituals, ascetic rigors, detailed prayer requirements, long pilgrimages, meditative practices, or instructions for creating special aesthetic environments to experience communion with him and the Father through the Spirit. The way is simple: “Believe in me.”

How Awesome Is This Place

How Awesome is this place
By Rev. Kyle Norman

“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:16-17)

Sometimes the most profound experiences of God’s presence occur within the ordinary places of over lives. God comes amid the regular and routine, catching us unawares. This is no truer than in the story of Jacob. One of the high points of his life with God is when he dreams of a ladder upon which the angels of God ascend and descend. Rising from his dream Jacob exults the presence of the Lord saying, “Surely the Lord is in this place!” He dedicates the spot to the Lord, and calls the place Bethel, meaning “The House of God”. Bethel becomes a recurring place of divine encounter throughout the Scripture.

Did Jacob simply happen to lie down in a thin place, a place where heaven and earth touch? Was his dream nothing more than blessed happenstance, a byproduct of resting near the stairway of the heavens? If we read the scripture this way, then we must assume that Jacob has the dream simply because he happened to lie down in the correct spot. The implication of this is clear; if we wish to have a similar occurrence, we must make our way to the appropriate location. God will come to us if we to rest in the correct place.

But what does this mean? Does God remain hidden behind secret doors and heavenly staircases? Does an encounter with God simply boil down to being in the right place at the right time – even if it’s by accident?

The account of Jacob’s dream testifies to the exact opposite. Jacob does nothing to bring about this dream, he is but a passive recipient. At the time of this encounter, Jacob had just swindled his brother out of his rightful blessing. What is more, the divine blessing which Jacob stole did not lead to immediate satisfaction. Instead, Jacob must contend with the murderous intent of his brother. When Jacob lies down that evening, he is not desiring divine communication; he is running for his life. Jacob lies down to rest in a very ordinary and routine way.

Similarly, Scripture goes out of its way to describe the place of Jacob’s resting as “a certain place” (Genesis 28:11). In fact, scripture records that the reason why Jacob lies in that place is because the sun had set. The place of Jacob’s dream is a random location; it is ordinary and nondescript. If Jacob had run more quickly or started his journey hours earlier, he would have rested in a place far from that location.

But the dream would have still happened because, in the end, the dream was not about where Jacob laid his head; it was about the presence of God. The dream testified to God’s gracious love toward Jacob, a love that is expressed despite his duplicity and deception. While we often title the dream “Jacob’s ladder,” the point of the dream isn’t about the ladder at all. Even the angels slip into the background when Jacob awakes. Instead, he rises with the knowledge that God is with him. The one who made him also sustains him. Surely the Lord is in this place. Surely this is the house of the Lord.

It’s Just a Flesh Wound

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It’s Just a Flesh Wound

mother placing a bandage on her child

 

Linda Vulcano – cbn.com

Years ago, a friend was telling me about a scene from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. A character has one arm cut off and then the other, but keeps saying things like, “It’s just a flesh wound! No problem!”

Even though I didn’t see the movie myself, I’m often reminded of that scene when I’m being honest about my personal struggles with unforgiveness.

As a passionate follower of Christ, I know the dangers of unforgiveness. Matthew 18:21-35 records the parable about a man who had a great debt forgiven, only to fail to forgive someone else. His punishment is harsh.

I know I am required to forgive when someone hurts me. My problem is, I often don’t want to admit that I have been hurt.

Like the man in the movie, I say, “It’s just a flesh wound… really nothing!” I end up harboring bitterness and resentment way down deep in my heart, simply because I am unwilling to admit I have been hurt.

I think the problem is, I don’t want to face the fact that once I choose to love someone, I am also giving them the power to hurt me. Such vulnerability is scary. To think I can be wounded by criticism or rejection from someone I care about is sometimes a reality I want to run from.

I want to be invincible to such hurts. The problem is, I’m not invincible. And no one who loves will ever be safe from harm. After all, it was Christ who loved like no one else, and the result was unimaginable suffering.

So, we have to choose. The only way to be protected from hurt is to love no one. And that’s not a real choice. Being hurt will always be part of living in a fallen world.

I attend a church that uses liturgy as part of the worship service. Each week, we confess that we have “sinned in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and what we have left undone.”

Sometimes I need to make another confession – for me a much harder one. “I confess that I have been sinned against.”

My pastor is faithful to remind us often of the scriptural teaching from Ephesians 4:26-27 warning us to not let the sun go down on our anger. I have let many “suns” set while failing to forgive, simply because I didn’t want to admit I was hurt.

Ephesians 4:27 ends with the words,

“… for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”

It’s a sobering reminder of the results of harboring unforgiveness.  A warning that I hope I can remember the next time I am hurt by someone I love.

Speaking Life with Fruitful Words

 By Megan Evans, Crosswalk.com

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” — Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)

If you were to record every word that you spoke for an entire day and then played it back to yourself, what message would you hear? Would you hear life-giving speech or words full of negativity, criticism, and gossip? I don’t know about you, but depending on the day, I might be glad I was the only one listening to that recap. We aren’t perfect, and it’s easy for words to slip out before we think, but this proverb reminds us that our words matter.

Taking a quick inventory of our conversations not only points us to the power of the tongue but also to the fruit of its words. Who wants to eat rotten fruit all day? Yet without even realizing it, the words we say and hear can begin to negatively affect how we feel about ourselves, others, and even our world. Likewise, we may even be inadvertently shaping the thoughts of others.

Careless and complacent words may seem irrelevant, but our words matter to God, to others, and even to ourselves. Instead of spoilage, we have the choice to speak with healthy and delicious words that leave behind the aroma of Christ every single day. And when we do, we will not only speak life into others but ourselves too. The Bible is God’s Living Word, and when we live out and speak its message, the world gets a taste of Jesus. As it says in Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

Our tongue is also an important part of our testimony, mission field, and ministry. In order to change the fruit that our words produce, we have to start by planting healthy seeds. When we feast upon God’s Word daily, we will receive essential nourishment for our body, mind, and soul, as well as delicious and healthy fruit we can offer to others. We’ve all spoken words that we wish we could take back, and it is here in God’s love and grace that we will find forgiveness for unloving words and fresh new mercies for our tongue.

Do you find it hard to control what comes out of your mouth? Me too! Humans might be able to tame animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, yet James 3:8 reminds us that the tongue has yet to be mastered. This sounds a bit like a losing battle for us, so what do we do? Is there hope for the fruit of life-giving words over death?

Thankfully, a Child of God never has to choose defeat or settle for less than God’s best. Yes, we will remain in a battle for control over our tongue for the rest of our lives. Yet, as we lean into the counsel and teaching of the Holy Spirit, we can begin to cultivate wise and winning words. Victory over any sin begins by asking God for help.

When we surrender our life to Jesus, He becomes Lord over every area of our life–and this means He will lead us and show us how to speak, what to speak, and when to speak. Praise God!

Therefore, we can ask God then for awareness of words that are not pleasing to Him, and we can ask God to grow the fruit of His Holy Spirit in us instead. Daily, let’s begin feasting on the fruit of God’s Living Word. Let’s store up so much of this treasure that it begins to spill over and pour from our mouth. Today, let’s choose to speak words of life.

Streams in the Desert – October 1

  • 20221 Oct

It is good for me that I have been afflicted (Ps. 119:71).

It is a remarkable circumstance that the most brilliant colors of plants are to be seen on the highest mountains, in spots that are most exposed to the wildest weather. The brightest lichens and mosses, the loveliest gems of wild flowers, abound far up on the bleak, storm-scalped peak.

One of the richest displays of organic coloring I ever beheld was near the summit of Mount Chenebettaz, a hill about 10,000 feet high, immediately above the great St. Bernard Hospice. The whole face of an extensive rock was covered with a most vivid yellow lichen which shone in the sunshine like the golden battlement of an enchanted castle. There, in that lofty region, amid the most frowning desolation, exposed to the fiercest tempest of the sky, this lichen exhibited a glory of color such as it never showed in the sheltered valley.

I have two specimens of the same lichen before me while I write these lines, one from the great St. Bernard, and the other from the wall of a Scottish castle, deeply embossed among sycamore trees; and the difference in point of form and coloring between them is most striking. The specimen nurtured amid the wild storms of the mountain peak is of a lovely primrose hue, and is smooth in texture and complete in outline, while the specimen nurtured amid the soft airs and the delicate showers of the lowland valley is of a dim rusty hue, and is scurfy in texture, and broken in outline.

And is it not so with the Christian who is afflicted, tempest-tossed, and not comforted? Till the storms and vicissitudes of God’s providence beat upon him again and again, his character appears marred and clouded; but trials clear away the obscurity, perfect the outlines of his disposition, and give brightness and blessing to his life.

Amidst my list of blessings infinite
Stands this the foremost, that my heart has bled;
For all I bless Thee, most for the severe.

–Hugh Macmillan

There Is Someone Who Understands You

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There Is Someone Who Understands You

person taking notes

 

Jessica Teed – cbn.com

Walking through times of suffering is when I have experienced the most spiritual growth in my relationship with the Lord. These often painful and difficult moments have helped shape me into who I am today. Can you relate?

After college, I worked in a very toxic environment at a job that I did not enjoy. I was belittled and criticized, and it seemed that nothing I did was good enough for my boss. Being at work was a daily emotional roller coaster that I desperately wanted to end.

I had only known the Lord for about five years at this point, but I wouldn’t say that I walked closely with Him or depended upon Him. I depended upon my well-paying job to provide for all my needs, and it was more a part of my identity than being a follower of Jesus Christ. When I lost my job in 2007, many emotions ran through me, and I was inconsolable. I felt like the rug was ripped out from underneath me.

Since I had no way to pay rent, I moved in with a friend while her husband was deployed in Afghanistan. I remember feeling so completely lost. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Negativity consumed me and I struggled with feeling grateful for what I did have. I was angry with God, and I could feel myself drifting away from Him. I was angry at myself, too, for not making better choices with my finances. I was convinced that God was punishing me for my poor choices, and I listened to the lie that no one understood what I was going through.

It was through the help of a close friend that my eyes were opened. She suggested that I read through the book of Psalms and write down words that described who God is in each one. The more time I spent doing this, the closer I felt to God. Little by little, I began to see who God really was. I could also see that He was right there with me, walking with me one step at a time.

God used this to draw me closer to Him. Over the next several months, I learned what it meant to trust in the Lord and to depend upon Him for all that I need. I learned what it meant to seek after Him with all my heart. I learned the truth about who God is and who I am in Christ. The lies I had been believing for so many years were exposed, and God began to bring healing into my life where I needed it the most. As Ephesians 3:20 NLT says, God is truly:

…able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever ask or think.

The truth is, God did not cause me to lose my job, but He did use my job loss to draw me closer to Him. God also chose to use that loss as a way to set me free from a toxic work environment that regularly filled my mind with lies about who I am.

The Great Feast

Julia Prins Vanderveen, Today Devotions

  REVELATION 19:1-9

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come. . . .

—  Revelation 19:7

In the school where I teach, our senior students spend a lot of their spare time planning their graduation banquet. They taste samples from a banquet menu, raise funds so that they can have a special celebration, and imagine how great it will be to celebrate their long-awaited milestone.

A great feast is also at the culmination of God’s great story of redemption in the Bible. Throughout Scripture, many stories show how God feeds his people. It’s like a long bread-thread woven through and baked into the whole story of God’s amazing work in and through his people. And this great feast will have the finest and best of breads—no meal could be complete without it. This great feast combines so many things at once: it is high and long and wide and deep with the love of Christ; it celebrates manna in the wilderness and the “bread of the Presence” of God; it multiplies the feeding of the 5,000 exponentially; it recalls the bread that Jesus gave thanks for and broke with his disciples; and it fills us with Jesus himself, the bread of life.

All of these great memories and the fullness of every promise come together at the great supper of the Lamb in the new heaven and earth.

“Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:12)

Streams In the Desert – September 30

  • 202230 Sep

As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him” (Deut. 32:11-12).

Our Almighty Parent delights to conduct the tender nestlings of His care to the very edge of the precipice, and even to thrust them off into the steeps of air, that they may learn their possession of unrealized power of flight, to be forever a luxury; and if, in the attempt, they be exposed to unwonted peril, He is prepared to swoop beneath them, and to bear them upward on His mighty pinions. When God brings any of His children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count upon Him to deliver them.
–The Song of Victory

“When God puts a burden upon you He puts His own arm underneath.”

There is a little plant, small and stunted, growing under the shade of a broad-spreading oak; and this little plant values the shade which covers it, and greatly does it esteem the quiet rest which its noble friend affords. But a blessing is designed for this little plant.

Once upon a time there comes along the woodman, and with his sharp axe he fells the oak. The plant weeps and cries, “My shelter is departed; every rough wind will blow upon me, and every storm will seek to uproot me!”

“No, no,” saith the angel of that flower; “now will the sun get at thee; now will the shower fall on thee in more copious abundance than before; now thy stunted form shall spring up into loveliness, and thy flower, which could never have expanded itself to perfection shall now laugh in the sunshine, and men shall say, ‘How greatly hath that plant increased! How glorious hath become its beauty, through the removal of that which was its shade and its delight!'”

See you not, then, that God may take away your comforts and your privileges, to make you the better Christians? Why, the Lord always trains His soldiers, not by letting them lie on feather-beds, but by turning them out, and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. This is the way in which He makes them soldiers–not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made; but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets and roaring cannonades, not in soft and peaceful times.

Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? Is He not developing in you the qualities of the soldier by throwing you into the heat of battle, and should you not use every appliance to come off conqueror?

Love to Jesus

By: Charles Spurgeon

“O thou whom my soul loveth.” Solomon’s Song 1:7

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 103

The Christian, if he had no Christ to love, must die, for his heart has become Christ’s. And so if Christ were gone, love could not be; then his heart would be gone too, and a man without a heart is dead. The heart, is it not the vital principle of the body? And love, is it not the vital principle of the soul? Yet there are some who profess to love the Master, but only walk with him by fits, and then go abroad like Dinah into the tents of the Shechemites. Oh, take heed, ye professors, who seek to have two husbands; my Master will never be a part-husband. He is not such a one as to have half of your heart. My Master, though he be full of compassion and very tender, hath too noble a spirit to allow himself to be half-proprietor of any kingdom. Canute, the Danish king, might divide England with Edmund the Ironside, because he could not win the whole country, but my Lord will have every inch of thee, or none. He will reign in thee from one end of the isle of man to the other, or else he will not put a foot upon the soil of thy heart. He was never part-proprietor in a heart, and he will not stoop to such a thing now. What saith the old Puritan? “A heart is so little a thing, that it is scarce enough for a sparrow’s breakfast, and ye say it be too great a thing for Christ to have it all.” No, give him the whole. It is but little when thou weighest his merit, and very small when measured with his loveliness. Give him all. Let thy united heart, thy undivided affection be constantly, every hour, given up to him.

For meditation: The members of the Godhead are the only joint-owners of the Christian. May God teach us his way—that our hearts may be united and wholly for him (Psalm 86:11-12).

Our Identity in Christ

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Our Identity in Christ

senior woman brushing her hair
Robyn Hattingh – Communications Manager – CBN South Africa

What, or who, is your image rooted in?

The older I get, the more confident and comfortable I become with who I am. I think that this is partly due to maturity and regulated hormones, as well as finding security in who God created me to be. But, as we’ve seen in the world around us, our identity is majorly under attack, almost constantly. For some of us it may be sexuality, our role as a parent, or our purpose in life. One of my greatest identity challenges started just as the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world… I was diagnosed with a chronic disease that was influencing every single part of my life.

It was just before I was set to undergo surgery that someone in my team here in South Africa shared this Scripture:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

It came at a time where I was seriously questioning my identity as a child of God. I was struggling to understand why, after so many years and months of prayer for healing, I was still not healed and still in so much pain and discomfort. I was questioning God’s goodness for me, for my family, for who I was trying my best to be for Him. I was looking at people around me sharing incredible testimonies of God’s intervention, sharing about His goodness, and living out profound purposes for His kingdom.

And here I was, in my own eyes, failing miserably. I saw myself as a bad wife, an underperforming employee, and a horrible friend. That became how I identified myself.

This was exactly how the enemy was using my situation to distract me from God. The Scripture above reminded me that our identity and self-image is a big thing. The way we view ourselves has a massive impact on our thinking patterns, decision-making and the way we treat people.

Sometimes we become so busy and consumed, that before we know it, we base our value and worth on how we perform at work, at home, academically, our influence on social media—the list can be endless. All of these things are fleeting. Some days they go well, some days they go very badly – or even some long seasons go badly. I was so caught up in a bad season that I forgot the simple truths that had anchored me for so many years. I became so consumed with myself that I didn’t look to the Word for truth, I didn’t spend time in prayer seeking His comfort and gentle whispers, I didn’t rely on His grace to carry me through my trials.

This Scripture reminded me to get back to the basics. God prepared His good works, His workmanship—He prepared you and me—before we were even born so that we could walk in His promises and goodness. The only sure thing to root and anchor our identity in is God. We were created in His image (Genesis 1), He formed us intentionally and with purpose (Psalm 139), and He never changes—our value and worth will never change.

If you are struggling through your own hard season and have lost sight of your identity in Christ, recite this Scripture over and over until it feels real. Say it out loud, write it down, and put it where you can see it, and as I stand here in agreement with you, pray for God to make your identity in Him ever more real in your day-to-day life and trials.

The Book of Books

The Bible is an infallible source of truth.

September 29, 2022

Isaiah 55:9-11

Step into almost any bookstore, and you can find a volume on pretty much any topic you have in mind. Want new direction for your life? Are your children disobeying? Are you hoping to live in a healthier way? There are books that were written to help, but do the authors have trustworthy credentials?

There is a place to find accurate information and true guidance: The Bible will bless and benefit everyone who reads and applies its wisdom. Here’s what Scripture’s Author—“the God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16)—says about His own Word:

  1. The Bible gives direction for life (Psalm 119:105). God uses His Word to lead us, no matter what our circumstances may be.
  2. Scripture strengthens us in grief or difficulty (Psalm 119:28Psalm 119:116). By spending time processing what God says, we’re reminded that He loves us, cares about our situation, and can handle whatever we’re facing.
  3. God’s Word helps us understand our inner motivations (Hebrews 4:12). Scripture acts like a mirror that lets us see ourselves as we truly are.

The Bible is the very mind of God put into words so that we can know Him more fully. To what extent do you depend upon this amazing Book as your foundation for life?

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 1-5

Streams in the Desert – September 29

  • 202229 Sep

I will give myself unto prayer (Ps. 109:4).

We are often in a religious hurry in our devotions. How much time do we spend in them daily? Can it not be easily reckoned in minutes? Who ever knew an eminently holy man who did not spend much of his time in prayer? Did ever a man exhibit much of the spirit of prayer, who did not devote much time in his closet?

Whitefield says, “Whole days and weeks have I spent prostrate on the ground, in silent or vocal prayer.” “Fall upon your knees and grow there,” is the language of another, who knew whereof he affirmed.

It has been said that no great work in literature or science was ever wrought by a man who did not love solitude. We may lay it down as an elemental principle of religion, that no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be often, and long, alone with God.
–The Still Hour

‘Come, come,’ He saith, ‘O soul oppressed and weary,
Come to the shadows of my desert rest;
Come walk with Me far from life’s babbling discords,
And peace shall breathe like music in thy breast.’

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 29

Psalms 19:7-9 7The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

You are reading this devotion today because you believe God’s Word is a need in your life. This passage in Psalm 19 gives a picture of what a great need it is. In all this world, there is one perfect thing, the Word of God. It revives our soul. When you are downcast and need to find hope, the Word of God is the source of hope. It will revive your soul. If you are a simple trusting soul, where should you turn? The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy. Man will always disappoint. Not one man, other than Jesus, has completely trustworthy counsel.

Where can you go for true joy? Happiness will come and go, but the truth of God’s promises to you will give you an inner joy that will endure all circumstances of life. If you need clarity to see the way things really are, you need the radiant light of the Word. It illuminates the motivations of men. It illuminates the motivations of our own hearts. Without the Word of God our hearts would easily deceive us. The Word shines the light of truth on our thoughts and reveals whether they are from our flesh or the Spirit.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. In the Word we see the just judgment on those who turn from God and rebel against Him. We see the treachery and cunning of man’s own heart. The fear of our just God keeps us from playing around with the idea of compromising with sin. Every word of God is pure. You can trust every verse to be completely righteous. Sometimes our carnal mind gets confused by expressions in the Word. We struggle to accept what is written. But if we dig deeper, we find every word to be altogether righteous. Where else could you go to find all these wonderful things? The man or woman who does the same for you, is a man or woman full of the Word of God. They have had their mind renewed by the Word of God.

Encouragement: You are on the right track by taking time today to meditate on the Word.

Do I Hear Guilt?

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Do I Hear Guilt?

worried woman sitting alone on a couch

 

Gail Casteen – CBN, com

“Guilt!?! Do I hear guilt?” My friend could easily make me laugh. Even though I laughed every time she asked, her question awakened me to the fact that I’d chosen to shoulder guilt rather than let it go.

Guilt feels to me like a heavy, dark secret that others should never see. Yet, something as simple as making a minor blunder with a choice of words or a course of action can send me spiraling down into guilt. Often, it’s twin, shame, would come along for the ride. It could be nothing deep and dark to anyone, except to me! Still the guilt and shame dogged me.

I confided in my friend about everything. She knew things about me that only she and God knew. For years she would ask, “Guilt, do I hear guilt?”  Then she would follow with a second question, “Jesus died for that, so why are you carrying it?”

Great question. Why was it so easy to slip into the darkness where my less-than-stellar life events were tucked away? The place where when things went wrong, I believed I deserved it – I knew those secrets.  Sometimes it was as simple as, “I should have said this instead of that.” Or “Why did I do that?” Or “When will I learn to think through things instead of embarrassing myself?”  You know the questions.

When she moved across the country, I found the person asking those questions was ME! The answers were invariably, “Yes, I DO hear guilt.” and “Yes, Jesus DID die for that.” So, how do I get out from under that burden? I know. I know… repent! (Hearing that very word – REPENT – carried more guilt!)

In chapel one day, I heard a simple teaching that changed everything. When the teacher started talking about ‘repentance’ I had this sinking feeling, “Oh no. That’s all I need, one more message to make me feel worse about myself.”

But it didn’t go that way. He wasn’t preachy or condemning. He simply stated the fact that repent is made up of two Greek words, ‘meta’, meaning change, and ‘noeō’ meaning the mind. It means to change your mind! What a revelation! Think differently.

I had work to do. I had to learn that when I repented, God heard me and forgave me. That’s where I had to change my mind. It is finished! Once I go to Him and say, “Please forgive me”, it is done. That change of mind has carried me a long way.

As I learn to think differently, I am enjoying a new element of freedom I never imagined. Paul had it right when he said,

Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. (Romans 8:1, AMPC).

Go ahead and read all of Romans 8.  Boy-oh-boy! Talk about freedom.

Take Him at His Word, dark places are illuminated with His Life. He has brought us to this point of joy and liberty to empower us to be who we want to be in Him. Better yet, He’s setting us up to live our lives as He designed us from the foundation of the world.

Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4).

We live in a guilt-free zone! Thanks to Jesus!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 28

Psalms 19:1-3 1The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

David looked up at the night sky and saw a declaration of the glory of God. With the Hubble we can see even more wondrous and amazing sights far beyond the range of David’s eyes. But we have a different response. We have the audacity to think we have figured out God. Even macro-physicists include God in their equations. The more we discover the less we realize we know. Today you will find most astronomers believing there must be a God. One astronomer wrote that to find an argument against the existence of God, he had to go to another department. Yet the average person on the street has the impression that astronomers have creation all figured out as a natural process. Let’s hope that more astronomers will speak up about their lack of understanding of all that they see so that our perceptions will be corrected.

One of the sad byproducts of city life is that the stars can barely be seen. Our skies are so polluted that we have hidden the declaration. To replace that effect, we have the pictures from the Hubble continuing to come in as it shoots picture after picture of wonders full of color, design, and phenomena that cause us to marvel. It doesn’t need to be translated into French or Russian. It speaks in every language. It displays the knowledge of an infinite Creator who makes laws, order, and design. When you see those pictures, listen to God.

Consider: The heavens are still declaring the glory of God. Are you listening?

Streams in the Desert – September 28

  • 202228 Sep

In me… peace (John 16:33).

There is a vast difference between happiness and blessedness. Paul had imprisonments and pains, sacrifice and suffering up to the very limit; but in the midst of it all, he was blessed. All the beatitudes came into his heart and life in the midst of those very conditions.

Paganini, the great violinist, came out before his audience one day and made the discovery just as they ended their applause that there was something wrong with his violin. He looked at it a second and then saw that it was not his famous and valuable one. He felt paralyzed for a moment, then turned to his audience and told them there had been some mistake and he did not have his own violin. He stepped back behind the curtain thinking that it was still where he had left it, but discovered that some one had stolen his and left that old second-hand one in its place.

He remained back of the curtain a moment, then came out before his audience and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen: I will show you that the music is not in the instrument, but in the soul.” And he played as he had never played before; and out of that second-hand instrument, the music poured forth until the audience was enraptured with enthusiasm and the applause almost lifted the ceiling of the building, because the man had revealed to them that music was not in the machine but in his own soul.

It is your mission, tested and tried one, to walk out on the stage of this world and reveal to all earth and Heaven that the music is not in conditions, not in the things, not in externals, but the music of life is in your own soul.

Believers—lights in the world

‘Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.’ Philippians 2:14–16

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Timothy 1:8–2:5

Christians are soldiers. If our soldiers were to take it into their heads that they never ought to be seen, a pretty pass things would come to; what were the soldiers worth when they shunned parade and dreaded battle? We want not men who dare not show themselves to friend or foe. Christians are runners too, and what sort of runners are men who run in the dark? Not so says the apostle; we are ‘compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,’ and therefore he bids us ‘lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.’ What! a running match and no spectators? Hail Emperor! The champion salutes thee! He prays thee to dismiss the spectators. You common herd, retire, or put your fingers to your eyes, here comes a runner who is so dainty that he cannot be looked at, a swift-footed runner who must be scrutinised by no vulgar eye or he will faint and lose the crown. ‘Ha! Ha!’ the mob laughs. ‘These are not the men to make a Roman holiday; these timid fools had better play with babes in the nursery; they are not fit to consort with men.’ What think you of Christians who must have the stadium cleared before they can enter the course. Rather, O sons of God, defy all onlookers. Crowd the seats and look on, angels, and men, and devils too, and see what you will. What matters it to the Christian, for he is looking unto Jesus, he runs not for you but for the reward, and whether you look or not, his zeal and earnestness are still the same, for Christ is in him and run he must, look on who will.

For meditation: How can others see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven, if we are ashamed to let our lights shine before them (Matthew 5:16)?

Where God Leads, God Equips

 

Where God Leads, God Equips

10 Bible Verses about God Showing Us The Way. – Daily Bible Verse Blog

 

I never imagined I would become a CBN host. Since I was little, I was always very shy, in addition to having a small attention deficit that made me be more in the clouds than able to follow the thread of a conversation. I liked to sing, so I cultivated that dream, and at age 19, it led me to be in media circles.

I worked hard, and although I could sing in front of thousands of people, my social skills remained the same. My heart seemed like a bottomless barrel, and nothing filled it… until I met Jesus Christ. I was finally able to experience the joy that I had long sought. I wanted to tell the entire world that Jesus Christ is real, that He really exists!

Then came the invitation to become part of Vive Más, but the idea of not being able to do well terrified me. I thought if I could not follow a conversation, then how could I interview someone? However, the wonderful production team embraced me and never got tired of supporting me. This experience brought a most special meaning to me from this verse:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10 NIV).

Currently, the Vive Más program has been running for more than four years and God continues to develop my communication skills to carry His message through it. We share God’s wonderful works and see how people are rescued for His kingdom, day by day.

But something completely unexpected also happened during my journey. I can now carry on a conversation! God uses music to take me to places where there are many people who do not know Christ, and my new skills in conversation allow me to share Christ wherever He leads me.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).

Sowing the Word of God is sowing love, and in due time we will reap what we sow. This love will not necessarily come from those people with whom we share, but God’s love will fill our hearts with the joy of His presence and the knowledge that we are fulfilling His will in our lives. We may not see the fruit, but we can rejoice in having participated in the work! In this way, we will not get tired of doing good, because our joy is already fulfilled.

Let us do good all the time seeking to reflect God with our behavior, love, and patience. Let us not expect to see all the work finished overnight. Instead, let us sow patiently and in due time we will reap precious fruit with an abundance we never imagined. It is a fallen and oppositional world but we can focus on the fact that one day the work will be complete, and we will enjoy the reward that comes from the Lord.

“Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds” (Isaiah 3:10).

The greatest reward is to be able to serve and be useful tools in the hands of the Lord. Let us not grow weary of doing good, because even if we do not have the skills, those whom God calls, He trains.

What is the weak area of ​​your life that you need to give to the Lord? Do you think He would equip you if He called you?

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 27

Psalms 8:3-5 3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

The clear night sky is awe-inspiring. One of my favorite places is a canyon lake far from big cities. The night sky appears to be entirely filled with stars. The band of the Milky Way glows with the light of a million stars. We count the shooting stars until we fall asleep. Now we know so much more about the enormity and complexity of that night sky than David did. It should awe us even more when we consider that our God set all that in place. He decreed the laws by which it all functions. Man is increasingly wondering at the mysteries and beauty we see there.

Considering that seemingly infinite space and vast number of worlds, what is man that God is mindful of us? He thinks of each of us continually. Why? What a great priority He has placed upon us as small as we are. He made us a little lower than elohim. The Hebrew word is used for God or angelic beings, and that is why you find some variations in the translation. I prefer “a little lower than God,” since we will judge angels and they are sent to minister to us. It seems that David is in awe of the position God has given man in the order of creation. As small and insignificant as we seem, He has put great priority on us, crowning us with glory and honor.

In light of such honor, our sin is all the more abhorrent. To think that we would rebel against the Almighty, our Maker, who gave us such a lofty position, shows the depravity of our ingratitude. What is man? We are so honored and offered such glory that our minds can scarcely conceive it. Look up into the night sky.

Consider: How should I respond to such a gracious and loving God?

Streams in the Desert – September 27

  • 202227 Sep

I have found an atonement (Job 33:24, margin).

Divine healing is just divine life. It is the headship of Christ over the body. It is the life of Christ in the frame. It is the union of our members with the very body of Christ and the inflowing life of Christ in our living members. It is as real as His risen and glorified body. It is as reasonable as the fact that He was raised from the dead and is a living Man with a true body and a rational soul today at God’s right hand.

That living Christ belongs to us in all His attributes and powers. We are members of His body, His flesh and His bones, and if we can only believe and receive it, we may live upon the very life of the Son of God.

Lord, help me to know “the Lord for the body and the body for the Lord.”
–A. B. Simpson

“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.” (Zeph. 3:17). This was the text that first flashed the truth of Divine healing into my mind and worn-out body nearly a quarter century ago. It is still the door, wide open more than ever, through which the living Christ passes moment by moment into my redeemed body, filling, energizing, vitalizing it with the presence and power of His own personality, turning my whole being into a “new heaven and new earth.”

“The Lord, thy God.” Thy God. My God. Then all that is in God Almighty is mine and in me just as far as I am able and willing to appropriate Him and all that belongs to Him. This God, “Mighty,” ALL Mighty God, is our INSIDE God. He is, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in the midst of me, just as really as the sun is in the center of the heavens, or like the great dynamo in the center of the power-house of my three-fold being. He is in the midst, at the center of my physical being. He is in the midst of my brain. He is in the midst of my nerve centers.

For twenty-one years it has been not only a living reality to me, but a reality growing deeper and richer, until now at the age of seventy years, I am in every sense a younger, fresher man than I was at thirty. At this present time I am in the strength of God, doing full twice as much work, mental and physical, as I have ever done in the best days of the past, and this observe, with less than half the effort then necessary. My life, physical, mental and spiritual, is like an artesian well–always full, overflowing. To speak, teach, travel by night and day in all weather and through all the sudden and violent changes of our variable climate, is no more effort to me than it is for the mill-wheel to turn when the stream is full or for the pipe to let the water run through.

My body, soul and spirit thus redeemed,
Sanctified and healed I give, O Lord, to Thee,
A consecrated offering Thine ever more to be.
That all my powers with all their might
In Thy sole glory may unite.–Hallelujah!

–Dr. Henry Wilson

The Spirit-Filled Life

From: Intouch Ministeries

Our self-driven efforts will produce frustration and disappointment.

September 27, 2022

1 John 2:3-6

There was a time when I was so disheartened that I wondered whether to remain in the ministry. How could I tell people that Jesus would give them peace and joy when I didn’t feel it myself?

God let me stew in my anxiety until I was fully committed to finding out if His Word was true or not. I found my answer in a biography of missionary Hudson Taylor. For a long time he, too, felt that his efforts fell short of the Lord’s expectations. But Taylor realized God wanted believers to trust Him fully and rest on His promises.

As a child, I was taught that a person got saved and then went to work for God. You did the best you could to think, speak, and act in a wise, godly manner. When your best wasn’t good enough, well, you tried harder. Such an impossible expectation was wearing me out. This idea of letting Jesus Christ work through me sounded both biblical and liberating.

A grape branch doesn’t bear fruit because of its determined efforts to get sunshine; rather, it simply abides in the vine, and fruit appears. The vine does all the work. In the same way, believers are to be in union with their Savior so that spiritual fruit can grow in their life.

Bible in One Year: Habakkuk 1-3

Ditch the Rotten Fruit

 

Ditch the Rotten Fruit

young person getting fruit from a basket

Have you ever gone to the refrigerator or the fruit bowl to find that the fruit you recently bought has begun to perish? At that time, you can choose to remove the perishing item or leave it to decay, causing the other fruit around it to decompose. There is much about rotten fruit that is unappealing; unless dealt with appropriately, the smell will linger, the fruit will decay, and spread decay to other fruit.

The Bible talks about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23:

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (NLT)

These fruits are cultivated by the Holy Spirit in our lives. In verses 19-21 we read about “bad and rotten fruit,” which is the result of the works of “the sinful nature.”

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.

It’s unpleasant to deal with the rotten fruit of the sin nature. However, left unchecked, the consequences have serious repercussions.

Like literal rotten fruit, the acts of the sin nature begin to affect our lives and negatively influence those around us. Daily, we must choose to either continue following the desires of the flesh—or we decide to get rid of the rotten fruit and allow the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in our lives.

The choices we make ultimately determine whether we walk in peace or discord. Each choice positively or negatively affects us not only individually, but equally impacts those around us.

In Luke 6:43-45, Jesus says:

“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

From these verses, we see that our speech is an indicator of the condition of the heart. For out of the abundance (the overflow) of the heart, the mouth speaks. The words that we speak have creative power. They can build up or tear down; they can be life-giving or words of death that destroy.

Let’s pray:
Father, thank You for Your Spirit that produces good fruit in our lives—for our own benefit, and for the benefit of others. Let our attitudes and speech overflow with Your goodness, that You may be glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Streams in the Desert – September 26

  • 202226 Sep

We walk by faith, not by appearance (2 Cor. 5:7, RV).

By faith, not appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and Satan may want us to. But God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us.

When we face these precious facts, and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings.

God never gives feeling to enable us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to encourage us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to show that we have already and utterly trusted Him. God gives feeling only when He sees that we trust Him apart from all feeling, resting on His own Word, and on His own faithfulness to His promise. Never until then can the feeling (which is from God) possibly come; and God will give the feeling in such a measure and at such a time as His love sees best for the individual case.

We must choose between facing toward our feelings and facing toward God’s facts. Our feelings may be as uncertain as the sea or the shifting sands. God’s facts are as certain as the Rock of Ages, even Christ Himself, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

“When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.”

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 26

Psalms 2:6-8 6“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. 8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

Many of the psalms look forward in time to the first and second coming of Jesus. Because Jesus is referred to as ‘the son of David’, there are verses written about Solomon that are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.

In the second psalm God is speaking to the nations of the world that refuse God’s instruction. They rebel against His loving decrees. But God is not threatened at all. In fact, He laughs. If all the nations of the earth were to join together to fight against Him, it would not disturb His peace one bit. Then God declares where His sovereign will has placed all authority to rule, in His Son.

The Son was with God from the beginning, but there is a point in human history when he is born of a woman. The birth in Bethlehem was one of the most amazing and supernatural events to ever take place. God stepped into a human body. The Son was willing to set an example for mankind and redeem us through His own obedient death on the cross. God has given Him the right to rule the kingdoms of the earth. One day He will no longer allow man to rebel. The freedom to mock God and His laws and cause the people to suffer will no longer be allowed. Those rulers who would rebel will face the rod of iron. Man keeps trying to make the perfect government and failing. The perfect government is coming.

Meditation: The King of kings will be installed on Zion, God’s holy hill, and will reign in righteousness. Are you letting Him rule in your heart today?

They Broke Bread in their Homes

 Julia Prins Vanderveen, author, Today Devotiona

  ACTS 2:36-47

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. . . .

—  Acts 2:46

For a time, our church received donations of day-old bread from a bakery nearby. An elderly man from a neighboring church would pick up the bread and bring it to us on Sunday mornings. Some of it, however, was too tough for his church members to eat, he said, because many of them couldn’t afford dental care and were missing teeth. They could enjoy soft breads, but not the bagels, artisan loaves, and so on. So I suggested that some members in our church might like the breads that their members couldn’t use, and the elder thought that would make a great arrangement.

Early each Sunday morning, he dropped off a few gigantic bags of bagels and seedy artisan loaves, joking each time that this was his gift for “the church of the strong teeth”—and every week without fail we laughed about it. He saved the soft bread for his congregation, and our young people ate bagels after the morning service—and then also each morning throughout the week. This became a regular part of our Sunday gatherings. Our churches became closer because of it, and in a very real way we “ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”

Acts 2 gives a glimpse of the early church and how they gathered for worship and ate bread together. When we break bread together with glad hearts, we remember Jesus and take part in the joy shared by those early followers.

Jesus, by your Spirit be present among us as we break bread together. Amen.