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Happiness That Lasts

Prayer—Battle in “The Secret Place”

By Oswald Chambers

Prayer—Battle in

Prayer—Battle in “The Secret Place”

By Oswald Chambers

Jesus did not say, “Dream about your Father who is in the secret place,” but He said, “…pray to your Father who is in the secret place….” Prayer is an effort of the will. After we have entered our secret place and shut the door, the most difficult thing to do is to pray. We cannot seem to get our minds into good working order, and the first thing we have to fight is wandering thoughts. The great battle in private prayer is overcoming this problem of our idle and wandering thinking. We have to learn to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful, deliberate prayer.

We must have a specially selected place for prayer, but once we get there this plague of wandering thoughts begins, as we begin to think to ourselves, “This needs to be done, and I have to do that today.” Jesus says to “shut your door.” Having a secret stillness before God means deliberately shutting the door on our emotions and remembering Him. God is in secret, and He sees us from “the secret place”— He does not see us as other people do, or as we see ourselves. When we truly live in “the secret place,” it becomes impossible for us to doubt God. We become more sure of Him than of anyone or anything else. Enter into “the secret place,” and you will find that God was right in the middle of your everyday circumstances all the time. Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless you learn to open the door of your life completely and let God in from your first waking moment of each new day, you will be working on the wrong level throughout the day. But if you will swing the door of your life fully open and “pray to your Father who is in the secret place,” every public thing in your life will be marked with the lasting imprint of the presence of God.

When We’re Stuck In a Mess

Lysa TerKeurst August 23, 2018
When We’re Stuck In a Mess
LYSA TERKEURST

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.’” Deuteronomy 2:2-3 (NIV)

We all have messes in our lives. Financial messes. Relationship messes. Health messes. Home messes. Business messes.

Messes that leave us feeling stuck. Like we may be stranded in this place of upheaval and unrest forever.

I’m sure that’s how the people of Israel felt as they were wandering through the desert. Stuck in a mess with no end in sight. You’ve probably read or heard this story found in the book of Exodus. God had miraculously set the Israelites free from the oppression and bondage of slavery in Egypt. But their unwillingness to fully trust Him and their blatant refusal to take possession of the Promised Land landed them in quite a mess. A 40-year, desert-wandering mess.

Thankfully, we discover in the book of Deuteronomy that their story isn’t over. Change is coming. The children of the Israelites, originally released from Pharaoh’s tyranny, are finally about to take possession of the land God said was theirs all along. But before they move forward, Moses has everyone pause to look back. He knows he won’t be going with them, so he wants to be sure to cement in their minds the faithfulness of God along their journey.

Moses reminds them of a time when they had been stuck circling the same mountain for too long. God spoke into their wandering and let them know it was time to head in a new direction.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north’” (Deuteronomy 2:2-3).

It was a pivotal moment for them to remember. One where they had faced a life-changing choice. They could stay stuck, endlessly circling the same old place, or they could choose hope and head in a new direction with the Lord.

They could turn north.

I think this is the perfect time to pause and ask God if there’s anywhere we need to “turn north” in our own lives. Have we been circling the same messes for years and years with no end in sight? Are there areas we know we need to change but feel like it will require too much sacrifice?

Here’s a question we can ask ourselves right in the midst of our messes …

Am I letting this mess define me or refine me?

The answer to this question is crucial.

If I am letting a mess define me, I will feel hopeless.

If I am letting a mess refine me, I will be hopeful.

If the Israelites had looked at their 40-year track record of aimless wandering and defined themselves as rebellious failures, they would have lost all hope and kept right on circling. But because they embraced the correction and redirection of the Lord, they were able to turn around and move toward His promises with hope firmly planted in their hearts.

It’s time for our messes to stop defining us.

It’s time to embrace the refining process and turn north.

So how do we begin to turn north? We replace our old thoughts with empowering truths from God’s Word.

I call them “Go-To Scripts.” In other words, these statements can become our new patterns of thought. And these new patterns of thought will empower us for a new way of living. I’m sharing a list of some of my favorite “Go-To Scripts” with you today in our Reflect and Respond section because I don’t believe for one second we have to stay stuck in our current messes.

May we hear the Father’s voice, filled with grace and free from any hint of condemnation, declaring over us today, “It’s time to turn north, beloved.” And may we be found turning toward Him and moving forward with Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for continually offering me hope. I’m choosing to believe today that I don’t have to stay stuck in my messes, even if they are messes of my own making. I’m tuning my ear to Your voice today. I’m filling my heart and mind with the truth of Your Word. And I’m heading in a new direction with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Jesus Is Reaching Out

Matthew 14

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children

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Jesus Reached Out

Jesus Reached Out
Read: Matthew 14:22–33 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 97–99; Romans 16

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. Matthew 14:31

Sometimes life gets busy—classes are hard, work is exhausting, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and a coffee date is on the day’s schedule. It gets to the point where I force myself to read the Bible for a few minutes a day and tell myself I’ll spend more time with God next week. But it doesn’t take long before I’m distracted, drowning in the day’s tasks, and forget to ask God for help of any kind.

When Peter was walking on water toward Jesus, he quickly became distracted by the wind and waves. Like me, he began to sink (Matthew 14:29–30). But as soon as Peter cried out, “immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him” (vv. 30–31).

I often feel as if I have to make it up to God after being so busy and distracted that I lose sight of Him. But that’s not how God works. As soon as we turn to Him for help, Jesus reaches out without hesitation.

When we’re unsettled by the chaos of life, it’s easy to forget that God is standing in the middle of the storm with us. Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt?” (v. 31). No matter what we’re going through, He is there. He is here. Next to us at that moment, in this moment, ready to reach out and rescue us.

Lord, help me to turn to You in the midst of my busyness and life’s distractions. Thank You for always being here, ready to catch me.

God is waiting for us to turn to Him so He can reach out and help.

Are You Discouraged or Devoted?

By Oswald Chambers

Are You Discouraged or Devoted?

Have you ever heard the Master say something very difficult to you? If you haven’t, I question whether you have ever heard Him say anything at all. Jesus says a tremendous amount to us that we listen to, but do not actually hear. And once we do hear Him, His words are harsh and unyielding.

Jesus did not show the least concern that this rich young ruler should do what He told him, nor did Jesus make any attempt to keep this man with Him. He simply said to him, “Sell all that you have…and come, follow Me.” Our Lord never pleaded with him; He never tried to lure him— He simply spoke the strictest words that human ears have ever heard, and then left him alone.

Have I ever heard Jesus say something difficult and unyielding to me? Has He said something personally to me to which I have deliberately listened— not something I can explain for the sake of others, but something I have heard Him say directly to me? This man understood what Jesus said. He heard it clearly, realizing the full impact of its meaning, and it broke his heart. He did not go away as a defiant person, but as one who was sorrowful and discouraged. He had come to Jesus on fire with zeal and determination, but the words of Jesus simply froze him. Instead of producing enthusiastic devotion to Jesus, they produced heartbreaking discouragement. And Jesus did not go after him, but let him go. Our Lord knows perfectly well that once His word is truly heard, it will bear fruit sooner or later. What is so terrible is that some of us prevent His words from bearing fruit in our present life. I wonder what we will say when we finally make up our minds to be devoted to Him on that particular point? One thing is certain— He will never throw our past failures back in our faces.

 

Pride and humility

From: Charles Spurgeon, Author

“Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.” Proverbs 18:12

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 12:3-6

What is humility? The best definition I have ever met with is, “to think rightly of ourselves.” Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self. It is no humility for a man to think less of himself than he ought, though it might rather puzzle him to do that. Some persons, when they know they can do a thing, tell you they cannot; but you do not call that humility. A man is asked to take part in some meeting. “No,” he says, “I have no ability”; yet if you were to say so yourself, he would be offended at you. It is not humility for a man to stand up and depreciate himself and say he cannot do this, that, or the other, when he knows that he is lying. If God gives a man a talent, do you think the man does not know it? If a man has ten talents he has no right to be dishonest to his Maker, and to say, “Lord, thou hast only given me five.” It is not humility to underrate yourself. Humility is to think of yourself, if you can, as God thinks of you. It is to feel that if we have talents, God has given them to us, and let it be seen that, like freight in a vessel, they tend to sink us low. The more we have, the lower we ought to lie. Humility is not to say, “I have not this gift,” but it is to say, “I have the gift, and I must use it for my Master’s glory. I must never seek any honour for myself, for what have I that I have not received?”

For meditation: Pride can lead us to misuse God’s gifts for selfish ends. A false humility can lead to laziness and disobedience which causes someone else to have to do what we should be doing ourselves. The right balance is to serve the Lord with all humility as the apostle Paul could truthfully claim to have done (Acts 20:19).

Teach Your Children About Jesus

Deuteronomy 6

Love the Lord Your God

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

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Does He Know Me?

Does He Know Me?

By Oswald Chambers

When I have sadly misunderstood Him? (see John 20:11-18). It is possible to know all about doctrine and still not know Jesus. A person’s soul is in grave danger when the knowledge of doctrine surpasses Jesus, avoiding intimate touch with Him. Why was Mary weeping? Doctrine meant no more to her than the grass under her feet. In fact, any Pharisee could have made a fool of Mary doctrinally, but one thing they could never ridicule was the fact that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her (see Luke 8:2); yet His blessings were nothing to her in comparison with knowing Jesus Himself. “…she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus….Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ ” (John 20:14, 16). Once He called Mary by her name, she immediately knew that she had a personal history with the One who spoke. “She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ ” (John 20:16).

When I have stubbornly doubted? (see John 20:24-29). Have I been doubting something about Jesus— maybe an experience to which others testify, but which I have not yet experienced? The other disciples said to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord” (John 20:25). But Thomas doubted, saying, “Unless I see…I will not believe” (John 20:25). Thomas needed the personal touch of Jesus. When His touches will come we never know, but when they do come they are indescribably precious. “Thomas…said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ” (John 20:28).

When I have selfishly denied Him? (see John 21:15-17). Peter denied Jesus Christ with oaths and curses (see Matthew 26:69-75), and yet after His resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter alone. Jesus restored Peter in private, and then He restored him publicly before the others. And Peter said to Him, “Lord…You know that I love You” (John 21:17).

Do I have a personal history with Jesus Christ? The one true sign of discipleship is intimate oneness with Him— a knowledge of Jesus that nothing can shake.

Spontaneous Praise!

By: Merle Mills, Author

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I arrived for my scheduled outpatient tests: an x-ray and a CT scan. Medical procedures always make me fearful. The examination room and table were no exception. Both were cold, matching the ice-cold fear of each heartbeat as I waited patiently for the radiologist to appear.

I was unaware of an attendant in the adjoining room until I heard a female voice softly filling the air with spontaneous praise. The song was familiar, “Holy Ground,” written by Geron Davis. In worship at my Church, it was sung often, and the words always reminded me that wherever I was, the ground became holy, accompanied by the presence of Jesus and angels. My icy heartbeats were warmed as spontaneous praise from the heart of an unashamed praiser helped refocus fear, apprehension, and anxiety, to my Heavenly Father.

After being saved and delivered out of the hands of the Egyptians, Miriam and all the women sang a spontaneous song of victory. Previously, they had focused on their bitterness and bondage (see Exodus 1:14). Now, they were focused on God’s power:

“Sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; He has hurled both horse and rider into the sea.” Exodus 15:21 (NLT)

Paul and Silas were wrongly accused, beaten, and thrown into prison. At midnight, they prayed and sang spontaneous praise songs. These focused songs of praise not only opened the prison doors, but the chains of all the prisoners fell off and the chief jailer was drawn by God’s power. Their singing allowed them the opportunity to share the gospel which was received by him and his entire household. (See Acts 16:25-34.)

Scripture encourages us to sing and make melody in our hearts:

“Sing a new song to the LORD! Let the whole earth sing to the LORD!” Psalm 96:1(NLT)

“Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.” Ephesians 5:19 (NLT)

David committed to singing as a part of his life:

“I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!” Psalms 104:33 (NLT)

The results of my x-ray and scan were both abnormal, but thanks be to our God, successfully treated. I believe the soft spontaneous song of praise, reminding me of being surrounded by angels and the presence of Jesus, invited an inner God-given strength and peace in my soul. Even when I hear this song today, it turns my focus to Almighty God and His indescribable love, power to calm fears, strengthen, and heal, through songs of spontaneous praise.

On earth, I may never know the name of the attendant who was unashamed to offer a spontaneous song of praise to Jesus. That attendant may never know or imagine how her praise impacted the life of this then fearful young woman.

Has our Heavenly Father placed a song of praise in your heart? That song spontaneously sung could inspire you, or someone nearby, warming icy heartbeats, and refocusing fear, apprehension, and anxiety, into the presence of Jesus, and the holy angels.

Heavenly Father, may songs of spontaneous praise about You, Your presence, love, power, and peace, always be in our hearts, and on our lips, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

In waiting, I waited, for the Lord (Psalms 40:1-6, margin).

Waiting is much more difficult than walking. Waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue. It is fine to know that God builds hedges around His people–when the hedge is looked at from the viewpoint of protection. But when the hedge is kept around one until it grows so high that he cannot see over the top, and wonders whether he is ever to get out of the little sphere of influence and service in which he is pent up, it is hard for him sometimes to understand why he may not have a larger environment–hard for him to “brighten the corner” where he is. But God has a purpose in all HIS holdups. “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord,” reads Psalm 37:23.

On the margin of his Bible at this verse George Mueller had a notation, “And the stops also.” It is a sad mistake for men to break through God’s hedges. It is a vital principle of guidance for a Christian never to move out of the place in which he is sure God has placed him, until the Pillar of Cloud moves.
–Sunday School Times

When we learn to wait for our Lord’s lead in everything, we shall know the strength that finds its climax in an even, steady walk. Many of us are lacking in the strength we so covet. But God gives full power for every task He appoints. Waiting, holding oneself true to His lead–this is the secret of strength. And anything that falls out of the line of obedience is a waste of time and strength. Watch for His leading.
–S. D. Gordon

Must life be a failure for one compelled to stand still in enforced inaction and see the great throbbing tides of life go by? No; victory is then to be gotten by standing still, by quiet waiting. It is a thousand times harder to do this than it was in the active days to rush on in the columns of stirring life. It requires a grander heroism to stand and wait and not lose heart and not lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up work and honors to others, to be quiet, confident and rejoicing, while the happy, busy multitude go on and away.

It is the grandest life “having done all, to stand.”
–J. R. Miller

God Sees You

Job 13:27

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

Job 16:9

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

Psalm 139:16

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

2 Corinthians 12:19

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

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I See You

From: Our Daily Bread

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God always keeps His eye on His children.

 

The Concentration of Personal Sin

By Oswald Chambers

The Concentration of Personal Sin

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

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

God’s Independence Day

By: Beth Patch, Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Directions To Heaven

HOW DO I GET TO HEAVEN?  PLEASE GIVE ME DIRECTIONS?

You get there through faith in Jesus Christ.

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”Acts 16:31.

 

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 10:9-16

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

( People giving directions)
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A New Language

From: Our Daily Journey

A New Language

Read:

Acts 2:1-13
Everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages (Acts 2:4).

Many years ago, a hurricane forced my wife Miska and me to evacuate a resort in Cancun, Mexico, where we were celebrating our tenth anniversary. On our way to the airport, I got lost and stopped for directions. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand the people who tried to help since they were speaking in Spanish. Finally, I called a bilingual friend and had them talk to the clerk at a service station. Fortunately, we made it in time for the last flight out that day.

I remember how lost I felt with no way to communicate, and when in desperation I landed on the idea of calling my friend, it was like a whole new way opened up. When I got him on the phone, I sensed we were going to be okay.

On the day of Pentecost, thousands of Jewish pilgrims descended on Jerusalem. Using modern geography, people had gathered from Iran, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Turkey, North Africa, Rome, and beyond (Acts 2:9-11). And remarkably, when Peter began to proclaim the story of Jesus, the Holy Spirit wove the words in such a beautiful way that these disparate travelers “came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken” (Acts 2:6 NIV). It was astounding.

Over the course of that miraculous day, thousands came to believe in and follow Jesus (Acts 2:41). When the Holy Spirit came, people spoke in new languages, but even more important was what those new languages made possible. Those who had been enemies were now friends. Those who had been confused now saw the truth clearly. Those who had been far from God were now drawn into God’s powerful story. We hear God’s new language every time He opens our eyes or ears, and we understand His love as if for the very first time.

 

The church’s love to her loving Lord

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From: Charles Spurgeon

‘Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?’ Song of Solomon 1:7

Suggested Further Reading: Mark 9:2–9

When Tigranes and his wife were both taken prisoners by Cyrus, turning to Tigranes, he said, ‘What will you give for the liberation of your wife?’ The king answered, ‘I love my wife so that I would cheerfully give up my life if she might be delivered from servitude;’ whereupon Cyrus said that if there was such love as that between them, they might both go free. So when they were away and many were talking about the beauty and generosity of Cyrus, and especially about the beauty of his person, Tigranes, turning to his wife, asked her what she thought of Cyrus, and she answered that she saw nothing anywhere but in the face of the man who had said that he would die if she might only be released from servitude. ‘The beauty of that man,’ she said, ‘makes me forget all others.’ And verily we would say the same of Jesus. We would not decry the angels, nor think ill of the saints, but the beauties of that man who gave his life for us are so great that they have eclipsed all others, and our soul only wishes to see him and not another; for, as the stars hide their heads in the presence of the sun, so may you all be gone, delights and excellencies, when Christ Jesus, the chief delight, the chief excellency, makes his appearance. Seeing him, you must love him. It was said of Henry VIII, that if all portraits of tyrants, and murderers, and thieves were out of existence, they might all be painted from the one face of Henry VIII; and turning that round another way, we will say, that if all the excellencies, beauties, and perfections of the human race were blotted out, they might all be painted again from the face of the Lord Jesus.

For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ really did give up his life to deliver his bride, the church (Ephesians 5:25), from the dominion of darkness and sin (Colossians 1:13–14). Do you express appropriate wonder, love and gratitude (Galatians 2:201 Peter 1:8)?

 

A present religion

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From: Charles Spurgeon

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” 1 John 3:2

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 13:1-8

We need not talk of walking righteously, and soberly, in the world to come—

“There all is pure, and all is clear, There all is joy and love.”

There will be no duty to discharge between the tradesmen and the customers, between the debtor and the creditor, between the father and the child, between the husband and the wife, in heaven, for all these relationships will have passed away. Religion must be intended for this life; the duties of it cannot be practised, unless they are practised here. But besides these, there are other duties devolving upon the Christian. Though it is every man’s duty to be honest and sober, the Christian has another code of law. It is the Christian’s duty to love his enemies, to be at peace with all men, to forgive as he hopes to be forgiven; it is his duty not to resist evil, when smitten on the one cheek to turn the other also; it is his duty to give to him that asketh of him, and from him that would borrow of him not to turn away—he is to be a liberal soul, devising liberal things. It is the Christian’s duty to visit his Master’s children when they are sick, so that it may be said to him at last, “I was sick, and naked, and in prison, and ye visited me, and ministered to my necessities.” Now, if religion be not a thing for this world, I ask you how it is possible to perform its duties at all? There are no poor in heaven whom we can comfort and visit; there are no enemies in heaven whom we can graciously forgive; and there are not injuries inflicted, or wrongs endured, which we can bear with patience. Religion must have been intended in the very first place for this world, it must have been meant that now we should be the sons of God.

For meditation: Faith in Christ is the qualification for a place in heaven; work for Christ is the qualification for rewards in heaven in addition to a place in heaven (Matthew 10:40-42).

Amnesia

Nebuchadnezzar was a great general and king. God taught him who He was after 
he lost his mind, acted like an animal, and later was restored as king of Babylon. You find
this story in Daniel chapter 4.
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Amnesia

From: Our Daily Bread

Amnesia

My understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High. Daniel 4:34 nkjv

Emergency Services in Carlsbad, California, came to the rescue of a woman with an Australian accent who couldn’t recall who she was. Because she was suffering from amnesia and had no ID with her, she was unable to provide her name or where she had come from. It took the help of doctors and international media to restore her health, tell her story, and reunite her with her family.

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, also lost sight of who he was and where he had come from. His “amnesia,” though, was spiritual. In taking credit for the kingdom he’d been given, he forgot that God is the King of Kings, and everything he had was from Him (Daniel 4:17, 28–30).

God dramatized the king’s state of mind by driving him into the fields to live with wild animals and graze like a cow (vv. 32–33). Finally, after seven years Nebuchadnezzar looked up to the skies, and his memory of who he was and who had given him his kingdom returned. With his senses restored, he declared, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven” (v. 37).

What about us? Who do we think we are? Where did we come from? Since we are inclined to forget, who can we count on to help us remember but the King of Kings?

Father, we are so inclined to forget who we are, where we’ve come from, and that we belong to You. Help us to remember that in Christ we are Your children—known, loved, gifted, and cared for—now and forever.

When we forget who we are, our Father cares.

Comes in Pretty Handy

From: Our Daily Journey

Comes in Pretty Handy

Read:

Romans 15:23-33
Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well.” . . . What good does that do? (James 2:15-16).

“We don’t use money in heaven,” says Clarence the angel in the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life. “It comes in pretty handy down here, Bub!” replies an exasperated, earthbound George Bailey.

Joe Holman could relate to George. He needed $700 to fund a medical-mission event in a remote region. By posting the need online, he raised $210. At the same time, a friend of Joe’s posted that he needed $4,000 to make a music CD. He received $4,300.

Joe doesn’t like to discuss finances. As a missionary, he says, “We have to appear above money.” But money does matter. And it especially matters to those who serve at the front lines of our poorest areas.

As the apostle Paul wrapped up his letter to the church in Rome, he touched on this practical matter. He was about to take a financial gift to the believers in Jerusalem from Gentile believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Gentiles had heard the good news about Jesus from Jerusalem missionaries and now wanted to help in some small way (Romans 15:26). “They feel the least they can do in return is to help them financially,” Paul wrote (Romans 15:27).

Remarkably, the church in Macedonia gave out of their poverty (2 Corinthians 8:1-3). Paul used their generosity to challenge wealthier churches to give as well. (Note that the apostle wasn’t asking for money for himself.)

It isn’t all about the money, of course. When Paul asked for his own needs, he said, “Join in my struggle by praying to God for me” (Romans 15:30). But money does indeed “come in pretty handy down here.” By using it wisely as our generous God provides, we bless others even while we serve Him. Consider helping missions or a faith-based charity in a tangible way today as He supplies what you need.

 

High-Tech Communication

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Now we have received . . . the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. —1 Corinthians 2:12

When it comes to communication, our world is becoming increasingly high-tech. The popularity of things like Twitter and Facebook might cause some to think the Bible is too old-school. The tech-savvy people of our world might feel deterred because there are no sounds and no nifty graphics in the Bible. But the truth is, there’s more high-tech power in God’s Word than in any cutting-edge communication tool our world will ever know.

It’s not uncommon for a pastor to be told, “When you said that in your message, it was just what I needed.” Somehow during the sermon, God spoke to the person’s heart with a message tailor-made for him or her. If you’ve ever read the Bible and sensed God speaking directly to you, you know what I’m talking about. God has hard-wired you with His Spirit, who illumines your mind to understand His Word.

Imagine getting a “text message” directly from the Creator of the universe telling you exactly what you need at exactly the right time. No matter how high-tech this world gets, you’ll never experience a more powerful mode of communication!

Rejoice in the reality that “we have received . . . the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:12).

Give me the insight, Lord,
As I hear Your Word today,
So I will truly understand
Your message and Your way. —Monroe

The Bible may be old, but its truths are always new.

God Is With Us

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With Us in Our Suffering

From: Our Daily Journey

With Us in Our Suffering

Read:

Isaiah 43:1-13
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you (Isaiah 43:2).

Poet Christian Wiman, some time after being diagnosed with an incurable form of blood cancer, reflected on his ordeal, writing, “I have passed through pain I could never have imagined, pain that seemed to incinerate all my thoughts of God and to leave me sitting there in the ashes, alone.” But he found hope in the powerful presence of Jesus. “I am a Christian because of that moment on the cross when Jesus, drinking the very dregs of human bitterness, cries out, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’ ” (Matthew 27:46). In times of great suffering, Wiman realized, only the One who carried all human suffering can sustain us.

While experiencing the hardships of captivity, the Israelites needed reassurance of His presence, and the prophet Isaiah gave them that encouragement. Although they were enduring the consequences of their sin, Isaiah still told them not to fret or fear. God had created them with painstaking care and redeemed them with His power (Isaiah 43:1). Despite everything they were going through, they were still loved by and precious to God (Isaiah 43:4). And no matter what they endured in the future—whether “rivers of difficulty” or “fire of oppression”—God would be with them (Isaiah 43:2). He had sustained them with His presence in the past, and He could be trusted to do so again in the future (Isaiah 43:3-4).

Whether we’re suffering from the consequences of our sin or, like Christian Wiman, suffering pain that is simply a result of living in a fallen world, we need more than glib answers. In the face of overwhelming dread and pain, we can find strength and hope only through the powerful presence of the One who will never let us go (Isaiah 43:13).

 

Well-Seasoned in the Word

From: Cathy Irvin, Author

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15, NLT)

As the world grows darker in sin, we must find time to trim our wicks and fill our lamps with oil. We are to be light to the world and salt to the earth. But have we lost our flavor? If we are well-seasoned in the Word and we maintain our prayer life, we will be making an obvious difference.

It takes soaking up the Word of God daily for the words that flow from our lips to be a sweet savor, an encouraging word to the hearer. It is so easy to become dull and bland without those times of refreshing in God’s presence. Nobody likes plain ‘ole, plain ‘ole anything.

Many times, even a good steak needs some seasoning salt, a little garlic, butter, or steak sauce while it is marinating on the grill. The flavor of the meat is greatly enhanced. And so it is with us. When our lives reflect Christ, it will be evident after we have spent time with Him, because we will manifest His glory. The light will shine brightly for all to see.

People need to see Christ in us, the hope of glory, for them to want Him. Who wants what we have if we are not positive, and not full of joy and peace? I hear some Christians who always speak negatively. They are worrying all the time, and they are sad and gloomy. I think they must be lacking in some quality Bible study time, prayer, and church fellowship. We want those who do not know Him to say, “I know there is something different about you” or ask, “Why are you so happy?” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear them say, “I want whatever it is that you have”?

I remember that I said those very words more than 29 years ago. I gave my heart to the Lord while watching The 700 Club. I went to visit a local church. The people there were singing and clapping, and some even danced in the aisle to the songs. I was overwhelmed. I had always attended a very traditional church while growing up, and I felt no enthusiasm or joy in it at all. I recall listening to the message intently; I had blocked out everything and had focused intently on the preacher as he spoke. I sat on the edge of my seat like I was at a long-awaited concert.

At the close of the service, I remember a lady asking me if I wanted to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t even know what she was talking about, but I said, “Whatever you people have, I want it!” I was gloriously filled that very evening and spoke in tongues. My life was changed forever, and I have felt the joy ever since.

We can share the things we have learned by being salt and light with other believers so that they can enjoy their Christian walk and be better witnesses. It is important to remember that we are not offering a “religion” to anyone. We are telling them about a relationship with a loving, living Savior who can transform their lives and not only give them the gift of eternal life, but also the abundant life while here on planet earth. Jesus wants to add some seasoning to a bland spiritual life.

Got your lamps filled with oil? Follow me! Let’s shine our lights and pour out some salt on those who need to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him. (Psalm 34:8, NKJV)

 

Readiness

By Oswald Chambers

 Readiness

When God speaks, many of us are like people in a fog, and we give no answer. Moses’ reply to God revealed that he knew where he was and that he was ready. Readiness means having a right relationship to God and having the knowledge of where we are. We are so busy telling God where we would like to go. Yet the man or woman who is ready for God and His work is the one who receives the prize when the summons comes. We wait with the idea that some great opportunity or something sensational will be coming our way, and when it does come we are quick to cry out, “Here I am.” Whenever we sense that Jesus Christ is rising up to take authority over some great task, we are there, but we are not ready for some obscure duty.

Readiness for God means that we are prepared to do the smallest thing or the largest thing— it makes no difference. It means we have no choice in what we want to do, but that whatever God’s plans may be, we are there and ready. Whenever any duty presents itself, we hear God’s voice as our Lord heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with the total readiness of our love for Him. Jesus Christ expects to do with us just as His Father did with Him. He can put us wherever He wants, in pleasant duties or in menial ones, because our union with Him is the same as His union with the Father. “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22).

Be ready for the sudden surprise visits of God. A ready person never needs to getready— he is ready. Think of the time we waste trying to get ready once God has called! The burning bush is a symbol of everything that surrounds the person who is ready, and it is on fire with the presence of God Himself.

Love God Not The World

 

Do Not Love the World    I John 2:15

14  I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

15   Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world,the love of the Father is not in him.

16   For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but from the world.…

 

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She Loves Me, . . . She Loves Me Not

From: Get more Strength

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15

Did you ever try to figure out whether or not someone you loved, loved you in return? Who knows when, but a long time ago some romantic had the idea that you could solve the dilemma by pulling petals off of a daisy. Remember how it works? “She loves me, she loves me not . . .” When you got to the last petal, you’d have it figured out. And, the beauty of it was, if you didn’t like the outcome, you could grab another flower and start over!

Sometimes I wonder if that’s how God feels about our love for Him. We know from Scripture that God’s love toward us is faithful, undaunted, and unchanging (Lamentations 3:22-23). But, quite frankly, our love for Him is often fickle and erratic. One day it’s “we love Him,” and a couple of days later it looks like “we love him not.” And while we would never say it that way, sometimes that’s really what it is! One day we resonate with intimacy toward God, and the next, we feel distant and disconnected.

I suspect that part of the problem is our understanding of the word love. We use the same English word to speak about so many things. I could say, “I love the Chicago Cubs; I love deep-dish pizza; I love the family dog; and I love my wife” using the same word for all, but meaning dramatically different things. Then we take that same word and say, “I love God.” No wonder the meaning gets lost!

That’s why I’m thankful for the writings of the apostle John. He moves the discussion about our love for God from the realm of our fickle feelings to tangible, practical ways that we can express our love to God regardless of how we feel. John tells us that God feels loved by us when we surrender to Him and obey (1 John 5:3). He also tells us that loving God is expressed to Him by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 4:21). And in today’s verse we see that our love for God is also proven when we choose to love God more than the world! “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

So, thankfully, our love for God doesn’t need to rise and fall on how we feel on a given day. Loving Him is about our choice to put Him first and care about the things He cares about! And that is something we can do on a regular basis regardless.

If you’ve been caught in a “petal-pulling” love relationship with Jesus, set yourself free by choosing to express your love to Him in concrete ways every day. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the good feelings follow your good choices!

 

Covenant Relationship

From: Our Daily Journey

Covenant Relationship

Read:

Malachi 2:10-16
So guard your heart (Malachi 2:16).

Two different friends from different spheres of my life—one a man, one a woman—told me about their unfaithful spouses during the same week. Both felt betrayed and angry. They wondered if they would ever feel whole again.

The book of Malachi is about another broken relationship. As part of the line of Abraham, the people of Judah shared a covenant—a special agreement of commitment—with God (Genesis 12:1-3; Malachi 2:10). They were meant to show the world what it looks like to love and serve Him, but they were straying. Additionally, some of Judah’s men were committing adultery. Malachi speaks of their two betrayals at the same time, using their adultery to help them understand the severity of their sin against God (Malachi 2:11-14).

Can the same thing be said of some followers of Jesus? Am I sometimes the same as the people of Judah? Do I strive after things that lead me away from God?

Jesus calls His followers out of faithless living and into a covenant relationship with Him (Hebrews 10:16-18; 1 Peter 2:9-10). He also equips His followers to serve Him and promises that the Holy Spirit will indwell them (John 14:15-17). If you’re a disciple of Jesus, He truly has these things for you.

In a counterintuitive way, today’s passage reminds us of what a covenant relationship with God looks like. Judah’s disobedience helps us understand God’s faithfulness. Their corruption illumines God’s holiness (His perfect, transcendent nature), and their betrayal underscores His righteousness.

Worship God because He has—and always will—keep His covenants. “Guard your heart,” confess any sin that lingers, and enjoy the peace and love of a committed relationship with God today (Malachi 2:16).

 

The Ministry of the Inner Life

From: Utmost.org

The Ministry of the Inner Life

By what right have we become “a royal priesthood”? It is by the right of the atonement by the Cross of Christ that this has been accomplished. Are we prepared to purposely disregard ourselves and to launch out into the priestly work of prayer? The continual inner-searching we do in an effort to see if we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, sickly type of Christianity, not the vigorous and simple life of a child of God. Until we get into this right and proper relationship with God, it is simply a case of our “hanging on by the skin of our teeth,” although we say, “What a wonderful victory I have!” Yet there is nothing at all in that which indicates the miracle of redemption. Launch out in reckless, unrestrained belief that the redemption is complete. Then don’t worry anymore about yourself, but begin to do as Jesus Christ has said, in essence, “Pray for the friend who comes to you at midnight, pray for the saints of God, and pray for all men.” Pray with the realization that you are perfect only in Christ Jesus, not on the basis of this argument: “Oh, Lord, I have done my best; please hear me now.”

How long is it going to take God to free us from the unhealthy habit of thinking only about ourselves? We must get to the point of being sick to death of ourselves, until there is no longer any surprise at anything God might tell us about ourselves. We cannot reach and understand the depths of our own meagerness. There is only one place where we are right with God, and that is in Christ Jesus. Once we are there, we have to pour out our lives for all we are worth in this ministry of the inner life.

Point The Way To Salvation

God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Show people the way to Jesus Christ for salvation.

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Finding the Way Out

From: Our Daily Bread

Finding the Way Out

God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

There’s a street with an intriguing name in the city of Santa Barbara, California. It’s called “Salsipuedes,” which means “leave if you can.” When the street was first named, the area bordered on a marsh that sometimes flooded, and the Spanish-speaking city planners dubbed the location with a not-so-subtle warning to stay away.

God’s Word cautions us to stay away from the “wrong road” of sin and temptation: “Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way” (Prov. 4:15). But Scripture doesn’t just say “leave if you can.” It offers assurance and tells us where to turn: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

The promise that God will not allow us to be tempted above our ability to withstand is an encouraging reminder. When we turn to God in the moments when temptation comes, we know He is more than willing to help us stay away.

The Bible affirms that Jesus is able “to empathize with our weaknesses.” But He was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus knows the way out of every temptation. He will show us as we run to Him!

Thank You, Lord, for Your promise to be faithful to me and provide a way out whenever I face temptation. I praise You that You are willing to give me all the strength I need!

God promises to help us when we are tempted.

 

Faith and Love

From: Our Daily Journey

Faith and Love

Read:

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10, 2:1-14
As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

As we drove past a semi on the highway, my father mentioned that some large trucks have an extra set of wheels. Heavily loaded trailers require additional weight distribution over an increased number of wheels. So, when needed, the retractable set is lowered. When the trailer is empty, however, the additional wheels are raised to improve fuel efficiency and decrease wear and tear on the tires. The wheels are always available, yet their true purpose and value is only revealed when the truck is fully loaded.

Just as additional wheels are essential to pull a loaded truck trailer, so too faith and love are necessary for believers in Jesus to keep moving forward in their walk with God. The early church leaders regularly commended the believers for these two spiritual qualities (Ephesians 1:15; Colossians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:3). They’re often mentioned in relation to what is required to face trials and persecution. Faith and love grew strong and carried the early church through difficult times, spurring them on in their walk with God and in their effectiveness as His “true ministers” (2 Corinthians 6:4-7).

Although Paul, Silas, and Timothy suffered opposition to the good news of Jesus Christ in Thessalonica, there were those who received the message, accepted, and believed it as coming from God (1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2:13). The apostles applauded the believers for their “faithful work . . . . loving deeds, and . . . enduring hope . . . because of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3, emphasis added). These actions flowed from genuine faith.

As believers in Jesus, may we grow in faith and love as He works through us to establish His kingdom on earth.

 

Taking Possession of Our Own Soul

From: Utmost.org

Taking Possession of Our Own Soul

When a person is born again, there is a period of time when he does not have the same vitality in his thinking or reasoning that he previously had. We must learn to express this new life within us, which comes by forming the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:5). Luke 21:19 means that we take possession of our souls through patience. But many of us prefer to stay at the entrance to the Christian life, instead of going on to create and build our soul in accordance with the new life God has placed within us. We fail because we are ignorant of the way God has made us, and we blame things on the devil that are actually the result of our own undisciplined natures. Just think what we could be when we are awakened to the truth!

There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives. Moods nearly always are rooted in some physical circumstance, not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise as a result of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do. The problem that most of us are cursed with is simply that we won’t. The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.

Only God Satisfies Your Soul

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2

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Intimacy That Satisfies

From: Get More Strength.com

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2

In my opinion, intimacy is a really attractive word. Deep down inside, all of us long for meaningful connections that satisfy our souls and chase away the shadows of aloneness. But if we’re not careful, we may be looking for true intimacy in all the wrong places. Thoughts of intimacy often conjure up mental pictures of close encounters of the physical kind or the shallow, shabby offers of alluring lingerie, one-night stands, colognes, video titles, evenings of candlelight and red wine, or voyeuristic exchanges on the Internet. More innocently, your thoughts of intimacy may be about just finding a good friend that can be a soul mate. But even deep friendships can be sometimes fleeting and fickle.

It’s easy to be lured into counterfeit offers of intimacy only to find that they are not what our soul really craves. In fact, every time we dip into these buckets, we eventually come up empty, disappointed, and frequently left with shame and regret. Accept no substitutes! Don’t stop looking until you have found the soul mate that will truly satisfy.

You ask, “Who would that be?” Search no more, the offer of fulfilling intimacy is found in a deepening relationship with God Himself. After all, you were built for intimacy with Him. That’s what Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden until sin blocked access to God. But thankfully, God didn’t give up on His desire for intimacy with you. He stepped in and removed the barrier through the death of His Son so that intimacy with Him could be restored! And now He welcomes you to Himself by saying, “Come near to [me] and [I] will draw near to you” (James 4:8) and “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20). He’s wanting and waiting to come in and dine with you!

God is the only One perfectly suited to satisfy and sustain us. The joy of true intimacy is ours as we grow more deeply conscious of, connected to, and confident in God—and Him alone—as our unfailing resource in life.

As in any relationship, intimacy with God has some dynamics that make it grow. We don’t experience His nearness by just telling Him that we love Him, as important as that is. Intimacy is cultivated by drawing near to Him in obedience; by loving what He loves and hating what He hates; by sharing our deepest desires and struggles with Him in prayer; and by expressing our love to Him by acts of loyalty, sacrifice, and service to others. These attitudes and actions all say to God, “I love you!” in clear and compelling ways. Hebrews assures us that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Indeed, intimacy with God will reward your spirit with peace, confidence, a sense of direction and purpose, and the blessing of knowing that you are loved, really loved, by the one who promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you!

Intimacy with God can’t be bought at the corner newsstand. Nor can it be purchased at the mall, found on an exotic vacation, or acquired in developing the most impressive of social calendars. When it comes to the joy of intimacy, these things are the small talk of life compared to the deep satisfaction that comes from the privilege of knowing that “in a love that cannot cease, I am His and He is mine!”

 

Arlene Pellicane November 23, 2016
How to Turn Around a Downhill Day
ARLENE PELLICANE

“The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him — may your hearts live forever!” Psalm 22:26 (NIV)

When was the last time you had one of those days?

Sometimes that downhill day teaches us a lesson that sticks with us forever. For me, a pivotal day like that happened a few years ago. I walked into the post office mid-morning with my preschooler. It wasn’t the holidays, so I expected to get in and out quickly.

It turned out lots of people must’ve had the same thought because the post office was packed. The line was to the door and moving slowly. Two post office clerks worked as swiftly as they could, but there were just too many people.

“Did you bring a snack?” my little Lucy asked immediately.

Usually I was stocked like a well-appointed pantry for long outings, but I thought the post office would be a quick errand. I didn’t have a cracker to my name.

Lucy whined, “I’m hungry, Mommy!”

A few minutes turned into 25. Lucy and I were both unhappy campers. My day’s schedule was thrown out of balance. Later in the day, it was time for Lucy’s afternoon nap. She is usually great about taking her naps. But of course, on this non-perfect post office kind of day, she resisted. Protested. Fought. Struggled.

Finally, Lucy was sleeping soundly.

I work from home, but there was not any work getting done that day. Once Lucy was asleep, I turned toward the kitchen to prepare dinner.

I’m not really a cook; I’m more of a food assembler. But on this particular day, I had planned to make a casserole. Standing at my kitchen counter, chopping up pieces of chicken, I again realized why I don’t cook complex recipes (read here: things with more than five items). They take too much time!

I felt incredibly irritated about my wasted day.

My husband James was in the next room practicing his guitar. He’s a beginner, so insert creaky chords here. He was learning a praise song and without even thinking about it, I began to sing along.

Within just a few minutes of singing praises to God (I’m still chopping chicken), my whole demeanor changed.

The unfulfilled to-do lists and the burdens of the day lifted off my shoulders.

I was filled with gratitude instead of grumbling.

My irritation disappeared.

Instantly I was at peace. All my striving could not produce happiness, but when I looked to Jesus and sang praises to Him, all of a sudden, everything was made right.

I was satisfied just like the key verse says, “The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him” (Psalm 22:26a).

When you praise God for who He is, even when the day has left your soul poor and hungry, you turn that downhill day around. God has given us the gift of song to praise Him. Our key verse of praise from Psalm 22 is sung even when everything is going wrong in the writer David’s life.

Psalm 22:1 opens the chapter with painful words that will be quoted by Jesus on the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” (NIV)

But the perspective shifts in verse 3, “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.” (NIV)

“Yet you …”

Let those two little words grab a hold of your heart today. You may be working in a dead-end job. You may be in a cloud of sadness. You may feel stuck in the kitchen or a crazed post office line: “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One”(Psalm 22:3a, NIV).

Jesus Christ is worthy of all praise. The first verse of Psalm 22 speaks of despair. But the last verse, Psalm 22:31, speaks of praise and victory: “They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!” (NIV)

That day at my kitchen counter, I learned praise was the key to turning a downhill day around. Don’t use your circumstances to measure your days. Instead turn your eyes upon Jesus Christ.

When you praise Him, no matter what’s happening in your life, He will give you divine perspective. Peace. Calm. Joy. Even when you’re chopping chicken.

Dear Jesus, I worship You because You are worthy of praise. You have defeated death, and You can turn around my downhill days. Dominion, power, glory and blessing belong to You alone. Set my soul free from anxiety as I praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

Fame and Humility

From: Our Daily Bread

Fame and Humility

He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8

Many of us are obsessed with fame—either with being famous ourselves or with following every detail of famous people’s lives. International book or film tours. Late-night show appearances. Millions of followers on Twitter.

In a recent study in the US, researchers ranked the names of famous individuals using a specially developed algorithm that scoured the Internet. Jesus topped the list as the most famous person in history.

Yet Jesus was never concerned about obtaining celebrity status. When He was here on earth, He never sought fame (Matt. 9:30; John 6:15)—although fame found Him all the same as news about Him quickly traveled throughout the region of Galilee (Mark 1:28; Luke 4:37).

Wherever Jesus went, crowds soon gathered. The miracles He performed drew people to Him. But when they tried to make Him a king by force, He slipped away by Himself (John 6:15). United in purpose with His Father, He repeatedly deferred to the Father’s will and timing (4:34; 8:29; 12:23). “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8).

Fame was never Jesus’s goal. His purpose was simple. As the Son of God, He humbly, obediently, and voluntarily offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sins.

You are to be celebrated, Lord, above all others. You have been highly exalted and given a name that is above every name. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that You are Lord.

Jesus came not to be famous, but to humbly offer Himself as the sacrifice for our sins.

 

The Distraction of Contempt

The Distraction of Contempt

What we must beware of is not damage to our belief in God but damage to our Christian disposition or state of mind. “Take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously” (Malachi 2:16). Our state of mind is powerful in its effects. It can be the enemy that penetrates right into our soul and distracts our mind from God. There are certain attitudes we should never dare to indulge. If we do, we will find they have distracted us from faith in God. Until we get back into a quiet mood before Him, our faith is of no value, and our confidence in the flesh and in human ingenuity is what rules our lives.

Beware of “the cares of this world…” (Mark 4:19). They are the very things that produce the wrong attitudes in our soul. It is incredible what enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention away from God. Refuse to be swamped by “the cares of this world.”

Another thing that distracts us is our passion for vindication. St. Augustine prayed, “O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” Such a need for constant vindication destroys our soul’s faith in God. Don’t say, “I must explain myself,” or, “I must get people to understand.” Our Lord never explained anything— He left the misunderstandings or misconceptions of others to correct themselves.

When we discern that other people are not growing spiritually and allow that discernment to turn to criticism, we block our fellowship with God. God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.