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The Truth Will Set You Free

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The Truth Shall Make You Free

prayer circle of people holding hands

 

Lina Johnson – Prayer Center Coach, cbn.com

Have you ever heard of the sinner’s prayer? It’s not found in Scripture, but it’s an introductory prayer that many use to lead someone to Christ. Typically, the prayer may look like this:

Lord Jesus, I ask you to come into my life. I want to turn from living my life under my control. Come now and live in me. Cleanse me from my sins. I receive you as my Lord and Savior. I will live for you and serve you all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I have led people in such prayer and will continue to do so. However, that prayer is not the end of the matter, but rather the beginning!

Jesus never told us to go and make converts. Instead, he commanded us to make disciples:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).

So, what’s the difference between converts and disciples? John 8:31-32 tells us how to be a disciple:

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

As we share the good news of Jesus, let us remember that while the moment of salvation comes by believing and confessing (Romans 10:9), God wants so much more. He wants us to grow. He wants us to learn. He wants us to be disciples, and just like with the first twelve, He wants our fellowship and friendship. And He also wants us to be free. Remember John 8:32:

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

As His disciples, we grow in freedom. What a blessing! I know there have been many times when I felt bound to a sin or a mindset that caused me pain. God does not want us to remain in pain. We receive freedom from pain, sin, hopelessness, and shame when we allow His truth in our lives.

My hope for you today is that you will allow God, through His word and through His Spirit, to lead you into all truth so that you may indeed be His disciple and reap every benefit He has for you. (John 16:13)

Lord, help us be your disciples and help us to make disciples. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

May 24

1 Samuel 24:5-7 5Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.

After all that Saul had done to David, trying to kill him with a javelin three times, promising one wife and not delivering, giving away his wife to another, and having David’s priestly friends killed, David will not do a thing against him. In fact, just cutting off the corner of his robe caused his conscience to be stricken. He recognized Saul as the one on whom the anointing of God had been placed. Even though the anointing is on David now, he still respects Saul. Perhaps David realizes that what he does to Saul will set an example for others behavior toward him when he becomes king.

All of your brothers and sisters in Christ has been anointed. Do you treat them with as much respect and fear of the LORD as David did with Saul? It is no different. We are given opportunities to slander our brothers, even speak the truth that would damage their reputations. Are you convicted to take even a corner from their robe, so to speak? Has any of them done even half the wrongs that Saul did toward David? No? Then consider the example of David here. Remember your brothers and sisters have the same anointing you have. They may be side-tracked, but that is for God to deal with. They may be in your hand, so to speak, but that is a test for you. Will you come away with a testimony like David’s? His action and words were a rebuke to his soldiers.

Streams in the Desert – May 24

  • 202224 May

Sarah bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him (Gen. 21:2).

The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11). But we must be prepared to wait God’s time. God has His set times. It is not for us to know them; indeed, we cannot know them; we must wait for them.

If God had told Abraham in Haran that he must wait for thirty years until he pressed the promised child to his bosom, his heart would have failed him. So, in gracious love, the length of the weary years was hidden, and only as they were nearly spent, and there were only a few more months to wait, God told him that “according to the time of life, Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen. 18:14). The set time came at last; and then the laughter that filled the patriarch’s home made the aged pair forget the long and weary vigil.

Take heart, waiting one, thou waitest for One who cannot disappoint thee; and who will not be five minutes behind the appointed moment: ere long “your sorrow shall be turned into joy.”

Ah, happy soul, when God makes thee laugh! Then sorrow and crying shall flee away forever, as darkness before the dawn.
–Selected

It is not for us who are passengers, to meddle with the chart and with the compass. Let that all-skilled Pilot alone with His own work.
–Hall

“Some things cannot be done in a day. God does not make a sunset glory in a moment, but for days may be massing the mist out of which He builds His palaces beautiful in the west.”

Some glorious morn–but when? Ah, who shall say?
The steepest mountain will become a plain,
And the parched land be satisfied with rain.
The gates of brass all broken; iron bars,
Transfigured, form a ladder to the stars.
Rough places plain, and crooked ways all straight,
For him who with a patient heart can wait.
These things shall be on God’s appointed day:
It may not be tomorrow–yet it may.

Learning to Forgive

Forgiveness means sharing the same gift Jesus extended to us—regardless of the offense.

Colossians 3:12-15

We’ll often try to justify an angry, unforgiving heart by thinking, Well, the Lord knows what that person did to me. So He gets why I feel this way. Certainly Jesus—who was fully God and fully man—knows human emotions inside and out. In fact, He Himself experienced betrayal and abandonment, so it’s true that He understands our pain. Nevertheless, He does not approve of an unforgiving attitude.

Through the Savior, we see how God views forgiveness, even when it comes to the vilest offenses. And consider this: We are the ones who continually betray Him. How? We’ve denied Him His rightful place in our life, doubted His Word, and ignored His instruction. There are times we kick Him out of our daily activities and decisions so we can pursue things more to our own liking. What’s more, we have sinned against both Him and other people.

And what is Jesus’ disposition towards us? “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Now, do you really believe He will justify our unforgiveness? No, He wants us to instead look at the cross. There we will discover the price that was paid for our own forgiveness. Just as we have been forgiven, so we must now become forgivers (Col. 3:13).

Bible in One Year: Ezra 5-7

Following Christ

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Following Christ

following Christ

 

John Struzzo – Prayer Center Assistant Coach/Recruiter

I know what it is like to follow Christ. When we follow Him, we show that we trust Him and believe He will provide for us and fulfill His promises.

I know a thing or two about following Christ. Regarding my wedding and marriage, God let me know that the lady I was dating was someone He had in mind for me. He even let me know when we would be married and who He wanted as the pastor to marry us.  I am so glad we followed Christ’s lead because I had the peace of knowing that God was for this marriage. Beyond having this peace, by following Christ we were able to experience the fruit of following Christ—the pastor at our wedding shared the Gospel during the ceremony and we believe that at least one person accepted the Lord Jesus into her life that day.

I also experienced what it is like to follow Christ when I went back to school to get a Master of Divinity degree at Regent University. God let me know this was the school He had in mind for me. Although it was not revealed at first when this would happen, it did happen after about 28 years of waiting. I tried to go a year before God wanted me to go, but I didn’t have God’s peace. So, I decided to wait. The following year things seemed to fall into place for me and my wife to go. And we had peace about moving forward. We had to get rid of enough of our belongings (except for two items we sent ahead of us by mail) to be able to travel across country in our car. It turned out well because we were doing what Jesus tells us to do: let go of what we are holding onto here on earth to put Him first and follow Him (Luke 18:22).

We learned about trusting in the Lord and how God makes our paths straight in a very real way. It brought to life my favorite Scriptures in the Bible, Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV).

We were completely dependent upon God to provide everything.

Thankfully, going to Regent was what He wanted, so He had everything prepared for us. Just like He has prepared for you. We just need to move forward in faith and follow Christ. And when we move in faith, God will move on our behalf to provide everything we need to serve Him. How true is the Scripture:

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Today’s Devotions

Morning

April 24

Joshua 6:16-17 16The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city! 17The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.

What an unconventional battle plan the Commander gave to Joshua! We need to get our battle plans from the Lord. He knows how to go about it in a way that will bring Him all the glory. When other enemies of Israel heard of how God brought victory over Jericho, it gave Israel a psychological advantage.

In Israel’s case the shout was an expression of praise to God. In the battle Gideon led, they shouted, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon.” They probably shouted something similar here. When they shouted, the walls fell inward and the army marched straight in.

Since this was the first city (firstfruits), and God was giving the victory, everything in it was to be dedicated to God. The gold and silver were to go into the treasury, and everything else was to be burned. The spies’ promise to Rahab was carefully kept.

When you go into battle be sure and to get your battle plans from the Commander. Give Him the praise and the glory for the victory. The honor is due Him. His way is the best way. Keep those promises you made along the way. Give to God what is God’s.

Consider: Are you getting your battle plans from man or from the Commander in Chief? We need to hear from Him for each battle we face.

Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle

By: Charles Spurgeon

General and yet particular

‘Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.’ John 17:2

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 5:21–33

You know that passage: ‘Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.’ How did he love the church? He loved the church with a special love, far above that which he gives to others, or else according to that metaphor a husband ought to love his wife and love every other woman just as much. That is the natural inference of that text; but you clearly see there must have been a special love intended in the husband towards the wife, and so there must be a special love in Christ. He loved the church and gave himself for it. Now do you not think, brethren, as there are two sets of texts in the Bible, the one of which very clearly speaks about the infinite value of the atonement (e.g. 1 Timothy 2:61 John 2:2), and another which very evidently speaks about the intention of that atonement being for the chosen and for the chosen only (e.g. John 10:11Ephesians 5:25Revelation 14:4), that the best way is to believe them both, and to say, ‘Yes, I see it—as the result of Christ’s death all men are put under the system of mediatorial grace so that Christ has power over them; but the object of his doing this is not that he may save all of them, but that he may save out of these all which he now has in his own hand—those whom the Father has given him.’ The farmer trusts me with all his sheep in order that I may sever from them twenty which he has marked. A father tells me to go into the midst of his family, his whole family, in order that I may take out of it one of his sons to be educated. So God gives to Christ all flesh, says the text, but still always with this definite and distinct purpose that he may give eternal life to those whom he has given to him.

For meditation: As ‘the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe’ (1 Timothy 4:10), God displays common grace to all people and special grace to his chosen people. Christians should likewise ‘do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith’ (Galatians 6:10).

A Hopeful Curiosity, Today Devotions

  ACTS 17:24-32

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”

—  Acts 17:32

In our reading today from Acts 17, the apostle Paul was preaching in Athens, Greece, about Jesus and the resurrection. Paul told the people that he could tell they were very religious because there were statues and shrines and temples to gods in every part of the city. There was even “an altar with this inscription: ‘to an unknown god’” (Acts 17:16-23). So Paul used that idea to tell his listeners about God the Father and Jesus the Son, whom the people of Athens did not know yet.

In this way Paul shared the good news that God, who created everything, now calls on people everywhere to repent of their sin, because he sent his Son, Jesus, to pay the price for all our sin. Jesus gave up his life on a cross for our sake even though he had committed no sin. And then God proved his power over sin and death by raising Jesus from the dead.

Though Paul’s words were dismissed by some of the people who heard him, others were curious and wanted to hear more.

The gospel can be sneered at—or, with a hopeful curiosity, we can ask to hear more about the wonderful things God has done for us by raising Jesus from the dead.

Lord of life, though we do not understand every­thing about the resurrection, give us a hopeful curiosity about all that it means for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Persevering for the Promise

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Persevering for the Promise

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Gordon Robertson – President and CEO, CBN

It’s vital to understand the importance of prayer, because without it we won’t succeed in the tasks God has given us. So how should we pray?

In Luke 11, Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, beginning with what we call the Lord’s Prayer. He goes on to tell the parable of a man knocking on a friend’s door at midnight, asking for loaves of bread. Although the friend replies that he and his family are in bed, Jesus says in verse 8,

“Though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.”

Jesus uses this to show that we can’t simply rest on our friendship—our love relationship—with God; we must be persistent in prayer. For then He gives the great promise in verses 9-10:

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

The link between the parable and the promise is perseverance. So we should ask ourselves, do we pray casually or with persistence?

Years ago, I met Kathryn Kuhlman at a meeting that CBN was sponsoring. I was about 10 years old, running around backstage, when I saw her—deep in prayer, earnestly begging God for the Holy Spirit to come in power and anointing. It left a strong impression on me. Kathryn was one of the top healing evangelists in America, yet she wasn’t just going through the motions; she was going deep in prayer.

We see in the Apostle Paul’s letters that he clearly understands the importance of persistent prayer. He writes to the church in Rome,

Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me (Romans 15:30)

He isn’t simply saying, “Please pray”—he is saying, “I’m begging you through Jesus. I’m begging you through the Spirit. Please strive together with me in prayers to God.”

Paul is heading toward Jerusalem, where he has been warned prophetically that he will be bound. And so he asks for prayer,

that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you (Romans 15:31-32)

Although Paul knows that great hardship lies ahead, he is saying, “Please pray for this, because at the end of the journey I will be with you.”

Indeed, Paul’s journey takes him to Rome—and prison. There he writes about the armor of God, including the helmet of salvation and feet shod with the Gospel of peace. And he concludes by explaining what to do when the armor is on:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:18-20)

The armor equips us for life, and it also equips us specifically for prayer. Clothed in the full armor, we are to be praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.

Paul is in chains, about to go on trial. The Mamertine prison, where most scholars believe he was kept, is a hole in the ground. Yet he is asking for prayer to boldly preach the Gospel.

Writing another letter from the same prison, he says in Colossians 4:2-4:

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

Imagine being in prison, where the only opening is a hole in the ceiling, and praying, “God, open the door so I can preach.”

Now, consider where we are in time, and how we have it within our means today to boldly preach the Gospel to every tribe, nation and tongue. We have the ability, we have the means, and we stand free. Yet are we praying for this, and with the same earnestness that Paul prayed? Are we constantly looking for that open door?

Near the end of his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes:

Epaphras … greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God (Colossians 4:12)

May that be our prayer as well. We know His will is to preach the Gospel, so let us use every opportunity and endeavor to stand perfect and complete in that will. He is with us, we have His anointing, and we have His strength. God bless you.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

April 11

Deuteronomy 18:14-15 14The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. 15The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.

Mankind often seeks to know of the spiritual through the evil realm. That way they are able to be “spiritual” and yet indulge in their evil nature. It is the same with New Age. There is no demand from a holy God to give up their immorality. There is no standard of a righteous God to which they must conform.

God told the Israelites through Moses that we were not to be like them. Instead we were to watch for the prophet that God was going to raise up. This prophet was going to show us truth of the spiritual realm without compromising with evil. This prophet would be like Moses. Moses was a deliverer. Moses was meek. Moses heard from God and brought God’s Word to the people.

God raised up Jesus, that prophet, from the Jewish nation. We must listen to Him. He has the words of eternal life. But unlike the worldly spiritual ways of self-indulgence, He says we must take up our cross daily and follow Him. He tells us that if we try to save our life we will lose it. No wonder people flock to other ways, ways that lead to death.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He is the prophet that Moses said God would bring. We must listen to Him. His way is death to self and that leads to life in Him. The way of the sorcerer and diviner promises life, encourages self-indulgence in what it calls ‘life’, but leads to physical and spiritual death.

Meditation: I must listen to Jesus.

Streams in the Desert – April 11

  • 202211 Apr

What I tell you in the darkness, speak ye in the light” (Matt. 10:27).

Our Lord is constantly taking us into the dark, that He may tell us things. Into the dark of the shadowed home, where bereavement has drawn the blinds; into the dark of the lonely, desolate life, where some infirmity closes us in from the light and stir of life; into the dark of some crushing sorrow and disappointment.

Then He tells us His secrets, great and wonderful, eternal and infinite; He causes the eye which has become dazzled by the glare of earth to behold the heavenly constellations; and the car to detect the undertones of His voice, which is often drowned amid the tumult of earth’s strident cries.

But such revelations always imply a corresponding responsibility–‘that speak ye in the light–that proclaim upon the housetops.”

We are not meant to always linger in the dark, or stay in the closet; presently we shall be summoned to take our place in the rush and storm of life; and when that moment comes, we are to speak and proclaim what we have learned.

This gives a new meaning to suffering, the saddest element in which is often its apparent aimlessness. “How useless I am!” “What am I doing for the betterment of men?” “Wherefore this waste of the precious spikenard of my soul?”

Such are the desperate laments of the sufferer. But God has a purpose in it all. He has withdrawn His child to the higher altitudes of fellowship, that he may hear God speaking face to face, and bear the message to his fellows at the mountain foot.

Were the forty days wasted that Moses spent on the Mount, or the period spent at Horeb by Elijah, or the years spent in Arabia by Paul?

There is no short cut to the life of faith, which is the all-vital condition of a holy and victorious life. We must have periods of lonely meditation and fellowship with God. That our souls should have their mountains of fellowship, their valley of quiet rest beneath the shadow of a great rock, their nights beneath the stars, when darkness has veiled the material and silenced the stir of human life, and has opened the view of the infinite and eternal, is as indispensable as that our bodies should have food.

Thus alone can the sense of God’s presence become the fixed possession of the soul, enabling it to say repeatedly, with the Psalmist, “Thou art near, 0 God.”
–F. B. Meyer

“Some hearts, like evening primroses, open more beautifully in the shadows of life.”

“It Was Already Late”

Douglas MacLeod, Today Devotions

Scripture Reading — Mark 11:11

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. — Mark 11:11

Jesus has just entered the temple courts in Jerusalem, riding a colt in a great procession. Inside the temple courts, Jesus looks around and sees everything that is happening there. He sees doves, lambs, goats, and more—all being sold for sacrifices. According to the Jewish law, those sacrifices were necessary each year to pay for the sins of the people. But now Jesus has come, and this means that the time of paying for sin with the blood of animals is coming to an end. The hour is late, as the Greek text of Mark puts it, and that means the time of Jesus’ sacrifice to bring full forgiveness is arriving.

This is a proclamation that the stage is being set for the week ahead. Jesus sees that the time has come for these temple sacrifices to end, and for the one perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God to fulfill the need of all peoples.

Jesus looks around and sees everything. He sees that the time for salvation has come, and that nothing we can offer, buy, or sacrifice will really be enough to pay the debt of our sin. No other blood will do. Only Jesus, the sinless one, can pay the full price for us once and for all. His sacrifice is every­thing we need.

Ask God for forgiveness in Jesus’ name today. His blood had paid the debt of all your sin too!

You Are Special To God

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Yes, You Are Special!

hopeful little girl
Lina Johnson – Prayer Center Coach, cbn.com

“You are special.” No one ever spoke those words to me, yet as I bent down to pick a four-leaf clover, I heard in my spirit: “You are special.”

I did not understand it then, but praise God, I do now. Such a simple thing as finding a four-leaf clover brought me joy and peace. But why? It would be years before this young girl at summer camp would understand it, but in that moment it did not matter. Soon every girl around me was combing through the clover patch for her own four-leaf treasure. I was, for a little while, the most popular girl in camp.

I was a shy child. I had a hard time making friends. Because of this, I kept my eyes open and often I would find one of those precious shamrocks. The thing was, every time I found one, in my spirit I would hear, “You are special.” It gave me such peace.

Looking back, through the eyes of a believer, I now know that the Holy Spirit was drawing me to Himself through His kindness. God was speaking to me even before I knew Him. We can see this in Romans 2:4 (NLT):

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

How wondrous is God’s nature. He is One, yet in three Persons. I met the Holy Spirit way back at camp as a child. He laid the groundwork for me to later know Jesus and the Father.

I’ve often marveled at the Trinity. Three-yet-one often confused me. I believed it. I did not understand it, but I believed it. Then one morning at church, while sitting in an adult Sunday school class, the teacher’s wise words brought me clarity:

“Think of God like a computer. All computers have input, output, and a hard drive. Think of God like that computer. Jesus is like the input. He is how we get to God the Father, the hard drive, and Holy Spirit is like the output. The Holy Spirit speaks to us, reveals truth to us, and makes miracles happen.”

Suddenly, it made sense to me.

Let’s look at my favorite example of the Trinity (the three persons of God) in Scripture:

One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” Luke 3:21-22

This brings me back to the clover. Most have three leaves. One clover, yet it has three leaves—a picture of the Trinity. So, what about that fourth leaf? Well, that’s simple. That fourth leaf is me! That fourth leaf is you! The analogy is not perfect; we do not share in God’s divine nature. But that fourth leaf is like every born-again believer connected to God by His Spirit dwelling within us.

Yes, I am special. Yes, you are special. Every one of us is special!

May I challenge you today to spend some time with God in prayer—and in listening. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you today?

In Psalm 46:10, God invites us to:

“Be still, and know that I am God!”

Let us never rush out of the presence of God without taking a moment to let the Holy Spirit speak to us. We are special! We are loved.

Trust in God

by Inspiration Ministries

“Behold, Behemoth, which I made as well as you.” – Job 40:15 NASB

Reflecting on his problems, Job wondered what had happened and why. He tried to make sense of events. Finally, he found clarity but only after a personal encounter with God, who reminded Job of his limits and how little he understood. God did this by describing the scope of creation, specifically the behemoth.

What is this creature? Some think it might be a hippopotamus or elephant. But one thing is certain: God knew everything about behemoths – what they eat, the source of their strength, where they hide, even how they are not frightened by turbulent rivers (vs. 15-23).

Through this description, God delivered a powerful message. If He knows so much about behemoths, does He not know about every detail of our lives? How can we doubt Him? How can we not trust Him? How can we not believe that He is working everything together for good (Romans 8:28)?

Jesus taught in Matthew 6:25-34 that we should not worry about anything. We should realize how the Father feeds the birds of the air, even though “they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather crops into barns” (v. 26). We can see how He clothes the lilies of the field. Therefore, we need to trust Him and “seek first His kingdom” (v. 33).

Don’t give in to worry or doubt. Instead, think about all God has promised you. Be faithful to His call. Trust Him completely. He is your Creator!

Our Relationship With God

From:  InTouch ministries

Our relationship with God thrives when we consistently spend time interacting with Him.

March 26, 2022

Psalm 119:33-40

Once we trust Jesus and become a child of God, we have a responsibility to mature spiritually. This includes:

• Getting to know our heavenly Father. The Bible gives us detailed descriptions of God’s attributes, values, and thoughts, and it also includes accounts of His Son’s life on earth. As we meditate on Scripture and what it reveals about the Lord, our sense of connectedness to Him will grow.

• Communicating regularly. We should stay in close contact with God through prayer and quiet time—and resist the temptation to put people, work, or pleasures ahead of Him. Remember, relationships thrive when we invest in them but wither when neglected.

• Acting in obedience. A close relationship with God inspires us to respond to His Word. He’s provided us with instructions and explanations about how to live rightly. And we’re to heed our Father’s commands, just as children should obey parents.

• Growing in Christlikeness. As we cooperate with the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, we will start to think and act like our Father.

God adopted us into His family and sent His Spirit and His Son so we could grow in our faith, love, and service. Are we doing our part to keep the relationship healthy?

Streams in the Desert – March 26

  • 202226 Mar

Look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it (Gen. 13:14-15).

No instinct can be put in you by the Holy Ghost but He purposes to fulfill. Let your faith then rise and soar away and claim all the land you can discover.
–S. A. Keen

All you can apprehend in the vision of faith is your own. Look as far as you can, for it is all yours. All that you long to be as a Christian, all that you long to do for God, are within the possibilities of faith. Then come, still closer, and with your Bible before you, and your soul open to all the influences of the Spirit, let your whole being receive the baptism of His presence; and as He opens your understanding to see all His fulness, believe He has it all for you. Accept for yourself all the promises of His word, all the desires He awakens within you, all the possibilities of what you may be as a follower of Jesus. All the land you see is given to you.

The actual provisions of His grace come from the inner vision. He who puts the instinct in the bosom of yonder bird to cross the continent in search of summer sunshine in the Southern clime is too good to deceive it, and just as surely as He has put the instinct in its breast, so has He also put the balmy breezes and the vernal sunshine yonder to meet it when it arrives.

He who breathes into our hearts the heavenly hope, will not deceive or fail us when we press forward to its realization.
–Selected

“And they found as he had said unto them” (Luke 22:13).

God Loves Us and Is With Us Always

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If God Be for Us

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Lina Johnson – Prayer Center Coach

“Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us?” This was Joshua’s cry to God in Joshua 7:7 NLT).

The Israelites had just fought Ai and suffered a humiliating defeat. But why?

God had made a covenant with Israel. So, in theory, they should have won. But that’s not what happened. Israel had sinned. One of them had not followed God’s instruction at the previous battle of Jericho. Achan had taken from the battle what had been dedicated to the Lord. This broke the covenant. God was now out of the equation.  On top of that, no one asked God what to do concerning the battle at Ai. Spies were sent in and a plan was made, but God was not consulted. Therefore, in the end, Israel was defeated.

Joshua 7 tells us how God exposed the sin and commaned consequences for Achan and his family. Thus restoring the covenant between God and the Israelites. Then, in Joshua 8, Israel goes on to defeat Ai in a second battle.

We also have a covenant with God, and it is a new covenant!

 

16 Top Bible Verses-God With Us - Everyday Servant

Mark 14:24 says:

And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many.”

Jesus came to take on the consequences of our sin and create this new covenant with us.

Hebrews 9:14-15 says:

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

The consequences for our sin (death) were paid once and for all by Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for our sins. When we do fall short and sin, and we will, we must confess and repent [turn away] and God forgives. What a tremendous new covenant.

First John 1:9 says:

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

What a good God we have! He says to us in Romans 8:31b:

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

I’ve seen God win so many battles in my life. I encourage you to trust Him so He can win them in yours!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

March 21

Deuteronomy 4:39-40 39Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.

Moses reminded the people of the ways in which God had made Himself known to them. Then he spoke these verses. I believe God has shown each person reading this devotional a revelation of Himself. It is because He has drawn each of us uniquely that we are responsible to acknowledge and take to heart that the LORD is God in heaven above and earth below. There is no other! There should be no valid competitor for our allegiance. There should be no usurpers to His lordship over our lives. If we are bowing to anything else, in any way, we are not rendering to God the response He deserves. Is there “no other” god in your life? Take that to heart this day.

The enemy of our soul would love to distort the reason God directs and instructs us, just as he did in the Garden of Eden. God wants us to keep His instructions “so that it may go well with you and your children”. n the Old Testament the Spirit was not indwelling believers. That made generalized rules necessary as standards of conduct and health. Today the Spirit indwells every believer to instruct us specifically in every situation, “so that it may go well with you and your children”. God can do His work without you, but He wants to include you to bless you and your children. Many of us have fallen prey to the enemy’s lie in the Garden and think God wants uninformed slaves.

Work

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.’ John 9:4

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 4:7–11

There are ten thousand actions good in themselves, which it might not be right for me to choose as my vocation in life. I know a great many persons who think it is their business to preach, but who had much better make it their business to hear for a little while longer. We know some who think it is their business to take the headship of a class, but who might be amazingly useful by giving away some tracts, or by taking a seat in a class themselves for a little while. The fact is, that we are not to pick and choose the path of Christian service which we are to walk in, but we are to do the work of him that sent us; and our object should be, as there is so much work to be done, to find out what part of the work the Master would have us to do. Our prayer should be, ‘Show me what thou wouldst have me to do’—have me to do in particular; not what is generally right, but what is particularly right for me to do. My servant might, perhaps, think it a very proper thing for her to arrange my papers for me in my study, but I should feel but a very slender amount of gratitude to her. If, however, she will have a cup of coffee ready for me early in the morning, when I have to go out to a distant country town to preach, I shall be much more likely to appreciate her services. So, some friends think, ‘How I could get on if I were in such-and-such a position, if I were made a deacon, if I were elevated to such a post.’ Go your way, and work as your Master would have you. You will do better where he puts you than you will where you put yourself. You are no servant, indeed, at all, when you pick and choose your service.

Today Is the Day of Salvation

From: Charles Stanley

The sooner we accept Jesus as our Savior, the more time we have communing with Him.

John 5:24-30

Procrastination has serious consequences in many areas of life—especially when it comes to spiritual matters. You see, every person is going to spend eternity somewhere, and the destination is determined by a choice in this lifetime: We each must either accept or reject Jesus’ offer of forgiveness of sins. Some people think they can delay this decision until death is near.

Unfortunately, there are several problems with this reasoning. First of all, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have any warning before death. Second, by spending a lifetime rejecting Christ’s offer, you run the risk of developing a hardened heart. Repeatedly saying no to God may result in being unable to say yes when death comes knocking at the door. In fact, you may not even be interested in Christ’s offer anymore. Then you’ll face the terrifying reality of judgment, as you stand before God without a Savior (Hebrews 10:26-27).

By putting off a decision for Christ, you not only lose the immediate blessings of a deeply personal relationship with God now; you also risk permanent separation from Him for all eternity. Don’t procrastinate! Place your faith in Christ today. Acknowledge your sin, ask His forgiveness, and trust Him as your Savior and Lord.

Crossing Over: God’s Not Done with You

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Crossing Over: God’s Not Done with You

road sign with the word change

 

Wendy Griffith – CBN News Anchor/Reporter

Jesus said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Mark 4:35 (NIV)

What do you do when God closes a door—but the new door that you know He has for you hasn’t appeared or manifested yet?

Welcome to Transition!

We’ve all been there and some of you may be going through it right now.

Transition is defined as the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

It’s not an easy or comfortable place to be. You feel unsettled and restless. Tried-and-true systems, or ways of doing things that used to work perfectly, don’t seem to work anymore. Maybe even some relationships that used to work now feel strained or not as important.

When you’re in transition, you’re not where you used to be, but you haven’t arrived at your next destination yet. You just feel strange, and it forces you to look around and see what needs to change.

I don’t like change. I have a hard time with technology because it’s always changing. But when you enter a time of transition, you have no choice but to change—to move, to shift, to evolve, to make the necessary adjustments—because you can’t stay where you are any longer… even if you don’t yet know where you’re going!

Now maybe God has been unfeathering your nest for a while and making things uncomfortable for you—just like a mama eagle does for her babies so that they will want to get out of the nest and learn to fly!

It might seem cruel at first, but then, the mama eagle knows that unless she kicks her babies out—they’ll never be able to learn to fly or provide for themselves; nor would they ever know the joy of feeling the wind beneath their wings as they soar above the clouds and through the beautiful blue skies.

God’s Not Done with You

If you’ve been kicked out of your comfy nest or you’re going through transition, you need to know that God is not done! God’s not done with you. He’s simply taking you to “the other side.” Mark 4:35-41 tells the story of Jesus doing this with His disciples:

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” … A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey.”

Stay in the Boat

Even if it feels like all hell is breaking out around you and Jesus appears to be asleep in the boat with His head on a comfy pillow—trust Him! He’s the God who can calm the seas with one word—and He’s the only one who can get you through the storm and safely to the other side.

The good news is, when you get there you’ll have a great story to tell, just like the disciples did when they finally made it safely to the other side.

God loves you and wants you to fulfill your destiny.

If you’re going through transition, it’s because He has something better for you. Stay in the boat—Jesus will get you to the other side.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

February 24

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

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

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

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

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

Meditation: I am the temple of the living God!

Help from God

by Inspiration Ministries

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains … My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber.” – Psalm 121:1-3 NIV

Mountains have inspired people throughout history. They particularly have been associated with religion. Reflecting this perspective, American composer Alan Hovhaness once wrote, “Mountains are symbols, like pyramids, of man’s attempt to know God. Mountains are symbolic meeting places between the mundane and spiritual worlds.”

Many ancient cultures worshiped mountains or made them a focus of worship. Hindus often built temples on hills because they represent the importance of spirituality. Animists believe that hills are spiritual beings.

In the Bible, hills were places of idol worship. Ahaz was just one of the kings of Israel who “sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills” (2 Kings 16:4 NKJV). But mountains also were places where God spoke to His people. For example, God revealed Himself to the Israelites on Mount Sinai and there gave Moses the Ten Commandments.

Those who lift their eyes to the hills see magnificent creations that can inspire awe and wonder. But we err if we place our hope in these mountains (or any other created thing) or look to them for help. God wants us to focus on Him. He is the One who created the mountains, as well as all Heaven and earth.

Today, do not place your hope in mountains or armies, nations or kingdoms, or other people. Trust in the Lord. He watches over you day and night no matter where you go or what you do.

Keep Your Eyes On Jesus

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Fixing Our Eyes Upon Jesus

The long history of how Jesus came to resemble a white European
Gordon Robertson – President and CEO, CBN

With all the problems in the world today, it’s easy to focus on the storms and turmoil. Instead, we should be

looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus is the answer to every human need. He will provide. He will deliver victory—not based on what we do, but on what He has done. All we need to do is believe Him.

Peter was the only disciple to step out onto the water while the others stayed in the boat. Even so, when he looked at the wind and waves, he began to sink. Matthew 14:31 tells us that Jesus caught him and asked,

“Why did you doubt?”

We make a big deal about how much faith we have in God; it’s a bigger deal that God has faith in us. He believes we can do what He has called us to do, yet it’s easy to waver and doubt.

When the Israelites refused to enter Canaan because of the spies’ report about giants, Joshua said not to fear them,

“for they are our bread” (Numbers 14:9)

Joshua was a man of faith and of power. His perspective was that with God all things are possible; God has given us the land, and our enemies will be turned into our nourishment.

Forty years later, God encouraged Joshua before leading the people into battle:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed. The Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9)

When God says not to be afraid, He’s preparing us that things may not be easy.

Yet first He says, “Have I not commanded you?” From God’s perspective, when He commands, it’s a done deal. When God says, “Let there be light,” there is light.

Then He promises, “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

We also hear God’s command and promise in the Great Commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations …; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20)

What God has commanded, He will accomplish. We simply need to do our part and proclaim the Good News.

And as we obey Him, we have His assurance in Hebrews 13:5:

I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God bless you.

 

Number-one Neighbor

Scripture Reading — Matthew 20:20-28

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” — Matthew 20:26-27

The roofs of thousands of Florida homes were badly damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Soon afterward, a humorous story circulated about three mothers in a restaurant. One spoke proudly of her lawyer son, and another of her son, a doctor. But when the third mother said that her son was a roofer, all the customers stormed her table to ask for his phone number.

James and John did not yet understand what Jesus was all about—but they knew it was BIG, and they wanted a special place in whatever it was. So their mother made this special request: “Make my boys your number one and your number two!”

The ten other disciples were furious, because they too wanted to be first in Jesus’ order of power and privilege.

Jesus called a meeting to clarify his guiding principles. In government and most other systems, the highest positions have the greatest authority—but “not so with you,” Jesus said. To follow Jesus is to love your neighbors for his sake. A top follower of Jesus is a top servant.

This is the lesson Jesus reiterated when he washed his disciples’ feet, the night before he went to the cross: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).

Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel: 365 Sermons

By: Charles Spurgeon

The treasure of grace

“The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:7

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:5-11

Paul proclaimed the grace of God—free, full, sovereign, eternal grace—beyond all the glorious company of the apostles. Sometimes he soared to such amazing heights, or dived into unsearchable depths, that even Peter could not follow him. He was ready to confess that “our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given unto him,” had written “some things hard to be understood.” Jude could write of the judgments of God, and reprove with terrible words, “ungodly men, who turned the grace of God into lasciviousness.” But he could not tell out the purpose of grace as it was planned in the eternal mind, or the experience of grace as it is felt and realized in the human heart, like Paul. There is James again: he, as a faithful minister, could deal very closely with the practical evidences of Christian character. And yet he seems to keep very much on the surface; he does not bore down deep into the substratum on which must rest the visible soil of all spiritual graces. Even John, most favoured of all those apostles who were companions of our Lord on earth—sweetly as the beloved disciple writes of fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ—even John does not speak of grace so richly as Paul, in whom God first showed forth “all long-suffering as a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Not, indeed, that we are at liberty to prefer one apostle above another. We may not divide the Church, saying, I am of Paul, I of Peter, I of Apollos; but we may acknowledge the instrument which God was pleased to use; we may admire the way in which the Holy Ghost fitted him for his work; we may, with the churches of Judea, glorify God in Paul.

For meditation: Paul always looked back with amazement when he recalled God’s grace to him, the chief of sinners, who so persecuted the Church (1 Corinthians 15:9-10Galatians 1:13,15Ephesians 3:7,81 Timothy 1:13-15). Our gratitude and love to God can sadly be limited by our failure to realise how sinful we really are and how much he has forgiven us (Luke 7:41-47).

Deceived

by Inspiration Ministries

“Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor; and he allied himself by marriage with Ahab. Some years later he went down to visit Ahab at Samaria. And Ahab … incited him to go up against Ramothgilead.” – 2 Chronicles 18:1-2 NASB

Jehoshaphat had been a good king in Judah who had sought God and “took great pride in the ways of the Lord.” He experienced His blessings. He “had great riches and honor” and “grew greater and greater” (2 Chronicles 17:4, 6, 12).

During this time, the neighboring country of Israel was being ruled by Ahab, one of its most ungodly kings. Perhaps concerned about security, Jehoshaphat “allied himself by marriage with Ahab.”

Then, Jehoshaphat allowed himself to be influenced by Ahab. Ahab “incited” and misled him. Jehoshaphat became vulnerable to clever words as Ahab convinced him to do what he wanted.

The Bible warns that this kind of deception is common in the world. We can be deceived by “smooth and flattering speech” (Romans 16:18) and by enticing promises and “empty words” (Ephesians 5:6). We even can deceive ourselves (1 Corinthians 3:18).

We need to be on guard against all these forms of deception and the pressure to conform to the ways of the world. We shouldn’t allow others to shape our actions, attitudes, and beliefs to reflect their goals.

Instead, we need to stay true to God’s Word. Be filled with His Spirit, sensitive to His leading. Commit our ways to Him, and let Him direct and guide us. When we have any questions or doubts, we need to seek Him.

Faith In Jesus Christ Is The Answer

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Is That Your Final Answer?

 

Many of you will recognize the title of this article as the tagline from the game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Contestants sit in a seat opposite the host and answer multiple-choice questions in increasing difficulty, but also in increasing value up to the final one million dollar question. As they answer the questions the host asks, “Is that your final answer?” to which the player must respond that it is their final answer in order to “lock it in.” Only then will the show proceed to find out if the answer was the correct one or not.

The contestant must lock in an answer, even in the cases when they don’t know the answer. Who knows, they might get lucky and actually pick the right one? In such cases, they get to continue to play for even more money. However, life certainly isn’t like that. GOD certainly isn’t like that. Living for the Lord is a walk of faith that, on occasion, demands we declare we don’t know the answer, yet proceed anyway.

The story of Abraham underscores this tremendous truth. In Genesis 12:1-3 we find the call of Abraham and it starts like this:

“The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1 (NLT)

As the call continues, the Lord promises Abram to make a great nation out of him – a nation that will bless the world.

Genesis 12:4 tells us that Abram obeyed the Lord and moved his family. Obviously, the Lord led Abram to the land of Canaan, but often we neglect to delve into the true act of faith required to make that move. Imagine telling not only your immediate family but your extended family that you are moving. They all come over and help you pack up your moving camels (trucks of Abram’s day) and keep asking you where you are moving to. Your only response, “I don’t know.” Abram had no idea where he was going, only a sense of the Lord’s leading and that when Abram got there, God would tell him; “To a land which I will show you.”

In His famous “Don’t worry” teaching from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6, Jesus told us not to be concerned over the affairs of life:

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25 (NLT)

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, `What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT)

“I don’t know” is a legitimate answer, and often it is the answer required by those who live by faith. Where are you going? What are you going to do when you get there? How will you live? How will you pay your bills? I don’t know, I DON’T KNOW, I DON’T KNOW! But I know this, God knows! The fact that God knows, in the end, is the only thing that really matters. As He leads, He provides because He is a good father.

We like to put on the false front that we have it all together and have the answers for everything. It gets uncomfortable and we feel silly telling people that we don’t know the answers to their questions. Pretending that we know it all will rob us of our faith. We don’t live trusting in luck, we live trusting in God. It is okay to not know. So, the next time someone asks the tough questions of faith and how things are going to work out, for which there is no definitive answer, look them straight in the eye and tell them, “I don’t know, but God knows, and that’s my final answer.”

 

Laying Bricks

by Ryan Duncan, crosswalk.com

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:43-45

Sometimes, I get restless. I went to college at Taylor University, a small Christian school in the middle of Cornfield, Indiana. Though Taylor wasn’t very big, it strove to serve Christ, and encouraged its students to impact the world for God. During the January term, when you could sleep all day and goof-off all night, Taylor offered something called Lighthouse Missions. Instead of wasting their brief vacation, students became a part of service-learning projects that allowed them to share Christ with a world in need.

When Spring Break came around, and the beaches of Florida were calling, it sent students everywhere from Russia to the neighboring town of Grant County, where they engaged in housing projects, orphan care, and outreach. It was tough giving up those precious vacation days, but it felt good to know you were serving Christ. Unfortunately, after graduation opportunities like these are harder to come by. With a forty to fifty-hour work week, not to mention budgeted money and vacation time, jetting off to some foreign location isn’t something you can just do.

I can remember sitting in church, boiling with frustration because I couldn’t just go do something like I had in college. God clearly has a sense of irony, because at that moment the pastor stood up and asked for volunteers to help pack up after the service. My problem? I had become the “wealthy giver.” Not sure what I mean? Read this story in Mark 12:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.” – Mark 12:41-44

It’s amazing how serving Christ can easily become something selfish. I was only interested in serving if it was on my terms, and because of that, I let a lot of opportunities pass me by. The truth is that volunteering for a church nursery could be just as important in God’s eyes as building houses in another country.

An old professor once told my class that the kingdom of God is built on willing hearts. When we choose to follow God, we are laying the bricks of his kingdom, and creating a sturdy foundation for others to stand on. So get involved, and if you feel God leading you toward a big opportunity, take it. But don’t be too proud to serve in the small places. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference.

Streams in the Desert – January 4

By: L.B. Cowman

Jesus saith unto him, “Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way” (John 4:50).

When ye pray, believe (Mark 11:24).

When there is a matter that requires definite prayer, pray till you believe God, until with unfeigned lips you can thank Him for the answer. If the answer still tarries outwardly, do not pray for it in such a way that it is evident that you are not definitely believing for it. Such a prayer in place of being a help will be a hindrance; and when you are finished praying, you will find that your faith has weakened or has entirely gone. The urgency that you felt to offer this kind of prayer is clearly from self and Satan. It may not be wrong to mention the matter in question to the Lord again, if He is keeping you waiting, but be sure you do so in such a way that it implies faith.

Do not pray yourself out of faith. You may tell Him that you are waiting and that you are still believing Him and therefore praise Him for the answer. There is nothing that so fully clinches faith as to be so sure of the answer that you can thank God for it. Prayers that pray us out of faith deny both God’s promise in His Word and also His whisper “Yes,” that He gave us in our hearts. Such prayers are but the expression of the unrest of one’s heart, and unrest implies unbelief in reference to the answer to prayer. “For we which have believed do enter into rest” (Heb. 4:3).

This prayer that prays ourselves out of faith frequently arises from centering our thoughts on the difficulty rather than on God’s promise. Abraham “considered not his own body,” “he staggered not at the promise of God” (Rom. 4:19, 20). May we watch and pray that we enter not into temptation of praying ourselves out of faith.
–C. H. P.

Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but taking God at His Word.
–Christmas Evans

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.
–George Mueller

You will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings. God gives us the promises in a quiet hour; God seals our covenants with great and gracious words, then He steps back and waits to see how much we believe; then He lets the tempter come, and the test seems to contradict all that He has spoken. It is then that faith wins its crown. That is the time to look up through the storm, and among the trembling, frightened seamen cry, “I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me.”

Christmas: It’s About Being with God

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Christmas: It’s About Being with God

Did you know that Christmas is about God wanting to have a relationship with you?

You might have thought it was about presents, or peace on earth, good will to man … that sort of thing – and it is in a lesser way. But at the center of the Christmas message is a God of love who desires to be with you.

That’s right. God wants to spend time with you.

That’s why the Father sent Jesus to be born as a little baby. It set in motion this whole plan of love in Jesus’ death and resurrection that would break through the barrier of sin and reunite mankind with a loving Heavenly Papa.

Hanging out with mankind was God’s idea from the beginning. The Bible says that God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden. The Father sent Jesus because he wanted to renew that kind of intimate fellowship with us.

During the Christmas season we often sing the classic hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” but have you ever thought about what this familiar song means?

The text is based on the biblical prophecy from Isaiah 7:14:

…the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (ESV).

The name Emmanuel literally means “God with us.” God gave Jesus to mankind as the first Christmas present.

The Apostle Paul tells of the wonder of this idea several times in his letters.

…God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27, ESV)

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. (2 Cor. 5:18, NLT)

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10, ESV)

Jesus Himself made it clear that relationship with God should be our highest priority in this life.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:7-8, NKJV)

It is God’s will that we remain in fellowship with Him for all eternity. We see this in the beautiful hope-filled words of Apostle John in his revelation:

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. (Rev. 21:3, NLT)

This is the glorious news that we proclaim to the nations, that Jesus is Emmanuel. By His shed blood, He has ransomed captive Israel – and now He lives with us through the precious Holy Spirit.

So have a very merry Christmas knowing that God loves you and wants to be with you. May you know the presence of your Heavenly Father in a special way during this blessed season. And may you join with God’s people in singing this glorious hymn, both now and forevermore:

“Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel, shall come to thee oh Israel.”

Today’s Devotions

Morning

December 20

Jeremiah 33:2-3 2“This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it–the LORD is his name: 3‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Are you in turmoil about a situation in your life? Is it hard to understand the reasons and purposes God has for you at present? Does it seem that God has removed His hand from your circumstances? Ask the Creator who formed you. Go to the One who knows all things and has all things in His hands. Listen to His Word as He speaks to you. It declares that He works all things together for good to those who love Him, who are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28)

Call out to Him and He will answer. He doesn’t say He might. He doesn’t say when, but He will answer. Our problem is that we cannot see all the factors and events of the future. They are all present before God. They are unsearchable to us, but they are the work of His hand. Your loving Father invites you to ask Him. He will not reveal them to us unless we ask. He will reveal parts of His great plan, and we will see parts of the great puzzle of life fall into place.

His revelation will not always give us complete understanding, but it will give us peace knowing He is on the throne of heaven, ordering all things, and working out all things for our good. He is always at work. Watch for His hand. When things don’t make sense, call out to Him.

Consider: Need His phone number? His direct line is Jeremiah 33:3

Streams in the Desert – December 20

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Look, a time is coming – and has come – when you will be scattered, each one to his own home, and I will be left alone. Yet I am not alone, because my Father is with me. —John 16:32

It need not be said that to carry out conviction into action is a costly sacrifice. It may make necessary renunciations and separations which leave one to feel a strange sense both of deprivation and loneliness. But he who will fly, as an eagle does, into the higher levels where cloudless day abides, and live in the sunshine of God, must be content to live a comparatively lonely life.

No bird is so solitary as the eagle. Eagles never fly in flocks; one, or at most two, ever being seen at once. But the life that is lived unto God, however it forfeits human companionships, knows Divine fellowship.

God seeks eagle-men. No man ever comes into a realization of the best things of God, who does not, upon the Godward side of his life, learn to walk alone with God. We find Abraham alone in Horeb upon the heights, but Lot, dwelling in Sodom. Moses, skilled in all the wisdom of Egypt must go forty years into the desert alone with God. Paul, who was filled with Greek learning and had also sat at the feet of Gamaliel, must go into Arabia and learn the desert life with God. Let God isolate us. I do not mean the isolation of a monastery. In this isolating experience He develops an independence of faith and life so that the soul needs no longer the constant help, prayer, faith or attention of his neighbor. Such assistance and inspiration from the other members are necessary and have their place in the Christian’s development, but there comes a time when they act as a direct hindrance to the individual’s faith and welfare. God knows how to change the circumstances in order to give us an isolating experience. We yield to God and He takes us through something, and when it is over, those about us, who are no less loved than before, are no longer depended upon. We realize that He has wrought some things in us, and that the wings of our souls have learned to beat the upper air.

We must dare to be alone. Jacob must be left alone if the Angel of God is to whisper in his ear the mystic name of Shiloh; Daniel must be left alone if he is to see celestial visions; John must be banished to Patmos if he is deeply to take and firmly to keep “the print of heaven.”

He trod the wine-press alone. Are we prepared for a “splendid isolation” rather than fail Him?

The first Christmas carol

Author: Charles Spurgeon

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 14:5-9

I wish everybody that keeps Christmas this year, would keep it as the angels kept it. There are many persons who, when they talk about keeping Christmas, mean by that the cutting of the bands of their religion for one day in the year, as if Christ were the Lord of misrule, as if the birth of Christ should be celebrated like the orgies of Bacchus. There are some very religious people, that on Christmas would never forget to go to church in the morning; they believe Christmas to be nearly as holy as Sunday, for they reverence the tradition of the elders. Yet their way of spending the rest of the day is very remarkable; for if they see their way straight up stairs to their bed at night, it must be by accident. They would not consider they had kept Christmas in a proper manner, if they did not verge on gluttony and drunkenness. There are many who think Christmas cannot possibly be kept, except there be a great shout of merriment and mirth in the house, and added to that the boisterousness of sin. Now, my brethren, although we, as successors of the Puritans, will not keep the day in any religious sense whatever, attaching nothing more to it than to any other day: believing that every day may be a Christmas for ought we know, and wishing to make every day Christmas, if we can, yet we must try to set an example to others how to behave on that day; and specially since the angels gave glory to God: let us do the same. Once more the angels said, “Peace to men”: let us labour if we can to make peace next Christmas day.

For meditation: The unconverted cannot understand why Christians do not join them in their wild Christmas celebrations (1 Peter 4:3-4); those who celebrate the event without being able to give a sensible reason for doing so, are providing us with wonderful opportunities to give a reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15).

Walk With God

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How to Walk with God

man walking across the grass and a Bible

 

“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5 ESV)

Sometimes I wonder if the Lord was upside down and backwards when He orchestrated my life. Eight children underfoot with sundry other responsibilities cuts down on my Me Time, that’s for certain. I hardly sit down or sleep. Finishing a meal is a rarity. Oh sure, if I lived in a little cabin in the woods by myself, or better yet, a beach house on the coast, consuming nothing but seaweed and coconut juice, I might be able to pray in silence for hours at a time. Then I’d be able to walk closely with the Lord. But never THIS life. Not with THESE KIDS who expect to eat several times a day, and wear clean clothes every single week. I haven’t even mentioned the ministry responsibilities because most days I can hardly keep myself straight on who to pick up or where much less ponder anything beyond life’s necessities.

This is where Enoch’s example can get lost on someone like me—blinded by responsibilities, supposing she has been given a pass because her lot in life is God-ordained.

Maybe it would have been easier for Enoch if he had lived on the beach and settled for seaweed and coconut juice, too. But that wasn’t an option. Instead, he was the head of a family. We know he was married and he fathered Methuselah, as well as several other children (Genesis 5:22-24). Enoch went beyond meeting his own necessities, demonstrating before his family and his culture what it looked like to walk with God in the middle of regular life. We don’t know the details, but we know human nature in relationships. He, no doubt, faced argumentative, back-stabbing, power-playing characters across the centuries. Yet his life served as an example for the kind of closeness God desires for all His children. This relationship became a lifestyle that went with Enoch into any season, difficulty, or transition. His was a fellowship with God that continued for over an astounding 300 years.

What we learn from Enoch is that you and I don’t need a sabbatical from our regular life to find time to walk with God. Upside down and backwards works just fine. We don’t need a special Bible, less responsibility, fewer kids, a lighter schedule, or a permanent diet of tree roots and carrot juice. Like Enoch, we just need a commitment to walk with God.

Consider taking one of the following steps forward today:

  • The first thirty: Sometimes meeting God before the day begins is not possible. Think about the first thirty minutes of your day when you could do something else, like look at your phone, read, organize something, or catch up on a series. Instead, spend that first thirty minutes with the Lord.
  • Establish a meeting place: Similarly to habitually meeting a friend or associate for lunch or coffee, decide on a specific location to meet with God. Make the commitment to be there.
  • Set an alarm: Let’s face it. We are not going to find any more time. We are likely going to sleep through, work past, or ignore the responsibility unless it becomes our priority. Set an alarm on your phone when you are going to spend time with God. Maybe you will not need it one day, but even if you do, I pray your time becomes so precious, you won’t remember what you spent it on before.

Today as you pray, thank God for how He has orchestrated your life. Then begin asking the Lord about one thing you can do to walk with Him more closely in your regular everyday life.

Knowing God – Streams in the Desert – November 15

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For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living. (2 Corinthians 1:8)

But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

God allowed the crisis to close around Jacob on the night when he bowed at Peniel in supplication, to bring him to the place where he could take hold of God as he never would have done; and from that narrow pass of peril, Jacob became enlarged in his faith and knowledge of God, and in the power of a new and victorious life.

God had to compel David, by a long and painful discipline of years, to learn the almighty power and faithfulness of his God, and grow up into the established principles of faith and godliness, which were indispensable for his glorious career as the king of Israel.

Nothing but the extremities in which Paul was constantly placed could ever have taught him, and taught the Church through him, the full meaning of the great promise he so learned to claim, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

And nothing but our trials and perils would ever have led some of us to know Him as we do, to trust Him as we have, and to draw from Him the measures of grace which our very extremities made indispensable.

Difficulties and obstacles are God’s challenges to faith. When hindrances confront us in the path of duty, we are to recognize them as vessels for faith to fill with the fullness and all-sufficiency of Jesus; and as we go forward, simply and fully trusting Him, we may be tested, we may have to wait and let patience have her perfect work; but we shall surely find at last the stone rolled away, and the Lord waiting to render unto us double for our time of testing.
A. B. Simpson

Fool

Reginald Smith, Today Devotions

Scripture Reading — 1 Samuel 25:1-34

“Pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name – his name means Fool. . . .” — 1 Samuel 25:25

David and his fighting men had been living in the wilderness for a while. They had been watching over the countryside and protecting farmers and shepherds from thieves and raiders. A servant recalled, “These men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. Night and day they were a wall around us. . . .”

But Nabal took no notice of David’s protection, and he had no interest in hospitality. He only wanted to go about business as usual: what was good for him alone. When David asked for some food and supplies, Nabal did not even offer a simple thank-you to David. In the culture of that day, this kind of response was an insult. It was unforgivable. Nabal had to be taught a lesson, and David was willing to teach it.

Nabal’s wife, Abigail, had more sense. She knew that Nabal’s foolish ways were about to cost him his life. So she worked quickly to go and bring gifts of food to David and his men on the road.

Abigail’s wise actions restored humanity to David. She reminded him of who he was and what the Lord had called him to be. There was no reason for him to be a fool like Nabal, and David thanked her for keeping him from taking vengeance into his own hands.

Awake! Awake!

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Therefore let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6

Suggested Further Reading: Titus 1:7- 2:8

“Let us watch.” There are many that never watch. They never watch against sin; they never watch against the temptations of the enemy; they do not watch against themselves, nor against “the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life.” They do not watch for opportunities to do good, they do not watch for opportunities to instruct the ignorant, to confirm the weak, to comfort the afflicted, to succour them that are in need; they do not watch for opportunities of glorifying Jesus, or for times of communion; they do not watch for the promises; they do not watch for answers to their prayers; they do not watch for the second coming of our Lord Jesus. These are the refuse of the world: they watch not, because they are asleep. But let us watch: so shall we prove that we are not slumberers. Again: let us “be sober.” Albert Barnes says, this most of all refers to abstinence, or temperance in eating and drinking. Calvin says, not so: this refers more especially to the spirit of moderation in the things of the world. Both are right: it refers to both. There be many that are not sober; they sleep, because they are not so; for insobriety leadeth to sleep. They are not sober—they are drunkards, they are gluttons. They are not sober—they cannot be content to do a little business—they want to do a great deal. They are not sober—they cannot carry on a trade that is sure—they must speculate. They are not sober—if they lose their property, their spirit is cast down within them, and they are like men that are drunken with wormwood. If on the other hand, they get rich, they are not sober: they so set their affections upon things on earth that they become intoxicated with pride.

For meditation: The Christian in the pew should aim at the same standards as those which he expects to see in the Christian in the pulpit (1 Corinthians 11:1).