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What Does Compassion Feel Like?

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What Does Compassion Feel Like?
By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk. com

Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14 NLT

Pictures of life jackets covering the ground came to my mind when my family started talking about a movie about the Syrian refugee crisis. As we watched, my daughter went through a gamete of emotions, imagining what it must have been like for the young girls featured in the movie. They were swimmers, just like her. They had a family and a home they had to flee. When other people hurt, we often hurt, too. Especially when those people are close to us or we relate to them on a specific level or shared experience. The closer the proximity, the more acute the empathy and compassion we feel for them. It’s a pit of the stomach feeling. A gut feeling. An emotion that brings forth physical symptoms.

Jesus was compassionate to the people He met while He walked the earth. Particularly for His apostles and for those who followed and listened to His teachings and asked for healing. The verse above prefaced the miracle made famous by the loaves and fish. Jesus already had compassion for the people and followed through in His care for them by making sure they had enough to eat, too. “But we only have five loaves of bread and two fish!” His disciples pointed out to Jesus. (Matthew 14:17 NLT) The apostle Mark records today’s verse this way:

“Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” Mark 6:34 NLT

There were many other times recorded in Scripture when Jesus had compassion enough to perform miracles. When asked by a leaper if Jesus was willing to heal him, the apostle Mark recorded His response: “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be healed!’ (Mark 1:41 NLT)

When a funeral procession crossed Jesus’ path, and He learned a boy, a widow’s only son, had died, he had compassion on the grieving mother enough to raise her boy from the dead! “When the Lord saw her,” Luke wrote, “his heart overflowed with compassion. ‘Don’t cry!’ He said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. ‘Young man,’ he said, ‘I tell you get up.’ Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.” (Luke 7:11-15 NLT)

Compassion is compelling! It is love in action. The movement of our heart is connected to the will of our minds and the physical reaction to our bodies. We are propelled into action by the compassion we have for each other. Life within the love of Christ Jesus makes us especially sensitive to others when we are willing. Willing to listen, pray, give of our time and treasure, and support one another selflessly.

Get the Power to Go after Your Goals
By Rick Warren,

“We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it” (Proverbs 16:9 The Message)

Proverbs 16:9 says, “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it” (The Message).

You get to plan the way you want to live, but only God gives you the power and energy to actually experience transformation. Why? Because God provides the three things you must have to reach your goal and change your life.

1. You need God’s Spirit to empower you.

You need God’s help to make changes you can’t make on your own. It’s not based on willpower. It’s based on God’s power. It’s not based on trying. It’s based on trusting.

Zechariah 4:6 says, “‘You will not succeed by your own strength or by your own power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord All-Powerful” (NCV).

2. You need God’s Word to guide you.

The Bible is the owner’s manual for life. The more you read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate on it, the more successful and fulfilled you’re going to be in life.

When Joshua was given the great dream of taking over the Promised Land—a goal that would take him the rest of his life—God spoke these words to him: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8 NASB).

3. You need God’s people to support you.

You will not be able to reach your goals on your own. It takes a team to fulfill a dream!

A crowd can’t support you, but a small group can. The people in your small group know when you’re sick, when you’re having a tough time, when you need a break. You can share your goals and successes and failures, and they will rejoice with you and encourage you to keep going. You’re going to need that when you make the right kind of goals and pursue them wholeheartedly.

Streams in the Desert – December 29

  • 2022 29 Dec

“Arise… for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good; and are ye still? Be not slothful to go, and enter to possess the land: for God hath given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth” (Judges 18:9-10).

Arise! Then there is something definite for us to do. Nothing is ours unless we take it. “The children of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, took their inheritance” (Joshua 16:4).

“The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions” (Obadiah 17).

“The upright shall have good things in possession.”

We need to have appropriating faith in regard to God’s promises. We must make God’s Word our own personal possession. A child was asked once what appropriating faith was, and the answer was, “It is taking a pencil and underscoring all the me’s and mine’s and my’s in the Bible.”

Take any word you please that He has spoken and say, “That word is my word.” Put your finger on this promise and say, “It is mine.” How much of the Word has been endorsed and receipted and said “It is done.” How many promises can you subscribe and say, “Fulfilled to me.”

“Son, thou art ever with Me, and all that I have is thine.” Don’t let your inheritance go by default.

“When faith goes to market it always takes a basket.”

God’s Great Grace Is Ours

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God’s Great Grace Is Ours

mountain climber with backpack heading to the mountains


Brenda Williams –

Sometimes I face challenges that are bigger than I can handle. So, I cry out to the Lord. I believe He told me once that a lot can be accomplished a little at a time. Going step by step is something I can work with.

I know from experience how challenges can seem like mountains, but God promises to direct our steps and give us His help and wisdom (Psalm 37:23, Psalm 51:6). He gives us the courage to keep going forward (Joshua 1:9).

My friend and her hiking companion are trained hikers. Recently they climbed the strenuous, steep, five-mile hike up the rugged terrain of Mount St. Helens in Washington State. They trekked through woods, a forest, large rocks, and big lava boulders. In places the trail was so narrow they could barely see where to place their feet, so it was important to stay focused on the path, pray and breathe with the goal of accomplishing their mission. Also, they quoted Scripture to encourage themselves knowing they would make it; God was for them (1 Peter 5:7).

This sounds like many of the issues we face! We see the challenge before us but navigating to the other side isn’t always within our immediate sight or close reach. And this is where we hold onto the hope that is in Christ Jesus who always leads us to triumph and keeps us in peace.

My friend said that during the hike up the mountain there were boulders to lean on or push or pull up on. Poles placed along the way provided direction and support. The Lord will provide signposts and support for our journey too.

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).

Let’s face it, we can do nothing on our own, but by His powerful Spirit and with His great grace, all things are possible through Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9), even surmounting challenging mountains.

A coupling of the words  “Grace, grace” is found twice in Scripture:

What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” (Zechariah 4:7)

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace (John 1:16).

Strong’s Concordance defines grace as God’s favor toward us and my pastor says grace is God’s “supernatural enablement at work in us.” By praying in faith and relying upon Him, God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. His grace is poured out to enable us to courageously press on through the mountain until we arrive victoriously on the other side.

When we can’t see our way through, just as God did with the mountain Zechariah faced, we too must speak “Grace, grace!” and watch God do a mighty work. In the process of going through each mountain, we choose to keep our eyes fixed on a higher mountain, God’s Mountain —  Mount Zion where His divine presence is our source of grace and strength to prevail. Amen!

The mountains will be brought low, and the crooked places will be made straight (Luke 3:5) because we are clinging to the One who is our life, our strength, and our way maker.

Today’s Devotions


December 27

Daniel 1:7-8 7The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. 8But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Daniel was one of the young men from the court of the king of Judah who was taken to be re-educated to serve as a eunuch for the king of Babylon. Daniel served the kings of Babylon and Medo-Persia as a government official until the return of the Jews seventy years later.

One of the first things Babylon did was to try to change the identity of these men. Daniel means “God is judge,” but his new name means ‘Bel will protect’. Hananiah means “the LORD is gracious,” but his new name is “inspired of Aku.” Azariah means “the LORD is my help’, but his new name is “servant of Nego.” Mishael means ‘who is like God,” but his new name is “belonging to Aku.” These incredible Hebrew names were changed to the names of idols! That is exactly what the world wants to do to you. A name meant the identity of the person, their destiny and heritage. It was a part of the program of Babylon to cause the youth to forsake their culture and beliefs and adopt those of Babylon.

Who are you in Christ? What is the name He has given you? Converts of the first century changed their names upon conversion to match with their new identity. In heaven the overcomers will receive a white stone upon which is written their new name, an identity in God. Babylon was doing just the opposite. Can you see how the world would like to change your identity to that of one who belongs among them?

Consider: You will influence your world, or your world will influence you. Maintain your identity in Christ with firm resolve.

The Simple Secret to a Great New Year – New Year Devotional – December 27


But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

I have never been good at being a handyman.  Things that are a piece of cake to a handyman are like climbing Mt. Everest to me.

One time Debbie asked me to put in a doggie door.  She said, “You can do it, Jeff.  The box says, “Simple installation.”  “Simple is good,” I responded as I opened the box with gusto.

The very first instruction was to get out my electric drill.  That is when I knew their definition of “simple” and mine were quite different.  With “simple” instructions, I would have been told to get out my hammer. Now that is simple!  (Note: the doggie door installation was so NOT simple that I had to call my friend Gene over to help me before I completely lost my salvation).


If you like simple, you are going to love my simple secret to a great new year.  First, get out your electric drill (just kidding).

The simple secret is this: To experience a great year, just do what Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things [the things you and I worry about] shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).  If you will seek Him first, He promises to meet all your needs.


1.  It means that you spend time with Him at the first of each day, praying and reading His Word, asking Him for direction, guidance, help and insight … confessing your sins when you blow it, and seeking His grace to help in your time of need.

2.  It means you put His agenda above your agenda.  You pray, “Not my will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).  You live your life to please Jesus, not to please yourself.

3.  It means you obey Him and do what He says in the power He supplies.  You don’t let your fleshly desires control you; you let Jesus control you.

4.  It means you invest your time, talent and resources in the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of self.

5.  It means you recognize that He is everything, and in Christ “are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge”( Colossians 2:3).  The true treasures of life—love, joy, peace, fulfillment, true success—are only found in Jesus … so you spend your time seeking Him.


Don’t wait for the ball to drop in Times Square before seeking first the kingdom of God.  Start now!  Put Jesus first every day you are blessed to live… and He will bless your life abundantly in return.

One of my favorite Scriptures says, “For those who honor Me, I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).  If you want God to honor you, honor Him in all you do.  The best is yet to be… and the ball is in your court.

Iron Saints – Streams in the Desert – December 27

  • 2022 27 Dec

The shackles hurt his feet; his neck was placed in an iron collar, —Ps 105:18

Turn that about and render it in our language, and it reads thus, “Iron entered his soul.” Is there not a truth in this? That sorrow and privation, the yoke borne in the youth, the soul’s enforced restraint, are all conducive to an iron tenacity and strength of purpose, and endurance or fortitude, which are the indispensable foundation and framework of a noble character.

Do not flinch from suffering; bear it silently, patiently, resignedly; and be sure that it is God’s way of infusing iron into your spiritual life. The world wants iron dukes, iron battalions, iron sinews, and thews of steel. God wants iron saints; and since there is no way of imparting iron to the moral nature but by letting people suffer, He lets them suffer.

Are the best years of your life slipping away in enforced monotony? Are you beset by opposition, misunderstanding, and scorn, as the thick undergrowth besets the passage of the woodsman pioneer? Then take heart; the time is not wasted; God is only putting you through the iron regimen. The iron crown of suffering precedes the golden crown of glory. And iron is entering into your soul to make it strong and brave.
—F. B. Meyer

“But you will not mind the roughness nor the steepness of the way,
Nor the chill, unrested morning, nor the searness of the day;
And you will not take a turning to the left or the right,
But go straight ahead, nor tremble at the coming of the night,
For the road leads home.”


The Light Shines on a Dark Christmas

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The Light Shines on a Dark Christmas

holding a burning candle


The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. Isaiah 9:2 NLT

Have you ever tried to celebrate Christmas while you were going through a painful season of life? Perhaps things were so dark you literally felt like you were under the shadow of death? In Corrie Ten Boom’s book, Corrie’s Christmas Memories, she recalls a Christmas she spent in Ravensbruck, a concentration camp she was sent to for helping hide Jews during World War II. Her sister, Betsie, had died only 11 days earlier. The day after Betsie passed, Corrie discovered she was released. In order to leave, though, Corrie needed a declaration of health from the camp doctor. Unfortunately, the doctor diagnosed her with edema, and he sent her to recover in the hospital barracks. Corrie describes that agonizing Christmas:

Dark it was in my heart, and darkness was around me… I tried to talk to the people around me about Christmas, but they mocked, ridiculed, and sneered at whatever I said.

In the middle of that lonely Christmas night, Corrie recalled hearing a “feeble-minded” girl in a bed near her calling out, “Mommy! Come to Oelie. Oelie feels so alone.” Knowing the girl’s mother could not go to Oelie, Corrie got up from her bed to comfort her. As a dim light shined through the window next to Oelie’s bed, Corrie could see that even though the girl was reduced to skin and bones, she still had a “sweet face, beautiful eyes and wavy hair.” Recovering from an operation, the incision on Oelie’s back was covered in nothing but a makeshift bandage of toilet paper. Corrie recalls what happened next:

That night I told this poor child about Jesus. How He came into the world as a little baby—how He came to save us from our sins.

“The Lord Jesus loves Oelie and has borne her punishment on the cross. Now Oelie may go to heaven, and Jesus is there right now. He is getting a little house ready for Oelie.” Later I asked her what she remembered of what I told her.

“What is the little house like?” I asked.

“It is very beautiful. There are no wicked people as in Ravensbruck—only good people and angels. And Oelie will see Jesus there.”

The child added, “I will ask Jesus to make me brave when I have pain. I will think of the pain that Jesus suffered to show Oelie the way to heaven.” Then Oelie folded her hands; together we gave thanks.

Then I knew why I had to spend this Christmas in Ravensbruck in 1944.
(excerpts from Corrie’s Christmas Memories, chapter 4, pages 56-57)

Jesus said, “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark” (John 12:46). I love how Jesus met Corrie and Oelie in the hospital barracks of Ravensbruck, bringing love and light to one of the most horrific death camps in Germany.

If you are facing gloom, despair or darkness this Christmas, take heart. Just as Corrie found purpose in her pain, you can also ask Jesus, the “great light” of Christmas, to bring beauty and hope into your circumstances.

The Essential Message of Christmas


“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’ ” —Matthew 1:23

At this time of the year, we say, “Merry Christmas.” I prefer that to “Happy Holidays,” but I don’t get confrontational about it. Instead, I want to be gracious. After all, Christmas isn’t always a happy time for everyone. For someone who has lost their job, this is not the most wonderful time of the year, because so much emphasis is placed on a merry Christmas being a materialistic one.

There are also those who have lost loved ones. I am one of those people, and things that once made me happy at this time of year now make me sad. Those things that once brought happiness are now things that bring sadness, because they evoke memories of times we spent together. Therefore, Christmas becomes a difficult time for some.

There are many who are in need of encouragement at this time of year. They don’t need a Christmas present; they need His Christmas presence. They need to be reminded of what this season is all about. It is not about things. It is not about presents.

These things have their place, but we need to remember the essential message of Christmas, which is Immanuel—God is with us. And for the hurting person, the lonely person, the sorrowing person, this is the time of year to bring the gift of encouragement to them and say, “The message of Christmas is: God will be with you. God will help you. God will strengthen you.”

So look for opportunities to share the love of God during this season, because it is a time when we seem to be more open to engaging in conversation with others. Now is a great opportunity for you to bring encouragement to someone who is struggling. Who needs your encouragement today?

I Am the Way –

By: Emma Danzey,

John 14:5-6 says, “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

I have heard John 14:6 many times in my life and loved it, but never really pondered much about what was asked in the previous verse 5. Today as we look at Jesus as the Way, may we not forget the need for redemption, the need for direction, and the need for knowing how to be reunited with the Father through Jesus.

“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’”

Thomas has some high and low moments, like anyone in the Scriptures. He, unfortunately, got the title “Doubting Thomas” from the church because of his lack of faith in some scenarios; however, in this passage, even in his questioning, it leads to a wonderful answer. Thomas poses the question to Jesus, how can they know the way when they do not know where He is going? This is a valid question. Although Jesus was essentially telling them, He spoke in a way in which the disciples did not understand quite yet.

It is important for us to see that Jesus invites our questions. He is not unhappy with us just because we come to him with uncertainty. He welcomes us to Himself to provide the answers that we need. Sometimes those answers are unclear in the moment to us, but as we live and follow Christ, they became more clear. God could have explained to us many times part of His will, but without His Holy Spirit, we have no understanding of the spiritual. Thankfully, we have been given this gift as believers on this side of the resurrection. The disciples in this passage had yet to experience the Holy Spirit’s power and revelation in their lives.

Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’

I love this because Jesus answers point-blank. He does not speak in a parable or in some hidden form; He tells Thomas that He is the way, He is the truth, He is the life. When Thomas and the other followers of Jesus were looking for a way to the Father, Jesus told them that He would be the way. He was telling them that He would be the way to eternal life.

This is such a beautiful gift. Still, to this day, we do not have to wonder how to be forgiven for our sins or how to receive eternal life in heaven with God. Jesus has told us plainly in John 14:6.

“No one comes to the Father except through me.”

When people ask the question of how to get to heaven, John 14:5-6 is a great place to take them. In a world that tries to say, “All paths lead to the same place” or “your truth is your truth,” we have to pray and share the reality that if Jesus is the Savior of this world, He has made it clear that no one can come to Heaven and be with the Father except through Him. This is good news. Before Jesus, there was no hope and no way to have eternal life except the future hope of a Messiah and animal sacrifices to reveal faith for what was to come and cover sins. Now, we have confidence and peace that we can be sealed forever as His children.

Never Lose Your Wonder

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Never Lose Your Wonder

smiling child laying on the floor and coloring on paper


There is something about this season that makes me think of childlike faith.

No one fully revels in the Christmas season like a child. They have the faith to believe that they will receive the pony they crave or the ridiculously expensive Lego set. They are unstoppable!

There are likely endless articles that you could read about childlike faith. I’m not touching on something that we are unfamiliar with. The concept is written about in the Bible (Matthew 18:3, Mark 10:14-15, Luke 18:7) and is taught in churches across the globe. But how about if, this year, we stopped amidst the information overflow and considered something a little deeper than childlike faith?

What about wonder?

A close friend has recently given birth to a beautiful baby boy and he is just perfect. He has a cute button nose and soft baby skin. He’s amazing. I can completely grasp the concept of ‘baby-gazing’ (where you spend hours simply staring at a newborn baby!)

However, the thing that struck me most when holding my friend’s newborn baby was how his eyes sparkled in the glow of the fairy lights in my home. Now, I know that his vision has not necessarily developed enough to be able to see the lights clearly, but there was something about the motion of the pulsing lights that drew his attention and he was undoubtedly gazing at the gentle warmth of the fairy lights.

A child has a sense of wonder that I believe we can lose as adults.

We are surrounded every day by miracles. The very fact that you exist is a miracle! How can we become so familiar with such wonderful realities?

I’m not suggesting that we should walk around with our mouths permanently wide open because of the wonder that surrounds us but, at this time of year, in particular, I think it is fitting to pause and remember wonder.

What makes you say ‘wow’?

Is it the thought of the seemingly endless galaxy we live in?

Is it a newborn baby?

Is it a beautiful bride in her crisp white gown and veil?

For me, it’s the sea. Whenever I’m near the sea I get a sense of wonder. I think it’s because of its sheer magnitude. And depth. The thought of being placed in the very middle of the vast ocean is enough to have me breathing very heavily!

The sea can give you a sense of perspective that few other natural phenomena can. It puts your size, frailty, and mortality into harsh reality.

Perhaps there is room for considering the wonder of Christmas again this year.

There is a song by Bethel music that has the most captivating lyrics around the concept of wonder. It speaks of never losing our wonder and uses the words “Wide-eyed and mystified” in describing it.

Wide-eyed and mystified.


It’s no problem if some things confuse us due to their grandeur. It’s beautiful! God’s ways are higher than ours, His thoughts infinitely beyond our own.

This Christmas, I encourage you to take out your Bible (I would advise a paper Bible so that you’re not distracted by your phone alerts!) and turn to one of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth.

Allow the immaculate conception, the remarkable birth, and the subsequent celebration to wash over you anew. Allow salvation and eternity to puzzle you and be encouraged by thoughts of Heaven.

I pray that we never lose our sense of wonder and that, this Christmastime, we each find something new to marvel at. Bless you.

Streams in the Desert – December 17

  • 2022 17 Dec

Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this. —1 Thess 5:23-24

Many years since I saw that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” I began by following after it and inciting all with whom I had intercourse to do the same. Ten years after, God gave me a clearer view than I ever had before of the way to obtain it; namely, by faith in the Son of God. And immediately I declared to all, “We are saved from sin, we are made holy by faith.” This I testified in private, in public, and in print, and God confirmed it by a thousand witnesses. I have continued to declare this for above thirty years, and God has continued to confirm my work.
John Wesley in 1771

“I knew Jesus, and He was very precious to my soul; but I found something in me that would not keep sweet and patient and kind. I did what I could to keep it down, but it was there. I besought Jesus to do something for me, and, when I gave Him my will, He came to my heart, and took out all that would not be sweet, all that would not be kind, all that would not be patient, and then HE shut the door.”
George Fox

My whole heart has not one single grain, this moment, of thirst after approbation. I feel alone with God; He fills the void; I have not one wish, one will, one desire, but in Him; He hath set my feet in a large room. I have wondered and stood amazed that God should make a conquest of all within me by love.
Lady Huntington

“All at once I felt as though a hand—not feeble, but omnipotent; not of wrath, but of love—was laid on my brow. I felt it not outwardly but inwardly. It seemed to press upon my whole being, and to diffuse all through me a holy, sin-consuming energy. As it passed downward, my heart as well as my head was conscious of the presence of this soul-cleansing energy, under the influence of which I fell to the floor, and in the joyful surprise of the moment, cried out in a loud voice. Still the hand of power wrought without and within; and wherever it moved, it seemed to leave the glorious influence of the Saviour’s image. For a few minutes the deep ocean of God’s love swallowed me up; all its waves and billows rolled over me.”
Bishop Hamline

This Christmas, Receive the Best Gift Ever Given – Advent Devotional – December 17

By Rick Warren,

“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us — set us right with him, make us fit for him — we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus” (Romans 5:1 The Message).

God knew before you were born that you would be reading this in this moment. He planned to get your attention for just a few seconds so he could say this to you: “I’ve seen every hurt in your life, and I’ve never stopped loving you. You matter to me. I love you more than you will ever know. I made you to love you, and I’ve been waiting for you to love me back.”

If you gave me a Christmas gift and I never opened it, you would be disappointed. And it would be a worthless gift, because I don’t receive the benefit of a gift I never opened.

Jesus Christ is God’s Christmas gift to you. Yet some of us have gone Christmas after Christmas and never opened the best gift of all: God’s gift of salvation. Why even celebrate Christmas if you’re not going to open the biggest gift? It doesn’t make sense to leave unwrapped the gift of your past forgiven, a purpose for living, and a home in Heaven.

God has made a way for you this Christmas to be right with him, and all you have to do is receive his gift of salvation. The Bible says, “By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us — set us right with him, make us fit for him — we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus” (Romans 5:1 The Message).

Today’s Devotions

December 17

Jeremiah 29:11-13 11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Though the LORD was speaking this to Judah, it is true for all who seek Him. He has good plans for all who would seek Him with their whole heart. Sometimes we have a subconscious idea of God as the big policeman in the sky. He does execute justice, but in doing so He turns us from evil.

He has an intended plan for every life. It is a good and prosperous plan. It is better than we could possibly plan for ourselves. His desire is for our good. If we could grasp that our Creator wants to bless us and be a Father and friend to us, our whole outlook on life would change. That simple understanding would end most depression in the world today. Why do we think He is out to harm us? That is Satan’s goal, not God’s.

When the people of Judah were restored from captivity, they learned a lesson from their punishment. They had a more serious attitude toward God’s instruction. They made mistakes, but on the whole they were willing to receive instruction. When our hearts are in that condition, we pray for things that are in line with God’s will for us, and God hears us. We seek His presence and He is there, meeting us as we pray. It must be a wholehearted seeking, because He deserves nothing less.

Prayer: Lord, help me to seek You with all my heart!

Where Is Our Hope?

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Where Is Our Hope?



Recently, the whole world began to recover from the repercussions of a pandemic that had profound consequences. Now, instead of hearing about hopeful situations, we are faced with rumors of economic recession and conflicts that damage the nations.

All of this coincides perfectly with Revelation 6, concerning the absence of peace, of epidemics and famine, and even the accelerated increase in prices that should be expected in the end times. The chapter concludes with some verses that clarify that neither wealth, military power, nor social influence can be enough to win in these situations.

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” Revelation 6:15-17 NIV

Given this, it is natural to question ourselves about where to find hope and how to transmit it to others who suffer. While the conditions of this world do not seem to improve, we cannot always promise those who face the most complex crises that their conditions are going to be different soon.

However, considering that our role in this world will continue to be that of bringing light in the midst of darkness, we cannot give up on the task of bringing hope to others. We must refocus our efforts to lead those who suffer to a truth that can fill their hearts with peace and generate confidence for a better future.

Together with an international team from Operation Blessing, I have had the opportunity to be part of recent projects on the border area between Poland and Ukraine that provide help to those most affected by the war. It is precisely in these scenarios that we realize our hope cannot rest on temporary things. Temporary things can easily disappear before your eyes, as millions of Ukrainians today have seen their stable jobs, their homes, their families, or even their dreams disappear.

The book of Romans, in chapter 8, reminds us that suffering is part of this world, and that even Jesus suffered during His passage through this Earth. But at the same time, it fills us with hope by reminding us of what His promise is for those who put their trust in Him.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17-18 NIV

If you are experiencing a season of deep pain, and suffering is the daily reality in which you live, I remind you that these scenarios are a perfect opportunity to get closer to Jesus and to get to know Him in a more personal way. He fully understands your pain. He will accompany you in your suffering—and He is the only One who can give you access to the truth of a better future and eternal life with him.

Let us pray… Father God, through Your Son, Jesus, and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, we thank You for helping us in our time of need. We thank You that You are a good, good Father who watches over us all the time, including in difficult and challenging seasons. Reveal to us that You are right beside us, walking us through to better days, both on this earth and later with You in heaven. Remind us how much You love us and that Your Word (Hebrews 13:5) promises us You will never leave us, never forsake us. Amen!

Today’s Devotions


December 15

Jeremiah 20:8-9,11 8Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long. 9But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.

11But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.

Jeremiah complained that God didn’t tell him all that he was getting into when he was called to be a prophet. God never tells us everything upfront, for that wouldn’t be good for us. God will tell us what we are able to hear when we are able to hear it.

Jeremiah was proclaiming a message among people who hated what he had to say. This made him the object of mockery and scorn. There were even plots to assassinate him. Jeremiah wanted to quit speaking God’s words. There was one problem. The word was in his heart like a fire. If he tried to hold it in, it would weary him with effort. He just couldn’t keep quiet.

Jeremiah was proclaiming destruction and misery, but we have the words of life to proclaim. How blessed we are that our message is one of hope and salvation. Yet it is also a message of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In that sense it is like Jeremiah’s message. We are preaching the need to surrender. People will mock and scorn us as they did Jeremiah, because they do not want to change their ways. We may want to quit speaking the truth, just as Jeremiah did, but His word is in us like a pent-up fire.

Consider: We have one great consolation. The LORD is with you, reader. He is with you like a mighty warrior.

Streams in the Desert – December 15

  • 2022 15 Dec

Trust in the Lord and do what is right! Settle in the land and maintain your integrity! —Ps 37:3

The word trust is the heart word of faith. It is the Old Testament word, the word given to the early and infant stage of faith. The word faith expresses more the act of the will, the word belief the act of the mind or intellect, but trust is the language of the heart. The other has reference more to a truth believed or a thing expected.

Trust implies more than this, it sees and feels, and leans upon a person, a great, true, living heart of love. So let us “trust also in him,” through all the delays, in spite of all the difficulties, in the face of all the denials, notwithstanding all the seemings, even when we cannot understand the way, and know not the issue; still “trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass.” The way will open, the right issue will come, the end will be peace, the cloud will be lifted, and the light of an eternal noonday shall shine at last.

Trust and rest when all around thee
Puts thy faith to sorest test;
Let no fear or foe confound thee,
Wait for God and trust and rest.

“Trust and rest with heart abiding,
Like a birdling in its nest,
Underneath His feathers hiding,
Fold thy wings and trust and rest

Grateful for Christmas

By Meg Bucher

“Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” – 2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT

The holiday season kicks off with a reminder to be thankful. Gratitude is a powerful mentality. When we force a smile onto our faces, it actually triggers positive thoughts in our minds! The world is a difficult place, but God is bigger. His faithfulness gives us strength. God loves us so much, He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to save us.

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NLT

To this, let us force our faces into a smile if we have to this holiday season, in gratitude for:

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 NLT

Jesus has the authority to forgive sin. We cannot remove the guilt and shame that the world and our enemy heaps on us for everything we are acutely aware we miss the mark on. But God doesn’t see us that way. He chooses to view us through the filter of forgiveness we receive through Christ Jesus. When we confess our sins, we are forgiven. The weight of guilt and shame have no power over us.

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” Isaiah 7:14 NLT


God Restores Time

19 Important Bible verses about God's timing and plan34 Bible verses about God's Timing
12 Bible Verses about Trusting God's Timing – Heather C. King – Room to  BreatheGod has a perfect timing for everything. Learn to wait on Him. This brings  Him honor, and it brings you peace. - Psalm 27:14 -
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God Restores Time



Lorie Hartshorn – CBN. com

Have you ever wanted to turn back time? The truth is, time is something we never get back. Maybe this leaves you feeling regretful or sad about years that have been wasted or time not well spent on the things that really matter. Here is some powerful encouragement for all of us today. God promises that He takes back time!

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you” (Joel 2:25 NIV).

This promise was given to God’s people who had suffered the complete destruction of their harvest through swarms of locusts. For four consecutive years, the harvest had been completely wiped out. God’s people were brought to their knees.

But God had compassion on His people, and in the coming years, there would be an abundance that would make up for what had been lost.

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil (Joel 2:23-24).

This wonderful promise meant that years of abundant harvests would follow the years of desolation brought about by the locusts. And God has put this promise in the Bible for us today, as well.

What do “lost years” look like for us? They can come in many varieties: painful, fruitless, selfish, loveless, rebellious or unproductive. Do you hear what Scripture is telling us? God can restore your lost “locust” years. He does so in a very personal way.

The word restore literally means “comfort and redemption.” The story of Ruth and Boaz illustrates this, and you can read the book of Ruth for the full details. Boaz acts as Ruth’s kinsman redeemer by making a commitment to stand up and champion her as a member of his family. It was a decisive action on his part to pay whatever it cost for Ruth and her family to have freedom, release and restoration.  All the broken years of Ruth’s life were restored through this act of Boaz, who paid the cost and welcomed her into his family.

Do you see it? That’s what Jesus does for us. He sees our broken past, our years that the enemy has stolen from us, and He paid the ultimate cost with His very life so that we can be free, released from the past and restored into a new life—an abundant life!

“You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed” (Joel 2:26-27).

I know this to be true. God brought comfort and redemption to me and my family after years that the enemy had stolen. God gave us Himself, He comforted us, and He is giving us a bountiful harvest that we could never have imagined. He will take what seems like a waste and turn it into something beautiful if we let Him. Our lost years are not lost with God. He is a God that takes back time and turns it into a bumper crop! That is courageous living.


Streams in the Desert – December 14

  • 2022 14 Dec

His disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray… and he said unto them, “When ye pray, say… Thy kingdom come” (Luke 11:1-2).

When they said, “Teach us to pray,” the Master lifted His eyes and swept the far horizon of God. He gathered up the ultimate dream of the Eternal, and, rounding the sum of everything God intends to do in the life of man, He packed it all into these three terse pregnant phrases and said, “When you pray, pray after this manner.” What a contrast between this and much praying we have heard.

When we follow the devices of our own hearts, how runs it? “O Lord bless me, then My family, My church, My city, My country,” and away on the far fringe as we close up, there is a prayer for the extension of His Kingdom throughout the wide parish of the world.

The Master begins where we leave off. The world first, my personal needs second, is the order of this prayer. Only after my prayer has crossed every continent and every  far-flung island of the sea, after it has taken in the last man in the last backward race, after it has covered the entire wish and purpose, of God for the world, only then am I taught to ask for a piece of bread for myself.

When Jesus gave His all, Himself for us and to us in the holy extravagance of the Cross, is it too much if He asks us to do the same thing? No man or woman amounts to anything in the kingdom, no soul ever touches even the edge of the zone of power, until this lesson is learned that Christ‘s business is the supreme concern of life and that all personal considerations, however dear or important, are tributary thereto.
–Dr. Francis


Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus This Christmas

By Lynette Kittle

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” – Hebrews 12:2

It’s easy to get caught up in all the various holiday events that take place during the Christmas season: running from place to place, shopping for gifts, attending holiday parties, and preparing festive meals. In the rush and excitement of it all, it’s easy to get caught up in it and take our eyes off the real focal point of Christmas, Jesus, our prefect gift from our loving, heavenly Father (John 3:16).

Putting Gift Giving in Perspective
The desire we have to give comes from God. He is the ultimate giver, proving over and over again by His generous heart toward us. Because we are made in His image, our hearts are created and moved to give, too. However, even though giving is a God-thing motivated by love, sinful thoughts and attitudes can corrupt motives behind it, causing many to give for the wrong reasons, such as wanting to be accepted or to impress others. As well as giving to receive something in return or to buy or manipulate favors from others. All year long, and especially at Christmas, we want to keep our hearts and minds focused on God’s leading in giving to each other, asking Him to guide us in giving gifts that meet needs, and ones that have lasting and eternal value.

Guarding Our Thoughts and Minds during Holiday Movies
More than ever, Christmas holidays are marked now by watching countless Christmas movies. Along with the Hallmark Network, now Great American Family and Lifetime Networks are airing Christmas movie marathons 24/7. For Hallmark especially, most storylines never mention Jesus or leave Him totally out of the picture. So is it okay for us as Christians to watch them? Watching faithless films requires us to keep a guard over our hearts and minds, aware of how easily holiday glitz and glitter is able to lead us astray from focusing on God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus. If not kept in check, over time, the superficial holiday glamour starts to turn our thoughts to how, where, and when we will celebrate Christmas rather than looking at the One we are celebrating.

As long as we keep aware of how these movies-minus-Jesus have the potential to influence and shape our thoughts about Christmas, we can watch their entertaining holiday themes, keeping in mind how they are missing the mark when it comes to communicating the Season’s real meaning.

Filtering Jesus-less Messaging
With all of the Christ-less messaging surrounding us this time of year, we want to recognize that even though many offer bright, colorful, warm, and magical holiday atmospheres, they are selling us worldly views and outlooks concerning the meaning of Christmas. We want to recognize how Jesus-less celebrating leaves us feeling empty in the end because Santa, elves, Christmas cookies, hot cocoa, and colorful lights, overall, leave us without the hope that comes through the true, hope-filled biblical story of Christmas. Christmas without Jesus will always come up short because without Him, there is no reason to celebrate. If Jesus hadn’t been born, there would be no Savior for a fallen world that is lost, broken, and hopeless without Him.

Concentrating on the True Joy of Christmas
Fixating on holiday extras causes us to miss the true joy of the Season. Luke 2:10 explains the origin of this joy. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Whereas the world offers us temporary, surface forms of holiday cheer and happiness, the Season’s true joy is found in Jesus, a joy full and satisfying every day of our lives (John 15:11), the kind that daily strengthens and sustains us (Philippians 4:13).

Extraordinarily Ordinary

From: Today Devotions

John 4:1-8

“Will you give me a drink?”

—  John 4:7

John 4 tells about an encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at a place called Jacob’s well. Through their conversation something of the glory of Jesus is revealed. It’s enough to convince the woman that Jesus is the Messiah. And more conversations convince many ­others that Jesus is the promised Savior. Extraordinary!

Here’s how it starts. Jesus is bone tired. So he sits down by the well while his disciples go into town to buy food. He’s obviously hungry, but that will have to wait till the disciples return. Meanwhile, he’s thirsty. So when a woman comes to get water from the well, he asks her for a drink. That’s how their conversation begins.

It’s all so ordinary and human. Of course Jesus is tired. Of course he’s hungry. Of course he’s thirsty. He’s human, after all—like us in every way, with the same basic needs that have to be satisfied every day.

Jesus is not disguised as a human. He is fully human, just as he is fully God. And nothing about his humanity sets him above common human experiences—even ordinary ones like fatigue, hunger, and thirst. This will be true of him until the day he experiences the ulti­mate reality of being human: that we are vulnerable to suffering and death.



The Fiery Trials

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The Fiery Trial

man with a hurt hand


My husband has faint scars on his arms and hands.

It was not unusual to get the occasional burn at his former place of employment. He once worked at a die-cast factory, forcing molten metal into molds to form automotive parts.

The process began by putting chunks of impure metal into a hot furnace.

Then, once the metal melted, the refiner would throw in handfuls of granules that helped to separate the impurities from the pure liquid metal. These impurities looked like clumps of black lava as they broke loose and floated to the top of the silver molten liquid. The refiner then used a large metal tool to skim the surface and remove them.

This process continued until no further impurities floated to the top.

But the real way to know if the metal was free of impurities came when the refiner leaned over and looked upon the vat of liquid metal. When he saw his reflection—like looking into a mirror—he knew it was ready.

In 1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT, believers in Christ were told:

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.”

Most Christians would not consider fiery trials and suffering as reasons to be very glad. In fact, it seems logical that such things should be avoided.

In Matthew 16:21, Jesus told His disciples about how He would suffer terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He said he would even be killed. But He added that on the third day, He would be raised from the dead.

This did not make sense to Jesus’ disciples.

“Heaven forbid, Lord,” Peter said to Jesus in verse 22. “This will never happen to you!” 

Peter probably thought he was being loyal, even a good friend.

But in verse 23, Jesus said:

“Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

In verse 24, Jesus said to His disciples,

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.”

Following Christ—even during the hard times—promises great rewards for believers.

This spiritual refining process helps Christians to identify with Christ’s sufferings. It also helps sanctify us from those sinful habits that try to weigh us down in life — to keep us from accomplishing God’s purpose for our lives.

So, when the Lord allows the heat to get turned up in our lives at times, it is not for nothing. He is the Refiner who removes these impurities from us so that His reflection is evident to all.

He is molding us into a strong creation that is not easily broken. He is shaping us into His own likeness.

Listening to Learn

By Meg Bucher,

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” – James 1:19-21 NLT

Silence is: “the absence of any sound or noise; stillness …the state or fact of being silent; muteness …absence or omission of mention, comment, or expressed concern.” The silent treatment has turned into ghosting. To ghost someone is to “suddenly end all contact with a person without explanation, especially in a romantic relationship.”

James says, in the verse above, “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Anger is a necessary emotion, but the way we handle it is important. James tells us why: “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” Then, he says, “humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” In other words … listen. Tempers are lost and people are ghosted because we are disobedient to the Word planted in us. The Holy Spirit is faithful to convict us when we’re about to cross the line in anger … but it’s our choice to listen. Paul wrote to the Ephesians,

“’Don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” – Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT

God created us to need each other. No where in Scripture does it say we have the right to give someone the silent treatment, ignore a brother or sister, or ghost someone out of anger.

Streams in the Desert – November 27

  • 202227 Nov

For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37).

Far up in the Alpine hollows, year by year God works one of His marvels. The snow-patches lie there, frozen with ice at their edge from the strife of sunny days and frosty nights; and through that ice-crust come, unscathed, flowers that bloom.

Back in the days of the by-gone summer, the little soldanelle plant spread its leaves wide and flat on the ground, to drink in the sun-rays, and it kept them stored in the root through the winter. Then spring came, and stirred the pulses even below the snow-shroud, and as it sprouted, warmth was given out in such strange measure that it thawed a little dome in the snow above its head.

Higher and higher it grew and always above it rose the bell of air, till the flower-bud formed safely within it: and at last the icy covering of the air-bell gave way and let the blossom through into the sunshine, the crystalline texture of its mauve petals sparkling like snow itself as if it bore the traces of the flight through which it had come.

And the fragile thing rings an echo in our hearts that none of the jewel-like flowers nestled in the warm turf on the slopes below could waken. We love to see the impossible done. And so does God.

Face it out to the end, cast away every shadow of hope on the human side as an absolute hindrance to the Divine, heap up all the difficulties together recklessly, and pile as many more on as you can find; you cannot get beyond the blessed climax of impossibility. Let faith swing out to Him. He is the God of the impossible.


A woman’s memorial

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” Matthew 26:13.

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

The evangelists are of course the historians of the time of Christ; but what strange historians they are! They leave out just that which worldly ones would write, and they record just that which the worldly would have passed over. What historian would have thought of recording the story of the widow and her two mites? Would a Hume or a Smollet have spared half a page for such an incident? Or think you that even a Macaulay could have found it in his pen to write down a story of an eccentric woman, who broke an alabaster box of precious ointment upon the head of Jesus? But so it is. Jesus values things, not by their glare and glitter, but by their intrinsic value. He bids his historians store up, not the things which shall dazzle men, but those which shall instruct and teach them in their spirits. Christ values a matter, not by its exterior, but by the motive which dictated it, by the love which shines from it. O singular historian! You have passed by much that Herod did; you tell us little of the glories of his temple; you tell us little of Pilate, and that little not to his credit; you treat with neglect the battles that are passing over the face of the earth; the grandeur of Caesar does not entice you from your simple story. But you continue to tell these little things, and wise are you in so doing, for truly these little things, when put into the scales of wisdom, weigh more than those monstrous bubbles of which the world delights to read.

For meditation: God usually bypasses those who look great to the world and in their own eyes; he desires people who are after his own heart, however inconspicuous they are in the world’s sight (1 Samuel 16:7Luke 3:1-2).

Pleasing God

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Pleasing God

boy doing schoolwork


Vernell Windsor –

Have you ever been called upon to explain your misbehavior? I remember being in grade school and Sister Susie (changed to protect her identity) poked me in the head to turn around and pay attention. I was humiliated by her actions, but I have no recollection of what distracted me in the back of the room. My lack of attention to her teaching upset her.

One common thread in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is to give God the greatest respect and obey Him by keeping His commandments.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said it this way,

The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what he tells you. And that’s it. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 MSG).

From the beginning of time, people have gotten off course from following God’s commandments and paying attention to what He says is important. In Galatians 1, the Apostle Paul admonishes believers for getting distracted from the true teachings of Christ and believing a distorted version of the Gospel:

“I can’t believe how you waver—how easily you have turned traitor to him who called you by the grace of Christ by embracing an alternative message!” (Galatians 1:6).

In his passion for them to understand the seriousness of their ways and why he cares so much about the true Gospel message, Paul says,

“Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or court favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:10-12).

Pleasing the Lord made all the difference for Paul and he wanted the same for the Galatians. He poked them on the back of their heads with his strong words to get them to pay attention to the true Gospel message. We can all benefit from the reminder to focus on Christ regardless of life’s challenges.

Streams in the Desert – September 22

  • 202222 Sep

“And the Lord said . . . Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:31-32).

Our faith is the center of the target at which God doth shoot when He tries us; and if any other grace shall escape untried, certainly faith shall not. There is no way of piercing faith to its very marrow like the sticking of the arrow of desertion into it; this finds it out whether it be of the immortals or no. Strip it of its armor of conscious enjoyment, and suffer the terrors of the Lord to set themselves in array against it; and that is faith indeed which can escape unhurt from the midst of the attack.

Faith must be tried, and seeming desertion is the furnace, heated seven times, into which it might be thrust. Blest the man who can endure the ordeal!
–C. H. Spurgeon.

Paul said, “I have kept the faith,” but he lost his head! They cut that off, but it didn’t touch his faith. He rejoiced in three things–this great Apostle to the Gentiles; he had “fought a good fight,” he had “finished his course,” he had “kept the faith.” What did all the rest amount to? St. Paul won the race; he gained the prize, and he has not only the admiration of earth today, but the admiration of Heaven. Why do we not act as if it paid to lose all to win Christ? Why are we not loyal to truth as he was? Ah, we haven’t his arithmetic. He counted differently from us; we count the things gain that he counted loss. We must have his faith, and keep it if we would wear the same crown.

Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel: 365 Sermons

Duration: 365 days

Repentance unto life

“Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Acts 11:18

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 3:1-14

Can they be sincerely penitent, and then go and transgress again immediately, in the same way as they did before? How can we believe you if you transgress again and again, and do not forsake your sin? We know a tree by its fruit; and you who are penitent will bring forth works of repentance. I have often thought it was a very beautiful instance, showing the power of penitence which a pious minister once related. He had been preaching on penitence, and had in the course of his sermon spoken of the sin of stealing. On his way home a labourer came alongside of him, and the minister observed that he had something under his smock-frock. He told him he need not accompany him farther; but the man persisted. At last he said, “I have a spade under my arm which I stole up at that farm; I heard you preaching about the sin of stealing, and I must go and put it there again.” That was sincere penitence which caused him to go back and replace the stolen article. It was like those South Sea Islanders, of whom we read, who stole the missionaries’ articles of apparel and furniture, and everything out of their houses; but when they were savingly converted they brought them all back. But many of you say you repent, yet nothing comes of it; it is not worth the snap of the finger. People sincerely repent, they say, that they should have committed a robbery, or that they have kept a gambling-house; but they are very careful that all the proceeds shall be laid out to their hearts’ best comfort. True repentance will yield “works meet for repentance;” it will be practical repentance. Yet farther. You may know whether your repentance is practical by this test. Does it last or does it not?

For meditation: As with faith, repentance without works is dead. Jesus could tell that the repentance of Zacchaeus was practical and real (Luke 19:8-9).

Today’s Devotions


September 22

Job 31:24-25, 28 24“If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’ 25if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained,

28then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high.

Job continued his defense before his friends. He told how he always helped the needy and took good care of his workers. He said that he was consistent to do those things because he had a fear of God. He knew God required it of him, and that he would be judged if he did not. As we look at Job’s defense, few of us can say that our lives come anywhere close to Job’s. Yet the real standard is not Job but Jesus Christ. Thank God for sending His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.

In the passage for today Job says that he did not trust in his great wealth. Jesus told us it was very hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. Job seems to have been one of the few who could be trusted with wealth but not rely on it for security. He recognized that provision came from God. Though he labored to earn income, he knew God is the Provider. How many of us can be just as secure when our bank accounts are bottoming out as when they are bulging? That can only come when we see God is our security regardless of how much we possess.

He did not even rejoice over his wealth. It is one thing to be thankful and another to find joy in something. Our joy should always be the presence of God in our lives. When wealth becomes our reason for rejoicing we are turning it into an idol that takes God’s place. Job said that both trusting in wealth for security and finding your joy in wealth were both sins to be judged. Both are unfaithfulness to God.

Dear reader, pause and consider if wealth has taken God’s place in your heart as the reason you rejoice. Let us guard our hearts so that we are not seduced by wealth to worship another god. In this passage he groups this sin with worship of the sun and moon, other gods. If you have fallen in this area of making wealth a god, confess your sin, and put God back in His rightful place in your heart. See that He alone is your security and your greatest joy.

What Hurt the Most

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What Hurt the Most

baby resting on mother


Emmanuela Delsion – National Director – OB Haiti

February 2020 remains one of the hardest times in my life. I suffered physically, morally, and especially, spiritually. After a caesarean section in February 2020, I had complications. I was in very bad shape. Physically, I was very ill, experiencing extreme pain, swelling, and severe acute anemia. The pain was so terrible that I could not work or move by myself. I needed help to move from one side of the bed to the other and to use the restroom. I became dependent on others for everyday tasks. That dependency hurt me a lot. I always considered myself a strong person who always does her best to deal with life’s difficulties, and to find solutions. But during that time, even though I deeply wanted to be strong, I could not. I cried a lot. Not only because of the pain, but mainly because of my weakness. I depended on people for everything; I could not even carry my newborn, and that made me very sad.

But sadness was not the worst emotion that I felt. I was filled with anger. I was angry at God. I used to say that I was God’s favorite child, and I meant it. He had always been good to me despite my faults. He provided what I did not expect, protected me against danger, and He surrounded me with His grace. That is how God always blessed me—until February 2020. I got angry because of the trust that I put in Him, because of how I used to brag about my relationship with God. I felt betrayed by my awesome God who I completely trusted, and that hurt me more than my health status and the loss of my autonomy. I could not pray. I kept blaming God until the day my husband prayed with me. God used Him to talk to me through Psalm 34. Verse 19 says:

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all. (NIV)

I can’t find the correct way to explain it, but that verse brought me peace and I started begging God to forgive me. I realized that my sickness did not mean that God stopped caring about me. I trusted that He still loved me and that He would heal me. My reconciliation with God was the best thing that happened to me! The doctors did their best, including two surgeries and plenty of medicines, but at the end of the day, none of them could explain how I was healed, and how I could walk again. My God who continued to protect and love me, healed me in His perfect timing. I was discharged on March 02, 2020, a few days before the COVID-19 lockdown.

Today I feel ashamed about how I behaved, but I believe it was a good lesson that I needed to share with others. Being loved by God does not mean that we will never face difficulties—for we are living in a world influenced by the devil—but rather that our Savior will always protect us. As it is stated in Proverbs 24:16:

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

If you are going through a bad time, do not behave like I did, but instead, know that God loves you! He has everything under control and continues to protect you from even tragedies that you might never be aware of. Because God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!

Today’s Devotions


September 15

Job 1:20-22 20At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” 22In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing

We can scarcely imagine all that calamity striking in one day, though some readers will no doubt have experienced the one thing that was dearest to them taken. Losing all is losing all regardless if it is little or much. Surely Job’s greatest loss was that of his children. To lose even one child is worse than imaginable. How do you react to adversity?

When we read Job’s reaction, we see that God was correct in His assessment of Job. I’ve never seen anyone react without even a “Why God?” Job will come to that later. If you are wondering why Satan allowed his wife to live, it is because she told him to curse God and die. It was about to get even worse, as Satan does not wish to admit defeat and longed to turn Job against God.

Job’s response was to worship. His answer is quoted at funerals, but it should be considered throughout our lives. We came into the world without anything and we will leave with nothing. There has never been a moving van following a casket. The Egyptians tried, but all their treasures sit in museums. If our children go first, we will meet them one day, but our earthly treasures will go to others. Praise the name of the LORD. Praise Him for His wisdom in bringing us to the eternal and separating us from the temporal. How attached are you to the things that you will leave behind?

Consider: When we have a realization of the little value of the temporal, it is much easier to share with others at the leading of God.

Scent of the Rose – Streams in the Desert – September 15

  • 202215 Sep

Blow upon my garden that the spices may flow out (S. of Sol. 4:16).

Some of the spices mentioned in this chapter are quite suggestive. The aloe was a bitter spice, and it tells of the sweetness of bitter things, the bitter-sweet, which has its own fine application that only those can understand who have felt it. The myrrh was used to embalm the dead, and it tells of death to something. It is the sweetness which comes to the heart after it has died to its self-will and pride and sin.

Oh, the inexpressible charm that hovers about some Christians simply because they bear upon the chastened countenance and mellow spirit the impress of the cross, the holy evidence of having died to something that was once proud and strong, but is now forever at the feet of Jesus. It is the heavenly charm of a broken spirit and a contrite heart, the music that springs from the minor key, the sweetness that comes from the touch of the frost upon the ripened fruit.

And then the frankincense was a fragrance that came from the touch of the fire. It was the burning powder that rose in clouds of sweetness from the bosom of the flames. It tells of the heart whose sweetness has been called forth, perhaps by the flames of affliction, until the holy place of the soul is filled with clouds of praise and prayer.

Beloved, are we giving out the spices, the perfumes, the sweet odors of the heart?
–The Love-Life of Our Lord

Bread From the Ravens

Julia Prins Vanderveen , Today Devotions

  1 KINGS 17:1-6

“You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

—  1 Kings 17:4l

In the Bible there are many stories about God’s people disobeying God’s instructions to do certain things—and all of those things were designed to help the people learn to trust in God. God loves and cares for his people, and he always wants what is best for us. But we often like to do things our own way—so instead we disobey God, and that leads to trouble and eventually to ruin, unless God rescues us.

In 1 Kings 17, Elijah demonstrated complete trust in God, even when it didn’t seem to make sense. God told Elijah to go to a place that was unfamiliar to him, and Elijah trusted that God would provide for him there—even though it wouldn’t have seemed possible in the midst of a drought. But, amazingly, Elijah was able to drink from a fresh stream, and he ate bread and meat brought to him each day by ravens—birds that the Israelites were taught to view as unclean and off limits! As strange as it was, Elijah received the gift of bread and good care by trusting that God would sustain him.

Can you trust that God will provide for you even in ways that may seem surprising?

Can you recognize God’s call in your life, prompting you to do right instead of wrong, to obey his Word and follow his way instead of going your own way?

Lord, guide our hearts to trust that you will provide for us in ways that we would not even imagine. Amen.

God Is Our Strength

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God Is Our Strength

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Maria Stockman – Digital Copywriter,

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like things are piling up on top of you, one after another? As one issue resolves, another one comes. Or maybe nothing is fixed, and you feel like problems are crashing down on you like waves to the shore.

In times like these, I’ve heard many say the common phrase, “God only gives you what you can handle.” And hearing this makes me want to scream. This is so far from the truth we read in the Bible.

Scripture is clear that God wants us to lean on Him because we are not strong. We always fall short when we try to do things through our own strength. Paul says,

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

My friend Judy has colon cancer and has been actively fighting it for years. I love getting updates after her doctor’s appointments because no matter the news or next steps, she always says, “Praise Jesus! He’s carrying me through this!” Judy understands that while not every scenario resolves quickly or every illness is instantly healed, she can put her trust in Jesus to carry her through. She never depends on her own strength but always on His.

In our weakness, when we lean on Jesus for our help, we glorify Him.

If we could walk through trials and troubles and overcome them through our own strength, then why would we need Jesus? However, the Gospel is clear that we cannot do things alone and need Jesus to be our strength. I love that He always goes before us, and we can always rely on Him!

In Psalm 107, the psalmist writes over and over how God’s people were in danger or trouble, cried out for God’s help, and He delivered them. He urges the reader to give praise and thanksgiving to God:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever (Psalm 107:1 NLT).

Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them (Psalm 107:8).

Unconditional Love

“The LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet is committing adultery, as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods.’” – Hosea 3:1 NASB

When God asked Hosea to marry a harlot, he became a symbol. Through his example, God was demonstrating that He wanted a love relationship with His people. He wanted their hearts. He wanted them to give themselves to Him voluntarily. He was grieved they had gone after other lovers.

No matter what they had done, God still loved them. He bought them. They no longer needed to be prostitutes but could enter a new relationship with Him. Eventually they would realize just how much He loved them and how much He wanted them to return to Him.

Because of love, God reaches out to us, to everyone, even those who reject and deny Him. Because of love, he forgives our sins and corrects us when we make mistakes. He trains and disciplines us. Why? Because “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Our lives change when we enter that love relationship. Through this relationship, love becomes our motivation. It inspires us and changes our attitude.

Think about the lessons from the life of Hosea and how much God loves you. Allow that love to transform your life, deliver you from fear, give you the right motives, open your eyes to spiritual truths, motivate you to reach out to others, and show everyone His love.

Faith illustrated

By: Charles Spurgeon

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 6:13-20

Joab, when he fled from the sword of Solomon, laid hold on the horns of the altar, thinking that surely when he had laid hold on the altar he was safe. His was vain confidence, for he was dragged from the horns of the altar and slain. But if you can lay hold on the horns of the altar of God, even Christ, you are most surely safe, and no sword of vengeance can ever reach you. I saw the other day a remarkable picture, which I shall use as an illustration of the way of salvation by faith in Jesus. An offender had committed a crime for which he must die, but it was in the olden time when churches were considered to be sanctuaries in which criminals might hide themselves and so escape. See the transgressor—he rushes towards the church, the guards pursue him with their drawn swords, all athirst for his blood, they pursue him even to the church door. He rushes up the steps, and just as they are about to overtake him and hew him in pieces on the threshhold of the church, out comes the Bishop, and holding up the crucifix he cries, “Back, back! Stain not the precincts of God’s house with blood! Stand back!” and the guards at once respect the emblem and stand back, while the poor fugitive hides himself behind the robes of the priest. It is even so with Christ. The guilty sinner flies to the cross—flies straight away to Jesus, and though Justice pursues him, Christ lifts up his wounded hands and cries to Justice, “Stand back! Stand back! I shelter this sinner; in the secret place of my tabernacle do I hide him; I will not suffer him to perish, for he puts his trust in me.”

For meditation: We should never be ashamed to be seen hiding behind Jesus (Mark 8:38).

Keeping In Step With the Spirit

By: Evan Heerema

  GALATIANS 5:16-26

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

—  Galatians 5:22-23

The apostle Paul teaches the Galatian believers to “walk by the Spirit,” be “led by the Spirit,” and “keep in step with the Spirit.”

Though I have never been in a marching band, I am always impressed by how a marching band keeps in step. The players’ steps are orderly and coordinated, and they keep both the music and the band moving forward.

Paul warns about what happens when our steps in life are not in coordination with the Spirit. There is immorality, impurity, conflict, selfish ambition, jealousy, discord, rage, and more. That is a dangerous place to be, and if we live that way, we will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Being in step with the Spirit, however, produces “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Life in Christ is designed to be harmonious. It involves a community loving and serving each other, just as the Trinity—God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—love each other.

These verses can serve as a litmus test of your own life. Do you exhibit selfishness, pride, and conflict? Or do you live with love, goodness, and self-control? How about the community you are a part of? If any of you are out of step with the Spirit, be sure to humble yourselves and be led by the Spirit.

Triune God, help me to love and serve you and my neighbors, including my enemies. Let my life shine as an example of your love. Amen.