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Tell The Good News Of Salvation

 

Tell People The Good News

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Malachi 3

God Sends His Messengers With Good News

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“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

 

Bear Good Fruit

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From: L.B. Cowman

And every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit (John 15:2).

A child of God was dazed by the variety of afflictions which seemed to make her their target. Walking past a vineyard in the rich autumnal glow she noticed the untrimmed appearance and the luxuriant wealth of leaves on the vines, that the ground was given over to a tangle of weeds and grass, and that the whole place looked utterly uncared for; and as she pondered, the Heavenly Gardener whispered so precious a message that she would fain pass it on:

“My dear child, are you wondering at the sequence of trials in your life? Behold that vineyard and learn of it. The gardener ceases to prune, to trim, to harrow, or to pluck the ripe fruit only when he expects nothing more from the vine during that season. It is left to itself, because the season of fruit is past and further effort for the present would yield no profit. Comparative uselessness is the condition of freedom from suffering. Do you then wish me to cease pruning your life? Shall I leave you alone?”

And the comforted heart cried, “No!”
–Homera Homer-Dixon

It is the branch that bears the fruit,
That feels the knife,
To prune it for a larger growth,
A fuller life.
Though every budding twig be lopped,
And every grace
Of swaying tendril, springing leaf,
Be lost a space.
O thou whose life of joy seems reft,
Of beauty shorn;
Whose aspirations lie in dust,
All bruised and torn,
Rejoice, tho’ each desire, each dream,
Each hope of thine
Shall fall and fade; it is the hand
Of Love Divine
That holds the knife, that cuts and breaks
With tenderest touch,
That thou, whose life has borne some fruit

May’st now bear much.
–Annie Johnson Flint

Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Ephesians 1

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

 

 Flee Sexual Immorality!

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I Corinthians 6:19

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

 

Teach Them God’s Good News

Proverbs 15: 30-33

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30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
    and good news gives health to the bones.

31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction
    will be at home among the wise.

32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,
    but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.

33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord,
    and humility comes before honor.

Knowing Jesus Christ Is Wonderful

7  But whatever was an asset to me I count as loss for the sake of Christ. 8  More than that, I
them rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in Him, not having my own
righteousness
from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on
the basis
of faith.…Philippians 3: 7-9 
Sometimes people have a hard time giving up sweets. What is your favorite thing you would have a hard time giving up?
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What Can’t You Give Up?

By Poh Fang Chia

[Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God.

“What’s one thing you can’t give up?” the radio host asked. Listeners called in with some interesting answers. Some mentioned their families, including a husband who shared memories of a deceased wife. Others shared they can’t give up on their dreams, such as making a living in music or becoming a mother. All of us have something we treasure dearly—a person, a passion, a possession—something we can’t give up.

In the book of Hosea, God tells us that He won’t give up on His chosen people Israel, His treasured possession. As Israel’s loving husband, God provided her with everything she needed: land, food, drink, clothing, and security. Yet like an adulterous spouse, Israel rejected God and sought her happiness and security elsewhere. The more God pursued her, the further she drifted away (Hosea 11:2). However, though she had hurt Him deeply, He would not give her up (v. 8). He would discipline Israel so as to redeem her; His desire was to re-establish His relationship with her (v. 11).

Today, all God’s children can have the same assurance: His love for us is a love that will never let us go (Romans 8:37–39). If we’ve wandered from Him, He yearns for us to return. When God disciplines us, we can be comforted that it’s a sign of His pursuit, not of His rejection. We are His treasure; He won’t give up on us.

Today’s Reflection

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love that never gives up on me. Help me to love You wholeheartedly.

Merciful

by Inspiration Ministries

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew 5:7 NASB

Rome dominated much of the ancient world, with an empire built by military might. This control was clear to people throughout Judea, who could see the presence of Roman soldiers.

Nations then and now have believed that ruthlessness is the path to dominance. Indeed, this can result in short-term gains. But history shows that nations who rule by ruthlessness should not expect to receive mercy in return. In fact, they often became victims of the ruthlessness they employed.

How should the people of Judea have reacted to the presence of Rome? Many expected them to answer Roman ruthlessness with their own commitment to violence.

But Jesus taught a completely different attitude toward life, with a focus on spiritual things, seeking first God’s Kingdom. He stressed the importance of mercy. If we want God’s blessings, we must realize that He shows mercy to those who are merciful.

The Greek word translated “merciful” here, used for the only time in the Gospels, suggests compassion and concern. In the world, those who practice ruthlessness may seem to dominate. Yet they often forget that God is the ultimate Ruler. The righteous Judge. That we always reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). That if we need God’s forgiveness, we need to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15).

Do you want God’s mercy? Then seek to be merciful and compassionate. This even means loving your enemies (Luke 6:35). Make this your attitude, if you want to receive God’s blessings.

Prayer

Father, I seek Your blessings on my life. Help me to be more merciful toward others. Thank You for being merciful to me, and for forgiving my sins. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee? (Daniel 6:20).

How many times we find this expression in the Scriptures, and yet it is just this very thing that we are so prone to lose sight of. We know it is written “the living God”; but in our daily life there is scarcely anything we practically so much lose sight of as the fact that God is the living God; that He is now whatever He was three or four thousand years since; that He has the same sovereign power, the same saving love towards those who love and serve Him as ever He had and that He will do for them now what He did for others two, three, four thousand years ago, simply because He is the living God, the unchanging One. Oh, how therefore we should confide in Him, and in our darkest moments never lose sight of the fact that He is still and ever will be the living God!

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. An older brother who has known the Lord for forty-four years, who writes this, says to you for your encouragement that He has never failed him. In the greatest difficulties, in the heaviest trials, in the deepest poverty and necessities, He has never failed me; but because I was enabled by His grace to trust Him He has always appeared for my help. I delight in speaking well of His name.
–George Mueller

Luther was once found at a moment of peril and fear, when he had need to grasp unseen strength, sitting in an abstracted mood tracing on the table with his finger the words, “Vivit! vivit!” (“He lives! He lives!”). It is our hope for ourselves, and for His truth, and for mankind. Men come and go; leaders, teachers, thinkers speak and work for a season, and then fall silent and impotent. He abides. They die, but He lives. They are lights kindled, and, therefore, sooner or later quenched; but He is the true light from which they draw all their brightness, and He shines for evermore.
–Alexander Maclaren

“One day I came to know Dr. John Douglas Adam,” writes C. G. Trumbull. “I learned from him that what he counted his greatest spiritual asset was his unvarying consciousness of the actual presence of Jesus. Nothing bore him up so, he said, as the realization that Jesus was always with him in actual presence; and that this was so independent of his own feelings, dependent of his deserts, and independent of his own notions as to how Jesus would manifest His presence.

“Moreover, he said that Christ was the home of his thoughts. Whenever his mind was free from other matters it would turn to Christ; and he would talk aloud to Christ when he was alone — on the street, anywhere — as easily and naturally as to a human friend. So real to him was Jesus’ actual presence.

Happy New Year Everyone

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New Year, New Priorities

From: Our Daily Bread

New Year, New Priorities

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10

I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the cello. But I’ve never found the time to enroll in a class. Or, perhaps more accurately, I haven’t made the time for it. I had thought that in heaven I could probably master that instrument. In the meantime, I wanted to focus on using my time in the particular ways God has called me to serve Him now.

Life is short, and we often feel the pressure to make the most of our time on Earth before it slips away. But what does that really mean?

As King Solomon contemplated the meaning of life, he offered two recommendations. First, we’re to live in the most meaningful way we can, which includes fully enjoying the good things God allows us to experience in life, such as food and drink (Ecclesiastes 9:7), clothing and perfume (v. 8 nlt), marriage (v. 9), and all of God’s good gifts—which might include learning how to play the cello!

His second recommendation was diligent work (v. 10). Life is full of opportunities, and there is always more work to be done. We’re to take advantage of the opportunities God gives us, seeking His wisdom on how to prioritize work andplay in a way that uses our gifting to serve Him.

Life is a wonderful gift from the Lord. We honor Him when we take pleasure both in His daily blessings and in meaningful service.

Father, thank You for this life You’ve given me. Help me to live this new year for You, enjoying Your blessings and fulfilling Your purposes.

We can both enjoy God’s blessings and be a blessing to others.

 

Echoes from the Garden

Author: Debbie Rodgers

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Two years ago, my friend left San Antonio to be with her dad in Houston. He was undergoing surgery for liver cancer at MD Anderson. The doctors had given the family a rather bleak outlook. My friend, who is a single mother, was without her two kids who were away at camp. For several weeks she found herself going back and forth to be with her dad.

I knew my friend was feeling very alone during this time so I was determined to be on standby to help her if she needed me. When her first call came, I was heading back to San Antonio from a meeting in Austin. She explained that her dad’s vitals did not look good and that he did not have long. This was the first real indicator that I needed to go to Houston that day. About two hours after our initial conversation she finally said, “Please come now.”

My friend needed me and that became the priority in that moment. I was back in my car and on the road within 45 minutes of the request. I called my friend to let her know I was on my way to Houston, a trip that would take about four hours. As my thoughts about the situation were rolling around in my head, the cell phone rang once again. I saw that it was her on caller id and I said, “How are you?”

My friend’s response pierced my heart. Even though she knew that I was only thirty minutes down the road, she asked a question that went beyond logic. With a sound of desperate aloneness in her voice she said, “Where are you?”  She wasn’t being conversational or asking me about my actual location. She was communicating from a much deeper place expressing her loneliness – her feeling of loss. Those three words still resonate in me today. These are the same words our Creator used a long time ago when we went missing.

In a garden that none of us can yet imagine where there was no loss, Adam and Eve would walk with God. This was a place of extreme beauty and bliss – a place translated, “delight or paradise.” Every day in majestic surroundings the ones made in His image found themselves interacting with the Creator of the universe. Their relationship was one of complete intimacy with nothing between them. God loved His creation and they knew it beyond any doubt. Actually, they had never experienced doubt to know what it felt like.

God was in paradise with two others whom He deeply loved and He seemed to find fulfillment just being with them. Adam and Eve gave God something the angelic host could not. They could choose to love Him back the way that He loved them. They could choose to stay intertwined in an eternal relationship with nothing hidden and nothing to be afraid of. Then, one day after walking in all that love and beauty, Adam and Eve chose to walk away.

God’s response to this choice is forever etched in the earth. The words that poured out of His heart were ones that expressed His anguish. These were desperate, longing, searching words communicating His great feeling of loss just as my friends had the day she felt so alone. They are the same words that can be heard now when one has wondered far away from the garden where God is and looks for us to be.

If anyone wonders what God is all about – what He is really interested in, take a walk back to paradise when His heart first broke. Go back to the first time He missed you. Hear the deep longing beyond the words. Listen with your heart as you hear His. His words do not hide what our Creator really desires, what He really longs for. God’s words to all humanity remain the same today as it was that day in the garden,“Where are you?” Three gut-wrenching words explain God’s heart toward us. In them we find Him. They echo His passion. They forever communicate – it is us that God wants.

Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:9 (NLT)

Let Us Keep to the Point

By Oswald Chambers

Let Us Keep to the Point

My Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness. “Whether it means life or death-it makes no difference!” (see My Utmost for His Highest. “…my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed….” We will all feel very much ashamed if we do not yield to Jesus the areas of our lives He has asked us to yield to Him. It’s as if Paul were saying, “My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest— my best for His glory.” To reach that level of determination is a matter of the will, not of debate or of reasoning. It is absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will at that point. An undue amount of thought and consideration for ourselves is what keeps us from making that decision, although we cover it up with the pretense that it is others we are considering. When we think seriously about what it will cost others if we obey the call of Jesus, we tell God He doesn’t know what our obedience will mean. Keep to the point— He does know. Shut out every other thought and keep yourself before God in this one thing only— my utmost for His highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone. Philippians 1:21). Paul was determined that nothing would stop him from doing exactly what God wanted. But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide— for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.

Be Thankful To God

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.” Ps. 118:29

“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Ps. 9:1

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Ps. 7:17

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faithwill grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Col. 2:7

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Col. 3:15

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Col. 4:2

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Honoring God with Thanks

Honoring God with Thanks
Read: Psalm 50:8–15 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 37–39; 2 Peter 2

Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:15

The doctor wasn’t frowning, despite talking to my husband about his recent cancer diagnosis. Smiling, she offered a suggestion: start each day by giving thanks. “For at least three things,” the doctor said.  Dan agreed, knowing that gratitude opens our hearts to find encouragement in God’s goodness. Thus, Dan starts each day with words of praise. Thank You, God, for a good night’s sleep. For my clean bed. For sunshine. For breakfast on the table. For a smile on my lips.

Each word is heartfelt. But could it sound trivial? Does our praise in life’s small details matter to Almighty God? In Psalm 50, David’s chief musician, Asaph, offers a clear answer. God has “no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens” (v. 9). Instead of these once-formal Israelite sacrifices of gratitude, God wants His people to give Him our hearts and lives in gratitude (vv. 14, 23).

As my husband experienced, whole-hearted gratitude helps our spirits flourish. Then when we call on the Lord “in the day of trouble,” He will “deliver” us (v. 15).  Does this mean Dan will be healed, spiritually and physically, during his two-year treatment? Or not until after this lifetime? We don’t know. But for now, Dan delights in showing God he’s grateful for His love, and for who God is: Redeemer. Healer. Friend. And friends delight to hear these beautiful words: Thank You.My gratitude to God is great to Him.

 

The Power of a Life Well Lived

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By: Joe Stowell

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Philippians 2:14-15

In the years leading up to the fall of the Iron Curtain in Russia, I remember praying for Russian Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. The political situation in that land seemed grim, and quite honestly I wasn’t really expecting to see God answer our prayers for freedom in that land. But in 1989 the unthinkable happened—the curtain collapsed, ushering in a new era of freedom for the people who had been under the iron fist of that communist government. The world rejoiced at the news, and I was especially thrilled that our fellow believers in that land could now freely express their faith in Christ.

Soon after that happened, three leaders of the Russian church came to visit the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. As president of Moody at the time, I was privileged to give them a tour. While we walked, I asked them what events had led to the cessation of oppression and persecution against the church. They explained that their economy had been failing because alcoholism was rampant. People who didn’t believe in God had no purpose, and absenteeism from work—largely due to alcoholism—was wreaking havoc with the economy. They said that once when Gorbachev, who was then the Prime Minister, met with his cabinet, he asked, “Why is it that we persecute the Christians? They are the ones who are not alcoholics. They show up for work every day and give us a good day’s work. Why is it that we persecute people like this whom we desperately need?”

It’s a great example of the power of a life well-lived. When non-Christians in this “crooked and depraved generation” notice that we are different, it gives us an opportunity to make a difference for Christ. I wonder if the people where you work would agree with Gorbachev’s observation? Or would they say, “Those Christians—they are always the ones who are griping, murmuring, arriving late, and leaving early?” Even in environments where we may feel challenged or unappreciated, we are called to bear witness to the reality of God in our lives by being “pure and blameless.” It’s often true that the more difficult the environment, the more challenging it is to show the uniqueness of God’s character through our actions and attitudes. Yet it is in those dark times that the light of Jesus in us and through us can shine most brightly.

When we maintain the witness of a life well-lived even in the face of hardship, we have the power to make a difference in our home, workplace, and significant relationships.

Live in such a way that your boss will be prompted to say, “I don’t always get it about Christians but one thing is true—our business is a lot better place because they work here!” And then maybe, just maybe, your boss will be open for you to help him “get it” about Christians—all the way to Jesus. Now that would really make a difference!

November 30

Jacob’s Ladder

 

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From:  Through The Bible Devotions

Isaiah 40:25-27 (NIV) 25“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. 27Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”?

What will you compare God to? What or who has always been? Who is unchanging throughout eternity? How ridiculous to think we could make some image of our infinite Creator! How arrogant to think that we could give Him advice or suggest a better way than that which He has chosen!

Look at the stars on a clear night sky. You know you can only see a small fraction of them, and yet, God has each one set just where he would place it. It is there at His command and exists for His purposes. Each one has a name given it by its Creator, just as He intimately knows each of the billions of people on earth. None can hide or go unnoticed. We have a hard time remembering all the names of our few friends. When you contemplate God, do not compare Him with finite and error prone men.

Considering His greatness, considering His omniscience, dare we complain that God is not acting on our behalf? Do we think that somehow our case slipped by Him? Do we really believe He isn’t concerned? He knows every detail. He knows a million details about your situation that you are not aware of. Trust Him. He will one day help you see why things happened as they did. The one who places their trust in God will never be disappointed. He is the Holy One. He makes no mistakes.

Meditation: The Eternal One knows what I need and can bring into my life anything He deems necessary.

Be Careful Of Greed

 

2 Kings 5:20-27

23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.

25 When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”

“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.

26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? 27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.

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Lord of the Moment

Lord of the Moment
Read: 2 Kings 8:1–6 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 35–36; 2 Peter 1

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

Not long ago I was working on a construction project at my son’s home three hours away. The job took days longer than expected, and each morning I prayed we would finish by sunset. But every evening there was more to be done.

I wondered why. Could there be a reason for the delay? An answer came the next morning. I was picking up a tool when my phone rang and a stranger’s voice spoke urgently: “Your daughter was injured in an accident. You need to come immediately.”

She lived near my son, so it took just fourteen minutes to reach her. If I had been home, I would have been three hours away. I followed the ambulance to the hospital and comforted her before surgery. As I sat holding her hand I realized if my project hadn’t been delayed, I wouldn’t have been there.

Our moments belong to God. This was the experience of a woman whose son God had resurrected through the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 4:18–37). She left the country because of famine and returned years later to beg the king for her land. At precisely that moment the king was conversing with the prophet’s servant Gehazi. “Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored” her son, the woman walked in (8:5). Her request was granted.

We don’t know what even the next second brings, but God is graciously able to use any situation for good. May God give us grace to walk with Him expectantly into His appointments for us today.

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of my life. Help me to be Your faithful servant.

Our lives are better off in God’s hands than in our own.

 

The Supremacy of Jesus Christ

By Oswald Chambers

The Supremacy of Jesus Christ

The holiness movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them. There is nothing about them that needs the death of Jesus Christ. All that is required is a pious atmosphere, prayer, and devotion. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous. It did not cost the sufferings of God, nor is it stained with “the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:11). It is not marked or sealed by the Holy Spirit as being genuine, and it has no visual sign that causes people to exclaim with awe and wonder, “That is the work of God Almighty!” Yet the New Testament is about the work of God and nothing else.

The New Testament example of the Christian experience is that of a personal, passionate devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ. Every other kind of so-called Christian experience is detached from the Person of Jesus. There is no regeneration— no being born again into the kingdom in which Christ lives and reigns supreme. There is only the idea that He is our pattern. In the New Testament Jesus Christ is the Savior long before He is the pattern. Today He is being portrayed as the figurehead of a religion— a mere example. He is that, but He is infinitely more. He is salvation itself; He is the gospel of God!

Jesus said, “…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come,…He will glorify Me…” (John 16:13-14). When I commit myself to the revealed truth of the New Testament, I receive from God the gift of the Holy Spirit, who then begins interpreting to me what Jesus did. The Spirit of God does in me internally all that Jesus Christ did for me externally.

 

The warning neglected

By: Charles Spurgeon

“He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him.” Ezekiel 33:5

Suggested Further Reading: Haggai 1:1-6

Men have got time. It is the want of will, not want of way. You have time, sir, have you not, despite all your business, to spend in pleasure? You have time to read your newspaper—have you not time to read your Bible? You have time to sing a song—have you no time to pray a prayer? Why, you know when farmer Brown met farmer Smith in the market one day, he said to him, “Farmer Smith, I can’t think how it is you find time for hunting. Why, man, what with sowing and mowing and reaping and ploughing, and all that, my time is so fully occupied on my farm, that I have no time for hunting.” “Ah,” said he, “Brown, if you liked hunting as much as I do, if you could not find time, you’d make it.” And so it is with religion, the reason why men cannot find time for it is, because they do not like it well enough. If they liked it, they would find time. And besides, what time does it want? What time does it require? Can I not pray to God over my ledger? Can I not snatch a text at my breakfast, and think over it all day? May I not even when I am busy in the affairs of the world, be thinking of my soul, and casting myself upon a Redeemer’s blood and atonement? It wants no time. There may be some time required; some time for my private devotions, and for communion with Christ, but when I grow in grace, I shall think it right to have more and more time, the more I can possibly get, the happier I shall be, and I shall never make the excuse that I have not time.

For meditation: How much time do you make to spend alone with God each day? What do you do with him for the rest of the day? (Colossians 3:23).

Happiness That Lasts

Prayer—Battle in “The Secret Place”

By Oswald Chambers

Prayer—Battle in

Prayer—Battle in “The Secret Place”

By Oswald Chambers

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

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

When We’re Stuck In a Mess

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They could turn north.

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

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

Am I letting this mess define me or refine me?

The answer to this question is crucial.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Is Reaching Out

Matthew 14

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

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

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

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

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

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Jesus Reached Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Discouraged or Devoted?

By Oswald Chambers

Are You Discouraged or Devoted?

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

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

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

 

Pride and humility

From: Charles Spurgeon, Author

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

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 12:3-6

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

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

Teach Your Children About Jesus

Deuteronomy 6

Love the Lord Your God

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

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Does He Know Me?

Does He Know Me?

By Oswald Chambers

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

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

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

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

Spontaneous Praise!

By: Merle Mills, Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David committed to singing as a part of his life:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Sees You

Job 13:27

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

Job 16:9

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

Psalm 139:16

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

2 Corinthians 12:19

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

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I See You

From: Our Daily Bread

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God always keeps His eye on His children.

 

The Concentration of Personal Sin

By Oswald Chambers

The Concentration of Personal Sin

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

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

God’s Independence Day

By: Beth Patch, Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Directions To Heaven

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

You get there through faith in Jesus Christ.

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

 

John 14:6

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

John 10:9-16

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

( People giving directions)
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A New Language

From: Our Daily Journey

A New Language

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

 

The church’s love to her loving Lord

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From: Charles Spurgeon

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

Suggested Further Reading: Mark 9:2–9

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

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

 

A present religion

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From: Charles Spurgeon

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

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 13:1-8

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

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

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

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