Category Archives: Mental health

The Lord Fights For You

 Remembering Veterans On Veterans Day

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When Life Is Hard: 9 Reminders that “The Lord Fights for You”

Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor’s wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join
her each morning on FresMore

Whether we recognize it or not, this truth daily confronts us, we face an enemy here in this life. It’s more than what we can see before us. It’s more than another person who we think has wronged us. It’s more than our own struggles and weaknesses we deal with, or the negative self-talk we sometimes battle.

This enemy is real and fierce. He will stop at nothing to try to bring you defeat and destruction. Maybe you’ve noticed too. Because if you’re a believer who is living like salt and light in a dark world, you won’t go for long without encountering obstacles and attacks he’ll hurl your direction. We can be assured, this enemy hates Truth. So if we’re living by it, standing on it, seeking after it, we will be targeted. God’s words are true, this battle is real, many times it feels intense.

But here’s the powerful hope that keeps us strong: God is greater than whatever we face here in this world, and He fights for us still today!

If you’re in the heat of the battle right now, or if the enemy feels hot on your trail, please know you’re not alone, not ever. Neither are you left to fight on your own. Many of us are in the battle with you, and God is the One who fights on our behalf, constantly shielding, protecting, strengthening, even when we’re unaware. We never have to struggle to fend for ourselves, but He’s with us, always, covering us, in all of our days.

He’s given us His words that are powerful and true, so that we’ll have the wisdom to stand strong against the enemy. As I read these verses this morning, the reality struck me again that Paul wrote them while in chains, in prison. Yet the truth is – the enemy, no matter how vicious his schemes, can never chain our spirits that have been set free by Christ. Paul was not silenced by the cruel attacks from dark forces. Neither should we be.

Focusing here today, putting on His armor, staying alert, and praying, that God will equip believers everywhere to “stand strong.” Press on – courageous and free – never held back by fear or defeat.  For God has the final victory over our lives…

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Eph. 6:10-18

Remember, your battle today may be more about what is unseen than what you see before you. And when you resist the enemy, God’s word reminds us in James 4:7 that he has to flee.

Stand strong my friends, grace to you this day.

You’re never alone.

He loves you. He fights for you. He is with you.

9 Reminders from God’s Word that “The Lord Fights for Us” Today:

“For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deut. 20:4

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Rom. 8:31

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Josh. 1:9

“Through You we will push back our adversaries; Through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us.” Ps. 44:5

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. 10:28

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

“Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you.” Deut. 3:22

“Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Is. 40:31

“One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.” Josh. 23:10

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Veterans Day: Shield of Strength

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Captain Russell Rippetoe was serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. Previously, while serving in Afghanistan, Rippetoe saw men die, which brought a renewal to his Christian faith and a new passion for the Bible.

On the chain around his neck, he wore a “Shield of Strength,” a one-by-two-inch emblem displaying a U.S. flag on one side and words from Joshua 1:9 on the other.

On April 3, 2003, Rippetoe’s company was manning a nighttime checkpoint near the Hadithah Dam when a vehicle approached. Suddenly, a woman jumped out and cried, “I’m hungry. I need food and water!” Protecting his men, Rippetoe gave the order to hold back as he moved toward the woman to see how he could help. When she hesitated, the driver detonated a car bomb that killed Captain Rippetoe, Sergeant Nino Livaudais, and Specialist Ryan Long and wounded several others.

Rippetoe believed the ancient words of Joshua 1:9: “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Rippetoe, who died trying to help someone, was the first casualty of the Iraq conflict to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? — Psalm 27:1

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.  — Psalm 30:5

The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him. — Psalm 28:7

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He Will Fight Your Battles

As we headed south from Banner Elk, North Carolina, there was a long steep grade curving through the Blue Ridge Mountains. We saw a sign that said, “runaway truck ramp one mile.” We wondered how in the world a ramp could be built that would stop a truck with no brakes as it barreled down the mountain. Then in a moment we saw it, branching off to the right like a spur on the road and slanting only slightly uphill and maybe 50 yards long. But it was all sand. One big mound and then a series of small mounds. It was the soft, deep sand that would stop the truck.

The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles are like a runaway truck ramp. They stop us when we ought to be trucking right on through the Bible. I wonder how many people resolve to read through the Bible, but instead grind to a stop in the sandy genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1–9. They are very hard to get over.

But the irony is that the highway through 1 and 2 Chronicles is dotted frequently with scenic overviews of God’s gracious purpose. If we can get through the sands of chapters 1–9, these scenes are a tremendous refreshment to our faith. Here’s one example to encourage you to dig yourself out and keep going in the Blue Ridge Parkway of God’s revelation.

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against Jerusalem when Hezekiah was king. So Hezekiah gathered the people and the commanders together in the square at the gate. If you memorize what he said to them you will know the power of God in a new way. He said:

Be strong and be courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with them; for there is one greater with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.

Then the writer adds, “And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:7–8).

I want it to be said of me, “The people took confidence from the words of John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.” That’s my goal: “the advancement and joy of your faith” (Philippians 1:25). What is the “King of Assyria” in your life? Whatever it is, remember: “there is one greater with you than with him!” If you trust him, the LORD almighty is on your side and will fight your battles! “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. . . . The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still” (Exodus 14:13–14).

Prayer In Jesus Name Is Powerful

 

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In Jesus’ Name

 

“… I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name.” (John 16:23 NLT)

A new prayer-priority emerged for me: to remember my High Priest Jesus interceding throughout the day. After reading Ruth Gibson’s Chipped Dishes, Zippers & Prayer, I longed to be aware and give thanksgiving for the different ways Jesus helped me each day.

When Ms. Gibson’s children were young, she had a difficult decision to make. She wanted to return to graduate school, and she closed her prayer for guidance, “In memory of Jesus, whose mother never went to college.”

Ms. Gibson’s prayers prompted soul-searching for me. The typical closing phrase after my prayers was “In Jesus’ name.” Over the years, those final words became a habitual prayer component. Instead of acknowledging the way Jesus life-supported me on any given day, I merely repeated a phrase heard since childhood.

To recognize the hand of the Savior in my daily life became very important to me. Paul understood the abiding presence of Jesus and wrote about the spiritual boosts he received,

“That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” (Colossians 1:29 NLT)

I began to notice that on some days Jesus became my Prince of Peace. On others, he revealed himself as Counselor. And one particular night, he crossed stormy seas to climb into my rocking boat.

Nave’s Topical Bible lists over 200 names and titles for Jesus. Here are a few: Servant of Rulers, Faithful and True Witness, Good Master, Finisher of faith, Captain of the Lord’s Host, Righteous Judge, Sanctuary, Vine, Door, Fountain, Arm of the Lord and a Friend of Sinners.

The Hebrew writer’s instructions to “fix your thoughts on Jesus,” and “consider him” became a daily goal. After a time, for I’m a slow-learner, I began to recognize Jesus’ care to be constant, conformed to my need, and energizing.

Ruth Gibson was a link in bringing me to a deeper relationship with my Savior. One day, I spoke with her and expressed my thanks because her written prayers led me to holy ground.

Father, You spoke to Moses, Joshua, and the priests about holy places. Now I’m remembering the barefoot Christ and his sacrifice for me. Please, forgive me the careless times I’ve tagged the name of Jesus at the end of my prayers. I ask in the name of the seventy-times-seven forgiving Savior. Amen.

Jesus, Name Above All Names

Hernandes Lopes, Author: reframemedia.org

Scripture Reading — John 1:1-14

To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
John 1:12 —

Christmas tells the story of the birth of the greatest person who ever lived. That baby, born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth and died in Jerusalem.

But that wasn’t the end.

He rose again, returned to heaven, and is now ruling at God’s right hand. His name is Jesus Christ.

After his humiliation and death on the cross, he was exalted “above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-10). All angels, demons, and human beings must bow to his glory.

Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He sits on the throne of the universe and holds the reins of history in his hands.

He triumphed over the devil and his hosts and holds the keys of death and hell.

Before him, kings and servants, serfs and masters, powerful and meek need to bow down and recognize that he is Lord.

Jesus has all the authority and power in heaven and on earth. His power is irresistible, his kingdom is eternal, and his glory is incomparable.

To him be all glory forever and ever!

Prayer

Lord, as this year ends, may I bow down and worship the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Jesus, name above all names, thank you for saving me. In your name I pray. Amen.

 

The Powerful Name of Jesus

Intouch. ministries.com

John 16:7-24

The disciples must have felt bewildered when Jesus said it was to their advantage that He leave—for three years He had guided and protected them. The Lord could say this, though, knowing that His Spirit and His name would powerfully guard and direct them until they were reunited in heaven.

In the same way, we’ve been saved and promised heaven, but there is still a long road to walk before we arrive. Yet in the name of Jesus, we have everything we need to complete our course, no matter what obstacles and challenges we face. Just consider the following ways Jesus comes to our aid:

Advocate (1 John 2:1-2). Although we are called to live righteously, there will be occasions when we sin. Jesus is our Advocate, who stands as our defender because His blood continually cleanses us from sin.

Authority (Matt. 28:18). We live under the divine authority of Christ. Nothing touches us without first going through His hands. And He empowers us to do all that He calls us to accomplish.

Assistance (John 16:13-15). Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit as our Helper, who comforts, guides, teaches, and empowers us to live holy, obedient lives.

Answer (John 16:23-24). When we ask in Jesus name—that is, according to what He desires—we will receive answers to our prayers.

Do we realize what an amazing privilege it is to belong to Christ? God’s hand moves at the name of Jesus when we have a holy and pure heart before Him. Therefore, let’s make it our ambition to live in complete dependence on this powerful name. Therefore, let’s make it our ambition to live in complete dependence on this powerful name—not just on Christmas but every day of our life.

Prayer Changes Things

 God promises that people who pray are far better off than people who don’t; things do change for the better through prayer (James 4:2-3 and Matthew 7:7-11). (simply Bible .com)

 

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The Lord’s Prayer

By: Eddie Jones, 1.cbn.com

Matthew 6:9-13 The Lord’s Prayer

In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
[a]For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

“Lord, how can I pray for you today?” the email began.

I re-read text, convinced it contained a typo. “Lord, how can I pray to you today?” Yeah, that’s what the writer meant to say. As in: “Lord, I’m beat and worried. The stress is too much. I can’t take (her, him, it) anymore. But here I am, anyway. On my knees, praying to you as if everything’s fine. But thing’s aren’t fine. So, how can I pray to you today?”

I called my friend to see if she was all right and learned she had, in fact, typed the line correctly.

“How many people pray for God?” she asked. “Not many, I bet. I just figured it was time to ask God what He needed for a change, instead of me telling Him what I wanted.”

Her prayer got me thinking — a thing I rarely do without the help of my wife (“I think, at the very least, you would want to read the instructions,” she’ll say, as my latest home repair project lies in pieces on the kitchen floor. “Dear, I think a different pair of pants would look better,” she’ll say, as I head off to church in jeans and boat shoes. “I’d think by now, after twenty years of marriage, you would be able to remember our anniversary.” And so it goes).

So I pondered on my friend’s prayer and this is what I thought. We pray for the sick, hurt or lost, for help with global warming and the containment of an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. We plead to God for a job, beg for good health and ask Him to protect our kids. But praying for God? How’s that possible? And why would we?

When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, he told them to: Praise God for who He is, rejoice in what God has done, ask how we should respond to His nudging, and yield to His leading regardless of the circumstances.

Does God need our prayers? I doubt it. But He wants them. Perhaps that is what my friend was really trying to say: that the act of praying for God, for having a true “Lord’s Prayer” with His well-being… and will in mind, is the essence of prayer.

Study the persons God brings into your life. Observe their circumstances, feel their hurt. Help, hear and hold them when they weep. Then praise God that He’s allowed us to be His hands and ask, “Lord, how can I pray for you, Lord?” Chances are, you already have.

But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 1 Peter 4:13-14 (Today’s New International Version).

Be Devoted to Prayer

 

My simple and humanly impossible goal this morning in this message is that you would all be devoted to prayer. This is my goal because this is what the Bible calls us to be. My text is Romans 12:12 which is part of a longer chain of exhortations. It says we are to be “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted (proskarterountes) to prayer.”

Your version might say, “constant in prayer” or “faithful in prayer.” Those all get at aspects of the word. “Devoted” is a good translation. The word is used in Mark 3:9 where it says, “[Jesus] told his disciples to have a boat ready (proskartere) for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him.” A boat was to set apart — devoted — for the purpose of taking Jesus away in case the crowd became threatening. “Devoted” — dedicated for a task, appointed for it.

Now, boats just sit there. But people are not dedicated that way. When the word is applied to a person it means devoted or dedicated in the sense not only of designation and appointment but of action in the appointed task, and pressing on in it. So for example in Romans 13:6 Paul talks about the role of government like this: “You also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.” That is, they are not only designated by God for a task, but are giving themselves to it.

What’s remarkable about this word is that five of the ten New Testament uses apply to prayer. Listen, besides Romans 12:12 there are:

  • Acts 1:14 (after the ascension of Jesus while the disciples were waiting in Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Spirit): “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”
  • Acts 2:42 (Of the early converts in Jerusalem): “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
  • Acts 6:4 (The apostles say): “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
  • Colossians 4:2 (Paul says to all of us): “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”

So we may say from the New Testament Scriptures that the normal Christian life is a life devoted to prayer. And so you should ask as you turn from 2002 to 2003, “Am I devoted to prayer?”

It does not mean that prayer is all you do — any more than being devoted to a wife means all the husband does is hang out with his wife. But his devotion to her affects everything in his life and causes him to give himself to her in many different ways. So being devoted to prayer doesn’t mean that all you do is pray (though Paul does say in another place, “pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

It means that there will be a pattern of praying that looks like devotion to prayer. It won’t be the same for everyone. But it will be something significant. Being devoted to prayer looks different from not being devoted to prayer. And God knows the difference. He will call us to account: Have we been devoted to prayer? Is there a pattern of praying in your life that can fairly be called “being devoted to prayer”?

“Praying only as crises enter your life would not be a pattern of devotion to prayer.”

I think most of us would agree on some kinds of praying that would not be called “being devoted to prayer.” Praying only as crises enter your life would not be a pattern of devotion to prayer. Praying only at meal times is a pattern, but does it correspond to Paul exhorting the church to “be devoted to prayer”? A short “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer at the end of the day is probably not “being devoted to prayer.” Hit and miss “Help me, Lord” in the car as you need a parking place is not “being devoted to prayer.” All those are good. But I think we would agree that Paul expects something more and different from followers of Christ when he says, “Be devoted to prayer.”

Let us not forget in all of this, as we saw last week, that the cross of Christ — his death in the place of sinners — is the foundation of all prayer. There would be no acceptable answer to why or how we pray if Christ had not died in our place. That’s why we pray “in Jesus name.”

As I have weighed the obstacles to prayer that I could address, some of them fall under the question, why pray? And some of them fall under the question how pray. I want to focus this morning on the how. Not that the question why is unimportant, but it seems to me that we can have all our theological answers in place as to why pray and still be very negligent and careless in the life of prayer. So I will give a short answer to the question why, and then focus on practical how questions that I pray will stir you up to venture new levels of “being devoted to prayer” in 2003.

 

A Passionate Prayer

By: George Vink, reframemedia.org

 

Scripture Reading — John 17:13-26

“[Father,] my prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” — John 17:15

On the night he was arrested, Jesus prayed this prayer to his Father, interceding for his disciples and all believers. This prayer is filled with compassion, revealing Christ’s mission for himself and his followers.

Does he ask that we may never face hardships? No, he asks that we may persevere. It’s a prayer for unity among believers so that others will believe. It’s a prayer of deep love, asking that all people may grow to believe in him.

Reflecting on this prayer of Jesus, we can see that as believers we have a mission—and we will accomplish it only by remaining in him who is the vine (John 15:5). The Bible’s message is designed to draw us into relationship with our Creator, who has revealed himself in his Son, Jesus Christ, and by his Holy Spirit.

It is appropriate that we close this month of lessons with this closing prayer of the Canons of Dort: “May God’s Son Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God and gives gifts to humanity, sanctify us in the truth, lead to the truth those who err, silence the mouths of those who lay false accusations against sound teaching, and equip faithful ministers of God’s Word with a spirit of wisdom and discretion, that all they say may be to the glory of God and the building up of their hearers. Amen.”

Following Jesus’ example, let’s be faithful in prayer. May we love as God loves—and share his good news everywhere.

Prayer

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit guide us in truth so that we may walk with you now and forever. Amen.

 

Prayers that Matter

by Inspiration Ministries

“There was a prophetess, Anna…advanced in years…a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” – Luke 2:36-38 NASB

Do our prayers really matter? Even Believers who pray regularly may have doubts, wondering if God really cares about them or hears their prayers.

We can wonder if Anna ever had these thoughts. If she candidly evaluated herself, she might have wondered if her life really mattered to anyone, or even to God.

Although a “prophetess,” Anna did not seem to have credibility in the eyes of the world. She did not seem to be well known or have connections with political or religious leaders. In fact, her life had been marked by personal tragedy, as a longtime widow.

The only noteworthy fact about her was her commitment to God. She always was in His house, totally dedicated to prayer, fasting, and giving thanks. It did not seem to matter what other people thought. She simply focused on God and devoted herself to serving Him.

Anna might not have mattered to anyone else, but it was clear that she mattered to God. He honored her, allowing her to be among the few to see the baby Jesus. He had heard her prayers and seen the commitment of her heart. And He rewarded her for her faithfulness.

Over history, others have had a similar testimony. These men and women of all ages and all backgrounds have had this in common: They weren’t concerned with their reputations but simply were devoted to serving God. Their lives were focused on serving Him…praising Him…and thanking Him. They were committed to prayer, and they prayed with faith and persistence. They interceded for the needs of others and for the advance of God’s Kingdom throughout the world.

The Miracles Of Jesus Christ

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Mini Miracles

by Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.com

So they all ate and were filled. Mark 6:42 

The title of my devotional today strikes me as oxymoronic. Miracles, after all, are defined as acts of God, amazing and marvelous events, and “seals of a divine mission” (Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary). Generally speaking, there’s nothing small about them.

What I’m talking about, then, are instances of heavenly intervention in the lives of believers that impact what we would consider “minor” areas of our existence, the things that cause us to make statements like: “It showed me that God cares about even the small things in our lives,” always as if that’s a profoundly shocking proclamation. Nobody ever responds by saying, “Well, duh…”

I think that’s because it never stops being a mind-blowing concept – the Creator of the universe, who hears the prayers and praises of billions simultaneously and loves each one the same, provided, perhaps, just the right amount of money for a struggling single mom to buy her child a pair of shoes. It’s not the parting of the Red Sea to preserve for Himself a people, or the resurrection of His son to purchase the redemption of humanity. It’s, for lack of a better term, a mini-miracle.

I remember one time in our Adult Bible Fellowship class my friend Karen stepped in to teach our continuing series in Mark’s gospel. We were in Chapter Six, focusing primarily on the Feeding of the 5,000. As she began her lesson, Karen admitted that she’d never quite been able to visualize this scene, or understand exactly what the miracle was meant to show. I mean, there is the lesson of provision, but the human body can go without food for quite some time. Jesus Himself fasted in the wilderness for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-4). So it’s not like life and death were hanging in the balance if the people who had followed Him to this “desolate place” went without dinner that night.

It could be, Karen suggested, that Jesus just didn’t want the people to go away; He had just suffered the death of His cousin John the Baptist, and recently endured the “amazing unbelief” (Mark 6:6) of those from His hometown of Nazareth. It could be Jesus took immense delight in this multitude foregoing their bodily needs to attend to His Word. It very well could be our Lord simply wanted to do something “just for them.”

Maybe, Karen said, that’s why she always tended to overlook this miracle a little bit. “You know how sometimes when God does something that you know was ‘just for you,’ and you tell someone else about it, and they’re like, ‘That’s cool and all,’ but it just doesn’t carry the same meaning for them?”

I knew exactly what that was like, and I liked where she was going. I could see an even greater personalization in mini-miracles, in God drawing delight from blessing our socks off in ways that speak to our individual hearts. The idea also gave me greater permission to attribute to the Lord all sorts of transpirings that I had chalked up to my own efforts, happenstance, or even worse, had gone without noticing.

If, for instance, I told you about the time we thought we’d lost my wife’s keys – including several costly ones – only to find them sitting precariously on a single steel beam of the auto transport behind our moving van, maybe you’d respond the way my friend Scott did: “You got lucky, dude.” Yeah, well, I guess that’s why Karen says sometimes these events are “just for us.” I saw those keys, I knew the bumpy route and wet weather we had traveled, I was astounded, I was humbled. I decided that giving credit to the Lord for things that bless you is never wrong, as suggested by James 1:17.

Slow Down and Meditate On Jesus’ Miracles

A takeaway is that we should slow down in our reading, and when we finish reading about a miracle, we ought to pause and say, “Jesus, show me what this is saying about you.” Fall down, worship him, and let it have its humbling and strengthening effect. I have a Christ who not only feeds 5,000 but also gives twelve baskets to the twelve men who were distributing it. That is just huge.

Piper: “When we finish reading a miracle, we ought to pause and say, ‘Jesus, show me what this is saying about you.'”

In other words, Jesus is saying, “I will take care of all your needs.” I think, frankly, that is the essence of what they missed. For the disciples, the point of the feeding of the 5,000 was the twelve full baskets left over. Through his miracle, Jesus is saying that if you go ahead and give away what you don’t have, you are still going to get everything you need.

So when we come later, and he says, “Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees,” their first thought should not be, “Oh, shoot, we forgot to bring bread.” Their first thought should be, “What is it about the Pharisees that is going to undermine our faith?” By understanding the miracles of Jesus rightly, they will start to see.

Again, the takeaway is: slow down and meditate. Nothing that I have said here demands any scholarly training. You don’t need to know Greek. You don’t even need to go to seminary. You just need to slow down and pray and think and worship over the miracles of Jesus.

 

Jesus, the Miracle Worker

 By: Dean Dappe, Reframemedia.org

Scripture Reading — Luke 7:18-23

Your God will come. . . . Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. — Isaiah 35:4-6

It was not always easy to see that Jesus was the Messiah. Even John the Baptist needed confirmation that Jesus was the promised one.

To assure John’s disciples, Jesus quoted phrases from Isaiah 35, emphasizing that he clearly showed the mighty signs of God’s coming kingdom, and that he had come as the Savior.

Jesus fulfilled many of the miracles of the Old Testament. He fed multitudes of people just as God provided manna to the Israelites in the wilderness (see Exodus 16; Mark 6:30-448:1-9). Jesus healed and even raised people from the dead, as the prophets Elijah and Elisha had done (see 1 Kings 17; 2 Kings 4; Luke 8:49-56; John 11). Jesus’ greatest act of healing took place at the cross, when he paid the price for our sins (Hebrews 9:2810:11-14); “he took up our pain and bore our suffering” (Isaiah 53:4).

Jesus is still among us to open our eyes and unstop our ears so that we can leap in gratitude and shout for joy. God still does miracles today. We just need to open our eyes to the wonder of creation. We need to unstop our ears to the wonderful testimonies of believers about God’s healing. We need to leap for joy that our sins are forgiven and shout this good news for others to hear.

The Gospel’s Healing Power

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The Gospel’s Healing Power

 

“And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.” — Luke 5:17.

LUKE, the writer of this gospel, was a physician, and therefore had a quick eye for cases of disease and instances of cure; you can trace throughout the whole of his gospel the hand of one who was skilled in surgery and medicine. From which I gather that whatever may be our calling, or in whatever art or science we may have attained proficiency, we should take care to use our knowledge for Christ; and that if we be called being physicians we may understand the work of the Lord Jesus all the better by what we see in our own work, and we may also do much for our Lord in real substantial usefulness among our patients. Let no man despise his calling; whatever instrument of usefulness God hath put into thine hand, consider that the Great Captain knew what weapon it were best for thee to wield. Covet not thy neighbour’s sword or spear, but use that which thy Lord hath given thee, and go forth to the battle of life to serve according to thy capacity. If thou be placed in this corner of the vineyard or that, consider that thou art in the best place for thyself, and the best place for thy Master; and do not always be judging what thy fellow servants ought to do in their place, nor what thou couldst do if thou wert in another place; but see what it is that thou canst do where thou art, and use such things as thou hast in glorifying thy Lord and Master. One is pleased to observe in the language of a true man how the man’s self shows itself. David frequently sings like one who had been a shepherd boy, and though a king he is not ashamed to own that he once grasped the crook. There is a manifest difference between the prophecies of Amos the herdsman and of Isaiah the royal seer. True men do not imitate one another, but each one, moved of God, speaketh according to his native bias, and according to the circumstances in which Providence has cast him. It was destructive to Egyptian art when the great men of the land framed articles of taste, and laws of statuary and of painting by which every sculptor must be bound, for then everything like freshness and originality was driven away; the proportions of every colossal statue and of every figure upon the wall were rigidly fixed, and then the glory and excellence of art vanished from the land. To do the same in religion is even more unwise; to say, “Ye shall all speak after one fashion, and ye all shall conform to this manner of talk and life,” is folly at its height. Let each man speak after his own manner, every man in his own order, each quickened soul bringing out its own individuality, and seeking in that individuality to magnify God and to show forth the riches of his grace. These remarks were suggested by the abundant record of cures in this chapter and elsewhere in Luke’s gospel. Luke does not write like John, nor copy the style of Matthew; he writes not as a fisherman or a publican, but as a physician. Luke did not cease to be Luke when he was called by grace, but he was the same man elevated and refined, and taught to consecrate to noblest ends the gifts which he had acquired in his earthly calling; he was a physician before, and he became “the beloved physician” after his conversion.

 

 

 

The Pathway To Humility

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Humility

NOVEMBER 5, 2019

“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3 (NIV)

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A friend of mine who’s a young leader recently confessed to me some discouragement he’d been wrestling through. He’d been working so hard and seen great success, but his leaders gave him no recognition or encouragement. And hardest of all, due to some transitions in the company, he’d been demoted to a lower position.

I asked him a seemingly strange question after he poured out his heart to me: “Do you know what the opposite of pride is?”

He tilted his head and asked, “Do you think I’m struggling with pride?”

I wasn’t trying to imply my young friend was prideful. I was setting the stage to help him see his circumstances through a different lens.

So I simply stated, “I believe the opposite of pride is trust in God. Pride begs us to believe it all depends on us. Trusting God requires us to place our dependence on Him. And the pathway that leads us away from pride and into a place of truly trusting God is paved with humility. Humility is never bought at a cheap price. It will always cost us something but will be worth the price we pay.

“Might God be using these humbling circumstances to get you to a place of deep and unshakable trust in Him? If God sees big things ahead for you, and I believe He does, then He must remove all hints of pride. Even if pride is but a tiny thorn in your heart now, when you’re given a bigger position with more recognition, that pride grows from a thorn to a dagger with the potential to kill your calling.”

In the Old Testament, we see God revealing this same kind of pride-stripping process by feeding the children of Israel manna in the desert for the purpose of humbling them. It was crucial that God prepare them to trust Him as they stepped from the desert into their destined Promised Land.

Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands” (NIV).

And then our key verse, Deuteronomy 8:3, goes on to reveal, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

So why exactly was having to eat manna so humbling? And what can we glean from Deuteronomy 8:3 for our own lives today?

Here are three things we can take away from today’s key verse:

1. God is our provider.

The children of Israel were used to looking down at the ground in Egypt and working the land to provide for themselves. They trusted their own hard work for their provision. Now, they’d need to look up and trust God for His provision.

2. God’s provision is what we need but not always what we want.

This manna God provided wasn’t like the normal food the Israelites were used to providing for themselves. But God knew it was perfect nourishment for those in the desert. He knows our needs better than we do. God is more concerned about our ultimate good than our temporary pleasure.

3. God’s provision protects our heart. Our desires have the potential of corrupting our heart.

Man-made bread is not what gives the fullness of life God desires for us. Man-made success, riches and popularity are the same way. They won’t fulfill us like we think they will. Only the Word of God can seep into the hungry places of our souls and make what’s dead and discouraged become fully alive and deeply satisfied. We must want Him most of all. And then He’ll see our hearts are prepared and trustworthy to handle other things.

At the end of our discussion, my young friend thanked me for helping him see that in each hard step of his journey as a leader, he’s either walking the pathway of pride, by trusting himself, OR the pathway of humility, by trusting God. And the same is true for each of us.

May we all choose to trust Him and let that be the lens through which we process our circumstances. May we see how God isn’t trying to break our hearts but rather make us ready for what He sees just ahead.

 

Roaming

by Inspiration Ministries

Why do My people say, “We are free to roam”? – Jeremiah 2:31 NIV

The Bible reminds us that God gives us the freedom to make choices. But He also wants us to realize we are responsible for our actions, and we can expect consequences for the choices we make.

As Jeremiah describes, God watches the way we live. He sees the inevitable failure of some decisions and how frequently people seem willing to turn their backs on the truths He has revealed and the principles that can lead to success.

As we make decisions, we can be influenced by people in this world who can make their ways seem desirable. We can feel compelled to follow them, even if this means ignoring or rejecting the things of God and roaming from the sure foundation He has given us.

When faced with these kinds of temptations, we need to consider what God has done for us and remember that His Word has passed the test of time.

We need to ask ourselves some important questions. Are we sure that we want to ignore God? What has happened in the past to those who ignored His promises and violated His Word? In contrast, what has happened to those who kept His Word and applied His principles? Why would we follow paths that conflict with His will?

Ask God to help you stay true to Him and avoid the tendency to roam. Remember the principles in His Word and apply them in your life.

 

The Christian’s heaviness and rejoicing

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” 1 Peter 1:6

Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 2:25-30

“Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness.” It does not say, “Though now for a season you are suffering pain, though now for a season you are poor”; but “you are in heaviness;” your spirits are taken away from you; you are made to weep; you cannot bear the pain; you are brought to the very dust of death, and wish that you might die. Your faith itself seems as if it would fail you. That is the thing for which there is a ‘need be’. That is what my text declares, that there is an absolute ‘need be’ that sometimes the Christian should not endure his sufferings with a gallant and a joyous heart; there is a ‘need be’ that sometimes his spirits should sink within him, and that he should become even as a little child, smitten beneath the hand of God. Ah! Beloved, we sometimes talk about the rod, but it is one thing to see the rod, and it is another thing to feel it; and many a time have we said within ourselves, “If I did not feel so low spirited as I now do, I should not mind this affliction;” and what is that but saying, “If I did not feel the rod I should not mind it?” It is that breaking down of the spirit, that pulling down of the strong man, that is the very festering of the soreness of God’s scourging—the blueness of the wound, whereby the soul is made better.

For meditation: Whenever you are overwhelmed by such distress, remember that your Saviour also experienced it on your behalf (Mark 14:33-34). He knows what it is like and can help you (Hebrews 2:184:15-16).

 

Streams in the Desert – November 7

By: L.B. Cowman

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ (Phil. 3:7).

When they buried the blind preacher, George Matheson, they lined his grave with red roses in memory of his love-life of sacrifice. And it was this man, so beautifully and significantly honored, who wrote,

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shalt tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee,
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.

There is a legend of an artist who had found the secret of a wonderful red which no other artist could imitate. The secret of his color died with him. But after his death an old wound was discovered over his heart. This revealed the source of the matchless hue in his pictures.

The legend teaches that no great achievement can be made, no lofty attainment reached, nothing of much value to the world done, save at the cost of heart’s blood.

 

There Is Power in the Blood of Jesus

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There Is Power in the Blood of Jesus

By: Sandie Freed, 1.cbn.com

Out of all of the tribes of Israel, there was one specific tribe anointed and appointed to know and understand the times and seasons—the tribe of Issachar. Scripture describes the sons of Issachar (those in this particular tribe) as those who “understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

Precious believer, I am certain that each of us has this same anointing—to recognize what season we are now in and also what to do during this season. Knowing that we are entering into a time of great celebration of Christ’s resurrection causes us to focus more on what was accomplished at the Cross and the power that is in the blood that He shed. We are being equipped by heaven to receive present-day revelation of understanding that each of us has a spiritual inheritance to claim and possess because of what was accomplished and fulfilled by Christ through the Cross. You might be asking, “Well, just how do I receive that inheritance?” or “How do I know that I truly have a spiritual inheritance?”

I am going to answer both possible questions because I believe it is vitally important to understand, especially in this season, that you are a child of the King, and because of that, you have a royal inheritance due to the shedding of the blood of Jesus.

You Are Royalty

Imagine yourself being a King’s child with an inheritance that is connected to the Kingdom governed by a King. Of course, I am referring to the King of Kings—Jesus Christ, the Son of God—who died not only to remove your sins as far as the east is from the west but also to leave you a rich and royal inheritance.

Actually, when we were saved or born again, this inheritance became fully intact—or legal for us to receive. Consider this: Someone usually has to die in order for an heir to receive an inheritance, right? Well, Christ died to leave you the blessings and inheritance that are directly connected to your salvation. Yes! The word for “salvation” is sozo. Sozo is a Greek word that means not only “to save” but also “to deliver and protect.” According to Strong’s Concordance, sozo is also interpreted to include healing, doing well and being made whole! Back up and reread what Jesus did to give you your inheritance! You can be completely whole due to the shed blood of Jesus.

That is very exciting news, isn’t it? However, the key issue is that many of us do not truly believe we are worthy of such a divine gift.

The Old and New Covenant

In the Old Testament, God laid out a divine plan to restore His people back to Himself through what is known as the Mosaic Law. This Law required the shedding of blood as a sacrificial offering to cover the sins of mankind. Most of us are aware that after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden that God Himself prepared the first blood sacrifice. Adam and Eve were ashamed, due to their sin, and attempted to “cover” themselves with fig leaves. However, the covering mankind attempts to provide for himself is unacceptable to God. Only God can adequately deal with our sin, and that requires the shedding of blood just as it has from the Garden.

God so desired fellowship with man that He, Himself, shed the blood of animals and brought their skins to provide a covering for the sins of Adam and Eve. This act was the way God “redeemed” mankind from sin—through the shedding of blood. This became a foreshadowing of a covenant with all mankind. In the Old Testament, after the Law was given, the blood of lambs and other animals was required to make mankind “righteous.” But please note that the blood of animals was atonement (cover) for sin, but because it was only the blood of an animal, it had limited efficacy (see Leviticus 4:35; 5:10; Psalm 85:2). When Jesus was born, however, He was destined to be our sacrificial lamb, born to die for our sins. His death at the Cross didn’t simply “cover” sin forward a year—no! It completely “removed” the sins of mankind—forever! (see John 1:291 John 1:7Revelation 1:5).

Once again, only God Himself can completely eradicate sin. God covered mankind in the Garden with His covenant promises of protection and care with the skins of an animal He slew. Again, in the New Testament, God sent His Son, who became the Lamb that was slain on behalf of our sins, as an ultimate sacrifice forever. Dear one, please understand this important fact: Jesus died to give you a royal inheritance that includes all that heaven has to offer us—all part of sozo! The New Covenant was a covenant between God and mankind that required the blood of Jesus to cover our sins of yesterday, today and forever!

You Are Destined to Rule and Reign

As I have stated earlier, you are a child of the King! Thus, when Christ died for your sin, you were automatically an inheritor of all of the Kingdom blessings. One of those blessings is the divine ability to rule and reign on this earth. Romans 5:17 helps us build on this foundation: “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (emphasis added).

Please notice and remember this important detail concerning our inheritance—we are only righteous due to the shed blood of Christ. No human effort or religious works are sufficient to make us holy or righteous. No! We become clothed with divine righteousness because of the finished work of Christ. Now that you understand that, as a believer, you are already righteous—no matter what your past sins were. You can also rest assured that you are completely forgiven and that you now have access to your royal lineage and inheritance.

Also, you are equipped and empowered to rule and reign in life through Jesus Christ! The word reign in this passage makes reference to “ruling as a king.” If you are a King’s kid, then you are also “royalty.” Therefore, you have a royal inheritance due to what was accomplished at the Cross! We can conclude that because of the gift of righteousness Christ gave us through the shedding of His precious blood, we are also royalty and empowered to rule in life.

Jesus became the perfect sacrifice for us. This is the season for us to remember how a lamb’s blood was required during the initial exodus of the Jews from Egypt. The season of Passover reminds us that blood had to be shed so that any death structure (any evil assignment against us) that attempts to steal from our lives has to flee! Israel applied the blood of a lamb to the doorposts of their homes in complete obedience to the instructions given by God to Moses. But we know that it was a type and shadow of the Blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, applied to the doorposts of our hearts. Once we realize the price for sin was paid at the Cross, we can have confidence that when any sickness, disease, poverty, lack, etc., attempts to steal from us or rob us of our inheritance, this death structure has to recognize that a Life has already been extracted—a Life was taken, an Innocent for the guilty, and a Lamb was slain for the sacrifice for a household or family! There is power in the blood of Jesus to protect you, provide for you, heal you and deliver you. And it’s not just an inheritance for you—but also your family! Aren’t you thankful today for the obedience of Christ? I know that I certainly am—and I’m thankful that I recognize the fact that during this season I can receive even more revelation concerning the power of the blood. I am certain you can also!

 

The Power of the Blood

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If we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. — 1 John 1:7 NLT

Blood. Some people faint at the sight of it, but you couldn’t live without it!

Blood is made up of red and white blood cells floating in a liquid called plasma.

The red blood cells are a kind of delivery system. They carry oxygen and other nutrients to all the cells in your body, and then they carry away all the waste, like carbon dioxide. Blood is pumped through your body by the heart. Your heart is one strong muscle, and it’s fast too — it can pump blood to every cell in your body in less than a minute! Blood travels through tubes called blood vessels. The vessels that carry blood away from your heart are called arteries, while the ones that carry it back to your heart are called veins. The white blood cells are the warrior cells. They work together with your immune system to fight off germs and diseases.

Your blood is pretty powerful and important stuff! But the blood of Jesus is even more powerful. Because He is the Son of God, lived a perfect life, and never sinned — not even one single time — His blood can carry your sins away and give you the forgiveness you need to live forever with God. All you have to do is believe and obey Him. When Jesus gave His life for you on the cross, it was both terrible and beautiful—terrible for the way Jesus was hurt, but so beautiful for the gift of love and forgiveness and heaven He gave to you and me.

Lord, it’s hard to think about Jesus’ death on the cross, and I’m so sorry for all He suffered. But I am so grateful for His blood that washes my sins away.

HOW GREAT!

Platelets are another very important part of your blood. (You say it the way it looks: PLATE-let.) When you get a cut or scrape, these little guys spring into action, sticking together to stop the ow of blood — called clotting. They not only keep blood inside your body but also keep germs out!

Power in the Blood

by Inspiration Ministries

“They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14 KJV

It seemed obvious and troubling to Lewis Jones. Many people knew about Jesus, but had never really committed their lives to Him. Many had a kind of cultural Christianity, but they had never been transformed by the Gospel. Many struggled, and never experienced real freedom from sin. Many never really enjoyed victorious living.

Born in Yates City, Illinois, on this day in 1865, he had spent most of his life working for the YMCA. An amateur hymn-writer, Jones knew how powerfully music could touch lives.

These thoughts filled his mind in 1899 while attending a camp meeting in Mountain Lake Park, Maryland. In this camp setting, Jones wrote a hymn about the death of Jesus, a hymn built around a series of questions, hoping to stir men and women to ask themselves important questions.

His hymn asked, “Would you be free from the burden of sin? Would you o’er evil a victory win? Would you be free from your passion and pride? Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow? Would you do service for Jesus your King? Would you live daily His praises to sing?”

The hymn title gave the answer to every question: “There’s Power in the Blood.” This is the answer to being free from sin and burdens. If we want to live victoriously. If we want to be forgiven and cleansed and free. Because of the death of Jesus, we can “come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide.” There, “sin stains are lost in its life giving flow.”

There still is power in the blood! Jesus died for you. He shed His blood that you might be freed from sin, and have access to God’s power. Power to save, heal, and deliver. Thank Him. Worship Him. Believe Him for miracles. Remember, there is wonder-working power in the blood!

Is Your Faith Worth the Leap?

 

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Is Your Faith Worth the Leap?

By: Gene Marklund, Author, 1.cbn.com

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In today’s culture, many people have the opinion that we should live by our own standards, oblivious to the Word of God. Some want the blessings of the promises of God, without subjecting themselves to obedience to God. However, to truly be happy and fulfilled, we must examine ourselves in the light of God’s Word and live by it.

The Bible says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

The stress and tensions of life become more unbearable when we live in selfish disobedience to the Word of faith. Yet simple submission and obedience to God’s Word relieve the stress that disobedience and today’s culture impose. Doubt is crippling, but faith is empowering; so make that leap! Faith in action brings victory!

The Bible says in James 2:26, that faith without works is dead. I have learned that faith with works (action) is alive. Faith without works (action) can become an unfulfilled fantasy. For if I have faith that God is leading me, but I do not follow or act on it, then faith turns to doubt and my inaction leads to death; the death of my faith and the death of my dream. This is a horrible state in which to exist.

Unfulfilled faith creeps into one’s life like oil into water. Just as oil pollutes, leaving a nasty film which ruins the purity of the water – so doubt, solidified by inaction, covers the purity of faith; rendering it polluted, unfit, and unusable. Faith activated by works (action) skims the doubt that covers the water of life, cleans it, and recovers the purity of the gift that obedience brings to fruition.

We must be doers of the word and not just hearers. It is so human to hear the word, rejoice in what we hear, and then… ponder. Pondering plants seeds of doubt, which grows into the mighty tree of procrastination, that bears the poisonous leaves of inaction.

“But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (Psalms 1:2).

We must be like good soldiers and jump to attention, springing into action at the orders of our commander, the Lord. But what do we do instead? We hear the order and then prepare to jump, but inaction and hesitation cause us to get caught in the preparation, and we fail to jump. What a sad sight, to see the army of the Lord procrastinating before Him! How undignified!

It is better to jump and fall, than be stuck squatting down to jump. Squatting is a horrible place to stay. You can’t sit down. You can’t rise up. You can neither rest in your success nor stand in the knowledge of a job well done. Go ahead and jump! You can ask how high on the way up! Better to relieve the tension and stretch in the jump than to live with the constant strain of being stuck in the squat. Obedience in the jump is the better way. Make that leap of faith. We’ll see you on the way up!

Vulnerability: Do a Cannonball with Your Life. It’s Okay to Get a Little Wet.

 

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When [Jesus] had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” — Luke 5:4

When we play Monopoly at my house, everyone races to land on Boardwalk first. If you’ve played the game, you know Boardwalk is the most valuable property on the board. It can win you the game, but you have to take on some risk to buy it and build there. In Monopoly, you can’t earn big money without risking a lot. If you only put a little on the line, you won’t see much of a return. Sometimes you’ve got to go big to achieve your goals.

The same is true about us and the character we want to develop in our lives. Maybe we’re skimping on our relationships, playing it safe and staying on the sidelines. Maybe we’re coasting in a job because it pays the bills even though it bores us to tears. What if you were to flip it around? What would it look like to go all in with your life? Don’t put your toe in the water; grab your knees and do a cannonball. Push all the chips to the center of the table. I know you’ll be scared. Do it anyway. It’s where the good stuff happens.

Forget buying Boardwalk.

What would it look like to say yes to vulnerability in big ways?

Tell someone you trust what’s really going on inside of you, not what you wish were going on. If it’s fear you need to move past, blow past it like it’s not even there. Are you willing to risk failure, hoping you might be surprised by success? If it’s learning to love a group of people you don’t understand, what if you left the comfort of your easy relationships to build a couple of new ones with people you know might be a little more difficult but would stretch you?

There’s no shortcut to big change; it always comes with big risk. Are you willing to take yours today? Don’t make a list; make a call. You just might be surprised by the life you find on the other side of what’s holding you back.

What vulnerable step do you need to take next?

Streams In The Desert

By: L. B. Cowman

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Is there anything too hard for Jehovah? (Genesis 18:14).

Here is God’s loving challenge to you and to me today. He wants us to think of the deepest, highest, worthiest desire and longing of our hearts, something which perhaps was our desire for ourselves or for someone dear to us, yet which has been so long unfulfilled that we have looked upon it as only a lost desire, that which might have been but now cannot be, and so have given up hope of seeing it fulfilled in this life.

That thing, if it is in line with what we know to be His expressed will (as a son to Abraham and Sarah was), God intends to do for us, even if we know that it is of such utter impossibility that we only laugh at the absurdity of anyone’s supposing it could ever now come to pass. That thing God intends to do for us, if we will let Him.

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Not when we believe in Him enough to go forward and do His will, and let Him do the impossible for us. Even Abraham and Sarah could have blocked God’s plan if they had continued to disbelieve.

The only thing too hard for Jehovah is deliberate, continued disbelief in His love and power, and our final rejection of His plans for us. Nothing is too hard for Jehovah to do for them that trust Him

From the dunghill to the throne

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.’ Psalm 113:7–8

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 1:3–9

O the joy of being a Christian! I know the world’s idea is that we are a miserable people. If you read the pages of history, the writers speak of the merry cavaliers as being men of high spirit and overflowing joy; but the poor Puritans, what a wretched set they were, blaspheming Christmas Day, abhorring games and sports, and going about the world, looking so terribly miserable, that it were a pity they should go to hell, for they had enough of torment here! Now this talk is all untrue, or at best is a gross caricature. Hypocrites, then as now, did wear a long face and a rueful countenance, but there were to be found among the Puritans hosts of men whose holy mirth and joy were not to be equalled, not to be dreamed of, or understood by those poor grinning fools who fluttered round the heartless rake whose hypocrisies had lifted him to the English throne. The cavaliers’ mirth was the crackling of thorns under a pot, but a deep and unquenchable joy dwelt in the breasts of those men that ‘trampled on the haughty who slew the saints of God.’ O far above the laughter of the gallants of the court, was the mighty and deep joy of those who rode from the victorious field singing unto the Lord who had made them triumph gloriously. They called them ‘Ironsides,’ and such they were, but they had hearts of steel, which while they flinched not in the day of danger, forgot not to flash with joy even as steel glitters in the shining of the sun. Believe me, however, whatever they were, that we who trust in Jesus are the happiest of people, not constitutionally, for some of us are much tried and are brought to the utter depths of poverty, but inwardly, truly, our heart’s joy is not to be excelled.

For meditation: We do not have to choose between purity and joy, as if they were opposites or alternatives; the Christian can experience a pure joy and a joyful purity (Psalm 19:8Matthew 5:8,12Philippians 4:4,8,101 Peter 1:6,8,22).

Why Did God Lead Me Here?

Justification by Faith

The Remedy for Paralyzed Sinners, Fallen Saints, and Provincial Christians

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God did his most deadly work to destroy hopelessness and futility and provincial cowardice. He gave up his Son to torture and death. A perfect life, a perfect death, and the decisive work was done.

But there are millions who are numb to hope because of the God-belittling things they have done and how ugly they have become. They don’t lift lofty arguments against God’s Truth; they shrug and feel irretrievably outside. They don’t defy God consciously; they default to cake and television. Except for the periodic rush of sex and sport and cinema, life yawns. There is no passion for significance. For many, no passion at all.

There is a Christian version of this paralysis. The decision has been made to trust Christ. The shoot of hope and joy has sprung up. The long battle against sin has begun. But the defeats are many, and the plant begins to wither. One sees only clouds and gathering darkness. The problem is not perplexing doctrine or evolutionary assaults or threats of persecution. The problem is falling down too many times. Gradually the fatal feeling creeps in: the fight is futile; it isn’t worth it.

Along with this hopelessness and futility, especially since 9/11, provincial cowardice captures many Christian minds. They fear that it may sound conceited to call every people group in the world to trust Christ or perish. It seems too global. Too sweeping. Too universal. To say it takes their breath away. And, worse, it brings down the wrath of the tolerant. What could be more arrogant than to think that the infinite variety of need in all the cultural groups of the world could be met by a single Savior!

It is astonishing that the Biblical gospel of justification by faith alone answers these three human failures: the hopelessness of unbelievers, the feeling of futility from falling down, and the fear of making global claims for Christ.

To the numb and listless sinner, feeling beyond all hope of godliness, the Bible says, “To the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). God justifies the “ungodly.” This truth is meant to break the back of hopelessness.

The connection between the sinner and the Savior is trust, not improvement of behavior. That comes later. It’s this order that gives hope. “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). The basis of this wild and wonderful hope (the ungodly justified) is “Christ for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4, literal translation). Through faith alone God counts the ungodly as righteous because of Christ. “For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Let all who are paralyzed by the weight of sin and the powerlessness to change turn in here.

To the fallen saint, who knows the darkness is self-inflicted and feels the futility of looking for hope from a frowning Judge, the Bible gives a shocking example of gutsy guilt. It pictures God’s failed prophet beneath a righteous frown, bearing his chastisement with broken-hearted boldness. “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light” (Micah 7:8-9). This is courageous contrition. Gutsy guilt. The saint has fallen. The darkness of God’s indignation is on him. He does not blow it off, but waits. And he throws in the face of his accuser the confidence that his indignant Judge will plead his cause and execute justice for (not against) him. This is the application of justification to the fallen saint. Broken-hearted, gutsy guilt.

For the squeamish fellow afraid of making global claims for Christ, the biblical teaching on justification explodes his little world. It says: the deepest problem to be solved is the same for every human being, because every human is a descendant of Adam. And the problem to be solved is that “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” “One trespass led to condemnation for all men.” The only solution to this universal condemnation is a “second Adam” who provides “the free gift of righteousness” to all who hear the gospel and believe (Romans 5:17-19). Therefore Christ, the second Adam, the giver of righteousness, is the only global Savior.

Embrace as your treasure the gift of justification. There is no part of your life where it is not immeasurably precious.

 

Streams In The Desert

By: L,B. Cowman

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ . . . and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6).

This is our rightful place, to be “seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” and to “sit still” there. But how few there are who make it their actual experience! How few, indeed think even that it is possible for them to “sit still” in these “heavenly places” in the everyday life of a world so full of turmoil as this.

We may believe perhaps that to pay a little visit to these heavenly places on Sundays, or now and then in times of spiritual exaltation, may be within the range of possibility; but to be actually “seated” there every day and all day long is altogether another matter; and yet it is very plain that it is for Sundays and week-days as well.

A quiet spirit is of inestimable value in carrying on outward activities; and nothing so hinders the working of the hidden spiritual forces, upon which, after all, our success in everything really depends, as a spirit of unrest and anxiety.

There is immense power in stillness. A great saint once said, “All things come to him who knows how to trust and be silent.” The words are pregnant with meaning. A knowledge of this fact would immensely change our ways of working. Instead of restless struggles, we would “sit down” inwardly before the Lord, and would let the Divine forces of His Spirit work out in silence the ends to which we aspire.

You may not see or feel the operations of this silent force, but be assured it is always working mightily, and will work for you, if you only get your spirit still enough to be carried along by the currents of its power.
–Hannah Whitall Smith

There is a point of rest
At the great center of the cyclone’s force,
A silence at its secret source;
A little child might slumber undisturbed,
Without the ruffle of one fair curl,
In that strange, central calm, amid the mighty whirl.

It is your business to learn to be peaceful and safe in God in every situation.

You Can Change the World

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You Can Change the World

OCTOBER 28, 2019

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10 (NIV)

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I’m often way too passionate for the comfort of my people. I’ll ask my husband deep and probing questions like, “If you could change anything about our life today — what would it be?” and he’ll say, “Honestly Jess — right now I just want some coffee!”

But humor me for a moment … do we want to change the world?

Handling just the basics feels like it leaves me exhausted — do I really have the margin, much less the capacity, to change the world? Do I even want to?

If I’m still for just a moment, I remember I absolutely want to try. The pain of the world is too great to stay busy and drown out the trauma around me.

So yeah, I want to. But where to start?

We’ve got another choice to make: How?

Do we want to use only our strength, power and abilities? How will we continually muster the energy and wisdom to do good things? Big things?

What if I get tired? Or scared? Or worse yet, flat out fail?

I know it’s good to determine the gifts God intentionally gave us, to let our hearts be burdened by the problems around us. It’s absolutely worth it to take steps of obedience to love others well.

But there’s also another way!

If we want to change the world: Simply say we’re sorry.

Today’s key verse reminds us about the character of God when we acknowledge our need for grace. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).

But when we act like we don’t need grace, thinking we’re sinless or without fault — we disagree with everything we know to be true of God. I don’t want to pretend as if I don’t need God, pretending as if He’s not all the good things my soul is craving.

I wonder why I don’t live like that all the time. Because as a believer in Jesus, there’s always a temptation to hide my weaknesses, pretend I’ve done it all right, and focus only on my successes. It’s easier to act like I’ve got it all together! (And everyone else seems to be doing it so well!)

But then — I’d be missing out on God’s power that I can access when I ask for forgiveness, allowing me to move forward in grace.

The crazy good news of 1 John 1:8-10 is that when I am weak, He is faithful, just and forgiving. Not only do we get the life-changing power of His perfection bringing purpose to our weaknesses, but we get Him … we get grace, we get forgiveness.

Believing you’re the girl to change the world doesn’t have to be an empty message as you try to forget all you’ve done wrong. Instead, it can be a gospel-centered, power-packed anthem of truth when you recognize God uses your strengths and weaknesses.

You have been created intentionally by a God who loves you, sees you and hopes for the best in you. Your weaknesses are not a liability to God. All of you is loved and held, and everything is redeemable. The rest of your life is dependent on His capacity — not your ability to cover up who you are.

You are the girl for the job. Not in spite of your weaknesses, but because His power is made perfect in them. We’re going to be in this world, and we might as well let God use us to change it.

Father, thank You that Your grace is for us, choosing us when we wouldn’t have chosen You and holding us when we miss the mark. Help us believe so furiously in Your goodness that we’re bold in our repentance and confession. Humble our hearts and open our eyes — help us change the world by saying I’m sorry when we need to. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY

Acts 3:19, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” (NIV)

James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (NIV)

Repentance

by Inspiration Ministries

Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations. – Ezekiel 14:6 NASB

Tensions were high throughout the American colonies. War loomed on the horizon, and many were afraid. Conflicts had arisen between British and French forces, and violence had developed into what would become known as the French and Indian War. Samuel Davies, who was born on this day in 1723, lived among the colonists as a pastor and evangelist. In 1756 as the colonies faced serious problems, a special fast was called.

Davies reminded people that their only hope was to turn to God. He said, “National judgments are inflicted for national sins, and therefore reformation from national sins is the only hopeful way to escape them.” What was the answer? “Pray frequently; pray fervently!”

Davies had previously expressed his thoughts about the importance of humility and repentance in a hymn called “While o’er our guilty land, O Lord.” There was sin in the land, and they faced mighty problems. The answer was to call on God: “Before Thy throne of grace we fall.”

Davies knew the importance of true humility. He wrote, “See, we repent, we weep, we mourn; to our forsaken God we turn.” The country’s only hope was to turn to God: “Oh, spare our guilty country, spare the Church which Thou hast planted there.”

Today, our world urgently needs revival. Pray. Seek God. Humble yourself before Him. Ask for a revival in your life. And cry out for His mercy on your country and the world.

Prayer

Father, forgive our nation of our sins. I cry out for Your mercy. Send Your Spirit. May Your glory dwell in our land. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

What is this You Have Done?

By: Norman Brown, reframemedia.com

 

Scripture Reading — Genesis 3:13-24

The Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” — Genesis 3:13

“Confession is good for the soul.” This is not a biblical proverb, but it flows from the Bible’s teaching. God’s question to Eve resonates with ­every sinner’s soul: “What is this you have done?” Her answer is history’s first confession of sin: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” She knew that God knew. No use denying it.

After Eve’s confession, God issued judgment on the serpent (Satan), on human beings, and on creation because of human sin. The serpent would slither in the dust and later be crushed by Eve’s offspring (when Jesus conquered sin and death for us—Romans 8:1-4). Childbirth, the woman’s unique privilege, would include severe pain, yet she would still desire her husband. And farming, humanity’s high calling in caring for God’s creation, would now include backbreaking work to produce the food people had to eat. Then eventually their bodies would die and return to the dust they had come from.

But in an act of grace, God clothed his imagebearers with animal hides. And he evicted them from Eden—not as punishment but to protect them from living forever in sin and separation from God.

Salvation requires confession. Like Adam and Eve, we all sin. The question God asked Eve needs to be answered daily so that we can grow in grace. “What is this you have done?” An honest answer will be good for the soul.

Prayer

Father, we have disobeyed you in this life you have given us. Forgive us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

 

Streams In The Desert

By: L.B. Cowman

You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain (Isaiah 40:9).

Toys and trinkets are easily won, but the greatest things are greatly bought. The top-most place of power is always bought with blood. You may have the pinnacles if you have enough blood to pay. That is the conquest condition of the holy heights everywhere. The story of real heroisms is the story of sacrificial blood. The chiefest values in life and character are not blown across our way by vagrant winds. Great souls have great sorrows.

Great truths are dearly bought, the common truths,
Such as men give and take front day to day,
Come in the common walk of easy life,
Blown by the careless wind across our way.
Great truths are greatly won, not found by chance,
Nor wafted on the breath of summer dream;
But grasped in the great struggle of the soul,
Hard buffeting with adverse wind and stream.
But in the day of conflict, fear and grief,
When the strong hand of God, put forth in might,
Plows up the subsoil of the stagnant heart,
And brings the imprisoned truth seed to the light.
Wrung from the troubled spirit, in hard hours
Of weakness, solitude, perchance of pain,
Truth springs like harvest from the well-plowed field,
And the soul feels it has not wept in vain.

The capacity for knowing God enlarges as we are brought by Him into circumstances which oblige us to exercise faith; so, when difficulties beset our path let us thank God that He is taking trouble with us, and lean hard upon Him.

Depend On God’s Faithfulness

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Depend on God’s Faithfulness

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

We dropped our son off and I held back tears as I hugged him goodbye.

He is not eight and we didn’t leave him at camp for a week. He is 28 and we dropped him off at detox.

I’ve heard people say that when you have children you start wearing your heart on the outside.

I believe them. My heart feels like it is being stabbed.

But I cannot give up. Neither can he. Because of prayer. Because of the faithfulness of God. Because of His love.

You see, before our son was born, I prayed for a young man who would preach God’s Word and I got pregnant that same week. Often I’ve asked the Lord, “Are you sure it is him, Lord?” He keeps whispering, Trust.

The above verse comes from the passage in Jeremiah where the Lord is telling them they will be in exile for 70 years. Here is another excerpt from it,

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem:” Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away!” (Jeremiah 29:4-6 NLT)

Sometimes, we may face a time of exile, just like Israel did. We cannot dwindle away. The Lord promises a future and a hope. If not in this world, in eternity.

My sister tells me to press into God’s love. Depend on His faithfulness. I am grateful that my future does not rest on my effort but on Him.

So, last night after I moped around for several days, I got up and went to our greenhouse. I harvested produce. Purple eggplant, red and yellow tomatoes, and orange peppers sit in a bowl on my dining room table. My husband and I moved a portable fence and put it away. And then I swept the porch of our workshop.

I know God well enough to know that the way the future will unfold will probably be much different than I imagine. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, and magnificent. He knows the future and His plans are good. I am trusting that.

So, for now, I carry on. I plant gardens and look for grandchildren. And trust.

How about you? Are you in exile? Move forward. Press into God’s love.

And trust.

Fixing My Eyes on Jesus: Faith

Psalm 13:5

The Risk of Faith

“Come,” [Jesus] said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. — Matthew 14:29

The older I get, the less I want to take risks. How about you? In today’s financial world, that’s probably a wise thing. But a cautious attitude in your spiritual life can cause you to procrastinate to the point you become disobedient.

God has not given us a “spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power” (2 Timothy 1:7). Living a life of faith requires taking risks, from our perspective, because we can’t physically see what lies ahead, hear audibly what God’s saying, or know what He’s thinking. We have to trust Him as we choose to give Him our children, our jobs, our homes. Even our comfort.

Learn from Peter. He never would have known he could walk on water if he hadn’t stepped out of the boat.

Discover the power of God. Step out of your comfort zone. Take the risk of faith.

A Tree… or a Twig?

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. — Psalm 1:1-3

God plants you and me in our faith to grow us into “trees” of righteousness. He uses adversity to make us strong. And He leads us to endure — not “somehow,” but victoriously as we choose to trust Him.

King David knew that the secret of victory over adversity was a conscious choice to trust God. He cried out in prayer,

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?… But I trust in Your unfailing love. — Psalm 13:2Psalm 13:5

David exercised his will to trust God even when he didn’t feel like it. He had learned to walk by faith, not by feelings.

What about you? Will you grow into a tree of righteousness—or remain a twig? Will you have victory over adversity—or remain defeated? It’s your choice.

Choose to be strong! Choose to trust in Him!

Just Look Up!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. — Hebrews 12:2

My mother told me the story of a former navy officer who kept up his weapons skills to qualify as a deputy sheriff in the county. Each year he was required to renew his permit to keep his status as a deputy. One year, however, he wore new glasses to the target range, and when sweat steamed up his glasses, he totally lost his focus on the target.

When my mother asked, “What in the world did you do?” he quoted the advice of his navy instructor: “When you lose sight of the target, remember your position.” He remembered where he’d last seen the target and pulled the trigger. He hit the bull’s-eye every time!

Ephesians 1:18 is a prayer that

the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you.

That hope is Jesus!

Stop looking ahead, looking around, or looking back. Keep your focus on Jesus. Just look up!

 

The exaltation of Christ

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Suggested Further Reading: John 17:1-5

Look at him! Can your imagination picture him? Behold his transcendent glory! The majesty of kings is swallowed up; the pomp of empires dissolves like the white mist of the morning before the sun; the brightness of assembled armies is eclipsed. He in himself is brighter than the sun, more terrible than armies with banners. See him! See him! Oh! Hide your heads, you monarchs; put away your gaudy pageantry, you lords of this poor narrow earth! His kingdom knows no bounds; without a limit his vast empire stretches out itself. Above him all is his; beneath him many a step are angels, and they are his; and they cast their crowns before his feet. With them stand his elect and ransomed, and their crowns too are his. And here upon this lower earth stand his saints, and they are his, and they adore him; and under the earth, among the infernals, where devils growl their malice, even there is trembling and adoration; and where lost spirits, with wailing and gnashing of teeth for ever lament their being, even there, there is the acknowledgement of his Godhead, even though the confession helps to make the fire of their torments. In heaven, in earth, in hell, all knees bend before him, and every tongue confesses that he is God. If not now, yet in the time that is to come this shall be carried out, that every creature of God’s making shall acknowledge his Son to be “God over all, blessed for ever. Amen.” Oh! My soul anticipates that blessed day, when this whole earth shall bend its knee before its God willingly! I do believe there is a happy era coming, when there shall not be one knee unbent before my Lord and Master.

For meditationFor meditation: Those who refuse to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ in this life (2 John 7) will be forced to acknowledge him in the next—but it will be too late to do them any good. Those who trust in him now will enjoy praising him for ever.