Faith In God Brings Peace


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A Risky Underwater Challenge

underwater diver swimming in a cave

I once spent a week exploring the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The seaside ruins of Tulum, an ancient Mayan city, stand atop a cliff that juts out into the ocean. A local guide told me it was possible to swim under the cliffs from one side and come out the other. To accomplish the feat, I swam along underwater passageways in the direction of the opposite side. The sun provided light reflecting against the sandy ocean floor.

Along the way, breathing was made possible by swimming up against the rocky ceiling wherever an air bubble could be found and inhaling the air. The bubbles form when tidal action washes aerated water under the cliffs. Micro bubbles in the surge concentrate into one large bubble until they resemble big glass dinner plates clinging to the submerged rock ceiling. They were plentiful at first, along with good visibility.

As I swam further under the cliffs, the light grew dim and the bubbles scarce. There soon came a point where I could not see the next bubble from the position of the current one. At one stretch these air pockets were so few and far between, I wondered whether my lungs held enough oxygen to return to the previous pocket if I could not locate the next one. My initial objective of reaching the other side had suddenly morphed into the shorter-term goal of just finding another bubble. Continuing along the course required faith that there would indeed be another one.

Choosing to swim the bubble route was my own questionable decision, but when it comes to traveling the road of life, we are not asked our preference. It is a journey we all must experience.

The bubbles in our lives are times of safety and security, periods of calm and clarity where we recognize God is in control. We pray those times would last. But in the same manner in which the bubble air is used up and forces us to move on, circumstances in life come about to move us out of our comfort zone and propel us along life’s way.

God bless you if your bubbles are abundant, but expect to encounter stretches of turmoil and turbidity, maybe even times of endangerment and exposure in which life’s trials can appear overwhelming. For some, these intervals seem to have no end in sight, but the constant to remember is that through every adversity, God cares and is still in control. He already knows the troubles we will go through and He supplies us the means to endure them:

”These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)

Peace in the midst of trouble — this is Jesus’ promise to us. Our part is to have the faith to continue, knowing our God hands us the final victory. An important addition to this promise is found in the 6th Chapter of Matthew:

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:31-34 NKJV)

If we partner with God, He will provide. We find both peace and provision from the God who promises never to leave us or forsake us — especially when the going gets tough.

When life happens, you may ask “why?” But if you persevere in faith, God is faithful to see you through. Whatever season of life you are in or problem that is overwhelming you, it is vital to know that God hasn’t abandoned you. The God who loves you and keeps you will always provide a next bubble, the best one being on that day when you swim out into His glorious Sonlight on the other side.

Through The Bible Devotions

June 6

2 Samuel 15:19-21 19The king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. 20You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your countrymen. May kindness and faithfulness be with you.” 21But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”

Absalom returned his father’s mercy with a coup. David got wind of the revolt and fled with those who were loyal to him. David knew it would be tough, so in the generosity of his spirit, he told the foreigner, Ittai, to stay. Ittai had only recently come to Jerusalem as an exile from his own land.

Instead of taking the easy way out, Ittai chose the tough road with David. Ittai’s response shows that David’s good spirit must have won his heart. Ittai was probably exiled because of his political savvy and not going along with those who led his own country. He could see David was an honest and sincere king. He chose to stay by David’s side regardless of the cost.

It doesn’t take long to develop strong friendships if you are a genuinely loving person. The world is looking for sincere people who will be honest, people who will risk their position to be kind. This is how we influence people with the Gospel. They see our sincerity, align themselves with us, and we get to tell them why we live like we do. In time our God becomes their choice.

Consider: Our lives must flow from sincere hearts before people will respond to us like Ittai did to David.

Streams in the Desert – June 6

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

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41).

Go not, my friend, into the dangerous world without prayer. You kneel down at night to pray, drowsiness weighs down your eyelids; a hard day’s work is a kind of excuse, and you shorten your prayer, and resign yourself softly to repose. The morning breaks; and it may be you rise late, and so your early devotions are not done, or are done with irregular haste.

No watching unto prayer! Wakefulness once more omitted; and now is that reparable?

We solemnly believe not.

There has been that done which cannot be undone. You have given up your prayer, and you will suffer for it.

Temptation is before you, and you are not ready to meet it. There is a guilty feeling on the soul, and you linger at a distance from God. It is no marvel if that day in which you suffer drowsiness to interfere with prayer be a day in which you shrink from duty.

Moments of prayer intruded on by sloth cannot be made up. We may get experience, but we cannot get back the rich freshness and strength which were wrapped up in those moments.
-–Frederick W. Robertson

If Jesus, the strong Son of God, felt it necessary to rise before the breaking of the day to pour out His heart to God in prayer, how much more ought you to pray unto Him who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and who has promised all things necessary for our good.

What Jesus gathered into His life from His prayers we can never know; but this we do know, that the prayerless life is a powerless life. A prayerless life may be a noisy life, and fuss around a great deal; but such a life is far removed from Him who, by day and night, prayed to God.

The report of the spies

By: Charles Spurgeon

“And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.” Numbers 13:32 and 14:6-7

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 2:17-24

Every unguarded word you use, every inconsistent act, puts a slur on Christ. The world, you know, does not find fault with you—they lay it all to your Master. If you make a slip tomorrow, they will not say, “That is John Smith’s human nature;” they will say, “That is John Smith’s religion.” They know better, but they will be sure to say it; they will be sure to put all the mischief at the door of Christ. Now, if you could bear the blame yourself you might bear it manfully; but do not allow Christ to bear the blame—do not suffer his reputation to be tarnished—do not permit his banner to be trampled in the dust. Then there is another consideration. You must remember, if you do wrong, the world will be quite sure to notice you. The world carries two bags: in the bag at the back they put all the Christian’s virtues—in the bag in front they put all our mistakes and sins. They never think of looking at the virtues of holy men; all the courage of martyrs, all the fidelity of confessors, and all the holiness of saints, is nothing to them; but our iniquities are ever before them. Please do recollect, that wherever you are, as a Christian, the eyes of the world are upon you; the Argus eyes of an evil generation follow you everywhere. If a church is blind the world is not. It is a common proverb, “As sound asleep as a church,” and a very true one, for most churches are sound asleep; but it would be a great falsehood if anyone were to say, “As sound asleep as the world,” for the world is never asleep. Sleeping is left to the church. And remember, too, that the world always wears magnifying glasses to look at Christians’ faults.

For meditation: Like Mary our souls and words may magnify the Lord (Luke 1:46), but does any area of our lives allow the unbelieving world to magnify our sins instead?


Abide In Me

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Abide in Me

closeup of pruning a grapevine

My friend has grapevines on the fence in the backyard of his Mom’s house. The vines have completely intertwined with the fence and are literally all over the place. The grapes are beginning to die off and are in need of pruning.

As I was reading my devotions this morning I picked up a small devotional booklet and read a page before I picked up my regular devotional book. The passage in the small book was John 15:4:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” (NASB)

I thought it was a good passage to start my day with. I set it down and began reading my regular devotional book. I had not gotten very far down the page when I read the scripture for the day. It was John 15:4. I stopped to read the small booklet again, and sure enough, it was the same passage. God must be trying to tell me something.

My life has been like the grapevines on the backyard fence lately. Twisted, going every which way but the way it should be. God has been gently pruning my life. He has been getting rid of those things in my life which distract me and take away from the Joy of life in Jesus. Worry and stress have robbed me of my Joy in so many ways. The more time I spend worrying, the less I get done. The less I get done, the more stressed I get and the more I worry. My life has become twisted and unruly.

In an attempt to get things done I made a schedule. I created a list of things that must be done each day, and the time frame for them to be completed. While being organized is a good thing, it can distract me from what is most important. Spending time with Jesus in the Word is more important than getting my schedule done. So, I have loosened the strings on my tight schedule. Now, I have a list of what needs to be done and am asking God to show me what HE wants me to get done today. It helps me to be more relaxed, which in turn helps me to be more productive.

Control is one of the branches on my grapevine which needed to be pruned. I like to have control of things in my life, but I have a tendency to overcontrol every area of my life. Unless I abide in Jesus and let Him have control, my life will be a mess.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11 NASB)

The more time I spend with Jesus the better my life is. When I open my day with Bible study, prayer and thanking God for what He has done for me, my problems get smaller and my workload gets lighter. When I let God tell me what He wants me to do today, the more “right” things I get done. Only when I allow God to prune my grapevine, will I continue to grow.

What branch on your grapevine needs pruning? What is keeping you from experiencing the full joy Jesus has to offer you? He will gently prune those things in your life which are keeping you from experiencing His full joy. Abiding in Him means spending time with Him. Spending time with Jesus can only be good for you. What person, thing or habit are you holding onto that is stopping you from experiencing the full joy of what God has for you?


Through The Bible Devotions

June 5

2 Samuel 13:13-15 13What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her. 15Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

One of David’s sons, Amnon, was lustfully desirous of his half-sister, Tamar. His friend helped him hatch a plot to be alone with her. While Amnon pretended to be sick, he asked for Tamar to come prepare a meal and feed him. Once she brought the food to his bed, he showed what he was really after. Tamar responded wisely with verse 13. If he would act honorably, she would have married him. She asked him the question we should ask ourselves when faced with lust of any kind. What about the people affected? What will be the consequences in their lives? What about ourselves? What will be the full consequences in our own life if we give in to that desire? They had seen their father make this mistake with Bathsheba and saw the consequences. Now Amnon needed to face the truth of what might happen if he went through with his plan, but he would not consider it. He had already determined what he would do.

After raping her, he despised her. The carnal desires will paint a picture of fulfillment that isn’t even close to reality. Tamar’s honorable questions showed how wicked his heart was. He wanted to be as far away from the truth as he could get. The end of the matter will be consequences no one could have imagined.

Consider: Is some desire capturing your imagination? What about the persons involved? What about you? Stop sin before it moves from thoughts to actions!



by Ryan Duncan, crosswalk the devotional

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? – Psalms 56:3-4

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be brave. The Bible certainly doesn’t lack for courageous leaders like Moses or fearless warriors like David, but what about those people who showed simple bravery? Esther never led anyone into battle, and as a woman in the ancient world her ability to lead was limited, but when you take the time to study her life you realize how much inner strength she must have had. As a young woman she was taken from her home and thrust into an unfamiliar environment. Later, she was forced to intercede in a murder plot at the risk of her life and the life of her cousin.

Her greatest challenge, however, was when the King’s advisor Haman sought to massacre the Jewish people. Their only hope of survival lay with Esther’s ability to confront the King, an action that could easily get her killed. After all, this was a man who had deposed his old wife on a whim, what would he do to a woman who openly challenged his authority? Reading the verses in chapter 4, I can only imagin how shaken Esther must have been.

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” – Esther 4:15-16

We all know how the story ends, the King receives Esther and the Jews are saved from death, but the story of Esther’s courage has remained relevant after all these years. I believe God calls Christians to simple acts of bravery every day of our lives. Whether it’s standing up for someone else, or having the courage to speak out for what we believe, these simple acts have the power to change the world. Don’t be afraid, and don’t be downcast, for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but one of courage.

The Creating Spirit

Dean Deppe, today devotions

Scripture Reading — Genesis 1:1-2Luke 1:26-37

“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” — Luke 1:35

The Holy Spirit is extremely creative. And because we have the Spirit in us, we will become creative as well.

The Spirit was creative in the beginning. God spoke the world into existence through his Word, Jesus (John 1:1-3), and with his thoughtful, attentive, creative Spirit (Genesis 1:2). Look around the world at all the variety of plants, the amazing assortment of animals, and the diverse colors and languages of people—and you will see the creative power of the Spirit.

But the Holy Spirit wasn’t finished. The Spirit created a living Messiah in the womb of the virgin Mary. The angel said, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

But the Holy Spirit wasn’t finished. The Spirit breathed life back into Jesus’ body on the Sunday morning (Easter) after Jesus’ death on the cross (on Good Friday). Jesus rose in victory over death, and all who believe in him will rise again too—to live with him on the new earth when he comes again (1 Corinthians 15:20-23Revelation 21:1-5).

The Spirit still isn’t finished today. He is breathing creativity into you and me—creative thoughts to instill new vision into the church; creative words to share the gospel; creative ministries to bring the presence of Jesus into our culture and world.

The Holy Spirit is at work.


“Creator Spirit, by whose aid the world foundations first were laid,” come and pour your joy and creativity on all humankind! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Faith Provides A Home In Heaven

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In My Father’s House Are Many Rooms


Kristine, a vibrant 18-year-old, was involved in all the normal activities of a senior in high school when she became critically ill. She was admitted to the hospital and within a few days, she was diagnosed with a fatal disease.

Kristine’s parents were devastated when doctors said, “There’s nothing more we can do except keep her comfortable.” They asked for help from the hospital staff to break the news to their daughter.

A woman named Donna is part of a hospital team that works with critically and terminally ill patients and their families. “When Kristine heard the prognosis, she was naturally quite upset, but when I went to see her the next day, her demeanor was completely changed,” she said.

“Kristine had in her hand a collection of swatches from a paint store, those little strips of various shades of color,” Donna said. “She fanned them out like a deck of cards and said, ‘Pick a color.’”

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Donna said, “but I played along. I chose a bird’s egg blue. Then Kristine explained:  ‘Since I’m going to heaven before you, I want to paint your room your favorite color.’ Anytime a different person came into Kristine’s room after that, she had them choose a color for their room in heaven.”

Donna said, “I have worked with critically and terminally ill patients for years, but I was bowled over by the spiritual maturity of an 18-year-old who was so certain of her place in heaven. Kristine knew without a doubt that this world is just a ‘passing-through place.’ It’s not the final destination. She used those paint swatches as tools to witness about eternal life and also to help the people around her accept her physical death.”

Kristine was a living witness to the promise in John 14 as Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for his impending death:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3 NIV).

When Kristine passed away, she continued to witness to people at the funeral because those paint swatches were in the casket with her. Kristine’s story was repeated to everyone who passed by.

“As Christians, we have the certainty of eternal life,” Donna said. “How wonderful it was for Kristine and her family to be able to frame death in such a beautiful way.”

Thank you, Lord, for the promise of eternal life. Help us to learn from Kristine’s example of faith in your Word.

Mini Miracles – Crosswalk the Devotional – June 4

by Shawn McEvoy,

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.

I just don’t do it enough.

I wonder how many mini-miracles I’ve missed out on by being impatient, angry, or inattentive. In his book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller imagines Moses telling those worshipping the golden calf, “Your problem is not that God is not fulfilling, your problem is that you are spoiled” (92). Romans 1:20 would seem to indicate that the Lord’s hand is evident everywhere – “people can clearly see His invisible qualities.” I like that verse very much, because I like to think of myself as on the lookout for God.

But that brings me to the other ways to miss miracles – by not accepting them or expecting them, by resenting them or wanting to earn them. I quote from Blue Like Jazz again, where Miller admits, “I love to give to charity, but I don’t want to be charity. This is why I have so much trouble with grace” (84).

Can we get past the affront of accepting a free gift? If we can, we might see the Lord trying to say through the Feeding of the 5,000 and even today, “Here I Am, stay here, spend more time, no need to go away, please accept this, put yourself in My hands, keep your eyes open, I love you.”

After all, says Matthew 7:11, “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?” Mini-miracles are the treats God brings home to His kids, those who seek him with childlike faith, those who consider themselves “the little things in life.”

Constraining love

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Oh love the Lord, all ye his saints.” Psalm 31:23

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 4:7-12

Christ’s love to us we sometimes guess at, but, ah, it is so far beyond our thoughts, our reasonings, our praises, and our apprehension too, in the sweetest moments of our most spiritual ecstasy,—who can tell it? “Oh, how he loved us!” When Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, the Jews exclaimed with surprise—“Behold how he loved him.” Verily, you might say the like with deeper emphasis. There was nothing in you to make him love you, but he left heaven’s throne for you. As he came down the celestial hills, methinks the angels said “Oh, how he loved them.” When he lay in the manger an infant, they gathered round and said, “Oh how he loves.” But when they saw him sweating in the garden, when he was put into the crucible, and began to be melted in the furnace, then indeed, the spirits above began to know how much he loved us. Oh Jesus! When I see thee mocked and spat upon—when I see thy dear cheeks become a reservoir for all the filth and spittle of unholy mouths—when I see thy back rent with knotted whips—when I behold thy honour and thy life both trailing in the dust—when I see thee charged with madness, with treason, with blasphemy—when I behold thy hands and feet pierced, thy body stripped naked and exposed—when I see thee hanging on the cross between heaven and earth, in torments dire and excruciating—when I hear thee cry “I thirst,” and see the vinegar thrust to thy lips—when I hear thy direful cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” my spirit is compelled to say, “Oh how he loves!”

For meditation: How cold and hardhearted we must be to ever question the Lord’s love towards us (Malachi 1:2).

Sermon no. 325

Will You Choose God or The World?

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Two Choices

woman facing a wall with two arrows pointing in opposite directions


“We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV)

We love choices. From the 1970s “Have It Your Way” Burger King jingle to the more than one hundred drink options in a Coca-Cola Freestyle drink machine, we like to express our preferences and make our selections.

Having designed this characteristic of human nature, God also gives us choices. Unlike one hundred drink flavors in a drink machine, however, He makes it simple. In life, we have only two choices, and these options go way back to a story in 2 Chronicles 20.

At the time, godly king Jehoshaphat sat on the throne of Judah. As is often the case with godly rulers, before long, enemies arrived to try to mess up his good thing. Judah was a shadow of her former self in those days, with an army no one in his right mind would boast about. When the big guys came knocking, King Jehoshaphat knew they were in trouble.

“A vast army is coming against you,” the warning stated. Jehoshaphat was “alarmed” (2 Chronicles 20:2-3). He gathered the leaders from the surrounding cities, and together they sought the Lord.

“We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us,” he prayed. “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (verse 12).

Almost immediately, God responded to Jehoshaphat’s prayer through one of the prophets. “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. . . . The Lord will be with you” (verses 15, 17).

With these words, God gave Jehoshaphat two choices: believe the impossibility of the circumstances or believe God’s Word. We face the same decision every day.

Picture the rest of the story. “Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord” (verse 18). The next morning, per God’s instructions, they marched out to face the enemy with music on their lips and praise in their mouths. “Give thanks to the Lord,” they sang, “for his love endures forever” (verse 21).

Without lifting a spear or a sword, the Israelites won a great victory. The Lord fought for them. By praying, seeking God’s face, and believing His promises, they released the power available in heaven. God brought it to earth for a great victory.

The result? “The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel” (verse 29).

Uncommon Thought

When faced with challenging (and sometimes overwhelming) circumstances, we can either believe what we see with our eyes or trust the promises God has given us.

Unusual Faith

What enemy are you facing right now? What circumstance steals the sleep from your night and the peace from your days? You have two choices: believe the seeming impossibility of the circumstances or believe God’s promises. If you choose to believe God’s promises, pray to the Lord right now. Like King Jehoshaphat, lay your circumstances before Him, confess your fear and powerlessness, and wait for His direction and deliverance.

Through The Bible Devotions

June 3

2 Samuel 11:13-15 13At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home. 14In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15In it he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

The chain of sin that began when David stayed home instead of going into battle was carried even further. David wanted to cover up his adultery by having the husband of Bathsheba sleep with her. Then he would think her child was his own. The faithful Uriah would not sleep with his wife when his fellow soldiers and the ark of God were in tents in the battlefield. David tried harder. He got him drunk, but still Uriah was faithful. Then he sent a letter with him that gave a plan for his murder by not defending him in battle. If David couldn’t cover his sin, he’d have Bathsheba’s husband killed and take her for his wife.

King David thinks only Joab will ever know. God knows! David thought the letter would remain a secret. But now the world has read the substance of his letter. When we plot a sin to cover sin and think that our cunning will keep anyone from knowing, we deceive only ourselves. Be sure your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:23b). When Bathsheba gave birth, the nation knew, and the death of Uriah would be seen as more than a coincidence. David lost respect in the eyes of his nation when his plan was to save his good name. Our sin always costs more than we planned to pay, and takes us further than we planned to go.

Admonition: Stop the cycle before it gets uglier. Repent and ask man and God for forgiveness.

A Spiritual Person

Dean Deppe,  Today Daily Devotionals

Scripture Reading — 1 Corinthians 2:10b-13

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. — 1 Corinthians 2:12

I think the apostle Paul’s discussion in 1 Corinthians 2 is one of the deepest in the Bible. If you have experienced what Paul talks about here, you know the Holy Spirit. This is divine wisdom for the mature (2:6).

Paul explains that the Spirit searches “even the deep things of God.” Wow! All who God is, all that God knows, all that God has experienced in the entire universe of galaxies, the Spirit has explored. And what does the Spirit do with that intimate knowledge of God’s thoughts? He communicates to us.

The Holy Spirit enables us to understand God—his holiness so that we fall on our face before him; his unconditional love so that tears of joy overwhelm us; his tender mercy so that we shake our heads at the mystery of God’s grace.

The Spirit enables us to understand the blessings freely given us by God. The Spirit reveals our identity in Christ, what it means to be a new creature. The Spirit opens up the Word of God not only so that we can understand the depth of God’s revelation, but also to enable us to teach these truths to others. The Spirit shapes and molds us into spiritual people so that we can explain spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

Do you want to be a person shaped by the Holy Spirit? Let the Holy Spirit capture your heart so that you can share the depths of God with others.


Holy Spirit, open my mind so that you can begin to reveal to me the depths of God, that I may also share your wisdom with others. Amen.

Streams in the Desert – June 3

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

On that day, when evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go across to the other side of the lake.” — Mark 4:35

Even when we go forth at Christ’s command, we need not expect to escape storms; for these disciples were going forth at Christ’s command, yet they encountered the fiercest storm and were in great danger of being overwhelmed, so that they cried out in their distress for Christ’s assistance.

Though Christ may delay His coming in our time of distress, it is only that our faith may be tried and strengthened, and that our prayers may be more intense, and that our desires for deliverance may be increased, so that when the deliverance does come we will appreciate it more fully.

Christ gave them a gentle rebuke, saying, “Where is your faith?” Why did you not shout victory in the very face of the storm, and say to the raging winds and rolling waves, “You can do no harm, for Christ, the mighty Savior is on board”?

It is much easier to trust when the sun is shining than when the storm is raging.

We never know how much real faith we have until it is put to the test in some fierce storm; and that is the reason why the Savior is on board.

If you are ever to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might, your strength will be born in some storm.

“With Christ in the vessel,
I smile at the storm.”

Christ said, “Let us go to the other side”—not to the middle of the lake to be drowned.
–Dan Crawford

What A Privilege To Call On God

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Duty or Privilege



I really didn’t want to go to church. Everyone always asked about my family. “How’s your dad?” they would ask over and over again. I tired of telling them about his medical condition. Really, what I wanted to scream was, “How am I? I’m the one overseeing my parents care along with two teenagers, a husband, a full-time job and a family business! Why don’t you ask about me?!”

My father had his left leg amputated and was ready to move back in with us and I was petrified. That day at church, I ran into a woman who sometimes helped with Mom’s care and also provided total care for her mother.

“Paula. I’m afraid of Dad coming home. I’m afraid of physically caring for him. You did that with your father, didn’t you? How did you do it?”

She smiled and said, “Pauline, it is nothing. It was a privilege to care for him.”

I’ll never forget that.

It took several years before my caregiving went from a duty to privilege, but eventually, that is how I viewed it.

I’m glad.

“After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, ‘Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.'” John 13:12-14 NLT

Jesus always viewed servanthood as a privilege. He also taught that to His disciples.

As Americans, we tend to believe we have rights and we should assert our rights.

As Christians, we may have rights, but to serve and give up our rights is a privilege.

Just ask Jesus. Check out this passage in Matthew 16:24-25,

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.’” (NLT)

I once heard a Christian musician say that a Christian is someone who is bananas about Jesus. That is a great definition. So, when we love Jesus and follow Him, we give up our lives and mirror His.

Thankfully, He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us. The change that took place in my view of caregiving is nothing other than miraculous. Divine.

What Is a Miracle, Really?

Guest Post by Angela Hunt, author of When God Happens

What are miracles, and why do they matter?

I recently decided to put together a book on miracles with friend and fellow author Bill Myers. When Bill and I put out the call for miracle stories, we received many stories about how God worked to answer prayers. To those who received these blessings, the events felt like miracles; and perhaps they were, because the contemporary definition of miracle is “a divine act by which God reveals himself to people.” By that definition, a beautiful sunrise could be a miracle if it causes the beholder to look up and marvel at the Creator.

The traditional definition of miracle, however, includes a qualification: a miracle is an act in which God transcends the normal order of things, that is, when He bends or breaks the Law of Nature.

A miracle is more than coincidence. A miracle is more than an odd, spooky occurrence. A miracle is more than God’s answering a prayer through the normal course of events.

Because we wanted these stories to speak to skeptics, we searched for stories that fit the more traditional definition of miracle. We wanted true stories told by those who experienced them. We wanted details about what God did, and most importantly, how He revealed Himself to the viewer, and how the experience changed that person’s life.

Mary, a young girl in a small town, experienced a miracle when an angel appeared and told her she would soon bear a child—even though she was a virgin and had never been intimate with a man. That miracle not only affected Mary’s life, but the entire world.

The lame man begging by a pool experienced a miracle when Peter and John stopped and said they didn’t have money to give him, but by the power of Jesus Christ, they could give him the ability to walk. That man’s life changed in that instant, and so did the lives of all who witnessed the event.

Fast forward two thousand years. Cheri and Cody Clemmons’s lives were changed when they stopped to help accident victims on Highway Six in Texas. Unable to reach a man in a burning car, Cheri cried out for God’s help, and two strangers appeared to pull the man from the wreckage. Cheri’s and Cody’s lives were forever changed, and so was the survivor’s.

Dennis Hensley’s life changed the day the doctor told him his unborn daughter had died…and later, as his wife endured labor, the baby began to breathe.

Steve Taitt’s life changed the day he asked God for a sign…and the sign appeared in a newspaper classified ad.

Why are miracles important? Because they testify to the truth that God rules over His creation, and all things are under His control.  Because He is all-powerful and the author of thousands of miracles, we can confidently place our lives in His hands.

Streams in the Desert – June 2

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

Against hope Abraham believed in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations according to the pronouncement, “so will your descendants be.” Without being weak in faith, he considered his own body as dead (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. — Rom 4:18-19

We shall never forget a remark that George Mueller once made to a gentleman who had asked him the best way to have strong faith.

d“The only way,” replied the patriarch of faith, “to learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.” This is very true. The time to trust is when all else fails.

Dear one, you scarcely realize the value of your present opportunity; if you are passing through great afflictions you are in the very soul of the strongest faith, and if you will only let go, He will teach you in these hours the mightiest hold upon His throne which you can ever know.

“Be not afraid, only believe.” And if you are afraid, just look up and say, “What time I am afraid I will trust in thee,” and you will yet thank God for the school of sorrow which was to you the school of faith.
–A. B. Simpson

“Great faith must have great trials.”

“God’s greatest gifts come through travail. Whether we look into the spiritual or temporal sphere, can we discover anything, any great reform, any beneficent discovery, any soul-awakening revival, which did not come through the toils and tears, the vigils and blood-shedding of men and women whose sufferings were the pangs of its birth? If the temple of God is raised, David must bear sore afflictions; if the Gospel of the grace of God is to be disentangled from Jewish tradition, Paul’s life must be one long agony.”

“Take heart, O weary, burdened one, bowed down 
Beneath thy cross;
Remember that thy greatest gain may come 
Through greatest loss.
Thy life is nobler for a sacrifice, 
And more divine.
Acres of bloom are crushed to make a drop 
Of perfume fine.

“Because of storms that lash the ocean waves, 
The waters there
Keep purer than if the heavens o’erhead 
Were always fair.
The brightest banner of the skies floats not 
At noonday warm;
The rainbow traileth after thunder-clouds, 
And after storm.”

Always Ready

by Inspiration Ministries

“Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” – 1 Peter 3:15 NKJV

Wally Pipp was one of the best players in Major League Baseball. A recognized leader on the New York Yankees, he was a fixture on that team when they won the championship in 1923. He played even better the next year, proving himself to be among the league elite. He was a good fielder and dependable, rarely missing a game. His backup, Lou Gehrig, seemed to have no chance of gaining meaningful playing time.

Then, on this day in 1925, Pipp took a day off due to a concussion, and the Yankees manager put Gehrig in the lineup. No one knew what to expect, but Gehrig was ready. Given this chance, he excelled at such a high level that he didn’t miss a game for 15 years, playing in an amazing 2,130 consecutive games in a Hall-of-Fame career.

We never can know when circumstances will change. Facing similar situations, many fail to take advantage of their opportunities and don’t fully develop their gifts. But Gehrig was different. He made the most of his big break.

The same principle applies in our spiritual lives. We never know when doors that seem permanently shut will open. When new opportunities will arise. When circumstances will change.

Seek to be a faithful steward of your talents and resources, even if no one else seems to notice. Develop the skills God has given you. Make sure you are ready.

Riches In Glory Are Riches That Last

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Terry Meeuwsen: From Rags to Riches

You probably remember Esther’s amazing rags-to-riches story. She was a beautiful Jewish girl in Susa, the capital city of Persia. Esther had to leave her home. Now established in the royal palace as queen, she learned of an evil plot to destroy all the Jews across the empire. Mordecai, her uncle, heard about it, too, and in great distress sent an urgent message to Esther. He urged her to approach the king and plead for the life of her people.

But Esther hesitated.

Who wouldn’t? The penalty for entering the king’s presence without a specific invitation was death. (I wonder how he would have handled telemarketers calling during the dinner hour?) Under extraordinary circumstances, the king might extend his golden scepter and spare the petitioner’s life—but the prospects of taking that sort of chance were terrifying.

The young queen reported all these things in a message to her guardian, and he sent back this word … this small slice of dialogue I can’t get out of my mind.

“Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14, NKJV)

Notice the second sentence in Mordecai’s message: “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place …” In other words, Mordecai was saying, “I have faith that the God of our Fathers will not allow His people to be totally destroyed in this way. Somehow, He will step in. Somehow, He will spare a remnant of His people. If you sit back and remain silent, Esther, God will use someone else to achieve His purposes. But you are His first choice, and it’s up to you how you’re going to respond.”

Esther determined to step into this God adventure—this opportunity to save her people. Esther said, “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16 NKJV).

When God wants something done, when He has some kingdom “mission impossible” to accomplish, He goes looking for a man or woman to take the assignment. The Bible tells us that “the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NASB).

He’s looking for people who will take on risky operations of love and mercy. He is looking for men and women who will put His will above everything else in life. And every now and then, perhaps even today, His eye rests on you, and He offers you that opportunity.

You can take it, or you can let it go by. If you don’t do it, He’ll probably select someone else— “relief and deliverance will arise…from another place”— and the job will get done. But you won’t even be able to imagine what you’ve missed!


When You Feel Like You’ve Lost Time

By Debbie McDaniel,

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten. You will have plenty… and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know… that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other.” – Joel 2:25-27

If we’ve lived long enough, we know this to be true… sometimes, life is hard. It doesn’t always go our way. Things don’t always work out in our timing. And often, it seems we get hit from all sides. Problems can leave us spinning, wondering why we didn’t see it coming.

Days, months, even years can go by. We look back and wonder how it all went so fast, yet seemed so slow when we trudged through the difficulties. And though we might try our best to live our lives in a way that honors God, it doesn’t erase the fact that we live in a fallen world. We’re constantly face-to-face with so many battles –  hardship, struggles, broken relationships, illness, and our own weaknesses too.

In the midst of all that, we may sometimes feel like we’ve lost time, missed opportunities, or blown chances along the way. We may struggle with feeling as if we’ve walked through too many broken years of pain. Like God could never work through that stuff, it’s just too messy, or too difficult.

But the good news is this: there’s still hope. For He alone is our Hope-giver.





God is able to restore all that’s been stolen.

He knows our way, He is close, and He’s working far beyond what we can fully see.

There’s a new season up ahead, don’t give up. If we woke up this morning, then God’s not finished with us yet, there’s still good in store.

He is able.

He is faithful.

He is greater than anything we face in this life, and much bigger than our own brokenness or weakness.

Keep moving forward in His grace and power.


Streams in the Desert – June 1

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

The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. (Exod 14:15)

In the past he said to them, “This is where security can be found. Provide security for the one who is exhausted! This is where rest can be found.” But they refused to listen. (Isa 28:12)

Why dost thou worry thyself? What use can thy fretting serve? Thou art on board a vessel which thou couldst not steer even if the great Captain put thee at the helm, of which thou couldst not so much as reef a sail, yet thou worriest as if thou wert captain and helmsman. Oh, be quiet; God is Master!

Dost thou think that all this din and hurly-burly that is abroad betokens that God has left His throne?

No, man, His coursers rush furiously on, and His chariot is the storm; but there is a bit between their jaws, and He holds the reins, and guides them as He wills! Jehovah is Master yet; believe it; peace be unto thee! be not afraid.
–C. H. Spurgeon

“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
The storms are raging on God’s deep—
God’s deep, not thine; be still and sleep.

“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s hands shall still the tempter’s sweep—
God’s hands, not thine; be still and sleep.

“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s love is strong while night hours creep—
God’s love, not thine; be still and sleep.

“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s heaven will comfort those who weep—
God’s heaven, not thine; be still and sleep.”

I entreat you, give no place to despondency. This is a dangerous temptation—a refined, not a gross temptation of the adversary. Melancholy contracts and withers the heart, and renders it unfit to receive the impressions of grace. It magnifies and gives a false coloring to objects, and thus renders your burdens too heavy to bear. God’s designs regarding you, and His methods of bringing about these designs, are infinitely wise.
–Madame Guyon


Indwelling sin

“Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile.” Job 40:3,4

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 5:13-24

When we believe in Jesus Christ all our sins are pardoned; yet the power of sin, although it is weakened and kept under by the dominion of the new-born nature which God infuses into our souls, does not cease, but still lingers in us, and will do so to our dying day. It is a doctrine held by all the orthodox, that there still dwells in the regenerate the lusts of the flesh, and that there still remains in the hearts of those who are converted by God’s mercy, the evil of carnal nature. I have found it very difficult to distinguish, in experimental matters, concerning sin. It is usual with many writers, especially with hymn writers, to confound the two natures of a Christian. Now, I hold that there is in every Christian two natures, as distinct as were the two natures of the God-Man Christ Jesus. There is one nature which cannot sin, because it is born of God—a spiritual nature, coming directly from heaven, as pure and as perfect as God himself, who is the author of it; and there is also in man that ancient nature which, by the fall of Adam, has become altogether vile, corrupt, sinful, and devilish. There remains in the heart of the Christian a nature which cannot do that which is right, any more than it could before regeneration, and which is as evil as it was before the new birth—as sinful, as altogether hostile to God’s laws, as ever it was—a nature which, as I said before, is curbed and kept under by the new nature in a great measure, but which is not removed and never will be until this tabernacle of our flesh is broken down, and we soar into that land into which there shall never enter anything that defiles.

For meditation: Are there times when you cannot understand your own behaviour? You are in good company (Romans 7:15-25). But the Christian, having received the new nature, need not and should not give in to the old nature as if he could do nothing about it.

Remembering Those Who Died For Us

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A Memorial Meal



Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, was instituted to honor Civil War dead. Local observances were held as early as 1866, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried. The first official and large observance took place on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, which held the remains of twenty thousand Union soldiers and several Confederate dead. Five thousand people attended the ceremony.

New York was the first state to declare the holiday, in 1873; other states quickly followed. After World War I, citizens expanded the observances to honor those who died in all American wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday and changed the date to the last Monday in May. In recent years, many use the occasion to decorate the graves of loved ones.

Under God’s direction, the Israelites had “Memorial Day” celebrations to help them remember major events in their history. They celebrated Passover each year to commemorate their miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt. When Jesus ate his last Passover meal, he instituted a new memorial to commemorate the deliverance from slavery to sin that he would accomplish for all believers through his death. As he shared the bread and wine with his disciples, he instructed them to eat and drink in remembrance of him.

The speaker at the first official Memorial Day service urged the audience to tend the graves of the dead soldiers to testify that our country had not forgotten the cost of a free, undivided republic. When we take part in the Lord’s Supper we are testifying that we remember the cost of our salvation. We are celebrating a “Memorial Meal” in honor of the One who won the war against death and sin.

God Is Not Judge Judy

by Kelly Givens,

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17

Last month I found myself in a situation that needed a good dose of wisdom. I had to make a decision and felt unsure what course of action was best, so over those next few days I prayed for wisdom on what I should do. I also looked for verses in the Bible that talk about wisdom, and was surprised by what I found.

When I think of wisdom, usually the first thing that pops in my head is King Solomon and that poor baby. You probably know the story- God had given Solomon an incredible amount of wisdom, so much so that people from all over were coming to him with their questions and disputes. In this recorded case, two prostitutes came before the king, both claiming to be the mother of the same baby boy, both insisting that the other had stolen the infant after the death of the other’s child. This was obviously before DNA testing, so what could be done? Well, Solomon had a sword brought to him and decided to settle things by cutting the baby in half! Now, that doesn’t seem like a very compassionate king! It sounds more like something Judge Judy would do.

Judge Judy doesn’t want to hear your sob story. Her Honor gets right to the facts, lays down her decision and moves on to the next case, end of story. I realized I was asking God to be the” Judge Judy” of my life- I would present my problem and “ask for wisdom,” but what I really wanted was for God to give me a definite answer that didn’t leave any lingering questions. Obviously, God is not Judge Judy, and this is not the kind of wisdom he gives. So how should we think of wisdom? Let’s go back to Solomon- who really wasn’t like Judge Judy at all.

While it may have seemed bizarre that Solomon was going to cut a baby in half, the king had wisely discerned that the true mother would care more about the safety of the child than her possession of him. And so it was- the mother cried out for the boy’s life to be spared, and Solomon declared her the rightful parent. In doing this, he spared both the child and the women further pain. But this is more than Solomon just being cunning or smart. There’s compassion to this decision too- an essential part of wisdom.

When Solomon asked God for wisdom, God didn’t just fill his head with the right answer to every problem that would ever come up. No- he filled him with “wisdom” as James describes it- he filled him full of consideration, peacefulness, mercy, goodness, impartiality and sincerity. King Solomon wasn’t wise because he knew the law book forwards and backwards, or because he was particularly clever or a good problem solver. He was wise because his decisions flowed from a heart and mind focused on values that are essential to the Kingdom of God. He didn’t bother punishing the one woman for stealing a baby or stoning both women for being prostitutes (which the law would have demanded). His wisdom was compassionate, merciful, and just: it was true wisdom from above.

Streams in the Desert – May 31

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

You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season. (Job 5:26)

A gentleman, writing about the breaking up of old ships, recently said that it is not the age alone which improves the quality of the fiber in the wood of an old vessel, but the straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and of many kinds of cargoes.

Some planks and veneers made from an oak beam which had been part of a ship eighty years old were exhibited a few years ago at a fashionable furniture store on Broadway, New York, and attracted general notice for the exquisite coloring and beautiful grain.

Equally striking were some beams of mahogany taken from a bark which sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years and the traffic had contracted the pores and deepened the color, until it looked as superb in its chromatic intensity as an antique Chinese vase. It was made into a cabinet, and has today a place of honor in the drawing-room of a wealthy New York family.

So there is a vast difference between the quality of old people who have lived flabby, self-indulgent, useless lives, and the fiber of those who have sailed all seas and carried all cargoes as the servants of God and the helpers of their fellow men.

Not only the wrenching and straining of life, but also something of the sweetness of the cargoes carried get into the very pores and fiber of character.
—Louis Albert Banks

When the sun goes below the horizon he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure. And when a great and good man sets, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goes he leaves behind him much of himself. Being dead, he speaks.

When Victor Hugo was past eighty years of age he gave expression to his religious faith in these sublime sentences: “I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest which has been more than once cut down. The new shoots are livelier than ever. I am rising toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but Heaven lights me with its unknown worlds.

“You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets, and the roses as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple.”

A precious drop of honey

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.’ Isaiah 49:16

Suggested Further Reading: Deuteronomy 33:1–5

We have heard of one, an eastern queen, who so loved her husband that she thought even to build a mausoleum to his memory was not enough. She had a strange way of proving her affection, for when her husband’s bones were burned she took the ashes and drank them day by day, that, as she said, her body might be her husband’s living sepulchre. It was a strange way of showing love. But what shall I say of this divine, celestial, unobjectionable, sympathetic mode of showing remembrance, by cutting it into the palms? Words fail to express our intense content with this most admirable sign of tenderness and fond affection. It appears to me as though the King had said, ‘Shall I carve my people upon precious stones? Shall I choose the ruby, the emerald, the topaz? No; for these all must melt in the last general conflagration. What then? Shall I write on tables of gold or silver? No, for all these may canker and corrupt, and thieves may break through and steal. Shall I cut the memorial deep on brass? No, for time would wear it, and the letters would not long be legible. I will write on myself, on my own hand, and then my people will know how tender I am, that I would sooner cut into my own flesh than forget them; I will have my Son branded in the hand with the names of his people, that they may be sure he cannot forsake them; hard by the memorial of his wounds shall be the memorial of his love to them, for indeed his wounds are an everlasting remembrance.’ How loving, then, how full of superlative, super-excellent affection is God toward you and toward me in so recording our names.

For meditation: When he appeared before God on behalf of the people, the Old Testament high priest carried on his clothing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (Exodus 28:9–12,29) and the guilt of the people (Exodus 28:36–38). Our great High Priest has carried in his own body the sins of his people (Isaiah 53:4–61 Peter 2:24), knows every believer by name (John 10:3) and appears before God on their behalf (Hebrews 7:259:24). Are you represented by him?

Be Loyal To God Who Loves You

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A Prayer for Memorial Day

By Debbie McDaniel,

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

Freedom is a gift, it’s a treasure.  And though we all may agree on that truth, it’s often easy to take for granted the greatest gifts that God has given us in our lives.

But those most precious gifts are never free. They came with a price. With sacrifice. They were worth fighting for. And are still worth fighting for today. Many brave men and women were willing to face hard battles in order for us to enjoy that gift of freedom today.

For all those who have protected our nation, for the men and women in uniform, together, we say “Thank You.”

We take time to remember today, and say a prayer of gratefulness for the many who have been willing to pay a great price for our freedom.  May God help us to live so courageously, may we follow the brave examples of those who have gone before us…

Thank you for reminding us that there’s incredible love and sacrifice displayed when one is willing to stand strong and fight for freedom.

This service of love and sacrifice on behalf of all people, points us directly to the greatest love of all, the very gift and sacrifice of Christ.

Our Savior was willing to pay the ultimate price, so that we can live free. Forever.

Dear God,

We thank you for the freedom you have given to us, and for the price that was paid by Christ so that we could live free. We remember today. The cost of it all. The great sacrifice for freedom.

We thank you for the brave men and women who have fought, and continue to fight, so courageously for our nation. We ask for your covering and blessing over them and their families. We pray that you would be gracious and encircle them with your peace. We pray for your great favor and goodness to be evident in their lives.

Please be with all those who wear the uniform, who serve our communities and nation every single day. We ask that you provide your protection, that you would be their guiding force who leads the way, and their rear guard who keeps them safe from behind. We ask that you would draw them to yourself amidst the dangers they face in a dark world, for you are the Truth, you are the Way, you are the Light.

Help them to walk wisely. To stay covered in your armor. Give them godly discernment. Make them constantly aware of what lurks close by. Help them to be men and women of prayer, realizing that this is where their greatest help comes from. Help them to stay united and strong, bold and resolute, determined and unwavering.

Bless their families. Bless those they love. Give them your great favor, this day, and every day.

Thank you that in our nation today, we are free to worship. We are free to pray. We are free to read your Word.  We are free to speak.  We are free to share. For this, we are incredibly grateful. Yet, we understand how quickly these freedoms can be taken away. Give us an increased awareness of the spiritual battle we’re in. Help us to stand strong in you and for your purposes.

Thank you that as believers, we can be assured, you will never leave us, and are with us always, in this life, and the next.

Thank you for your truth that says, who the Son sets free is free indeed! We know that in you alone, true freedom is found.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,



Big Things Come in Small Packages

Small Gift


When I was a kid there were a couple of occasions when my Sunday School class held a contest to see who could memorize the most verses of scripture. Invariably, each time this contest was held the first verse out of everyone’s mouth was John 11:35:

“Jesus wept.”

This is the shortest verse in the English Bible.

The power of John 11:35 is often overlooked because it is so small. When we look at it in light of the larger story, we see something truly wonderful about Jesus. The incident of Jesus weeping comes in the middle of the story of how He raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus was a good friend of Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Lazarus had fallen seriously ill and his sisters sent word to Jesus so Jesus would come and heal their brother. It is mentioned three times in John 11:1-46 that Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Even though none of these three were numbered among Jesus’s 12 disciples, the scripture speaks plainly of His love and affection for them.

Yet, when Jesus gets word that Lazarus is sick, He deliberately delays. Jesus doesn’t run to Lazarus’s side and heal him. Instead, Jesus spends two more days where He is and during that time Lazarus dies. Why? Why did Jesus wait and let His friend whom He loved die? Jesus let Lazarus die because He had a plan. The whole of the matter, from beginning to end, was no mystery to Jesus. The plan from the outset was to raise Lazarus from the dead.

It took another four days for Jesus to get to Bethany, the home of Mary and Martha and where their dead brother, Lazarus, had already been buried. Jesus even missed the funeral. Talk about being late. When Martha finds out Jesus is in town, she rushes out to see Him. In their conversation, we get one of the great verses of hope and promise. Jesus said in John 11:25-26,

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha then goes and gets Mary along with all the others who had been mourning with them.

Now comes the interesting moment. When Jesus sees Mary and Martha and all the people mourning with them, He is moved deeply and weeps as well. Jesus wept. But why? He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew the story was going to have beyond a happy ending. He knew that He was about to do something truly awesome. Yet – Jesus wept. He didn’t try to shush everyone. He didn’t scold them for not having faith. He didn’t try to tell them that everything was going to be ok. He didn’t turn the processional to the tomb into a victory parade. He walked with them and He wept with them.

Jesus wept because He understood and felt their pain and sorrow. God is the God of eternity, but He is also the God of the moment. He doesn’t belittle or dismiss how we feel simply because He knows how He will work everything out. Instead, He walks with us and feels with us in the times of our deepest hurt. Mary, Martha, and the crowd might have thought Jesus was late, but how can the One who can undo anything, including death, be late?

I don’t know what you are going through, but Jesus does. I don’t know how it will work out, but Jesus does. I don’t know how you feel, but Jesus does. Whatever it is, He has a plan. He is walking with you and He feels what you feel. Jesus weeps with you. He isn’t late, and in the end you will see whatever it is that has “died” in your life, raised again. Then, Jesus will rejoice with you.

Streams in the Desert – May 30

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

And they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth. (Rev 14:3)

There are songs which can only be learned in the valley. No art can teach them; no rules of voice can make them perfectly sung. Their music is in the heart. They are songs of memory, of personal experience. They bring out their burden from the shadow of the past; they mount on the wings of yesterday.

St. John says that even in Heaven there will be a song that can only be fully sung by the sons of earth—the strain of redemption. Doubtless it is a song of triumph, a hymn of victory to the Christ who made us free. But the sense of triumph must come from the memory of the chain.

No angel, no archangel can sing it so sweetly as I can. To sing it as I sing it, they must pass through my exile, and this they cannot do. None can learn it but the children of the Cross.

And so, my soul, thou art receiving a music lesson from thy Father. Thou art being educated for the choir invisible. There are parts of the symphony that none can take but thee.

There are chords too minor for the angels. There may be heights in the symphony which are beyond the scale—heights which angels alone can reach; but there are depths which belong to thee, and can only be touched by thee.

Thy Father is training thee for the part the angels cannot sing; and the school is sorrow. I have heard many say that He sends sorrow to prove thee; nay, He sends sorrow to educate thee, to train thee for the choir invisible.

In the night He is preparing thy song. In the valley He is tuning thy voice. In the cloud He is deepening thy chords. In the rain He is sweetening thy melody. In the cold He is moulding thy expression. In the transition from hope to fear He is perfecting thy lights.

Despise not thy school of sorrow, O my soul; it will give thee a unique part in the universal song.
—George Matheson

The Most Precious Memorial

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The Most Precious Memorial


As I was reflecting on this day, I looked up the word “memorial” in my Bible concordance and was a little surprised at what was written in the subtitle. It said “Forgetfulness of God.” As I thought about this phrase for a moment, I understood. Much like Memorial Day, biblical memorials were set up to avoid forgetting what God had done. They were reminders so people would not forget.

Passover was a reminder to God’s people of the last plague of Egypt which took the first-born of every family who did not have blood applied to the doorpost of their home. This memorial was not meant to remind them of death, but of life and mercy (Exodus 12:14). God provided life when death was imminent. He was merciful to those who believed and obeyed.

There was a memorial for remembering the manna which God provided in the wilderness (Exodus 16:32). Another memorial was established to record the names of the tribes of Israel which God had established as a covenant (Exodus 28:12). As the leader of God’s people into the Promised Land, Joshua even established a memorial for God’s Word. “Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God” (Joshua 24:27). Yet, of all memorials ever established, there is one which stands head and shoulders above all others; and that is the memorial of communion.

When it was time, {Jesus} sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God.” Taking the cup, He blessed it, then said, “Take this and pass it among you. As for Me, I’ll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives.” Taking bread, He blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, given for you. Eat it in My memory.” He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in My blood, blood poured out for you” (Luke 22:14-20, Message).

Although the disciples had little understanding of what Jesus was instituting on this night, it has since become a memorial as He said it would.

The Apostle Paul memorialized the Lord’s Supper in his first letter to the Corinthians instructing them to continue this tradition as a reminder of God’s love and mercy.

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me'” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).

By the Holy Spirit, Paul received instruction to pass on to God’s people the importance of instituting a memorial for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice.

In every memorial, something is established to put people in remembrance of certain facts. In communion, the actual bread and wine (or juice) have no real power in and of themselves. Yet because of what they represent, they have great power for the believer. The bread represents healing for the outward man. Jesus said, “This is My body which is broken for you.” Isaiah prophesied regarding the sacrificial offering of the coming Messiah when he said, “And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Likewise, the cup represents forgiveness for the inward man. “In the same manner {Jesus} took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood.'”

When we study the different memorials set up in remembrance of God’s deliverance or provision, we notice there is never a set timeline for memorials. Each one had its own guidelines. For example, the Passover was to be memorialized once a year, whereas the memorial for God’s people to remember His Word was only a large stone placed under an oak tree. This memorial would be visible to all who passed by, thus establishing a regular reminder throughout the year, not just once. In the same way, the Lord’s Supper (or Communion) has its own timeline. Paul said, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). The key words here are “as often.” In other words, Paul, by the Holy Spirit, was not giving instruction as to a particular day of the year, or month, or even a certain day of the week. He simply said as often as you do this (insinuating whenever it is you take communion) remember there is a purpose.

Jesus warned us about allowing traditions to rob God’s Word of its power and authority. A good example is found in Mark, Chapter Seven. The Pharisees criticized Jesus’ disciples for the way they washed their hands stating it was against Jewish tradition. Jesus outright said to them, “{You} make the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do” (Mark 7:13). I dare say we have done the same with the Lord’s Supper. Communion can become a tradition which we partake of forgetting the real power of its memorial. So Paul said, “As often as you do this, make sure you really remember WHY you do it” (my paraphrase). It’s not about only remembering the bread represents Jesus’ body and the cup represents Jesus’ blood. Communion is about remembering WHY the bread and cup were given. They each respectively remind us of the life we have now been given in Christ Jesus. They are true memorials – possibly the most precious of all memorials. And they are to be taken as often as we’d like… in remembrance of Him.

Through The Bible Devotions

2 Samuel 6:14-16 (KJV) 14And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. 15So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. 16And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

Once David saw that the home in which he left the ark was blessed, He decided to go ahead and bring it to the tabernacle in Jerusalem. This time, he had it carried correctly by the priests. As it was arriving in Jerusalem, he was so overjoyed that he leaped and danced in only an ephod. An ephod was a worshiper’s vest that was highly decorated. It may have come down to the waist or have covered the hips. Either way, his leaping and dancing about must have exposed him. Michael, Saul’s daughter, saw her husband and dancing before the LORD with the women of Jerusalem looking on and became very jealous. She put a damper on David’s joy by rebuking him when he came to bless her. She despised him and became barren.

There is a great variety of worship styles in the church today. Some would get almost as wild as David. The conservatives despise them because of it. If it is to the LORD, and only God can judge that, the conservative camp had better be careful that they do not end up barren like Michael. If they are worshiping the LORD with all their heart and focused upon Him, they are pleasing the heart of God. You don’t have to be expressive to worship with all your heart, but sincere and deep emotion is often expressive.

“Who are we to judge another man’s servant,” the Apostle Paul wrote (Romans 14:4). The worshiper is God’s servant, and whatever style he worships in, God will be the judge as to whether it is appropriate. Mankind judges according to appearance, but God judges the heart. However you worship, let’s catch the excitement that David had for the presence of God within us. Never be complacent about that.

Consider: The Presence is in the tent of the believer’s body. Leap for joy!

Same Terms – Streams in the Desert – May 29

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

I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father. (John 15:15)

Years ago there was an old German professor whose beautiful life was a marvel to his students. Some of them resolved to know the secret of it; so one of their number hid in the study where the old professor spent his evenings.

It was late when the teacher came in. He was very tired, but he sat down and spent an hour with his Bible. Then he bowed his head in secret prayer; and finally closing the Book of books, he said,

“Well, Lord Jesus, we’re on the same old terms.”

To know Him is life’s highest attainment; and at all costs, every Christian should strive to be “on the same old terms with Him.”

The reality of Jesus comes as a result of secret prayer, and a personal study of the Bible that is devotional and sympathetic. Christ becomes more real to the one who persists in the cultivation of His presence.

Speak thou to Him for He heareth,
And spirit with spirit will meet!
Nearer is He than breathing,
Nearer than hands and feet.

—Maltbie D. Babcock

Feeling Helpless

by Inspiration Ministries

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” – Matthew 9:36 ESV

Do you ever get the feeling of being helpless? Of being in situations where nothing seems to be going right? When it just feels that there isn’t anything you can do to make a difference? It’s easy to become discouraged, anxious, depressed. We can feel stretched when we realize the limits of our abilities and how little we really can do on our own.

We need to turn to God in these moments of helplessness. Not in a shallow, superficial way but deeply, profoundly, passionately. We need to surrender completely to His will and admit before Him that we need His help. We are lost without Him. These are moments to practice the principles and promises we find in the Bible. We need to trust in Him with our whole being and not to lean on our understanding. We need to acknowledge Him and have faith in Him.

We remember how Jesus responded when He looked at the crowds who followed Him, He saw helpless people. They were like sheep without a shepherd. Seeing their helplessness, Jesus “had compassion on them.” And He was ready to provide what they needed and lift their spirits.

In those moments when you feel helpless, you can turn to Jesus. As He did with the crowds during His earthly ministry, you can be sure that He has compassion for you. He will provide what you need.