Tag Archives: aging

Directions To Heaven

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

You get there through faith in Jesus Christ.

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

 

John 14:6

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

John 10:9-16

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

( People giving directions)
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A New Language

From: Our Daily Journey

A New Language

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

 

The church’s love to her loving Lord

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From: Charles Spurgeon

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

Suggested Further Reading: Mark 9:2–9

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

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

 

A present religion

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From: Charles Spurgeon

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

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 13:1-8

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

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

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

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

What’s On The Horizon?

Hebrews 12:2

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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Gazing at the Horizon

From: Our Dally Bread

Gazing at the Horizon

We are looking for the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:14

Almost as soon as the ferryboat started to move, my little daughter said she felt ill. Seasickness had already begun to affect her. Soon I was feeling queasy myself. “Just stare at the horizon,” I reminded myself. Sailors say this helps to regain a sense of perspective.

The Maker of the horizon (Job 26:10) knows that sometimes in life we may become fearful and restless. We can regain perspective by focusing on the distant but steady point of our destiny.

The writer of Hebrews understood this. He sensed discouragement in his readers. Persecution had driven many of them from their homes. So he reminded them that other people of faith had endured extreme trials and had been left homeless. They endured it all because they anticipated something better.

As exiles, these readers could look forward to the city whose architect is God, the heavenly country, the city God prepared for them (Hebrews 11:10, 14, 16). So in his final exhortations, the writer asked his readers to focus on God’s promises. “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (13:14).

Our present troubles are temporary. We are “foreigners and strangers on earth” (11:13), but gazing at the horizon of God’s promises provides the point of reference we need.

Father, in the midst of troubles, help me to focus on Your promises.

Focus on God and regain perspective.

 

Justice satisfied

From: Charles Spurgeon

“Just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Suggested Further Reading: Genesis 50:15-21

I have heard of Mr John Wesley, that he was attended in most of his journeyings by one who loved him very much, and was willing, I believe, to have died for him. Still he was a man of a very stubborn and obstinate disposition, and Mr Wesley was not perhaps the very kindest man at all times. Upon one occasion he said to this man, “Joseph, take these letters to the post.” “I will take them after preaching, sir.” “Take them now, Joseph,” said Mr Wesley. “I wish to hear you preach, sir; and there will be sufficient time for the post after service.” “I insist upon your going now, Joseph.” “I will not go at present.” “You won’t?” “No, sir.” “Then you and I must part,” said Mr Wesley. “Very good, sir.” The good men slept over it. Both were early risers. At four o’clock the next morning, the refractory helper was accosted with, “Joseph, have you considered what I said—that we must part?” “Yes, sir.” “And must we part?” “Please yourself, sir.” “Will you ask my pardon, Joseph?” “No, sir.” “You won’t?” “No, sir.” “Then I will ask yours, Joseph!” Poor Joseph was instantly melted, and they were at once reconciled. When once the grace of God has entered the heart, a man ought to be ready to seek forgiveness for an injury done to another. There is nothing wrong in a man confessing an offence against a fellow-man, and asking pardon for the wrong he has done him. If you have done aught, then, against any man, leave thy gift before the altar, and go and make peace with him, and then come and make peace with God. You are to make confession of your sin to God. Let that be humble and sincere. You cannot mention every offence, but do not hide one.

For meditation: If we cannot bring ourselves to apologise to and to forgive those we have seen, we must know little about true confession to and the forgiveness of God whom we have not seen (Matthew 6:14,151 John 4:20).

 

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

 

The Safest Place to Be

Dianne Neal Matthews, Author

The disciples could hardly believe their ears. Had Jesus forgotten how the Jews in Jerusalem recently tried to kill him? Why in the world would he want to put his life in danger by going back to Judea? (See John 11:1-16) But Jesus had just announced his intention to go to Bethany in response to a message that his friend Lazarus was sick. This news alarmed the disciples since Bethany was a mere two miles from Jerusalem; they tried to change his mind. “Rabbi, not long ago the Jews wanted to stone you to death,” they reminded him. “Do you really want to go back there?”

Jesus answered their questions with a metaphor that contrasted walking in the light versus walking in darkness. He explained that people who walk during the “day” don’t have to worry about stumbling because they have the knowledge of God’s will to guide them, but those who walk in the darkness of their own understanding and self-reliance are likely to fall. Jesus understood what his well-intentioned disciples did not: as long as he submitted to God’s plan for his life, no harm could come to him until the appointed time of his crucifixion. Jesus had no need to fear his enemies.

God has given each one of us a purpose and specific work to accomplish for him. As long as we’re doing our best to follow his plan for our life, we don’t need to worry about our safety. Nothing and no one on the earth can successfully interfere with God’s purposes. But it’s dangerous to leave the light of God’s truth and walk down a path of disobedience. It’s foolish to let ourselves be guided by the world’s standards and advice or by our own understanding if those things contradict God’s Word. That would be like traveling down a rocky road on a dark night with no source of light to guide us; we can expect to stumble and fall.

Any time we stray from God’s will, we make ourselves vulnerable to temptations, Satan’s traps, and spiritual deceptions, leading us to make unwise choices that can bring serious consequences. The only truly safe place to be is in the center of God’s will for our life. As long as we follow where he leads, we’ll be protected—even in situations that appear threatening or dangerous to human eyes. Letting our decisions and movements be shaped by obedience to God will set us free from fear concerning our welfare and safety. We may have to walk through some dark valleys on our life journey, but even in the shadow of death we have the security of knowing that we are never walking alone. The Light of the world is always right there with us.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me. Psalms 23:4 (NKJV)

Ask yourself: Am I walking in the safety of God’s will for my life, or have I strayed from the path of his commands?

Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers

Memorial Day or Decoration Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

 

John 15:13

For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends. – John 15:13 (The Passion Translation) 

There is no higher expression of love then to give up your very life – to be willing to leave family and friends behind, knowing death is immanent. To the many brave heroes who have gone before, thank you for your sacrifice of love.

Romans 13:7

So it is your duty to pay all the taxes and fees that they require and to respect those who are worthy of respect, honoring them accordingly. – Romans 13:7 (The Passion Translation) 

 

 John 13:34

“So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you.” – John 13:34 (The Passion Translation) 

Many joined the service to demonstrate love through military vigilance and self sacrifice. We are grateful to the service of these great heroes.

 

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The Last Call

From: Our Daily Bread

The Last Call

How the mighty have fallen! 2 Samuel 1:27

After serving his country for two decades as a helicopter pilot, James returned home to serve his community as a teacher. But he missed helicopters, so he took a job flying medical evacuations for a local hospital. He flew until late in his life.

Now it was time to say goodbye to him. As friends, family, and uniformed co-workers stood vigil at the cemetery, a colleague called in one last mission over the radio. Soon the distinctive sound of rotors beating the air could be heard. A helicopter circled over the memorial garden, hovered briefly to pay its respects, then headed back to the hospital. Not even the military personnel who were present could hold back the tears.

When King Saul and his son Jonathan were killed in battle, David wrote an elegy for the ages called “the lament of the bow” (2 Samuel 1:18). “A gazelle lies slain on your heights,” he sang. “How the mighty have fallen!” (v. 19). Jonathan was David’s closest friend and brother-in-arms. And although David and Saul had been enemies, David honored them both. “Weep for Saul,” he wrote. “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother” (vv. 24, 26).

Even the best goodbyes are oh-so-difficult. But for those who trust in the Lord, the memory is much more sweet than bitter, for it is never forever. How good it is when we can honor those who have served others!

Lord, we thank You for those who serve their communities as First Responders. We humbly ask You for their safety.

We honor the Creator when we honor the memory of those who honored Him.

I Follow . . .

From: Our Daily Journey

I Follow . . .

Read:

1 Corinthians 1:10-18
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Sadly, in the five decades I’ve been a believer in Jesus, I’ve known of several local churches that have split due to infighting. Leaders fight, and congregation members rally behind their chosen side. Then the feuding leaders prompt their supporters to form splinter congregations.

The church in Corinth was threatened by a partisan spirit (1 Corinthians 1:12). Addressing the feuding parties as “dear brothers and sisters,” Paul reminded them that they weren’t members of an organization, but family members (1 Corinthians 1:10). Paul didn’t use his authority as their founding pastor to demand compliance. Instead, in making his appeal “by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he reminded them that the church belongs to Jesus, not human leaders (1 Corinthians 1:9-13Romans 14:8-9). On the basis of loyalty to Jesus and love for the family of believers, Paul appealed to the quarreling parties to “live in harmony with each other. . . . [To] be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Quarrels often arise because leaders have conflicting convictions and priorities. But Paul reminds us to keep the focus on our overarching conviction and commission. We’re to be a part of the kingdom God is building, not our own version of it. There’s only one Savior, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of the world (1 Corinthians 1:13). And we have one priority: “To preach the Good News” (1 Corinthians 1:17).

In addressing disharmony, keep your focus on Jesus, the only Savior and perfect leader of the church (Acts 2:36). Only He deserves our unquestioned allegiance and devotion (Colossians 1:18-20). By God’s power and strength, may “we preach Christ crucified!” (1 Corinthians 1:23 NIV).

 

Unquestioned Revelation

By Oswald Chambers

Unquestioned Revelation

When is “that day”? It is when the ascended Lord makes you one with the Father. “In that day” you will be one with the Father just as Jesus is, and He said, “In that day you will ask Me nothing.” Until the resurrection life of Jesus is fully exhibited in you, you have questions about many things. Then after a while you find that all your questions are gone— you don’t seem to have any left to ask. You have come to the point of total reliance on the resurrection life of Jesus, which brings you into complete oneness with the purpose of God. Are you living that life now? If not, why aren’t you?

“In that day” there may be any number of things still hidden to your understanding, but they will not come between your heart and God. “In that day you will ask Me nothing”— you will not need to ask, because you will be certain that God will reveal things in accordance with His will. The faith and peace of John 14:1 has become the real attitude of your heart, and there are no more questions to be asked. If anything is a mystery to you and is coming between you and God, never look for the explanation in your mind, but look for it in your spirit, your true inner nature— that is where the problem is. Once your inner spiritual nature is willing to submit to the life of Jesus, your understanding will be perfectly clear, and you will come to the place where there is no distance between the Father and you, His child, because the Lord has made you one. “In that day you will ask Me nothing.”

The Word Became Flesh

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.      John 1: 14

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God with Skin On

From: Our Daily Bread

God with Skin On

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

My husband left for a month-long trip, and almost immediately I was overwhelmed by the needs of my job, our house, and our children. A writing deadline loomed. The lawn mower broke. My children were on school break and bored. How would I take care of all of these things on my own?

I soon realized I wasn’t on my own. Friends from church showed up to help. Josh came over to fix my lawn mower. John brought me lunch. Cassidy helped with the laundry. Abi invited my kids over to play with hers so I could get my work done. God worked through each of these friends to provide for me. They were a living picture of the kind of community Paul describes in Romans 12. They loved sincerely (v. 9), considered the needs of others rather than just their own (v. 10), shared with me when I was in need, and showed hospitality (v. 13).

Because of the love my friends showed to me, I remained “joyful in hope” and “patient in affliction” (v. 12), even the mild affliction of solo parenting for a month. My brothers and sisters in Christ became what one friend calls “God with skin on” for me. They showed me the kind of sincere love we ought to show to everyone, especially those in our community of faith (Galatians 6:10). I hope to be more like them.

God, thank You for placing us in communities. Help me to look out for others’ needs and to show hospitality.

Share your ideas of hospitality at odb.org.

To whom do I need to be “God with skin on” today?

The Life To Know Him

By Oswald Chambers

The Life To Know Him

The disciples had to tarry, staying in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost, not only for their own preparation but because they had to wait until the Lord was actually glorified. And as soon as He was glorified, what happened? “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). The statement in John 7:39— “…for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified”— does not pertain to us. The Holy Spirit has beengiven; the Lord is glorified— our waiting is not dependent on the providence of God, but on our own spiritual fitness.

The Holy Spirit’s influence and power were at work before Pentecost, but He was not here. Once our Lord was glorified in His ascension, the Holy Spirit came into the world, and He has been here ever since. We have to receive the revealed truth that He is here. The attitude of receiving and welcoming the Holy Spirit into our lives is to be the continual attitude of a believer. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive reviving life from our ascended Lord.

It is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit that changes people, but the power of the ascended Christ coming into their lives through the Holy Spirit. We all too often separate things that the New Testament never separates. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an experience apart from Jesus Christ— it is the evidence of the ascended Christ.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit does not make you think of time or eternity— it is one amazing glorious now. “This is eternal life, that they may know You…” (John 17:3). Begin to know Him now, and never finish.

 

Participating with Christ

From: Our Daily Journey

Participating with Christ

Read:

2 Peter 1:1-11
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8).

John Calvin (1509–64), in his commentary on 2 Peter 1:4, suggests, “The purpose of the Gospel is to make us sooner or later like God . . . a kind of deification.” Many scholars have speculated about what the reformer meant here. Did he really mean that in some mysterious way we can share God’s nature? Most agree that Calvin’s words are based on the idea of being “engrafted” into God through Jesus. Because of Christ living within us through His Spirit (see John 14:20), believers can pursue spiritual growth and transformation.

The opening of Peter’s second letter, likely written shortly before his martyrdom, contains a call to live a life set apart for God while growing in maturity. Because God has given His children all they need to live a life that honors Him through sharing “in his divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4), we should use our energy and effort to grow in Him (2 Peter 1:5). Because we’ve been called by God, we also need to “work hard” to live for Christ (2 Peter 1:10). How? By pursuing moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7). Then we’ll receive “a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom” (2 Peter 1:11).

But we don’t pursue these qualities on our own. All we need to live for God is found in Him (2 Peter 1:3). Through relying on His Spirit living within us, we can grow in these virtues. We can exercise self-control instead of lashing out; we can endure suffering with patience and hope; we can grow in knowing God through His Word. And in this way our lives will display the imprint of God and communicate His love and grace to a world hungry for it.

May we “work hard” to grow in Jesus—even as we rest in His loving care.

Generous Church

2 Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

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Generous Church

From: Our Daily Journey

Generous Church

Read:

Acts 2:42-47
All the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need (Acts 2:44-45).

Soldiers in the US Army are expected to live by seven values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. And new recruits are also expected to abide by all of these values—not just the ones they agree with. A private can’t say to a commander, “I like all of these values . . . except duty. I don’t want to do that.” I imagine that would result in a whole lot of push-ups!

Today’s passage provides us with a description of the values and characteristics of the first church. What makes this church so remarkable is its connection to Pentecost—it was birthed directly from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4,38). Because of this, the Acts 2 church remains a powerful inspiration for faith communities to this day.

Many of the characteristics of the early church are well known to us and still inform our church practices: teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. But there’s one quality of the early church we often overlook or even consciously try to push away: radical generosity. Members of the church were willing to sell their possessions and even homes to provide for one another (Acts 2:45). They “shared their meals with great joy and generosity” (Acts 2:46). This generosity was no less a product of the Spirit than the other characteristics of the early church we more readily embrace.

If we truly desire to be a faith community empowered by the Holy Spirit, then we must also submit when the Spirit leads us toward lavish giving. Although a costly discipline, generosity reflects our trust in the provision of God as well as our sacrificial love for one another. Because of the Spirit, we can reflect God’s generous hear

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Monuments and Memorial Day: Remembering Who We Are

Memorial Day is a day to remember those who’ve died serving in the U.S. military. Civil War veteran General John A. Logan called in 1868 for Americans to decorate the graves of those who fell during the “War Between the States;” the holiday has grown in scope since then and now commemorates the fallen from each of America’s wars.

Though Memorial Day is an American holiday, nations across the world have their own traditions for remembering the sacrifices of their soldiers. There’s something uniquely powerful about communal remembrance—gathering together as a family or nation to reflect on significant people and events of the past. It’s no surprise that memorial celebrations—military and otherwise—are common to many cultures throughout history, including the people of the Bible.

A famous example of a memorial celebration in the Bible can be found in Joshua 4:2-9. God commands the Israelite leader Joshua to set up a memorial to mark the event of the Ark of the Covenant crossing the Jordan River, to remind future generations of what had happened there:

“Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” — Joshua 4:2-9 (NIV)

In this case, God wanted the Israelites to remember his deliverance. The stone memorial served as a physical reminder of a shaping event in their history. Sometimes the memorial took the form not of a physical monument, but a shared activity, as in the case of the Israelite’s commemoration of their escape from Egypt.

Christians observe their own memorial celebrations, most notably in the “breaking of bread” that recalls Christ’s sacrifice—a ceremony that we observe with frequency:

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” — Luke 22 (ESV)

Reminders, bitter or sweet, are important to our culture and our history. They remind us where we’ve come from, and whose work got us to where we are. The philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes,” and we see this pattern throughout the Bible. Time and time again, when the Israelites “forgot” the Lord, they stumbled and were punished. See Psalm 106:10-14 for an example:

He saved them from the hand of the foe;
from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them.
The waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them survived.
Then they believed his promises
and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his plan to unfold.
In the desert they gave in to their craving;
in the wilderness they put God to the test. — Psalm 106:10-14 (NIV)

It’s important that we remember who we are and where we’ve come from. Americans make a point of remembering on Memorial Day. And as Christians, every day is a good day to remember, reflect on, and give thanks for what the Lord has done for us.

 

A Memorial Day Devotion for Christians

SIH STSTA ICONMemorial Day is a day that is set aside to remember, and honor, our brave soldiers who have given their lives to protect our land and keep us free.  It began as a day to honor our Civil War dead, but after World War I, it was expanded to include our war dead from all the wars in which America was involved.  Go to http://www.usmemorialday.org/ for more information.

According to http://www.historycentral.com/wars.html , our country has fought in 12 wars (not counting the Afghanistan War which brings the updated total to 13.)  In every one of these cases, we have asked the young people of our nation to be willing to give their lives in the name of freedom (for us and others in foreign lands.)    The sacrifices these young men and women have made can never be totally comprehended nor can they be repaid by us.

Just stop and think about a little of what these wonderful young people have given up for us.  At the very least, they have given years of their life, time away from their families, to serve their country which they love. They have given us any chance of setting down “roots”, having to move from base to base once every 3 to 4 years.   Many will be physically disabled the rest of their life, having the use of one or more of their limbs taken from them.   Scores have been mentally disabled resulting in them being unable to handle day to day living.   And thousands upon thousands have given the ultimate sacrifice, their life, so that we can continue to enjoy our lives living safely in a land of freedom.

We can never begin to understand what they went through, and are continuing to go through, all because they love their nation and the freedoms we take for granted everyday.  We can never begin to repay them and their families for the sacrifices they have made for us.  It seems as if saying “Thank You” just isn’t enough.

THE SCRIPTURE:

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

 

Be A Good Soldier For Christ

2   And the things that you have heard me say among many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be qualified to teach others as well. 
4A soldier refrains from entangling himself in civilian affairs, in order to please the one who enlisted him.…     2 Timothy 2:3
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A Day to Honor Life

From: CBN

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Memorial Day – to some it’s merely the beginning of summer and to others it’s a solemn day to remember those who have passed from this life. However, to the war veteran and to the families of fallen soldiers, Memorial Day carries significance so deep that words cannot express their hearts.

When we look into the eyes of those who still mourn these once vibrant men and women, we often sense their loneliness and pain. We hear them choke back tears as they simply say the ranks and names of their military brothers and sisters at a Memorial Day service. White gloves, dress uniforms, rigid posture, and perfectly precisioned salutes represent the reverence and respect flowing from within. Those who have been personally affected by war understand and appreciate this day of remembrance.

What should we say to those who sincerely honor this day? “Happy Memorial Day” doesn’t seem fitting. “I’m sorry for your loss” may be closer to appropriate. What would the fallen soldier want from their comrades and the rest of the country on this day?

In an often quoted Memorial Day speech given in 1884 by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the speaker ended his address with these words, “Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death — of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.”

The American soldier who gave his or her life for U.S. citizens to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness won’t be telling us how to observe the holiday. But I believe that Holmes’ proposition to “think of life, not death” would honor the fallen soldier. Their sacrifice follows the example of Jesus Christ laying down His life for our freedom. It’s selfless love for others – not so others can mourn forever, but live!

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16

Notice that in scripture and in military service, the willingness to give up one’s life is not dependent on the worthiness of the people who benefit from the honorable act. In a perfect world, all who receive freedom and grace would be worthy of such a sacrifice and full of gratitude. But that’s not the way it is anywhere on Earth or in Heaven.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8

We are blessed to be living in a free society. May we honor our American soldiers for the liberty we have in this country. May we also give thanks to Almighty God for the freedom we have to spend eternity with Him because of His gift of forgiveness through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

A Memorial Meal

By: Dianne Neal Matthews

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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.

[Jesus told his disciples,] “Do this to remember me.” (Luke 22:19)

The Good or The Best?

The Good or The Best?

By Oswald Chambers

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and physically gratifying possibilities will open up before you. These things are yours by right, but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you. This is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice.

Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight. The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. In this passage, it would seem that the wisest thing in the world for Abram to do would be to choose. It was his right, and the people around him would consider him to be a fool for not choosing.

Many of us do not continue to grow spiritually because we prefer to choose on the basis of our rights, instead of relying on God to make the choice for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eyes focused on God. And God says to us, as He did to Abram, “…walk before Me…” (Genesis 17:1).

 

Tossing And Turning

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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Tossing and Turning

From: Our Daily Bread

Tossing and Turning
Read: Psalm 4 | Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 22–24; John 8:28–59
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

What keeps you awake at night? Lately I’ve been losing sleep, tossing and turning on my bed, trying to work out a solution to an issue. Eventually I begin fretting about not getting enough rest to handle the challenges of the next day!

Sound familiar? Troubled relationships, an uncertain future, whatever it is—we all give in to worry at one point or another.

King David was clearly in distress when he penned Psalm 4. People were ruining his reputation with groundless accusations (v. 2). And some were questioning his competency to rule (v. 6). David probably felt angry for being treated so unfairly. Surely he could have spent nights stewing about it. Yet we read these remarkable words: “In peace I will lie down and sleep” (v. 8).

Charles Spurgeon explains verse 8 beautifully: “In thus lying down, . . . [David] resigned himself into the hands of another; he did so completely, for in the absence of all care, he slept; there was here a perfect trust.” What inspired this trust? From the start, David was confident that God would answer his prayers (v. 3). And he was sure that since God had chosen to love him, He would lovingly meet his needs.

May God help us to rest in His power and presence when worries threaten. In His sovereign and loving arms, we can “lie down and sleep.”

Dear Father, thank You for hearing me when I call. I surrender my worries to You and rest in Your power and presence.

We can entrust our cares to a wholly trustworthy God.

 

One

From : Our Daily Journey

One

Read:

Ephesians 2:14–3:13
Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people (Ephesians 2:14).

“Sometimes, going to church just seems irrelevant. After all, we listen to sermons via podcasts and can live-stream a church service . . . in our pajamas. Personally, I enjoy having access to so many Christian resources at the swipe of my finger on my iPhone. . . . I also meet in Christian community on Wednesday nights for small group Bible study. That’s good enough, right?” Those words, from a thoughtful post by Lindsay Blackburn, reflect the ambivalence many people feel about being part of a local church.

Paul wrote of the beauty of being “members of God’s family,” part of the “one new people,” “one body,” and one “house” that Jesus made possible on the cross (Ephesians 2:15-16,20). And Jesus referred to the church as the ekklesía—meaning “a gathered group.” But He also prayed that we would “all be one” (John 17:21).

So what does it mean for the church to be one? We’re one in Christ—“united” as one people (Ephesians 2:14). We’re one holy people—meaning that we’re sanctified, set apart for Him and to Him (Ephesians 5:26). We’re built on one foundation “of the apostles and the prophets”—on the message of salvation found in Jesus (Ephesians 2:203:5Matthew 5:17Revelation 21:14).

So what are we to do as one church in Christ? “Display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10). That wisdom flows from His plan to “[reconcile] everything to himself . . . by means of Christ’s blood” (Colossians 1:20).

May we “not neglect our meeting together” but continue to serve and grow with other believers (Hebrews 10:25). The church, both local and universal, is the one community God has established to reveal His love.

 

Neither Do I Condemn You

By: Brooke Keith, Author

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I’d heard it all week in my spirit, “Does anyone condemn you?”

The woman shook her head.

“Neither do I condemn you.” John 8:11 (NIV)

These words came from Jesus’s lips as He smiled down to the woman caught in sin, just moments before what might have been her stoning by masses and certain death. (If you are struggling with something you’ve done, read about it. It’s a riveting Bible story!)

Like the woman in the Bible, I too had been struggling with something. It was different, but all sins in the eyes of God are sins no less. So, heavily convicted by the Spirit and equal parts condemned by the enemy, I fell on my knees in broken surrender. My heart had never been so contrite to have sinned against God before.

The conviction I could handle. The condemnation I could not.

As my weeping turned to rejoicing, I heard the words again. “Neither do I condemn you.”

But Satan has been at his job a very long time. He’s a master of deception. Though Satan failed miserably, He even tried to trip up Jesus! Satan is smart. He is convincing. He twisted God’s Word against me. My heart inside me ached. I couldn’t sleep and when I did, I woke up with guilt unshakable, my heart racing. Not only was Satan warring against me in my waking hours, he was at it in my sleep too!

Sin is hard to talk about, isn’t it? It is and it is not because we don’t all sin, but because we all do. It is hard to call up a friend at 2 a.m. and say “I did XYZ.” Many of us know this because we have tried before and what we said found its way back to our ears. Other times, we have been the trust betrayers ourselves.

That’s why I did what anybody does at 2 a.m. when a question keeps them up at night. I asked my old friend Google, because Google can’t talk unless you have voice activation!

I had never used a prayer chat line before. I was nervous. I shut myself in the bathroom. I hid in secret to divulge the secrets of my heart. I felt strange as the rotating circle loaded, soon knowing why. The person on the other end of the rotating circle proceeded to tell me how devastating the effects of sin are, why I should feel shameful and then immediately began to pray for me to FEEL the magnitude of the guilt of my sins. WOW! I felt worse than ever. I wanted to remind her of Jesus’ words, but I bit my tongue. Maybe I heard in my spirit all wrong that week.

Had I never known Jesus, this would have been my only snapshot of Him. I knew better, but to be sure I wasn’t a big, fire-breathing monster, I tried one more prayer line.

“I’m iffy about this,” I said to another person I will never meet this side of heaven. “I have something I want to bring to the light. I really messed up…” Enter my spiritual dumping onto the ears of a stranger.

“Let me assure you that I have been there too,” Joan said. “Life is made up of seasons and we are equipped for them. You are in the middle of this, but just like me, you will come out the other side. This too shall pass. Every time you come to a season like this remember… God will always bring you through it.”

Simple words… until Joan quoted the Bible verse that had been in my spirit all week.

So why would God send me to the wrong place first?

He wanted to show me the difference in condemnation and grace. Condemnation says, “Crucify yourself over your sin.” Grace speaks peace. Grace says, “I have already been crucified in your place. There’s nothing to see here. Move along.”

Satan loves to keep us guessing. Are we forgiven? Can we trust God with our mistakes? Can we believe Him when He says, “Neither do I condemn you.”? Can we too strive to be the people who say those five healing words?

We can.

Why? Because all of us escaped our stoning. Because in what they thought would be His tomb, Jesus rolled away the stone. Because of this, there is some VERY Good News in your bad news.

Yes. I’m here to be your Joan.

Come to Jesus. You are in condemnation no longer. You are free to move along.

“If then the son may make you free, in reality, ye shall be free.” John 8:36 YLT

Looking To Jesus

Hebrews 12:1-2

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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Looking To Jesus

By: Charles Spurgeon

“They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.” Psalm 34:5

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

See there he sits in heaven, he has led captivity captive, and now sits at the right hand of God, for ever making intercession for us. Can your faith picture him today? Like a great high priest of old, he stands with outstretched arms: there is majesty in his demeanour, for he is no mean cringing suppliant. He does not beat his breast, nor cast his eyes upon the ground, but with authority he pleads, enthroned in glory now. There on his head is the bright shining mitre of his priesthood, and look you, on his breast are glittering the precious stones whereon the names of his elect are everlastingly engraved; hear him as he pleads, hear you not what it is?—is that your prayer that he is mentioning before the throne? The prayer that this morning you offered before you came to the house of God, Christ is now offering before his Father’s throne. The vow which just now you uttered when you said, “Have pity and have mercy,”—he is now uttering there. He is the Altar and the Priest, and with his own sacrifice he perfumes our prayers. And yet, mayhap, you have been at prayer many a day, and had no answer; poor weeping suppliant, you have sought the Lord and he has not heard you, or at least not answered you to your soul’s delight; you have cried unto him, but the heavens have been as brass, and he has shut out your prayer, you are full of darkness and heaviness on account of this, “Look to him, and be lightened.” If you do not succeed, he will; if your intercession be unnoticed, his cannot be passed away; if your prayers can be like water spilt on a rock which cannot be gathered up, yet his prayers are not like that, he is God’s Son, he pleads and must prevail.

For meditation: The prayers of the true seeker and of believers are not a waste of effort; they are not like letters lost in the post, but reach the throne of God (Acts 10:4Revelation 5:8). But only praying in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is accepted; prayers addressed to saints, to false gods or to the dead are always turned away—“not known here.”

 

To the Lonely

From: Our Daily Journey

To the Lonely

Read:

1 Kings 19:1-21 
The people of Israel have broken their covenant with you. . . . I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too (1 Kings 19:10).

In 2017, two surveys highlighted the growing number of lonely people in the UK. One report claimed that some eight million men felt lonely at least once a week, with an estimated three million experiencing it every day. Another survey of more than 2,000 people suggested that nearly 75 percent of young people with disabilities suffered from loneliness.

While some believe isolation is particularly prevalent today—the price paid for our modern lifestyle—feelings of loneliness have been around for a long time. The prophet Elijah, who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Ahab, frequently felt isolated and lonely (1 Kings 18:1–19:21). God used him to defeat 450 prophets of Baal and in answering his prayer for rain brought an end to a three-year drought (1 Kings 18:19-46). Despite this, when Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, threatened to kill him, Elijah ran scared. All alone, he headed into the wilderness and prayed, “I have had enough, LORD. . . . Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died” (1 Kings 19:1-4).

Although God sent an angel to comfort and sustain Elijah, he still felt alone (1 Kings 19:5-9). “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too” (1 Kings 19:10).

As feelings of isolation threatened to overwhelm Elijah, God made Himself known to His servant (1 Kings 19:11-13), encouraging him to return to the work he’d been called to and reminding him he wasn’t alone (1 Kings 19:14-21).

God gave Elijah renewed hope and purpose in his time of loneliness. He’s there for you in your loneliness too.

 

Calling Down the Light

By: Eddie Jones, Author

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When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ John 8:12

Each morning I make it a point to request from God a ray of light for my day, a beam of divine guidance for my steps.

My prayer includes; “May your kingdom come, may your will be done, on earth and in my life, in the same way your will is done in heaven. Lead me to where you would have me to serve you today.”

I figure if God does in my life exactly what He thinks is best, if He places me in the middle of His purpose, then all I have to do is enjoy the challenges, tend the small flock entrusted to my care and say “thanks” for the opportunity to work for Him.

Yesterday, while I sat on the bench beneath the willow tree, I lifted my eyes and cocked my ears, listening for God’s voice. Gray clouds moved swiftly overhead as a cold wind blew down from Canada. Pine tops tipped, their branches rustling as if to whisper; “It’s cold, boy. Go get warm.” As I opened my Bible, the dog pawed at my knee, begging me to take her inside so she could lie by the gas logs. I stroked her ears and told her to sit, that God and I weren’t through talking.

I enjoy my outdoors, buddy time with God, but in the winter His Garden feels more like a Popsicle than paradise. It’s here on the bench beneath the willow tree that I get my work orders for the day. I study each verse of Scripture, searching for promises, commands, warnings, praise, prayers and words of comfort. When I sense His voice whispering, “Pay attention, this is important,” I highlight the verse and write it in my journal. Then I ponder its meaning for me that day. I am the light of the world. Whoever follows… will have the light of life. Light of the world… light in the world… those who follow the light find life.

While I read those words yesterday, a ray of sunshine fell across my shoulder. The rest of the yard remained cloaked under the shadow of clouds but on my bench the sun shone, warming me just enough to remain in His Word a while longer and ask, “Who needs your light, Lord? Bring them into my life that I might reflect your glory into their darkness.”

That’s all I need, really; God’s Will in my life, sun on my shoulder and His Son in my heart. The rest of the world may grow cold in their love towards God and each other, but if His light guides my day, there will be warmth enough for those I meet and radiance enough for my steps.

Today, ask God to shine on you. Ask that His will be done in your life; that His kingdom rule in your home and heart. Then snuggle up with the Good Book and listen to His words.

 

Up A Tree

Luke 19

Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

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Up a Tree

From: Our Daily Bread

Up a Tree

In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. Jonah 2:2

My mother discovered my kitten Velvet atop the kitchen counter, devouring homemade bread. With a huff of frustration, she scooted her out the door. Hours later, we searched our yard for the missing cat without success. A faint meow whistled on the wind, and I looked up to the peak of a poplar tree where a black smudge tilted a branch.

In her haste to flee my mother’s frustration over her behavior, Velvet chose a more precarious predicament. Is it possible that we sometimes do something similar—running from our errors and putting ourselves in danger? And even then God comes to our rescue.

The prophet Jonah fled in disobedience from God’s call to preach to Nineveh, and was swallowed up by a great fish. “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me’ ” (Jonah 2:1–2). God heard Jonah’s plea and, “commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (v. 10). Then God gave Jonah another chance (3:1).

After exhausting our efforts to woo Velvet down, we summoned the local fire department. With the longest ladder fully extended, a kind man climbed high, plucked my kitten from her perch, and returned to place her safely in my arms.

Oh the heights—and the depths—God goes to in rescuing us from our disobedience with His redeeming love!

Dear God, how we need Your rescue today!

Jesus’s death on the cross rescued us from our sins.

Looking like Jesus

From: Our Daily Journey

Looking like Jesus

Read:

Matthew 7:1-6,15-23
Not everyone who calls out to me, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter (Matthew 7:21).

Years ago I knew a legislative staffer who suddenly joined a church. That seemed out of character for him, so I asked him about it. “I’m thinking about running for office,” he admitted, “and my boss told me it looks good.”

Contrast that story with Max (not his real name), who works in a country where it’s dangerous to declare your belief in Jesus. Yet he started a house church to share Christ with his neighbors.

It takes genuine commitment to attend Max’s church. But what about those who identify as believers in areas where it’s normal to call yourself a Christian? Should we judge the validity of each other’s faith?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presented a paradox. He said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1). But just a bit later He warned, “Beware of false prophets,” and told us how to detect them (Matthew 7:15). “A good tree produces good fruit,” He said, “and a bad tree produces bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17). Then He added, “Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matthew 7:20). But isn’t that judging?

In the first instance Jesus is instructing us to be self-discerning. We have no business judging others because our focus should be on what we need to repent of. In contrast to that, Jesus teaches us to be wary of false teachers. We’re to judge their deeds to see if they can be trusted as brothers and sisters in Christ. And clearly, they can’t. Their bad fruit proves their false religion (Matthew 7:17-18).

I didn’t need to judge my friend; I needed to share my faith with him. Ultimately, the key question to ask isn’t, “Is that person a true believer?” but rather, “Do I have a passion to obey Jesus?”

 

The Explanation For Our Difficulties

By Oswald Chambers

The Explanation For Our Difficulties

If you are going through a time of isolation, seemingly all alone, read John 17 . It will explain exactly why you are where you are— because Jesus has prayed that you “may be one” with the Father as He is. Are you helping God to answer that prayer, or do you have some other goal for your life? Since you became a disciple, you cannot be as independent as you used to be.

God reveals in John 17 that His purpose is not just to answer our prayers, but that through prayer we might come to discern His mind. Yet there is one prayer which God must answer, and that is the prayer of Jesus— “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22). Are we as close to Jesus Christ as that?

God is not concerned about our plans; He doesn’t ask, “Do you want to go through this loss of a loved one, this difficulty, or this defeat?” No, He allows these things for His own purpose. The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical and fault-finding, and more insistent on our own way. The things that happen either make us evil, or they make us more saintly, depending entirely on our relationship with God and its level of intimacy. If we will pray, regarding our own lives, “Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42), then we will be encouraged and comforted by John 17, knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom, accomplishing what is best. When we understand God’s purpose, we will not become small-minded and cynical. Jesus prayed nothing less for us than absolute oneness with Himself, just as He was one with the Father. Some of us are far from this oneness; yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him— because Jesus prayed, “…that they all may be one….”

 

A Humbled Servant

I Peter 5:1-11

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

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A Humbled Servant

From: Our Daily Journey

A Humbled Servant

Read:

1 Peter 5:1-11
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).

For the past decade, I’ve served in East Africa and have gained far more understanding of my heart, motives, and attitudes than I would have had I not taken the step of faith to live and work in a foreign land. Among the more humbling insights has been my occasional tendency to assume that my knowledge and resources are superior to those in the developing nation where I’m serving.

While there are principles and resources that are beneficial for me to pass along, when I allow a condescending spirit to overshadow the gospel, I’m displaying pride, not humility. According to 1 Peter 5, pride is in direct opposition to the servant posture God desires for us to take in our relationships with others (1 Peter 5:5-6). As the apostle wrote, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Aware of my shortcomings, I’m drawn to Peter’s message to church elders that gives us a model for ministry built on grace. He begins by establishing common ground with the elders. He and they, he explains, are witnesses “to the sufferings of Christ” and “will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 5:1).

Leaders in ministry are called to lovingly oversee “the flock that God has entrusted to [them]” and to do so with a willing, not begrudging, attitude (1 Peter 5:2). When our motive is to eagerly serve God and others, we’ll be prepared to lead with a good example and be less inclined to “lord it over” (domineer over, act arrogantly toward) the people we’re called to walk alongside (1 Peter 5:3).

As we allow scriptural principles to influence our motives and guide our work, God can work in and through us to humbly, effectively serve others and honor Him (1 Peter 5:5).

 

A Prayer of Forgiveness

From: Our Daily Bread

A Prayer of Forgiveness

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27–28

In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to integrate an all-white public elementary school in the American South. Every day for months, federal marshals escorted Ruby past a mob of angry parents shouting curses, threats, and insults at her. Safely inside, she sat in a classroom alone with Barbara Henry, the only teacher willing to instruct her while parents kept their children from attending school with Ruby.

Noted child psychologist Robert Coles met with Ruby for several months to help her cope with the fear and stress she experienced. He was amazed by the prayer Ruby said every day as she walked to school and back home. “Please, God, forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing” (see Luke 23:34).

The words of Jesus spoken from the cross were stronger than the hatred and insults hurled at Him. In the most agonizing hours of His life, our Lord demonstrated the radical response He taught His followers: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you . . . . Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:27–28, 36).

This remarkable approach is possible only as we consider the powerful love Jesus has given us—love stronger than even the deepest hatred.

Ruby Bridges helped show us the way.

Father, You have so graciously forgiven us. Help us today to forgive others who have wronged us.

Bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.

 

Having God’s “Unreasonable” Faith

By Oswald Chambers

Having God’s

When we look at these words of Jesus, we immediately find them to be the most revolutionary that human ears have ever heard. “…seek first the kingdom of God….” Even the most spiritually-minded of us argue the exact opposite, saying, “But I must live; I must make a certain amount of money; I must be clothed; I mustbe fed.” The great concern of our lives is not the kingdom of God but how we are going to take care of ourselves to live. Jesus reversed the order by telling us to get the right relationship with God first, maintaining it as the primary concern of our lives, and never to place our concern on taking care of the other things of life.

“…do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25). Our Lord pointed out that from His standpoint it is absolutely unreasonable for us to be anxious, worrying about how we will live. Jesus did not say that the person who takes no thought for anything in his life is blessed— no, that person is a fool. But Jesus did teach that His disciple must make his relationship with God the dominating focus of his life, and to be cautiously carefree about everything else in comparison to that. In essence, Jesus was saying, “Don’t make food and drink the controlling factor of your life, but be focused absolutely on God.” Some people are careless about what they eat and drink, and they suffer for it; they are careless about what they wear, having no business looking the way they do; they are careless with their earthly matters, and God holds them responsible. Jesus is saying that the greatest concern of life is to place our relationship with God first, and everything else second.

It is one of the most difficult, yet critical, disciplines of the Christian life to allow the Holy Spirit to bring us into absolute harmony with the teaching of Jesus in these verses.