Tag Archives: Children

God’s Delivering Ways

Romans 3:24-26

whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Hebrews 2:17

Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Micah 7:18

Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.

Acts 13:38

“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,

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God’s Delivering Ways

From: Our Daily Journey

God’s Delivering Ways

Read:

Deuteronomy 1:29-31
You saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child (Deuteronomy 1:31).

A missionary pilot from an African nation visited our church to talk about how God was using the airplane our congregation had helped purchase for his ministry. He’d studied aviation in our city and, upon graduation, returned to Africa to use the plane as an air ambulance. The roads in his country are in bad condition, and there’s a distressing lack of medical care in the rural villages from which he transports patients. Without air transport, people would die because they have no access to basic medical care or medicine.

Growing up, the pilot had next to nothing—he didn’t even have shoes as a boy. His family often had to resort to eating a certain kind of tree root just to survive. But God provided for him every step of the way and continually delivered him from seemingly no-way-out situations.

His story reminds me of the way God cared for the Israelites in the desert—every step of the way, over and over again. In Deuteronomy 1:31, Moses reminded the Israelites, “You saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for a child. Now he has brought you to this place.”

I can look back on my life and see how God has gone ahead of me (Deuteronomy 1:30). But when in the middle of waiting for His deliverance, I can become discouraged, thinking He’s forgotten me. The truth is, God hasn’t forgotten. He’s a good Father caring for me, His child (Deuteronomy 1:31). While I seldom know how provision or deliverance will come, my missionary friend from Africa reminds me that God is always, always trustworthy and will take care of us. His delivering ways are always present.

Sin laid on Jesus

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.’ Isaiah 53:6

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 2:22–25

There was a relationship between our Lord and his people, which is too often forgotten, but which rendered it natural that he should bear the sin of his people. Why does the text speak of our sinning like sheep? I think it is because it would call to our recollection that Christ is our Shepherd. It is not, my brethren, that Christ took upon himself the sins of strangers. Remember that there always was a union of a most mysterious and intimate kind between those who sinned and the Christ who suffered. What if I say that it is not unjust but according to law that when a woman gets into debt her husband should bear it? And with the church of God sinning, it was but right that her Husband, who had espoused her unto himself, should become the debtor on her behalf. The Lord Jesus stood in the relationship of a married husband unto his church, and it was not, therefore, a strange thing that he should bear her burdens. It was natural for the next of kin to redeem the inheritance, it was most seemly that Immanuel, the next of kin, should redeem his lost church by his own blood. Recollect that there was a union closer even than the marriage bond, for we are members of his body. You shall not punish this hand of mine without making the sentient nature which dwells in the brain to suffer therewith; and does it seem strange to you that when the inferior members of the body have transgressed, the Head should be made to suffer? It seems to me, my brethren, that while substitution is full of grace, it is not unnatural, but according to the laws of everlasting love.

For meditation: The identification of the Lord Jesus Christ with sinners whom he would call his brothers was entirely appropriate (Matthew 3:13–15Hebrews 2:10–14,17). For God to forgive repentant sinners is not a matter of justice abandoned but of justice applied (1 John 1:9).

Christ manifesting himself to his people

By: Charles Sourgeoon

“Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” John 14:22

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

I was reading a short time ago of a Mr Tennant. He was about to preach one evening, and thought he would take a walk. As he was walking in a wood he felt so overpoweringly the presence of Christ, and such a manifestation of him, that he knelt down, and they could not discover him at the hour when he was to have preached. He continued there for hours, insensible as to whether he was in the body or out of the body; and when they waked him he looked like a man who had been with Jesus, and whose face shone. He never should forget, he said, to his dying day, that season of communion, when positively, though he could not see Christ, Christ was there, holding fellowship with him, heart against heart, in the sweetest manner. A wondrous display it must have been. You must know something of it, if not much; otherwise you have not gone far on your spiritual course. God teach you more, and lead you deeper! “Then shall ye know, when ye follow on to know the Lord.” Then, what will be the natural effects of this spiritual manifestation? The first effect will be humility. If a man says, “I have had such and such spiritual communication, I am a great man;” he has never had any communications at all; for “God has respect unto the humble, but the proud he knoweth afar off.” He does not want to come near them to know them, and will never give them any visits of love. It will give a man happiness; for he must be happy who lives near to God. Again: it will give a man holiness. A man who has not holiness has never had this manifestation. Some men profess a great deal; but do not believe any man unless you see that his deeds answer to what he says.

For meditation: The above account may be a blessing or a temptation to you! If we seek experiences for their own sake, Satan will ensure that we get some; our business is to seek to know Christ more and more (Philippians 3:102 Peter 3:18).

 

Spring Cleaning

Nina Keegan, Author, Source

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Recently, and with great caution, I opened the door to my storage closet with the best intentions of doing some spring cleaning. I took one look inside at the cardboard boxes, bags of who-knows-what, a plethora of abandoned “tchotchkes” – you know, the things we haven’t even seen in a couple years, all that stuff we couldn’t possibly live without.

“Sigh,” overwhelmed by the task, I promptly declared, “This is not happening today!”

Closing the door, I declared my spring cleaning officially finished. Out of site, out of mind.

We tend to stuff things away, thinking we need to hold on to them just in case. We essentially become bogged down with weighty, old inventory. We stuff it all in there until alas, the door can finally close it all off to the world.

Our minds are so much like those over-stuffed, messy closets. What are we clinging to that is holding us back from a life of victory?

There is so much abandoned, but not forgotten junk we need to rid ourselves of. We are often overflowing with pain, deep hurt, unforgiveness, and bitterness. Or perhaps our closet is lined with approval addiction, fear of punishment, fear of failure, self-disqualification, trauma, grief, and loss.

Pain is the place where we can always meet authentically with God. He knows where you are, who or what has hurt you, and why. He is never surprised by what’s in your closet. We cannot hide anything from God.

It is time to clean house and let everything go. It is time to make God our priority over our pain. God wants to meet you right there, in your closet. God wants to be the light in the darkness and restore you on every level.

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 NLT

What have you endured for the sake of peace? What have you stuffed down because the process of letting go can be so painful?

Pain brings up what’s really at the core of who we are. It pushes us past faking things for the sake of avoiding conflict. When we are face-to-face with the pain, which bin will we finally place it in?

It’s time to ditch the obligation of pretending everything is OK. It’s time to banish fear of disappointment. God is in charge! He wants us to be spotless, wiped clean, empty vessels, ready to be filled with His glorious power and purpose for life.

Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21 ESV

Seek Him first, “God where are you in this?”

He’s is never not where we are.

Even through the pain, God is always good. He is always working out a testimony in us that ultimately brings us confidence in who He is. Being in the war with God (bringing Him into our mess) gives us a clear path to His faithfulness and promise of restoration. This makes it abundantly clear to us that our victory will ultimately glorify God.

Go into your closet, meet God there! It’s time for some spring cleaning! God is waiting for you!

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret. Matthew 6:6 KJV

Never Abandoned

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

______________________________________

Matthew 28: 19-20
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded
you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”    

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Never Abandoned

From: Our Daily Journey

Never Abandoned

Read:

2 Corinthians 4:6-18
We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:9).

The mood in the church was heavy as believers in my city gathered to mourn the horror of a racist demonstration in America and its deadly aftermath. As we united to grieve and pray, a question seemed to hang in the air: What does it mean to hope during days like this—when evil is on full display and when the justice of God’s kingdom seems far away?

The heavy silence was broken by an invitation to worship. The pastor reminded us that throughout history, God’s people have sung to Him in seemingly impossible situations—in prisons, in wartime, in the face of death. And as broken hearts poured out in worship, something changed. A peace beyond understanding entered the places of pain as the tender touch of the Comforter (2 Corinthians 1:3) reminded us that His power and love is indeed far greater than even the deepest evil.

Paul described this inexplicable confidence as God’s light—the light that shines in darkness—shining in our hearts and through the fragile “clay jars” of our lives (2 Corinthians 4:6-7). Because the Spirit of the resurrected One lives in us (2 Corinthians 4:10), even when “pressed on every side by troubles,” “perplexed,” “hunted down,” “knocked down,” believers have a hope that cannot be destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

“That is why we never give up” (2 Corinthians 4:16), Paul concluded. Our transformed lives are living proof that God is at work bringing new creation, justice, and restoration into His world (2 Corinthians 5:17). So even as we “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), we find in Him the courage to witness boldly to our Savior’s love (2 Corinthians 5:20). And we stake our lives once more on the truth of the gospel—that His love will never be destroyed and can never be defeated (Romans 8:25-39).

 

Then What’s Next To Do?

By Oswald Chambers

Then What’s Next To Do?

Ask if you have not received. There is nothing more difficult than asking. We will have yearnings and desires for certain things, and even suffer as a result of their going unfulfilled, but not until we are at the limit of desperation will we ask. It is the sense of not being spiritually real that causes us to ask. Have you ever asked out of the depths of your total insufficiency and poverty? “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…” (James 1:5), but be sure that you do lack wisdom before you ask. You cannot bring yourself to the point of spiritual reality anytime you choose. The best thing to do, once you realize you are not spiritually real, is to ask God for the Holy Spirit, basing your request on the promise of Jesus Christ (see Luke 11:13). The Holy Spirit is the one who makes everything that Jesus did for you real in your life.

“Everyone who asks receives….” This does not mean that you will not get if you do not ask, but it means that until you come to the point of asking, you will not receivefrom God (seeMatthew 5:45). To be able to receive means that you have to come into the relationship of a child of God, and then you comprehend and appreciate mentally, morally, and with spiritual understanding, that these things come from God.

“If any of you lacks wisdom….” If you realize that you are lacking, it is because you have come in contact with spiritual reality— do not put the blinders of reason on again. The word ask actually means “beg.” Some people are poor enough to be interested in their poverty, and some of us are poor enough spiritually to show our interest. Yet we will never receive if we ask with a certain result in mind, because we are asking out of our lust, not out of our poverty. A pauper does not ask out of any reason other than the completely hopeless and painful condition of his poverty. He is not ashamed to beg— blessed are the paupers in spirit (see Matthew 5:3).

Crabgrass in the Garden

By: Dee Aspin, Author

Rose Garden

I gripped with two hands and pulled hard this sunny, after-the-rain, April morning. Still, the green shoots with white suction bumps barely uprooted, laden with crabgrass — cling-ons — the villain in my rose garden. I glanced at my neighbor at work across my backyard patio area.

“You should have seen this plot when I first got here.”

Jill, bent at the waist, hummed as she clipped roots from my thriving acacia bush. Recently, she jumped at my offer to transplant some purple blooms to her yard.

“I spent many a weekend hovered over this minefield …” I held up the unsightly weed.

“Yup,” Jill shook her head. “If you don’t plant something else in soil, whatever is there, will take hold. It’s difficult to deal with.” Because of her childhood on a farm, she knew soil.

No wonder this plot is a nightmare. I shoveled a foot down and hit resistance — little roots. The people who lived here before me did nothing to maintain this backyard. The roots had a deep hold on the soil, and although I weeded every year, it seemed I would never rid them completely.

I long for a weed-free backyard. It won’t happen. Crabgrass comes with this house, in this yard. My last house didn’t have crabgrass. It had deadpan soil that stunted the growth of anything living. Trees died. This move was the epitome of exchanging one set of problems for another.

My new job had some difficult personalities my last job didn’t. I had considered changing jobs, but I liked my work. So, I went to a counselor this week to get advice working with critical people in my life — at work and home. I get crabby just being around them.

“They won’t change at this age,” she frowned. You’ll just have to learn new ways of dealing with them.

I’ll just have to deal with crabby dispositions like this crabgrass, I reflected now, while I tugged on another stubborn weed. Maybe they will irritate me less if I learn how to keep my heart free of a sour attitude. Although this plot is difficult, roses and acacias continue to flourish in spite of the underlying problem. The soil is good. The people with critical spirits are good too.

If I overlook the weeds on my job, maybe I’ll see the beauty of their spirit. After all, I have some ingrained areas too. Hopefully, they overlook my roots of selfishness and pride. We can produce beauty in our lives if we allow God to garden our hearts and minds.

A pastor once preached, “We all have little creatures that like to creep in and gobble up the fruits of the spirit God intends for us to live with through Him — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness … goodness. (Galatians 5:22) Healing starts when we release resentment and unforgiveness.”

“See that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)

Christ our commander

 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

Hebrews 9:28 

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Revelation 1:7 

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

2 Peter 3:10 

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Matthew 24:44 

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

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Christ Our Commander

From: Our Daily Journey

Christ Our Commander

Read:

Matthew 8:5-13 
The officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8).

During the US Civil War, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain was tasked with defending the left flank of the Union Army. Running low on ammunition and knowing that the outcome of the battle depended on the defence of their position, Chamberlain ordered his soldiers to fix bayonets and charge the enemy on foot. As outlandish as this order must have seemed, his soldiers obeyed his orders and pushed back their attackers. Through their courage, they prevented the defeat of the Union Army.

It’s difficult to understand Matthew 8 without some insight into the military in which the “Roman officer” served (Matthew 8:5). Roman soldiers were well known for their obedience. They were expected to carry out any order their commanding officer issued or face extreme punishment. The Roman officer in Matthew 8 would have been well-acquainted with this type of absolute authority.

And he recognized that this is the type of authority Jesus commands. In the same way that the officer gave orders and they were immediately carried out, so it was with Jesus. With just a word from the Savior, the Roman officer’s servant was “healed that same hour” (Matthew 8:13). Jesus demonstrated His authority even over nature, commanding waves with just a word (Mark 4:39). Like a general over his troops, Jesus’ authority over all things is absolute.

While this is certainly a humbling realization, we should remember that the mighty authority of Christ is matched by His wisdom and love for us. A general might order his troops to destroy, but Jesus used His power to heal the Roman officer’s servant, to quell the waves that threatened His disciples, and to conquer our enemies of sin and death by His sacrifice on the cross. We serve Christ—our compassionate Commander.

 

Heather Kenrick Carr June 8, 2018
Heartbroken but Not Hopeless
HEATHER KERNICK CARR, COMPEL Member

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

Denial is a wrecking ball. It’ll clear some space for a while, but sooner or later it’ll double back on you and then … look out.

I sat on our red loveseat in darkness, unable to bring myself to switch on the lamp. All I could think was, How did this happen?

Inside the brick walls of our suburban ranch, the rooms were still and quiet.

In the silence, denial became impossible. The emptiness I’d carried around for days split open, unearthing long-forgotten pain.

The inadequacy that scarred my childhood, and the sense that I’d never be good enough knotted in my throat. I swallowed hard as if sheer force of will could change reality.

I leaned forward, elbows on my knees and chin cupped in my hands. With my children tucked between cotton sheets, the tears spilled like a balm.

They ushered in the unmistakable moan of grief. Days before, a loved one’s choices plowed through our family. The consequences crushed a gaping hole into the family landscape and my heart.

The impact was devastating. The family I envisioned forever changed. My hopes and dreams reduced to rubble. My grief was so deep, I physically hurt.

I wonder if you would tell me I’m not alone. That you’re hiding from heartbreak, too. I wonder if you’ve felt the sting of words that can’t be taken back — or spoken at all. If your loss seems impossible to overcome.

Maybe someone you love did the unthinkable and no amount of prayer, whispered or groaned, will undo what was done.

I wish I could erase our pain. I can’t. We have an enemy who plots to distract us with disappointment and bury us alongside our losses. But I know this: God is near.

When we’re suffering, it’s tempting to believe God has abandoned us. We may mistake a faith-filled life for a life free from pain. The Bible is brimming with stories of flourishing faith despite painful circumstances.

David, a man after God’s own heart, was anointed the next king of Israel. But that didn’t happen right away, so instead of wearing a crown, he ran for his life as then-King Saul pursued him. As David fled, he penned today’s key verse: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

The Hebrew word David chose to describe God’s presence, karov, means God is close enough to touch. God is close enough to touch the hurt in our lives, too. When He does, our pain serves a purpose.

A year later, I found myself on a sofa again. I leaned in as tears flowed from my friend’s eyes. She told a story like my own. When I wrapped my arms around her, I discovered something I hadn’t noticed before. God used my suffering to cultivate compassion and strength within me.

My struggle prepared me to walk right into hers. It gave me the confidence to look into her eyes and assure her she’s not alone. If I faced this and grew stronger, she could, too.

Jesus described it this way, “Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you��ll have it forever, real and eternal” (John 12:24, MSG).

Hope sprouts in the hurt. When we face truth with God, pain becomes possibility. Heartache becomes an open door to experience God with deeper intimacy — an invitation to have more of Him, real and eternal.

If you’re heartbroken, it’s OK to let the tears fall and hand what remains to Jesus. Even in the desolate landscape of a grieving heart, hope takes root.

Dear Lord, help me accept the difficult circumstances in my life. Thank You for staying by my side, even when the hardships of life seem to have come between us. I hand You my heartache today, and I trust You to use my pain for a greater purpose in others’ lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

‘Broken And Faithful’

Author: Sara Groves

(as told to CBN.com’s Jennifer E Jones, 2005)

“I began building a case against God shortly after my first son was born. Everything seemed unfair. The world felt very chaotic. I had a friend who lost a baby, and a very young family member died tragically, just as he was getting his life together. It was a hard series of events.

I have nothing to compare to Job, but we all wonder why bad things happen to good people. I was trying to swallow the “sovereignty pill” and was having a hard time choking it down.

At the same time, I was exhausted so I didn’t have the reserves to fight the good fight.

I never rebelled. I served the Lord faithfully all my life. I have great parents who taught me about worldview and C.S. Lewis. I didn’t have rebellion until my late 20s, early 30s, and that’s gonna look a lot different than 16-year-old’s. But it’s still a rebellious heart.

I was really tired. I was done fighting. I had a lot of ideas about guilt, and my conscience never stopped. It was always hammering me — how I could do this or that better. I remember telling a friend, “I locked my conscience in the attic and duck-taped her mouth.” I had a year to two years where I didn’t care.

There were things that I knew were true. I would say, “I know You’re God. I know I’m a fool but I just don’t understand.”

God said, “Finally, we’re talking. This is a real conversation.”

I went to the Bible to find comfort, and I found a lot of good men who had committed their lives to the Lord, getting beat up. I used them as witnesses in my case.

I started cross-examining Job. You don’t just give a man a second family and say that’s okay. He lost his kids, and that hit a tender point with me. I was worried about us on the road. I told someone, “If something happens to Kirby [my son], I don’t think my faith would survive that.” A good friend replied, “If you can create a scenario where your faith can’t survive, then it’s not surviving now.”

My faith had been exposed, and I really didn’t believe God. He’s not working these things out for my good. It sounds too trite. How does that deal with these people and their pain?

I said to the Lord, “You have to help me believe in You because I don’t have it in me to do it.”

The Lord took me back to these men, and He cross-examined my witnesses. I found that I can tell Job all I want, “Curse God and die.” But he still stands up in the middle of this trial and says, “I know my redeemer lives.”

So I asked God what did Job know to say this in the middle of these trials? What did David know to say, “Even though wicked men prosper all around me, who have I in heaven but You? You are the strength of my life and my portion forever. It is good to serve God”?

And then there’s Paul, who’s in chains, saying everything gained — everything that appears to be good in life is garbage compared to knowing Him. It was like he told me, “Sara, I met the Man on the road to Damascus, and I want to know Him again. I want to know Him in His suffering. This is where I grow. This is where my life means something in this intersection of joy and pain.”

I had to take them at their word because I can’t change their testimony. And by the end of that year, it was my testimony as well. I was like David. “The wicked look pretty happy to me. Surely I’m keeping my hands pure in vain. But if I’d said those things out loud I would have betrayed Your children because I was wrong. Following You, doing the right thing, pursuing purity — it’s hard to understand why. But Your principles for life are good, and being with You is good.”

At the end of the day, God won the case, and I left with a great sense of urgency. All these things I thought I wanted — security, safety for my family, comfort — they’re all good things but they’re not the Kingdom. They’re not the whole story that God is telling.

I don’t want my kids to see me here full of bitterness and cynicism. I want them to see me passionate about the Gospel even if that’s dangerous. I want them to see me walking in faith. I want to serve Him, saying, “I’ve swallowed the sovereignty pill, and You are sovereign.”

Give Glory To God

The Ten Lepers

14 When Jesus saw them, He said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were on their way, they were cleansed. 15 When one of  them saw that he was healed,he came back,praising God in a loud voice.16 He fell face down at Jesus’ feet in thanksgiving to Him—and he was a Samaritan.…

 

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Thank You

From: Our Daily Journey

Thank You

Read:

Luke 17:11-21
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” (Luke 17:15).

When my grandmother was in her twenties, she became very ill. Nothing she or the doctors tried healed her. She believed there was a God but didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. One day a co-worker told her to visit a house church nearby and ask the people to pray for her. In her desperation, my grandmother decided to go. And after the prayer time, she was healed! This miracle changed her life. Since then, she’s been thanking Jesus daily for healing her body and her soul.

My grandmother’s experience reminds me of the ten men with leprosy Jesus passed by on His way to Jerusalem. They were surely desperate (Luke 17:12). A person who had leprosy in that day was considered unclean, both physically and spiritually, and was supposed to live secluded—outside the city (Leviticus 13:45-46). When the ten men saw Jesus from afar, they recognized His spiritual authority and begged Him to show them mercy.

When Jesus heard their plea, He told them to go and show themselves to the priests, following the Levitical law (Luke 17:14Leviticus 14:2-6). They obeyed, and on the way they were healed! Only one returned to show his gratitude toward Jesus, however. He didn’t take God’s mercy for granted and found time to thank Jesus to show his appreciation (Luke 17:15-16).

The leper who showed gratitude experienced the restorative work of God’s kingdom through Jesus. He was commended for his faith and received God’s grace, a further healing of his soul (Luke 17:19).

Even when we don’t get physical healing or the answers we desire, may we also welcome Jesus to reign in our hearts and always find reasons to thank Him for what He’s done and is doing. He’s always worthy of our gratitude.

When the Going Gets Tough

By: Joe Stowell, Author

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.” James 1:12

There I was driving along, half hypnotized by the steady flow of traffic. I glanced at the car ahead of me. The bumper sticker read, “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping!” I chuckled. But then I thought: Could you really call yourself “tough” if you headed for the mall every time life went sour? As I drove, I pondered how to really finish that sentence, “When the going gets tough, the tough . . . do what?”

A quick Internet search on the phrase returned endless possibilities for completing the thought. Here are some of the wackiest endings: “When the going gets tough, the tough “go to Asia,” or, the tough “start knitting.” One even said, “The tough lighten up!”

All of these alternative endings are humorous in their own way. But, they also represent ways to deal with “tough going.” For example, shopping could symbolize immediate gratification. Racing off to Asia might mean you’re running away from the problem. Starting to knit is a picture of distracting yourself from the trouble at hand. And if you simply lighten up, or laugh it off—that’s kind of like denial.

I don’t think any of us would get very far in life if we repeatedly chose those responses to trouble. They all contradict the traditional ending to the phrase. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” The tough hang in there; they persevere. James 1:12 says: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life.”

In the Greek language, the word perseverance is literally made up of two words. One means “to remain.” The other word means “under.” That tells us that perseverance is the ability to remain under the pressure of difficulty with a good spirit. As Christians, we have a responsibility to bear the stress until God accomplishes His purposes. This gives us the assurance that our suffering has meaning.

In fact, God intends that we, in time, will blossom under the pressure. That’s why James exhorts us to submit to the trial and let perseverance finish its job of sanctification. In James 1:4, the text tells us, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” And, check out Romans 5:1-21 where Paul says that perseverance produces character!

In addition to the blessings that God brings to us when we persevere, perseverance also allows others to see Christ at work in our lives. With the growing interest in spirituality today, people are watching us more than ever before. They are looking to see if there is anything of value in our walk with Jesus. Or, are we just like anyone else when the going gets tough? They want to know, would a Christian use a string of four-letter words if she lost the big sale? Would a Christian booze it up after a crazy stressful day at the office? What would it take for a Christian to throw in the towel on his marriage? When we invite God to help us through situations like these, He furnishes the power to persevere so that onlookers can see that our Jesus is worth being faithful to regardless of the stress.

The next time a problem comes up and you’re tempted to go shopping, gallivant off to Asia, or knit yourself into oblivion, remember: Since God has a purpose in your problem, it’s worth hanging in there! So, if you are a follower of Jesus, your bumper sticker announces, “When the going gets tough, the tough hang in there!”

Fearless Love

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” Ephesians 4:2: “Be completely
humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another inlove.” 1 Peter 4:8: “Above
all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
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Fearless Love

From: Our Daily Journey

Fearless Love

Read:

1 John 4:1-21
Dear friends, since God loved us [so] much, we surely ought to love each other (1 John 4:11).

Reminiscent of an era we wish were bygone, individuals consumed with hatred and prejudice carried torches and shouted slogans from a hideous time in America’s racial history as they marched across a university lawn. Barely twenty-four hours later, the governor of the state in which the school is located declared a state of emergency due to violent clashes. Only the base depravity of sin decries the life of another as less valuable, less human—and only the power of the cross brings us deliverance.

Today, those who claim to speak truth but walk in deception abound, just as they did in the days when the apostle John was writing (1 John 4:1). Significantly, especially in the ongoing reality of racism, John reminded his audience that the Messianic truth of Jesus, God come in human flesh, would be the profession of faith that would unite all believers (1 John 4:2-3). But the primary characteristic of their actions would be love (1 John 4:7-8).

God calls us to love as He loves. Why? These defining points of the life of the believer remind us how God’s pure compassion for us caused Jesus not only to take on our humanity but also to deliver us from its brokenness (1 John 4:9,11). He loved us enough to want to be with us, to share in our pain, and ultimately to free us from the desolation of our own sins (1 John 4:10). In turn, we have been commissioned, even commanded, to love those whom He loves (1 John 4:12,21John 13:34)—even when they betray us.

The depravity of humanity breeds hatred. We can’t rightly be ambassadors of Jesus’ kingdom unless we instead begin with love. Through Jesus’ power, may we fearlessly love both those who have the love of the Father living in them and those who do not.

 

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.
-–Selected

 

A Word to the Wise and Blessed

By: Sharon Elliott

We have heard the old adage: A word to the wise is sufficient. That means it shouldn’t take being hit in the head by a brick for us to understand a lesson. We ought to be able to hear of other folks’ foibles and avoid them by not going down those same roads. The iron is hot; don’t touch it or you’ll get burned.

The story of King Uzziah is an iron-is-hot-word-to-the-wise story. Second Chronicles, chapter 26 lays out his meteoric rise and pathetic plunge. He gained the throne when he was only 16 years old. Since he “did what was right in the sight of the LORD” and “sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God,” we are told that “as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper” 2 Chronicles 26:4-5 (NKJ). In the 52 years that he reigned, the list of his accomplishments grew impressively:

  • He made war successfully against the Philistines.
  • He broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod (Philistine cites) and built cities for his own people.
  • He had the Ammonites bringing him tribute.
  • He built towers.
  • He dug many wells for the amazing amount of livestock he had.
  • He hired farmers and vinedressers because he loved the soil. (He was able to indulge his own passion and pastime.)
  • He had an army of fighting men loyal to his cause for whom he supplied abundantly so they could carry out their task productively.

In all of this, “God helped him,” (verse 7) and “his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped till he became strong.” (verse 15)

Uzziah’s story should have ended there on an up note, but alas, verse 16 reads,

“But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.”

After all those accomplishments, after all the praise and fame, after all that help directly from God, Uzziah felt the need to overstep his boundaries. When the priests tried to warn him about his trespass, he became furious with them (verse 19). Immediately, God protected the office of the priesthood and the honor of His name, and punished Uzziah.

“King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD…” (verse 21).

No matter who we are or how much fame we have, God won’t allow us to dishonor His ways.

We have battles to fight, walls to break down, tribute to receive, towers to build, wells to dig, pastimes to enjoy, and loyal people who will fight for us for whom we can supply need. As long as we seek the Lord, God will help us, prosper us, and cause our fame to spread. It is His good pleasure to marvelously help us until we become strong. Consider these verses:

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32 (NKJ)

Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (The Message Bible)

So a word to the wise and the blessed. God doesn’t mind blessing and helping us. However, let us not allow success and fame brought to us by God go to our heads. Just one moment of thinking more of himself than he ought – of stepping out of his lane – cast Uzziah into a shameful plunge from which he was never able to recover. We are to continue to move forward in God’s amazing blessings, but keep His will in view and keep His honor foremost.

A Blind Man’s Plea

A Blind Man Receives His Sight

35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. 36 And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. 37 So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

39 Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

40 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, 41 saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”

42 Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

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A Blind Man’s Plea

From: Our Daily Bread

A Blind Man’s Plea

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Luke 18:38

Some years ago a traveling companion noticed I was straining to see objects at a distance. What he did next was simple but life changing. He took off his glasses and said, “Try these.” When I put his glasses on, surprisingly my blurred vision cleared up. Eventually I went to an optometrist who prescribed glasses to correct my vision problem.

Today’s reading in Luke 18 features a man with no vision at all, and living in total darkness had forced him to beg for a living. News about Jesus, the popular teacher and miracle worker, had reached the blind beggar’s ears. So when Jesus’s travel route took Him by where the blind man was sitting, hope was ignited in his heart. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v. 38) he called. Though without sight physically, the man possessed spiritual insight into Jesus’s true identity and faith in Him to meet his need. Compelled by this faith, “He shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (v. 39). The result? His blindness was banished, and he went from begging for his living to blessing God because he could see (v. 43).

In moments or seasons of darkness, where do you turn? Upon what or to whom do you call? Eyeglass prescriptions help improve vision, but it’s the merciful touch of Jesus, God’s Son, that brings people from spiritual darkness to light.

Father, open the eyes of my heart to clearly see who Jesus is and what He can do.

The Father’s delight is to give sight to those who ask Him.

 

God’s Assurance

By Oswald Chambers

God’s Assurance

My assurance is to be built upon God’s assurance to me. God says, “I will never leave you,” so that then I “may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6). In other words, I will not be obsessed with apprehension. This does not mean that I will not be tempted to fear, but I will remember God’s words of assurance. I will be full of courage, like a child who strives to reach the standard his father has set for him. The faith of many people begins to falter when apprehensions enter their thinking, and they forget the meaning of God’s assurance— they forget to take a deep spiritual breath. The only way to remove the fear from our lives is to listen to God’s assurance to us.

What are you fearing? Whatever it may be, you are not a coward about it— you are determined to face it, yet you still have a feeling of fear. When it seems that there is nothing and no one to help you, say to yourself, “But ‘The Lord is my helper’ this very moment, even in my present circumstance.” Are you learning to listen to God before you speak, or are you saying things and then trying to make God’s Word fit what you have said? Take hold of the Father’s assurance, and then say with strong courage, “I will not fear.” It does not matter what evil or wrong may be in our way, because “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you….’ ”

Human frailty is another thing that gets between God’s words of assurance and our own words and thoughts. When we realize how feeble we are in facing difficulties, the difficulties become like giants, we become like grasshoppers, and God seems to be nonexistent. But remember God’s assurance to us— “I will neverforsake you.” Have we learned to sing after hearing God’s keynote? Are we continually filled with enough courage to say, “The Lord is my helper,” or are we yielding to fear?

 

Three Secrets to Finding Happiness

By: Janet Perez Eckles, Author

happiness

“Will happiness ever come?” I asked myself during sleepless nights. What is happiness, anyway?

That emotion made sense for others, but not for me. My world had turned dark. Blindness set in at age 31 and happiness was lost. Lost back in my days as a sighted person. Now, only gloom awaited me.

But how wrong I was. The journey from devastation to deep joy wasn’t easy nor fast, but doable. A reminder of that transition, that profound transformation, was stirred during my recent trip to Mexico.

The airport escort guided me as we entered the airplane. The flight attendant handed immigration forms to passengers. “One per family please.”

I sat by the window and after all initial announcements ended I pressed the light to call for assistance.

“Could you please help me fill this out?” I asked the flight attendant who came to the seat.

“Sure. Come with me.”

I gathered my stuff and followed him to the front of the airplane.

“You can sit here,” he said.

I settled in the seat, spacious and comfortable. I stretched out my legs, plenty of room. We finished the form and he asked if I wanted to stay in that seat. I was in first class. “Are you kidding?” I said with a silly grin, “Sure, would love that.”

I made myself comfortable and began to compare. Rather than getting the medicine-size cup of water I would get in the other section of the plane, I got a fresh, cold bottle of water. Rather than the tiny bag of peanuts, I got my choice of appetizers. The trip was, well, unexpectedly delightful.

I had made that same transition after I lost my sight. I had been taking tiny doses of happiness—in relationships, vacations, shopping, activities and superficial pass-times. I thought that was how one finds happiness.

But joy was different. When God offered me a seat in the VIP section of His love, I accepted. And the trip through life turned better.

Painful turbulence came, but His power calmed my heart. With Him as my pilot, guiding my life, momentary, superficial activities masked as happiness belonged in the coach section. Now a sweet, lasting, deep joy danced in my life.

He offers you the very same. He has a seat reserved just for you. And if you desire to leave behind the search to find happiness and instead relish in joy, complete joy that shines through your days, here are three steps we can all follow:

1. Change our perception. Recognize we don’t find happiness. We create it. We craft it by turning the key to unlock our heart and receive the joy God offers. His desire is that we live in complete joy. When happy moments, happy relationships, and happy results come to an end, joy remains.

2. Celebrate the promise God gave. During tough moments, painful stages, it’s not our strength, but His power that lifts us up and carries us through. Relying in that guarantee is what revives joy once again.

3. Call upon Him when sadness, gloom or fear draws near. Calling the powerful name of Jesus silences destructive thoughts of self-pity, loneliness, and discouragement. With them out of the way, joy will glow again.

Happiness ends in time. Joy lasts as long as God’s love. He promised: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:9-11).

Father, not human happiness, but your joy is what my soul hungers for. Thank you for the promise, thank you for the joy that fills my days no matter what comes my way. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

The Wonderful Grace Of Jesus

1 Peter 5:10

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

1 Peter 5:12

Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God Stand firm in it!

1 Peter 4:10

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

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Extending Amazing Grace

From: Our Daily Journey

Extending Amazing Grace

Read:

Titus 3:1-11
This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings (Titus 3:8).

After coming to faith in Jesus, John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace,” made the dramatic change from being a slave trader to influencing the eighteenth-century movement to abolish slavery in England. But he didn’t fully turn to Jesus in the moments when he first famously cried out to God when he thought his ship was sinking. In fact, Newton admitted that he likely wasn’t a true believer until much later.

Newton’s faith would grow and flourish after his first close friendship with a believer, someone who not only instructed him theologically, but also helped him to receive the gift of grace. No longer crippled by his fear of God, Newton would never be the same.

Newton’s story illustrates the need for believers to find mentors in the faith, a truth reflected in Paul’s letter to Titus, where the apostle instructed this church leader to remind the believers in Crete of their new life in Christ. No longer were they “foolish and disobedient” or “slaves to many lusts and pleasures” (Titus 3:3). Instead, they’d been saved, not because of their behavior, but because of God’s mercy (Titus 3:5). In His grace, God had not only cleansed their sin but through the Spirit given them “a new birth and new life” (Titus 3:5).

Paul wanted Titus to “insist on these teachings” (Titus 3:8) so the believers could leave their old life behind and embrace the things of the kingdom of God. They would need mentors like Titus to help them live with Christ-like gentleness and humility.

We can take encouragement from stories like that of John Newton and the church in Crete. Not only can our faith in God be strengthened through fellow believers, but we too can be used to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Never-forsaking God

By Oswald Chambers

The Never-forsaking God

What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

“I will never leave you…”— not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.

“I will never…forsake you.” Sometimes it is not the difficulty of life but the drudgery of it that makes me think God will forsake me. When there is no major difficulty to overcome, no vision from God, nothing wonderful or beautiful— just the everyday activities of life— do I hear God’s assurance even in these?

We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing— that He is preparing and equipping us for some extraordinary work in the future. But as we grow in His grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, at this very moment. If we have God’s assurance behind us, the most amazing strength becomes ours, and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life.

 

Talk to Me

From: Bob Seagress, Author

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“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14 (NASB); “Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NASB)

I was walking in my backyard among our palm trees on a beautiful sun-filled Arizona morning. Worry had stolen thankfulness from my heart because I didn’t know how to protect my much-loved trees from what I had read about that morning: voracious beetles were eating the famous palm trees of Pasadena.

Even though we live surrounded by farms and agriculture in the northern part of the Phoenix valley; I was worried about our little grove of palm trees. I was lost in concern that those nasty Pasadena beetles might be planning a trip over the mountains from California to Arizona.

Strangely, I began to hear, “Talk to Me.”

I had heard the same words several times last week as I was intently struggling to write monthly articles for publishers I’m committed to. I had begun wondering whether I was having brain issues. Having experienced a massive stroke and two other life-threatening medical problems within the last year, I thought perhaps I had more damage than I was aware of. Then, it dawned on me that maybe the Lord was trying to get my attention, so I started to pray.

I explained my concern and asked Him to take care of my palm trees. I felt at peace and trusted Jesus as I prayed in His name, as John 14:13-14 had told me. I felt confident because Jesus had promised that if I would ask Him directly for “anything in His name,” He would do it. Feeling free to ask for protection for my palm trees, I claimed the power of Jesus’ name.

To be honest, I felt a bit childish in talking to Him about such a small concern. But, I’ve discovered that being childlike in Jesus’ presence brings comfort and relaxation.

I came to understand that my Lord wanted me to stop getting lost in intently being concerned about how to change things by myself. Spending a good part of my life isolating from my emotions and how much I needed both Jesus and other’s help has caused the loss of much joy for both myself and my family. Having been raised to never show anyone when you are hurt, or afraid; I had thought my heavenly Father also expected this of me.

My palm trees taught me that I usually didn’t talk to Jesus as a good, trustworthy friend (John 15:14) who was concerned about what was bothering me. I was afraid of bothering Him with small things because He is so important and deals with such important things. My talking about beetles seemed to be a self-centered attitude.

Then, my heart opened in a new way to Jesus —I felt He loved me and wanted to talk to me about everyday life. He wanted to know what was bothering me, even if was beetles. With this understanding came wonderful warmth and relaxation.

I learned that if God’s children will talk to Jesus about what tightens them up and leave it with Him, they will start learning about what prayer really is. We will find a peace and relaxation that nothing in this life provides. Our families will stop missing out on a lot of joy and peace that we forfeit when we don’t talk to Jesus personally about our strain, worries, and fears.

Claiming the power of Jesus’ name during our prayers, we are strong in the trust that Jesus is in charge and will deal with what is bothering us. Talking to Jesus about everyday life is a recipe for satisfaction.

Something Greater Than Luck

The Greatest thing to hear during Jesus’ time was that “He is coming into your village.”
He brought hope and healing.
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Out of Luck

From: Joe Stowell

For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11

An oft-quoted movie line comes from Napoleon Dynamite. The line closes the film, after Napoleon’s brother, Kip, gets married and rides off on horseback with his new bride. If you’re a closet Napoleon fan (or have a 14 year old in your home), you know it well:

“Lucky-y-y!”

I don’t want to spend a lot of time analyzing Napoleon Dynamite, but I do want to talk with you about “luck.” First, it’s important to know that the words luck and, for that matter, coincidence are not in God’s vocabulary. God’s hand is at work in every situation, coordinating every detail to accomplish His purposes for His glory and our good. No event is random. No moment is beyond His notice or beyond His control. Christian thinkers and writers have often called this the “providence” of God and, given its importance, let’s think through its implications for our lives.

At one extreme, the providence of God is challenged by post-modern thinkers who tell us that everything happens by chance. For them, life has no ultimate meaning and our only goal is to scrape together enough pleasure and possessions to create some semblance of purpose and enjoyment in life. With such an empty perspective on life, it’s no wonder that lives end up being a string of “sex-capades,” or the pursuit of new and strange pleasures. It answers the question why binge drinking on college campuses is at an all-time high.

At the other end of the spectrum is the distortion of God’s providence by assigning everything in life to “fate”—a fate that portrays us as victims of circumstances entirely outside of our control, leaving us to twist in the whims of a capricious being who manipulates our lives for his own amusement.

It’s time for us to get a biblical view about luck, randomness, fate, and the providence of a good and powerful God!

The God described in the Bible loves His creation passionately and has plans for His people that are supremely good. Not plans of calamity and despair, but plans that are good. If you believe in the providence of God, all of history is moving to a grand and glorious end—the crushing of Satan and evil and the emergence of the new heaven and earth, where all is good and righteous. Where life is full of joy, peace, comfort, and happiness in the presence of God—forever!

I’ll be the first to admit that trusting in God’s providence is hard to do when it comes to difficult circumstances over which I have no control. God’s work is often behind-the-scenes, hidden from our view. He doesn’t give a play-by-play on everything He is doing to coordinate the details of His providential plans. In fact, often His work is most clearly seen in the rearview mirror. But I’ve looked back enough times to see and trust that my life is not a product of good or bad luck, or of random coincidences. It is divinely shaped and guided by the providential hand of God toward a wonderful conclusion.

So today, let’s choose to align our perspective and even our vocabulary with God’s. No more “luck” and no more “coincidences”! It won’t make for memorable movie quotes, but it will make for an infinitely more meaningful and biblically lived life!

 

A Present Preview

From: Our Daily Journey

A Present Preview

Read:

Matthew 13:31-35
Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field” (Matthew 13:31).

I know of family members who open one small gift on the eve of their birthdays. This makes for a fun “preview” of the excitement of opening the rest of the gifts the next day.

Unwrapping one of the many gifts to come parallels one of the great mysteries about God’s kingdom. Even as Jesus announced the “Good News”—the arrival of God’s kingdom on earth (Mark 1:15)—He explained that the kingdom of God would not come all at once. He likened it to a tiny seed that would eventually become a great tree (Matthew 13:31-32). Today, we often describe this tension as “already, but not yet”.

Already. Jesus has defeated the curse of sin and death that opposes God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:20). New creation began in a powerful way the morning Jesus rose from the dead. All that God has promised began to come true, available to be experienced through Christ. But it has yet to arrive fully, to pervade all creation. That time will come in the future (Ephesians 1:10).

Not yet. In the meantime, Jesus told us, life will have its difficulties. On the eve of His crucifixion, He warned His followers, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” But He was careful to connect His warning to hope: “Take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Jesus didn’t encourage His followers to “take heart” because life was going to get easier, but because the broken, disheartening aspects of life won’t have the last word. The good news of God’s kingdom holds the final say! Christ’s resurrection marked the turning point toward an end to all that is broken.

So take heart. Though it may not always look like it, little pieces of God’s kingdom are slowly falling into place.

 

 

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.
–Selected

“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

Helping Others Without Grumbling

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(Pictures of people helping others without grumbling)

No Bother

No Bother

Read:

Mark 10:13-16 
Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children (Mark 10:14).

Four-year-old David climbed into bed one night and folded his hands to pray. “Dear God, thank You for Lego Star Wars,” he said. “General Grievous has four lightsabers! Watch.” He stood up on the bed and began a dramatic rendition of a battle in the air using imaginary lightsabers. His mom tried not to laugh as she watched. David finished his performance, dropped back down on the bed, and folded his hands again. “Amen!”

Children approach God so differently, don’t they? As adults, we sometimes worry about bothering God with the little things. But we can actually go to Him for anything! In fact, we’re encouraged to “pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6).

In Mark 10, parents who wanted their little ones to be blessed came to Jesus, but the disciples were sending them away, not wanting them to bother Him (Mark 10:13). But Jesus responded, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15).

As adults, we’re prone to feel as if we have to earn the right to approach God and enjoy life in His kingdom. But children receive the kingdom as a gift. They can remind us that all we really have to do is receive what Jesus offers.

Let’s learn from the children in our lives how to receive the gift of God’s kingdom. God loves us so much that He cares about the things we find exciting, things that grab our attention or capture our imagination. Don’t be afraid to “bother” God by thanking Him and praying about the little things. If it matters to you, it matters to Him, because He cares for and loves you!

 

Are You Obsessed by Something?

By Oswald Chambers

Are You Obsessed by Something?

Are you obsessed by something? You will probably say, “No, by nothing,” but all of us are obsessed by something— usually by ourselves, or, if we are Christians, by our own experience of the Christian life. But the psalmist says that we are to be obsessed by God. The abiding awareness of the Christian life is to be God Himself, not just thoughts about Him. The total being of our life inside and out is to be absolutely obsessed by the presence of God. A child’s awareness is so absorbed in his mother that although he is not consciously thinking of her, when a problem arises, the abiding relationship is that with the mother. In that same way, we are to “live and move and have our being” in God (Acts 17:28), looking at everything in relation to Him, because our abiding awareness of Him continually pushes itself to the forefront of our lives.

If we are obsessed by God, nothing else can get into our lives— not concerns, nor tribulation, nor worries. And now we understand why our Lord so emphasized the sin of worrying. How can we dare to be so absolutely unbelieving when God totally surrounds us? To be obsessed by God is to have an effective barricade against all the assaults of the enemy.

“He himself shall dwell in prosperity…” (Psalm 25:13). God will cause us to “dwell in prosperity,” keeping us at ease, even in the midst of tribulation, misunderstanding, and slander, if our “life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). We rob ourselves of the miraculous, revealed truth of this abiding companionship with God. “God is our refuge…” (Psalm 46:1). Nothing can break through His shelter of protection.

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(Picture of Abraham listening to God’s Voice)

From: Streams In The Desert

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.”

Listen To God and Be Obedient

 ( Pictures of Bible people who stopped and listened to God)

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Stop

Stop

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

My friend and I sat in the sand, near the ever-rhythmic ocean. As the sun sank in the distance, wave after wave curled, paused and then rippled toward our extended toes, stopping just short each time. “I love the ocean,” she smiled. “It moves so I don’t have to.”

What a thought! So many of us struggle to stop. We do, do, do and go, go, go, somehow afraid that if we cease our efforts we will cease to be. Or that by stopping we will expose ourselves to the ever-present realities we work to keep at bay.

In Psalm 46:8–9, God flexes His omnipotent muscles, putting His power on display. “Come and see what the Lord has done . . . . He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.” God is a busy God, who works to create calm within the chaos of our days.

And then in verse 10 we read, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Of course it’s possible to know God while running here and there. But the psalmist’s invitation to cease striving beckons us into a different kind of knowing. A knowing that we can stop—and still be—because God never stops. A knowing that it is God’s power that gives us ultimate value, protection, and peace.

Dear God, help me to find my rest in You.

We rest well when we’re in the loving arms and perfect will of God

 

June 1, 2018
How to Stop Arguing
KAREN EHMAN

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)

Last week, my 19-year-old decided to head out on an adventure. Ever the nature-lover, he bundled up and drove three hours north to spend a few hours hiking and stargazing.

His final destination was Wilderness State Park, a 10,000-acre lush parcel of land that boasts wildlife including bobcats, mink, muskrats, otters, American black bears and even wolves! It’s also been designated a dark sky preserve, where rules restrict light pollution to allow for the best viewing of the night atmosphere.

While I loved seeing my son so excited to gaze at the heavens that rather chilly night, my mind kicked into mama-mode. I worried about him being all alone. In the dark. However, since he’s an adult, I couldn’t forbid him to go. I did, however, strike a compromise and he agreed to turn on the “share my location” feature on his phone so I could track where he was at all times. And yes — also alert the authorities if he failed to return.

He had a glorious time that night simply walking and looking up at the night sky. Because there was no light pollution to dilute the dark, the stars and constellations were the most vivid he’d ever seen. Stars shine brightest when they are up against the pure blackness of night.

The Apostle Paul declares that Christians who behave as God’s Word instructs shine like stars in the universe, especially when they’re placed alongside those whose behavior is dark and sinful. Philippians 2:14-16 states:

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”

To understand the assertion Paul is making in this passage, let’s work our way through it backward.

He says Christians are to hold firmly to the word of life. The phrase “word of life” refers to the words of life contained in Scripture — especially the life-changing message of the gospel.

How are we to hold to these words? Firmly. We may think this depicts us holding tightly — which it does, in part. However, the original Greek phrase means both to hold tight and to hold forth. We as believers should be holding forth the Word, living it out before others and sharing the gospel whenever we can.

We’re told we will shine like stars. Our behavior as children of God will be visibly detected next to the behavior of unbelievers, which is often warped and crooked. Just like the stars my son saw that night, others will take note of the brightness of the light — the clashing contrast between the godly behavior of Christians and the pollution of sin displayed in the world.

When we look at the very beginning of this passage, however, we’re given the key to how all of this counter-culture different behavior begins. It begins when we choose to refuse to grumble or argue. Oh, it doesn’t just say we should occasionally refrain from such verbal misbehavior. Read it again.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing. In the Greek, the word everything means … everything!

Choose not to grumble when you feel your home or possessions aren’t as nice as your neighbors, but be thankful that you have food, clothing and shelter.

Choose not to argue with your co-worker or family member over something trivial, but discuss it in a calm, civil tone instead.

Choose not to grumble when performing chores around the home or running errands for the third time this week. Instead, be grateful you’re well enough to perform such tasks.

Choose not to argue on social media, attempting to make your point with a zing that might sting a little, proving your position is completely correct and the other person is way off base.

Our behavior as Christians can stand out to the world, holding forth the word of life, showing the way of salvation. But it all begins when we watch our words: choosing gratitude over grumbling and refusing to get tangled up in a verbal spat.

This, friends, is how we shine the light of Jesus in the world.

Father, please empower me to refrain from grumbling and complaining. I want my behavior to reflect Your Word, holding it forth to shine so others may find their way to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Hide and Seek

John P. King, Author

girl-hide-and-seek

I don’t know about you, but for me, waiting is tough! I hate to wait. Why is waiting so hard? Because waiting implies that we do not have control over our circumstances or the timing of events in our lives. We like to think that we own our destiny, yet if we are honest we would admit that we can barely see beyond today.

We might have plans and dreams, but really, today are we where we thought we would be five, 10, or 15 years ago? So who is to say where we will be in the future? Only God knows that. In my experience, He usually remains rather silent on the issue of disclosing what is to come. He allows us to walk day by day and sometimes those days seem to drag out. Whether there is something we really want to do, or even when we feel like we have no direction whatsoever, the times and seasons of our lives can become unbearable.

Can become unbearable, if we let them. Psalm 27 is a wonderful Psalm that can help us through those difficult, unexplainable times. In this passage, David is expressing angst over the adversaries in his life but he also lets the deep cry of his heart come out. It is a cry that is centered on his desire to simply be with God.

“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” Psalm 27:4 (NASB)

More than anything, David wanted to be with the Lord. Verses 8 and 9 continue the thought:

“When you said, ‘Seek my face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.’ Do not hide your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!” Psalm 27:8-9 (NASB)

The Lord had given David the challenge – “Seek my face.” David understood the challenge and knew that sometimes, seeking God’s face is easier said than done. Why? Because as was mentioned earlier, our plans and dreams don’t always turn out as we expected. Sometimes, it appears God plays a game of hide and seek. Finding Him is not as simple as it may seem. It takes work to find God.

David closes the Psalm with a great encouragement.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13 (NASB)

There was a firmly rooted conviction in David’s heart – no matter how tough, bizarre, or long the days seemed, he knew he was going to see the goodness of God in his life. Holding fast to this truth allowed him to endure and, quite literally, changed the rules of the game from “hide and seek” to “wait and seek.” David goes on to say in Verse 14 (NASB),

“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”

If we believe that God has good things for us, we will be willing to wait for them. Courage will give us the strength to wait for God while we seek him. Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? Just like in the real game of hide and seek, everyone wants to be found. Those in the best hiding places will eventually reveal themselves if the seeker is patient. If by faith we seek God by waiting for Him, He will inevitably come to us.