Tag Archives: Christ

God’s Encouragement

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Encouragement to Pass the Baton – Crosswalk Devotional


Top 10 Bible Verses About Mercy With Commentary

By Laura Bailey, Crosswalk.com

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” – 2 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV

Recognizing the handwriting on the front of the card, a grin quickly spread across my face. The person behind this well-timed letter of encouragement? A wise, older spiritual mentor who had invested countless hours encouraging and spurring me on in various ministry avenues. Often times with notes just like the one in my hand.

It had been one of those weeks, and really, the past few months had been difficult in ministry. Our church was experiencing a time of transition, the congregation constantly changing, causing a deeper strain and commitment on already maxed-out members to keep serving through this uncertain time.

In this particular season, our church experienced great loss among our elderly serving saints, some rejoicing in Heaven while others were confined to their homes. We deeply felt the absence of these spiritual powerhouses, their physical contributions, their rich godly wisdom, and their deep love for the Lord and His people.

As I read over the card from my mentor, a woman I playfully call my “church grandmother,” tears pricked my eyes. She wrote to let me know she was praying for me, that I would have strength and wisdom as I served. She closed the letter with warm regards and unexpected biblical commissioning from 2 Timothy 4:1-2, “I’m passing the baton to you.”

Paul’s letter to Timothy was his way of passing on the honor, privilege, and great responsibility of teaching the church. This charge to Timothy contained the Greek word diamartyromai, meaning obligation. Paul’s word choice implies that he desired Timothy not only to listen but ready himself to obey. In the subsequent verses, Paul urged Timothy to prepare to teach the Gospel in all seasons, to all people, in times of prosperity and adversity.

The inspiration for the final words in my mentor’s letter came from Paul’s final words as he passed the baton to Timothy because his earthly life would soon come to an end. With these words, Paul encouraged Timothy to persevere and remember the gospel as he had modeled. Paul and Timothy had a mentor relationship, a father/son bond, and a deep friendship. Paul loved Timothy and wanted to see him succeed in his earthly ministry, but he knew from experience serving the Lord is filled with opposition and hardship.

Paul’s final words of advice, as he reiterated the passing of his ministry leadership to Timothy, “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5) Paul passed down wisdom from years of experience; keep calm, preserve through the trials, share the Good News, and complete the calling of Christ on your life. As we read through other accounts of Timothy, we see that he did heed Paul’s wisdom. He grabbed the baton of faith, ran the race well, and persevered.

My mentor and the Lord knew I would need encouragement and commissioning to navigate and persevere in ministry. May we strive to be people with arms and hearts open to receiving this great commissioning from the saints who have run their race and finished strong. And may we be faithful in looking for opportunities to pass the baton of faith when the time comes.

Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle

Sermon: Faith and Life

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’ 2 Peter 1:4

Suggested Further Reading: Colossians 3:1–10

Rejoice in this, brethren, you are made partakers of the divine nature, and all these promises are given to you in order that you may show this forth among the sons of men, that you are like God, and not like ordinary men; that you are different now from what flesh and blood would make you, having been made participators of the nature of God. The other result which follows is this, ‘Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’ Ah, beloved, it were ill that a man who is alive should dwell in corruption. ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead?’ said the angel to Magdalene. Should the living dwell among the dead? Should divine life be found amongst the corruptions of worldly lusts? A member of Christ’s body found intoxicated in the streets, or lying, or blaspheming, or dishonest! God forbid. Shall I take the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? How can I drink the cup of the Lord, and drink the cup of Belial? How can it be possible that I can have life, and yet dwell in the foul tomb of the world’s lusts? Surely, brethren, from these open lusts and sins you have escaped: have you also escaped from the more secret and more delusive temptations of Satan? O, have you come forth from the lust of pride? Have you escaped from laziness? Have you clean escaped from carnal security? Are you seeking day by day to live above worldliness, the love of the things of the world, and the ensnaring greed which they nourish? Remember, it is for this that you have been enriched with the treasures of God.

For meditation: Never treat evangelism as an excuse for worldly behaviour. We must meet unconverted people, but what will make an impression upon them is the fact that we have been transformed by the grace of God. This should be seen both positively (Matthew 5:16) and negatively (1 Peter 4:3–4).

Today’s Devotions


January 24

Genesis 28:15 15I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Jacob had bought his brother’s birthright and stolen his blessing. As he fled from his brother Esau, he had an encounter with God at Bethel. There, God promised many things to this rascal. Nothing is really asked of Jacob. True, Jacob valued the blessing but went about obtaining it in an ungodly manner. Once God had expressed the blessing and promises to Jacob, Jacob went about cutting a deal. Allow me to paraphrase it. “OK, if you protect, feed, clothe me, and get me back here safely, tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you a tenth and worship you here. Then I’ll adopt you as my god.” (I use the little “g” intentionally.)

How patient God is with us! Jacob had just been told how blessed he was, in spite of his deceptions, received promises he didn’t deserve, and then he talked to God as if God needed him! If we will look deep within our own heart, we will find the same is often true of us and our requests of God. He has given us promises as great as the ones He gave to Jacob, and we still wheel and deal with Him as if He should be grateful for our worship.

Prayer: Oh Lord, open our eyes to who You are and all that You have promised us. Help us to worship and adore You and ask in humble gratitude only the things that are in your will for your glory and honor.

Wow! Glory to God – Todays Devotion

  2 CORINTHIANS 1:18-22

It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us. . . .

—  2 Corinthians 1:21

I have a wooden “Christmas” tree that stays up all year in my living room. After the Christmas season, because it is a flat tree with shelves, it is my tree of wisdom, and on each shelf there is a sign with an inspiring, clever saying on it. For example, “Sing like no one is listening”; “Dance like no one is watching”; “Love like you have never been hurt before”; “Live like heaven begins tomorrow”; “We do second chances”; and “Today I need a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus.”

My favorite chair sits beside the tree, and when people enter my house, they usually notice the tree and comment on it. The signs remind me to smile or pray or appreciate something about our life, our story, and our family.

I am thankful that 2 Corinthians reminds us of who God is. God’s promises are sealed with the “Yes” of his love for us in Jesus. God’s “Amen” (“So be it”) is to his glory. He has affirmed us as his own, and through the Holy Spirit he has given us full, new life. There is no waffling on God’s part. God’s “Yes” is always “Yes.”

Let this be a “Wow!” thought for your day. God is completing in you what he started.

Dear God, thank you for equipping us to stand firm. Thank you for working in us so that your ­glory can be seen. Thank you for the “Wow!” factors in your promises. Amen.


Our Traditions

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Our Traditions

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Whitney Ballard – cbn.com

This week, I’ve been busy planning my son’s 11th birthday party. The venue isn’t fancy—it will be a backyard ordeal, equipped with a kickball game and a trampoline. The menu isn’t elaborate. A few boxes of pizza and a tub of ice cream will surely take the culinary spotlight. And the guest list isn’t long. The grandparents and neighbors’ kids make up the majority of it.

Yet, I will still find a way to stress over everything. I will probably forget something, such as the candles, and beat myself up over it. I will fixate on cleaning the guest bathroom. I will worry about not having enough seating. I will find some random detail that’s not up to par and derail myself from the joy of the event itself.

I could already feel the tension arising last night. You see, I snapped at my husband, who innocently forgot to invite his sister, and tweaked a detail on the cake order from Publix. I found myself experiencing misplaced rage over something so very silly.

All of this unnecessary worry I had about maintaining tradition caused me to forget about what truly mattered, as I acted in a way I’m now embarrassed about.

Fast forward to this morning, as I read through the 15th chapter of Matthew and was immediately reminded of what Jesus shares with us about tradition:

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”

In this chapter of Matthew, God reminds the Pharisees that their laws and customs are not above God’s. Jesus shares the important reminder that God’s commandments should come first, before any laws of man, traditions, or anything, for that matter.

This hit hard as I thought about the many details I had allowed to cloud my judgment and take my energy—when in reality, acting kindly and humbly as God intended is far more important than any self-made or traditional expectations of me.

Jesus said unto the Pharisees: “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them” (Matthew 15:17-18).

Let us not use our traditions as an excuse to forget our tongues or manners, even to those closest to us. I personally am working on this every day. This weekend, I choose to focus more on my son’s joy and less about the details that I’ve often deemed too important. Thank you, Jesus, for the reminder that Your commandments are the details in which we should fix our vision.

Today’s Devotions


January 23

Genesis 25:23 23The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

The unnamed servant of Abraham went to Haran and sought out a wife for Isaac. If we follow the analogy of Isaac being a foreshadow of Christ, then this servant is like the Holy Spirit seeking the bride of Christ. He finds Rebecca and takes her from her father’s house without delay. When Rebecca is joined with her husband, she finds this war within her. Is that not true of us, the bride of Christ. The flesh is warring against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh (Galatians 5:17).

The custom of that day was for the firstborn to receive twice as much as any other heir along with the responsibility and authority of the father. That has carried down to this day in many Eastern countries, but God reversed the order with Abraham’s sons and Isaac’s sons, and others. The picture is that the first born, the flesh, must serve the second born, the spirit. There must be a separation as God predicted to Rebecca. We have to set the flesh aside, crucify it with Christ, and refuse to serve it. Even more than that, we must master it.

Which one is the stronger? If we look physically, by sight, we would say Esau. Notice the prophecy says ‘one people will be stronger’. If we look at the people descended from them, the Jewish people have been stronger spiritually and in persistence. These two are at war, even as I write, through the nations they have become. There is a war within you, Christian brother or sister. You must set the flesh aside. The Spirit is stronger. Don’t for a moment believe the flesh is. The older will serve the younger. See that it is so by yielding to the life of the Jesus in you every day.

Meditation: “For sin shall not be your master.” Romans 6:14a (NIV)

Streams in the Desert – January 23

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Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? (Psalms 10:1)

God is “a very present help in trouble.” But He permits trouble to pursue us, as though He were indifferent to its overwhelming pressure, that we may be brought to the end of ourselves, and led to discover the treasure of darkness, the unmeasurable gains of tribulation.

We may be sure that He who permits the suffering is with us in it. It may be that we shall see Him only when the trial is passing; but we must dare to believe that He never leaves the crucible. Our eyes are holden; and we cannot behold Him whom our soul loveth. It is dark–the bandages blind us so that we cannot see the form of our High Priest; but He is there, deeply touched. Let us not rely on feeling, but on faith in His unswerving fidelity; and though we see Him not, let us talk to Him. Directly we begin to speak to Jesus, as being literally present, though His presence is veiled, there comes an answering voice which shows that He is in the shadow, keeping watch upon His own. Your Father is as near when you journey through the dark tunnel as when under the open heaven!
–Daily Devotional Commentary

What though the path be all unknown?
What though the way be drear?
Its shades I traverse not alone
When steps of Thine are near.

Hey, God


Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.

—  Philippians 4:9

Many years ago I read an incredible book called Hey God by Frank Foglio. The back cover gives this description: “Mama Foglio, her cantankerous husband, and ten rambunctious kids were poor. In fact, they were so poor that the poor people called them poor. Then one day the Lord burst into their lives, in the form of another, equally poor, equally large and tumultuous Italian–American family that stormed into their home and evangelized them mano a mano.” The book shows how Mama Foglio began to understand the riches of her spiritual Father and to rely on them. It is a powerful witness of what happens when we hand our anxiety over to God and begin to pray.

There are times when anxiety or fear can be paralyzing, and even though we know that to be true, we still go down that path. I love it that Paul, from a prison cell, reminds us to stay focused on the Lord and “rejoice always.” He reminds us that conversation with God is important. He reminds us that we are a witness to ­others when we learn to lean on God rather than our anxieties. He also reminds us to remind ourselves of what is true: God’s provision is always ours.

As we change our thinking, we remember that through Jesus we have full access to the Father, who hears all our requests and gives us all that we need. And we inherit his peace, which “transcends all understanding.”

Lord, we rejoice that you are always with us. Thank you for peace and for all the riches you give us. Amen.


Fixing Our Eyes Upon Jesus

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Fixing Our Eyes Upon Jesus

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Gordon Robertson – President and CEO, CBN

With all the problems in the world today, it’s easy to focus on the storms and turmoil. Instead, we should be

looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus is the answer to every human need. He will provide. He will deliver victory—not based on what we do, but on what He has done. All we need to do is believe Him.

Peter was the only disciple to step out onto the water while the others stayed in the boat. Even so, when he looked at the wind and waves, he began to sink. Matthew 14:31 tells us that Jesus caught him and asked,

“Why did you doubt?”

We make a big deal about how much faith we have in God; it’s a bigger deal that God has faith in us. He believes we can do what He has called us to do, yet it’s easy to waver and doubt.

When the Israelites refused to enter Canaan because of the spies’ report about giants, Joshua said not to fear them,

“for they are our bread” (Numbers 14:9)

Joshua was a man of faith and of power. His perspective was that with God all things are possible; God has given us the land, and our enemies will be turned into our nourishment.

Forty years later, God encouraged Joshua before leading the people into battle:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed. The Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9)

When God says not to be afraid, He’s preparing us that things may not be easy.

Yet first He says, “Have I not commanded you?” From God’s perspective, when He commands, it’s a done deal. When God says, “Let there be light,” there is light.

Then He promises, “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

We also hear God’s command and promise in the Great Commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations …; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20)

What God has commanded, He will accomplish. We simply need to do our part and proclaim the Good News.

And as we obey Him, we have His assurance in Hebrews 13:5:

I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God bless you.

Receiving God’s Gifts in Others

“Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10 (CSB)

Last spring, we found ourselves in a muddy situation — literally.

We had unintentionally created 10 tiny ponds in our backyard and a huge safety hazard for the kids! See, my husband and I had come up with this exciting (and perhaps overly ambitious) idea to start a backyard orchard. On a whim, I ordered 10 fruit trees and started dreaming of picking my own apples.

It was a lovely dream, but in reality, we dug 10 huge holes and then didn’t have enough time to finish planting. It rained so much that week that by the time we got back outside, the holes were completely filled with muddy water.

After trying unsuccessfully to scoop the water out with a 5-gallon bucket and use the hose as a siphon, my tired husband was about to head to the hardware store when I suggested he text our neighbor. We both felt a little silly about it. How often do you get a text saying, “Hey, do you have anything I can use to get water out of the huge holes in my yard?”

But he asked anyway, and to our surprise, our neighbor had the perfect solution! He’s into boats and had a pump that’s typically used to get water out of things like … well, boats. Who knew?! We sure didn’t.

For us, this was a wonderful reminder that God designed us to be in community. First Peter 4:10 says, “Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.” I often look at verses like this and think only about my responsibility to help, but let’s consider the flip side of it: In community, we also get to be the recipients of God’s gifts in others.

There are skills, crafts and hobbies we simply do not have but someone connected to us just might. While a co-worker’s love for painting or sewing may not come to mind in all situations, it’s there for us to tap into when we do need it. That’s the power of community. We don’t have to individually possess every talent or have access to every resource we may need along the way.

And God, being the good Father He is, loves when we do life with others and benefit from the blessings He’s placed in them. If I’m delighted when my kids help each other with schoolwork and chores, then God, who’s an infinitely better parent than I am, surely takes joy when we help one another.

We’re all made better by the exchange of good ideas and resources. Looking at it this way, we see our individual imperfections give us an amazing opportunity. We get to feel more complete when we thrive alongside others, filling each other’s gaps when needed.

While my husband and I would’ve eventually found a way to empty those holes, our neighbor helped us do it in peace, with half the effort. In unity, we can strive less. Perhaps this is one reason Jesus said, “Take up my yoke and learn from me … and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30, CSB). Being connected to Him also connects us to the greatness He has put in those who follow Him.

Streams in the Desert – January 22

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He withdrew… to a solitary place (Matthew 14:13).

There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music. In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests. During those rests, we foolisly believe we have come to the end fo the song. God sends us time of forced leisure by allowing sickness, disappointed plans, and frustrated efforts. He brings a sudden pause in the choral hymns of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent. We grieve that our part is missing in the music that continually rises to the ear of our Creator. Yet how does a musician read the rest? He counts the break with unwavering precision and plays his next note with confidence, as if no pause were ever there.

God does not write the music of our lives without a plan. Our part is to learn the tune and not be discouraged during the rests. They are not to be slurred over or omitted, nor used to destroy the melody or to change the key. If we will only look up, God Himself will count the time for us. With our eyes on Him, our next note will be full and clear. If we sorrowfully say to ourselves, “There is no music in a rest,” let us not forget that the rest is part of the making of the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson!
–John Ruskin

Today’s Devotions


January 22

Genesis 22:7-8,14 7Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

14So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”

And God did provide Himself as the lamb, the lamb of atonement that took away the sins of the world. For almost two millenniums the Jewish people asked the same question. Where is the lamb? Where is the One who will satisfy God? Shepherds could not provide the lamb; He had to come from the Great Shepherd. And in the fullness of time, God did provide the Lamb. God the Father and God the Son went together, the two of them, to Mount Moriah.

Abraham looked forward through time and saw the LORD providing the Lamb of God in that same spot. “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”On that mountain atonement for you and me was provided. In father Abraham’s case, the knife was stopped mid-air, but Father God allowed the piercing of the Son He so greatly loved, to bring many sons to glory. God knew the grave could not hold the One who is Life, but that did not lessen the pain of the Son or the Father in that torturous death on the cross. It did not lessen the separation that took place when the sins of the world were placed upon Jesus and the forces of hell were unleashed upon Him. Child of God, God has provided for you the Lamb to take away your sins.

Consider: Am I living a life of thankfulness for that provision?

God’s Love For You Is Eternal

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The Way of Love

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My husband and I were sitting at the kitchen table having a difficult discussion with a close family member. She has very different opinions than the biblical views on abortion, marriage, and transgender issues. Perhaps you’ve had tough talks like this with loved ones. It can be really challenging to show love to people who disagree. We know some churchgoers who try so hard to accommodate those with opposing viewpoints that they simply say, “You’re right and the Bible is wrong.”

Perhaps they are thinking of how Jesus told His followers:

“Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34-35 NLT)

As believers in Jesus, my husband and I are eager to show love to everyone so that they may draw closer to the Lord. This means showing His love to those who disagree with us and even to those who may hate us. Even so, showing God’s love mean does not mean approving and affirming views and behavior that contradict His Word.

True love points people to the cross, where Jesus died for the sins of everyone. For we all desperately need a Savior, whether we struggle with same-sex attraction, pornography, addictions, bouts of anger, telling “little” lies, or gossiping. It’s all sin, and—praise God!—it’s all covered by the blood that Jesus shed for us. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 assures us,

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Sometimes I feel like it’s walking on a tightrope, holding onto biblical values while showing love to a person who is far from God. If you’re like me, you don’t want to jeopardize relationships that are near and dear to us.

Loving God and following Him can be costly, as Moses discovered when God called him out of his comfort zone and appointed him to the seemingly impossible task of leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. And John the Baptist paid the ultimate price by giving up his life to obey God, calling people to repent and prepare the way of the Lord (see Luke 3:4).

Yet as we go through these difficult circumstances, we have the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 12:11-12 to encourage us:

“Don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”

And as we depend on the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, let’s also remember the admonition to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). How can we do this? By the mighty power of God that resides within us. For as 1 John 4:16 tells us, God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

Dear Lord God, please fill us daily with the power of Your Holy Spirit that we may have wisdom and discernment to know what to say to people who do not yet understand the eternal truth of Your Word. Fill us with Your unconditional love for them, that they may come to know You. We pray in the name of our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Streams in the Desert – January 21

  • 202321 Jan

None of these things move me (Acts 20:24).

We read in the book of Samuel that the moment that David was crowned at Hebron, “All the Philistines came up to seek David.” And the moment we get anything from the Lord worth contending for, then the devil comes to seek us.

When the enemy meets us at the threshold of any great work for God, let us accept it as “a token of salvation,” and claim double blessing, victory, and power. Power is developed by resistance. The cannon carries twice as far because the exploding power has to find its way through resistance. The way electricity is produced in the powerhouse yonder is by the sharp friction of the revolving wheels. And so we shall find some day that even Satan has been one of God’s agencies of blessing.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

A hero is not fed on sweets,
Daily his own heart he eats;
Chambers of the great are jails,
And head winds right for royal sails.


Tribulation is the way to triumph. The valley-way opens into the highway. Tribulation’s imprint is on all great things. Crowns are cast in crucibles. Chains of character that wind about the feet of God are forged in earthly flames. No man is greatest victor till he has trodden the winepress of woe. With seams of anguish deep in His brow, the “Man of Sorrows” said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation”–but after this sob comes the psalm of promise, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The footprints are traceable everywhere. Bloodmarks stain the steps that lead to thrones. Sears are the price of scepters. Our crowns will be wrested from the giants we conquer. Grief has always been the lot of greatness. It is an open secret.

The mark of rank in nature.
Is capacity for pain;
And the anguish of the singer
Makes the sweetest of the strain.

The personality of the Holy Spirit

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever: Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him: for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:16,17

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 2:32-39

Observe here, that each person is spoken of as performing a separate office. “I will pray,” says the Son—that is intercession. “I will send,” says the Father—that is donation. “I will comfort,” says the Holy Spirit—that is supernatural influence. Oh! if it were possible for us to see the three persons of the Godhead, we should behold one of them standing before the throne with outstretched hands crying day and night, “O Lord, how long?” We should see one girt with Urim and Thummim, precious stones, on which are written the twelve names of the tribes of Israel; we should behold him crying unto his Father, “Forget not thy promises, forget not thy covenant;” we should hear him make mention of our sorrows, and tell forth our griefs on our behalf, for he is our intercessor. And if we could behold the Father, we should not see him a listless and idle spectator of the intercession of the Son, but we should see him with attentive ear listening to every word of Jesus, and granting every petition. Where is the Holy Spirit all the while? Is he lying idle? Oh, no; he is floating over the earth, and when he sees a weary soul, he says, “Come to Jesus, he will give you rest.” When he beholds an eye filled with tears, he wipes away the tears, and bids the mourner look for comfort on the cross. When he sees the tempest-tossed believer, he takes the helm of his soul and speaks the word of consolation; he helps the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds; and ever on his mission of mercy, he flies around the world, being everywhere present. Behold how the three persons work together.

For meditation: Salvation is all of God—the work is all done by him. And yet he grants to believers the privilege of being co-opted as his fellow-workers to advertise the gospel on his behalf (2 Corinthians 5:18-6: 1).

Today’s Devotions


January 21

Genesis 22:1-2 1Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 2Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

Isaac was one of the greatest foreshadows of Christ. Throughout this story, we have pictures of what will happen in the life of Jesus. Isaac’s birth was miraculous. He is the son of promise, the only son, whom his father loved. On the mountain Moriah (the same place Jesus was sacrificed), he carried the wood for his execution. Since Abraham was well over 100, I assume the boy was willingly bound by his father, just as Jesus willingly went to the cross. We will not read of Isaac again until he receives his bride. These are amazing parallels for us to see that God is in the details and knows the end from the beginning.

In this passage, God is said to test Abraham. God does not tempt us, but He does test us (James 1:13). God will test us to strengthen our resolve and to help us realize where we are in our growth in Him. His tests help us get off the fence and stand squarely in the kingdom of God.

He calls us by name. He speaks just as clearly today as He did to Abraham. What seemed like a great burden, and to be inconsistent with God’s character, turned out to be a great blessing. It is now a great badge of honor that Abraham believed God’s promise to the extent that he knew God would raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). He told his servants “WE will return to you (22:5).”

Consider: What has God promised you? Will you lay it down and trust God to bring it about in His way and time? Can you surrender it back to God, like faithful Abraham did?

The God Of The Second Chance

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The God of a Second Chance


young woman praying at a coffee table with a Bible on it


Terry Meeuwsen – cbn.com

I began working in television in Milwaukee in 1978. While I’d never set out to do talk TV, I felt at home from the beginning, and being in the public eye gave me many opportunities to share my faith. Because it was fairly common knowledge in the community that I was a Christian, the publicity of going through a divorce was difficult. That winter, I went home at the end of each day to a cold, silent house. Emotionally depressed and grieved, I would then climb into bed with my hat, coat, and boots still on and sleep till morning.

I’m not sure when that heavy veil of grief and emptiness began to lift. But sometime that spring, I became aware of the sweet smell of the wet earth beginning to thaw, the songs of promise that were being sung with such abandon from every nest and perch. I began to move on. I had no intention of dating and no interest in pursuing a new relationship. Though I loved children, I had accepted that there would be none in my first marriage. I was in my 30s, and the prospect of marriage and a family seemed remote and unlikely. Yet God had other plans.

I met Andy Friedrich at a retirement celebration for a coworker. He had gone through a divorce a number of years before that, and after much floundering and searching, a friend had led him to Christ. But no one had discipled him, so he had little knowledge of the Scriptures and wasn’t in a church or study group of any kind. Initially we met to talk about the Lord. In time, I grudgingly conceded to a date, but not without apprehension.

Even though Andy was ready for a relationship, I was still gun-shy—so he simply waited. With tenderness and kindness and an incredible amount of patience, he broke down any barriers I’d put up. He was faithful, trustworthy, and committed to the Lord and to me. We were married a little more than a year after we’d begun dating.

The Lord used Andy in many ways to help heal old wounds in me. He offered both of us a new beginning, a clean slate, a hope, and a future. And I’m now a mom—not one, not two, but seven children, each a precious, unique gift from the Lord. God has surely given me more than I could hope for or ask.

The story of Joseph in the book of Genesis is one of my favorites. Sold by his brothers into slavery, taken to a foreign land, unfairly accused and imprisoned, and with little hope or expectation of ever seeing his family again, Joseph was in what seemed an impossible situation. Despite all that, the Bible says, “The Lord was with him.”

God allowed the testing to build character in Joseph. Joseph went through years of waiting and suffering before he saw God’s plan in it all. God used Joseph to save Egypt, the surrounding nations, and Joseph’s own family. God’s plans and purposes are so much bigger and greater than our own.

At the end of his story, Joseph says,

“You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day” Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)

That same truth is reconfirmed in the book of Romans in the New Testament.

“All things work together for good to those who love God” Romans 8:28 (NKJV).

God is indeed, the God of second chances.

Streams in the Desert – January 20

  • 202320 Jan

Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better (Ecclesiastes 7:3).

When sorrow comes under the power of Divine grace, it works out a manifold ministry in our lives. Sorrow reveals unknown depths in the soul, and unknown capabilities of experience and service. Gay, trifling people are always shallow, and never suspect the little meannesses in their nature. Sorrow is God’s plowshare that turns up and subsoils the depths of the soul, that it may yield richer harvests. If we had never fallen, or were in a glorified state, then the strong torrents of Divine joy would be the normal force to open up all our souls’ capacities; but in a fallen world, sorrow, with despair taken out of it, is the chosen power to reveal ourselves to ourselves. Hence it is sorrow that makes us think deeply, long, and soberly.

Sorrow makes us go slower and more considerately, and introspect our motives and dispositions. It is sorrow that opens up within us the capacities of the heavenly life, and it is sorrow that makes us willing to launch our capacities on a boundless sea of service for God and our fellows.

We may suppose a class of indolent people living at the base of a great mountain range, who had never ventured to explore the valleys and canyons back in the mountains; and some day, when a great thunderstorm goes careening through the mountains, it turns the hidden glens into echoing trumpets, and reveals the inner recesses of the valley, like the convolutions of a monster shell, and then the dwellers at the foot of the hills are astonished at the labyrinths and unexplored recesses of a region so near by, and yet so little known. So it is with many souls who indolently live on the outer edge of their own natures until great thunderstorms of sorrow reveal hidden depths within that were never hitherto suspected.

God never uses anybody to a large degree, until after He breaks that one all to pieces. Joseph had more sorrow than all the other sons of Jacob, and it led him out into a ministry of bread for all nations. For this reason, the Holy Spirit said of him, “Joseph is a fruitful bough…by a well, whose branches run over the wall” (Gen. 49:22). It takes sorrow to widen the soul.
–The Heavenly Life

Words of expostulation

By Charles Spurgeon

“And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?” Jeremiah 2:18

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:14-7: 1

In the life of Madame Guyon, who, though professedly a Papist, one must ever receive as being a true child of God, I have read an anecdote something to this effect. She had been invited by some friends to spend a few days at the palace of St. Cloud. She knew it was a place full of pomp, and fashion, and, I must add, of vice also; but being over-persuaded by her friend, and being especially tempted with the idea that perhaps her example might do good, she accepted the invitation. Her experience afterwards should be a warning to all Christians. For some years that holy woman had walked in constant fellowship with Christ; perhaps none ever saw the Saviour’s face, and kissed his wounds more truly than she had done. But when she came home from St. Cloud, she found her usual joy was departed; she had lost her power in prayer; she could not draw near to Christ as she should have done. She felt in going to the lover of her soul as if she had played the harlot against him. She was afraid to hope that she could be received again to his pure and perfect love, and it took some months before the equilibrium of her peace could be restored, and her heart could yet again be wholly set upon her Lord. He that wears a white garment must mind where he walks when the world’s streets are as filthy as they are. He that has a thousand enemies must take care how he shows himself. He that has nothing on earth to assist him towards heaven should take care that he does not go where the world can help towards hell. O believer, keep clear of fellowship with this world, for the love of this world is enmity against God.

For meditation: Commonsense should tell us that when something clean and something unclean brush against one another, the unclean object is not improved but the clean object is changed for the worse (Haggai 2:11-14).

Come to the Table

From: Todays Devotion

  PSALM 23:1-6

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

—  Psalm 23:5

On our front lawn sits a turquoise picnic table. Behind it is a fence painted with a mural. When the weather turns warm, we use this table to invite our neighbors for coffee chats, street parties, and other fun events. During the winter, we decorate it with snow figures sitting at the table enjoying a meal. The picnic table is a sign of hospitality to our neighborhood. The invitation to come and be part of the gathering is intentional.

Psalm 23 is about intentional care and hospitality. It describes the important work of a faithful shepherd for his flock of sheep. Without a shepherd, the sheep would be hopelessly lost and afflicted by disease or predators. This psalm helps us see how the Lord is our shepherd and we are his sheep.

The mention of a table takes the relationship with God even deeper. The Lord prepares a banquet for us. Our host makes sure that everything is taken care of. When we sit at the table, we acknowledge that we can trust our host to sustain us with all he has provided. Full plates give us all we need while God protects us from the enemies around us.

The picnic table at our home is intended to refresh people’s spirits and give them a smile. May your heart be refreshed and encouraged as the Lord, your shepherd, prepares a table for you today.

Dear God, thank you for preparing a table for us. Thank you for refreshing us and giving us every­thing we need to live through the battles of this day. Amen.

Mess or Masterpiece

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Mess or Masterpiece

From: Crosswalk.com

By Ashley Moore

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10, NLT

I read recently, “a piece of art doesn’t have to be perfect or finished to be a masterpiece.” The author further observed that what makes art valuable is the story behind the piece. While the book was secular, there are some spiritual truths to these words.

First, whether we acknowledge the message of the Bible or not, God has set eternity in the hearts of man and written His Word on our hearts and in our minds (Ecclesiastes 3:11Hebrews 10:16). Secondly, because we are made in His image, everything we create tells a story of God to those around us (Genesis 1:27). Our lives tell a story whether we have surrendered to Christ or rejected God.

What kind of story is your life telling? Does it point to the gospel message? The Bible calls those of us in Christ Jesus, His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). A masterpiece is an artist’s creation displaying his or her mastery and skill level to onlookers. A masterpiece is an outstanding creation that proves an artist’s abilities and qualifications.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually feel like a work of art. I relate more to a messy finger painting made by a toddler than an artistic masterpiece. But then, I recall the author’s comments from the book laced with art jargon, and I remember, we don’t have to be perfect or finished to be an artist’s masterpiece. So, here are two ways we display His workmanship to the world around us, even if our lives aren’t perfectly packaged with neat little bows.

Our Stories of Redemption

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT

A transformation from death to life is an abrupt change. Whether you grew up in the church your whole life and finally repented from knowing about God to knowing God, or you left a prodigal lifestyle to follow Jesus, your life tells a story to the world around you.

For me, this looked like leaving a life of numbing my pain with alcohol and relationships to looking to God’s Word for healing and placing Him at the center of my relationships. While my outward actions took a while to change, the drastic shift in my desire to satisfy worldly cravings changing to wanting to please God was enough to tell a story. What about you? What has God redeemed you from?

Our Impact on Others

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5, ESV

Even if no one ever acknowledges the changes in you, those closest to us will be impacted by our transformation. As humans, we were created with mirror neurons that cause us to mimic the people around us. The longer a person is around us, the more we pick up their mannerisms and little sayings. And vice versa. As we flow with living water, the people around us will begin to flourish.

And while you won’t be perfect or quite finished yet, you will be His masterpiece because just like a marvelous painting tells the story of its artist, your life transformation will point to the One who knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). Our lives tell a story, may the redeemed say so (Psalm 107:2).

People are God’s work of art. Our lives either tell the story of what happens when we disregard His call to truth, or they tell the story of His redemption and its power to transform us. I love that no matter the current stage of becoming we are in, we display the workmanship, the qualifications, and the worthiness of our worship of our creator God. Just like a painting at every stage, the beautiful brush strokes are telling a story of the artist holding the brush.

Streams in the Desert – January 19

  • 202319 Jan

Men ought always to pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1).

“Go to the ant.” Tammerlane used to relate to his friends an anecdote of his early life. “I once,” he said, “was forced to take shelter from my enemies in a ruined building, where I sat alone many hours. Desiring to divert my mind from my hopeless condition, I fixed my eyes on an ant that was carrying a grain of corn larger than itself up a high wall. I numbered the efforts it made to accomplish this object. The grain fell sixty-nine times to the ground; but the insect persevered, and the seventieth time it reached the top. This sight gave me courage at the moment, and I never forgot the lesson.
–The King’s Business

Prayer which takes the fact that past prayers have not been answered as a reason for languor, has already ceased to be the prayer of faith. To the prayer of faith the fact that prayers remain unanswered is only evidence that the moment of the answer is so much nearer. From first to last, the lessons and examples of our Lord all tell us that prayer which cannot persevere and urge its plea importunately, and renew, and renew itself again, and gather strength from every past petition, is not the prayer that will prevail.
–William Arthur

Rubenstein, the great musician, once said, “If I omit practice one day, I notice it; if two days, my friends notice it; if three days, the public notice it.” It is the old doctrine, “Practice makes perfect.” We must continue believing, continue praying, continue doing His will. Suppose along any line of art, one should cease practicing, we know what the result would be. If we would only use the same quality of common sense in our religion that we use in our everyday life, we should go on to perfection.

The motto of David Livingstone was in these words, “I determined never to stop until I had come to the end and achieved my purpose.” By unfaltering persistence and faith in God he conquered.

Today’s Devotions

By: Charles Spurgeon


January 19

Genesis 19:12-14 12The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here–sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” 14So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

Angels had come to deliver Lot from the city of Sodom before it was destroyed. The angels were willing to deliver all those related to Lot. I wonder if the outcry to the LORD against its people was from the citizens of Sodom. Sin has a way of torturing those it has mastered. The people refused to be freed from the sin by forsaking it. To stop the misery that sin caused, the people had to have their lives cut short.

Lot warned his sons-in-law of the impending doom, but they seemed to think he was joking. Why wouldn’t they take him seriously? Was it because Lot’s life was so compromised that they couldn’t imagine he would be the special recipient of an angelic mercy mission? After all, he sat in the gate as an official of Sodom, and he probably joked around with the best of them. He probably fit right in since he had become a judge. I believe his compromised life caused his message to sound like a joke.

There is a no less serious judgment coming on all the earth (2Peter 3:7). We have been given a message and a chance to go out and warn others too. When they see our lives, do they consider our message a joke? Or do our lives add credence to our message? The way we live will add power to, or detract from, the message. Let us live in such a way as to add conviction to the words we speak so that others may be spared from the impending wrath of God.

Consider: Does my life show that I believe my message?

Grace exalted—boasting excluded

‘Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.’ Romans 3:27

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 3:1–14

There are two ways by which man might have been for ever blessed. The one was by works: ‘This do and thou shalt live; be obedient and receive the reward.’ The other plan was: ‘Receive grace and blessedness as the free gift of God; stand as a guilty sinner having no merit, and as a rebellious sinner deserving the very reverse of goodness, but stand there and receive all thy good things, simply, wholly, and alone of the free love and sovereign mercy of God.’ Now, the Lord has not chosen the system of works. The word ‘law’, as used twice in the text, is employed, it is believed by many commentators, out of compliment to the Jews, who were so fond of the word, that their antagonism might not be aroused; but it means here, as elsewhere in Scripture, plan, system, method. There were two plans, two systems, two methods, two spirits,—the plan of works and the plan of grace. God has once for all utterly refused the plan of merit and of works, and has chosen to bless men only, and entirely through the plan, or method, or law of faith. This indeed is the bottom of theology, and he who can understand this clearly, it seems to me, can never be very heterodox; orthodoxy must surely follow, and the right teaching of God must be understood when we once for all are able to discriminate with accuracy between that which is of man—works, and that which is of God—faith, and grace received by faith. Now the plan of salvation by works is impossible for us.

For meditation: There are still two basic ideas of salvation—God’s way of sending the Lord Jesus Christ down to earth to lift to heaven all who trust in his death on the cross (John 3:16); and man’s way of trying to climb heavenwards by some other route, even though the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way back to God (John 14:6). Which path are you on—the one called ‘God’s way’ or the one called ‘My way’? They lead to different places (Matthew 7:13–14).

Lean into God’s Compassion

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Lean into God’s Compassion

By: Jessica Van RoekelTop Bible Quotes About God's Compassion and Love – Kingdom Ambassadors Empowerment Network

“But you, O Lor, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Turn to me and be gracious to me, give your strength to your servant,” (Psalm 86:15-16a, ESV)

Are you slow to anger? If so, you are my hero. I strive to be slow to anger, but I’m a work in progress. It helps when I remember I need mercy and grace every day. I miss the mark, but I know God is slow to anger. And when I am angry at myself for being quick to anger, I know that God looks on me with kindness. His eyes fill with steadfast love, and he helps me through the mess my anger creates.

I am so grateful God is compassionate. To be compassionate means to feel sorrow for someone else’s suffering, with a desire and effort to help. We see God’s compassion for us in the person of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, we can have forgiveness and salvation. Our lives change when we meet Jesus so that we can know God’s great compassion. His compassion helps us live for him in our day to day.

There is action behind compassion. As we lean into God’s compassion, we begin to see his actions in our lives. We experience his mercy when we mess up once again. We know his grace when he encourages us to fall forward into his arms, and he helps us stand again. All through the Old Testament, we see how full of mercy God was to his people. Then in the New Testament, we see Jesus’s compassion on the crowds. Jesus delivered his good news of freedom, healed the brokenhearted, and gave sight to the blind of eyes and heart.

Jonah did not understand the Lord’s compassion. He ran away from God’s command and spent three days and nights in the belly of a whale before he obeyed God and warned the people of Nineveh of imminent destruction. The Ninevites repented, and God extended compassion to them. He did not destroy them. Instead of rejoicing, Jonah thought this was very wrong. He pouted in anger because God was compassionate.

We can learn much from Jonah. For one, to obey right away. Second, to remember how much we need mercy and grace. We are not perfect. We do not have it all together. Yet, it’s so easy to look at everyone else’s failings and refuse to see our own. We want to experience God’s compassion, but do we want our greatest enemy to experience his compassion? In my most honest moments, I struggle to say yes.

I want God’s acts of compassion toward me. I want him to forgive me, to help me, to bless me. But when I’ve been wounded by someone’s betrayal, I want punishment for them. I am not slow to anger, and I struggle to show mercy and grace. But God. He steps in and reminds me that I need his compassion just as much as my enemies do. This keeps me humble and fully reliant on his grace. I’m grateful for his steadfast love and his strength to extend compassion when I would be compassionless like Jonah.

It’s tempting to respond like Jonah. He knew God’s nature because he experienced for himself, but he grew angry when God showed compassion to the Ninevites. People whom he felt didn’t deserve it. We know the Ninevites gave up their evil and violent ways. They humbled themselves before God, and he responded in compassion. Humility is key in learning to let go of our anger and to receive God’s strength to extend compassion to others. The book of Jonah ends with God asking Jonah a question, and we’re left wondering what happened to him. Did he stay angry? Did he harbor resentment toward God?

The Living God – Streams in the Desert – January 17

  • 202317 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

God Is Always Good

By: Katie Faris

Lee en español

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 (ESV)

Motherhood isn’t what I expected.

It’s a whole lot more — more joy and more sorrow.

While I know that being a mom is a wonderful calling, this role has also exposed my heart to the wounding arrows of pain and grief. From newborn-feeding issues to my children’s serious medical diagnoses, my motherhood journey has included detours I never expected.

Maybe you navigate a child’s special needs, a teen’s rebellion or your own unique sorrows of motherhood.

These are painful realities in our broken world, and all the “feels” travel with them. Sadness, fear, anxiety, anger, disappointment and so many more unwelcome guests appear on our hearts’ doorsteps.

Yet when life plays out differently than we hoped, in the big and the small, and our feelings are strong, sometimes we don’t feel God’s presence. Our sorrows can lead us to wonder, Where is God, and is He still good?

God designed us to feel deeply, which is wonderful, but our emotions aren’t reliable. We don’t live in Eden, and our bodies, relationships and circumstances experience the impacts of sin. Especially when life is difficult or unpredictable and we add some hormones — our feelings are changeable.

But here’s good news for our fluctuating hearts:

God is still good, whether we feel like He is or not. Because He is good (and powerful and wise and all His other attributes), we can trust Him, even in our suffering.

The apostle Paul wrote in our key verse, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

In other words, the whole Bible was written for our instruction and encouragement. Why? So that even when we feel sad, confused or any number of other things, we might have hope.

When our feelings scream loudly, we need bedrock truths about God, and those are found in His Word:

1. God is with us even when He feels far away. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, ESV)

2. Challenging circumstances don’t mean God has forgotten us. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace … will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10, ESV)

3. Whether it feels like it or not, God is always good. “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” (Nahum 1:7, ESV)

4. God is good when we don’t deserve it. “… God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, ESV)

Sisters, when life goes smoothly, it’s easier to say that God is good. However, when life is hard, it takes faith to trust Him. But it’s our faith — even a little faith — that pleases God. (Hebrews 11:6)

Feeling (or not feeling) something doesn’t make it true. If I’d relied solely on my emotions when my newborn struggled to gain weight or my children were diagnosed, I don’t know where I’d be today. By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit used Scripture to encourage me and give me hope. He can do the same for you today.

3 Keys to Serving God

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3 Keys to Serving God

By Jessica Van Roekel

Serve God with all your heart - CHRISTIAN PICTURES

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, ESV)

This passage from 1 Thessalonians holds three keys to serving God. When we learn to leverage these keys, we discover that we can continue when the way grows wearying or frustrating. Serving God by serving people brings with it a whole host of issues. We rub each other wrong, and our flesh expresses itself through our irritated responses to one another. We fight for dominance and wrestle with selfish ambition. We lobby for our great ideas and fuss when they get put aside. Instead of getting caught up in these traps, we can consider what gets us started, drives us, and sustains us.

Faith starts us because God chooses us. God has already taken the first step in renewing our personal relationship with him by sending Jesus to pay for our offenses against God. Jesus bridged the gap between God and us. We simply respond by saying yes to God and begin a life anchored by faith. Walking by faith means that sometimes we don’t see all the steps we need to take; instead, we only see the next one and then the next one. Serving God is an expression of our faith in him, and faith is an important key in believing that our service is not in vain.

Love for the Lord is the engine that rumbles beneath all we do and drives us forward. At times the labor involved in serving God surprises us. Hardships happen, and we wonder if something so noble can bring such difficulties. But this life is not without trials, even when we serve with pure motives. We need to have something that keeps up moving forward when the way grows long and scattered with boulders and steep inclines. Love for God is the key to pressing on when discouragement comes.

Hope fuels us and gives us endurance. We find our hope in Jesus, who is steadfast and true, strong and mighty, and ever-present. When we grow weary in service, we can fix our eyes on Jesus. He is our hope. He doesn’t disappoint. Because sanctification is a process, we wrestle with the ways of our “self” and must carry our cross. While this battle within rears its ugly head from time to time, we can stay the course by allowing steadfast hope to build endurance in us. Hope in Jesus is the key that fuels our service.

Throughout my life, I’ve served God by serving the Church through my involvement in various ministries, from children’s church to youth group to women’s ministries. My involvement in each area ministered to my heart and helped me mature. Maturity came through diligence to honor God through every issue each ministry brought as I focused on faith, love, and hope.

Streams in the Desert – January 16

  • 202316 Jan

And there arose a great storm (Mark 4:37).

Some of the storms of life come suddenly: a great sorrow, a bitter disappointment, a crushing defeat. Some come slowly. They appear upon the ragged edges of the horizon no larger than a man’s hand, but, trouble that seems so insignificant spreads until it covers the sky and overwhelms us.

Yet it is in the storm that God equips us for service. When God wants an oak He plants it on the moor where the storms will shake it and the rains will beat down upon it, and it is in the midnight battle with elements that the oak wins its rugged fibre and becomes the king of the forest.

When God wants to make a man He puts him into some storm. The history of manhood is always rough and rugged. No man is made until he has been out into the surge of the storm and found the sublime fulfillment of the prayer: “O God, take me, break me, make me.”

A Frenchman has painted a picture of universal genius. There stand orators, philosophers and martyrs, all who have achieved pre-eminence in any phase of life; the remarkable fact about the picture is this: Every man who is pre-eminent for his ability was first pre-eminent for suffering. In the foreground stands that figure of the man who was denied the promised land, Moses. Beside him is another, feeling his way — blind Homer. Milton is there, blind and heart-broken. Now comes the form of one who towers above them all. What is His characteristic? His Face is marred more than any man’s. The artist might have written under that great picture, “The Storm.”

The beauties of nature come after the storm. The rugged beauty of the mountain is born in a storm, and the heroes of life are the storm-swept and the battle-scarred.

You have been in the storms and swept by the blasts. Have they left you broken, weary, beaten in the valley, or have they lifted you to the sunlit summits of a richer, deeper, more abiding manhood and womanhood? Have they left you with more sympathy with the storm-swept and the battle-scarred?

The 3 Things We Can Give to God This Year

January 16

The 3 Things We Can Give to God This Year

As we enter into a new year, here is something to remember: When it’s all said and done, we have three things we can offer God—our treasure, our talent, and our time. Each of these is given to us by God, and each of them should be given back in generous portions.

First, there is our treasure. I urge you to commit yourself to give faithfully and generously to the Lord in this coming year. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21 NKJV). Whenever we put our money into something, we develop a vested interest in it. It makes sense to us that we would place our treasures where our hearts are. If we love reading books, or being entertained, or the latest technology, we spend our treasure on those things. And if our heart’s desires change, that changes where we put our treasure.

But it works the other way too: Where we put our treasures, our heart will follow. Do you want your heart to be in the things of God? Then put your treasures in the things of God! Develop a vested interest in God’s kingdom.

The second thing we can give to God is our talent. God has gifted each believer in different ways. Everyone has something to offer for the work of the kingdom. Romans 12 says, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us different work to do” (NLT).

Finally, there is our time. Let’s say that one day your phone rang and it was the president of the bank that you use. He told you that an anonymous donor who loved you very much had decided to deposit 86,400 pennies into your bank account each and every morning. At first, maybe that didn’t seem like a lot. But then you figured out that it was $864 a day. At seven days a week and 52 weeks a year, those pennies add up to almost $315,000 each year! But the bank president added one thing: “The anonymous giver said you must spend all of the money on the day you receive it! No balance will be carried over to the next day. Each evening the bank must cancel whatever sum you failed to use! Remember, what you don’t spend is lost.”

That may sound like fantasy, but here’s the reality: Every morning, Someone who loves you very much deposits into your “bank of time” 86,400 seconds, which represent 1,440 minutes, which of course equals 24 hours each and every day. God gives you that much to use each day. Nothing is ever carried over on credit to the next day. There is no such thing as a 27-hour day. It’s called time, and you can’t escape it. Time is ticking away right now. The Bible tells us to “redeem the time”—to make sacred and wise use of every opportunity.

Offer God your treasure, your talent, and your time. Live this next year as if it were your last, because it could be. Make those minutes count!

What Did You Get?

  ROMANS 15:13-20

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

—  Romans 15:13

How long do you keep Christ­mas decorations up after the holiday? How long do gifts stay under the tree before you use them or tuck them into a drawer? One year I bought my mom a nice nightgown that I knew she would like. But I was really confused when I learned that she didn’t wear it. I asked her about it, and she said she was saving it for a special occa­sion. She said it was soft and comfortable and that she really liked it—so I assured her that it was good to use the gown and enjoy it right away.

As I think about what we have been given by God, I wonder if we do something similar. For example, Paul points out some wonderful gifts from God in the blessing we read here today, and I wonder if we hear those words about joy and peace and then just tuck that thought away for some special day.

God has gifted us with the ability to experience hope and peace through the power of the Holy Spirit. What’s more, we are given the ability to share this with others. So this isn’t just a gift to be treasured and kept hidden, or even shared only in the church. God is calling us to bring this good news to the world.

May you experience hope and joy today—and share it with others!

Dear God, forgive us when we only use or share the gifts you have given us on special occa­sions. Help us to enjoy your hope, peace, and joy every day so that we might share the good news everywhere. Amen.

Will God Really Work All Things Together for Our Good?

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Will God Really Work All Things Together for Our Good?

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By: Lynette Kittle

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”—Romans 8:28

Do we really believe when things don’t go our way, that God will work all things together for our good in our lives? What is our reaction, and where do our thoughts lead us when a major household appliance breaks down? Or, how do we handle it when a store overcharges us a large amount of money and we have to wait 7-10 days for a refund? After a car accident, when we’re left without transportation, do we believe that somehow it will all work together for our best?

In all these situations where we suffer losses and are inconvenienced, where we feel drained of energy and resources, exhausted dealing with the hassles involved in the losses, replacements, and so forth, do we really believe God will work these things together for good in our lives?

Trusting God to Keep His Word
What if instead of letting the situations and our emotions lead our responses when something unexpected or unpleasant happens, we choose to correct ourselves by remembering what God’s Word says about His working all things together for our good? Rather than letting angry, fearful, disappointed thoughts lead us astray, what if we purposely turn our thoughts and words to trust God’s Word over the situation and circumstances? What might we experience if we choose to go the opposite way our emotions try to take us?

Philippians 4:6-7 describes what we can expect to happen when we choose this route over fear, anxiety, stress, and distress. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

What about Major Heartbreaks?
Even more so, what about more difficult things that happen in life, such as devastating tragedies like losing a loved one, experiencing a natural disaster, or all at the same time? Is it even possible for us to believe God can bring good from horrific events and losses? Human emotions are quick to rush in and often take over in such heartbreaking situations. When they do, how do we respond? Are we quick to readjust our frail and vulnerable first responses to line up with God’s word rather than our situation? Or do we let the circumstances run away with us and take us off to dark places with our thoughts and emotions?

Leaning into Him During the Deepest, Darkest Hours
Trusting God and believing what His Word tells us is true takes time and practice to develop within us. It also takes a commitment to know His word and let it lead us in our responses. Turning to God and His promises rather than our own fears brings comfort and relief, freeing us from distress, panic, and doubt. Even if it looks impossible for an event, situation, or circumstance to ever be worked together for our good, we can choose to trust Him. We can resist trying to second guess or figure out how God could possibly weave it together in a good way..

Proverbs 3:5-6 encourages us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Even in the deepest, darkest hours, we can lean on Him. We can trust His Word, His truth, even when it doesn’t seem to fit or make sense to us at the time.

Go to the Ant

By Charles Stanley

Proverbs 6:6-8

God is a masterful Creator. He has integrated many of His principles into the fabric of nature so that we can see His handiwork and learn of Him (Ps. 19:1-6). If you desire to acquire wisdom, do not neglect to look outdoors for His lessons.

Now, of course, the outdoors sometimes comes inside. If you’ve ever battled ants in your kitchen or pantry, wisdom probably isn’t the first trait you would attribute to them—you probably would choose a description more like determination. But to the lazy person, God points out these tiny creatures as an example of wise living. Simply consider how many characteristics of the ant people would be smart to adopt: preparation, cooperation, perseverance, diligence, unity, and the list goes on. So interacting with righteous men isn’t the only way to acquire wisdom. God also wants us to observe the lowly ant that He created to work in community.

There’s much to learn from the created world. By directing attention to the birds, Jesus challenges His followers to consider the folly of anxiety (Matt. 6:26). Birds do not reap or gather grain but rather assume their food will be supplied as it always has been. The lesson in this observation of nature is that the Lord who provides for birds can be trusted to meet His people’s needs as well.

Our quest for wisdom is to be rooted in Scripture and covered in prayer. But don’t overlook the many lessons unfolding right outside the front door. Ask God for “eyes to see” (Mark 8:18). Then take every chance to grow in understanding so your capacity to live by His principles will be strengthened.

The Lord Appeared to Isaac – Streams in the Desert – January 15

  • 202315 Jan

And the Lord appeared unto Isaac the same night (Genesis 26:24).

“Appeared the same night,” the night on which he went to Beer-sheba. Do you think this revelation was an accident? Do you think the time of it was an accident? Do you think it could have happened on any other night as well as this? If so, you are grievously mistaken. Why did it come to Isaac in the night on which he reached Beer-sheba? Because that was the night on which he reached rest. In his old locality, he had been tormented. There had been a whole series of petty quarrels about the possession of paltry wells. There are no worries like little worries, particularly if there is an accumulation of them. Isaac felt this. Even after the strife was past, the place retained a disagreeable association. He determined to leave. He sought change of scene. He pitched his tent away from the place of former strife. That very night the revelation came. God spoke when there was no inward storm. He could not speak when the mind was fretted; His voice demands the silence of the soul. Only in the hush of the spirit could Isaac hear the garments of his God sweep by. His still night was his starry night.

My soul, hast thou pondered these words, “Be still, and know”? In the hour of perturbation, thou canst not hear the answer to thy prayers. How often has the answer seemed to come long after the heart got no response in the moment of its crying — in its thunder, its earthquake, and its fire. But when the crying ceased, when the stillness fell, when thy hand desisted from knocking on the iron gate, when the interest of other lives broke the tragedy of thine own, then appeared the long-delayed reply. Thou must rest, O soul, if thou wouldst have thy heart’s desire. Still the beating of thy pulse of personal care. Hide thy tempest of individual trouble behind the altar of a common tribulation and, that same night, the Lord shall appear to thee. The rainbow shall span the place of the subsiding flood, and in thy stillness thou shalt hear the everlasting music.
–George Matheson

Today’s Devotions


January 15

Genesis 15:6 6Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Salvation has always been by grace through faith. God reached out to Abram and gave him promises of a son and of possession of the land. God promised his descendants would outnumber the stars, and Abram believed. The apostle Paul wrote,4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. Romans 4:4-5 (NIV)

He went on to say that this is before the law and before circumcision. Abram had done nothing but believe God, and God credited it to him as righteousness. This shows us that the way to God is simply believing God, not keeping some set of rules or performing some action. It is when we receive what God has said as truth.

Throughout the ages man has come to God in the same way. Only the death of the Son of God in our place makes it possible for this transaction. The righteousness credited to us is the righteous life of Jesus. Since God never changes and does not have a different set of standards for different people, we can see that all mankind comes to God in the same way. God reveals Himself to man, and man either believes God or turns from God and trusts self. Paul wrote that this grace that brings salvation has appeared to all men. We need not worry that God will be unjust and damn forever those who never had a chance. Creation testifies of God, and the Spirit of God shines on every heart to give each of us an opportunity to believe.

This does not let us out of the responsibility of sharing the plan of salvation, for that is the Great Commission. It does, however, show us that God loves the world and is not willing that any should perish.

Consider: All will have an opportunity to do as Abram did, to believe the LORD. Do you really believe Him?