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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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Maria Stockman – Digital Copywriter, cbn.com

“Between a rock and a hard place” is a phrase I heard growing up that I never understood. I think of that phrase now a lot when I read Scripture, though; we see time and time again God’s people in seemingly hopeless scenarios—essentially between a rock and a hard place. But His plans are always better than ours. You think, there is no way they’re getting out of this one! But God always makes a way.

In Acts 7, Stephen is before the council, and in response to their questions, he tells account after account of their history of persecuted prophets. He starts with Abraham, works his way to Joseph, and then gets to Moses in verses 20-21.

At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.

Moses’ story jumps out to me as a rock-and-hard-place situation. First, Pharaoh ordered all the Hebrew baby boys killed. Then, Moses’ mother hides him for three months, puts him in a basket in the river where she knows Pharaoh’s daughter will find him, and then God makes way for his mother to be his “nurse” and ensure his care at the beginning of his life (Exodus 2:1-10). Then, if that wasn’t enough, God continues to rescue Moses from a rock and a hard place, as we see later in Exodus 14.

As the Israelites flee Egypt, they’re standing at the Red Sea and see two options: drown in the Red Sea or go back to Egypt to be enslaved. The ultimate “between a rock and a hard place” scenario! But God made a way that wasn’t even an option. He parted the Red Sea, and the Israelites walked through on dry land.

How often have we been in situations where we felt like all the options were in front of us, and all seemed like hard choices, but God provided a path we didn’t see before? For me, I look back and can count a handful of times where I’ve experienced Moses and the Red Sea moments where God brought help through an avenue I didn’t know existed.

Remember that God is a God of love, kindness, and grace when you find yourself in a seemingly impossible situation. He is full of mercy and wisdom, and He is just. Ask Him to make a way for you to move forward in His will. Ask for guidance, direction, and wisdom. God is often working things out in ways we can’t yet see. So trust Him and lean on Him through these times.

Jesus, thank You for making a way when things seem hopeless. Help us never lose sight that your plans are greater than ours. When we think we’re in a rock-and-a-hard-place situation, bring us comfort and peace as we trust in You. In Your name. Amen.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 23

1 Kings 18:36-37 36At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Elijah had given the prophets of Baal every advantage. He gave them most of the day. They had hundreds of Baal priests. When they had exhausted all their efforts he built an altar of twelve stones, arranged the wood, and placed the sacrificial bull. He dug a trough around the altar. Then he had the people drench the altar with water until the trough filled up.

It must have been 3PM, the time of the evening sacrifice. Elijah prayed the above prayer. He declared the reason for this test was that the people would know there is a God in Israel, and that he was doing these things at God’s command. He prayed that so that the people would know that the LORD (Jehovah, also YHWH) is God. He prayed that they would realize God was turning their hearts back.

A fire fell from heaven and consumed everything, including the altar stones! Then the people shouted, “Elijah, Elijah, Elijah!” Elijah’s name means God is Jehovah! They were declaring that God is Jehovah. Elijah’s prayer was answered.

If we operate at God’s command and pray with a heart to see people realize that the LORD is God, we can expect to see miracles also. We can expect God to turn hearts back to Him. If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Pray the above prayer for your family and nation.

The Service of Love

 Rebecca Jordan Heys , Today Devotions

  JOHN 13:1-17

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example. . . .”

—  John 13:14-15

A few days ago (June 19) we reflected on 1 Corinthians 13, which gives a picture of the beautiful love that Jesus calls us to live by. It’s a love that is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, and is not proud. We show this kind of love in humility and with acts of kindness and service.

Jesus showed this kind of love when he washed his disciples’ feet. John 13 tells us about it. Jesus dressed himself like a servant, wrapping a towel around his waist and getting down on the floor. The disciples felt embarrassed that Jesus would do such a thing. But he explained that a beautiful life consists of receiving this kind of servant-love from him and then sharing it with others.

This is one of the most direct commands that Jesus gives us in the Bible about how to follow his example. Though washing people’s feet may not be a part of our culture today, there are many other ways to serve people with the love of Christ. We can listen to them; we can advocate for them; we can share our time and gifts. We can show people every­where the humble love of Christ, and we can encourage them to show Christ’s love to others. In this way the love of Christ can spread everywhere and transform the world!

Jesus, our servant-King, we are so grateful for the humble love you have shown to us. Give us the humility to receive this love from you and to share it with others every­where. In your name, Amen.

What It Means to Believe in Jesus

Salvation begins with knowing who Jesus is and what He did for you.

June 23, 2022

John 3:16-18

Saving faith has three elements: knowledge, conviction, and trust. Today, let’s look at the first component: the knowledge required to believe in Jesus as our Savior.

Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God. At the request of God the Father, Jesus set aside His divine rights, took on human form, and dwelled on earth (Philippians 2:6-7).

What did He accomplish? To be acceptable to God, sacrifices had to be without defect (Leviticus 22:20). Jesus lived a perfect life, which qualified Him to be our substitute, bearing God’s judgment for our sins. Through His death on the cross, we are forgiven for our transgressions and have peace with God.

Why did He have to die? We could not save ourselves, since even our best deeds are marred by sin. When we accept Christ’s atoning work on our behalf, we are no longer God’s enemy but a member of His family.

When I was saved at age 12, I understood only the simplest aspects of these truths. I knew that I was a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness and that only Jesus could save me. But knowledge alone does not bring salvation—even the demons understood that Jesus was the Son of God (Luke 4:41). Salvation also requires conviction and trust. I believed these truths, and the Lord saved me. Do you believe the same is true for you?

Chosen To Serve

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Chosen to Serve

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Maria Stockman – Digital Copywriter, cbn.com

In 2013, I had the privilege of being part of a church plant in an inner-city neighborhood. It was arguably the most challenging and rewarding spiritual experience I’ve ever faced. The hours were long, and the jobs were thankless; nonetheless, we were a joyful group of people!

It took four months of immersing ourselves in the community before we launched our first church service. We started with a children’s ministry, a mentoring program for youth, and a weekly Bible study. Our offerings fit our mission; for the first year, it felt like that was all we needed. Our church grew over the year, nothing major, but people in the community came to know Jesus and got plugged into the church.

At our weekly Bible study, I noticed the majority of the group were women. So, I approached my pastor and suggested that maybe we start a women’s ministry or at least a women’s Bible study. I thought he would say, “Yes, great idea! My wife could do that!” because isn’t that what pastors’ wives do; they run the women’s ministry? (All the pastor’s wives reading this are groaning right now, I’m sure!) However, he said that if you see a need, you should pray about filling it. Um, excuse me. I was coming to him with an excellent idea for someone else to do, not me!

I agreed to pray about it and revisit the conversation with him later. The Lord absolutely was putting it on my heart and used others in my life to confirm that this was my season to serve Jesus by leading a women’s Bible study. Our time together during this study was so precious, and I still remember many of the great meals, laughter, tears, and prayers we shared over the years.

We’re all chosen to serve, and each of us is called to different areas. In the early Church, in Acts 6, we see that some were neglected during the meal distribution. The apostles gathered all the disciples and basically said, “Hey, we are called to preach the Word of God, so we’re going to appoint some of you to serve” (Acts 6:2, authors paraphrase).

So, through prayer and the laying of hands, the apostles essentially commissioned these men to serve the church to meet all the needs. I love this line in Acts 6, and if you pay close attention, you’ll see a similar theme throughout the book:

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).

The Lord continued to add to the number daily of those who found faith in Jesus Christ. He was rapidly growing the church, and His followers were using their gifts and talents to not only share Jesus but to feed, clothe, and shelter His people.

Are there areas in your church or community where you see an unfulfilled need? Don’t wait for someone to ask! God has chosen you to be His child; therefore, let’s all serve Him and His Kingdom as part of our worship of Him!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 22

1 Kings 18:21 21Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.

Elijah had Ahab meet him on Mount Carmel with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. The people of Israel gathered to watch the showdown. After three and a half years without rain, did they still believe Baal could bring the blessing of rain? He asked them point blank, but they did not answer him. What would it take? What will it take today, as we see the weather plaguing us instead of blessing us? How long will the people of the world look to the god of science? How long will we waver between two opinions? People do not want to believe in God because they intrinsically realize that if He is real He is worthy of our worship. If He is our Creator, then we owe all to Him.

God was wooing Israel back to Himself with a challenge to believe. He had showed the impotence of their supposed gods, just as He had done before when He brought them out of Egypt. What will it take? Though Israel’s false god could not perform for them, they refused to believe in the God that had already performed miracles throughout their history. How many times does God have to miraculously show us that He alone is God? We will look at history and take lessons of the past as valid instruction for politics. Why not learn from the history of the many ways that God has proven Himself to be the Almighty One?

Consider: If there are trials and circumstances in your life today, they may be the mercy of God asking you, “How long will you waver between two opinions?”

The majestic voice

By: Charles Spurgeon

“The voice of the Lord is full of majesty.” Psalm 29:4

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 1:1-4

In some sense Jesus Christ may be called the voice of God, for you know he is called the Word of God frequently in Scripture; and I am sure this Word of God “is full of majesty.” The voice and the word are very much the same thing. God speaks: it is his Son. His Son is the Word; the Word is his Son, and the voice is his Son. Truly the voice, the Word of God, “is full of majesty.” Angels! Ye can tell what majesty sublime invested his blest person when he reigned at his Father’s right hand; ye can tell what were the brightnesses which he laid aside to become incarnate; ye can tell how sparkling was that crown, how mighty was that sceptre, how glorious were those robes bedecked with stars. Spirits! Ye who saw him when he stripped himself of all his glories, ye can tell what was his majesty. And oh! Ye glorified, ye who saw him ascend up on high, leading captivity captive—ye beloved songsters, who bow before him, and unceasingly sing his love! Ye can tell how full of majesty he is. High above all principalities and powers ye see him sit; angels are but servants at his feet; and the mightiest monarchs like creeping worms beneath his throne. High there, where God alone reigns, beyond the sight of angels or the gaze of immortal spirits—there he sits, not majestic merely, but full of majesty. Christian! Adore your Saviour; adore the Son of God; reverence him, and remember at all seasons and times, how little so ever you may be, your Saviour, with whom you are allied, the Word of God, is essentially full of majesty.

For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth (John 1:14); in him the fulness of God dwells bodily (Colossians 1:192:9). It should be a staggering thought that every Christian has received from his fullness (John 1:16Ephesians 1:22,23).

In the Sanctuary

  PSALM 27:1-6

From: Today Devotions

One thing I ask from the Lord . . . to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

—  Psalm 27:4

The word sanctuary can refer to two different things. It describes a place that is holy, set apart for worship. It also describes a place of safety, where someone in danger can go to find shelter and protection.

Psalm 27 helps us understand how the two meanings of this word overlap. When we have received salvation from God, we are called to worship God. We go to the sanctuary to offer God our worship. We do this not for our own sake, but for God’s sake. God is holy and beautiful and calls us to worship him, so we offer God our worship.

But when we give God our worship, we receive a wonderful gift as well. Psalm 27 describes the presence of God as a place of safety. Because God is our Savior, we receive comfort and security in God’s presence. When we go to the sanctuary to worship God, we give God worship, and we receive peace from God.

This is why the psalmist longs to worship God. The beauty of the Lord compels the psalmist to go to the sanctuary of the Lord and worship him.

We can rejoice in following God’s command to worship too. For as we worship God, we receive his comfort, peace blessing, strength, and renewed energy to live for him. God is our stronghold—of whom shall we be afraid?

Beautiful Lord, help me to worship you. May I humbly offer you all my praise. Thank you also for granting me peace and security in your presence. Amen.

Sing Praise To The Lord

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Sing Praise to God

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By Emma Danzey, Crosswalk.com

Psalm 59:16 says, “But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, For You have been my stronghold And a refuge in the day of my distress.”

As For Me, I Shall Sing of Your Strength
Have you ever noticed how young children will sing and hum without a care in the world? It just comes naturally. When they are happy or working on something, they cannot help but sing. Children are not worried about if their voices sound on pitch or if others are even listening, they are in their own world full of glee. Psalm 59:16 starts out saying, “As for me.” Even if the world around us is silent in acknowledging and worshiping the One true God, as for me, I will sing. We can have that child-like faith that leads us to sing and worship our Savior regardless if anyone around us even recognizes that Jesus is Lord. Our attitude of thankfulness and genuine praise will pour out regardless of what others think. We will not people please, we will honor God. We will sing of His strength because He is worthy of our worship and our song.

Yes, I Shall Joyfully Sing of Your Lovingkindness in the Morning
There is something about fresh dew, tweeting birds, and a brand new sunrise that creates a sense of hope for a new day. This Psalm reminds us that we can be joyful in singing about God’s lovingkindness in the morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” The forgiveness and mercies of our Savior give us reason to sing. He gives us hope and the encouragement to keep going and live in His grace each day. We can celebrate His great mercy towards us as we wake up each day and see just as the sun rises again, so His forgiveness remains and we can start afresh.

For You Have Been My Stronghold and a Refuge in the Day of My Distress
Lastly, we sing because God has been there for us in our troubles. He has been our safety and our protection when we have been in difficulties. He has never left our side in our darkest moments. Webster’s Dictionary says that stronghold means, “A place of security or survival.” When we ponder our most challenging days, we remember that we were never isolated in them. Our Stronghold, our Lord was our place of rescue and protection. John 16:33 reminds us that Jesus said, I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” He has been our refuge. He has held us in our sorrows and carried us in our weaknesses.

One of the worst things that we can do is forget how the Lord has been faithful with us throughout our lives. Looking back at our trials and how He was there helps us overcome the struggles of today. It is because of His presence in the difficulties that we have reason to sing. If it were not for the cross of Christ, we would not have the victory. If it were not for our sufferings, we would never see breakthroughs. The mountains we face to climb enable us to pour out praise in a meaningful way. He has given us the joy and ability to sing because He has been faithful not only in the good times but in the hard ones.

Streams in the Desert – June 21

Now after some days, when he returned to Capernaum, the news spread that he was at home. (Mark 2:1)

The polyps which construct the coral reefs, work away under water, never dreaming that they are building the foundation of a new island on which, by-and-by, plants and animals will live and children of God be born and fitted for eternal glory as joint-heirs of Christ.

If your place in God’s ranks is a hidden and secluded one, beloved, do not murmur, do not complain, do not seek to get out of God’s will, if He has placed you there; for without the polyps, the coral reefs would never be built, and God needs some who are willing to be spiritual polyps, and work away out of sight of men, but sustained by the Holy Ghost and in full view of Heaven.

The day will come when Jesus will give the rewards, and He makes no mistakes, although some people may wonder how you came to merit such a reward, as they had never heard of you before.
—Selected

The inspiring mountain top, the helpful fellowship of “just men,” and betake ourselves to our dim homely Emmaus, or to our dread public Colossae, or even to our far Macedonia in the mission field, quietly confident that just where He has placed us, in the usual round of life, He ordains that the borderland may be possessed, the victory won.
—Northcote Deck

Sanctified Living

Today Devotions, Source

  ROMANS 5:1-5

God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

—  Romans 5:5

In the film Tender Mercies, a man and a young boy are baptized. Afterward, the boy says, “Everybody said I was gonna feel like a changed person. I guess I do feel a little different, but I don’t feel a whole lot different. Do you?” The man responds: “Not yet.”

It’s a charming, light-hearted conversation, but it gets at something true about the Christian life. When you are saved by Jesus, or when you are baptized as a sign of your salvation, you do not instantly become a good person. We even notice that sometimes non-Christians are more kind or more generous than some Christians are.

The Bible explains that the Holy Spirit is at work in every person’s life. When a person is being transformed by Jesus, the process is gradual. The person’s life begins to change, to become more beautiful—and it might happen so slowly that we barely notice it. But Romans 5 promises that the Holy Spirit is at work both now and in the future, in good times and in bad. The Spirit uses even the suffering in our lives to shape us into people of perseverance, character, and hope.

If you have committed to following Jesus, you might not feel different yet. But you can trust that the Holy Spirit is working in your life.

Holy Spirit, change me to make me more like Jesus. Give me patience with your steady work in my life. Make my life a beautiful reflection of God’s love for me. Amen.

Abundance

“‘I will refresh the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people will be satisfied with My goodness,’ declares the LORD.” – Jeremiah 31:14 NASB

God’s people had rejected Him. As a consequence, they reaped what they had sown. But this was not His desire. He described how He would “build [them] and [they] will be rebuilt” (v. 4). There would be celebration and fruitfulness. God even promised they “will be satisfied with My goodness ” (v. 14). But this would only happen after they repented and returned to Him.

Here we see God’s designs and purposes. He desires to bless us. As He demonstrated in the Garden of Eden, He created an environment filled with abundance. But Adam and Eve had to obey God and not eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). When they disobeyed, they experienced the fruit of their disobedience.

This pattern is repeated throughout the Bible. It still is true. God makes clear that He desires to bless us abundantly. But there are conditions and consequences for our actions. The choice is up to us, for we will reap what we sow.

Remember that God stands ready to bless you and fill your soul “with abundance” and satisfy you with His goodness.

If you have sinned, confess those sins and turn from them. Humble yourself before Him. Submit yourself completely to Him. Obey His Word. Be sure you are sowing seeds into His Kingdom from the resources He gives you. As you are faithful, expect and believe that He will bless you abundantly.

His Miracles and Wonders

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His Miracles and Wonders

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Brenda Salguero – Coordinator of Orphan’s Promise Guatemala, cbn.com

All people — including Christians — go through moments of disbelief. We even use the common phrase, “I have to see it to believe it,” to express our need to see and understand something tangibly. We may have negative thoughts that separate us from what God wants to do in our lives.

Throughout my work in ministry supporting children, I have heard countless heartbreaking stories where it feels impossible to help improve their situation. However, I receive many good news reports that counteract the negative. God shows me His power and miracles through projects supported by CBN. Every time I encounter a difficult situation that is difficult for my human reasoning, the Lord reminds me:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2 NIV).

Recently, I discovered a project was ending due to a lack of resources for the children in the program. These children received their only meal thanks to this project. Volunteers joined in prayer to cry out to the Lord for His provision.

God made a way, and His miracles and wonders were on display as Orphan’s Promise was able to continue this program. It was there that God confirmed this teaching,

“The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people” (Acts 5:12).

Think about how many miracles we see daily. For me, it’s a miracle that God has chosen me as His daughter to be a blessing to others and thus be able to see and be a part of His wonders. For you, what miracles do you receive daily?

Think of the blessings God has given you, the battles you have fought, and the miracle of waking up each morning to a new day and the opportunity to see and be a part of God’s wonders. See that being alive is a miracle because God has a great purpose for you in His plans.

Father, thank you for loving me and setting me apart to be your child. Please help me see the wonders and miracles you pour out each day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 20

1 Kings 17:14-15 14For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.'” 15She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.

Once the Kerith Ravine dried up, the Lord sent Elijah to the home of a Gentile woman. If you thought ravens were stingy, try humans. But a few verses earlier the LORD said He had commanded her to feed Elijah. Elijah gave her a real test of faith by asking her to feed him first and then cook her and her son a meal from the little left in her jar. If the LORD had not commanded her to do this, I doubt she would have even considered it. Even though there was a promise that a miracle would happen, consider that this woman is not Jewish. The prophet before her had been camping out in a ravine for months. Who would give their last meal to him instead of feeding their own child? But just as the LORD commanded the ravens, so He commanded her.

When she obeyed, she found the promise was true. Imagine the surprise she must have experienced each time she reached in to scrape the bottom of the jars. Just enough for another meal, again, and again, and again!

We have the same experience when we abide in Christ. We think we have scraped the bottom of the mercy and grace jar with a certain brother or sister. We reach into the life of Christ within us and to our surprise there is just enough for the present situation. Then another situation comes along. The last time we knew we scraped the bottom and had just enough. Here this brother or sister is offending us again. How can we possibly find the mercy to forgive him? But we reach into the earthen vessel that holds the treasure and what do you know! It is just enough to meet the present circumstance.

Consider: If you will give love and mercy and grace to those around you first, there will always be enough for you when you have a need. Even when you think you have run out, reach down in there again and you will find it in Christ, the One who lives within you.

A Healthy Body

The Spirit of God dwells within us, and He is reflected in what we think, say, and do.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We tend to separate our spiritual life from our physical life, but that’s not what God intended. He who carefully crafted each of us places high value on our physical being (Psalm 139:13). The human form is a masterpiece, which our Creator has entrusted to our care. And as with any other resource, He expects us to be wise stewards.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians addresses some of the unsavory issues their city was known for. People in the church had been engaging in offensive practices, including sexual misconduct and gluttony (1 Corinthians 5:11 Corinthians 11:21). They incorrectly regarded this behavior as separate from their spiritual lives, as if they could do whatever they pleased with their bodies and still be considered “good Christians.”

But the body and the spirit are one. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul declares, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?” The apostle reminds us that God’s Holy Spirit has come to indwell every believer. If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then His Spirit lives in you, and your body has become a walking testimony. What does your physical being say about your walk with Christ?

Bible in One Year: Psalm 50-54

Childlike Faith

“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 NLT

Although she wrote many poems and hymns, Dorothy Thrupp rarely identified herself publicly as the author. She desired to focus on the message, to let her words speak for themselves. Born in London in 1779, she often used pseudonyms as a way to avoid drawing attention to herself.

She wrote several of her hymns specifically for children. We see that emphasis in the collection Hymns for the Young. Like so much of her work, she published all the music without credit. A central message was communicated in the title of the hymn “God Loves the Child that Humbly Prays.”

She also desired for her hymns and poems to help adults realize the importance of childlike faith. That desire emerges, for example, in “Come, Holy Spirit, Come. Oh, Hear an Infant’s Prayer,” and “God Loves the Little Child that Prays.” In her hymn “See, My Child, the Mighty Ocean,” she sought to help adults and children grasp the depths of God’s love.

During His ministry, Jesus demonstrated just how important children were to Him and the Kingdom of God. After teaching important truths, He thanked the Father “for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike” (Matthew 11:25).

These still are important lessons. Remember the power of childlike faith. Simply believe God. Simply stand on His Word. Simply trust in Jesus. Pray with childlike confidence.

 

Precious Memories with My Father

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Precious Memories with My Father

father and daughter walking on pier

 

Tara Jackson – Telephony Project Assistant

As a proud veteran of the United States Marines Corps, my father loves to reminisce about his time in service. It was only fitting that our morning runs together were led with cadence calls. As a teen, I would rise and grab my shoes in eager anticipation of our runs. You see, our running times were something special—time exclusively reserved for him and me as we trod across the country roads. It was a daddy’s-girl dream. While I learned physical discipline, this developed over time into a spiritual discipline. I learned perseverance.

The lesson from our morning runs is one of many biblical lessons that my father has deposited into my heart. As I reflect on my dad this Father’s Day, I recall the many lessons I have learned through him. And whether he realizes it or not, he has shown me a glimpse of what my heavenly Father is like.

In my early years, I learned about the heart of God for orphans and the less fortunate as my dad cared for the children who lived next door to us and whose home was filled with drugs and chaos. Whether it was to the church, the playground, or the music store, he shepherded them alongside me as if they were his own.

On other occasions, I learned that God is to be prioritized first as my dad would honk our car horn and tell us to come outside for church. If we could be on time for work, school, or a hair salon appointment, we could surely be on time for God.

On still other occasions, I learned that God has given us life to glorify Him and enjoy it together as my dad would wake the entire family up on a Saturday morning to go play tennis. I could go on and on.

Fathers play a fundamental role in the lives of their children. They are to protect, provide, nurture and admonish, and point us to the ultimate source of life, our heavenly Father. While not perfect, they are to be an earthly representation of who God is. If our earthly fathers have such an impact on our lives, compare this to the bursting, unconditional love that our heavenly Father has for us:

“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:11 (NLT)

Consider the many gifts God has given us. He has given us breath for our bodies. He has given us His creation: the beautiful sunset, the pleasure of delicious foods, the warmth of community, and fellowship. Most wonderfully, God has given us His Son:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)

God does not stop there. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we not only have eternal life but have a rich, personal relationship with Him as Abba Father (Romans 8:15). With all the blessings our heavenly Father has given us, day by day our praises should echo what great love the Father has lavished on us! 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

This Father’s Day, let’s take time to recognize those who have taken on the role of fatherhood in our lives, whether a biological father, church father, etc. Lastly, let’s give thanks to our heavenly Father.

Streams in the Desert – June 19

  • 202219 Jun

Grain is crushed, though one certainly does not thresh it forever. The wheel of one’s wagon rolls over it, but his horses do not crush it. (Isa 28:28)

Many of us cannot be used to become food for the world’s hunger until we are broken in Christ’s hands. “Bread corn is bruised.” Christ’s blessing ofttimes means sorrow, but even sorrow is not too great a price to pay for the privilege of touching other lives with benediction. The sweetest things in this world today have come to us through tears and pain.
—J. R. Miller

God has made me bread for His elect, and if it be needful that the bread must be ground in the teeth of the lion to feed His children, blessed be the name of the Lord.
—Ignatius

“We must burn out before we can give out. We cease to bless when we cease to bleed.”

“Poverty, hardship and misfortune have pressed many a life to moral heroism and spiritual greatness. Difficulty challenges energy and perseverance. It calls into activity the strongest qualities of the soul. It was the weights on father’s old clock that kept it going. Many a head wind has been utilized to make port. God has appointed opposition as an incentive to faith and holy activity.

“The most illustrious characters of the Bible were bruised and threshed and ground into bread for the hungry. Abraham’s diploma styles him as ’the father of the faithful.’ That was because he stood at the head of his class in affliction and obedience.

“Jacob suffered severe threshings and grindings. Joseph was bruised and beaten and had to go through Potiphar’s kitchen and Egypt’s prison to get to his throne.

“David, hunted like a partridge on the mountain, bruised, weary and footsore, was ground into bread for a kingdom. Paul never could have been bread for Caesar’s household if he had not endured the bruising, whippings and stonings. He was ground into fine flour for the royal family.”

“Like combat, like victory. If for you He has appointed special trials, be assured that in His heart He has kept for you a special place. A soul sorely bruised is a soul elect.”

Sunday Reflection: The Promise of Giving

From: InTouch, ministeries.

Just like the God in whose image we’re made, we are to be generous givers.

June 19, 2022

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the scriptures referenced throughout.

In Acts 20:1-38, Paul met with the Ephesian church elders one last time. They all believed their next reunion would be in eternity, so the gathering closed with heartfelt prayer, tears, embraces, and Paul’s final encouragement: “You must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

You may have heard this promise before, but have you ever put it to the test? Offering others our time, money, resources, and energy may feel risky, but Jesus Himself assured us it is not. In fact, He connected the idea of giving with blessing. What’s more, one reason we are blessed with ample supply is so that we can bless others (2 Corinthians 9:8-11).

Giving was always part of God’s divine purpose for us—which means we already have what we need in order to begin sharing with others. By doing so, we’re actually following Jesus’ example: We receive His generosity and His life and then let it flow through us like a river.

Think about it

• What can you share with someone today—good works (1 Timothy 6:18), comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), resources (Ephesians 4:28), or maybe patience (James 1:19)?

Bible in One Year: Psalm 44-49

Beautiful Love

 Rebecca Jordan Heys, Today Devotions

  1 CORINTHIANS 13:1-13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

—  1 Corinthians 13:1

Imagine that you want to impress a friend with a special party. You put all your energy and attention into getting the details just right. But you get so stressed out in the process that you ignore your friend. Your friend might say, “I don’t want a fancy party; I just want to spend time with you!” In your efforts to make something beautiful, you end up missing the point. Your friend doesn’t require a lot of fanfare and expense; your friend just wants the beauty of your personal time and attention.

Some of the Christians in the city of Corinth had the special gifts of speaking in tongues and prophesying. They thought these gifts were impressive, and the whole community tended to focus on these displays of faith. As a result, though, they ended up missing the point of Christian community, which is to love one another. The apostle Paul wrote them a letter (1 Corinthians) to encourage them to get back to the basics. And in chapter 13 he describes the self-sacrificial kind of love (agape) that follows the pattern of Jesus himself.

Jesus has shown us the most beautiful way, the way of love. Following his example, we can let go of worrying about being impressive. Instead, we can focus on what’s truly beautiful—and that is self-sacrificial love.

God, sometimes we get distracted and forget about the most beautiful thing of all. Restore us again to the beauty of your love in Jesus. Amen.

Jesus Was Arrested For Our Sins

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Arrested

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Maria Stockman – Digital Copywriter, cbn.com

Have you ever heard the saying, “If you were arrested for your faith, would there be enough evidence for your conviction”? It’s an interesting question to reflect on. Do I go to church enough? Am I nice to the cashier at the supermarket? Do I yield for the right amount of time and wave people on ahead of me enough? Thankfully, none of my good deeds equate to my salvation through the blood of Jesus. But I think about John and Peter in Acts 4 and how they were arrested for sharing about Jesus:

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. (Acts 4:1-3 ESV)

They had healed a man who was crippled, and the religious leaders weren’t too fond of the idea that this had happened in the name of Jesus. As they questioned Peter, he proclaimed the gospel in his explanation, stating that Jesus was raised from the dead and through Him alone can we receive salvation.

Verse 8 says that Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit,” and later in verse 13, the religious leaders “saw the boldness of Peter and John.” How incredible is it to know that as believers, we have the Holy Spirit in us and can be bold for Jesus!

Peter and John were truly arrested for their faith and, according to the religious leaders, had cause for their conviction. As much as I wouldn’t want to be arrested if the charges are based on my faith, I pray that my life has been one that boldly and loudly screams the name of Jesus Christ.

How are you living? Are your actions and words evidence of your faith in Jesus Christ? I’m not talking about whether you are kind to strangers, but are you boldly sharing the name of Jesus to your family, friends, and neighbors who don’t know Him? No matter your answer, I invite you to join me in being intentional with sharing Jesus this week with a loved one.

Father, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to dwell within us and empower us to speak boldly about your Son, Jesus. Please give us an opportunity to share Him with someone this week. Use us to speak Your Truth and Life to someone who needs it most. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 18

1 Kings 12:7-8 7They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” 8But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.

Solomon reigned for forty years, the same number of years as his father David. Because his heart turned to other gods, the LORD promised ten tribes to one of his overseers, Jeroboam. When Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was to be crowned king, the people asked him to please lighten the burden Solomon had placed on them. Solomon had heavily taxed the people and given them assignments in service to the kingdom. Rehoboam asked the people to give him three days to consider this.

He went to the elders that had advised his father. They had been a part of the success of his father and had a track record of giving good advice. They had years of experience and were very wise individuals. They advised Rehoboam to be a servant leader. They told him that if he would indeed lighten their load, the people would keep their word and serve him faithfully all their life.

Rehoboam didn’t like that advise. He wanted what his father had. Why should he tighten his belt and do with less? He sought out the advice of the young men he grew up with. They told him what he wanted to hear. He answered the people that he would be harsher than his father. The ten northern tribes drew away with Jeroboam as their leader, fulfilling the word of God.

Mankind always wants more. It is hard for the carnal nature to give up niceties of life but oh so easy to desire more. In Rehoboam’s greed, he lost nearly all. Instead of a minor cutback, he had to make a major one.

Consider: When seeking advice we have a tendency to look to those who will tell us what we want to hear, and we reject the advice of those who tell us what we would rather not hear. Though age does not always bring wisdom, ask advice of those who have the life that shows they are wise. Ask people who demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit. Even if you don’t like their answers, realize they are best for you. Refusing sound advice may cause you greater loss than you feared.

Beautiful Death

  MATTHEW 27:45-54

[Jesus] gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

—  Matthew 27:50-51

 

You might wonder why the title of this meditation is “Beau­tiful Death.” The Bible affirms life, so how could any death be considered beautiful?

But, in a way, this title is similar to the name “Good Friday,” which we use to refer to the day of Jesus’ death. In some ways that day was not good at all. We mourn the death of Jesus, and we regret the sin that caused him to die. But in other ways the day has been very good indeed. The death of Jesus is good news for the world, because in his death Jesus tore down the barrier between God and sinful humanity. Now we can be united with God because of Jesus’ death. So we can say that the death of Jesus was beautiful.

The book of Matthew adds that at the moment of Jesus’ death, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” That curtain barred the way to the holiest room in the temple. It represented the separation between the holy God and his sinful people. But because of Jesus’ death, the curtain was not needed anymore. People could be united with God again. God loved the world so much that he sent Jesus to die, uniting us with himself again—and that is beautiful!

Lord Jesus, we praise you for your great love, shown by your death for all who believe in you. Thank you for your beautiful death, which unites us with God again. Amen.

Vile ingratitude

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations.” Ezekiel 16:1,2

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

God gives to his people riches, and they offer them before the shrine of their covetousness. He gives them talent, and they prostitute it to the service of their ambition. He gives them judgement, and they pander to their own advancement, and seek not the interest of his kingdom. He gives them influence; that influence they use for their own aggrandisement, and not for his honour. This is like taking his gold, and his jewels, and hanging them upon the neck of the god Ashtaroth. Ah! Let us take care when we think of our sins, that we set them in this light. It is taking God’s mercies to lavish them upon his enemies. Now, if you were to make me a present of some token of your regard, I think it would be the meanest and most ungracious thing in the world I could do to take it over to your enemy, and say, “There, I come to pay my respects.” To pay my respects to your foe with that which had been the token of your favour! There are two kings at enmity with one another—two powers that have been at battle, and one of them has a rebellious subject, who is caught in the very act of treason, and condemned to die. The king very graciously pardons him, and then munificently endows him. “There,” says he, “I give you a thousand crown-pieces;” and that man takes the bounty, and devotes it to increasing the resources of the king’s enemies. Now, that were a treason and baseness too vile to be committed by worldly men. Alas then! That is what you have done. You have bestowed on God’s enemies what God gave to you as a love-token. Oh, men and brethren, let us bow ourselves in dust and ashes before God.

For meditation: Is a readiness to use God’s gifts selfishly the reason why he appears to say “No” to so many of your prayer-requests (James 4:3-4)?

Jesus Glory In Us

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His Glory in Me

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Marissa Nordlum – Email Analyst, cbn.com

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Jesus with skin on”?

This phrase is often used by pastors and leaders alike to remind us to be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever we go. Just as Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, he left us His Spirit and we have His help to “be Jesus with skin on” wherever we go. Growing up in youth group, I heard this phrase from my youth pastor often. He would encourage us to shine the love of Jesus so brightly, that wherever we went others would see Him in and through us—His glory on display in our lives.

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

Having His glory at work within my life is still a goal and a prayer of mine today as an adult. We can read about Jesus’ glory on display through the early church when we read the book of Acts.

Jesus’ disciples were on fire. Not literally, but they were filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Everywhere they went, the glory of Jesus shone through them. They accepted the Great Commission and began to preach the Gospel and heal in the name of Jesus. They were literally “Jesus with skin on.”

Acts 3:1-10 tells the story of Peter as he heals a lame beggar by the temple gate called Beautiful. This is one of the first recorded miracles after Jesus’ resurrection. This blind beggar was carried to the gate every day since birth in hopes that one day he would be healed. Can you imagine? Every single day. Holding onto a shred of hope that tomorrow just “might” be the day that you are healed. I can’t help but wonder if the man ever lost hope for healing. I imagine so, because one day when Peter and John walked by him, instead of asking for healing, he asked for money (Acts 3:3-4).

But Peter had something better to offer him. He came as Jesus with skin on, and in the name of Jesus, he was ready to help this man.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. ”Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. Acts 3:6-8

This man who was crippled from birth was at that moment healed. His feet and ankles became strong, and he wasn’t just walking, but jumping and running around the temple courts praising God for this miracle! The glory of Jesus was on full display in and through the disciples, and in turn, it was then on full display in and through this once-crippled beggar.

Today my prayer is that the glory of Jesus would be on full display in and through my life. So much so that people will not only see it, but be changed and transformed by it as well, just like in Acts 3. May we become mindful and aware that everywhere we go, we can be Jesus with skin on. May others see and experience the glory of the Lord in and through our lives.

Let’s pray: Lord, may we always give You the glory for every miracle. Our reward is found in giving glory to You. Let Your glory be evident in and through our lives today and let others see, experience, and be changed by You in us. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Let Down Your Wings – Streams in the Desert – June 17

  • 202217 Jun

Then there was a voice from above the platform over their heads when they stood still. (Ezek 1:25)

That is the letting down of the wings? People so often say, “How do you get the voice of the Lord?” Here is the secret. They heard the voice when they stood and let down their wings.

We have seen a bird with fluttering wings; though standing still, its wings are fluttering. But here we are told they heard the voice when they stood and had let down their wings.

Do we not sometimes kneel or sit before the Lord and yet feel conscious of a fluttering of our spirits? Not a real stillness in His presence.

A dear one told me several days ago of a certain thing she prayed about, “But,” said she, “I did not wait until the answer came.”

She did not get still enough to hear Him speak, but went away and followed her own thought in the matter. And the result proved disastrous and she had to retrace her steps.

Oh, how much energy is wasted! How much time is lost by not letting down the wings of our spirit and getting very quiet before Him! Oh, the calm, the rest, the peace which come as we wait In His presence until we hear from Him!

Then, ah then, we can go like lightning, and turn not as we go but go straight forward whithersoever the Spirit goes. (Ezek. 1:1, 20)

“Be still! Just now be still!
Something thy soul hath never heard,
Something unknown to any song of bird,
Something unknown to any wind, or wave, or star,
A message from the Fatherland afar,
That with sweet joy the homesick soul shall thrill,
Cometh to thee if thou canst but be still.

The most beautiful Kingdom Possible­

From; Today Devotions

  MATTHEW 5:1-12

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of ­heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

—  Matthew 5:3-5

People often say that they are “blessed” when they are enjoying good things in life: a beautiful sunset, time with their loved ones, a comfortable place to live, exciting travels. But when we hear what Jesus taught about being “blessed,” we get a different picture. Jesus describes a number of people who seem to be the opposite of blessed. The list includes people who are broken down, struggling, or even persecuted. How could Jesus call them blessed?

Through his life and teaching, Jesus introduced a new kind of world. It was a new way of understanding what a beautiful community looks like. Jesus called this beautiful new community “the kingdom of God” or “the kingdom of heaven.” And in God’s kingdom, the typical priorities of our world (wealth, pride, winning at all costs) are turned upside down.

In God’s kingdom, Jesus says all people are welcome, not just those who are rich or respectable. In God’s kingdom, a beautiful life of mercy and peace is possible by God’s grace. We may feel disoriented at first when we follow Jesus, because his values are not the values of the world. But the right-side-up kingdom of God is good news for us and for the whole world, because it is the most beautiful kingdom possible.

Jesus, thank you for bringing the kingdom of God. Thank you for teaching us about a beautiful new kind of world, even though it can seem upside down to us at first. Amen.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 17

1 Kings 11:4 4As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.

Solomon started with a heart after God. He had learned from his father, David, that God was worthy of all our praise. The blessing of God was upon Solomon, and he was probably the wisest and wealthiest king to ever live. But in prosperity, there is great danger. He had a weakness for women. He married women from the countries that the Lord had forbidden the Israelites to marry. God had warned in the Law that if there should be a king over Israel, he was not to multiply to himself many wives (Deuteronomy 17:17). God warned that wives of other nations would turn his heart from the true God.

There are a number of warnings for us in this sad account of the demise of Solomon. The first is to pay attention to the word of God. We may think our abilities or gifts make us exempt from some command of God. We may justify our sin in any number of ways, but we will suffer for disobedience. The warnings in the Word are for our own good.

Choose your mate carefully. Overtime your mate will affect your relationship with God. You may think you can win him or her, or that you will not be affected, but two do become one. There will be influence. If you are already in a marriage with an unbeliever, pray! Pray for strength to stand firm in your faith. Pray for opportunities to help turn your mates’ heart. Look for the leading of the Holy Spirit to share God’s love for him or her.

We see in this passage that God is after a fully devoted heart, not a heart of compromise. In our old age when we are slowing down, we are tempted to slow down on our wholehearted devotion. Don’t go there! Finish strong. Endure to the end. Have a heart like David!

Admonition: Don’t let anything or anyone dilute your testimony.

Christ’s Lingering Fragrance

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For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being  saved
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Christ’s Lingering Fragrance

by Annie Yorty, Crosswalk.com

“Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 NASB 1995)

Over a month ago, my daughter wore a new shirt, one with tiny, sparkly sequins sewn throughout the fabric. Today I opened my dresser drawer and something shiny caught my eye. You guessed it! A gold sequin from my daughter’s blouse nestled among my jeans.

That’s not the only place I’ve found the sparkles. I spotted them on the front porch, in the silverware drawer, on my car seat, in the clothing hamper, and even in my shoe. Though I’ve cleaned my house (I promise, I do vacuum regularly), they keep gleaming from my area rugs and winking from the hard surface floors. And let’s not even talk about the collection I’ve discovered in the washer’s rubber gasket and the dryer’s lint collector.

It’s a wonder there are any sequins remaining on the shirt. And all that was from just one wearing. I wonder if our lives should be a bit like those shimmering sequins reflecting the light. Does evidence of Jesus keep shining in the places we’ve been? Have we influenced anyone for Christ by our presence?

In 2 Corinthians, Paul compares this idea of lasting influence to fragrance. First and foremost, he says, we need to pass the sniff test with God. Does a “Christ-like” aroma emanate from us? Research reveals that mothers recognize their own babies by scent.1 Likewise, God knows the aroma of His Son, Jesus. If we’re sticking close to the presence of Jesus, His glorious fragrance rubs off on us. This pleasing aroma then rises from us to God.

But anyone who has ever baked chocolate chip cookies knows that smells also permeate every bit of airspace in your home. In the same way, the sweet aroma of Christ wafting from us should infuse the atmosphere wherever we go. Paul says those we meet will sense Jesus in us and respond.

Responses to the fragrance of Christ will vary. “To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume” (2 Corinthians 2:16 NLT).

Who wants to smell like death? I don’t think that perfume will ever be sold at Saks Fifth Avenue. But apparently, that’s what some people will discern from the presence of Christ in us. His righteousness is an affront that spotlights the doomed state of their souls. Others, however, will bask in Christ’s life-giving perfume. They will deeply inhale the scent of life and be saved.

We do not control the perception of our Christ-like fragrance. Instead, we focus solely on faithfully disseminating the aroma of Jesus.

And what is the aroma of Jesus? A hymn writer once wrote that if the ocean were filled with ink, we could exhaust its supply just by writing about the love found in Jesus (The Love of God, 1917)2. But Philippians 2:8 distills Christ’s character into two words: humble obedience. Jesus, though He was God, chose to allow His Father to lead every thought, word, and deed.

We have the same mandate. As we yield in submission to God’s Spirit in us, our characters reflect more and more of Jesus. We will desire and be empowered to obey God’s directions. His character, His fragrance, will cling to us and penetrate the senses of everyone we meet.

In Ephesians chapter five, Paul provides some practical ways the Spirit, in cooperation with our submitted will, helps us exude Christ’s fragrance. Our speech, Paul says, must transform from foolish and coarse talk to thankfulness (5:4). He also explains that we must reject greed, which leads to the worship of false gods (5:5). In this chapter, you can read many other examples of fragrance-producing attitudes and actions that are pleasing to God.

I don’t know how many sequins were sewn onto my daughter’s glittering blouse. Though it’s hard to imagine, the sequins will eventually run out as she continues to shed them.

Fortunately, we need never conserve the fragrance of Christ. His supply is limitless, so we can liberally soak ourselves in it every day. When we do, His cloud of sweet perfume will rise pleasing to God and life-changing to people.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 16

1 Kings 10:8-9 8How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.”

The Queen of Sheba had heard of the wisdom of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD. We often overlook her interest in Solomon’s relationship to the name of the LORD. The LORD’s name is the sum of all His attributes. The LORD is all-wise, but He is also faithful, merciful, loving, just, true, holy, etc. She came to see it all in Solomon. All men are a poor reflection, but Solomon was one of the best in the world at that time.

After spending time asking questions, hearing his answers, and seeing the wealth and splendor of his royal court, she burst into the praise of verse 9. Once again, we have an expression of just why it is the LORD bestows His favor. Why did God place Solomon over Israel? It was because of His eternal love for her.

Have people ever come to visit with you because of your relation to the name of the LORD? They may have without your awareness of the real reason for their visit. If we are truly walking with the LORD, in His Spirit, the seekers will be overwhelmed too. It is not you they are overwhelmed about, but the LORD whose life is expressed through you.

Why has God placed you where you are and have you doing what you do? It is because He loves the people around you and desires for you to be an example of Him in that environment.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me express Your wonderful character in my daily life that others might come to know You.

The Answer to Prayer – Streams in the Desert – June 16

  • 202216 Jun

Patiently wait for God alone, my soul! For he is the one who gives me confidence. — Ps 62:5

Our too general neglect of looking for answers to what we ask, shows how little we are in earnest in our petitions. A husbandman is not content without the harvest; a marksman will observe whether the ball hits the target; a physician watches the effect of the medicine which he gives; and shall the Christian be careless about the effect of his labor?

Every prayer of the Christian, made in faith, according to the will of God, for which God has promised, offered up in the name of Jesus Christ, and under the influence of the Spirit, whether for temporal or for spiritual blessings, is, or will be, fully answered.

God always answers the general design and intention of His people’s prayers, in doing that which, all things considered, is most for His own glory and their spiritual and eternal welfare. As we never find that Jesus Christ rejected a single supplicant who came to Him for mercy, so we believe that no prayer made in His name will be in vain.

The answer to prayer may be approaching, though we discern not its coming. The seed that lies under ground in winter is taking root in order to a spring and harvest, though it appears not above ground, but seems dead and lost.
—Bickersteth

Delayed answers to prayer are not only trials of faith, but they give us opportunities of honoring God by our steadfast confidence in Him under apparent repulses.
—C. H.

Beauty Revealed

  GENESIS 28:10-17

“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. . . . How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God.”

—  Genesis 28:16-17

I often pray that God would give me more clear examples of his presence and beauty in my life. I hear about Christians who have a vibrant prayer life, or who feel the presence of God so surely, and I wish that I had those experiences more often myself. I pray that God would show up more in my life.

Those are good desires to have and good prayers to pray. But I could also pray for the ability to see God’s beautiful salvation that is already present in my life and in the world.

That’s what Jacob was able to see. He had a dream about a stairway with the angels of God going up and down on it. God spoke directly to Jacob in that dream, reminding him of God’s promises to love him and to care for his family. When Jacob awoke, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” The beauty of God’s salvation had been with him all along.

That doesn’t always happen in dreams, but God does assure us that he is true to his promises. I am thankful that God’s presence is always with me, whether I recognize it or not.

I pray that God will be near, and I also pray that I will be able to recognize God’s presence and beauty all around.

God of Jacob, I praise you for your presence in my life. Thank you for the times when I am surprised by your beauty and your loving presence, assuring me that you are always with me. Amen.

Holy Spirit Outpouring

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Holy Spirit Outpouring

young man praying

 

Maria Stockman – Digital Copywriter, cbn.com

Have you ever been so drunk you couldn’t get up and walk? I have! I am a bit embarrassed to share but it may help someone.

So, a dear friend and I had driven to N.C. for a special church service. We were hungry for the Lord. We went expecting to receive from the Lord, and we did. The presence of the Lord was in that place. During worship, I forgot all about my friend and realized I could no longer stand. I was weeping and got all snotty-nosed. Strangely, I was also laughing because the joy of the Lord was flowing all through me. My friend was trying to protect me from getting trampled upon as people were headed to and from the altar and dancing around, but I was oblivious to any danger. It was Jesus and me. I remember hearing the preacher did some sort of altar call and I decided I wanted that too. The only problem was that I couldn’t get up off that floor. So, I tried crawling, a sight for sore eyes indeed! That night was so good! And that, my friends, is what drunkenness looks like!

The Bible shares the account of a whole house full of believers who see and feel the power of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. How I would have loved to be in that upper room! Acts 2:2-4 says,

“And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (ESV).

This encounter both “amazed and perplexed” the crowds gathered in Jerusalem (verse 12). Some ridiculed them as being “filled with new wine” (verse 13). Peter stood up and let people know the truth about what had taken place. Acts 2:15 says,

“For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.”

Oh, that the power of God would alight upon us like this today!

Peter and the other disciples, empowered to witness, left the confines of that upper room, and spoke with great boldness “the mighty works of God” (verse 11). Peter began quoting a familiar passage to them from the prophet Joel. That prophetic Word came to pass in their midst as God remembered His people.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 15

1 Kings 8:59-61 59And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, 60so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. 61But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”

Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple is worth taking time to study. The end of that prayer is our Scripture today. He asks that this prayer be continually before the LORD and to uphold their cause. The reason he is bold enough to ask this is verse 60, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. This was God’s heart. If Israel would truly live in relationship with God, then the world would receive the witness of God’s faithfulness and love. The world would know there is no other god. That was God’s intention in forming Israel as a nation, to witness to the world the blessing of obedience and worship of the one true God.

But, there is always a condition. That is because we are creatures with a free will. But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God. It is the same today. You are the only bible that many will read. God will hear your prayer and uphold your cause, but your heart must be fully committed to Him. If people look to you as a person in relationship with God but your walk does not match your talk, they will be misled. But if you are fully committed, even with your mistakes, they will see an example. The eyes of Israel had been on David when he fell, but because his heart was fully committed, they saw an example of conviction and repentance. They saw a humbled man.

Consider: Is there room for any other loyalty in your heart, or are you fully committed? If at this time you are fully committed, see that you stay that way. Then you can know that the LORD will hear your prayer and uphold your cause.

Omniscience

Author: Charles Spurgeon

Omniscience: means God knows everything.

“Thou God seest me.” Genesis 16:13

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 94:4-11

It were hard to suppose a God who could not see his own creatures; it were difficult in the extreme to imagine a divinity who could not behold the actions of the works of his hands. The word which the Greeks applied to God implied that he was a God who could see. They called him Theos; and they derived that word, if I read rightly, from the root theisthai, to see, because they regarded God as being the all-seeing one, whose eye took in the whole universe at a glance, and whose knowledge extended far beyond that of mortals. God Almighty, from his very essence and nature, must be an Omniscient God. Strike out the thought that he sees me, and you extinguish Deity by a single stroke. There would be no God if that God had no eyes, for a blind God is not God at all. We could not conceive such a one. Stupid as idolaters may be, it is very hard to think that even they had fashioned a blind god: even they have given eyes to their gods, though they see not. Juggernaut, or Jagannatha (a god worshipped in some areas of Hinduism), has eyes stained with blood; and the gods of the ancient Romans had eyes, and some of them were called far-seeing gods. Even the heathen can scarce conceive of a god that has no eyes to see, and certainly we are not so mad as to imagine for a single second that there can be a Deity without the knowledge of everything that is done by man beneath the sun. I say it is as impossible to conceive of a God who did not observe everything, as to conceive of a round square. When we say, “Thou God,” we do, in fact, comprise in the word “God” the idea of a God who sees everything, “Thou God seest me.”

For meditation: The proofs of Jesus’ deity in Mark 2:5-8: He could see faith, forgive sins and perceive the thoughts of the heart. He still can!

Our Protector

Though hardship in life is inevitable, God is our protector and refuge, and He is with us through it all.

Psalm 62:5-8

Have you noticed all the instability in our world today? There is much to fear if we have only ourselves or others to rely on in these troubling times. But God is our Protector, and when we run to Him, we can have peace in the midst of uncertainty. If He is our Rock, then we won’t be shaken by the events in this world or even those in our own life.

The Lord is able to safeguard us in treacherous times. No matter where trouble originates—with others, external circumstances, or our own actions—we can find ourselves in danger and afraid. Thankfully, we have a loving God who leads us to safety.

Now that doesn’t mean the Lord will rescue us from all trouble, but He will walk with us through every painful circumstance. As we pour out our heart to God and let His Word bring comfort, He will renew our mind, calm our fears, and strengthen our trust in Him.

Do you take refuge in God when circumstances are frightening, or do you watch the news or browse the web looking for hope and reassurance? The world cannot provide the help you seek. Only when the Lord is your stronghold will you remain unshaken.

 

Empowered To Witness

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Empowered to Witness

women hugging and consoling

 

Tori Troncone – Email Analyst, CBN.com

Recently, I was asked to give a presentation on behalf of my local pregnancy resource center to a company looking to partner with nonprofit organizations in my community. I prepped for weeks. I made a slide show filled with statistics, facts, graphics, and great pictures. I was confident that they couldn’t say no to the pitch I had planned!

But when it was time to present, my slide show wouldn’t work. It was all I had prepared; I didn’t have notes; there was no backup plan. So it was just me and that blank screen.

Yikes! Isn’t that everyone’s greatest fear when it comes to public speaking? Even with all the preparation in the world, something can go wrong. We’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, of sounding silly, or that somehow, we’ll be left without the tools we need.

I sometimes experience these same fears when it comes to talking about Jesus. I know Jesus commissioned me to be a witness for Himself, but what if I say the wrong thing or don’t make a good enough pitch? I want to tell others the Good News, but what if I mess it up?

Thankfully, because we serve a good God, He has not given us this commission without the key to fulfilling it! We don’t have to rely on our ability when bearing witness. We don’t have to depend on a slide show presentation or any other earthly thing.

Before His Ascension, Jesus said,

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NLT).

In addition to the command to be His witnesses, Christ promised that He will never leave us standing unprepared or empty-handed when sharing our testimonies. He made similar promises in John 14:16-17 and Luke 24:49. Jesus promised us something infinitely more reliable than a slide show presentation; He promised us the power of the Holy Spirit!

Paul knew this truth and expressed it in 1 Corinthians 2:4,

“My message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Christ has already equipped us to be His witnesses by the power of the Holy Spirit. We don’t need a fancy presentation or a long speech full of big words. The power of our testimony is not dependent on us but our never-failing God!

May these promises encourage and empower us to be witnesses to a world that is in desperate need of the hope of Jesus Christ. We can depend on the power of the Holy Spirit as promised to us in the Word of the Lord!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 14

1 Kings 8:10-11 10When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.

When Solomon had finished building the temple that David had planned, the priests stepped out of the Holy Place (an inner room of the temple). Then a cloud filled the temple of the LORD. The Hebrews associated clouds with the glory of God. Their ancestors had seen the cloud on Sinai when Moses met with God. The glory of the LORD so filled the temple that the priests could not come in and do their assigned duties.

Our bodies are the temples of the LORD. Jesus said, “Destroy this temple (meaning his body) and in three days I will raise it up.” His body was so full of the glory of God that He did nothing except what the Father showed Him. Jesus didn’t really have His own ministry isolated and of itself. He was a yielded instrument to the glory of His Father. He always yielded Himself to the Father, and so “we have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 The glory of the Father was His operating source.

We are often carried away with our ministry and wrapped up in what must be done. If we are not careful and focused, we will end up ministering from the wrong source. The glory needs to fill our temple, our earthly body. Then there is no room for us to get in the way and make a mess of things. The glory needs to fill us so that He is the source of our activity and we are merely submitted vessels for that glory.

Consider: What is the source of your activity? Is your temple filled with the glory of God?

Streams in the Desert – June 14

  • 202214 Jun

But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:32)

Christian, take good care of thy faith, for recollect that faith is the only means whereby thou canst obtain blessings. Prayer cannot draw down answers from God’s throne except it be the earnest prayer of the man who believes.

Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth to Heaven, on which God’s messages of love fly so fast that before we call He answers, and while we are yet speaking He hears us. But if that telegraphic wire of faith be snapped, how can we obtain the promise?

Am I in trouble? I can obtain help for trouble by faith. Am I beaten about by the enemy? My soul on her dear Refuge leans by faith.

But take faith away, then in vain I call to God. There is no other road betwixt my soul and Heaven. Blockade the road, and how can I communicate with the Great King?

Faith links me with Divinity. Faith clothes me with the power of Jehovah. Faith insures every attribute of God in my defense. It helps me to defy the hosts of hell. It makes me march triumphant over the necks of my enemies. But without faith how can I receive anything from the Lord?

Oh, then, Christian, watch well thy faith. “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”
—C. H. Spurgeon

We boast of being so practical a people that we want to have a surer thing than faith. But did not Paul say that the promise was, by FAITH that it might be SURE? (Romans 4:16)

His Name is Grace

From: Today Devotion

  EXODUS 34:5-10

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness . . . forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

—  Exodus 34:6-7

What do you say when you introduce yourself? Most people introduce themselves by saying their name, and they might tell about something they like to do, what their work is, or where they are from. People can learn some important things about you right away, just from the words of your introduction.

In our reading from Exodus today, God meets with Moses and pauses to describe himself so that the people can know who he is. God calls himself “the Lord” and says he is “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Similar descriptions of God are included in many places in the Bible. The gracious nature of God is at the heart of his identity. How beautiful!

Knowing who God is, we can take comfort that nothing from our past, present, or future will separate us from God’s love. When we meet the God of grace, we can find peace, knowing that God is forgiving, patient, and loving. God’s grace and forgiveness lead us to know him, and his patience and lovingkindness faithfully guide us to follow him forever.

Lord, I praise you for your beautiful name. You are compassionate and merciful. I praise you for forgiving my sin, and for guiding me to follow you always. Amen.

—Dan Crawford.