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Judgement Day Is Coming

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Waiting on God as a God of Judgment

Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee. . . For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Isaiah 26:8-9 The LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait upon him. Isaiah 30:18

God is a God of mercy and a God of judgment. Mercy and judgment are forever together in His dealings. In the Flood, in the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, in the overthrow of the Canaanites, we ever see mercy in the midst of judgment. In these, the inner circle of His own people, we see it, too. The judgment punishes the sin, while mercy saves the sinner. Or, rather, mercy saves the sinner, not in spite of, but by means of, the very judgment that came upon his sin. In waiting on God, we must beware of forgetting this: as we wait we must expect Him as a God of judgment.

”In the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee.” That will prove true in our inner experience. If we are honest in our longing for holiness, in our prayers to be wholly the Lord’s, His holy presence will stir up and discover hidden sin. It, will bring us very low in the bitter conviction of the evil of our nature, its opposition to God’s law, and its inability to fulfill that law. The words will come true: ”Who may abide the day of his coming?. . . For he is like a refiner’s fire” (Mal. 3:2). ”Oh that thou wouldest. . . come down. . . As when the melting fire burneth” (Isa. 64:1).

In great mercy, God executes, within the soul, His judgments upon sin, as He makes it feel its wickedness and guilt. Many try to flee from these judgments. The soul that longs for God, and for deliverance from sin, bows under them in humility and in hope. In silence of soul, it says, ”Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered” (Num. 10:35). ”In the way of thy judgments. . . have we waited for thee.”

Let no one who seeks to learn the blessed art of waiting on God, wonder if at first the attempt to wait on Him only reveals more of sin and darkness. Let no one despair because unconquered sins, evil thoughts, or great darkness appear to hide God’s face. Was not, in His own beloved Son, the gift and bearer of His mercy on Calvary, the mercy as hidden and lost in the judgment? Oh, submit and sink down deep under the judgment of your every sin. Judgment prepares the way and breaks out in wonderful mercy. It is written, ”Zion shall be redeemed with judgment” (Isa. 1:27). Wait on God, in the faith that His tender mercy is working out His redemption in the midst of judgment. Wait for Him; He will be gracious to you.

There is another application still, one of unspeakable solemnity. We are expecting God, in the way of His judgments, to visit his earth; we are waiting for Him. What a thought! We know of these coming judgments. We know that there are tens of thousands of professing Christians who live on in carelessness, and who, if no change comes, must perish under God’s hand.

Oh, will we not do our utmost to warn them, to plead with and for them, if God may lave mercy on them! If we feel our lack of boldness, zeal, and cower, will we not begin to wait on God more definitely and persistently as a God of judgment? Will we not ask Him to so reveal Himself in the judgments that are coming on our very friends, that we may be inspired with a new fear of Him and them, and constrained to speak and pray as never yet before?

Verily, waiting on God is not leant to be a spiritual self indulgence. Its object is to let God and His holiness, Christ and the love that died on Calvary, the Spirit and fire that burns in heaven and came to earth, get possession of us to warn and arouse men with the message that we are waiting for God in the way of His judgments. Oh, Christian, prove that you really believe in the God of judgment!

My soul, wait thou only upon God!

 

Judgement Day Is Coming

From: crosswalk.com

 

“For we know Him who said, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.’ And again, ‘THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.’  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Hebrews 10:30-31

Some years after World War II ended, Winston Churchill made this astute observation regarding the state of morality in Great Britain, “The moral landslide in Great Britain can be traced to the fact that heaven and hell are no longer preached in the land.”  Because coming judgment was not regularly preached, the people engaged in all forms of sin and debauchery with no thought of the consequences.

If Churchill’s statement was true in 1960, how much more appropriate is it for today?  People today have a false view of God.  They see Him as mushy, weak, and without standards.  They conveniently forget that He is “holy, holy, holy.”  They fail to comprehend the ominous warning in Hebrews 10:31, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

TWO JUDGMENTS

All of us will one day stand before the Lord Jesus Christ, our Creator God (see John 5:22-23), to give an account of our lives.  Unbelievers will do this at the Great White Throne Judgment (see Revelation 20:11-15), and believers will do this at the Judgment Seat of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:10).  Christ-rejecters (unbelievers) will be judged for their sins and cast into hell—the garbage dump of eternity where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies.  Christ acceptors (believers), on the other hand, will have their works tested by fire.  They will be rewarded for their fruitfulness and faithfulness to the Lord.

Tragically, some Christians will experience tremendous loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  They will not lose their salvation or their inheritance of heaven, but they will lose their hope of reward.  Why?  The reason is these Christians did not yield to the Lordship of Christ.  They did not walk in the power of the Spirit but in the power of the flesh.  The product of their lives will go up in flames, consisting of wood, hay, and straw (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

WHICH JUDGMENT FOR YOU?

There are only two possible judgments after death.  Which one you go to depends on what you do with the Savior in this life.  For unbelievers, the horrors of hell await, and rightfully so.  For believers, the Judgment Seat of Christ should persuade us “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.”  As the old poem so aptly states, “Only one life will soon be past.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Our world today does not even have the fear of God’s judgment on the radar screen.  People think they can sin with impunity, but nothing could be further from the truth.  God is the righteous judge, and no one gets away with sin.  Sin for the unbeliever results in eternal punishment, and sin for the believer results in eternal loss of reward.  Do not be deceived.  There is a heavy price to pay for embracing the passing pleasures of sin.

May we be sobered to the evils all around us.  May we be sensitive to any ungodly thought, word, deed, or attitude we have allowed into our hearts.  May we be aware of the coming judgment and the exposing of all things hidden in the darkness.  Listen:  it pays to serve Jesus … and it costs to neglect Him.

 

The Coming Judgment

From: intouch.com

 

Acts 10:42-43

Have you ever been required to appear in court before a judge? Even if your only offense was a parking or speeding ticket, the courtroom experience can be very intimidating. Your wrong cannot be undone, and you must give an account for your actions and accept whatever consequences the judge decrees.

There will come a day when every human being will be required to stand before the Judge of the universe. At that point, there’s no turning back, no chance to start over. We will each be held accountable by almighty God for our choices and actions in this life.

If you’ve trusted in Jesus, you will appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). This isn’t a judgment of your sins, because they were judged when God’s wrath was poured out on His Son at Calvary. Since the Savior has already secured your eternal destiny, you will stand before God, clothed in Christ’s righteousness. The purpose of this judgment is evaluation of your works to determine if they are worthless or deserving of a reward.

The Great White Throne Judgment is reserved for people who have rejected Jesus as Savior (Revelation 20:11-15). The works they have done will be evaluated according to God’s record books. Since their names are not written in the book of life, their eternal destination will be the lake of fire.

Although no one can avoid being judged, the good news is that you have a choice regarding which judgment seat you will appear before. But the only time you can make that choice is in this lifetime. Once your earthly life ends, your destiny is set.

 

Judgment Day is Coming

From: fervr.net, MIKE EVERETT , author

 

The first thing to say is Judgment Day is coming. Jesus has already come to earth once and he has promised to come back (John 14:3; Acts 1:11).

On this day there will be a final judgment of all people, living and dead. Jesus himself will be the judge (Acts 17:30-31).

Those who trust in Jesus will receive new spiritual bodies for eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 3:2); those who don’t trust in Jesus will receive eternal death (John 3:36; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

There will be a final defeat and destruction of all evil — Satan, sin, suffering and death. The kingdom of God will come to its fulfillment at last and the world will be recreated (Acts 3:20-21).

Maybe, maybe not!  Jesus said no one would be able to predict exactly when He would return.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32).

So the angels don’t know when Jesus is coming back, and Jesus doesn’t know when He is coming back. So either

1) The people who put the billboard up (“Family Radio Worldwide”) know more than Jesus and the angels, or

2) they are wrong in saying they know exactly when Judgment Day is coming.

Preparing for judgement day

So what do you do? Well, Judgment Day is coming. Jesus will return, even though we don’t know when. What do we do? Check out the following:

“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:43-44).

“Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” (Mark 13:33)

“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:8)

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” (2 Peter 3:10-12)

 

Happy Father’s Day

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Father

I’ve held many positions with various titles. Some have been professional, some spiritual, and some just for fun. But of all the positions I’ve held, none compares with Father. When you are young, you assume you will become a father one day, because most every man does. It’s the way of nature. And when you marry, you assume it is just around the corner because now you can become fruitful and multiply as the Lord commanded.

Yet, you still haven’t a clue how your life will change, how you will change. For me, it was a long wait. Nineteen years we waited, then one day our prayers were answered and the miracle of life happened for us.

Seeing the precious face of our baby girl was as close to a divine experience as one could have on this earth. We fell totally and completely in love with this little stranger, whom we felt we had always known. We held our dream in our hands for the first time.

Yes, we were crazy about our blessing. We bought her everything we dreamed of, took her every place we dreamed of, and took great care to plan her future. That was to be expected. But the love I felt for my child, was something I never expected. I had experienced nothing with which to compare.

I remember my godly grandmother, when she visited, upon seeing dozens of pictures of my baby daughter on the walls warned, “Now son, be careful not to worship that child, we are only supposed to worship the Lord.”

I explained to her, “Grandmother, my love for her is so great, I can’t help it. God understands.”

I know she meant well, but as far as I was concerned, my love was God given and I didn’t consider it worship, just the highest, most pure love one could have. That love has never wavered or waned. It continues to grow with time. It is unabashed. And as far as I am concerned, it is the closest a man can understand the love that God, our heavenly Father, has for us, His children.

The Bible says, “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.’” Galatians 4:6, NLT

Our Heavenly Father has a love for us, His children, that is unmatched. All the heavens and earth were created with us in mind. He wanted a beautiful place for His family of mankind. He provides everything we need and much of what we want. He cares about every aspect of our lives: our health, our family, our life’s work, hobbies, dreams, and even our desires.

Father God not only loves us in church, He loves us wherever we are. He loves what we do and what we become. He watches over us while we sleep and wakes us up every morning to start a new day in His love!

He scrutinizes our every move, and every thought. The Bible says that we are so valuable to God,

“even the hairs on your head are all counted.” Luke 12:7

His love is so deep that we can never fully comprehend its depth. When our granddaddy Adam fell in the Garden of Eden, Father set about to place a plan in motion to win us back. It took a miracle. It took love. It took a Savior. Our Father’s love for us compelled Him to sacrifice His most precious possession.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16, NLT

With our heavenly Father as our role model, we earthly fathers can glean inspiration from Him, even if our experience as sons was with a bad father or no father at all. Though we may fail in one area or another, the love of a good father never fails, as our heavenly Father helps us to share His love.

The title of Father comes to some men through biology, marriage, or adoption. The love of a Father solidifies and confirms the right to that title. It is the highest title a man may hold. It is a title most solemn, conferred and blessed of God. My child is and will always be my cherished blessing, and I will always be her Father.

 

What’s a Good Father Really Like?

JUNE 8, 2016

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11 (NIV)

“I love watching her dance.”

I heard the catch in his voice, standing there at his daughter’s senior dance concert. We both knew these days of high school were coming to a close, and I knew how much our friend would miss them.

John’s pleasure in his daughter was evident. He was enthusiastic about everything connected with her dancing, from the practices to fundraising events to ticket sales at the concerts. He even seemed to enjoy the parts that most parents dislike, but because it was for his daughter, John was all in.

My father-experience was quite different. Dance wasn’t my thing, but singing was. From age 8 until just a few years ago, I was always involved with some kind of chorus, choir or band. And not once did my father hear me sing while he was alive.

To me it was normal to only have a mother in the audience. I guess I assumed men didn’t enjoy those types of “girl” events. But watching John these past few years has given me a different perspective on a father’s interest in his daughter.

Standing there at that concert, I could almost hear God’s voice speaking about His pleasure in watching His daughters. And my heart overflowed in thanksgiving for a good Heavenly Father.

For so many years I defined my understanding of God’s interest in me based on my father’s interest in me. I knew my dad loved me, but it was limited by his background and personal experience. But God’s love is unhindered by any human experience or limitation.

Every day I come to a greater understanding of God as the perfect Father. It makes me feel treasured and softens the pain of what I didn’t have growing up. As I’ve sought to understand what a good Father is like, here are five things I’ve discovered in Scripture we can count on about our Heavenly Father:

1. He cares for and provides for our daily needs. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus vividly described to His disciples how God cares for the birds and the flowers and explained we are far more important to our heavenly Father than that. God cares about all our needs.

2. He’s merciful toward us. Mercy is withholding punishment for what we deserve. Although God allows natural consequences when we make wrong choices, our Heavenly Father shows lovingkindness rather than anger when we fall short. (Luke 6:36)

3. God hears our prayers and answers them. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus makes an incredible statement that shows God’s heart. He says when two or more agree upon something in prayer, God hears and answers.

4. He protects us. In Matthew 26:53, Jesus said His Father would send 12 legions of angels to save Him if Jesus asked. Psalm 91 says, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11, NIV).

5. God watches and waits for us when we turn from Him. Jesus told a story that modeled the Father’s heart for us. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the son decides to go his own way and squander his inheritance. When his life fell apart, the son realized his folly and returned home. Jesus described the father’s response, and it wasn’t “I told you so!” Rather God’s Word tells us that “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20b, ESV). Then the father threw a party! Imagine!

No matter our situation with our earthly father, we can say with confidence we have a good heavenly Father who loves us with attentive devotion. He’s all in, and we never outgrow His care and provision.

So this Father’s Day, as we honor our earthly fathers, may we take some time to honor our heavenly Father. And I hope you hear Him whisper, “I love to watch you dance.”

 

A Perfect Father

“You were always there for me, Dad!” Sierra shoved that card back in the rack. “How can I thank you for all the things you taught me as a child?” Not quite right, either. She grimaced. Where’s a card that won’t make me feel like a hypocrite? Something like “You were always too busy with your career to come to my recitals and school plays so I don’t really have childhood memories of fun times with you and now we feel so distant from each other that conversation is mostly about the weather or the news, but Happy Father’s Day anyway.”

No father is perfect. Eli and David were both godly men placed in leadership roles who devoted themselves to the Lord. Yet they each made serious mistakes in parenting that not only damaged their own families, but had a negative impact on the nation of Israel. Another example is Lot. Even though the Bible describes him as a righteous man (see 2 Peter 2:7-8), Lot failed his daughters in a way that caused much misery and degradation. When men from Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and demanded sex with the two men who were his guests, Lot offered them his virgin daughters instead. Lot placed greater importance on his role as host than on his role as father and protector of the children God had entrusted to him.

It’s hard to imagine how the girls felt about being offered to a half-crazed mob for sexual pleasure, and by their own father at that. We do know from their later actions that they had no respect for themselves or for Lot. After God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his daughters lived a secluded life in a cave in the mountains. The girls tricked their drunken father into having sex with them. They placed greater importance on continuing the family line than on basic laws of morality. The sons born from this incest grew up to be the ancestors of two of Israel’s bitterest enemies.

Each one of us has probably felt let down in some way by our parents, whether by minor disappointments or by deep, lasting wounds of neglect or abuse. We may have a distant or strained relationship with our father; we may even be completely estranged from them. Maybe a part of us still feels like a needy child, longing for our daddy’s love and approval, which may never come. It’s easy to forget that all earthly fathers are human and prone to mistakes, just as we are. Our parents most likely had their own hurts and emotional issues that we were never aware of.

Regardless of our relationship with our dad, we can rejoice that our heavenly Father is perfect and loves us with “an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). That love led Him to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. We can rest assured that He will never let us down; He will never fail to meet our needs and satisfy our deepest longings. And if we ask Him, He is also ready to help us forgive all the hurts that have been done to us. In cases like Sierra’s, he can help us rebuild that father-daughter relationship so that buying a Father’s Day card is a lot easier.

Whom Shall I Fear

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Whom Shall I Fear?

By: Debbie Przybylski, crosswalk.com

“Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name” – (Psalm 86:11).

Dear intercessors,

As you look at your present life, what do you personally fear? You may be presently struggling with a fear that has gripped your heart deeply. Satan has released a spirit of fear all over the world, but the fear of the Lord counterattacks enemy fear. In light of this fact, we must learn not only about the fear of the Lord but how to walk in the fear of the Lord. Is it your deep desire to learn about the fear of the Lord?

Maybe you wonder, “What does it really mean to fear the Lord?

Some people think that fearing the Lord is like driving down the street while watching a policeman in your rearview mirror. But this is not a true picture of what the fear of the Lord is. It’s more like a teenage driver who suddenly sees her father in the rearview mirror. She quickly puts on her best behavior in driving—eyes on the road, no texting, and stopping at a yellow light. But this tells her that her father really cares enough to follow her. She’s safe. She knows that he is trying to help her develop good driving habits by obeying the laws and staying safe until she gets home. She’s driving but not completely on her own.

For us as God’s people, the fear of the Lord is like living with our heavenly father in the rearview mirror. When we look up we see His wonderful holiness, care, and love. Our fear of Him is mixed with reverence, trust, and love.

To fear the Lord is an extremely positive subject (Isaiah 11:3, Psalm 19:9, 12-14). Jesus delighted Himself in the fear of the Lord. Our hearts are designed in the same way. In the Bible there are at least 300 references to the fear of God. To truly fear the Lord is a joy and a supreme delight when we see it the way God desires. It is not to be afraid of the Lord but to be in awe of Him. But it also can be terrifying as we look at our personal sin in light of God’s consuming fire. Romans 3 is a main chapter on sin that tells us that our chief sin is to have no fear of God (v. 18).

The godly men of the Bible feared God. Joseph was a god-fearing man (Genesis 42:18). Moses feared God and chose god-fearing leaders (Exodus 18:21). David, Daniel, Abraham, and other Bible characters walked in the fear of the Lord. Jesus Himself said not to fear those who can kill the body, but to only fear God (Matthew 10:28).

To live a vibrant and holy life like the godly men of the Bible, we must walk in the fear of the Lord.

We all want a vibrant life. We want a life full of energy, enthusiasm, vim and vigor. We want one that is vivacious, dynamic, passionate, and exciting. This is the dictionary definition of vibrant. Unfortunately we do not often see this. When I look around the world, I see people filled with fear, unhappiness, apathy, and pain. But as Christians we want our lives to be filled with the awe and wonder of God. We want to look forward to the future, instead of living in fear and uncertainly. If we want to find true success, we must live according to God’s design. When we value what He values, our lives will be blessed.

There is no better time to learn about the fear of the Lord as now when human fears are at an all time high. This is the day where we must put the fear of the Lord at the front of all other ambitions. The times we are encountering require it.

Let’s realize that there are so many rewards of fearing the Lord. Here are just a few of the 300+ Bible verses about the fear of the Lord. Quiet your heart and take time to meditate on what the fear of the Lord gives you and what this means in your own personal life: knowledge (Proverbs 1:7), a fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27) healing and refreshment (Proverbs 3:7-8), strength to turn from evil (Proverbs 16:9), wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), provision (Psalm 34:9), confidence and refuge (Proverbs 14:26), God’s goodness (Proverbs 31:19), deliverance (Psalm 34:7), mercy (Psalm 103:11), care (Psalm 33:18-19), contentment (Proverbs 15:16), prolonged life (Proverbs 10:27), a satisfying life (Proverbs 19:23), God’s watchful care (Psalm 33:18-19), holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1), and so much more!

In light of these rewards, it is so important that we make it our goal to fear the Lord. If we want to grow in holiness, our long-term success is in the context of the fear of the Lord. We must determine within ourselves to be well-pleasing to God. As Christians, our lives are being set apart unto God and set apart from sin. We live in the presence of a holy, just, and almighty God.

God Sees, Cares, and Rewards

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” – (2 Chronicles 16:9).

We must be aware of God’s presence. He holds us accountable for our words, thoughts, motives, and actions. We must consciously realize that He is watching, that He cares, and that He remembers what we do and rewards us.

  • God sees –We are often so concerned about what others think about us and how they judge what we do. How much more should we be concerned about God’s evaluation of our words, thoughts, actions, attitudes, and motives! He sees us in the hidden place of our heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Every hour of our life is meaningful because God sees us completely. As we grow in this minute-by-minute awareness, we will grow in the fear of the Lord. See Hebrews 4:12-13.
  • God cares and remembers –He is involved in our lives and passionate about what He sees. He finds great value in our daily choices to love Him. Even when we give a glass of water in His name, He takes notice. He cherishes every movement of our heart towards Him. If we repent of the bad things we do, God will forget our sin. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13). See Malachi 3:16-17, Proverbs 16:2, and Psalms 56:8.
  • God rewards – When we stand before Him, He will openly reward us (Matthew 6:6, Psalm 45:7, 86:11, 98:10, Proverbs 1:29,31, Romans 12:9).

    “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous… By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:9-11).

The fear of the Lord is a holy fear where we learn to stand in awe and respect the good, greatness, and glorious nature of God. It should be our desire to be near the Lord and to love what He loves and hate what He hates. Through fearing the Lord we can become all that He desires and accomplish that which is beyond our own ability in the natural. God wants our fear of Him to be above every other fear in life.

You may feel that your actions are often mundane, insignificant, and makes very little difference in life. But take notice of this: God sees and cherishes every single thing you do for His glory. Your daily choices to love Him bring great joy to His heart. Realize that God holds the world in His hands and that nothing formed against you shall stand. He is your Strength and Shield. He goes before you and reigns forever. Your God is faithful and always by your side. He is the one you must fear and no other. In my next article we will learn about how to walk in the fear of the Lord.

Let’s ask God to give us a minute-by-minute awareness of His presence and consciously choose today to walk in the fear of the Lord.

 

Salvation: The First Step

From: intouch

Acts 16:19-40

After a baby takes his first steps, the parents call loved ones. They excitedly announce the awesome accomplishment, which is the beginning of a new life of greater mobility and maturity. In the same way, the Christian life begins with a first step—salvation. But it’s only the start of a new life of increasing spiritual growth.

When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” they answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31). It’s simple enough that even a child can do it, and after salvation, we are all like babies taking our first steps. A new believer doesn’t understand all the doctrines of salvation any more than a toddler knows all the mechanics of walking. However, once we are saved, we have a responsibility to learn what God has done for us and to take more steps of obedience in the Christian life.

Genuine salvation always results in transformation. When we receive Jesus as our personal Savior, He comes to live within us through the Holy Spirit. Our old way of life no longer fits our new identity, and the Spirit works within us to make us more like Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Has there been a particular point in your life when you recognized your sin and then asked Jesus to forgive you and become your Savior? If so, how has your life been transformed since then? Spiritual growth is one of the ways we can know that we are saved.

 

Childlike Faith

by Inspiration Ministries

“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foes and the avenger.” – Psalm 8:2 NIV

The Bible makes clear: there is a direct relationship between children (and all they symbolize) and spiritual growth, maturity, and power. Jesus taught that we cannot even enter God’s Kingdom unless we enter like a little child (Luke 18:17). We need childlike faith.

Learning this truth, David described how praise is ordained “from the lips of children and infants.” As he discovered, this kind of praise brings victory and power.

We often think victory is achieved by those with numerical advantages, economic assets, or special talents. But David says that the factor that will “silence” our adversaries is the praise that comes from the heart of those with childlike faith and complete trust in God.

Young children provide the perfect example. They have no doubts and simply know that loving parents can be counted upon and trusted.

We need to have this same kind of childlike faith in God and His promises. This kind of confidence gives us a completely new attitude. It removes doubt and fear. It bubbles over into praise and hearts filled with gratitude. Resting in Him, we cannot contain our joy and don’t need to hold back.

At the same time, focusing on ourselves can foster doubt and worry when we realize our own weaknesses and the flaws of other people. We worry when we don’t have faith in God.

Ask God to help you trust Him with childlike simplicity. Commit your needs to Him. Praise Him.

 

Mercy, omnipotence, and justice

“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.” Nahum 1:3

Suggested Further Reading: Nehemiah 9:9-31

Have you ever observed that scene in the garden of Eden at the time of the fall? God had threatened Adam, that if he sinned he should surely die. Adam sinned: did God make haste to sentence him? ‘Tis sweetly said, “The Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day.” Perhaps that fruit was plucked at early morn, maybe it was plucked at noon-tide; but God was in no haste to condemn; he waited till the sun was well nigh set, and in the cool of the day came, and as an old expositor has put it very beautifully, when he did come he did not come on wings of wrath, but he “walked in the garden in the cool of the day.” He was in no haste to slay. I think I see him, as he was represented then to Adam, in those glorious days when God walked with man. Methinks I see the wonderful similitude in which the unseen did veil himself: I see it walking among the trees so slowly—if it is right to give such a picture—beating its breast, and shedding tears that it should have to condemn man. At last I hear its doleful voice: “Adam, where art thou? Where hast thou cast thyself, poor Adam? Thou hast cast thyself from my favour; thou hast cast thyself into nakedness and into fear; for thou art hiding thyself. Adam, where art thou? I pity thee. Thou thoughtest to be God. Before I condemn thee I will give thee one note of pity. Adam, where art thou?” Yes, the Lord was slow to anger, slow to write the sentence, even though the command had been broken, and the threatening was therefore of necessity brought into force.

For meditation: There are good and bad ways of taking advantage of God’s apparent slowness (2 Peter 3:3,4,9).

 

Streams in the Desert – June 20

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

You will hear a word spoken behind you, saying, “This is the correct way, walk in it,” whether you are heading to the right or the left. (Isa 30:21)

When we are in doubt or difficulty, when many voices urge this course or the other, when prudence utters one advice and faith another, then let us be still, hushing each intruder, calming ourselves in the sacred hush of God’s presence; let us study His Word in the attitude of devout attention; let us lift up our nature into the pure light of His face, eager only to know what God the Lord shall determine—and ere long a very distinct impression will be made, the unmistakable forth-telling of His secret counsel.

It is not wise in the earlier stages of Christian life to depend on this alone, but to wait for the corroboration of circumstances. But those who have had many dealings with God know well the value of secret fellowship with Him, to ascertain His will.

Are you in difficulty about your way? Go to God with your question; get direction from the light of His smile or the cloud of His refusal.

If you will only get alone, where the lights and shadows of earth cannot interfere, where human opinions fail to reach and if you will dare to wait there silent and expectant, though all around you insist on immediate decision or action—the will of God will be made clear; and you will have a new conception of God, a deeper insight into His nature and heart of love, which shall be for yourself alone a rapturous experience, to abide your precious perquisite forever, the rich guerdon of those long waiting hours.
—David

“STAND STILL,” my soul, for so thy Lord commands: 
E’en when thy way seems blocked, leave it in His wise hands; 
His arm is mighty to divide the wave. 
“Stand still,” my soul, “stand still” and thou shalt see 
How God can work the “impossible” for thee, 
For with a great deliverance He doth save.

Be not impatient, but in stillness stand, 
Even when compassed ’round on every hand, 
In ways thy spirit does not comprehend. 
God cannot clear thy way till thou art still, 
That He may work in thee His blessed will, 
And all thy heart and will to Him do bend.

“BE STILL,” my soul, for just as thou art still, 
Can God reveal Himself to thee; until 
Through thee His love and light and life can freely flow; 
In stillness God can work through thee and reach 
The souls around thee. He then through thee can teach 
His lessons, and His power in weakness show.

“BE STILL”—a deeper step in faith and rest. 
“Be still and know” thy Father knoweth best 
The way to lead His child to that fair land, 
A “summer” land, where quiet waters flow; 
Where longing souls are satisfied, and “know 
Their God,” and praise for all that He has planned.
—Selected

God’s Grace Is Great

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Great Grace

“…and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33b).

I hope you can look back on seasons or situations in your life and say with me, “That was great grace.” In other words, when we should’ve been buried under the grief, or the pressure to make a hard decision, or persecution for following our convictions, but we weren’t— instead, God’s peace held us in the middle of the storm and turned a trial into a triumph.

This is great grace.

By definition, the Greek describes grace a few ways: as a favor done for someone without any expectation of getting something in return; which is why grace is given by God and received by man. Many simply call it unmerited favor.

Another definition that piggy-backs this one is the reality that when grace is received by faith, it completely transforms a person and causes them to love God (in return, because of course He loved us first).

The point is that grace is help in time of need. It’s something we can’t conjure up on our own — it’s divine help. So now add the word “great” and what do we have? It’s not hard to define great — it means of larger magnitude, number, size, or amount.

Therefore great grace is the superabundant supply of God’s help in time of need.

Ten years ago this month, our family experienced great grace — to the degree that after all these years, I still shake my head and say, “Thank you Jesus for the help and love you showed us.”

Our oldest son Benjamin had just finished his first year of Bible college and had come home for a short visit for Father’s Day. The two brothers he had traveled with left a day early to return to Oklahoma while he spent some extra time with us and waited to travel back with a new roommate who was going to move in with them. On Monday morning, they piled into the loaded down pick-up and took off. But about six hours into their trip, we received a phone call that their truck had slid off the road and grazed a guardrail that freakishly caused the gas tank to pop open and ignite their truck on fire as it flipped through the air and landed in the ditch.

Benjamin was trapped upside-down in his seatbelt while the driver courageously crawled out his broken window and tried to rescue him. Benjamin later said he remembered being in his seatbelt but he doesn’t remember unbuckling it. He remembers being in the burning truck but doesn’t remember how he got out. The driver was only able to drag him to safety once he was out because of the extreme heat coming off the vehicle.

Great grace.

The deputy that came to visit us at the hospital said he’s never found survivors of an accident like this one.

Great grace.

When we arrived at the hospital (experiencing more grace on that long drive), we were told our son had a 50/50 chance to live because of the amount of his burns and the damage to his lungs. Thankfully, we didn’t have to scramble to find God’s Word on healing. We got a list of scriptures together and during the short ICU visits we were allowed with him, we read God’s Word out-loud over our son as he lay unconscious on a ventilator before us.

It was hard to leave him every night as we went across the street to our hotel. But we were walking in great grace.

When Benjamin woke up 17 days later, his first words were: “Am I going to live?” And “Will I play the drums again?” By faith, we answered YES to both, because with great grace comes increased faith — a trust that all things are possible with God!

Benjamin had six skin graft surgeries and a tracheotomy during his eight weeks in the hospital. But today, his scars are almost non-existent. If you look for them, you’ll see them. But his life is a testimony of God’s goodness and great grace. He has since finished Bible school, got married, had two children, and impacted many lives as a youth pastor, camp director, and now as an associate pastor.

I asked him recently, “Can you believe it’s been 10 years?” He replied, “Haha, I hardly think about it.’

That is also great grace.

 

The Power of God’s Grace

Romans 5:1-5

Grace is one of God’s most amazing gifts. It provides us with everything we need to live in perfect freedom: pardon for our sins, healing for our heart, the companionship of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, and access to freely cultivate our relationship with Him. We work, worship, and enjoy life, surrounded by His unconditional love. His grace upholds us, fills us, and sustains us.

Since we are forgiven people, the Lord responds to us not as enemies but as His dearly loved children (Rom. 8:15Eph. 5:1). He hears our prayers, speaks to us, and acts on our behalf. The knowledge that we live under the covering of God’s grace gives us…

Security about our position. No one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28).

Boldness to live for Christ. Our adequacy comes from the Lord and who we are in Him, so we can live in confidence.

Peace for today because we can fully trust in His sovereignty. The Lord is carrying out His perfect will—and we can be sure that nothing is able to thwart His plan. When we cooperate with Him, we cannot fail.

Hope for the future. This life is just the beginning. One day we will see Jesus face to face, be perfected as the individuals He created us to be, and live with Him in our true home forever.

The Lord is committed to transforming each of us according to His special plan for our lives. Even His correction is an expression of His loving favor (Heb. 12:10). When we falter or fail, we can rest assured that His amazing grace hems us in and always offers us redemption.

 

God’s Grace Brings Purpose

From: crosswalk.com

 

Weekly Overview:

Grace is a gift most of us don’t know how to receive. We’ve been so inundated with the earthly systems of give-and-get and work-and-earn that grace is a concept few ever fully grasp. Yet it’s grace alone that has the power to transform lives. Grace alone has the power to bring freedom to the captives. By grace alone we are saved. There could be no better use of our time than consistently and passionately pursuing a greater revelation of God’s grace.

Scripture:“[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” 2 Timothy 1:9

Devotional:    

One of the greatest gifts we’ve been given by God is purpose. From the time of Adam, God has always made clear the purposes we were created for. In Genesis 1:28 God says, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Throughout time our purposes have changed, but God has made it clear that we all are to have lives that are valuable and effective. Have you lived days where you’re simply going through the motions? Have you had days where you feel as if what you do doesn’t matter? Those days in my life are my absolute worst. I would rather go through trial and persecution with purpose than live a meaningless day. It’s in purpose we find satisfaction. In purpose we find out our lives matter. And in purpose we discover the reason we were created.

2 Timothy 1:9 says, “[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” Because of God’s grace and purpose we have been called to a life of wonderful and satisfying works. The Bible teaches us a truth in opposition to the teachings of the world. The world says to work enough to live a life of comfort and ease. Work is done for the purpose of relaxation and comfort. God says that we are created for a life of eternal value in which everything we do is to have purpose higher than our own comfort and relaxation.God has placed value and worth on your life to an extent you have yet to discover. He has a plan and purpose for your life that he’s assigned to no one else. Your life is meant to make an eternal impact for his kingdom which will reign for all time. But in his grace he has also given you control of your own life. You can choose to live your life according to his purposes or your own. And you can choose to pursue comfort and meaningless relaxation or a life of true rest and satisfaction that comes only from living entirely for God. My hope is that in looking at two purposes God has for your life, you will choose to live your life completely with and for your heavenly Father. And in doing so, you will discover the incredible joy and passion the Spirit longs to birth in you.

The first purpose for which you were created is relationship with God. Jesus says in Mark 12:30“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism says it this way: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”Loving God is your highest calling, and in loving God you will experience the fullest joy and satisfaction available. When you stand before God in judgment, he will not look for possessions, promotions, or social status, but rather at the fervor with which you loved him. You will be rewarded for acts of love, not self-seeking glorification. And this chief purpose of loving God is the only path to the abundant life he has in store for you here.

The second purpose for which you were created is loving others in response to your love for God. Mark 12:31 says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Acts 26:16 says,“But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.” We are called to love others out of the amazing love we’ve been shown. As our hearts are filled with love for God through encountering him in the secret place, we will be filled with a longing to see his desires for others around us come to fruition. God’s greatest longing is for relationship with his crown of creation, and he wants to use us to guide others to himself. In loving others we will discover the incredible satisfaction of seeing the lost and hurting be found and healed. Incredible passion and joy comes from seeing a life transformed through the Spirit working in us.

How incredible is the grace of our God that his purposes would be entirely rooted in love. We are called to simply love him and others with the very love we’ve been shown. He’s like a father who gives his children money to buy him a present. He fills us with the love and enjoyment he feels for us, and then in response we can love him and others. He fills you with the breath of life and then patiently waits for you to live your life as a beautiful song of worship to him. May you experience today all that God’s grace has afforded you. May you choose to live your life with purpose and passion that only comes from loving him and others.

God Gives Us Real Hope

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Hope Is Real

On the way to work, I saw these words written on a sign at a local church. It said, “Hope Is Real.” I thought about it and (needless to say) agreed with the statement. But as I pondered the simple little phrase, I realized that for many people hope is not real. I believe that is one of the most important gifts we can give to another person, the gift of hope.

You see, someone who is hopeless and alone usually cannot help themselves out of their situations. They have a great sense of loss and helplessness. We must come alongside and bring the good news of Jesus Christ and all that He has to offer.

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (KJV)

One definition for hope is: To look forward to with confidence or expectation. We must bring the Word of God with all its hope to someone who does not know it is real. When we bring hope, we bring life. It is life-changing to finally believe again. It is more than just asking God for something we so badly need; we must expect our miracle. Somewhere in the midst of asking, believing, and expecting God to answer, we will find what we are looking for.

“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalms 27:13 (NIV)

I have felt for a long time that the biggest problem we have in the world today is there are so many people who have lost hope. There seem to be so many hurts, problems, sicknesses, troubles, financial woes, family problems, world issues, political concerns, etc. It seems the world has no hope.

Apart from God, it is an awful, hopeless place. But with God’s help, we can make it. I want you to know that whatever situation you find yourself in at this moment, there is hope. You may not be able to see or feel the hope, but it is there for you. How do we find the hope? There is only one place where hope can be found, and that is in Jesus Christ.

I did a word search in the Bible for the word ‘hope’ and found many wonderful passages. They were mostly in Psalms and Proverbs of course. David found himself in situations many times and had to remind himself that hope is real. It comes from God. Here are a few of David’s prayers to God:

Psalms 39:7 (NIV) “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”

Psalms 42:11 (NIV) “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Psalms 25:4-5 (NLT) “Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”

Psalms 25:3 (NIV) “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,”

Psalms 33:18 (NIV) “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,”

Psalms 119:49 (NLT) “Remember your promise to me, for it is my only hope.”

Trust God. He wants you to trust Him. You need to agree with God about your situation. What does God say about who you are and what His will is for your life? Don’t go by your feelings. Instead, we should remind ourselves that God only has plans for us that are good. Jeremiah helps us remember what God has to say about us. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

We do not need to be disappointed and feel alone. We can have hope! God’s love in our hearts will ignite the flames of hope we have buried deep inside our hearts. God’s Word can encourage us as we read it with great anticipation and faith. Paul writes in Romans these words of encouragement:

Romans 5:5 (NIV) “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Romans 15:4 (NIV) “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Here are a few key scriptures that help us to understand what we need to do. Words like “be strong, take courage, wait, reverently and worshipfully fear God, tarry for the hope, wait patiently for it, and be joyful in hope. They are all action words we need to work on. Read these scriptures out loud during your Devotion times. Watch how hope will come alive in your heart as you speak the Word of God over yourself and your situation.

Psalms 31:24 (AMP) “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!”

Psalms 119:74 (AMP) “Those who reverently and worshipfully fear You will see me and be glad, because I have hoped in Your word and tarried for it.”

Isaiah 40:31 (NLT) “But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Romans 8:24b, 25 (NIV) ” But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Romans 12:12 (NIV) “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

I don’t want this to be just another Devotion. I want it to bring life to you. Pray out loud the words of hope into your life and your situations. I have hope! My hope is in the Lord! I will be strong and wait on the Lord. I trust God with my life and the life of my family. Speak these words every day. Hope Is Real. It comes from God! He has placed it in your heart. Speak it out and watch what God will do for you.

Romans 15:13 (NIV) “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.”

What is your need today? Is it for a financial blessing, healing in your body, a new job, a house or car, etc? Whatever it is, take it to Jesus today. Is there someone in your life today that needs encouraging? Speak the Words of hope that bring life. Hope Is Real, just try it.

 

Hope and Encouragement

From: ligonier.org.

 

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

– Romans 15:1–6

What happens to people when they lose hope? They give up. They quit. Hope and perseverance go together. Hope is a future promise that keeps us going. It is the carrot before the donkey. Hope knows that there is a goal, and that the goal is worth pursuing, even through hardship and difficulty. If we don’t have hope, we won’t have perseverance.

Paul writes in Romans 15 is that everything in the Scripture—by which he means what we call the Old Testament—was written to instruct us in the Christian hope. Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s faithfulness in spite of man’s sin. We see the saints going through times of suffering and discouragement. We see the saints exiled to the wilderness, with no apparent future. But we also see that in time, God brings them back for greater service than before. The kingdom of God never shrinks; it may flow underground for a season, but it always emerges mightier than before. God is not going to be the loser in history!

Thus, with the encouragements of the Scripture before us (Old and New Testaments), we should have hope. And following God’s example, we should encourage one another. Paul writes in Romans 15:5–6 that we encourage one another when we live in unity, without being at each others’ throats, and that a fundamental expression of that unity is worship. When we stand together to sing God’s praises in the psalms and great hymns and prayers of the church, we encourage one another. The man who comes to worship downcast and beaten may emerge with new hope simply because of the unity of worship he has experienced.

Paul says that God gives endurance and encouragement (verse 5). It is not just the history of redemption as recorded in the Bible that gives us encouragement. It is not just the continuing history of the church, which indeed shows growth over 2,000 years, that gives encouragement. And it is not just the fellowship of other saints, in life and in praise, that gives encouragement. But it is primarily God Himself who gives us encouragement. If we lack endurance and hope, we need to learn more about the attributes and intentions of God; for the more we know Him, the more encouraged we will be.

 

Where’s the Hope?

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)

Pinterest ImageHow had it all happened? What had she started?

It seemed like such a good idea at the time — the right idea. But then, as soon as Adam also took a bite, Eve knew. They both knew. They had been so very, very wrong. And now the damage was spinning out of control. Those intimate conversations with the Lord were no more. Home was no longer home.

And now this.

Her older son killing her younger. The unraveling wouldn’t stop, and she knew the falling apart had started with her. As Ephesians 2 describes the situation, Eve was now dead in trespasses and sins, “following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2b, ESV).

Was there to be no hope?

Have you ever experienced a pain similar to Eve’s? The knowing that it all began with you? If only you had made the right choice when you had the chance.

But you didn’t.

And now …

It doesn’t have to be just “big things.” The small habit that became big. The distance that grew more than the day before. Our mind drags us back to all the tiny things, one wrong choice after another, that led to this. The hundreds of tiny failures that have brought us to this hurt we are experiencing today. This disappointment. This brokenness. This failure.

I think I understand Eve a bit.

Not the depth of pain she would have experienced with losing a child, but the possible wondering, Is all this — this huge mess — my fault? We are trained that “success” and “failure” all come down to someone. Someone gets the credit, and someone takes the blame.

The amazing thing is, there is One who gets the credit and who took the blame.

Jesus. He gets the credit for loving us when we were unlovable, and He took the blame for our sin that was not His own.

There in the garden, the perfect Father looked at His imperfect child with love. Even as He took the rib from Adam’s side, He was fully aware of the choice Eve would make. The choice against His perfect love, and yet He still chose to create us humans and to love unconditionally. His love for us was (and still is) a fierce love, a never-failing love.

As today’s key verse says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Even as the failures of His creation kept coming … Eve’s decision, Adam’s collaboration, Cain killing Abel … God’s love for us, for all of humankind, didn’t diminish. It only grew more and more intense until the pinnacle of His choice. The choice of the cross, where His love was the same as ours: the color red.

Yes, we have sinned. Each and every one of us. For those of us who have asked for His great forgiveness and surrendered our lives to His control, there is mercy. We are made alive in Him … even while we were yet dead in our transgressions.

Here in this place of living out our redemption, we can have hope for the future. No matter our circumstances today, God can redeem it all. And not only for us, but for others. God’s kindness and mercy is available for those furthest from Him.

All because of, and out of, His great love.

 

Tired Faith – Streams in the Desert – June 18

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

Therefore, strengthen your listless hands and your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but be healed. (Heb 12:12-13)

This is God’s word of encouragement to us to lift up the hands of faith, and confirm the knees of prayer. Often our faith grows tired, languid, and relaxed, and our prayers lose their force and effectiveness.

The figure used here is a very striking one. The idea seems to be that we become discouraged and so timid that a little obstacle depresses and frightens us, and we are tempted to walk around it, and not face it: to take the easier way.

Perhaps it is some physical trouble that God is ready to heal, but the exertion is hard, or it is easier to secure some human help, or walk around in some other way.

There are many ways of walking around emergencies instead of going straight through them. How often we come up against something that appalls us, and we want to evade the issue with the excuse:

“I am not quite ready for that now.” Some sacrifice is to be made, some obedience demanded, some Jericho to be taken, some soul that we have not the courage to claim and carry through, some prayer that is hanging fire, or perhaps some physical trouble that is half healed and we are walking around it.

God says, “Lift up the hands that hang down.” March straight through the flood, and lo, the waters will divide, the Red Sea will open, the Jordan will part, and the Lord will lead you through to victory.

Don’t let your feet “be turned out of the way,” but let your body “be healed,” your faith strengthened. Go right ahead and leave no Jericho behind you unconquered and no place where Satan can say that he was too much for you. This is a profitable lesson and an intensely practical one. How often have we been in that place. Perhaps you are there today. ”
—A. B. Simpson

Pay as little attention to discouragement as possible. Plough ahead as a steamer does, rough or smooth—rain or shine. To carry your cargo and make your port is the point.
Maltbie D. Babcock

God Supplies All Your Needs

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The Father’s Care

Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? (Luke 12:24 KJV)

I will never have the actual privilege of being a grandfather to grandchildren of my own. But I hold the same belief pertaining to grandfathers as I do stepfathers; whoever is doing the job earns the title regardless of blood relation. That is why when I refer to my grandsons, they aren’t by kinship but they are in my heart. I met their moms through my ministry to unwed mothers, when they were about to become new parents.  Each had a wonderful little son who immediately captured my heart on sight. I was there when both were born and was the first man other than doctors that got to hold them. I don’t believe it would be possible to love kids any more than I do these boys.

My wife and I had the privilege one Friday night to have the oldest one, Sam, who was then 18-months-old, spend the night with us, and most of the day Saturday. We laid out a foam mattress and blankets on the living room floor for him and a sleeping bag and blanket beside it for me, and we camped out, I guess you could say. As I lay there in the darkness, it was broken only by an occasional flash of lightning casting quick shadows in the dark room. I began to think about how Sam wasn’t concerned in the least with the weather outside. I also thought of how he hadn’t given a thought to whether he would be warm and comfortable or even fed or safe. When he finally closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep, I am sure none of those thoughts were even in his little mind.

I was lying there thinking about how our heavenly Father desires for us to be that dependent on him. He would love for us to trust him completely, as Sam did me, to the point where our care and provision never even cross our minds. He would have us to be so sure of his care that the storm around us didn’t even phase us, no matter how dark and scary the shadows might be. For us to just lay back next to him and close our eyes in total peace knowing we are safe from all harm would be a great compliment to his care for us. For him to have our total trust and dependence would bring the same satisfaction to his heart as Sam’s complete and unquestioning faith did to mine.

Lessons From Nehemiah: Unexpected Leadership

From: Crosswalk.com

The book of Nehemiah is nestled so snugly in the Old Testament that we often pass right by it. I bet that’s how Nehemiah felt as a cupbearer to the King. He was always around and was a crucial part of the king’s court, but I’m sure he felt that he was overlooked at times.

A lot of us are probably like Nehemiah. We have a comfortable job, get a decent paycheck, but there’s a burning desire to do something more. The problem for many of us today is that we struggle to find purpose and often think, “I don’t know what to do with my life.” Nehemiah could have stayed content with his cushy job, but decided to step up to a challenge that no one accepted for 140 years: rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

The Challenges of Rebuilding the Wall

The story of how Nehemiah found his purpose in life is inspiring, and is centered on one tenet: prayer. He was constantly going to the Lord in prayer, which is how he became aware of the ultimate challenge to rebuild the city walls in Jerusalem.

The task was far from easy and Nehemiah had many obstacles to overcome including:

  • Finding food for the families and workers who were rebuilding the wall.
  • Managing resources during the time of famine.
  • Protecting workers from outside raids from neighboring countries.
  • Defending the poor who were being exploited by moneylenders.

Building the wall was the easy part – managing the obstacles was the challenge.

One day Nehemiah was a cupbearer and the next day he was the governor of Judah managing project that seemed impossible. This unexpected leadership role probably felt a little overwhelming at times for Nehemiah, but he was able to lead with integrity because of his faithfulness in working for the king all those years.

Nehemiah’s Leadership In Action

Aspiring leaders take note of Nehemiah. Here’s a man who petitioned the King of Persia to allow him to move up from his position as a cupbearer to the governor of Judah. Talk about a bold request for a promotion!

But it wasn’t done on the fly. Nehemiah carefully planned his approach and was a prudent leader, which makes for an excellent challenge to those who want to do the ‘impossible.’ Here are three characteristics of Nehemiah:

A Master Planner

At the core of Nehemiah’s planning was prayer. Too often, leaders will dive into a project without seeking God, and rely solely on the plans they’ve made. The other extreme is to ignore your planning altogether because you figure that God will “make it all come together.” Both extremes are the opposite of good leadership. Trust God, but also use the resources God has given you.

God has blessed us with intellect and the ability to plan ahead. Nehemiah reflected strong leadership as he made prayer the center of his plans. When he presented his plan to the king, God’s favor rested on him and the challenge to rebuild was underway.

An Excellent Delegator

Everyone wants a say as to how things should be done, right? When it comes to rebuilding miles of city walls around Jerusalem, there had to be some opinions thrown to Nehemiah.

While we don’t know how many opinions were given during the build, we do know that Nehemiah divided the labor into segments to rebuild sections of the wall. In fact, this is one of the most incredible stories in the Bible that highlights the concept of the division of labor. Nehemiah was able to communicate to the groups of Israelites that the wall would be built faster if teams focused on making their section the best possible.

That theme holds true even in the New Testament when Paul speaks about the body of Christ and how it’s made up of many parts. Israel needed direction and Nehemiah delivered from a management perspective.

A Servant’s Heart

Most of all, Nehemiah led the entire project with a servant’s heart. While the phrase may seem cliché today, Nehemiah was literally a servant leader. As part of the king’s court, he was essentially the chief servant in charge of serving drinks to the king’s table. As the new governor of Judea, Nehemiah took the challenge and lead as a servant.

Unlike other governors, Nehemiah refused to collect taxes from the poor who had been burdened by famine and economic stress. He also refused to take any land as payment while governing Judah, showing the nation of Israel that his priorities weren’t self centered but outwardly focused.

Under the leadership of Nehemiah, the walls of the city of Jerusalem were rebuilt in 52 days. A task that had been left undone for 140 years was completed in just 52 days through the leadership of a former cupbearer who approached everything in prayer and careful planning.

How many times have you told yourself, “I’m just a [fill in the blank with your current job].” Nehemiah was just a cupbearer but God used him to do great things because he was willing to lead with integrity and with a servant’s heart.

 

What to Do

by Inspiration Ministries

“Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Tell me clearly what to do, and show me which way to turn.” – Psalm 5:8 NLT

David needed direction. Struggling, he spoke of “groaning” and his “enemies.” Praying earnestly, he asked God to “listen to my cry for help” (v. 1-2). He also recognized that he needed to purify his heart and mind and be pleasing to Him.

He knew the importance of humility and depending on God’s “unfailing love” (v. 7). Others might focus on themselves or be willing to act in ways contrary to His will. But David took refuge in God, totally trusting in Him.

He knew that God would “bless the godly” and surround them with a “shield of love” (v. 12). Then, he could ask God with confidence to lead him in the right path and tell him clearly what to do and where to go.

Many people spend time praying and asking for guidance but fail to realize the role that we can play. Our hearts and minds can be complicated with sin and pride. Bad habits and corrupt relationships can point us in the wrong direction. Like David, we need to recognize the importance of being faithful, trusting in God, and seeking to please to Him.

The Bible assures us that God is ready to guide you. Allow Him to search your heart to remove any obstacles. Make sure your heart is right before Him. Surrender your life anew to Him. Let Him take away your burdens and lead you in the right path.

 

Vile ingratitude

“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)?

Time With My Father

 Spend Time With Your Heavenly Father

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Time with My Father

Every year when the cottonwoods bloomed, my father took us on a walk in the woods.

As he led us across our pasture, over the creek, and into the woods, Daddy quizzed us about the names of the flowers and trees we encountered. He was pleased when we knew, but there were always some I could not identify. This became a teaching moment, and Daddy encouraged me to pick a flower or leaf so I could grow familiar with them.

The dogwoods were laden with blossoms, and wild flowers were scattered throughout the green grass. There were dandelions, wild violets, and stray daffodils. We saw an occasional rabbit or squirrel, which scampered away when we got too close.

This was a springtime ritual. No matter what we had learned on previous years’ walks, I never minded hearing it again. Invariably, I learned new things and relearned things I had forgotten. The best part of it all was spending time with Daddy. It was fun, and I loved those walks, simply because I was spending time with him.

I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:18 NLT)

Our Heavenly Father wants to spend time with us, and He wants us to enjoy spending time with Him. He delights in us, and He always has time for us. He is never too busy. Like a loving Father, God is available whenever His children need Him and when we just want to enjoy His company.

As I spend time early in the morning praying and studying Scripture, I feel myself growing closer to God. He opens the Scriptures and often shows me facets of verses I have not noticed before. I am learning so much as I sit at His feet. These early morning times with God are so special to me. As I loved being with my daddy as a child, I love being in the presence of my Abba Father.

God uses those times as teaching moments. I am learning that when battles come, and they will, to stand strong as He fights for me. Those are the times to lean on Him and not to depend upon myself. Sometimes God lets us dwell in our valleys for a season. We learn to trust Him better there.

The more time I spend with my Father, the more I learn to discern His direction for my life. I am learning to enjoy Jesus more and getting to know Him better, as I immerse myself into Bible study and prayer. I never grow tired of studying His word and of surrounding myself with fellow believers. The Holy Spirit is showing me daily how to be more deliberate in sharing His love and encouragement, so others will be drawn to Jesus.

When I asked Jesus into my heart when I was a child, I began a lifelong journey. At the time I did not realize how exciting it would be. Since then, God has led me, walked beside me, pushed me along, and sometimes carried me in His arms. I learned at an early age that I could depend on Him.

God, my Father, has continued to bless me in so many ways, especially with His constant presence in my life. In addition to being my Savior and Lord, He has also proven to be my Encourager, my Protector, and my Sustainer.

Each of us has a unique history with our Heavenly Father who is faithful and true. Join me now in giving thanks to Him for His love, mercy, and grace.

 

In Pursuit of God

We often view God as the One who pursues us, and rightly so. He meets us when we turn back from our prodigal ways. He woos us back to Himself by pricking our conscience and showering us with His love. We know that God even sent His Son to seek us and save us when we were lost.

But what about our pursuit of God? I hadn’t really thought enough about this notion until recently.

I was ruminating over Luke 11:9, where Jesus tells us to keep on asking and keep on seeking and keep on knocking. If you remember, Jesus reveals this concept while telling the story of the persistent man who beseeched his friend for some bread. The persistent man never gave up his quest for good gifts, though the friend was somewhat irritated that one would ask such a request so late at night. In the end, the persistent man got what he was asking for. When we ask, we receive; when we seek, we find; and when we knock, the door is opened.

At first I got stuck on the words “ask,” “seek”, “knock,” trying very hard to distinguish between the terms, but I soon got bogged down in this lexical undertaking. Then, instead of focusing on the differences between these words, I asked myself, What do these three words have in common? The answer was simple: pursuit. God wants us to pursue Him actively and relentlessly, just as He actively and relentlessly pursues us.

Isnt that amazing? God, the One who created us, wants us to pursue Him! Why? God wants true fellowship, and true fellowship must be two-way. God shouldn’t be the only one initiating.

Have you ever had a friendship in which you seem to be doing all the work? You are always the one calling. You are the one sending the encouraging notes and cards. You are the one who remembers your friend’s birthday and anniversary and you send the appropriate gifts. You are the one who gets your friend out of financial jams or provides wise counsel. In all, you are always there for your friend no matter what.

As much as you love to spend time with your friend and care deeply about that person, don’t you wish that he or she would reciprocate? You certainly don’t want your friend to feel guilty or obligated or under compulsion to do some “duty” for you. It is not like you are trying to keep score in your friendship. You just wish that your friend would call or send cards or help you out just because you two are friends. You hope that you aren’t just a convenience. A true friend doesnt wait to be loved. A true friend loves. A true friend gives regardless.

God is always sending us good things and taking care of our needs despite our selfishness and our ignorance and our rebelliousness. God deserves more than our attention; He deserves our affections. He doesn’t just want us to listen to Him. He wants us to know Him. He wants us to follow hard after Him.

And when we do, we reap tremendous benefits, more than any human relationship could offer. We can look to several Scriptures to see just what we gain by asking, seeking, and knocking by pursuing God:

 

  • We truly find God. We gain His presence and His heart.
    You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV).
  • We aren’t forsaken. That means we are never alone. God is always there.
    Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you (Psalm 4:2, NIV).
  • He forgives and heals when we repent. No earthly friendship can do both.
    If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
  • God provides good things when we make Him our number-one priority.
    But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides (Matthew 6:33, Amplified

There is so much to gain when we make God our quest, so actively pursue a relationship with the Lord. Ask Him what He desires of you. Seek Him out day after day. Knock on the door of opportunity until He opens the way to His will and His presence. Find Him in the shade of the evening. Walk with Him in the cool of the dawn. And never give up that pursuit.

We love Him because He first loved us. Now love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

 

Rest and Peace

by Inspiration Ministries

“Answer me when I call to you … In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” – Psalm 4:1, 8 NIV

David lay in bed, unable to sleep. As events flooded his mind, he could find no rest. He prayed but did not sense any answers. He certainly had not experienced peace. He responded with a simple prayer, wanting to be sure that God heard when he called.

Many men and women have had similar experiences and have gone through many dark nights without rest. These are times to remember lessons learned by David.

As David eventually realized, we always can be confident that God hears our prayers. Talking with Him, we can be completely honest. We need to persevere in our prayers and actions and always continue to do the right thing as we trust in Him.

David was reminded that “the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself.” His circumstances didn’t change immediately, but he knew that “the Lord will hear when I call to Him” (v. 3).

During those dark nights when he was troubled, David was to reflect and be still. He could look back and realize the many ways God had blessed him: “You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound” (v. 7 NASB).

Trusting in God, he found peace – the peace God promises to all who call on Him. It might not seem that He hears us, but we can be confident in Him. He is with us. We can trust in Him.

The Value Of Work

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The Value of Work

When Nehemiah was building the wall around Jerusalem, a short statement is recorded, which should speak volumes to us about the value of work.

Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord. (Nehemiah 3:5NKJV)

I once lead a discipleship training school for a missionary training organization. On one occasion, we accepted a student from a foreign country who had been a spiritual leader in the church there. In his culture, he did not serve others, they served him.

We built a two-hour work duty into our daily schedule. When there was a prayer meeting or teaching session, our foreign student was one of the first to arrive.  When it came to work duties, he was difficult to find. One Saturday, we had a work day where I labored with the students on a very dirty job. Coming back from the work detail, this student looked into my dusty face and said, “very practical Christianity.” When he said this, I thought to myself, he is finally starting to get it. I had been teaching in the school about having a servant’s heart, with very little response from him. It’s not so much what we say that counts, but what we do. Christianity is more readily caught than taught.

God rebukes the Tekoite nobles. The commentator Matthew Henry says that “they would not come under the discipline of being obliged to perform this service. They thought that the dignity and liberty of their rank exempted them from getting their hands dirty and serving God.”

The action of the Tekoites makes it evident they believed specific tasks had more value than others. Our work has value because God has called us to do it, and we are a person of value doing it. Yes, satisfaction comes from completing a task and doing it well, but that is a separate issue from value. God places no more importance on the CEO of a company than a maintenance worker, if they are both doing their jobs for him. We should not seek to get value from our work but to bring value to it.

In my discipleship training school, changing roles from a leader to one who did manual labor did not change my value. I took on a different role but my value was constant. We are valuable because we are made in the image of God and bought with a price. On that work day, I brought value to that job. I didn’t derive my value or the lack thereof from it.

The Tekoites were operating in the ways of the world, which says you have worth according to what you do. God does not see big or little people; he sees people. He majors on why we do what we do, not what we do. Whatever task God has called you to do, it has great value if you are doing it for him. Such will free us from the bondage of the Tekoite nobles, who look to people rather than God for their acceptance.

It never devalues you to do what God has called you to do.

 

Discovering Hope

 

Come to Me for rest and refreshment. The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.

Remember that I can fit everything into a pattern for good, including the things you wish were different. Start with where you are at this point in time and space, accepting that this is where I intend you to be. You will get through today one step, one moment at a time. Your main responsibility is to remain attentive to Me, letting Me guide you through the many choices along your pathway.

This sounds like an easy assignment, but it is not. Your desire to live in My Presence goes against the grain of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Much of your weariness results from your constant battle against these opponents. However, you are on the path of My choosing, so do not give up!

Hope in Me, for you will again praise Me for the help of My Presence.

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. — Romans 8:28 AMP

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. — Psalm 42:5 NASB

*

Lisa’s Story

I lived with abuse and depression from a young age. I tried to commit suicide twice — at the ages of fourteen and fifteen.

In 2004, a friend who had just buried her teenage daughter called me and asked if she could come over. I was surprised because this was not a close friend; the last time I had seen her prior to her daughter’s funeral was about ten years earlier. I agreed to see her because I thought she might want me to pray for her and her family.

She brought me a copy of Jesus Calling and explained that she had felt compelled to buy two copies and give one to me. She just couldn’t shake the feeling that she needed to get this book to me. I accepted it graciously, but I had no intention of reading it. I laid it on my stack of other books people had given me. Apparently, they saw I was a mess and wanted to help by giving me “self-help” books. I had endured domestic violence throughout my whole childhood and then for twenty-eight years of my marriage because I feared God in an unhealthy way. I grew up in the belief system that I was supposed to submit to abuse. God knew all about my life, and He also knew I needed to take baby steps out of the paralyzing darkness I lived in. I needed His gentle guidance out of the bondage I was in.

Jesus Calling is short and to the point. I don’t have the patience to read through long chapters to find what I need, and only God would know that. The book sat on my nightstand for a few weeks. I’d thrown away all the other books I’d been given, but for some reason I’d kept this one — without reading it.

One day, after returning from a women’s conference where I had just realized that submitting to abuse was not God’s way, I broke. I felt like I was going to lose my mind. I went to my husband and told him what I had learned at the conference, but he didn’t show much interest in it. I went into my bedroom and locked the door behind me, planning to kill myself. My earlier suicide attempts — overdosing on pills — had been unsuccessful, so I decided to use a gun this time.

As I reached for my husband’s gun that was on top of the closet shelf, I looked down and saw Jesus Calling on my nightstand.

I picked up the book and opened it to August 31, which states: “Your fragility is not a punishment.” But the way I read it was: “I am not punishing you.”

I broke down and cried because, for my whole life, I’d felt that God was always punishing me for every single mistake I ever made. I felt like any bad thing that happened to me — and a lot of bad things happened in my life — was God punishing me. But only God knew what was in my heart, and He knew I needed to hear that He was not punishing me. I cried and had my very first real conversation with God. I was angry, but happy at the same time. I had been feeling like a robot — just going through the motions of living — but suddenly I felt alive. I’m so grateful that I kept my copy of Jesus Calling and the Lord used it to keep me from killing myself!

I have bought countless copies of Jesus Calling for my own personal use, only to end up giving them away. I stopped writing my name in them because I knew that before long the Lord would send someone for me to give my book to. I honestly don’t know how many I have bought and given away. My granddaughter was so excited when I gave her the kid’s version of Jesus Calling. She told me she loves it and reads it every day.

Life is hard, and I need Jesus to help me every day. I lived half of my life believing in lies, but now I believe in Jesus — the Truth — and He set me free through His truth (John 8:32).

 

Embracing the Grit That Leads to Beauty

“… we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame …” Romans 5:3b-5 (ESV)

Do you like getting your hands dirty?

My middle child certainly does. A naturalist at heart, she digs up and collects all manner of grimy stones and pebbles, or “special jewels” as she calls them.

So, when last Christmas approached, my husband and I thought a rock-polishing kit would make the perfect gift for her. With youthful enthusiasm, she tore into the box and pulled out each part. Her joy warmed our hearts — until we began to read the instructions.

A quick scan brought the painful truth to light: This was going to be a process.

Our daughter held the rough rocks in her hands while we pulled out the dark metal container that would house them for weeks on end. Carefully following the directions, we tossed the rocks into the container, added some water, and shook in a packet of gritty, black sand.

Then, we waited.

Hour after hour, day after day, these rocks spun and clunked around in that container. For weeks, they tumbled in the dark, surrounded by cold, muddy water. Every time I went to the basement, I could hear them grating around — quite honestly, the sound grated on my nerves!

And yet … when the spinning came to an end, and we’d washed the sullied water away, out came sparkling, beautiful jewels. Our daughter squealed with delight!

I rolled those jewels around in my hand, and deep emotion rumbled in my soul. I’ve spent more than a few seasons feeling like one of those rocks, endlessly tumbling in the dark and the grit. I wonder if you have too.

The weeks and months roll by and still the marriage grates at you.
The difficult job — or lack thereof — sands down your nerves.
Your child’s illness cuts places in your heart that feel like they’ll never heal.
The bitter grittiness of sheer loss tears at every inch of your soul.

And you wish for all the world that the pain would go away. When we’re tumbling in the dark, covered in grit and mud, it feels impossible to see any glimmer of purpose and hope.

But oh, dear one, God is up to something so purposeful in the midst of hard places! The pain that feels useless? It is anything but in His Kingdom. In Romans 5, Paul encourages us with the truth of what all that suffering is accomplishing in our lives:

“… we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame …” (Romans 5:3-5).

Not a single ounce of your suffering is wasted in God’s economy. Our enemy works to grind us down with gritty circumstances, but God uses the same circumstances to forge endurance and character in us if we’re willing. Like those rocks, the grittiness doesn’t remove beauty in us — it reveals it.

And when it does, a stunning, steadfast hope bursts forth. This hope stands secure and will never fail or leave us hanging. What an incredible promise!

You may feel stuck in an endless cycle of grittiness, but take heart: God is polishing you. In the dark, He is fashioning you into a beautiful jewel, ready to reflect His image and walk into your future with hope.

Oh, that we would not despise the grit, mud and darkness, for these are the divine tools our Father uses to create in us a beauty that never fades. May we keep the faith, knowing that when all the muck is washed away, it will have achieved for us a “glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17, ESV).

After The Cross

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After the Cross

“After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

After Jesus’ crucifixion, his friends and followers hid, fearful, and overcome by disappointment and grief. They’d lived and worked with him during his ministry, expecting he would eventually overthrow the Roman government and become king. Then, suddenly, he was betrayed, arrested, condemned, and crucified. They couldn’t imagine he might come back to life and walk among them again.

After the cross – fear

“When the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19).

Fear is the emotion that keeps us in hiding and paralyzes us into inactivity. God knew we were going to struggle with fear because his word instructs us not to fear in over 300 verses. Boldly face life, knowing Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross connects you to the power and protection of God the Father.

After the cross – doubt

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:16-17).

When Jesus appeared to his disciples following his resurrection, Thomas was hesitant, not crowding around like the others. Was this man an imposter? Although he spoke like the friend and teacher Thomas knew, Thomas needed proof.

Doubt is our greatest obstacle in trusting God’s plan and provision for our lives. We allow doubt to wash over us like ocean waves, clouding our vision and distancing us from the safety of shore. But Jesus is our anchor in a sea of doubt.

After the Cross – recognition

Cleopas and a companion traveled on the road to Emmaus. Jesus appeared and walked with them, but they didn’t recognize him. They were overwhelmed by shock and grief, trying to process the events of preceding days. When they finally recognized Jesus, they were engaged in an everyday event—eating. As they broke bread with a man they thought was a stranger, recognition dawned.
Often we don’t recognize God walking with us during difficulty unless we spend time in intimate fellowship with him, feeding on his word and listening for his voice instead of trying to make sense of what is happening on our own.

After the cross – joy

“The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message” (Matt 28:8 NLT).

The women experience two emotions at once—fear and joy—but their joy was greater than their fear. Often we do not rush to tell others about Jesus because fear wins. Instead, focus on the joy of salvation and share the good news.

After the cross – hope

“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

Perhaps the disciples felt abandoned when Jesus returned to his Father. But he had commissioned them to spread the gospel so they didn’t remain on the mountain awaiting his return. Although we have the promise of Jesus’ return, he invites us to join him in what he is doing on earth now, sharing the benefits of life in Christ and the hope of eternity.

All of us are different after we encounter the cross. Although we still experience the fear and doubt Jesus’ followers did after his crucifixion, we know Jesus isn’t still hanging on the cross or lying in a tomb. He is alive and living in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rejoice!

 

It Didn’t End at the Cross 

From: Crosswalk.com

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Peter 1:3-5

A little boy born with Down syndrome attended his third-grade Sunday School class faithfully each week. As you can expect, the other children did not readily accept the boy because he seemed different.

The Sunday after Easter, their teacher brought in small boxes–one for each child. The children were told to go outside, find some symbols of new life, and put them in their containers. So the children ran wildly throughout the property looking for something to fill their boxes.

Once they returned to the classroom, they began to share their discoveries with the class. One by one they opened their boxes to show flowers, butterflies, leaves, and more. Each time the class would “ooh” and “ahh.”

Then the child with Down syndrome opened his box to reveal nothing inside. The children exclaimed, “That’s stupid! It’s not fair! He didn’t do the assignment right!”

The little boy exclaimed, “I did so do it! It’s empty…because the tomb where Jesus laid was found empty!”

If Jesus had not risen from the dead, our faith would be foolish and fake. But He did rise from death, confirming His life and message. The resurrection of Jesus is the basis for our hope of life eternal beyond the grave.

Don’t ever forget to include the resurrection of Christ from the dead when speaking of His death on the cross. For because He conquered sin on the cross and death through His resurrection, we can have unmistakable hope in Him for eternity.

 

At the Cross

by Inspiration Ministries

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” – John 1:29 NKJV

Fanny Crosby struggled to find peace. Born in 1820, she had been blinded while still an infant. Yet instead of making her blindness an excuse, she became one of history’s great hymn writers.

Even though Crosby had become a believer as a child, as a young girl she felt that something was missing. In November 1850, she joined other Christians attending revival meetings. Hungry for more, she returned, night after night. Then, on November 20, she had a breakthrough while the congregation sang “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed,” a hymn written by Isaac Watts in 1707.

Watts wrote this hymn to express how deeply he realized that he owed everything to God. “Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?” Watts was amazed that “Christ, the mighty Maker, died for man, the creature’s sins.” His heart was dissolved “in thankfulness, and melt mine eyes to tears.”

He found himself “at the cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away.” We can imagine how Fanny Crosby, in her blindness, would respond to Watts’ inspiring refrain that “It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day!”

As she sang the last verse, she was stirred by the hymn’s words: “Here, Lord I give myself away ‘tis all that I can do.” Realizing that she needed to yield herself fully to Jesus, she later recalled, “I surrendered myself to the Savior, and my very soul flooded with celestial light. I sprang to my feet, shouting ‘Hallelujah.’”

Today, think about all that Jesus has done for you. Surrender your life to Him. He is the Lamb of God who died for you. He has taken away your every sin!

 

The Cross – Determined Love

From: Abundant Life.com

 

READ:  MARK 15:16-32

The suffering and torture of Jesus had begun.  After being scourged under Pilate’s command, Jesus was ordered to be crucified.  The whole garrison of the Roman military clothed Jesus with a purple robe, twisted and pounded a crown of thorns into His skull, mocked Him, spit on Him, ripped His beard, struck Him on the head with a reed, had Jesus carry the cross to where He would be executed, and nailed Him to the cross.

The blood of Jesus poured out of His body, His flesh ripped from head to toe. The prophet Isaiah said of Jesus, “Just as there were many who were appalled at him- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:14).

As Jesus was married and disfigured from being tortured so much and hanging on the cross, those who saw Him mocked and tempted Him once again.  They reminded Jesus that He once said to tear the temple down and He would raise it in three days.  They taunted Him by saying that He saved others during His days on earth but couldn’t even save Himself.

They mockingly called Him the King of Israel who needed to prove Himself by coming down from the cross in His power.  Jesus was not distracted, nor given in to the people’s comments.  He was not committed to proving Himself to people and protect His reputation, but Jesus was determined and passionate about saving those who taunted and tempted Him, as well as the whole world.  Jesus poured out His blood because of His great love and mercy, not to save Himself, but to redeem the world.

The blood of Jesus saves you from eternal separation from God and eternal hell when you die.  The blood of Jesus has the power to cleanse you, save you, and restore your relationship with God.  The holy blood that was poured out on the cross is your only provision for eternal life in heaven and abundant life on earth.  Jesus did not save Himself because His love was determined to save you from the penalty and power of sin.

The blood of Jesus saves you from the curse of sin.  Since sin is the root of pain and destruction and declares all under sin to be under its curse, Jesus became the curse on the cross.  Galatians 2:10 says, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”  The good news is that through Christ’s blood, you have been set free from the curse that sin brings!

The apostle Paul goes on to say, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 2:13).  The blood of Jesus crushed the curse that comes from sin in your life.  Jesus did not save Himself because His love was determined to save you from the curse of sin and death that tries to overcome you in this life.

The blood of Jesus saves you from sickness, disease, and physical pain.  The prophet Isaiah saw why Jesus was so marred and bloody on the cross.  Jesus not only bore your iniquities on the cross, but He bore your sickness, carried your physical pain, and healed you (Isaiah 53:4-5, Matthew 8:16-17).  The blood of Jesus is the answer to your healing right now.  He took the curse of your physical pain and sickness so that you can be whole and completely healed.  Jesus did not save Himself because His love was determined to save you from sickness and disease.