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Shelter From The Storm

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Shelter from the Storm

From: Our Daily Bread

Shelter from the Storm

But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter. Psalm 73:28 nlt

When I lived in Oklahoma I had a friend who “chased” tornados. John tracked the storms carefully through radio contact with other chasers and local radar, trying to keep a safe distance while observing their destructive paths so he could report sudden changes to people in harm’s way.
One day a funnel cloud changed course so abruptly John found himself in grave danger. Fortunately, he found shelter and was spared.

John’s experience that afternoon makes me think of another destructive path: sin in our lives. The Bible tells us, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14–15).

There’s a progression here. What may at first seem harmless can soon spin out of control and wreak havoc. But when temptation threatens, God offers us shelter from the gathering storm.

God’s Word tells us He would never tempt us, and we can blame our choices only on ourselves. But when we “are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that [we] can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). As we turn to Him and call on Him for help in the moment of temptation, Jesus gives us the strength we need to overcome.

Jesus is our shelter forever.

Lord Jesus, You conquered sin and death forever through Your cross and empty tomb! Help me to live and thrive in the forgiveness only You can give.

Our Savior calms temptation’s storm.

 

The Doorway to the Kingdom

By Oswald Chambers

The Doorway to the Kingdom

Beware of thinking of our Lord as only a teacher. If Jesus Christ is only a teacher, then all He can do is frustrate me by setting a standard before me I cannot attain. What is the point of presenting me with such a lofty ideal if I cannot possibly come close to reaching it? I would be happier if I never knew it. What good is there in telling me to be what I can never be— to be “pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8), to do more than my duty, or to be completely devoted to God? I must know Jesus Christ as my Savior before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of a lofty ideal which only leads to despair. But when I am born again by the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come only to teach— He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The redemption means that Jesus Christ can place within anyone the same nature that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives us are based on that nature.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces a sense of despair in the natural man— exactly what Jesus means for it to do. As long as we have some self-righteous idea that we can carry out our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to continue until we expose our own ignorance by stumbling over some obstacle in our way. Only then are we willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. “Blessed are the poor in spirit….” This is the first principle in the kingdom of God. The underlying foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possessions; not making decisions for Jesus, but having such a sense of absolute futility that we finally admit, “Lord, I cannot even begin to do it.” Then Jesus says, “Blessed are you…” (Matthew 5:11). This is the doorway to the kingdom, and yet it takes us so long to believe that we are actually poor! The knowledge of our own poverty is what brings us to the proper place where Jesus Christ accomplishes His work.

Jacob’s waking exclamation

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‘And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.’ Genesis 28:16

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 4:25–5:4

Cheerfulness is a virtue, levity a vice. How much foolish talking and jesting would at once end if we said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place.’ The next time you have been indulging in mirth—I mean not innocent mirth, but that which is connected with uncleanness, or with any sort of ill, imagine you see a finger lifted up, and that you hear a voice saying, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place.’ Let your recreation be free from sin; let your amusements be such that you can enjoy them while God looks on. If, too, we felt that God was in this place, how much oftener should we talk of him and of Christ. This afternoon what will many of you talk of? Sunday afternoon talk is generally a great difficulty to some professors. They do not like to go right down into what they think worldly conversation, so they generally talk about ministers. They consider that to be a spiritual subject; and generally, this talk about ministers is more wicked than talk about the devil himself, for I had rather you should speak religiously concerning Satan, than irreligiously concerning even the angels of the churches. There is one tale retailed about this minister, and another tale about the other, and the conversation gives no edification. If they heard an angel say, ‘The Lord is in this place,’ the afternoon of the day of rest would be spent in much more profitable conversation. But suppose that I have some here today who have been lately exposed to personal danger and peril; brethren, do you not think if in the midst of the storm you had heard a voice saying, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place,’ you would have been perfectly at rest?

For meditation: ‘I am with you alway’ (Matthew 28:20) is a great encouragement to Christians both when alone (Acts 18:9–10) and when together (Matthew 18:20). It should also be a check on our behaviour. In everything you should be able to thank God and ask for his blessing (Romans 14:6). Don’t do anything which your conscience prevents you from committing to him (Romans 14:23).

Let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece (Judges 6:39).

There are degrees to faith. At one stage of Christian experience we cannot believe unless we have some sign or some great manifestation of feeling. We feel our fleece, like Gideon, and if it is wet we are willing to trust God. This may be true faith, but it is imperfect. It always looks for feeling or some token besides the Word of God. It marks quite an advance in faith when we trust God without feelings. It is blessed to believe without having any emotion.

There is a third stage of faith which even transcends that of Gideon and his fleece. The first phase of faith believes when there are favorable emotions, the second believes when there is the absence of feeling, but this third form of faith believes God and His Word when circumstances, emotions, appearances, people, and human reason all urge to the contrary. Paul exercised this faith in Acts 27:20, 25, “And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.” Notwithstanding all this Paul said, “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer; for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.”

May God give us faith to fully trust His Word though everything else witness the other way.
–C. H. P.

When is the time to trust?
Is it when all is calm,
When waves the victor’s palm,
And life is one glad psalm
Of joy and praise?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when the waves beat high,
When storm clouds fill the sky,
And prayer is one long cry,
O help and save!
When is the time to trust?
Is it when friends are true?
Is it when comforts woo,
And in all we say and do
We meet but praise?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when we stand alone,
And summer birds have flown,
And every prop is gone,
All else but God.
What is the time to trust?
Is it some future day,
When you have tried your way,
And learned to trust and pray
By bitter woe?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is in this moment’s need,
Poor, broken, bruised reed!
Poor, troubled soul, make speed
To trust thy God.
What is the time to trust?
Is it when hopes beat high,
When sunshine gilds the sky,
And joy and ecstasy
Fill all the heart?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when our joy is fled,
When sorrow bows the head,
And all is cold and dead,

All else but God.
–Selected

True Identity

Jesus was God in the flesh. Are you a child of God? Believers say they are a child of God.
Through adoption you are a child of God. By believing in Christ you are adopted into

God’s family.     

Ephesians 1:5

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

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(pictures of Jesus being questioned as to who he was.)
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True Identity

From: Our Daily Journey

True Identity

Read:

Ephesians 1:3-14
Because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God (Ephesians 1:11).

As I was growing up, I often felt as if I didn’t quite fit in. I was different from even my close friends but couldn’t figure out why. I tried to take an interest in what my friends liked and to talk and act like them. But it wasn’t until I went to college that I decided to stop worrying about what other people thought of me. Knowing that my identity was in Jesus, I didn’t have to try to be the “cool kid” anymore.

Thankfully, our social identity doesn’t define who we are. Paul opened his letter to followers of Jesus in Ephesus by explaining that God “chose us in Christ” and adopted us as children of God (Ephesians 1:4-5). He then wrote, “Because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance” (Ephesians 1:11). Jesus chose to die for us and we’re now united with Him, a part of His family and heirs to His kingdom!

During His time on earth, Jesus assured His followers that, although He had to leave, He would send a Helper—the Holy Spirit—who would be an advocate and guide (John 14:15-2116:5-15). And according to Paul, the Spirit is also “God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people” (Ephesians 1:14).

Believers in Jesus aren’t simply His followers, we’re children of God, adopted into His family. Our social identity may have some value now, but it doesn’t compare to who we are in Jesus and what that means for our future. As Paul wrote, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3). We find true identity in our relationship with Jesus and in our inheritance as a child of God!

 

Seeing then that we have a great high Priest… Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Our great Helper in prayer is the Lord Jesus Christ, our Advocate with the Father, our Great High Priest, whose chief ministry for us these centuries has been intercession and prayer. He it is who takes our imperfect petitions from our hands, cleanses them from their defects, corrects their faults, and then claims their answer from His Father on His own account and through His all-atoning merits and righteousness.

Brother, are you fainting in prayer? Look up. Your blessed Advocate has already claimed your answer, and you would grieve and disappoint Him if you were to give up the conflict in the very moment when victory is on its way to meet you. He has gone in for you into the inner chamber, and already holds up your name upon the palms of His hands; and the messenger, which is to bring you your blessing, is now on his way, and the Spirit is only waiting your trust to whisper in your heart the echo of the answer from the throne, “It is done.”
–A. B. Simpson

The Spirit has much to do with acceptable prayer, and His work in prayer is too much neglected. He enlightens the mind to see its wants, softens the heart to feel them, quickens our desires after suitable supplies, gives clear views of God’s power, wisdom, and grace to relieve us, and stirs up that confidence in His truth which excludes all wavering.

Prayer is, therefore, a wonderful thing. In every acceptable prayer the whole Trinity is concerned.
–J. Angell James

Dependent on God’s Presence

By Oswald Chambers

Dependent on God’s Presence

There is no thrill for us in walking, yet it is the test for all of our steady and enduring qualities. To “walk and not faint” is the highest stretch possible as a measure of strength. The word walk is used in the Bible to express the character of a person— “…John…looking at Jesus as He walked…said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ ” (John 1:35-36). There is nothing abstract or obscure in the Bible; everything is vivid and real. God does not say, “Be spiritual,” but He says, “Walk before Me…” (Genesis 17:1).

When we are in an unhealthy condition either physically or emotionally, we always look for thrills in life. In our physical life this leads to our efforts to counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit; in our emotional life it leads to obsessions and to the destruction of our morality; and in our spiritual life, if we insist on pursuing only thrills, on mounting up “with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), it will result in the destruction of our spirituality.

Having the reality of God’s presence is not dependent on our being in a particular circumstance or place, but is only dependent on our determination to keep the Lord before us continually. Our problems arise when we refuse to place our trust in the reality of His presence. The experience the psalmist speaks of— “We will not fear, even though…” (Psalm 46:2)— will be ours once we are grounded on the truth of the reality of God’s presence, not just a simple awareness of it, but an understanding of the reality of it. Then we will exclaim, “He has been here all the time!” At critical moments in our lives it is necessary to ask God for guidance, but it should be unnecessary to be constantly saying, “Oh, Lord, direct me in this, and in that.” Of course He will, and in fact, He is doing it already! If our everyday decisions are not according to His will, He will press through them, bringing restraint to our spirit. Then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence.

 

More Than a Backstage Pass

By: Paul Daily, Author

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Recently, I made an over two-hour trek from Virginia Beach to “King’s Fest,” a three-day Christian music event at Paramount’s King’s Dominion in Doswell, Va, with some of the teens from our church. For an entire weekend, we jammed and worshiped with some of the premier acts in Christian music. Artists such as Third Day, Rebecca St. James, Pillar, FFH, Newsboys, Thousand Foot Krutch, Audio Adrenaline, and Jeremy Camp took the stage and led us on a journey into the presence of God.

There were thousands of people packed into the amphitheater and the atmosphere was electrified. We were a few of the hundreds “fortunate enough” to be seated on the lawn, so far away from the stage that it was difficult to make out who was performing. In the midst of all the excitement, one of my teens made the comment, “It would be so awesome to get a backstage pass.”

The images of that enormous crowd and those distant figures on stage, as well as that backstage pass comment, came rushing back to me the next morning during my quiet time with the Lord. I was taken away in the glory of God as I knelt there in my tent while the sun crept over the eastern horizon. I began to express to the Lord as eloquently as I knew how that I love Him so much and that I long for real intimacy with Him. Then I said, “Jesus, I don’t want to be just one of the faces in the crowd. I don’t want to just stand there and watch You perform while being robbed of a relationship with You.” I could sense in my spirit all over again the Lord’s desire for more intimacy than I was even willing to accept. Then I felt the Spirit prompting me to ask for “more than a backstage pass.”

That’s pretty much the ultimate thing at a concert. People pay good money to go behind the curtains with their favorite artists, to see the inner workings of these “American Idols.” Though I’ve never gotten a backstage pass to any concert, I can imagine it would be exciting to get a few minutes to meet my favorite artists with only a small group or maybe even get a handshake. But Jesus wants even more than that.

There are three Scriptures that really spoke to me that morning that express God’s desire for intimacy with us:

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:4-5 (NKJV)

“You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence…” Psalm 31:20 (NKJV)

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” Psalm 32:8 (NKJV)

Nestled gently within those verses are some incredibly delicious morsels of God’s heart. He longs to be close enough to us that He doesn’t even have to wave His hand — we are close enough to see the movement of His eyes; to know what He’s thinking just by the direction He looks. And when He refers to “the secret place” or “the tabernacle” or “pavilion,” those are all pictures of the intimacy shared between a husband and a wife.

If you feel you have been standing in the crowd, lost in a sea of faces, there is hope. Even if you have gotten that backstage pass but your heart tells you there is still more, press in. Isaiah 30:18 is a reminder that in spite of your flaws, the Lord longs to be gracious to you. Slow down long enough to ask the Lord for that intimacy. Address Him the same as you would your spouse or your dearest friend. His ears are open to you and He promises that as soon as you ask, He will answer. He yearns to return to you as the Lover of your soul.

Through The Cross

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The Cross is a reminder of what it cost God to save us. 
Wearing the cross is a sign of our belief in the risen Savior.
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Through the Cross

From: Our Daily Bread

Through the Cross

[Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

My coworker Tom keeps an 8″ by 12″ glass cross on his desk. His friend Phil, who like Tom is a cancer survivor, gave it to him to help him look at everything “through the cross.” The glass cross is a constant reminder of God’s love and good purposes for him.

That’s a challenging idea for all believers in Jesus, especially during difficult times. It’s much easier to focus on our problems than on God’s love.

The apostle Paul’s life was certainly an example of having a cross-shaped perspective. He described himself in times of suffering as being “persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:9). He believed that in the hard times, God is at work, “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen” (vv. 17–18).

To “fix our eyes . . . on what is unseen” doesn’t mean we minimize the problems. Paul Barnett, in his commentary on this passage, explains, “There is to be confidence, based on the certainty of God’s purposes for [us] . . . . On the other hand, there is the sober recognition that we groan with hope mingled with pain.”

Jesus gave His life for us. His love is deep and sacrificial. As we look at life “through the cross,” we see His love and faithfulness. And our trust in Him grows.

Father, teach us who You are. Increase our trust in You. Fill our minds with Your perspective.

Look at everything through the cross.

 

Substitution

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“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 2:18-25

Of this God in Christ, our text says that he knew no sin. It does not say that he did not sin; that we know: but it says more than that; he did not know sin; he knew not what sin was. He saw it in others, but he did not know it by experience. He was a perfect stranger to it. It is not barely said, that he did not take sin into his heart, but he did not know it. It was no acquantance of his. He was the acquaintance of grief; but he was not the acquaintance of sin. He knew no sin of any kind,—no sin of thought, no sin of birth, no original, no actual transgression; no sin of lip, or of hand, did ever Christ commit. He was pure, perfect, spotless; like his own divinity, without spot or blemish, or any such thing. This gracious person, is he who is spoken of in the text. He was a person utterly incapable of committing anything that was wrong. It has been asserted lately, by some ill-judged one, that Christ was capable of sin. I think it was Irving who started some such idea, that if Christ was not capable of sinning, he could not have been capable of virtue. “For,” say they, “if a man must necessarily be good, there is no virtue in his goodness.” Away with their ridiculous nonsense! Is not God necessarily good? And who dares deny that God is virtuous? Are not the glorified spirits in heaven necessarily pure? And yet are they not holy because of that very necessity? Are not the angels, now that they are confirmed, necessarily faultless? And shall any one dare to deny angelic virtue! The thing is not true; it needs no freedom in order to create virtue. Freedom and virtue generally go together; but necessity and virtue are as much brother and sister as freedom and virtue. Jesus Christ was not capable of sin.

For meditation: It would have been awful for the sinless Christ to suffer just for one sin of one man. But for him to suffer for all the sins of a countless multitude past, present and future must have been appalling beyond all imagination. How God must hate sin! How he must love poor sinners! Did Christ die for you (Galatians 2:20)?

 

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The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:11)

This was a greater thing to say and do than to calm the seas or raise the dead. Prophets and apostles could work wondrous miracles, but they could not always do and suffer the will of God. To do and suffer God’s will is still the highest form of faith, the most sublime Christian achievement.

To have the bright aspirations of a young life forever blasted; to bear a daily burden never congenial and to see no relief; to be pinched by poverty when you only desire a competency for the good and comfort of loved ones; to be fettered by some incurable physical disability; to be stripped bare of loved ones until you stand alone to meet the shocks of life–to be able to say in such a school of discipline, “The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?’–this is faith at its highest and spiritual success at the crowning point.

Great faith is exhibited not so much in ability to do as to suffer.
–Dr. Charles Parkhurst

To have a sympathizing God we must have a suffering Saviour, and there is no true fellow-feeling with another save in the heart of him who has been afflicted like him. We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for our ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper, must first be a sufferer. He who would be a saviour must somewhere and somehow have been upon a cross; and we cannot have the highest happiness of life in succoring others without tasting the cup which Jesus drank, and submitting to the baptism wherewith He was baptized.

The most comforting of David’s psalms were pressed out by suffering; and if Paul had not had his thorn in the flesh we had missed much of that tenderness which quivers in so many of his letters.

The present circumstance, which presses so hard against you (if surrendered to Christ), is the best shaped tool in the Father’s hand to chisel you for eternity. Trust Him, then. Do not push away the instrument lest you lose its work.

Strange and difficult indeed
We may find it,
But the blessing that we need
Is behind it.

The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.

 

Fear No Evil

From: Jane Samuel, Author

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“… I will fear no evil …” Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

Have you ever screamed, thinking you stepped on a spider, only to realize it was a stray black thread? Or has your heart ever raced at that phone call from school, only to learn that little Johnny had won an award? Or have you ever panicked when your texts went unanswered, simply to discover your spouse’s phone battery had died?

If you are like me, you probably answered, “Yes!” to at least one or all of these.

Don’t we have a tendency to imagine the worst? We admit a fearful thought; our creative mind chimes in, willingly embellishing details to nonexistent situations. We picture it in vivid color as it flashes across the backdrop of our make-believe set. We choose a comfortable seat and watch it, mesmerized as if it were an award-winning movie. Only when the credits roll, do we realize this made-up scenario was nothing but a far-fetched invention of our fearful fancy.

So is there an antidote to overactive harmful imagination?

I’ve started chewing on this curative capsule from the brave, bold, optimistic Psalmist: I will fear no evil. Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

What if this cold is more than just a cold?  I will fear no evil.

What if I run out of money? I will fear no evil.

What if something bad happens to my spouse? I will fear no evil.

What if my kids fall in with the wrong crowd? I will fear no evil.

What if someone breaks into my house? I will fear no evil.

What if I get into an accident? I will fear no evil.

How about you? Do you fear evil? Do you combat an unfounded, irrational fear that keeps you from enjoying life? Do you suffer a chronic expectation of the worst?

If so, contemplate with me, David’s reason as to why he said he would fear no evil.

“… I will fear no evil; for You are with me …” Psalm 23:4 (NKJV italics mine)

Let’s read that again.

For You are with me. 

Isn’t the knowledge of our Shepherd’s constant and comforting presence reassuring?

Friend, we are called to live unafraid of evil.

Evil people.

Evil things.

Evil places.

Evil events.

Evil threats.

Evil diseases.

Evil outcomes.

Evil days.

Fearful thoughts will come. We can’t prevent that. And not all those will be unfounded or irrational. Some will be justifiable and shake us to the core. But if we allow the truth of God’s Word to descend into our spirit, we will be able to draw it out at the right moment. Like a warrior armed and ready for battle we will be equipped. We will be prepared to wield it in the face of an alarming report. Brandish it at the news of possible lay off. Believe it at the threat of impending lawsuit. Trust it in the midst of irreparable loss. As long as our Shepherd is with us, we fear no evil.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me. Your rod and Your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely Your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:5-6 NKJV)

What’s Your Passion?

 (We Should Have A Passion For The Lost and Suffering).

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What’s Your Passion?

From: Our Daily Bread

What’s Your Passion?

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

One of the tellers at my bank has a photograph of a Shelby Cobra roadster on his window. (The Cobra is a high-performance automobile built by the Ford Motor Company.)

One day, while transacting business at the bank, I asked him if that was his car. “No,” he replied, “that’s my passion, my reason to get up every morning and go to work. I’m going to own one someday.”

I understand this young man’s passion. A friend of mine owned a Cobra, and I drove it on one occasion! It’s a mean machine! But a Cobra, like everything else in this world, isn’t worth living for. Those who trust in things apart from God “are brought to their knees and fall,” according to the psalmist (Psalm 20:8).

That’s because we were made for God and nothing else will do—a truth we validate in our experience every day: We buy this or that because we think these things will make us happy, but like a child receiving a dozen Christmas presents or more, we ask ourselves, “Is this all?” Something is always missing.

Nothing this world has to offer us—even very good things—fully satisfies us. There is a measure of enjoyment in them, but our happiness soon fades away (1 John 2:17). Indeed, “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself,” C. S. Lewis concluded. “There is no such thing.”

I have found Him whom my soul so long has craved! Jesus satisfies my longings—through His blood I now am saved. Clara Williams

There is a longing in every heart that only Jesus can satisfy.

The power of Aaron’s rod

‘But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.’ Exodus 7:12

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 12:7–17

What multitudes of foes has our faith had to meet with; but how it has swallowed them all up. There were our old sins. The devil threw them down before us, and they turned to serpents. What multitudes! How they hiss in the air! How horrible are their deadly poison-fangs, the gaping jaws, their forked tongues! But the cross of Jesus, like Aaron’s rod, destroys them all. Faith in Christ makes short work of all our sins, for it is written, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.’ Then the devil stirs up another generation of vipers, and shows us our inbred corruptions, our neglects of duty, our slackness in prayer, our unbeliefs, our backslidings, our wanderings of heart; and sometimes you and I get so tormented by these reptiles, that we grow alarmed, and are half inclined to flee. Do not run, brother, but throw down Aaron’s rod, and it will swallow up all these serpents, even though they were poisonous as the cobra, or fierce as the rattlesnake. You shall overcome through the blood of the Lamb. Jesus is able ‘to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.’ The battle is the Lord’s, and he will deliver them into your hands. The old enemy will throw down another host of serpents in the form of worldly trials, diabolical suggestions, temptations to blasphemy, ill thoughts of God, hard thoughts of his providence, rash thoughts of his promises, and such like, till you will be almost distracted. You will wonder how you can meet such a host as this. Remember to stand fast, and throw down Aaron’s rod—your simple trust and faith in Jesus Christ—and it must and shall swallow up all these rods.

For meditation: Pharoah’s magicians could to some extent mimic the work of God (Exodus 7:11,228:7), but they were really no match for him (Exodus 7:12) and their power had strict limitations (Exodus 8:18–192 Timothy 3:8–9). Satan and his servants can also do some amazing things (2 Thessalonians 2:9–10Revelation 13:13–15), but the Christian trusts in and is indwelt by One who is greater (1 John 4:4).

 

God Talks to Teens

Author: Martha Noebel

My son, Daniel, is approaching his junior year of high school. We are looking for scholarship information and colleges. It is an exciting time for our family. There are so many questions and yet I couldn’t help but wonder as I repeatedly heard him share his goal for life, what did God want him to do?

I prayed God would show him what He wanted Daniel to be. As I heard Daniel speak of his choice for life, I longed to hear him speak what I felt God had shown me about him. I explained to him he needed to ask God His opinion. I told him God has a plan for his life and exhorted him to ask God. I promised him God would answer his question about his destiny.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

The next morning I dropped him off at school. We had not discussed this issue at all that morning. As he got out of the car, he stopped and looked back at me and said he had not heard from God. What a surprise! He had prayed and was actively looking to God for an answer. I was so excited. I asked him to give God a little more time. Then I prayed, “God please answer him.”

About a month later, I was filling out information about his college choices when I told him what I had put down for his life choice. I listed architect, business administration, etc.; when all of a sudden I heard him say to take architect off the list. I froze. I could not believe what I was hearing. I asked him if he had changed his mind. He told me God had spoken to him. I was so excited I could hardly believe it. Then the words I longed to hear came out of his mouth. He said what he would be doing was not his first choice and yet he knew he had heard from God. His words were God wanted him to be a preacher.

That is what I felt God was calling him to do. I had felt that his whole life. There were no signs it would ever happen and now, well, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

So who said God doesn’t talk to teens? God talks to teens! He talked to mine. He showed him His plans for himself. He will be leading the Devotion this week at their youth meeting. He has really come a long way.

God longs to speak to our kids. He will pour Himself into them as they seek His will. Daniel is still my big, strong, young man who loves to argue with his sister (we’re working on that part). But he now knows he has decisions to make and someone bigger than himself is actively a part of his life.

Let’s pray for our kids. Let us encourage our teens to seek God for the choices they are making. God will answer them. It is never too early or too late and is always the best thing to do.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7(NIV)

Be Empowered By The Holy Spirit

Philippians 4:13

13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Galatians 2:20

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

Be strong

1. Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

2. 1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

3. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

4. 2 Chronicles 15:7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.

5. Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song will I praise him.

 

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I Just Can’t Do It

From: Our Daily Bread

I Just Can’t Do It

The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24 nkjv

“I just can’t do it!” lamented the dejected student. On the page he could see only small print, difficult ideas, and an unforgiving deadline. He needed the help of his teacher.

We might experience similar despair when we read Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). Anger is as bad as murder (v. 22). Lust equals adultery (v. 28). And if we dare think we can live up to these standards, we bump into this: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (v. 48).

“The Sermon on the Mount produces despair,” says Oswald Chambers. But he saw this as good, because at “the point of despair we are willing to come to [Jesus] as paupers to receive from Him.”

In the counterintuitive way God so often works, those who know they can’t do it on their own are the ones who receive God’s grace. As the apostle Paul put it, “Not many of you were wise by human standards. . . . But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” (1 Corinthians 1:26–27).

In God’s wisdom, the Teacher is also our Savior. When we come to Him in faith, through His Spirit we enjoy His “righteousness, holiness and redemption” (v. 30), and the grace and power to live for Him. That’s why He could say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

Thank You, Lord, for blessing those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, and who hunger and thirst for Your righteousness. You are our righteousness!

The Miracle of Belief

By Oswald Chambers

The Miracle of Belief

Paul was a scholar and an orator of the highest degree; he was not speaking here out of a deep sense of humility, but was saying that when he preached the gospel, he would veil the power of God if he impressed people with the excellency of his speech. Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the effectiveness of redemption, not by impressive speech, nor by wooing and persuading, but only by the sheer unaided power of God. The creative power of redemption comes through the preaching of the gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher.

Real and effective fasting by a preacher is not fasting from food, but fasting from eloquence, from impressive diction, and from everything else that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God— “…as though God were pleading through us…” (2 Corinthians 5:20). He is there to present the gospel of God. If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get close to Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the gospel will result in making me a traitor to Jesus, and I prevent the creative power of His redemption from doing its work.

And Iif I am lifted up…, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32).

 

God is with us

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ Romans 8:31

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 118:1–14

God is for us. But, O my brethren, though this brings in the context, it is impossible for any human speech to bring out the depth of the meaning of how God is for us. He was for us before the worlds were made: he was for us, or else he never would have given his Son; he was for us even when he smote the only-begotten, and laid the full weight of his wrath upon him—he was for us, though he was against him; he was for us when we were ruined in the fall—he loved us notwithstanding all; he was for us when we were against him, and with a high hand were bidding him defiance: he was for us, or else he never would have brought us humbly to seek his face. He has been for us in many struggles; we have had to fight through multitudes of difficulties; we have had temptations from without and within—how could we have held on until now if he had not been with us? He is for us, let me say, with all the infinity of his heart, with all the omnipotence of his love; for us with all his boundless wisdom; arrayed in all the attributes which make him God he is for us—eternally and immutably for us; for us when the blue skies shall be rolled up like a worn out vesture; for us throughout eternity. Here, child of God, is matter enough for thought, even though you had ages to meditate upon it: God is for you; and if God be for you, who can be against you?

For meditation: If we are believers and God is for us, we will actually have no end of enemies trying to oppose us, but we will be able to withstand them (Ephesians 6:10–13). However, it is a big ‘IF’; the opposite is true for unbelievers—if this same almighty God is against us (Romans 1:181 Peter 3:12), whoever or whatever may be for us will be of absolutely no assistance whatsoever to us.

Live Abundantly Through Christ

John 10:10

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Psalm 16:11

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Romans 12:1

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

 

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How We’re Called to Live

From: Our Daily Journey

How We’re Called to Live

Read:

2 Corinthians 5:14-21
[God] gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).

I found myself in a tense, combustible situation—standing between two groups of angry people who were nose to nose, boiling over with rage and hatred. One group spewed vile, dehumanizing words at the other; then that group spewed vile, dehumanizing words back. In that volatile space, both groups completely lost perspective of the other’s humanity. Locked in an intractable posture of opposition, neither side would acknowledge any common ground. Neither side would consider there might be some way to resolve their differences or even begin any kind of constructive conversation. Both sides felt wronged and wanted only to punish their foe.

In contrast, when Jesus confronted sin, His ultimate goal was always reconciliation. Jesus’ mission was to reach out to those who “were far away from God” and bring them near (Ephesians 2:13). He reached out to all of us, though we’ve all rebelled against God and resisted His love. He moved right past our ignorance and our protests in order to offer us healing. “God was in Christ,” Paul tells us, “reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

And this posture of reconciliation isn’t merely the way Jesus lived but also how He calls us to live. Christ “gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Now He’s chosen to reconcile the world through us. “We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

In conflicts, we should never seek revenge. Rather, we should seek healing and reconciliation. We’re not to inflict pain on those who have wronged us but seek the possibility of forgiveness and the divine mending Jesus brings.

 

The Concept of Divine Control

By Oswald Chambers

The Concept of Divine Control

Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct in this passage for those people who have His Spirit. He urges us to keep our minds filled with the concept of God’s control over everything, which means that a disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, “My heavenly Father knows all about this!” This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise. Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those people who have His Spirit, and it works on the following principle: God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?

Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but is an attitude of the mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7).

Got Joy?

By: Kathy Schultz

I have recently spent some joyless days, days where the joy of the Lord was not my strength. These were times I cried and could not even begin to smile, much less laugh. Circumstances had changed and I was not a happy camper. You probably have had moments like these as well.

Christians have often quoted the last part of Nehemiah 8:10:

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (NIV)

The truth of this statement is that it is not ourjoy, but HIS joy that is our strength. I had been looking for my own joy and it could not be found.

I went to the Bible to see what it had to say about joy. I found many scriptures and stories about joy and laughter. I reread the story of Sarah laughing when she heard God say she was going to have a child. (Genesis 18) This laughter came from unbelief, a nervous laughter. I’ve had that type of laughter and it always hid how I felt at the moment. Thankfully, God did not leave Sarah there but gave her the promised child. We can imagine the joy she must have had when the promise became true! It was the Lord who fulfilled the promise. In my mind, I can picture her laughing again, but this time with real joy.

King David did not always experience joy. The book of Psalms is full of him crying out to the Lord. But David found that in God’s presence was the fullness of joy. Joy was not found in himself but in God.

“… you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

We all have times when things go wrong and suddenly God gives us the ability to laugh. I began to remember times in my life when laughter had calmed the chaotic moment. Once, while my family and I were camping at the beach, a storm suddenly came up and the rain began to come down by the buckets. The campsite we had picked was clean but was at a low ground level. Some experienced campers told us we should dig a trench around our tent to keep the rain out. The only available shovels were our children’s toys. What a sight we were, four adults digging around a tent in the rain with toy shovels. In the midst of the downpour, we all began to laugh. God had given us the ability to see the situation with humor.

You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Isaiah 55:12 (NLT)

Joy is even one of the fruits of the Spirit. It isn’t something we do, but something we can ask to be given. It is God’s gift to us. I certainly need this gift – to have God’s joy in my life.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

Joy could shine through us if we would let God have his way with us. I have to admit, I was not allowing God’s joy to shine through me. I resolved to get in God’s presence and have the joy restored, not mine, but His joy. There is a difference. I want to remember that God can restore my joy and give me laughter. I want to live as the scriptures say “in joy and peace.”

Yes, in our lives we will experience difficult moments. The scriptures tell us that even Jesus wept, and there is no sin in weeping.

“… weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5(NIV)

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (NIV)

After Jesus wept, He restored Lazarus to life again. Those who loved Lazarus must have experienced great joy!

“God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.” Luke 6:21 (NLT)

May you, along with me, ask God to restore your joy. Remember, apart from God’s presence, there is no joy!

 

Timeless Beauty

Romans 10:15

How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”

1 Peter 3:3-4

Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Timothy 2:9

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,

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Timeless Beauty

From: Our Daily Journey

Timeless Beauty

Read:

Ephesians 4:1-16
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church (Ephesians 4:15).

Each year, my son and I travel to the other side of the country to spend time with his honorary grandparents, Gwen and Jim Johnson. It’s not possible for me to express the significance of these visits and all that my son and I learn from this remarkable couple, each of whom are in their mid-nineties.

Though no longer able to skydive, Jajja (grandmother) Gwen did parachute from the sky on her ninetieth birthday! The Johnson’s model a deep faith in Jesus, a contagious zest for life, an unwavering commitment to service, and an undeniable love for and devotion to each other.

Throughout their more than 70 years of marriage, Gwen and Jim have exemplified Ephesians 4:2-3 as they’ve treated each other humbly and gently—and that still continues in their golden years. Because they know and trust Jesus, they continue to “be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of . . . love” (Ephesians 4:2). They know that each minute they have on earth is more time to serve Him and His children and to love each other.

Their example of profound love has been evident to my son and me again and again. But this past summer, at the swimming pool, as we watched Jim tenderly rub suntan lotion on Gwen’s shoulder, I thanked God for allowing my son to witness unconditional love between a husband and a wife.

Grandpa Jim and Jajja Gwen, to all who know them, are an example of the beauty that results when people choose to “make every effort to keep [themselves] united in the Spirit, binding [themselves] together in peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

When we allow the Holy Spirit and Scripture to guide us, nothing can veil the beauty God intended for us to experience in our relationships.

 

My Life’s Spiritual Honor and Duty

By Oswald Chambers

My Life’s Spiritual Honor and Duty

Paul was overwhelmed with the sense of his indebtedness to Jesus Christ, and he spent his life to express it. The greatest inspiration in Paul’s life was his view of Jesus Christ as his spiritual creditor. Do I feel that same sense of indebtedness to Christ regarding every unsaved soul? As a saint, my life’s spiritual honor and duty is to fulfill my debt to Christ in relation to these lost souls. Every tiny bit of my life that has value I owe to the redemption of Jesus Christ. Am I doing anything to enable Him to bring His redemption into evident reality in the lives of others? I will only be able to do this as the Spirit of God works into me this sense of indebtedness.

I am not a superior person among other people— I am a bondservant of the Lord Jesus. Paul said, “…you are not your own…you were bought at a price…” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul sold himself to Jesus Christ and he said, in effect, “I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the gospel of Jesus; I am free only that I may be an absolute bondservant of His.” That is the characteristic of a Christian’s life once this level of spiritual honor and duty becomes real. Quit praying about yourself and spend your life for the sake of others as the bondservant of Jesus. That is the true meaning of being broken bread and poured-out wine in real life.

 

Order and argument in prayer

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.’ Job 23:3–4

Suggested Further Reading: Daniel 9:1–19

The true spiritual order of prayer seems to me to consist of something more than mere arrangement. It is most fitting for us first to feel that we are now doing something that is real; that we are about to address ourselves to God, whom we cannot see, but who is really present; whom we can neither touch nor hear, nor by our own senses can apprehend, but who, nevertheless, is as truly with us as though we are speaking to a friend of flesh and blood like ourselves. Feeling the reality of God’s presence, our mind will be led by divine grace into a humble state; we shall feel like Abraham, when he said, ‘I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.’ Consequently we shall not deliver ourselves of our prayer as boys repeating their lessons, as a mere matter of rote, much less shall we speak as if we were rabbis instructing our pupils, or as I have heard some do, with the coarseness of a highwayman stopping a person on the road and demanding his purse of him; but we shall be humble yet bold petitioners, humbly importuning mercy through the Saviour’s blood. We shall not have the reserve of a slave but the loving reverence of a child, yet not an impudent, impertinent child, but a teachable obedient child, honouring his Father, and therefore asking earnestly, but with deferential submission to his Father’s will. When I feel that I am in the presence of God, and take my rightful position in that presence, the next thing I shall want to recognise will be that I have no right to what I am seeking, and cannot expect to obtain it except as a gift of grace, and I must recollect that God limits the channel through which he will give me mercy—he will give it to me through his dear Son. Let me put myself then under the patronage of the great Redeemer.

For meditation: In emergencies believers can pray to God on the spur of the moment (Nehemiah 2:4). At other times it is only right and proper to take both care and time (Nehemiah 1:4Matthew 6:5–7).

Jesus Endured Much To Save Us

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not [a]puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, [b]thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

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Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

By Oswald Chambers

Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

This verse reveals the humiliation of being a Christian. In the natural realm, if a person does not hit back, it is because he is a coward. But in the spiritual realm, it is the very evidence of the Son of God in him if he does not hit back. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but you must make it an opportunity to exhibit the Son of God in your life. And you cannot imitate the nature of Jesus— it is either in you or it is not. A personal insult becomes an opportunity for a saint to reveal the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not, “Do your duty,” but is, in effect, “Do what is not your duty.” It is not your duty to go the second mile, or to turn the other cheek, but Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will always do these things. We will not say, “Oh well, I just can’t do any more, and I’ve been so misrepresented and misunderstood.” Every time I insist on having my own rights, I hurt the Son of God, while in fact I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I will take the blow myself. That is the real meaning of filling “up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24). A disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor.

Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself. We are always looking for justice, yet the essence of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is— Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

 

Our miseries, messengers of mercy

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.’ Hosea 6:1–2

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 116:12–19

A missionary was preaching to a Maori tribe in New Zealand. He had been telling them of the suffering love of Christ, how he had poured forth his soul unto death for them; and as he concluded, the hills rung to the thrilling question ‘Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.’ Then stood forth a plumed and painted chief, the scarred warrior of a thousand fights, and as his lips quivered with suppressed emotion, he spoke. ‘And did the Son of the Highest suffer all this for us men? Then the chief would like to offer him some poor return for his great love. Would the Son of God deign to accept the chief’s hunting dog? Swift of foot and keen of scent, the tribe has not such another, and he has been to the chief as a friend.’ But the missionary told him that the Son of God had need of no such gifts as these. For a moment the chief paused; then as a new thought struck him, suddenly despoiling himself of his striped blanket he cried with childlike earnestness, ‘Perhaps he who had not where to lay his head will yet accept the chieftain’s blanket. The poor chief will be cold without it, yet it is offered joyfully.’ Touched by love’s persistency, the missionary tried to explain to him the real nature of the Son of God; that it was not men’s gifts but men’s hearts that he yearned for. For a moment a cloud of grief darkened the granite features of the old chief; then as the true nature of the Son of God slowly dawned upon him, casting aside his blanket he clasped his hands, and looking right up into the blue sky, his face beaming with joy, he exclaimed ‘Perhaps the Son of the Blessed One will deign to accept the poor chief himself!’

For meditation: Christ chiefly gave us himself (Galatians 2:20); blessings come with him (Romans 8:32Ephesians 1:3). From you God chiefly wants yourself, not your material possessions, but your repentance and faith in him, the Saviour of the world.

 

Agents of God’s Glory

From: Joe Stowell, Author

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

A friend of mine is an agent for professional athletes. His whole career is based on representing his clients to teams in hopes of securing them the best possible salary and contract package. For each of his clients, he has a portfolio that highlights their statistics—height, weight, career highlights, awards, you name it. At a moment’s notice, he can give you a clear picture of the athlete’s accomplishments and abilities.

Every once in a while, my agent friend and I will talk about some of the athletes he represents. He has a couple of big names on his list, and I’ve found myself thinking, “Wow, you’re an agent for him? No way! That would be amazing.” But when I think about it, you and I have a far greater privilege and calling. We are agents of God—hired by the price He paid on the cross—to spread the “stats” of His glory everywhere we go.

Of course we know that God is totally self-sufficient and that His worth isn’t based on what other people think. But this fallen world needs to be reminded of how incredible and vast our God is. The psalmist points out that the heavens declare His glory. Creation speaks loud and clear about His creative power and divine nature. His Word paints a magnificent picture of His glory, recording the drama and wonder of God’s interaction with His people. And we have, on a daily basis, the responsibility of reflecting and representing God’s glory in this world.

His “portfolio” of glory staggers the imagination. It encompasses His personal, unconditional love. It draws in His broad and limitless mercy—mercy that patiently holds back His hand of judgment. His credentials include perfect wisdom, undiminished holiness, unflinching faithfulness, perfect justice, and the realities that He is all-powerful and all-knowing. Simply put, His glory is all that He is in His all-surpassing, praiseworthy, stunning perfection.

So how do we reflect His glory? On this side of heaven, as fallen sinful creatures, we do it imperfectly. However, as we begin to grasp how immense and incredible God’s glory is, it starts to show up in our lives. As we demonstrate mercy and forgiveness to a friend that has wounded us, we are agents of God’s mercy. When we remain faithful to our relationships, loving others through thick and thin, we are reflecting the glory of God’s unconditional love. When our hearts of compassion move us to act on behalf of the poor, the needy, and the marginalized, we are representing our God’s heart of justice and compassion. As our lives begin to line up with the principles of God’s Word, we highlight the glory of God’s perfect wisdom. His “portfolio” is on display for a needy and watching world.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that the purpose of our redemption—God buying us back—was that we might glorify God. You are His agent today. There is no greater privilege or calling!

Produce Good Fruit By Faith

Acts 20:35     In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

1 Timothy 5:8     But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:1     Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,

Leviticus 19:32     the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

1 Timothy 5:4    But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.

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Image result for pictures of good senior careImage result for pictures of good senior care
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Faith-Fueled Care

From: Our Daily  Journey

Faith-Fueled Care

Read:

James 2:14-26
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless (James 2:17).

My parents were married one year when my dad’s mother fell ill and came to live with our family. “Gran” had diabetes and was too weak to walk. Because we lived on an upper floor of an apartment building with no elevator, my father carried her up and down the stairs. Mom prepared special meals for her, bathed her, cut her nails and gave her regular insulin injections.

Gran had never been the easiest woman, but now she became unpredictable and caring for her was a real challenge. I was too young to remember her, but mom often spoke of the way God helped her to love her mother-in-law. In time, with much prayer, a good diet, and special care, Gran grew stronger and was eventually able to walk again.

My mom believed what James taught, that “faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless” (James 2:17). It’s our actions that make our faith evident (James 2:21-26). What are these actions produced by faith? They’re not giving special attention to the rich and well-connected at the expense of the poor and marginalized (James 2:1-5,8-13). Instead, they’re showing mercy (James 2:13) and meeting others’ needs as we’re able (James 2:14-17).

When we focus on faith to the exclusion of practical care, we become irrelevant. In the same way, however, emphasizing good behavior alone denies our total dependence on God’s grace. It’s because we’re saved by God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:8) that true believers will reflect faith and loving action (James 2:24).

We might wish to happily coast through this life, merely looking forward to the day when we’re with Jesus. But God wants us to put our faith into action. He intends to accomplish beautiful things on this earth by working in and through us.

 

The Price of the Vision

By Oswald Chambers

The Price of the Vision

Our soul’s personal history with God is often an account of the death of our heroes. Over and over again God has to remove our friends to put Himself in their place, and that is when we falter, fail, and become discouraged. Let me think about this personally— when the person died who represented for me all that God was, did I give up on everything in life? Did I become ill or disheartened? Or did I do as Isaiah did and see the Lord?

My vision of God is dependent upon the condition of my character. My character determines whether or not truth can even be revealed to me. Before I can say, “I saw the Lord,” there must be something in my character that conforms to the likeness of God. Until I am born again and really begin to see the kingdom of God, I only see from the perspective of my own biases. What I need is God’s surgical procedure— His use of external circumstances to bring about internal purification.

Your priorities must be God first, God second, and God third, until your life is continually face to face with God and no one else is taken into account whatsoever. Your prayer will then be, “In all the world there is no one but You, dear God; there is no one but You.”

Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision.

 

Arlene Pellicane July 13, 2018
Waiting for the Shout
ARLENE PELLICANE

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (NKJV)

I’m waiting for my parents to come home. 

No, they aren’t wayward or lost. Actually, they are happily on a long vacation while I am missing the greatest babysitters in the world (also known as grandparents). I can hardly stand the wait until they return. They live right in our neighborhood and shower our family of five with love … and feed us delicious dinners. (Bonus!)

Knowing they are coming back soon puts a smile on my face. My mom, who is constantly laughing, has a loud voice that I love and miss. I’ve never had to ask her to speak up or repeat herself. I can hear every word, crystal clear. People know when she has entered a room. 

Friends, as much as I look forward to my parents’ return, there’s a day coming that’s even more exciting than being reunited with family. Jesus is coming back, and when He enters the atmosphere, everyone will know it. He will come back with a shout no one will be able to miss! 

Our key verse describes His triumphant return, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). This mighty sound is likened to a shout, a voice and a trumpet. Imagine what people will say about this thunderous noise piercing heaven and earth. Those who do not know Christ will no doubt wonder, “What was that???” 

You will know. 

It will be the ultimate sound of joy for every believer. It will be reunion-time! We will be with the Lord, with the dead in Christ who have gone before us. 

Let’s take a closer look at two of the Greek words the Apostle Paul uses in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 to describe this event: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor [epiphaneia] of his coming [parousia]” (NIV).

Epiphaneia means “appearance” or “visible manifestation.” We will hear the shout and we will also see His brilliance. Christ will destroy the antichrist with the brightness of His coming. Parousia means “coming” or “presence.” This term was often used in secular Greek literature to refer to the visit or presence of a king or important dignitary. When the King of kings comes on the scene, you will see pomp and majesty beyond anything you’ve ever dreamed of. 

So when you feel discouraged by the news or the circumstances of your life, remember His shout is coming. Paul exhorted the Christians in Thessalonica to comfort each other with reminders of their destiny: “We who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18, NIV). 

You are on the winning side. Just as Christ came as a baby, someday He will return as a victorious King. God doesn’t take vacations. He is constantly working behind-the-scenes on your behalf and mine. 

Are you waiting expectantly, looking to heaven with hope? It’s easy to forget the promises and prophecies in the Bible when day-to-day duties scream for our attention. But let us remember — we are waiting for the Lord’s return with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. What a day that will be! 

Lord, we’re so encouraged to know You are returning as the triumphant King. You will come and bring justice on the earth, and defeat Your enemies. I look forward to Your glorious return with hope and gratitude. Help me point more people to You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (NIV)

Revelation 19:11-12a, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.” (NIV) 

Don’t Let Anger Rule Your Life

I Like Being Angry

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Last week, somebody—a Christian, in fact—told me he liked being angry. When I questioned if he really meant it, he repeated, “Yes, I like being angry.”

He then added, “It makes things happen.”

Like anger? Because it makes things happen?Oh, it makes things happen all right, but none of it is good. The results of anger are bad. It brings hurt and destruction. I’ve seen a wife curl up in a fetal position when her husband started ranting and raving. I’ve known rebellious teens turn away from God because of their parents’ anger. The news is full of cruelty and murder that comes from it. How could anyone like anger?

Like being angry? I was horrified at the thought. He spoke those words on the spur of the moment. I’m not sure he would stand by the comment, but I kept thinking about it nonetheless.

In Colossians 3:8, God tells us,

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.” (NASB)

With God’s Word so clear, how can a Christian like anger? The Lord’s intent is confirmed in Ephesians 4:31,

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (NASB)

God wants us to get rid of our anger. However, as I contemplated the concept of liking to be angry, I realized that maybe it is not uncommon to like anger. It’s just not common to admit it. In fact, I became aware that there have been times when I liked being angry. Why? Because I felt like it would make things happen.

The times I remember were times when I was hurt by somebody close to me—somebody I expected to care for and protect me, not to harm me. When the injury was unexpected and deep, I wanted the offender to hurt too. I didn’t want to forgive until he/she apologized—or until he/she suffered too.

I always worked through it. I always came to a place of forgiving. However, there were times, especially with my husband—the one closest to me— that I hurt back before I forgave. Later, I always regretted the harm I caused, but that didn’t necessarily prevent it from happening again.

Why? Because in the moment I liked being angry! I thought it could make things happen, that I could get my way, or that it would even the score.

Recently, I ran across an explanation of why we like anger: “Anger is the weak person’s imitation of strength.”

I like anger when I feel wounded and weak. I like it because it makes me feel strong. However, that strength is imitation. It’s fake. It doesn’t deliver what I really want, and I always regret what happens through that artificial strength.

When we are wronged and feel weak, we don’t have to make things happen. Paul said,

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10, NASB)

It is only as we are weak, and thus trust in God, that He shows Himself strong through us. He rarely intervenes when we try to defend ourselves instead of trusting Him. On the other hand, He will fight for us if we stay weak and yield to Him. We won’t need imitation strength if we learn to appreciate our weakness.

Teach me, Lord, to be glad in my weakness, and to seek Your strength when I’m wronged.

 

He hath acquainted himself with my beaten path. When he hath searched me out, I shall come out shining (Job 23:10, free translation).

“Faith grows amid storms” — just four words, but oh, how full of import to the soul who has been in the storms!

Faith is that God-given faculty which, when exercised, brings the unseen into plain view, and by which the impossible things are made possible. It deals with supernaturals. But it “grows amid storms”; that is, where there are disturbances in the spiritual atmosphere. Storms are caused by the conflicts of elements; and the storms of the spiritual world are conflicts with hostile elements. In such an atmosphere faith finds its most productive soil; in such an element it comes more quickly to full fruition.

The staunchest tree is not found in the shelter of the forest, but out in the open where the winds from every quarter beat upon it, and bend and twist it until it becomes a giant in stature this is the tree which the mechanic wants his tools made of, and the wagon-maker seeks.

So in the spiritual world, when you see a giant, remember the road you must travel to come up to his side is not along the sunny lane where wild flowers ever bloom; but a steep, rocky, narrow pathway where the blasts of hell will almost blow you off your feet; where the sharp rocks cut the flesh, where the projecting thorns scratch the brow, and the venomous beasts hiss on every side.

It is a pathway of sorrow and joy, of suffering and healing balm, of tears and smiles, of trials and victories, of conflicts and triumphs, of hardships and perils and buffetings, of persecutions and misunderstandings, of troubles and distress; through all of which we are made more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

“Amid storms.” Right in the midst where it is fiercest. You may shrink back from the ordeal of a fierce storm of trial…but go in! God is there to meet you in the center of all your trials, and to whisper His secrets which will make you come forth with a shining face and an indomitable faith that all the demons of hell shall never afterwards cause to waver.
–E. A. Kilbourne

 

A simple sermon for seeking souls

From: Charles Spurgeon

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13

Suggested Further Reading: Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

“I thought,” said somebody addressing me one day, “I thought when I was in the garden, surely Christ could take my sins away, just as easily as he could move the clouds. Do you know, sir, in a moment or two the cloud was all gone, and the sun was shining. Thought I to myself, the Lord is blotting out my sin.” Such a ridiculous thought as that, you say, cannot occur often. I tell you, it does, very frequently indeed. People suppose that the greatest nonsense in all the earth is a manifestation of divine grace in their hearts. Now, the only feeling I ever want to have is just this,—I want to feel that I am a sinner and that Christ is my Saviour. You may keep your visions, and ecstasies, and raptures, and dances to yourselves; the only feeling that I desire to have is deep repentance and humble faith; and if, poor sinner, you have got that, you are saved. Why, some of you believe that before you can be saved there must be a kind of electric shock, some very wonderful thing that is to go all through you from head to foot. Now hear this, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: …That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart…. Thou shalt be saved.” What do you want with all this nonsense of dreams and supernatural thoughts? All that is wanted is, that as a guilty sinner, I should come and cast myself on Christ. That done, the soul is safe, and all the visions in the universe could not make it safer.

For meditation: “God be merciful to me a sinner” was Christ’s description of a man calling upon God and being justified (Luke 18:13,14). Any insistence on special experiences and strange happenings is an evidence of having departed from Christ, the head of the church (Colossians 2:18,19).