Tag Archives: God.

God Is Good All The Time

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God Will Be Good Again Tomorrow

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. . . . Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:1–28)

The circumstances in which David wrote these words were anything but good (1 Samuel 19).

When David cried out — “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! — it was despite what he was suffering, not because he was being flooded with blessings. He was resolved, no matter what came, no matter how hard life got, no matter who betrayed or assaulted him, “I will bless the Lord at all times.”

Anything but Good

David had not yet been crowned king (2 Samuel 5). He was being ruthlessly hunted by the current king of Israel, a man of incredible power and resources (and even more jealousy and anger). As the crowds sang, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7), Saul’s blood boiled and gave birth to a craving to kill the prized son of Jesse.

Saul sent men after David to kill him, but they loved David (1 Samuel 19:1). So, in a moment of rage, he launched his own spear at the young man (19:10). David narrowly escapes and flees. If the enemy at home was not enough, he runs into the hands of another in nearby Gath. Achish, the king of Gath, immediately becomes jealous and hostile toward David. So David pretends to be insane so that they will not kill him. As a result, they let him go.

And leaving that city of hostility and heading back out into a world of opposition and danger, David writes, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8). Refuge with the Lord in the midst of danger is far better than the comfort of safety without him.

Delivered from All Fear

David was facing a thousand more problems than Achish of Gath, but that didn’t keep him from celebrating the grace of God for this answered prayer, for this deliverance. He was able to keep all the cares of the world at bay long enough to say, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

All your fears, David? After he escaped from Gath, Saul slaughtered all the priests at Nob because of David (1 Samuel 22:18). Then Saul pursued David into the wilderness to kill him (1 Samuel 23:15). Eventually, David is forced to return to Gath again (1 Samuel 27:2). They receive him for a while this time, but then the Philistines hated him again and cast him out (1 Samuel 29:11). Then his family and friends were captured in a raid (1 Samuel 30:2), and his own people turned on him to stone him to death (1 Samuel 30:6). God had not delivered David from everything he feared.

But he had delivered him today. Faith in a sovereign and gracious God freed David to rejoice and give thanks in today’s deliverance, today’s victory, today’s mercy — even while tomorrow’s troubles stormed the gates of his mind.

Grace Enough for Today

That is the weak, wounded, and invincible song of Psalm 34. Worship the God of all wisdom and all power, who created and governs the whole universe, and who cares for the daily needs of each of his children. Take refuge in the God whose eyes “are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry” (Psalm 34:15).

When stress and disappointment and fear begin to drown our hope and joy in God, Jesus encourages us to be like King David,

Do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31–33)

God’s new mercy meets us each morning (Lamentations 3:22–23), and yet we’re often too consumed by tomorrow’s trouble to even notice. David models stopping, even in the midst of ongoing uncertainty and distress, to see daily grace, and he calls us to join him in the peace and confidence that seeing brings.

Taste and See the Good

Like a great Father-King, God plans to pour out everything at his disposal to keep you from everything threatening your eternity with him and to satisfy you fully and forever with himself.

God knows the suffering you carry, he knows the hurdles you face, he knows how insufficient and insecure you feel, and he knows exactly what you need. It may not always be safe or pain-free or clear to you in the moment, but he will bring you to a faith and joy and life through hardship that you wouldn’t trade for anything.

Good will not always feel good. In fact, if you hide yourself in him, you will see and feel the goodness of God more clearly and more deeply in your trials. For now, focus on the ways, small or large, he has lovingly cared for you today — taste and see that he really is good — and trust him for that grace to come again tomorrow.

 

Discernment

by Inspiration Ministries

Discover not and disclose not another’s secret. – Proverbs 25:9 AMPC

Recently a major publication urged its readers to collect dirt on others and then forward to them whatever they found. Why? They were looking for dark secrets that might be twisted into stories. Many in the world seem obsessed with this kind of investigation, driven to uncover scoops that can propel their careers.

Politicians eagerly scan the speeches of their opponents, hoping to find statements or actions that can be built into a scandal. Photographers and reporters stalk celebrities, hoping to catch them doing something questionable. These might be common practices in the world, but the Bible urges believers to have different attitudes. In fact, we are to be people of discretion, to be trustworthy. We are to focus on loving people. We are not to be obsessed with revealing the secrets of others. Instead, we are to serve God and be ready to die to self and live for Him to impact lives for His Kingdom.

We are to be people of compassion. As Jesus taught, we are to love “that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good” for our enemies and “[make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). We are not to seek to expose weaknesses or mistakes, but to show love instead.

Remember to ask the Spirit to show us how to see people through His lens to impact lives for the Gospel.

 

Gracious renewal

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘Renew a right spirit within me.’ Psalm 51:10

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:13–15

Let us be moved today to renew our covenant with Christ, or rather to ask him to renew our spirit, because every covenant transaction binds us to it. You believe in the doctrine of election. We do not blush to preach it, and you love to hear it. What does election mean? It means that God has chosen you; very well, if it be so, then you will acknowledge it anew today, by choosing his way and word. You believe in a special and efficacious redemption, that you were redeemed from among men; very well, then you are not your own, you are bought with a price. You believe in effectual calling; you know that you were called out; if it be so, recognise your distinction and separateness as a sacred people set apart by God. You believe that this distinction in you is perpetual, for you will persevere to the end: if you are to be God’s for ever, be his today. And are you not looking for a heaven from which selfishness shall be banished? Are you not expecting a heaven where glory shall consist in being wholly absorbed in Christ? Well then, this day, by all that is coming, as well as by all that is past, let your soul be bound as with cords that cannot be broken to the altar of your God. Backsliders, you that have gone astray, pray this prayer today. He bids you pray it, and he will therefore answer it. The text in the margin reads ‘renew a constant spirit within me.’ You have been froward, wayward, unstable, fickle. Poor backslider, he has put this prayer here for you—‘Renew a constant spirit within me.’

For meditation: While inward spiritual renewal is an ongoing process in the Christian life (2 Corinthians 4:16), it is not to be taken for granted—we are commanded to have our minds renewed (Romans 12:2Ephesians 4:23). Our part in the process of renewal is to wait upon the Lord (Isaiah 40:3141:1).

 

Streams in the Desert – January 25

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

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalms 23:4).

At my father’s house in the country there is a little closet in the chimney corner where are kept the canes and walking-sticks of several generations of our family. In my visits to the old house, when my father and I are going out for a walk, we often go to the cane closet, and pick out our sticks to suit the fancy of the occasion. In this I have frequently been reminded that the, Word of God is a staff.

During the war, when the season of discouragement and impending danger was upon us, the verse, “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord,” was a staff to walk with many dark days.

When death took away our child and left us almost heartbroken, I found another staff in the promise that “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

When in impaired health, I was exiled for a year, not knowing whether I should be permitted to return to my home and work again, I took with me this staff which never failed, “He knoweth the thoughts that he thinketh toward me, thoughts of peace and not of evil.”

In times of special danger or doubt, when human judgment has seemed to be set at naught, I have found it easy to go forward with this staff, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” And in emergencies, when there has seemed to be no adequate time for deliberation or for action, I have never found that this staff has failed me, “He that believeth shall not make haste.”
Benjamin Vaughan Abbott, in The Outlook

“I had never known,” said Martin Luther’s wife, “what such and such things meant, in such and such psalms, such complaints and workings of spirit; I had never understood the practice of Christian duties, had not God brought me under some affliction.” It is very true that God’s rod is as the schoolmaster’s pointer to the child, pointing out the letter, that he may the better take notice of it; thus He pointeth out to us many good lessons which we should never otherwise have learned.
Selected

“God always sends His staff with His rod.”

“Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deut.33:25).

Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well.
Mclaren

God’s Love In Action

John’s Gospel    13: 1

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

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God’s Love in Action

By: Cathy Irvin, cbn.com

Valentine’s Day has come and gone but this scene will always be in my mind. I saw a man buying flowers. He bought three big beautiful roses: one pink, one red, and one white. They were wrapped in a clear bag. When I went out of the store I saw him again, bending down in the snow to gather some up; and he was putting it in the bag so the roses wouldn’t wilt before he got them to their destination.

This was a wonderful idea and he was so thoughtful; I knew it represented his love for someone to take special care of his gift.

I thought about Jesus like the man who didn’t want his flowers to wilt and die. Jesus came that we might have life abundantly here and to give us eternal life so we really never have to die either. Yes, we will leave this earth one day in the physical, but our spirit man will live forever. Our earthly body (like a rose) dies, but our spirit is renewed day by day.

Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:15-17 (American Standard Version)

The three roses reminded me of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Father God loved us so much that he gave us His only Son, Jesus, to love and protect us, to heal us and to guide us every day. And He gave us the Holy Spirit to comfort us and empower us to be His witnesses while we are here on earth. Oh, what Love that is ours! He is the best Valentine I could ever have. How about you? There is a song that says “Like a rose trampled on the ground, He took the fall … ” Yes, He paid the price for you and me to have eternal life and an abundant life now.

The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. John 10:9-11 (American Standard Version)

I almost wanted to stop and tell that man how thoughtful I thought he was, but I had a short lunch hour and had to be back to work. But then I thought I could write about the experience and hopefully bless others with the story.

I want to tell others of God’s love and say that perhaps you didn’t have someone that gave you a Valentine rose, candy, or a stuffed animal. It is OK, just take Jesus as your Valentine; love on Him and let Him love on you. Remember He will be your Valentine every day! By the way, you can always buy yourself a rose anytime; and when you look at it think about Jesus – one of His names is “The Rose of Sharon” and He will be with you to brighten up your day.

 

The Depth of God’s Love for Us

July 29, 2019

From: crosswalk.org

 

The Depth of God’s Love for Us

Weekly Overview:

We have a great High Priest who constantly intercedes on our behalf. The Son of God and Man loves you more deeply than you can fathom. He prays for you, that you might walk in the abundant life his death affords you. And in John 17 we get a glimpse into the fullness of his desire for all those who would believe in him. As we dive deeply into the riches of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer this week, may your heart be awakened and your life be transformed by the riches of God’s love.

Scripture:“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:25-26

Devotional:

There is no force more powerful than the love our heavenly Father has for us, his children. His love can move mountains, stop the roaring seas, heal broken bones and wounded hearts, transform lives, and set free those held captive by sin and shame. So great is his love for you and me that he sent his only Son to die that we might live through him. And in John 17:25-26, Jesus makes an unfathomable statement about how great the depth of God’s love is for us:

Do you know that God loves you the way he loves Jesus? His heart is full of affection for you. Jesus always prays perfectly in line with the will of the Father because they are one. So when Jesus prays for God to love us with the same love he has been given, his prayer is in perfect alignment with the heart of our Father.

Romans 8:37-39 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Through the death of Christ, the barrier between us and  relationship with God was torn in two. The wrath of God was satisfied with Jesus’ death, and now we can experience the full depth of his love. Through Christ, we have been made new so that we can finally walk in unhindered fellowship and oneness with a holy, perfect God.

God loves you simply because he loves you. You don’t have to work for his affection. You don’t have to set yourself straight before God can pour out his love over you. The father in the prodigal son story ran out to meet his son before anything had ever been set right. He didn’t know his son was there to apologize. He didn’t care. He simply wanted to love his child. Your heavenly Father feels the same way about you. He longs to love you right where you are, as you are. He longs to fill you with love to overflowing. He longs for us to experience this love and oneness just as Jesus did when he walked the earth.

As you enter into guided prayer, open up your heart and allow God’s grace to settle in. Allow him to free you from works-based religion and guide you to a lifestyle of relationship. God is not an angry taskmaster who shows affection only when you succeed. He is a loving Father who will always love you no matter what. Take time to receive the depth of his love for you today. Allow his love to heal you, transform you, free you, and lead you to the abundant life he has always longed to give.

Guided Prayer:

1. Meditate on the depth of God’s love for you.

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16

2. Where do you need a fresh revelation of God’s grace today? What’s keeping you from receiving the depth of God’s love? In what ways do you need him to show you how good of a Father he truly is?

3. Ask the Spirit to give you a revelation of God’s grace and love for you. Receive God’s presence and rest in his love. Meditate on and renew your mind to how deeply your heavenly Father loves you.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

“So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45.

May the whole of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer be true in your life. May you come into the fullness of what Jesus died to give you. May your life be a wonderful reflection of his love. And may you experience the depth of his love for you in every season. You are a child of the Most High, loving God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love is powerful, real, and available. May your day be full of joy, peace, and purpose in light of God’s glorious grace.

 

Satisfying Your Core Longing

 

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)

Have you ever thought about the true longing of your heart? I’m not talking about a passing craving, intention or goal. I’m talking about the message your heart is desperately longing to hear.

For years, I suppressed the true longing of my heart — to know my presence matters. As a long-time Christ-follower, I was well-acquainted with the gospel story and knew Jesus loves me and had died for me, bringing me freedom and fullness in Him. But I was struggling to let that truth fully settle into my heart and life.

I kept falling into the same ruts, feeling stuck and ashamed year after year. I couldn’t grasp the identity and value I knew I already had, and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel like I was growing more.

Frustration, sadness and loneliness welled up within me, and I became very sensitive to people’s words and actions. I wondered, Is there any sanctification happening within me? Is something wrong with me? Do I have a calling? Can I make any kind of impact on this world?

Though I looked calm and capable on the outside, my inner world was in shambles. I was constantly comparing myself to others, a dangerous game in which I always came up short.

My unwillingness to submit to the Holy Spirit and insistence on going about my life the way I saw fit revealed my idols — the ways in which I tried to satisfy my heart’s core longing apart from Christ.

In biblical times, a cistern was a man-made reservoir dug in the ground or rock to collect and store water. Cisterns were important in Israel because of the long dry season and very few natural water sources. But a broken cistern was completely worthless. Cracked rock or crumbling stone held little to no water. Collecting and storing water in a broken cistern would be about as effective as trying to drink from a cracked coffee cup!

We’re all wired to feel, think and act in certain ways in order to satisfy our core longing. But we forsake our Creator when we try to fulfill this unending craving in our own strength, and we’ll always be left wanting more.

In Jeremiah 2:13, the prophet Jeremiah points out the foolishness of God’s people. The Fall corrupted how we try to satisfy the thirst of our hearts. We look to the broken cisterns of relationships, professional successes, material goods or many other things that can never truly satisfy. These things will never offer true peace to our hearts or relationships.

But there is good news!

Jesus’ life, death and resurrection righted all that is wrong in us so we can bring to life our true longing and purpose. The gospel specifically fulfills each of our hearts’ cries, giving us a spring of Living Water that will never run dry.

When we know, believe and trust that Christ alone can satisfy us, He unlocks deep transformation. Our thirst is quenched, and we are set free to live as His beloved children. We can then use our unique perspectives and amazing qualities to bless others and bring glory to God.

Whatever you’re thirsting for today, may you fully believe and trust you are fully seen and loved by God. He intricately created you and knows your every heart longing. You can find rest and great joy knowing all He has is yours.

 

Trusting God – Streams in the Desert – January 24

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

But the dove found no rest for or the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him… And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf (Genesis 8:9-11).

God knows just when to withhold from us any visible sign of encouragement, and when to grant us such a sign. How good it is that we may trust Him anyway! When all visible evidences that He is remembering us are withheld, that is best; He wants us to realize that His Word, His promise of remembrance, is more substantial and dependable than any evidence of our senses. When He sends the visible evidence, that is well also; we appreciate it all the more after we have trusted Him without it. Those who are readiest to trust God without other evidence than His Word always receive the greatest number of visible evidences of His love.
–C. G. Trumbull

Believing Him; if storm-clouds gather darkly ’round,
And even if the heaven seem brass, without a sound?
He hears each prayer and even notes the sparrow’s fall.
And praising Him; when sorrow, grief, and pain are near,
And even when we lose the thing that seems most dear?
Our loss is gain. Praise Him; in Him we have our All.
Our hand in His; e’en though the path seems long and drear
We scarcely see a step ahead, and almost fear?
He guides aright. He has it thus to keep us near.
And satisfied; when every path is blocked and bare,
And worldly things are gone and dead which were so fair?
Believe and rest and trust in Him, He comes to stay.

Delays are not refusals; many a prayer is registered, and underneath it the words: “My time is not yet come.” God has a set time as well as a set purpose, and He who orders the bounds of our habitation orders also the time of our deliverance.
–Selected

Work While You Wait For God

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Got Time for Patience?

By: LIsa Kibler, cbn.com

I sat there, reading my Bible, and tried to still my jumpy legs. The day ahead filled my thoughts and I hurriedly read. I peeked forward to see how long the chapter was. I have 35 more verses? Ugh. I have so much to do, and I have to read another chapter after this. My morning devotions come first thing (after I have made a cup of tea and peeled a banana). I read through the Bible each year and on the morning I read Exodus 31-33, I rushed to finish. I had to hit the treadmill, do laundry, run to the store, meet my accountability partner for lunch, figure out what to have for dinner and get all the ingredients, and then cook it. On and on my plans went.

In the chapters I read, the account of the grumbling Israelites at Mt. Sinai convicted me.

“When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, ‘”Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”‘ (Exodus 32:1 ESV)

Then it hit me, the impatience of the people at Mt. Sinai was mine. I too sat before the Lord grumbling and stiff-necked. My daily idol of checking things off my list spoiled my precious time with Him. At that realization, I paused to confess my sin and ask the Lord’s forgiveness for my hurried attitude. And I asked Him to open my eyes to all that He wanted to tell me and teach me through His Word.

It does no good to be impatient with God. Every time we try to hurry His actions or our reactions, we chase after other gods, other idols to make ourselves feel better about who we are. So, even knowing what we know about God, sometimes we remain stiff-necked, just as the Israelites were during their days in the wilderness. Yet the Lord answered the entreaties of their intercessor, Moses, and did not blot all of them out. He preserved some. His glory and promises shown, even through their sin of unfaithfulness.

That morning, I made myself slow down and look carefully at how the Lord exposed the great sin of the Israelites. The people supposed that Moses had forgotten them, and that his delay was cause for them to create their own idols to worship. They knew he was with the Lord on the mountain, but they wanted Moses, their visible leader, and they wanted him immediately. Did they so soon forget what God had done? Had they made Moses their idol?

God rescued them from their Egyptian yoke of slavery, and after only three months in the wilderness (safe from their oppressors), they had already groused to Moses about leaving Egypt and its resources (“We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” Numbers 11:5 ESV). God had just given them His commandments in precise detail and promised them their future conquest over Canaan, the Promised Land. They did not know or come to understand their test of faithfulness. They did not know that their time of wandering would be 40 years—40 years of impatient grumbling.

Thank God Moses interceded for them, although not all of them were saved. Actually, all who left Egypt 20-years-old and upward, except Joshua and Caleb, perished before reaching the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb showed faith in the Lord and trusted His promises to lead them in overtaking the inhabitants of the land they were to inhabit. God rewarded Joshua and Caleb’s patient faithfulness, but as for the faithless remainder, He “let their carcasses fall in the wilderness” (Numbers 14:32).

As I reread those passages, I thanked God for slowing my pace. He gave me the opportunity to reflect and learn. If Joshua and Caleb gained such a reward for their patience during the time of Israel’s 40-year test in the wilderness, how could 40 minutes of reading not benefit me?

The Work You Can Do While You Wait

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

Waiting is one of God’s favorite tools to get our attention. In some ways, the Bible’s title could be The Great Wait. The cast of characters could be the Great Waiters. (But that sounds a little like a dinner theater.)

Noah waited for the rain. Daniel waited through the night with a den full of lions. David waited in the cave. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for the arrival of their promised son, Isaac, after waiting an entire lifetime to even get the promise in the first place.

And on it goes. Joseph waited 13 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Moses waited 40 years to be called by God. Paul waited in prison. And even Jesus waited 30 years to begin His ministry, though He was well equipped long before. If God asked even Jesus to wait, why do I think He would speed up my process?

Here’s what I love most about the Great Waiters of the Bible: They were flawed, with the exception of Jesus. They were people just like you and me, trying to please God but often falling short. I mean, some of them got it. But … most of them didn’t, which comforts me, since I usually don’t get it either. The Great Waiters were no better at waiting than I am. Let’s not kid ourselves: Waiting is a universal weakness.

What do the Bible stories of the Great Waiters show me about waiting? What did they do while they waited?

While Noah waited for the rain, he got busy with what he had: a lot of wood and some specific measurements. As Daniel waited, he remained faithful in prayer and firm in his convictions.

While Joseph waited in prison, he didn’t waste his energy on the question, “Why?” (Though I imagine he asked that word, he didn’t let it drain him with dead-ends and non-answers.) Instead, we sense he focused his sights on answering, “What should I do now?” He did his best with each small task given to him, and he stayed close to God. As his situation began to turn around, he was ready for every opportunity because he had not wasted his time.

Likewise, Job, David, Paul and even Jesus waited patiently and began the ministry God called each of them to do, caring for the people around them.

Here’s what I see in all of those stories: There is always work to be done while we’re waiting.

Sometimes the work is hands-on and physical, and other times it’s a solitary journey of soul-searching. Sometimes the work is a discipline of noticing, a practice of being alert and aware; sometimes it’s about being patient, loving and present. But when we choose to surrender to the moment, when we seek to believe this moment is part of a larger story, and when we embrace the ache of the longing, the wait is never wasted.

The Lord enters the journey of those who wait. May we continue to trust Him as He reveals Himself along the way.

 

The fainting warrior

By: Charles Spurgeon

“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:24,25

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 2:1-13

It is Paul the apostle, who was not less than the very greatest of the apostles—it is Paul, the mighty servant of God, a very prince in Israel, one of the King’s mighty men—it is Paul, the saint and the apostle, who here exclaims, “O wretched man that I am!” Now, humble Christians are often the dupes of a very foolish error. They look up to certain advanced saints and able ministers, and they say, “Surely, such men as these do not suffer as I do; they do not contend with the same evil passions as those which vex and trouble me.” Ah! if they knew the hearts of those men, if they could read their inward conflicts, they would soon discover that the nearer a man lives to God, the more intensely has he to mourn over his own evil heart, and the more his Master honours him in his service, the more also does the evil of the flesh vex and tease him day by day. Perhaps, this error is more natural, as it is certainly more common, with regard to apostolic saints. We have been in the habit of saying, Saint Paul, and Saint John, as if they were more saints than any other of the children of God. They are all saints whom God has called by his grace, and sanctified by his Spirit; but somehow we very foolishly put the apostles and the early saints into another list, and do not venture to look on them as common mortals. We look upon them as some extraordinary beings, who could not be men of like passions with ourselves. We are told in Scripture that our Saviour was “tempted in all points like as we are;” and yet we fall into the serious error of imagining that the apostles, who were far inferior to the Lord Jesus, escaped these temptations, and were ignorant of these conflicts.

For meditation: Are there Christians—missionaries perhaps—to whom you look up in the wrong way? These deserve your respect, but they need your prayers, not your pedestals. They surely feel their own weakness and very probably look up to their own Christian heroes! The apostles knew their own and one another’s weaknesses and pointed away from themselves to their God (Acts 14:15).

 

Streams in the Desert – January 23

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

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

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

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

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

A Godly Grip On Life

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A Godly Grip on Life

I once met a man who was frustrated in seeking a new career. He had gone to dental school to become a dentist, but after spending time and money getting the education, he discovered he lacked the dexterity to be a good dentist. For whatever reason, he lacked the strength and skill in his hands to use the dental instruments.

This problem can affect a person in numerous other endeavors. You can learn all about carpentry but lack the ability to hammer a nail straight. You can learn a sport and not have the ability to perform it well. The coach will tell you, “I cannot put in what God left out; no matter how much you want to play.”

Singing, the arts, and a number of other things can be loved and desired, but never attained because certain natural abilities are missing.

The law was given through Moses but the law did not provide the ability to perform the principles it demanded. It left the devotee frustrated and defeated. Paul’s frustration with the law is indicated in Romans 7:18 (KJV):

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” [emphasis mine]

Paul wanted to paint the picture of the glories of God’s precepts, but he lacked the artistic talent. He wanted to score high in the competition against his base nature, but he was uncoordinated and unskilled. The “how to perform” element was missing.

He lacked a grip on the law of God.

Jesus was also a law-giver, establishing a new covenant. However, distinct from Moses, along with His truth He provided grace. In Christ, truth or law is complemented by grace. In Christ, there is a resource by which truth can be performed. That resource provides the ability to grip truth and to live it out.

If we use the analogy of a sword for truth, then grace provides the grip to wield it effectively. Grace provides the strength and the skill to victoriously use truth in the battles of life. The ministry of the Spirit that Jesus inaugurated enables the truth-seeker and the lover-of-the-law to grip truth for life and living. When we hear the sermon, read the Bible, or read a book with important biblical principles, we can grip the truths that we received and begin living by them. We need not be frustrated by a loose or slippery grip.

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” Hebrews 2:1 (KJV)

For Paul, God’s grace was more than something given, idly sitting somewhere; it was something at work within him. He indicates this when he stated,

“… by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10 (KJV)

It was God’s grace that gave him the ability to grip God’s calling and purposes, holding onto them and laboring by the grace of God.

Memory may slip and character may be weak, but the grace of God will give you the grip you need on His truth — the truth that sets you free and overcomes the bondage of Satan’s lies.

Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

 

Grace is Greater

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God.” Hebrews 12:15a (NIV)

How difficult is it to push a button on the dishwasher? My vote is “not very,” but that isn’t the point. What made the whole thing ironic is that I was in the middle of writing a sermon on “happiness.” Let me explain …

My wife and I were staying at a condo we’d rented in Florida. We had to check out by 10 a.m. on Friday. Before checkout the renter is asked to do a few things: strip the sheets off the bed, put all the towels in the hallway, take out the trash, then load and start the dishwasher. My wife assigned me dishwasher duty. At about 10:05, an older man and a couple of women walked into the condo, spotted me, and said, “Ummm, we are here to clean. You were supposed to be out of here by 10.”

I apologized, thanked them and told them we were headed out the door. We grabbed our stuff and made our way down to the car. Just before we reached it, the guy came out of our room and yelled down to us in the parking lot, “Hey! Thanks a lot for starting the dishwasher. There’s only a few <BEEP things you’re asked to do and you couldn’t bring yourself to push the <BEEP button?”

I’d just finished writing a sermon explaining that because we have God, our circumstances don’t have to rob us of joy. So, you might think I would respond humbly.

Instead, I thought, Oh, you want to overreact and get sarcastic? I can speak that language. I yelled up at him, “I’m so sorry you had to push that button. I’m sure that had to be exhausting,” and then laughed condescendingly. He yelled back at me, with a few more choice words, and I yelled back at him.

The last thing I heard is him calling me “a worthless <BEEP <BEEP.” I got in the car and slammed the door. I sat there steaming about how I’d been disrespected.

My wife said, “Let’s just go.” Instead of listening, I said, “Oh, no. That man needs to hear some hard truth.” I got out of the car, and then heard my wife tell me, “Say a quick prayer on your way up.”

I headed up the stairs to confront Mr. “Can’t push the button on the dishwasher in the condo but has plenty of energy to yell at me from the third-floor balcony.” After the first flight of stairs, I felt convicted and embarrassed. By the second floor I was telling God I was sorry, and almost immediately it was impressed upon me that I needed to apologize and give the man a tip for his extra work. I opened my wallet, to realize I only had a single bill — which was more than I intended to give him. I thought, Well, apparently giving the man a tip is not what God wants me to do.

I walked into the condo, and he started yelling again. I sensed a voice inside me saying, One more round!

Even though I didn’t feel like it, I said, “I want to apologize. I’m sure it’s frustrating to come in and clean up after someone who doesn’t do the little things. I’m sorry. I want to give this to you for the extra work you have to do and as a way to say thank you.” I held out the money. Almost immediately his eyes welled up with tears. He said, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that,” and began to apologize. Now my eyes were filled with tears. I think we both wanted to hug it out, but instead we just shook hands.

I walked back down the steps, not feeling proud of that moment, but instead brokenhearted it had reached the point it did. I asked myself, How many similar moments had I forgotten about the wisdom from Hebrews 12:15, and missed God’s grace because of my pride?

I wondered: How many times had God wanted me to show grace and humility but I was too arrogant and self-righteous? I sat down in the car, teary-eyed. My wife asked, “What happened?” I told her. She patted me on the leg and said with a smile, “Oh, it’s so cute. You’re growing up.”

It was her playful way of letting me know she was proud of me, but the truth is, when it comes to extending grace over the little things, I should’ve grown up a long time ago.

Maybe you’ve heard countless sermons about grace. Or even read books about grace. But my prayer is that you’ll see this word again for the first time. I tend to think grace is best and most fully understood not by way of explanation alone, but through experience. Otherwise, it really doesn’t have much effect.

I’ve sat through several seminary classes on the subject of grace. I’ve memorized Bible verses that describe grace. But what’s taught me the most? My own story and the stories of others who’ve fully experienced grace.

It’s my prayer you won’t miss grace, but rather will powerfully experience the grace effect in your life — and no matter what you have done, no matter what has been done to you, you will personally experience the truth that grace is greater.

 

A Godly Grip on Life

By Debbie McDaniel, crosswalk.org

I once met a man who was frustrated in seeking a new career. He had gone to dental school to become a dentist, but after spending time and money getting the education, he discovered he lacked the dexterity to be a good dentist. For whatever reason, he lacked the strength and skill in his hands to use the dental instruments.

This problem can affect a person in numerous other endeavors. You can learn all about carpentry but lack the ability to hammer a nail straight. You can learn a sport and not have the ability to perform it well. The coach will tell you, “I cannot put in what God left out; no matter how much you want to play.”

Singing, the arts, and a number of other things can be loved and desired, but never attained because certain natural abilities are missing.

The law was given through Moses but the law did not provide the ability to perform the principles it demanded. It left the devotee frustrated and defeated. Paul’s frustration with the law is indicated in Romans 7:18 (KJV):

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” [emphasis mine]

Paul wanted to paint the picture of the glories of God’s precepts, but he lacked the artistic talent. He wanted to score high in the competition against his base nature, but he was uncoordinated and unskilled. The “how to perform” element was missing.

He lacked a grip on the law of God.

Jesus was also a law-giver, establishing a new covenant. However, distinct from Moses, along with His truth He provided grace. In Christ, truth or law is complemented by grace. In Christ, there is a resource by which truth can be performed. That resource provides the ability to grip truth and to live it out.

If we use the analogy of a sword for truth, then grace provides the grip to wield it effectively. Grace provides the strength and the skill to victoriously use truth in the battles of life. The ministry of the Spirit that Jesus inaugurated enables the truth-seeker and the lover-of-the-law to grip truth for life and living. When we hear the sermon, read the Bible, or read a book with important biblical principles, we can grip the truths that we received and begin living by them. We need not be frustrated by a loose or slippery grip.

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” Hebrews 2:1 (KJV)

For Paul, God’s grace was more than something given, idly sitting somewhere; it was something at work within him. He indicates this when he stated,

“… by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10 (KJV)

It was God’s grace that gave him the ability to grip God’s calling and purposes, holding onto them and laboring by the grace of God.

Memory may slip and character may be weak, but the grace of God will give you the grip you need on His truth — the truth that sets you free and overcomes the bondage of Satan’s lies.

Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Streams in the Desert – January 22

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

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

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

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

Called aside–
From the glad working of your busy life,
From the world’s ceaseless stir of care and strife,
Into the shade and stillness by your Heavenly Guide
For a brief time you have been called aside.
Called aside–
Perhaps into a desert garden dim;
And yet not alone, when you have been with Him,
And heard His voice in sweetest accents say:
“Child, will you not with Me this still hour stay?”
Called aside–
In hidden paths with Christ your Lord to tread,
Deeper to drink at the sweet Fountainhead,
Closer in fellowship with Him to roam,
Nearer, perhaps, to feel your Heavenly Home.
Called aside–
Oh, knowledge deeper grows with Him alone;
In secret oft His deeper love is shown,
And learned in many an hour of dark distress
Some rare, sweet lesson of His tenderness.
Called aside–
We thank You for the stillness and the shade;
We thank You for the hidden paths Your love has made,
And, so that we have wept and watched with Thee,
We thank You for our dark Gethsemane.
Called aside–
O restful thought – He doeth all things well;
O blessed sense, with Christ alone to dwell;
So in the shadow of Your cross to hide,
We thank You, Lord, to have been called aside.

 

Have Faith In God’s Call

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Faith in the Call

1/21/2020

If faith is the substance of things of hoped for and evidence of things not seen, fear is a mask which blinds us to the possible. All too often, we feel the Holy Spirit’s quiet tug in a particular direction, but instead of going forward, we stop for fears and doubt.

We’re hardly alone in this struggle to live forward into the coming present only God can foresee. Moses, among the greatest of leaders in world history, could have quite easily remained a ranch hand on his father-in-law’s property in Midian had he trusted his doubts.

“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11 NIV)’”

Keep in mind, Moses had good reason to be concerned about God’s proposed mission whereby he would confront the ruler of Egypt himself and demand that all Israel be freed from slavery. A full-grown father and husband at this point, like all of us, deep within him was the child’s memory. And in his case, that childhood was surrounded by the executions of Hebrew children and beatings of his people. Moses knew what manner of man the Pharaoh was, and that was one of many reasons he was content to live in the boondocks of Midian.

But God made clear that He had not only chosen Moses, humble shepherd though he was at that point, but that He Himself would be fully behind him in this endeavor.

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

Moses had faith in the voice he heard calling from a burning bush, faith in the God of his ancestors, and faith in the promise made Abraham of a free Israel. And at that point in history, that faith was the lone substance of many things hoped for, the only evidence of a promise unseen. What would the history of Israel, and in point of fact, all Christianity, be had Moses faltered and turned aside? God’s will always wins in the end, and perhaps He would have simply gone on down the road to the next in line. We’ll never know how many opportunities we’ve missed to play the role of Moses in God’s great design if we wear the mask of fear.

Who are we to be called to God’s work? Who was anyone before God led them to what they became? A walk with God is the substance of things hoped for, but that substance is rarely seen on the first step.

 

Run the Race

JANUARY 21, 2020

“Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5 (NIV)

When I go for what I call a “run” — jogging around my neighborhood for about 10 minutes — I often take my large Goldendoodle dog named Winston with me (whose favorite pastime happens to be napping).

Unlike some dogs, Winston doesn’t just run right alongside me or in front of me. He needs a little motivation. So I grab a doggie biscuit and hold it like a baton in front of him. He sniffs with excitement and follows me, usually trailing for the first four houses before catching up. He loves getting his biscuit treat after our exercise!

With the reward in sight, he runs onward.

The Christian life is compared to a race in the Bible many times:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?” (1 Corinthians 9:24a, NIV)

“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7, NIV)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7a, b, NIV).

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1c, NIV).

Running a race takes discipline, consistency, effort and movement in the same direction. When we have a reward in sight, like Winston and his dog biscuit, it keeps us motivated, helping us to persevere through difficulty or fatigue. We certainly run for the prize of heaven and rewards like the crown of life (James 1:12) and a crown that will last forever. (1 Corinthians 9:25) But there are rewards and benefits to enjoy right now in your race!

Our key verse written by David, highlights the benefits of serving God: “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5).

David is talking to himself in these verses. He’s encouraging his own heart. He’s reminding himself of the benefits of following God’s commands. He’s giving a “locker room talk” to an audience of one — like a rousing speech coaches give to sports teams before playing a big game.

He’s stirring up praise in the inward man.

He’s remembering what God has done for him that no one can take away.

He’s grateful to be forgiven.

He’s recognizing it is God who satisfies with good things.

This is a glimpse into David’s inner life of praise. It reveals his motivation and what kept him running so strong that he was called a man after God’s own heart. How can we keep running the race faithfully every day after the heart of God?

There are many sinful distractions along the way that trip us up. There’s also a very subtle snare — the trap of forgetfulness. We don’t go off on an evil path. We just slow down and stop remembering all that God has done. We become forgetful, then unthankful. We forget the awesomeness of God. We forget how God has delivered us. We forget why we made the commitment to run the race as a disciple in the first place.

It’s time to awake our souls to remember our God who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. When we remember who He is, we have the power to keep running, jogging, walking in the right direction. So what keeps us running the race? Remembering the benefits of following God. Let’s not forget He forgives, heals, redeems, crowns and satisfies!

 

A Life of Giving

by Inspiration Ministries

The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his hands refuse to work; all day long he is craving, while the righteous gives and does not hold back. – Proverbs 21:25-26 NASB

Some people seem primarily concerned about themselves. They passionately hoard their possessions and indulge in personal pleasures. This lifestyle may bring to mind cranky billionaires or selfish entertainers. But the Bible warns that these also are characteristics of “the sluggard.”

These people are not concerned with faithfulness or responsibility, but they do as little as possible. They don’t want to work, yet are filled with cravings “all day long.” Sluggards may not realize it, but this kind of craving “puts [them] to death.” It strangles them.

But people who fear God are different. They seek to please Him and live according to His Word. They seek first His Kingdom and have a balanced attitude toward their possessions. And they work as unto Him.

They also cultivate an attitude of giving. They realize that everything they have is a gift from God and that He “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Instead of hoarding, they look for opportunities to give. They are generous and do not hold back.

What is your attitude toward your possessions? Time? Resources? Are you selfish? A sluggard? Or do you try to please God, always seeking opportunities to serve Him with the resources He has given you? Apply the talents you have been given. Invest your resources in His Kingdom. Seek to obey and serve Him. Cultivate a life of giving. Remember, you have been blessed so that you can bless others!

 

Streams in the Desert – January 21

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

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

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

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

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

–Emerson

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

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

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

Tribulation has always marked the trail of the true reformer. It is the story of Paul, Luther, Savonarola, Knox, Wesley, and all the rest of the mighty army. They came through great tribulation to their place of power.

Every great book has been written with the author’s blood. “These are they that have come out of great tribulation.” Who was the peerless poet of the Greeks? Homer. But that illustrious singer was blind. Who wrote the fadeless dream of “Pilgrim’s Progress”? A prince in royal purple upon a couch of ease? Nay! The trailing splendor of that vision gilded the dingy walls of old Bedford jail while John Bunyan, a princely prisoner, a glorious genius, made a faithful transcript of the scene.

Great is the facile conqueror;
Yet haply, he, who, wounded sore,
Breathless, all covered o’er with blood and sweat,
Sinks fainting, but fighting evermore
Is greater yet.

–Selected

God Gives Us Comfort

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Don’t Give the Devil so Much Credit

“Don’t give the devil so much credit.”

I do not remember the exact details that prompted my friend to say such a thing, but I do recall being a young believer at the time. I was struggling with something that was not going my way. Ever been there? I carelessly blamed my difficulty on the schemes of the devil, which prompted my friend’s gentle correction: “Don’t give the devil so much credit.”

Are All Trials From the Enemy?

It is so easy—even tempting—to assume every trial we face is rooted in the enemy’s schemes. He is delighted, of course, for this focuses our attention onto ourselves and our problems, and away from God. This then provides fertile ground for the enemy to plant seeds of doubt in our minds as to God’s goodness, power, or love.

What if we are giving the devil too much credit? Is every struggle we encounter really from the enemy?

I wrestled with these questions, so I did some research. I discovered that in the New Testament, the Greek word translated temptation is peirasmos. It is the same word translated as testing. Even more curious, the word stems from the Greek word peira, which means “an experiment.” Isn’t that comforting?

The word itself is neutral; the interpretation depends on the context. If Satan is attempting to entice a person to sin, it is translated as temptation. However, if God is orchestrating events in order to strengthen a person’s faith, build their character, or serve some other godly purpose, then it is translated as testing.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you …” (1 Peter 4:12 ESV)

God’s Good Purposes

No one wants to suffer trials, but Scripture clearly teaches that there are times when God allows them for His good purposes.

“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, …” (Gen. 50:20 ESV)

While we may not understand why God does everything that He does, He has, in His grace, revealed to us who He is. He is loving, holy, patient, all-knowing, good, and so much more. These are the truths we must cling to whenever we suffer and are tempted to doubt our heavenly Father’s wisdom, goodness, or love.

When we face trials, may we resolve to trust in God’s revelation of Himself, and if we must suffer, to trust God will even empower us to rejoice (even “to boast”) in our suffering. (In Romans 5:1-5, the word translated “rejoice” literally means “to boast.”)

 

God of Everything

JANUARY 20, 2020

“ … Thus says the LORD, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’” 1 Kings 20:28b (ESV)

Years ago, I was preparing for a meeting at work. This meeting was different from the ones I had attended in the past when I could just grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable in my seat.

This time, I was leading it.

As a new supervisor, I was especially nervous. Unfortunately, I wasn’t announcing any big raises or longer breaks at this particular meeting. Instead, there were some specific policy changes that needed to be addressed with my team.

I remember praying and asking God to guide me as I formulated a plan. I asked Him to give me the words to say. I also interceded for my team that God would prepare their hearts to receive the changes.

The morning came, and so did the butterflies in my stomach. I whispered another prayer as I walked into the room. With my notes in my shaking hands and a voice to match, I started the meeting. Eventually, the nerves subsided, and the conversation flowed. Thankfully, when it was all said and done, it went better than I could have ever expected.

Later, I told someone how well the meeting turned out. When I mentioned I had prayed for it, this person replied, “I don’t think God really cares about this kind of stuff. He’s got bigger stuff to deal with.”

I just smiled, but my heart knew differently.

In 1 Kings 20, an opposing army was getting ready to fight Israel. Their strategy was simple … “And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, ‘Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they’” (1 Kings 20:23, ESV).

The Syrians had put God in a box and were convinced He would be around for the battles on the hills, but not on the plains.

They were wrong.

“And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Because the Syrians have said, ‘The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,’ therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord”’” (1 Kings 20:28).

Throughout Scripture, we see God was wherever His people needed Him to be.

  • When Adam and Eve were hiding in the garden, feeling the shame of their sin, God came to walk with them.
  • It may have started with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, but before long, there was someone else there who appeared to be the “son of the gods” according to the pagan king (Daniel 3:25, ESV).
  • The woman at the well was trying to avoid the stares of the community but encountered the Savior instead.

And that hasn’t changed.

“Where could I go from your Spirit? Where could I run and hide from your face? If I go up to heaven, you’re there! If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too! If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there! If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting! Wherever I go, your hand will guide me; your strength will empower me. It’s impossible to disappear from you or to ask the darkness to hide me, for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.” Psalm 139:7-11 (TPT)

No battle is too big. Diagnosis. Marital struggles. Infertility. Prodigal child. Job loss.

No battle is too small. Allergies. Disagreements. Babies who won’t sleep through the night. Work meetings.

He is a God of the hills, the plains and everything in between.

 

Rumors

by Inspiration Ministries

He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore associate not with him who talks too freely. – Proverbs 20:19 AMPC

Many attempts have been made to understand why people are so attracted to rumors and gossip. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, one sociologist concluded that rumors multiply “when the demand for news is greater than is the supply provided through institutional channels.”

Rumors begin to circulate when events don’t seem to follow what normally might be expected. They often are inspired “during states of boredom” as rumors “capitalize on minor events, magnifying them into occasions for exciting collective action.”

Rumors are shared most rapidly “among friends, associates, and peers.” Studies have shown that people often can be motivated to start rumors to improve their own positions and that the person who first spreads a rumor can earn perceived prestige.

These may be common patterns in the world, but the Bible warns against these tendencies. Proverbs warns us not to associate “with him who talks too freely” because they aren’t trustworthy; they lack discernment and discretion. We also are warned, “a talebearer reveals secrets.”

Still, many Christians cannot control their words. Because of the rumor mill, many churches, families, businesses, and friendships have been damaged, some beyond repair. The Bible reminds us that our words are a serious matter. Ask God to help prevent you from being a talebearer. Ask Him for discernment and discipline to help you control your words. Don’t start, spread, or even listen to rumors!

 

Streams in the Desert – January 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

The dark brown mould’s upturned
By the sharp-pointed plow;
And I’ve a lesson learned.
My life is but a field,
Stretched out beneath God’s sky,
Some harvest rich to yield.
Where grows the golden grain?
Where faith? Where sympathy?
In a furrow cut by pain.

–Maltbie D. Babcock

Every person and every nation must take lessons in God’s school of adversity. “We can say, ‘Blessed is night, for it reveals to us the stars.’ In the same way we can say, ‘Blessed is sorrow, for it reveals God’s comfort.’ The floods washed away home and mill, all the poor man had in the world. But as he stood on the scene of his loss, after the water had subsided, broken-hearted and discouraged, he saw something shining in the bank which the waters had washed bare. ‘It looks like gold,’ he said. It was gold. The flood which bad beggared him made him rich. So it is ofttimes in life.”
–Henry Clay Trumbull

 

It Takes Risks To Follow Jesus

Matthew 14          Jesus Walks On Water  ( Peter risk his life taking a chance by faith)

28  “Lord, if it is You,” Peter replied, “command me to come to You on the water.”

29  “Come,” said Jesus.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus.

30  But when he saw the strength of the wind,c he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31  Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?”

32  And when they had climbed back into the boat, the wind died down. 

33  Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God!”

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Coyotes and Other Hazardous Threats

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CBN.com Coyotes frequently show up on my street. No, I don’t live in the middle of Montana, I live smack in the middle of Phoenix—a major metropolis. But my neighborhood is bordered by a desert mountain preserve, and since there is no giant wall with a Keep Out sign posted, wildlife and city dwellers often cross paths. My sweet, aging tabby (Bagheera—we called him Baggie) was snatched from our front yard a couple years ago by one of these hungry hunters, never to be seen again.

This can present a problem in that many of us city folk have beloved pets stashed away in our homes and yards. We have the illusion that they are safe but the truth is that a coyote can, and will, jump a six foot fence without breaking stride to get a tasty morsel you affectionately know as Mitzy. Red Tail hawks and Great Horned Owls are also out scouting for sustenance and can swoop down from the sky right into a fenced back yard to grab an eight pound kitty or even a ten pound dog. This was recently demonstrated by the fact that Lucy, an 11 1/2 –pound terrier mutt survived an owl attack because she was just a bit too heavy to be carried away like Toto.

The common thread is that these predators hunt stealthily for food and don’t care about your love affair with it. They also don’t know that it is supposed to be protected.

Just as we are lulled into a false sense of security about our pets’ safety, we often forget that there are hazards all around us that threaten our existence too. They come in the form of busyness that can snatch our attention from our family; fear that can keep us from trying something new; materialism that can cause us to lose perspective; lust which can damage our marriage; pride which can cause us to put ourselves ahead of others and hopelessness which can diminish our faith and rob our joy. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy.

These marauders are just as treacherous as any wily coyote or cunning hawk. They are also insidious. They sneak up on us and we never see them enter our life but they are a serious threat all the same. Prevention is clear; “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Romans 13:14

Just as pet lovers in my ‘hood have to take extra precautions, there are things we can all do to prevent the destructive powers of skewed thinking. Create a checklist and ask yourself these questions periodically:

  • Am I investing my time in things that matter most?
  • Do I take action based on fear or faith?
  • Are there things I love and am not willing to part with?
  • Is my romantic/sexual attention focused on the right spot?
  • Do I acknowledge daily that without God and the support of others I’m pretty average?
  • How successful am I at identifying joy and hope in the midst of trials?

Those questions (and others that come to mind) are the hardware you need to build a protective wall around your heart and mind. Preventing attacks is much wiser (and less painful) than treating a wounded life.

Any personal encounters with one of the natural enemies listed above? I’ve had plenty!

 

A Call for Christian Risk

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By removing eternal risk, Christ calls his people to continual temporal risk.

For the followers of Jesus the final risk is gone. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Neither death nor life . . . will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). “Some of you they will put to death. . . . But not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:1618). “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

When the threat of death becomes a door to paradise the final barrier to temporal risk is broken. When a Christian says from the heart, “To live is Christ and to die is gain,” he is free to love no matter what. Some forms of radical Islam may entice martyr-murderers with similar dreams, but Christian hope is the power to love, not kill. Christian hope produces life-givers, not life-takers. The crucified Christ calls his people to live and die for their enemies, as he did. The only risks permitted by Christ are the perils of love. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28).

With staggering promises of everlasting joy, Jesus unleashed a movement of radical, loving risk-takers. “You will be delivered up even by parents . . . and some of you they will put to death” (Luke 21:16). Only some. Which means it might be you and it might not. That’s what risk means. It is not risky to shoot yourself in the head. The outcome is certain. It is risky to serve Christ in a war zone. You might get shot. You might not.

Christ calls us to take risks for kingdom purposes. Almost every message of American consumerism says the opposite: Maximize comfort and security – now, not in heaven. Christ does not join that chorus. To every timid saint, wavering on the edge of some dangerous gospel venture, he says, “Fear not, you can only be killed” (Luke 12:4). Yes, by all means maximize your joy! How? For the sake of love, risk being reviled and persecuted and lied about, “for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).

There is a great biblical legacy of loving risk-takers. Joab, facing the Syrians on one side and the Ammonites on the other, said to his brother Abishai, “Let us be courageous for our people . . . and may the LORD do what seems good to him” (2 Samuel 10:12). Esther broke the royal law to save her people and said, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). Shadrach and his comrades refused to bow down to the king’s idol and said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us . . . But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods” (Daniel 3:16-18). And when the Holy Spirit told Paul that in every city imprisonment and afflictions await him, he said, “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course” (Acts 20:24).

“Every Christian,” said Stephen Neil about the early church, “knew that sooner or later he might have to testify to his faith at the cost of his life” (A History of Christian Missions, Penguin, 1964, p. 43). This was normal. To become a Christian was to risk your life. Tens of thousands did it. Why? Because to do it was to gain Christ, and not to was to lose your soul. “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

In America and around the world the price of being a real Christian is rising. Things are getting back to normal in “this present evil age.” Increasingly 2 Timothy 3:12 will make sense: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Those who’ve made gospel-risk a voluntary life-style will be most ready when we have no choice. Therefore I urge you, in the words of the early church, “Let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:13-14).

When God removed all risk above
He loosed a thousand risks of love.

We Plow the Fields

by Inspiration Ministries

The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. – Matthew 13:38 ESV

Matthias Claudius was the son of a Lutheran pastor. After studying theology, he turned his attention to law and languages. Born in 1740 in northern Germany, he loved to write and in 1768, he joined the Hamburg News Agency, first as a writer, then as an editor. He was so influential that he became known as the father of popular German journalism.

In 1782, he heard farmers singing a song that expressed their faith in God and thankfulness for His blessings. Claudius copied the words, which he developed into a hymn. In 1861, Jane Campbell translated the words into English with the title “We Plow the Fields.” These farmers realized that they could “plow the fields, and scatter the good seed,” but they depended on God to feed and water the seed. Claudius, like these farmers, knew that “all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above” and that God alone “is the Maker of all things.”

We see His hand everywhere as “He paints the wayside flower” and “lights the evening star.” We trust Him for we are “His children” and “He gives our daily bread.” Particularly during harvest time, we can marvel at the ways He provides. We see that everything is from Him. Claudius prayed that we would offer Him what He most desires, “our humble, thankful hearts.”

Think about all that God has done for you. Thank Him and show your gratitude by bringing Him your offerings.

 

Streams In The Desert

By: Mrs. L.B. Cowman

Nevertheless afterward (Heb. 12:11).

There is a legend that tells of a German baron who, at his castle on the Rhine, stretched wires from tower to tower, that the winds might convert them into an Aeolian harp. And the soft breezes played about the castle, but no music was born.

But one night there arose a great tempest, and hill and castle were smitten by the fury of the mighty winds. The baron went to the threshold to look out upon the terror of the storm, and the Aeolian harp was filling the air with strains that rang out even above the clamor of the tempest. It needed the tempest to bring out the music!

And have we not known men whose lives have not given out any entrancing music in the day of a calm prosperity, but who, when the tempest drove against them have astonished their fellows by the power and strength of their music?

“Rain, rain
Beating against the pane!
How endlessly it pours
Out of doors
From the blackened sky
I wonder why!
Flowers, flowers,
Upspringing after showers,
Blossoming fresh and fair,
Everywhere!
Ah, God has explained
Why it rained!”

You can always count on God to make the “afterward” of difficulties, if rightly overcome, a thousand times richer and fairer than the forward. “No chastening… seemeth joyous, nevertheless afterward…” What a yield

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Today’s lesson on Gratitude

Luke 17:11-19

Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

 

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Cultivating a Spirit of Thankfulness

From: 1.cbn.com, Author: Dianne Neal Matthews

“Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17b)

Even though we may stuff ourselves at the dinner table, celebrating Thanksgiving can actually make us healthier judging by recent research. Studies have shown that being thankful improves our physical and emotional health. Holding on to feelings of thankfulness boosts our immune system and increases blood supply to our heart. Daily guided exercises or the habit of keeping a weekly gratitude journal can increase our alertness, enthusiasm, and energy, and improve our sleep. People who describe themselves as feeling grateful tend to suffer less stress and depression than the rest of the population.

For all its benefits, gratitude doesn’t come naturally to us. As Jesus passed through a village one day, he was spotted by ten lepers who desperately longed to be healed (Luke 17:11-19). They kept themselves at a distance as required by law but cried out to him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Instead of instantly healing the men, Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priest. As the ten lepers walked off to obey, their skin disease disappeared.

One of the men turned around, shouting praises to God as he came back to Jesus. He threw himself at his benefactor’s feet. Jesus expressed amazement that only one man had thought to thank him. “Were not all ten cleansed?” he asked. “Where are the other nine?” He also pointed out that the only man who did respond was a Samaritan, a race despised by the Jewish people.

For Christians, cultivating a spirit of thankfulness is more than a good idea; it’s a direct command from God. In the Old Testament, God laid down specific guidelines for the Israelites to bring thank offerings. In the New Testament, believers are instructed to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When we’re struggling with trials and difficulties, this sounds like a strange command, especially since we live in a culture that encourages us to act on the basis of how we feel. But God knows that when we focus on our blessings, it’s easier to keep our problems and concerns in the right perspective.

King David never lost his keen awareness of all that God had done for the nation of Israel and for him personally. Even though he experienced disappointment, pain, and heartache, David often poured out his feelings of thankfulness to his Creator and Lord. That gratitude became the foundation of his worship of God.

Cultivating a spirit of thankfulness honors God and strengthens our faith. It also strengthens our relationships with other people. We can’t be in a right relationship with God or with anyone without a spirit of thankfulness. No matter what problems we’re struggling with, we don’t want to be like the nine former lepers who forgot to say “thank you” to their Healer.

I will give thanks to you with all my heart, O Lord my God. I will honor you forever because your mercy toward me is great. Psalm 86:12-13 (God’s Word translation)

Ask yourself: How often do I express gratitude to God or to other people?

 

Expressing Gratitude to God

From: Intouch.org

Psalm 100:1-5

If you’re a Christian, you probably know that thanking the Lord for His blessings is an important aspect of your relationship with Him. But have you ever considered the different ways this can be done? Gratitude isn’t limited to verbal expressions or prayers but can actually be demonstrated in a variety of ways.

In the Psalms, one of the most frequently mentioned methods of conveying thanks is by singing. Songs can often say what our heart feels but has trouble articulating. As the words from our favorite hymns or praise songs flow from our lips, we are reminded of who God is and the magnitude of His salvation and love for us. And singing isn’t reserved just for church. When we’re filled with gratitude, we may find ourselves humming or singing songs that magnify the Lord wherever we are.

Another way to express gratefulness is by serving God—whether through acts of kindness, teaching Sunday school or Bible study, organizing a ministry, reaching out to marginalized people, sharing the gospel with the lost, helping someone in need, or giving financially. Every one of these can be offered to God with an attitude of thanksgiving for all He’s done for us.

Ultimately, we show the Lord our gratitude through obedience. A holy life flows from a heart filled with thankfulness for God’s grace, mercy, love, and salvation. Instead of living for ourselves and our own pleasures, we’ll want to exalt Christ in all that we do, say, and think. And as we allow God’s Spirit to control us, He will faithfully enable us to live in a manner that is pleasing and honoring to the Lord.

 

Glorify God by Giving Thanks


It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15)

Gratitude to God is a joyful emotion. We have a sense of joyful indebtedness for his grace. So in a sense in the very emotion of gratitude, we are still the beneficiaries. But by its very nature, gratitude glorifies the giver. When we feel thankful, we acknowledge our need and God’s beneficence, God’s fullness, the riches of his glory.

Just like I humble myself and exalt the server in the restaurant when I say, “Thank you,” so I humble myself and exalt God when I feel gratitude to him. The difference, of course, is that I really am infinitely in debt to God for his grace, and everything he does for me is free and undeserved.

But the point is that gratitude glorifies the giver. It glorifies God. And this is Paul’s final goal in all his labors. Yes, his labors are for the sake of the church — the good of the church. But the church is not the highest goal. Listen again: “It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” All for your sake — for the glory of God!

The wonderful thing about the gospel is that the response it requires from us for God’s glory is also the response that is most natural and joyful; namely, thankfulness for grace. God’s all-supplying glory in giving and our humble gladness in receiving are not in competition. Joyful thankfulness glorifies God.

A life that gives glory to God for his grace and a life of deepest gladness are the same life. And what makes them one is thankfulness.

 Streams In The Desert

Thou makest the outgoing of the morning and evening to rejoice (Ps. 65:8).

Get up early and go to the mountain and watch God make a morning. The dull gray will give way as God pushes the sun towards the horizon, and there will be tints and hues of every shade, that will blend into one perfect light as the full-orbed sun bursts into view. As the King of day moves forth majestically, flooding the earth and every lowly vale, listen to the music of heaven‘s choir as it sings of the majesty of God and the glory of the morning.

In the holy hush of the early dawn
I hear a Voice
“I am with you all the day,
Rejoice! Rejoice!”

The clear, pure light of the morning made me long for the truth in my heart, which alone could make me pure and clear as the morning, tune me up to the concert-pitch of the nature around me. And the wind that blew from the sunrise made me hope in the God who had first breathed into my nostrils the breath of life; that He would at length so fill me with His breath, His mind, His Spirit, that I should think only His thoughts, and live His life, finding therein my own life, only glorified infinitely.

What should we poor humans do without our God’s nights and mornings?
George MacDonald

“In the early morning hours,
‘Twixt the night and day,
While from earth the darkness passes
Silently away;
“Then ’tis sweet to talk with Jesus
In thy chamber still
For the coming day and duties
Ask to know His will.
“Then He’ll lead the way before you,
Mountains laying low;
Making desert places blossom,
Sweet’ning Marah’s flow.
“Would you know this life of triumph,
Victory all the way?
Then put God in the beginning
Of each coming day.”

Be Wise And Not Foolish

  The parable of a rich fool

Luke 12

16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’

21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

 

 

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Greed is…..Good For Nothing

Hannah Goodwyn, Author: 1.cbn.com

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. – Gordon Gekko, Wall Street

Michael Douglas personified greed as Gordon Gekko, the money-hungry antagonist in the 1987 movie, Wall Street. His famous “Greed is Good” speech perfectly encapsulates the danger in American Dream thinking. The lifestyle of this beloved/hated character illustrates utter selfishness, yet it intrigues us as we seek our own fortunes.

Recalling this movie scene, I battled my own bit of greed while driving home yesterday. A lottery billboard on the side of the interstate unearthed buried thoughts of greed I didn’t know existed.

290 million dollars. That’s the state’s lotto jackpot, at the moment. It has steadily increased during the past few weeks, and each time I’ve driven past it, thoughts of what I could do with that kind of money flood my mind. At almost 300 million, my wish list could be extensive and not even make a dent in my over-stuffed bank account. I could get:

  • My dream cars: A brand new, silver Aston Martin DB9 (James Bond’s sports car), a bright red 1968 Ford Mustang,
  • My dream house: A custom-built Craftsman bungalow
  • My dream vacation: A ’round the world in 80 days adventure travel package (first-class, of course)
  • My dream boat: A 60′ sailing yacht with crew (I don’t know a thing about sailing)
  • ,,,and more.

In the midst of my vetted list of wants, ideas of how I could give some of the money away comes up when I’ve driven by that billboard. I would:

  • Pay off all of the college debt in my family
  • Sponsor 1,000 well digs
  • Donate to missionary friends who live around the world

As I contemplated what to buy and how much to give away, I quickly realized I was planning my life with money I did not have. Seeing that prize money billboard got me to thinking about actually buying a lottery ticket. That greed seed grew as I considered gambling away my money with the long-shot chance of winning. I’ve never gambled to get a quick buck, but the dream of having a large bank account is a nice thought. And I’m willing to bet that some of you have as well.

In my humanness, I mentally justified my need for an abundance of cash. Sure, I would get a few toys, but “God, I would totally donate money to people in need”. Problem is, am I doing that now, with what He’s already given me?

What the Bible Says about Greed

The Bible instructs us to be good stewards of God’s provision (no matter what tax bracket we are in), instead of wishing for more. It’s one thing to trust the Lord to provide all of our needs in unique ways; it’s another when we’re coveting riches.

Greed brings grief to the whole family… Proverbs 15:27

Greedy people try to get rich quick, but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty. Proverbs 28:22 (This makes sense considering the bankruptcies lotto winners experience after winning more money then they can handle).

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul? Mark 8:36

Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” Luke 12:15

Our God, “who owns the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10), has rightly blessed many with wealth. So having money isn’t the problem. It is the love of money that corrupts, as explained in I Timothy.

But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. ITimothy 6:9-10

Be a Giver, Not a Hoarder

My parents didn’t raise me to be a greedy person. But I must confess, I tend to lean toward holding money instead of giving it freely. Realizing my disobedience (according these scriptures), my prayer this year is “God, give me clear opportunities to be a giver, instead of a hoarder.”

Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do. Deuteronomy 15:10

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. Proverbs 3:27

Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give! Proverbs 21:26

Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed. Proverbs 28:27

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.  After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.  So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.I Timothy 6:6-8

The Rich Fool

 

Scripture Reading — Luke 12:13-21

“[The rich man said,] ‘I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool!’”
Luke 12:19-20 —

A fool! That’s what God calls the person in today’s parable.

That may seem a strange way to describe someone who would have been the envy of many people in the community. The man had worked hard, putting in long hours, and it had paid off. He was set to enjoy the fruit of his labors. He was going to “take life easy” and “eat, drink and be merry.”

When you work hard all your life and you have built a suc-cessful business or career, along with some good investments, haven’t you earned the right to take life easy and enjoy your retirement? That’s how the rich man reasoned with himself.

The Bible makes clear that God does not begrudge his people the rewards of a life well lived. He does not call the man a fool because he was rich. God was the one who allowed him to be successful. God called the man a fool because he had stored up things only for himself. Instead of recognizing God’s blessing and working to build God’s kingdom, he had been building his own.

Many people are like the rich fool, willing to sacrifice almost anything to get ahead, trusting in money and status for their security and leaving God out of the picture. Take a few mo-ments today and ask yourself, “Would God call me a fool?”

 

A Spirit of Foolishness

by Inspiration Ministries

“Where are your wise counselors, Pharaoh? Let them tell you what God plans, what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is going to do to Egypt. The officials of Zoan are fools, and the officials of Memphis are deluded… The Lord has sent a spirit of foolishness on them, so all their suggestions are wrong. They cause Egypt to stagger like a drunk in his vomit.” Isaiah 19:12-14 NLT

These political and military leaders were so confident! They felt sure that they were “so wise.” That they knew exactly what to do. That they had the right understanding and necessary experience.

But God wanted to demonstrate that, before Him, their wisdom, knowledge, and intelligence meant nothing. Before Him, these “wise” men were deluded. In fact, they were fools.

God’s people might have been intimidated. But He wanted them realize that He could transform circumstances and make even the wisest appear foolish, and the best-laid plans look like utter confusion.

God said He would pour “a spirit of foolishness” into these leaders and wise men. That He had “mingled a spirit of perverseness, error, and confusion” within them (Amplified). We can picture leaders perpetually dizzy, their minds spinning around, with all their plans and analyses in utter disarray, looking foolish.

How easily we can place our faith and trust in “experts.” To focus on the opinions of people who get attention through the media. But the Bible reminds us that the world’s wisdom quickly can become foolishness and it tells us to remember that the “wisdom” of men and nations quickly fades, and is so temporary.

Instead, we need to trust in God. To remember that His wisdom lasts forever, and is true in all generations, and situations. It is true regardless of the opinions of other people.

Don’t be deceived by worldly wisdom. Trust in God, and seek His wisdom, for every situation you face.

 

Streams In The Desert

For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37).

Far up in the Alpine hollows, year by year God works one of His marvels. The snow-patches lie there, frozen with ice at their edge from the strife of sunny days and frosty nights; and through that ice-crust come, unscathed, flowers that bloom.

Back in the days of the by-gone summer, the little soldanelle plant spread its leaves wide and flat on the ground, to drink in the sun-rays, and it kept them stored in the root through the winter. Then spring came, and stirred the pulses even below the snow-shroud, and as it sprouted, warmth was given out in such strange measure that it thawed a little dome in the snow above its head.

Higher and higher it grew and always above it rose the bell of air, till the flower-bud formed safely within it: and at last the icy covering of the air-bell gave way and let the blossom through into the sunshine, the crystalline texture of its mauve petals sparkling like snow itself as if it bore the traces of the flight through which it had come.

And the fragile thing rings an echo in our hearts that none of the jewel-like flowers nestled in the warm turf on the slopes below could waken. We love to see the impossible done. And so does God.

Face it out to the end, cast away every shadow of hope on the human side as an absolute hindrance to the Divine, heap up all the difficulties together recklessly, and pile as many more on as you can find; you cannot get beyond the blessed climax of impossibility. Let faith swing out to Him. He is the God of the impossible.
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