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Happy Mother’s Day

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A Sermon for Mother

Son with aging mother

 

Jim’s 88-year-old mother Esther always lived in her own home, but after a stroke, that was impossible. She was transferred from the hospital to a nearby nursing home.

“I had recently lost my job,” said Jim, “but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I was able to visit her every day.”

One Sunday morning when Jim went to see his mother, an announcement came over the intercom: “The morning worship service will start in the lounge in ten minutes.”

“Do you feel like going to the service?” asked Jim.

“Yes, I think I do,” she said, so he pushed her down the hallway in a wheelchair.

As they sat there waiting for the service to begin, a woman who worked at the nursing home approached Jim and asked, “You’re a minister, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” he responded. (Do pastors have a special look about them?)

“Our regular minister is on vacation,” she said, “and the substitute didn’t show up. Could you possibly preach for us today?”

“Give me five extra minutes to collect my thoughts,” said Jim, as he grabbed a Bible. He chose to preach on Romans 8:28:

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

“I intended for the message to be a pep talk for my mom,” he said, “that all things, even in the difficult circumstances of living in a nursing home after a stroke, work together for the good of those who love Him.”

That was the last sermon Esther ever heard. She went home to be with the Lord the following Saturday.

Jim said, “It was a genuine privilege to minister to my mother in that way. God arranged for the substitute pastor to be a ‘no-show’ so I could give that final gift to my mother.”

The next morning Jim and his wife were doing their Bible study. The verse for that day was Romans 8:28! Jim’s wife said, “It was affirmation to us that Jim’s last sermon for his mother was the one the Lord wanted her to hear. It was God’s perfect timing.”

There is another lesson we can learn from Jim’s story. It’s about obedience. How would you respond if someone asked you to deliver a message with five minutes’ notice?

Jesus taught his disciples:

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21, NIV

And in the Gospel of John Jesus taught:

If you love me, you will obey what I command. John 14:15, NIV

Jim had a choice about how he would respond. He could have turned down the invitation to preach, but he would have missed out on a wonderful blessing from God.

Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful gift you gave Jim through his obedience to You.

 

Streams in the Desert – May 9

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

Abraham stood yet before the Lord (Gen. 18:22).

The friend of God can plead with Him for others. Perhaps Abraham’s height of faith and friendship seems beyond our little possibilities. Do not be discouraged, Abraham grew; so may we. He went step by step, not by great leaps.

The man whose faith has been deeply tested and who has come off victorious, is the man to whom supreme tests must come. The finest jewels are most carefully cut and polished; the hottest fires try the most precious metal. Abraham would never have been called the Father of the Faithful if he had not been proved to the uttermost.

Read Genesis, twenty-second chapter: “Take thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest.” See him going with a chastened, wistful, yet humbly obedient heart up Moriah’s height, with the idol of his heart beside him about to be sacrificed at the command of God whom he had faithfully loved and served!

What a rebuke to our questionings of God’s dealings with us! Away with all doubting explanations of this stupendous scene! It was an object lesson for the ages. Angels were looking. Shall this man’s faith stand forever for the strength and help of all God’s people? Shall it be known through him that unfaltering faith will always prove the faithfulness of God?

Yes; and when faith has borne victoriously its uttermost test, the angel of the Lord–who? The Lord Jesus, Jehovah, He in whom “all the promises of God are yea and amen”–spoke to him, saying, “Now I know that thou fearest God.” Thou hast trusted me to the uttermost. I will also trust thee; thou shalt ever be My friend, and I will bless thee, and make thee a blessing.

It is always so, and always will be. “They that are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”
–Selected

It is no small thing to be on terms of friendship with God.

The world turned upside down

“These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” Acts 17:6

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” The merciful are not much respected in this world—at least if they are imprudently merciful; the man who forgives too much, or who is too generous, is not considered to be wise. But Christ declares that he who has been merciful—merciful to supply the wants of the poor, merciful to forgive his enemies and to pass by offences, shall obtain mercy. Here, again, is the world turned upside down. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” The world says, “Blessed is the man who indulges in a carefree life.” If you ask the common run of mankind who is the happy man, they will tell you, “The happy man is he who has abundance of money, and spends it freely, and is freed from restraint—who leads a merry dance of life, who drinks deep of the cup of intoxication—who revels riotously, who, like the wild horse of the prairie, is not restrained by reason, but who dashes across the broad plains of sin, unharnessed, unguided, unrestrained.” This is the man whom the world calls happy: the proud man, the mighty man, the Nimrod, the man who can do just as he wishes, and who spurns to keep the narrow way of holiness. Now, the Scripture says, not so, for “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”

“Blest is the man who shuns the place Where sinners love to meet;
Who fears to tread their wicked ways, And hates the scoffer’s seat….”

The man who cannot touch one thing because that would be lascivious, nor another because that would spoil his communion with his Master; a man who cannot frequent this place of amusement, because he could not pray there, and cannot go to another, because he could not hope to have his Master’s sanction upon an hour so spent—that man is blessed!

For meditation: The world was turned upside down through men who had been turned upside down (Mark 9:34,3510:42-44). Do we need to know a lot more of that in our churches and individual lives?

A Godly Influence

by Inspiration Ministries

“You shall repeat them diligently to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 6:7 NASB

The youngest of twenty-five children, Susannah Annesley was raised in a Christian home. Born in London, England, in 1669, she was taught the importance of faith and knowing the Bible. She developed a passion for evangelism and every day prayed that God would make her life count.

In 1689, she married Samuel Wesley, with whom she had nineteen children (although only ten survived to adulthood). She came to realize that she could serve God best by raising and educating these children. Susannah believed in discipline and based their home life on a systematic regime that included regular prayer and Bible study. A longtime student of history, she made it a central part of their education.

She saw the fruit of her labors as two of her sons, John and Charles, founded the Methodism Movement, which later became the Methodist denomination and changed lives around the world. As adults, they continued to call on Susannah for advice.

Even to the end of her life, she sought to serve God and be a good example. On her death bed with her children gathered around her, she made this last request: “As soon as I am released, sing a psalm of praise to God.” Susannah demonstrated how one woman could influence millions of people by being faithful, teaching others godly principles, and providing a good example.

Seek to make your life count for God. Let Him influence others for Christ through you.

 

Fight The Good Fight For Christ

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Battle Wounds from the Good Fight

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“How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight? I don’t wanna die without any scars …” – Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club

I was thinking this morning about what it means to be in a fight. As a woman, it’s not quite the rite of passage as it is for a man. However, I fought enough with my brothers as a child that I’m aware of the mechanics of it.

Most people agree that a fight that’s one-sided isn’t really a fight. That’s just a beating. That’s a bully taking advantage of someone weaker than he or she is. A real fight is back and forth; you trade blows.

The keeping of one’s faith is similar. If you want to be a Christian or even remotely God-conscious, this life will fight you for it. It’s going to hit you, and as noted in the last Rocky movie, nobody hits harder than life. The world tries to take your joy and your peace with every unwanted circumstance, every unexpected tragedy, and every unforeseen pitfall.

So what do you do? You can curl up in the fetal position, block your face and just take it. Truthfully, there are times when that’s the only thing you can do. Some hardships are simply tests of endurance.

You can help the enemy by inflicting wounds on yourself. That’s when you just agree with every negative thought that comes in: “I’m not good enough, not smart enough, etc.” Your opponent doesn’t have to do anything then. You will beat yourself up.

Then there’s the third option: you can fight. You fight by remembering God’s promise that no weapon formed against you will succeed at taking you down (Isaiah 54:17). You hide His words in your heart and wear them out on your sleeve. You stand up against the lies that seek to sink your ship.

And it’s going to be rough. You’ll get wounded. You’ll get dazed. The enemy doesn’t fight fair, and he’s very aware of your weak points. Don’t think for a moment that he won’t sucker punch you right where it hurts.

It’s difficult to imagine emerging from any fight without scars. Even Jesus has scars. He showed them to the disciples after His resurrection (Luke 24:39). In fact, His scars were proof that He had died and came back to life. I think our scars bare the same resemblance. They are the evidence that we are overcomers. They qualify us to speak to those in pain and say, “I’ve been there.”

So, keep your head up. You’ll lose a few battles, but remember that you’ve already won the war.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12 NIV)

 

Through The Bible Devotions

1 Samuel 2:2 2“There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.

Hannah was barren and her husband’s other wife tormented her because of it. In those days to be barren was to appear to be cursed of God. As she was pouring out her heart to God in anguish at the tabernacle, the priest Eli thought she was drunk. He rebuked her for it but then heard her explanation. He asked the LORD to grant her request. She promised to give the child back to the LORD. She named her child Samuel. After she gave birth, she sang the prayer in 1 Samuel 2. That prayer includes the verse for today.

We can know that even though we are mortal and of little account, the Creator hears our prayer when we pour out our hearts to Him. Hannah did not have to have children to have a meaningful life, but she thought she did. God heard the pain of her heart. What an awesome God we serve. He owes us nothing, and we owe Him all, yet He hears our prayer and is concerned with our pain.

Hannah declared God to be uniquely holy. That is very true. He is the standard of holiness. We can be credited with the righteousness of Christ and be made holy in God’s eyes, yet He is uniquely holy. Our holiness is received, whereas His is inherent. He has always been holy throughout time. We became holy at a point in time.

He is always the same, and so, He is our Rock. No other god concerns himself with man in love and mercy like our God. No other god is forever perfect like our God. The answer to Hannah’s prayer filled her with an awareness of the wonderful God she served.

Consider: The answers to our prayers should fill us with wonder too.

 

Walking in the Midst of the Fire – Streams in the Desert – May 8

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

Walking in the midst of the fire (Daniel 3:25).

The fire did not arrest their motion; they walked in the midst of it. It was one of the streets through which they moved to their destiny. The comfort of Christ‘s revelation is not that it teaches emancipation from sorrow, but emancipation through sorrow.

O my God, teach me, when the shadows have gathered, that I am only in a tunnel. It is enough for me to know that it will be all right some day.

They tell me that I shall stand upon the peaks of Olivet, the heights of resurrection glory. But I want more, O my Father; I want Calvary to lead up to it. I want to know that the shadows of this world are the shades of an avenue the avenue to the house of my Father. Tell me I am only forced to climb because Thy house is on the hill! I shall receive no hurt from sorrow if I shall walk in the midst of the fire.
–George Matheson

‘The road is too rough,’ I said; ‘It is uphill all the way; 
No flowers, but thorns instead;
And the skies over head are grey.’
But One took my hand at the entrance dim,
And sweet is the road that I walk with Him.

“The cross is too great,’ I cried–
‘More than the back can bear,
So rough and heavy and wide,
And nobody by to care.’
And One stooped softly and touched my hand:
‘I know. I care. And I understand.’

“Then why do we fret and sigh;
Cross-bearers all we go:
But the road ends by-and-by
In the dearest place we know,
And every step in the journey we
May take in the Lord’s own company.

 

Prospering Forever

by Inspiration Ministries

“Be careful to obey all these things I command you, so that you and your children after you may prosper forever, because you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.” – Deuteronomy 12:28 CSB

The Bible makes an amazing promise: God wants us to “prosper forever.” God guaranteed this benefit to His people. But they had a role to play. The key to fulfillment was obedience. This meant not following the lifestyle of the peoples living in the land, but rather keeping His commands. The amazing thing is that this promise still is true for us today! God still promises to prosper us if we will keep His commands and if we do things His way.

Many people in our modern world reject this attitude. In fact, according to a recent survey, millions of Americans believe that the Bible is just a book of fables! Many people do not take the Bible seriously. But sadly, this means missing God’s abundant blessings!

In your life, think about what influences your decisions. Are you trusting in ideas that seem popular in the world? Or are you living according to God’s principles?

Today, remember that God’s timeless promises still are true for you. He still desires to bless and prosper you. Instead of being dominated by the pop-culture philosophies, fill your mind with His Word. Pray and build a more intimate relationship with Him. Seek to do things His way.

Remember, the Bible’s promise that God desires to bless you abundantly. Cooperate with Him. Serve Him with enthusiasm! Believe Him! Trust Him for true joy, freedom, and prosperity!

Mothers Pray With Your Children Daily

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Mother

mother-grandmother-daughter_si.jpg

 

Mother Just the name evokes a flood of thoughts and memories. Childhood memories of a loving hand to bandage a skinned knee, and a magical kiss upon that bandage that made the pain fade away. The big smile and wild applause from the third row in the audience of a second-grade school play, acknowledging my dramatic interpretation of a tree, a tree that spoke not a word. The bedtime stories and prayers where I learned that the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Sometimes I look at her bloodstained Bible, which she took with her to dialysis treatments in her latter days. There she shared her faith and testimony with the other patients, being a blessing in her time of sickness. Though she is with the Lord, her life and love remain in my heart.

Mother.  I am doubly blessed that my child has the best one, a Mother whose child is the center of her world. She’s a Mother who loves, teaches, corrects shares, prays, plays, and focuses herself completely on the health, welfare, and happiness of her child. She’s a Mother who cries every year on the first day of school after we put our daughter on the school bus. So to cheer her up and get her mind off of it, I take her to breakfast at IHOP. It’s hard to cry in your pancakes.  She’s a role model our daughter will be hard-pressed to duplicate, though I know she will.

Mother There are many wonderful Mothers in all our lives and though we honor them every year, it seems inadequate considering what they really deserve.

MotherThere once was a Mother so unique, so precious, that our heavenly Father chose her to be the Mother of His only begotten Son. She was so trusted that even though she was young, inexperienced, and poor, she was chosen to Mother our Lord Jesus. Difficult circumstances were her lot in life, and yet through unspeakable adversity, such as the death threat against her son by the King, she poured herself into her son, who became the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

It makes one wonder, what part of His determination; compassion, patience, longsuffering, and love came from her influence on Him. We assume that He received all of His attributes from His heavenly Father because He is the Son of God. But He is also the Son of man, so we must not forget to honor His Mother for being used of God the Father to instill many of those attributes.

MotherShe’s the one who pushed Jesus into His public ministry by making Him do His first public miracle. John 2:1-11 describes how He wasn’t prepared to turn the water into wine because He said that His time had not yet come.

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11 NLT).

Like us, He experienced that wonderful force of nature, a Mama who knows best!

He acknowledged her and provided for her even during His torture on the cross.

“When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27 NLT).

Their love and Devotion for each other didn’t end there. As she prayed with the others in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, He filled her with the Holy Spirit, and their relationship continues to this day. She is an example to Mothers, as He is an example to Sons and daughters.

Mother.  Love her. Cherish her. Honor her. She deserves it!

 

Honor Your Mother

Arthur Schoonveld, Today Devotions

Scripture Reading — 2 Timothy 1:1-7

Your sincere faith … first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice …
2 Timothy 1:5 —

The well-known theologian Karl Barth was asked by a reporter, “Sir, you have written huge volumes about God. Tell me, how do you know it is all true?” According to the story, he answered, “My mother told me.”

That’s a rather simple answer to a profound question. But this answer says a lot about the influence mothers have on the home and on their children. While both parents have an important role in early childhood nurture, it is usually the mother who makes the home and shapes the minds of little children. The mother is often the first one to tell her children about the Lord.

As a child, the first person I looked for when coming home from school was my mother. After she passed away, our home life changed radically. My father did what he could to keep our home special, but it was never the same without our mother.

If your mother is still living, tell her how much you love her and respect her. In the nine years I knew my mother, I never once told her that. Thank her for who she is, and for how she has shaped your life. And if she is gone, thank God for who she was in your life.

If perhaps your mother is or was not the mother you wished you had, ask God to help you forgive her even now, and to give you the grace to love and accept her as she is or was.

Prayer

Lord God, we thank you for our mothers. Help us to love and respect them. Help us to be loving children as well as loving parents and spouses, for your sake. Amen.

 

What Mothers Need

David Feddes, today Devotions

Scripture Reading — Proverbs 31:10-31

A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30 —

Like all of us, mothers need to be praised. A mother who knows she is valued can handle almost anything. She has the skill and energy to cook, sew, teach, do business, care for her family, help the needy, and deal with difficulties.

But if a woman is never praised, she will feel unloved, unskilled, and useless. A mother needs to be thanked, prized, and praised every day.

A God-fearing woman is to be praised by her children, her husband, and “in the city gate” by community leaders. These days many community leaders–politicians, media, educators, bosses–honor glamour more than godliness. That can be discouraging.

But a mother will still be encouraged if her children stand and say, “God bless you, Mom, for being such a blessing to us.” She will smile to hear her husband say, “I love you. Other women might do good things, but you’re the best!”

The highest praise any woman can receive is praise from God. What counts most is what God thinks: “The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit … is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4).

Mothers, rejoice in the praise that comes from God. Husbands and children, praise God for Mom, and praise Mom in a way that echoes God’s own praise of her.

Prayer

We praise you, Lord, for godly wives and loving mothers. You have blessed us through them. Please also bless them through us and make them feel treasured by you. In Jesus, Amen.

 

Perfected in Weakness

by Inspiration Ministries

“There was given me a thorn in the flesh … I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’” – 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NASB

Born in Bonn in 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven burst onto the world’s musical stage with brilliance and charisma, first as a piano virtuoso and later as a master composer. Then, when only 28, he began to lose his hearing. Driven to despair, he pleaded with God for relief, but his hearing continued to deteriorate.

Although frustrated, he discovered that his physical hearing loss made it possible to hear in new ways. He wrote a series of unprecedented compositions, culminating in his Ninth Symphony, which debuted on this day in 1824 with Beethoven leading the world premiere. His conducting might have been erratic, yet the music was glorious. There was a deaf composer whose work changed history.

Paul knew what it was like to have weaknesses. But God showed him that His grace was sufficient, that His strength was “made perfect in weakness.” Instead of complaining, Paul learned to rely on God.

You may face challenges that seem impossible. You may have weaknesses that can feel crippling. But as Paul learned, your weaknesses give you an opportunity to turn to God and trust in Him.

Today, look to God for the resources you need. Stand on the principles of His Word. Pray. Draw on the power of His Spirit. Believe. He can provide solutions to problems that seem unsolvable and give you the strength to overcome any weakness. Trust in Him!

Defining Moments

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Defining Moments

“Why am I here? Why can’t I be dead?” Mom’s words spoken through a filter of mid-stage Alzheimer’s horrified me. How could our nightly phone call take such a terrifying turn?

I already lost my dad to Alzheimer’s. The reality of my mom’s battle with the same disease with the same terminal outcome socked me in the gut. It was a defining moment in our relationship, and I didn’t like it. As her daughter and caregiver, our relationship became defined by a disease that would take her away from me.

Two years later, an Emergency Room doctor needed me to instruct whether he was to resuscitate my mom. How could I be prepared to do that? I prayed for months that Jesus wouldn’t let her suffer anymore. But as I begged the doctor to let my mom go, I didn’t expect the horrid tumult inside of me which challenged the core of my faith.  Was she really going to a better place?

A nurse escorted me to her after her heart labored through its final beat. I struggled to breathe. But I stood beside my beautiful Mom, kissed her lips, held her hand, praised, cried, and said goodbye as my tears drenched her hospital gown.

Amos 9:11 says,

“I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins— and will rebuild it as it used to be.” (NIV)

My mom was no longer broken by Alzheimer’s. My best friend of 58 years was being restored. But I was separated from her, and my life felt broken. I questioned, Is God for real? Is Heaven for real?

Defining moments interrupt and change the direction of our life’s compass. One unexpected defining moment for me was when I recognized the need for Jesus and understood that Jesus knocked at the door of my life, waiting for me to invite Him in (Revelation 3:14). When I opened the door and let Him come in, I was radically changed from the inside out. Jesus filled the spiritual hole in my heart, and my sins were released.

My mom had opened the door for Jesus too. Because of that, I often told Mom, “When Jesus comes for you, it’s okay to go home.”

It was one thing to know she believed in Jesus, but telling the doctor to let her die was an unexpected defining moment that challenged my belief in Heaven. I thought about the thief on the cross who was told, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV), and the Lord’s Prayer which Mom and I prayed together every night that says, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NIV).

Is God for realIs Heaven for real? Yes.

Twenty minutes after Mom died, I felt her index finger twitch and saw a white spark shoot up from her fingertip that sent a surge of static electricity through mine. No wires connected her to any machine. Moments later, the room felt empty. I silently praised my Creator for His faithfulness in defining moments.

Was the twitch when Mom reached for Jesus? Was the electrical surge when her spirit left her body for Heaven? Was I touched by the Holy Spirit during the release of my mom’s spirit? Did God give me a glimpse of Heaven?

Defining moments brought me to a belief that God and Heaven are for real. God doesn’t have to give me defining moments, but He offers them as His love gifts.  If I dare to believe in His eternal love, and trust that His kingdom come and His will be done, He will show me grace in His presence. Why? Because He loves, He promises, and because He can. Just as God restored the House of David, He restores me into spiritual eternity. And I believe God’s Spirit escorts His children personally into His glory.

 

Through The Bible Devotions

Judges 16:20 20Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.

Samson had walked the fence of serving the LORD and serving his lusts until it finally caught up with him. The flesh wars against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. Eventually one must win. Samson could not see that flirting with evil would cost him so much. He’d been shown mercy by God again and again and thought that it would never end. This time he crossed the last line. “My Spirit will not always strive with man,” the Lord once said. Delilah conned him into telling the source of his strength. Did he really think he would get away with it again, or was he hoping he would be normal so that he could know if she genuinely loved him? Whatever was going on in his mind, he thought he was still anointed when he woke.

What a warning this is to us! We go on flirting with disaster, compromising with evil and then we jump up thinking the anointing is still upon us. We go out to battle and find we have no strength. His eyes were put out. It was symbol of his spiritual blindness. He labored for years for the enemy, another symbol of the spiritual oppression we suffer when sin masters us.

Finally, when put on display at a feast to the enemy’s god, he gave himself in one last act of service to God. What a price he paid to see in the Spirit. What a price he had to pay to be free from bondage to the enemy. Still his death took a greater toll upon the enemy than his life. God gives second chances.

Consider: Flirting with evil will eventually extract a painful price. Quit now!

 

Streams in the Desert – May 6

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

The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him (Ps. 25:14).

There are secrets of Providence which God’s dear children may learn. His dealings with them often seem, to the outward eye, dark and terrible. Faith looks deeper and says, “This is God’s secret. You look only on the outside; I can look deeper and see the hidden meaning.”

Sometimes diamonds are done up in rough packages, so that their value cannot be seen. When the Tabernacle was built in the wilderness there was nothing rich in its outside appearance. The costly things were all within, and its outward covering of rough badger skin gave no hint of the valuable things which it contained.

God may send you, dear friends, some costly packages. Do not worry if they are done up in rough wrappings. You may be sure there are treasures of love, and kindness, and wisdom hidden within. If we take what He sends, and trust Him for the goodness in it, even in the dark, we shall learn the meaning of the secrets of Providence.
–A. B. Simpson

Not until each loom is silent,
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the pattern
And explain the reason why
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
For the pattern which He planned.

He that is mastered by Christ is the master of every circumstance. Does the circumstance press hard against you? Do not push it away. It is the Potter’s hand. Your mastery will come, not by arresting its progress, but by enduring its discipline, for it is not only shaping you into a vessel of beauty and honor, but it is making your resources available.

 

How Much Have You Prayed?

by Inspiration Ministries

“One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles.” – Luke 6:12-13 NLT

Jesus had an important decision to make: Who would be His close disciples? He knew the candidates and had spent time with them. We might assume that He had enough information to make His choices. But Jesus still felt the need to pray. He did not just pray a short prayer. He spent all night praying to the Father, praying until He had the answers He needed.

How many Christians make this kind of commitment to prayer? We may pray when we have decisions to make, but how intense is our prayer? How long do we pray? A few minutes? A few seconds?

Right now, search your heart. Think about the issues you are facing right now. Are you basing your decisions on your own experience and understanding? The opinions of people around you? Have you truly sought God?

The Bible assures us that He wants to give you His wisdom and guide you to make the right choices. But to receive His help, you need to call on Him and seek Him through dedicated prayer.

Today, commit to seek God for the issues you face. Commit time to seek Him until you have the answers you need, until you have His peace and His assurance. Pray for people you know who have needs. And pray for your nation. Pray for an outpouring of His Spirit on your nation’s leaders.

What Are You Doing Here Elijah?

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What Are You Doing Here?

man sitting at bar staring into his glass

 

Once there was a minister who was lonely, depressed and feeling defeated in his life and ministry. One night in his despair, he found himself in a bar on the seedy side of town. With his head bowed low in shame, he walked across the dimly lit room and took a seat at the bar. He sat staring into his drink, a drink he had never had before, and pondered his life and his failures.

Suddenly, a man sitting two seats to his right, a man who had obviously been drinking heavily, turned to him, looked at him with piercing eyes and said, “What are you doing here?”

The minister was shocked and thought to himself, “Do I know this man? Does he know me? All the while the man stared at him with those piercing eyes awaiting an answer. An answer he already knew. This minister did not belong there.

Immediately, he rose from the bar stool and left the building. As he sat behind the wheel of his car he thought to himself, “Lord, what has brought me to this low point in my life?” It was as if the Lord had spoken through that man.

As he pulled out of the parking lot he asked for forgiveness. In his beaten and defeated condition, he went back to his home, to his family, and to his ministry. Ashamed of himself, he put one foot in front of the other, and went through the motions, feeling unworthy yet determined to try again. The Lord restored him and he continued his ministry.

There was a man in the Bible, a prophet named  Elijah, who also reached a point in his life when he felt defeated and wanted to give up.

“Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.’” 1 Kings 19:3-4 (NLT)

“But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” 1 Kings 19:9-10 (NLT)

Even the great prophet Elijah reached a point in his life when he felt so defeated that he just wanted to die. The Lord asked him again “What are you doing here Elijah?” Then he was given instructions on what to do next.

There may be a time in your life when you were brought low, a time that only you and the Lord know about. Do not let that define you. Do not let that set your course for a lifetime of defeat. Instead, put one foot in front of the other — and though you feel unworthy, determine in your heart to try again. The Lord will hold you up with his strong right arm. He will set your course and make straight your path. Defeat will humble a person, but with the help of the Lord, there is hope, restoration, and a victorious future.

 

Through The Bible

Judges 7:20 20The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”

What a fascinating plan the LORD gave them. Each of the 300 men took a pitcher with a torch inside in one hand. In the other was a trumpet. On cue they smashed the pitchers and the light shown out. With the other hand they blew their trumpets and then shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”

The enemy was thrown into a panic thinking that each light led a company of soldiers. Frightened in the dark, they killed one another. The dream Gideon had overheard came to pass. What sword were they shouting about? It was the Word of the LORD that they were faithfully obeying.

We have a treasure in jars of clay. It is the Light of the world. At times we seem to be totally outnumbered. But we keep on obeying the Word and believing. We become broken vessels and the light shines out. We blow the trumpet of the Gospel and the enemy (spiritual powers of darkness) is thrown into confusion. In the darkness the enemy does not know who is a friend and who is a foe. He ends up defeating himself. It is not as if we do any great thing. God gets all the glory. We are outnumbered and outgunned, but we just obey and watch God work. If God was faithful to Gideon, to give Him the plan, and encourage Him that He would bring it to pass, will He be any different with you?

Trust God to bring the victory as you obey Him.

Trust at High Speeds

by Katherine Britton, crosswalk.com

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5

I had been on a WaveRunner before. “No problem,” I said to myself as I climbed on behind my husband last weekend. I looked down at the brackish water that was more chilly than refreshing and told myself firmly, “Remember, you like going on adventures with him.” Sure enough, David looked back and grinned at me when we got away from the dock. He told me to hold on. Then he gunned it.

Jumping on a WaveRunner seems easy when I’m the one driving, because then I get to decide just how sharply I want to bank to catch that big wake. Or I can keep shooting out towards the Chesapeake Bay and avoid the wake altogether if I want. I can slow down if I scare myself, and I only “catch some air” if I’m good and ready – which, in reality, is almost never. Riding behind someone else, however, even when I trust him more than anyone, demands a leap of faith. The only thing I have to hang onto is his life jacket, and this guy in front of me gets to make the decisions while I peer over his shoulder. It’s hard to anticipate or even see what is coming next, and leaning the wrong way when we bank could throw me into the cold water at 50 miles per hour.

Out on the open water, with the wind stinging my eyes and convincing me that I’m about to fly off my seat, I’m pushed out of my comfort zone and into something more exhilarating than I’d wander into by myself. And the whole experience stems from letting someone else sit in the driver’s seat with not even a seatbelt for me. David knew I didn’t want to capsize, and he directed the little WaveRunner accordingly. But he wouldn’t let me be completely comfortable, because then we might as well take the paddleboat out and save gas. He made sure we got the full experience of saltwater, fun, and incredible views.

If I can trust my husband who loves me, how much more should I trust my Heavenly Father, who knows my fears, needs, and weaknesses far better. God desires to take us on an adventure that lets us experience Him and His creation more fully and joyfully than we can imagine. Focusing on our fear of some abstract unknown keeps us from being open to the adventure unfolding before our eyes every day. We tend to forget God’s amazing promise, that “the LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 1:8). Fear and worry indicate that we don’t really believe that promise, and that we think we’d do a better job steering. Instead, when we make a conscious decision to trust the Lord – even when life is way too busy and fast for our liking – we find the peace to take a deep breath, smell the salty air, and enjoy where He is taking us.

 

Choices and Rewards

by Inspiration Ministries

“Today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the LORD … You will be cursed if you reject the commands of the LORD your God and turn from him and worship gods you have not known before.” – Deuteronomy 11:26-28 NLT

God wanted the Israelites to know that they were shaping their destiny by the decisions they made each day. As they faced crossroads, they could receive blessings or curses. He gave them the freedom to choose, with opportunities to decide the principles that would impact the outcome.

They soon realized that God’s words were true. When they followed His direction, He blessed them. But when they rejected His commands, they no longer experienced His blessings.

Each of us has been given these same kinds of opportunities every day. We face choices about our relationships and families, our time and resources. The question is, what kinds of decisions will we make? What are our priorities? Do our standards align with what’s in the Bible?

God’s Word is filled with principles that can result in His blessing. But to receive these blessings we need to remember that we cannot receive them if we ignore His Word or go our own way. We need to follow His commands faithfully.

The Bible reminds us that our future is being shaped by the decisions we make day by day. At the same time, these same choices are determining the kinds of rewards that are awaiting us in heaven.

Ask God to help you make the right choices. Seek to make choices that will lead to His blessings and bring rewards in this lifetime and the world to come.

A Triumphant Mom

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A Triumphant Mom

stressed mom with a baby on her hip in the kitchen

 

I sat on the edge of the bed, wrinkled tissue in hand. “Why me?”

I had asked that question with every tick tock of the clock during sleepless nights.

At 31, a hereditary retinal disease robbed my eyesight completely. It pulled a dark curtain of devastation and sorrow into my life and erased any hope I had of being a productive mom to my three, five, and seven-year-old sons.

One day, as self-pity was visiting again, a close friend called.

“Just checking on you,” she said. “How are you doing?”

I wasn’t doing. My life looked dark in every way and the tasks of a blind mom were too much for me.

“Okay, I guess,” I lied.

Then she said something profound. Something that opened the eyes of my heart and changed everything.

“If you think about it,” she said, “your kids are really God’s children. He is their Father and He’s in charge of all big and small things.”

I wiped my tears, inhaled a deep sigh, and let that truth sink into my heart. It brought the encouragement I needed to sweep away those “poor-me” notions, and sparked a renewed passion to care for my sons.

Now with a brighter outlook and a sweet love for my role as their mom, I compiled my own list of what makes a “good” mom:

  • A Mom who knows mistakes will be corrected in the hands of a loving God.
  • A Mom who goes to sleep at night with dishes still in the sink, but a bedtime story in her kid’s heart.
  • A Mom who knows perfection will happen on the other side of heaven.
  • A Mom who sees her kid’s weaknesses and still smiles at his strengths.
  • A Mom who places guilt in the garbage disposal of life.
  • A Mom who leaves fingerprints on the glass door to place an imprint of love in her kid’s heart.
  • A Mom who looks in the mirror and smiles because she is molding one of the leaders of tomorrow.
  • A Mom who picks shoes off the floor, thankful her kids can walk.
  • A Mom who listens to endless chatter, thankful her kids can talk.
  • A Mom who’s signed a partnership with God.
  • A Mom who stirs this sweetener in the coffee cup of her heart: “I can do all things through the Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

And while she drops exhausted in bed at the end of the day, truth shines through: It’s not the items checked off on the to-do list, accomplishments managed, the applause never heard or the help always needed; but it’s the certainty that echoes in her heart, that her true greatness is in the Father’s eyes, her sorrows are in His heart and her triumphs are in His plans.

Sit Down and Be Seen by Jesus

Bible quotes, Mothers day quotes, Verses

by Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.com

He went up on a mountainside and sat down… and he began to teach them… (Matt. 5:1-2)

I don’t really appreciate the way I learned the Beatitudes.

I’m in my late forties now and I think I’m only starting to understand what’s happening in this passage at the beginning of The Sermon on the Mount, courtesy of a fantastic sermon and sweet, wonderful context.

I’ve been able to rotely rattle off “Blessed are the poor in spirit… blessed are those who mourn… blessed are the meek” for decades. Because I was given that passage to memorize as a church child. And it sounded deep, and beautiful, but also a little empty and off. I’d learned that Matthew 5:2-12 was a passage known as The Beatitudes, and that the word “blessed” repeated nine times here meant “happy.”

Okay.

But the people listed here didn’t sound very happy to me. More than that, knowing these words came from Jesus, it sounded as if The Lord was commanding his followers to be downcast mourners and peacemakers, meekly persecuted. One of those examples of upside-down living in the Kingdom of God that we know were part of Christ’s teaching.

I don’t think that’s what this text is showing, though.

Think about where this passage appears. These are the FIRST WORDS of The Sermon on the Mount. The very beginning. The first thing Jesus has to say after he “saw the crowds” from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan referenced at the end of Chapter 4. He’d been teaching and healing and proclaiming the good news, and many are gathering.

And what kind of people are in this crowd? I think we know. We know because this is the Introduction to the largest uninterrupted session of teaching we have recorded from Jesus. And in an introduction, it’s common to address your audience directly.

Our Lord, we’re told, sees the crowds. He goes to a higher place from which to see them, then sits down and rests among them. I can imagine a lot of eye contact and a few deep breaths before Christ, who sees into their souls and knows every cell of their bodies, speaks right to their hearts and the issues of their life that have brought them to his feet. He gestures to a group gathered nearby and says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

What a strange way to start a sermon.

Unless it’s actually the most beautiful way to speak to someone there could possibly be.

Who are the “poor in spirit,” after all? I never really knew, until I heard a sermon about this Sermon during a time I was being treated for anxiety and depression. For the first time in my life, I certainly related to being “poor in spirit.”

And Jesus continues his way around the crowd, next finding those who are mourning. His heart breaks for them, too. Maybe then he sees someone meek shyly lurking near the edge. He knows some are there because they have a deep and wounded sense of justice, longing for truth and righteousness. He finds some rich in mercy who may be downtrodden or taken advantage of in life. He sees the pure and the peacemakers, and knows the loneliness these types can experience, but tells them they will see God and be called children – part of his family. And finally, the persecuted, the cast-out, the misfits, who dare to seek him out anyway.

He sees and addresses them all, all these types who are drawn to want to know God.

HE SEES THEM. He sees you. Before Jesus has anything else to say, he sees you. And what’s more, he knows what you’re going through. He knows that whether you are pure in heart or poor in spirit, that very condition has brought you to him in a way thirsting for self or needing nothing could never do.

And he wants you to know: not only do I see you, not only has your character or your current life situation brought you to me, but I have a nugget for each and every one of you, a warm blanket to your chill, a silver lining to your cloud.

You, poor in spirit, you feel ill at ease in this world. Jesus sees you, and wants you to know, yours is the Kingdom of Heaven. A time is coming when you’ll know peace and a deep, rich purpose. There is reason to hold fast in faith.

You, mourner, you feel abandoned and lost. But Jesus sees you and wants you to know: lean into those who will pamper you, cry with you, feed you and comfort you. That’s a good, good feeling, and one you’ll certainly be able to reciprocate to others in turn.

You, feeling meek, mild, powerless. Jesus sees you. He knows things aren’t easy, but he wants you to know you have an inheritance! The meek in the world are given nothing. Jesus says he plans to give them everything. Talk about a silver lining.

You, the merciful, Jesus sees you. He knows your forgiving heart, and he knows maybe this causes you to feel walked over at times. He also knows you will be shown mercy for having treated others as you would want to be treated.

It goes on and on like that through the list.

Before Jesus teaches anything, he lets you know he sees you there ready to learn from him, that he appreciates how this very thing has brought you to him, and that there is a wee bit of good news on the flip side of your coin.

What a difference! This is far less a command for how to be, and much more a recognition and empowerment of how those who come to Christ already are.

Take a rest on this hillside now and go through The Beatitudes again calmly, quietly, with wisdom and insight, considering what it was that first brought you to the feet of Jesus. And how that very condition has caused you to be called blessed.

God Goes Before You

Encouraging Bible Verses For Mothers - Written Reality
by Inspiration Ministries

“You are now about to … dispossess nations greater and stronger than you … The LORD your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire … he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out.” – Deuteronomy 9:1, 3 NIV

As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses gave them a realistic glimpse of what they would face. They would face not just opposition, but they would also face nations that were great and strong. His purpose was not to frighten them but rather to prepare them and give them insight into the challenges ahead.

They also needed to realize why it was important to obey and trust Him and to believe Him if they desired victory. They were not to be afraid, for He would go before them “like a devouring fire.”

Like the Israelites, we may face people who seem greater and stronger. Our challenges can seem impossible. Our obstacles can seem overwhelming. In these situations, the Bible reminds us why we must never be afraid even if we face giant problems. Instead, we continually must trust in God and have faith that He goes ahead of us into every situation.

The Bible assures us that God wants us to receive more of His blessings and be victorious in every situation. Don’t be discouraged no matter the size of the opposition you face. Don’t give in to fear even if the challenge seems impossible. Believe His Word, and remain faithful to His call. Remember, He is going ahead of you into every situation. Commit your way to Him. Trust Him to lead you to blessing and victory!

By Faith Stand Strong For The Lord

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Please Hang in There

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“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 (NLT)

If Jesus said to me, “Brad, Brad, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” I would be thinking, “Jesus, I don’t want to be sifted. Stop Satan from this sifting stuff. I have been sifted too many times already.” Jesus makes no offer to help; only that Simon’s faith may not fail and then when he has turned back he can strengthen his brothers.

Many of us have been beaten up by the world and the schemes of the devil. We have been beaten up so much that we can start believing lies that we aren’t good enough, that we have to pass more tests – that we will never get past the next test because we have failed this one so many times. The Lord impressed this thought upon me:

“It isn’t about passing the test; it is about staying in the faith whether you have passed the test or not.”

We beat ourselves up when we fail. We look lustfully at a person and beat ourselves up the rest of the day and make everyone else miserable. We can’t stop an addiction and we think God will never forgive us, so we give up trying. Our kids aren’t turning out as we planned and we think that we have done something wrong. We keep being passed over for a promotion and we feel that we are not faithful enough in Gods eyes to get the blessing to move forward.

STOP! Jesus could stop all the chaos in your life right now, but here is why He will not: Jesus loves you. He loves you enough to allow you to be refined. We can only be refined when trials come. It isn’t if we fail, it is when. It isn’t just one time, but thousands of times we fail. We have some weird notion that we need to be perfect to enter the kingdom of heaven.

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 NLT

We will sin until God calls us home. The most important statement that Jesus says to Simon (Peter) is, “That your faith may not fail.”

Are you getting close to giving up on this Christianity thing? Are things not turning out as you have planned? Satan wants you to give up. We are not on this earth for long. PLEASE hang in there. God loves you and desires that your faith will not waiver even though your circumstances may tell a different story.

Just remember your circumstances do not dictate the way you are living your Christian life. You may be failing in every category, but that doesn’t mean that God will not reveal to you something miraculous out of the pain and defeat. Believe in Jesus who desires that you find strength in the storms of life so that your faith will be refined. Don’t let the evil one give you a lifeline to an easy way out. That lifeline may seem an ea’sy way out now, but you will regret it. Just keep hanging on everyone. Jesus WILL save YOU.

 

Armed with a Bow

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Jim Poelman From: Reframemedia .com

Scripture Reading — Revelation 6:2

There before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow. . . . — Revelation 6:2

What does it mean that the rider on a white horse “held a bow”? Are we to imagine a soldier who has the training to kill with a bow and arrow? Or perhaps we picture a hunter, with bow in hand, standing over a downed deer.

It is tempting to read God’s ­story that way. But if we did, we would think the first rider is all about bringing death and destruction. To read the story that way would miss the surprising good news that the One who is skilled with a bow is God. He has worked with a bow for a long time.

In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we find a promise that God gave to Noah after the great flood. “I have set my bow in the clouds” God said, “and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:13, NRSV). We usually understand the bow in the Genesis story as being a “rainbow.” But it is the same word that is used in this story in Revelation.

In other words, the first horseman, Jesus, is armed with God’s covenant promise. His goal is to bring God’s promises for the renewal of creation to every part of creation.

Prayer

Lord, our Lord, you surprise us with your promises and your determination to bring life and healing to your creation. Thank you for so loving this world that you gave your one and only Son to give us life. Amen.

Regeneration

Top 20 Bible Verses-Perseverance - Everyday Servant

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 13:22-30

“Angels, principalities, and powers, would you be willing that men who love not God, who believe not in Christ, who have not been born again, should dwell here?” I see them, as they look down upon us, and hear them answering, “No! Once we fought the dragon, and expelled him, because he tempted us to sin! We must not, and we will not, have the wicked here. These alabaster walls must not be soiled with black and lustful fingers; the white pavement of heaven must not be stained and rendered filthy by the unholy feet of ungodly men. No!” I see a thousand spears bristling, and the fiery faces of a myriad seraphs thrust over the walls of paradise. “No, while these arms have strength, and these wings have power, no sin shall ever enter here.” I address myself moreover to the saints of heaven, redeemed by sovereign grace: “Children of God, are you willing that the wicked should enter heaven as they are, without being born again? You say you love men, but are you willing that they should be admitted as they are?” I see Lot rise up, and he cries, “Admit them into heaven! No! What! Must I be vexed by the conversation of Sodomites again, as once I was!” I see Abraham; and he comes forward, and he says, “No; I cannot have them here. I had enough of them whilst I was with them on earth—their jests and jeers, their silly talkings, their vain conversation, vexed and grieved us. We want them not here.” And, heavenly though they be, and loving as their spirits are, yet there is not a saint in heaven who would not resent, with the utmost indignation, the approach of any one of you to the gates of paradise, if you are still unholy, and have not been born again.

For meditationMatthew 13:41-43Luke 16:23-26 — at best the unsaved will have a distant view of heaven which will only add to their torment.

 

God’s Desire

by Inspiration Ministries

“If only they had such a heart to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that they and their children would prosper forever.” – Deuteronomy 5:29 CSB

God wanted the very best for His people. He specifically desired that these Israelites and their children would “prosper forever.” But this endless prosperity didn’t just happen. It required having a heart that revered and honored Him and a life spent keeping His commandments.

Looking at His people, God remembered what they promised. But He also knew that, eventually, they would forget these commitments. Yet He yearned for them to remember, stay faithful, and realize that obedience was the way to experience maximum success.

He encouraged the Israelites to fill their lives with His Word – to learn the Word, think about the Word, and practice the Word. His Word contained reminders of things they needed to do and say. Applying His Word would help them avoid problems and experience His fullest blessings.

God has the same concerns about us. He hears our promises, but He also knows that we might forget. We may make excuses or fail to follow through. He knows that we can be distracted and abandon our commitments, despite our good intentions. That’s why He gave us His Spirit to remind us (John 14:26) and guide us into all truth (John 16:13).

Today, submit your life to God. Seek Him through prayer. Stay sensitive to His Spirit. Seek the power of the Spirit to help you stay spiritually strong. Fill your mind with His Word, and put His principles into practice. Seek to please Him.

Use The Armor God Gives You

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Armor ‘n Enemies

Put on the Whole Armor of God – What it Means & How to Do It – Pursuit Bible

By Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.com

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. – Ephesians 6:13-19

Six pieces of armor. Five primarily defensive, one primarily offensive. And yet…

Have you ever used the chest-bumper of righteousness on someone? How about the head-butter of salvation? The bludgeoner of faith? The shin-kicker of readiness or the gut-puncher of holiness?

Even the sword of the spirit has its proper purpose: to fight our enemies. Which are?

Other Christians? Unbelievers? Mean people?

While we humans can be so hard on each other, no. One verse earlier, Paul tells us what we’re fighting:

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil (v. 12).

Quite convicting, really. Not only do I clearly go into many days without getting completely dressed, even when I do, I’m mis-using my equipment, fighting in the dark, swinging blindly, or wounding with friendly fire.

I don’t know about you, but for me, the elemental Bible verses I first learned as a youth (like today’s verse) are the ones I need to continually reconsider, because they’re the ones I tend to just believe without acting upon.

When times come – like these days we’re in now – where there is fierce political thought and lines being drawn and opinions spouted as truth, including the opinion that there is no truth – it’s just so easy to get drawn in before we remember to put on our armor or be trained in using it. When that happens, we tend to view our enemies as each other, and forget or deny that the war is still spiritual. And therefore more serious, more wearying, not less.

 

Through The Bible Devotions

The Whole Armour Of God | The Hidden Teaching Of The Shield Of Faith (  SHOCKING REVELATION) ᴴᴰ - YouTube

May 2

Judges 6:12,16 12When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

16The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”

Just as God had promised, oppressors came to afflict Israel when they began to worship other gods. The oppression was so severe and the oppressors so ruthless that they had to hide food in caves so they could survive. Then they began to call out to the true God.

The angel of the LORD is Jesus. You will notice He is later called LORD (YHWH). Jesus is the manifestation of God (Colossians 1:15). Jesus declared He was with Gideon and called him a mighty warrior. Gideon was hiding in a wine press to thresh his grain and yet the Lord called him a mighty warrior. God sees what He is making us into. What does the LORD call you?

Gideon is not so sure it is the LORD. If he is to take on this challenge to rally Israel, he knows he must have the LORD with him. The LORD promised to be with him, just as He has promised to be with us (Matthew 28:20). Whatever God asks us to do He will equip and help us to do. He calls us to be co-laborers, not lone rangers.

Gideon had his doubts and needed to be sure. The LORD allowed Gideon to bring an offering. He then caused fire to come from the rock and consume the food Gideon had brought. God will assure us of His will and confirm that He is with us to help us accomplish the tasks He gives us.

Consider: What does the Lord call you? His presence is all we need to succeed.

 

Christ glorified as the builder of his church

True Hope and a Future: ARMOR OF GOD

By: Charles Spurgeon

“He shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory.” Zechariah 6:13

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 19:1-10

This glory is undivided glory. In the church of Christ in heaven, no one is glorified but Christ. He who is honoured on earth has some one to share the honour with him, some inferior helper who laboured with him in the work; but Christ has none. He is glorified, and it is all his own glory. Oh, when you get to heaven, you children of God, will you praise any but your Master? Calvinists, today you love John Calvin; will you praise him there? Lutherans, today you love the memory of that stern reformer; will you sing the song of Luther in heaven? Followers of Wesley, you revere that evangelist; will you in heaven have a note for John Wesley? None, none, none! Giving up all names and all honours of men, the strain shall rise in undivided and unjarring unison “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, unto him be glory for ever and ever.” But again; he shall have all the glory; all that can be conceived, all that can be desired, all that can be imagined shall come to him.Today, you praise him, but not as you can wish; in heaven you shall praise him to the summit of your desire. Today you see him magnified, but you see not all things put under him; in heaven all things shall acknowledge his dominion. There every knee shall bow before him, and every tongue confess that he is Lord. He shall have all the glory. But to conclude on this point; this glory is continual glory. It says he shall bear all the glory. When shall this dominion become exhausted? When shall this promise be so fulfilled that it is put away as a worn out garment? Never.

For meditation: “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” (Matthew 6:13). Can you really say ‘Amen’ to this?

 

Consequences

by Inspiration Ministries

“The LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; instead, the LORD said to me, ‘Enough! Do not speak to Me any more about this matter.’” – Deuteronomy 3:26 NASB

Moses often had spoken with God. He meant what He said, and some things could not be negotiated. But Moses seemed to forget these facts when the Israelites complained about lacking water.

God directed him to “speak to the rock.” Instead, Moses “struck the rock twice with his rod” (Numbers 20:8-12). To God, this was disobedience and could not be justified. As a result, he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Moses argued with God, hoping He would change his mind. But when he kept arguing, God became angry and told him to stop.

Throughout his life, Moses had many honest conversations with God. He knew God could be forgiving. But this was different. Moses had violated His command and had to reap what he had sown. It was time to face the consequences of his actions and move on.

The Bible makes clear that God wants us to be bold and persistent in prayer. We are to be like the widow who bothered “an unrighteous judge” until he gave in (Luke 18:1-8), or like Jacob who wrestled with God (Genesis 32:24-30). But we also must realize that He is Almighty God. His Word is final, and some things are not subject to debate.

Be sure you know God’s Word. Remember, your actions have consequences. And He means what He says. Learn from Moses’ experience: You will reap what you sow.

 

Be Ready When God Calls

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It’s All in the Preparation

Candy Arrington, cbn.com

Bible Quotes On Being Prepared. QuotesGram

“There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If this were not true, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2 (NIrV)

Recently, our son married the girl of his dreams. As I watched him exchange vows with this lovely young woman, I thought of all the preparation that occurred to get them to this day. Not just preparation for the wedding, but all that had been poured into their lives prior to this moment — training, teaching, encouraging, correcting, consoling, and mentoring — all to get them to this point of becoming a new family.

The Bible is filled with references to preparation. For the Jews, the sixth day of the week was called preparation day. King David made extensive preparations for the construction of the temple, even though he knew it wouldn’t be built in his lifetime. (1 Chronicles 22:5) Esther, raised by her uncle, Mordecai, prepared for a year to be presented to the king. When the time came for her to risk her life to save her people, her uncle reminded her that her position and purpose were all part of God’s plan. (Esther 4:14) Paul likened spiritual growth to the preparation and perseverance involved in training for athletic competitions. And John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. (Luke 1:76)

Days before Jesus was crucified, a woman anointed his head with perfume, an act which he referred to as preparation for his burial. Jesus sent his disciples to make preparations for the Passover meal, The Last Supper.

When Jesus began his ministry, he came to that point after years of preparation. Even though he knew his purpose on earth long before his ministry began, he still went through periods of growth, development, and learning, patiently awaiting the fulfillment of his mission.

Jesus’ whole life was preparation for the cross. Learning the Law as a young boy, the training and physical skill in his father’s carpenter shop, and those times of quiet communion, apart from others, in the early morning hours with his father, all were preparation for the fulfillment of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. If Jesus hadn’t had this preparation, would he have walked out of the Garden of Gethsemane and away from the cross instead of submitting to the Father’s will? Although he knew what was ahead, Jesus was obedient, sealing our pardon and our eternity.

Often, we’re in a hurry to implement our plans and reach our goals. But if we’re not careful, we’ll miss the joys and lessons that result from what is happening in our lives right now, or miss assignments God has for us. Conversely, we sometimes dread the next season of our lives because we allow anxiety and fear to rule rather than resting with patient trust and confidence in God’s provision and care.

“Those who make themselves clean from all those evil things, will be used for special purposes, because they are dedicated and useful to their Master, ready to be used for every good deed.” 2 Timothy 2:21 (GNT)

Not much in our lives happens successfully without some form of preparation. Sometimes, like King David, we’re involved in preparation for which we never see the end result. But the best, and most beneficial preparation, is the time we spend alone with our Father, listening, learning, growing, and preparing for the next step and our usefulness in God’s plan.

 

Strangers in a Strange Land

25 Important Bible Verses About Faithfulness To God (Powerful)

By Anna Kuta, crosswalk.com

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

Last fall, I took a road trip with some friends to watch our college football team, the Richmond Spiders, take on in-state rival James Madison University. Our team was 3 and 1 at that point in the season, and our only loss had come from a nailbiter the week before, so we were pretty confident as we set out that morning. It was a gorgeous day for football and we’d managed to get some of the very last tickets before the game sold out, so we were quite proud of ourselves and excited for what seemed like it would be an extremely successful trip.

However, it wasn’t long before things started going downhill. We took a wrong turn and ended up circling the entire town of Harrisonburg twice. An hour and a half later, we finally got to the stadium gates just as the game started, but as we started climbing the bleachers to our seats, we began to realize we were the only ones in sight wearing Richmond red and blue. Turns out our tickets we were so proud of were not in the Richmond fan section, as we thought, but the reject seats on the complete opposite corner of the field. We felt like the enemy as we took our seats smack in the middle of a sea of yellow and purple, but that wasn’t going to deter us from still cheering on a victory.

When Richmond made a touchdown right away for the game’s first points, things seemed to be looking great (besides the dirty looks we got). Unfortunately, that was as good as it got. We didn’t score again for the rest of the game. JMU piled on touchdown, touchdown, field goal, touchdown … and with each point my friends and I sat a little more dejectedly in our seats. Someone threw yellow streamers and paper airplanes at us, and then it started pouring rain. It finally ended and we left the stadium soaking wet and miserable. But the ordeal wasn’t quite over yet. We started walking back to our car, got heckled, decided against walking in the rain among hecklers, got on a shuttle, and proceeded to get heckled for the next half hour we were stuck in traffic. When we finally got back to the car, all we could do was grumble a little bit and shake our heads.

We can laugh about that disaster of a day now, but it certainly wasn’t very funny at the time. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience at a sporting event, or you can identify with the same feeling of being unwelcome in a different situation. Have you ever faced similar hostility for your faith? Even though you and I might never experience anything close to the extreme suffering that many believers around the world face, we all have times when we feel out of place or downright vilified because of our faith.

As Christians, we are “strangers and aliens” in a world of unbelievers, as Peter says in 1 Peter 2:11. The older I get, the more keenly aware I am that I don’t think like them, that I don’t have the same desires, motivations and passions. The more I grow in my faith, the more different I feel from many people I come in contact with, and the more open I am about my faith, the more that difference becomes tangible. We are called to be set apart, yet we are in the world for a reason: to share Jesus. It’s often not received with open arms, but it’s what we are commanded to do as followers of Christ.

Like Jesus says in John 15:18, it’s not always going to be easy. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own, He says. But when we accept Christ and enter into a relationship with Him, He chooses us out of the world. Like my friends and I felt when we were surrounded by fans of an opposing team, so we as Christians will never feel “at home” in this world. Yes, we’ll face opposition, but Jesus Himself said it’s a badge of the Christian faith and a sign that we belong to Him. In answering His call to reject worldly conformity, we can truly make an impact by being an example for Jesus.

God Cannot Lie – Streams in the Desert – May 1

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

God that cannot lie promised (Titus 1:2).

Faith is not working up by will power a sort of certainty that something is coming to pass, but it is seeing as an actual fact that God has said that this thing shall come to pass, and that it is true, and then rejoicing to know that it is true, and just resting because God has said it.

Faith turns the promise into a prophecy. While it is merely a promise it is contingent upon our cooperation. But when faith claims it, it becomes a prophecy, and we go forth feeling that it is something that must be done because God cannot lie.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

I hear men praying everywhere for more faith, but when I listen to them carefully, and get at the real heart of their prayer, very often it is not more faith at all that they are wanting, but a change from faith to sight.

Faith says not, “I see that it is good for me, so God must have sent it,” but, “God sent it, and so it must be good for me.”

Faith, walking in the dark with God, only prays Him to clasp its hand more closely.
–Phillips Brooks

The Shepherd does not ask of thee
Faith in thy faith, but only faith in Him;
And this He meant in saying, ‘Come to me.’
In light or darkness seek to do His will,
And leave the. work of faith to Jesus still.

Give Your Heart To God

1 Peter 3:15—But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be  prepared to give an answer to everyon… | Verse of the day, Set apart,  Inspirational illustrationSet your heart in Christ | Love scriptures, Photo quotes, Dear god
Top 39 Bible Verses-What God Sees In Our Hearts81 Bible verses about Holiness, As Set Apart For God

8 Bible verses about Heart, Known To Godbible verse Memes & GIFs - Imgflip

81 Bible verses about Holiness, As Set Apart For GodTop 39 Bible Verses-What God Sees In Our Hearts

 

A Heart That Is Set Apart for God

From: CBN.com, Martha Noebel

The Lord impressed upon me to consider writing an article on being “set apart for God.” I asked a few of my co-workers what they thought it meant and here are a few of their thoughts on the meaning of being set apart for God:

  • God has His hand on you for a specific purpose. He’ll use other people, dreams, visions, and that “still small voice” of God to get you on track.
  • To be marked by God for a particular purpose. He guides our lives differently than it might have been had we not submitted to His call. And even though it may appear that we are not in ministry, we are marked by God to minister in day to day living. Because He has set us apart, we are already walking into our destinies.
  • We will feel a pull away from people and things that distract us. Even though we may feel as if we are put on a shelf and forgotten, we have been set apart for the call of God on our lives. It is during these times that we will find ourselves spending quality time with God as He molds and makes us into His image. He will build character in us so that when it is time to go on the frontlines, He knows we will be ready. He will be able to trust us with what has been appointed for us to do. Jesus said, “Come out from among them and be ye separate.” II Corinthians 6:17
  • It is as if we can picture Jesus standing in the middle of a very busy, dusty, Middle East marketplace, not even aware of all the disruption going on around Him. Instead He is intently holding up and examining select pieces of fruit. Matthew 22:14 says, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” After deciding on His choice, He gently places them one by one in a basket cradled in the crook of His arm, close to His side.
  • God has chosen us to do a work for Him and we need to be “set apart”, chosen to do a work for the King. He has anointed us and equipped us to be used for the advancement of His kingdom. Once, I began cutting a beautiful, crimson-colored nectarine I brought in with my lunch. To my surprise, it was totally rotten on the inside. The Holy Spirit led me to know that this fruit is symbolic of what some Christians are like —beautiful on the outside but the inside tells a different story. I felt a check to make sure I was clean before the Lord.
  • It means to be made holy, consecrated to Him. Christians are given a special role in life to serve Him. We are transferred from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of Light. We are strangers to this world’s system. Instead of thinking and acting like the world, we are set apart from this more common way of viewing and living life and are given a different purpose, which is to serve God and become more like Jesus. You could say that we are separated from worldliness and given new purpose in Jesus to be used by God.

Personally, I agree with all of the above. In my 50 years of living on this earth, I have spent 43 years as a Christian. From the very beginning, I have felt called to be separated unto God. My desires were to please God. I did not always succeed, but my heart was for God.

If I get off track, God always gently guides me back onto the path He has chosen for me. In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul tells us that we should live a life pleasing to the Lord. In verse one, Paul encourages us to live it even more than before. A few verses later, 1 Thessalonians 4:9 instructs us to love our Christian families and Christians around us. He exhorts us to love them even more.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:6,8 Paul says,

“So we should not be like other people who are sleeping, but we should be alert and have self-control. … We should wear faith and love to protect us, and the hope of salvation should be our helmet.”

Later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:13-22, we get these insights: Live in peace with each other, warn those who do not work, and encourage the people who are afraid. Help those who are weak, be patient with everyone, be sure that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to do what is good for each other.

Further instructions are to always be joyful, pray continually, give thanks for whatever happens, do not hold back the work of the Holy Spirit, do not treat prophecy as if it were unimportant, but test everything. Keep what is good and stay away from everything that is evil.

If we are set apart to do the work of the Lord, then we will not have time to get into trouble; especially if our hearts are set on pleasing God. We should be working on being full of the fruit of the Spirit and telling people about the message of the Gospel of peace. That alone is a full-time job.

And, as Paul ends his letters in 2 Thessalonians 3:16,

“Now may the Lord of peace give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

 

It’s Not Good Luck – It’s a Good God

8 Bible verses about Heart, Known To God

“May the LORD reward you for your work. May full pay be given to you from the LORD, the God of Israel. It is under His wings that you have come to be safe.” Ruth 2:12 (NLV)

When life gets messed up, it is only natural to feel like God is overlooking our sufferings and not at work in our lives. But believing God doesn’t care can blind us to where He is working, or we can attribute His goodness to nothing more than good luck.

I don’t believe in good luck. I believe in a good God.

In the book of Ruth, we read how Naomi struggled to see God at work in her life due to the onslaught of losses and disappointments she had endured. She had to leave her home due to a famine and move to another city. Then, she lost her husband, two sons, friends, wealth and financial security. Her heart became bitter and her faith, shaken. She believed her life was permanently void of good things and felt all she had was bad luck. Yet, despite her negativity and lack of faith, God had awesome plans for her life.

When good things finally did start happening after a long season of suffering, I can’t help but wonder if Naomi chalked them up to happenstance rather than giving credit where credit was due. It would have been easy because her heart was heavy, her faith weak and her spirit crushed. Yet, as you read her story, it’s obvious there was a good God orchestrating a divine plan.

We read in chapter one that Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth arrived back in Bethlehem just in time for the beginning of the barley harvest. Good luck? No, a good God with perfect timing. The harvest was God’s plan for meeting their physical needs for food and protection from harm.

In Ruth 2:1, we find Naomi had a wealthy and influential relative named Boaz. Good luck? No, generations of planning by a good God to open doors of opportunity and provision for them. In Ruth 2:2-3, Ruth goes to pick up leftover grain in the fields, and “As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz” (NIV). Was it just good luck she ended up in Boaz’s field, of all fields? No, it was a good God going before her and guiding her steps.

Then in Ruth 2:4, the story continues, “Just then Boaz arrived …” (NIV). Good luck? No, a good God with perfectly orchestrated timing. And who does Boaz just happen to notice? Ruth. Good luck? No, a good God working on a man’s heart to prepare His plans to be carried out.

Ruth 2:12 reminds us of God’s goodness: “May the LORD reward you for your work. May full pay be given to you from the Lord, the God of Israel. It is under His wings that you have come to be safe” (NLV). And the rest is history.

Boaz later married Ruth, and they have a son together, giving Naomi a new son-in-law and a precious grand-bundle of joy. He purchased Naomi’s land and secured her financial well-being. These were all divinely planned gifts from God, not just good luck. Gifts of restoration and blessing, in His perfect timing, according to His perfect plans.

As for me, I have seen God at work, and His restoration plans for my life play out day by day. I can look back at so many good things that have happened over the past few years and can’t help but smile … because I see God’s miracles, not just streaks of good luck.

Although many areas of my circumstances are not yet restored, and life is often still hard, I now realize God did something even better than I could have imagined. He’s healed my heart and restored my strength, peace, hope, faith and joy — just as He did for Naomi and Ruth, and just as He wants to do for each of His children.

There’s no such thing as chance-happenings, my friend, only God-happenings, because Scripture reminds us God has His hand in all matters under the sun. Remember: God is always in control, working behind the scenes to orchestrate good plans for our lives. This not only gives us great hope, but also equips us to live with joy — despite whatever life throws at us.

Counting Provisions, Not Problems

Song: Dwell In Your House Verse 1: You set me apart Gave me a new heart  Filled with compassion To share Your great love. - ppt download

“The LORD spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: ‘Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one.’” Numbers 1:1-2 (NIV)

One of my college summer jobs was at a retail clothing store. There were many fun parts about it, but my least favorite task was taking inventory.

When the manager told the employees it was time to do inventory, my internal groan was loud because we had to count everything in the store and record it. The store sold baby clothes, so counting socks, onesies and tiny outfits became tedious. Though menial and boring, taking stock of inventory was necessary in order to assess losses and prepare for a new line of clothing.

There are many tedious but necessary tasks in our adult lives as well. For instance, before making a weekly grocery list, we check our fridge and pantry to see what we already have and what we need; otherwise, we might end up with more gallons of milk than we have room for. And it’s necessary to closely assess our finances before making an expensive purchase.

Sometimes, the tasks that seem the most menial are the most important in preparing us, giving us knowledge and — as we see in today’s Bible story — filling our hearts with hope.

In the first chapter of the book of Numbers, we find God asking Israel to take a census of the people who had come out of slavery in Egypt: “The LORD spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: ‘Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army’” (Numbers 1:1-3).

God didn’t ask His people to crunch the numbers regarding how much clothing, gold or food they possessed. Instead, He told them to count the people. The Lord was preparing Israel to take the land He had promised them (Canaan). He wanted them to know their military strength and have everyone organized. And as they faced this next step that would require great faith, maybe God also wanted them to remember just how many of them He rescued from Egypt.

While I still believe God cares about relationships more than anything else, I am learning He uses numbers for His purposes. After all, He counted His people (Numbers 1:46), knows the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30) and records the number of our tears (Psalm 56:8).

While God asked Israel to count to bolster their faith, I tend to crunch numbers on my problems, which often has the opposite effect. I add up the number of people bringing me frustration, the number of times I have to nag family members to follow through or the number of items on my to-do list I don’t have time to accomplish. Do you, like me, struggle with counting problems rather than provisions?

Having the people of Israel take stock of their resources was one way God prepared them to appreciate what they had rather than focus on what they didn’t have. It also served as an exercise to grow their faith in Him as He led them into the promised land. We, too, can crunch the numbers and realize God has placed people in our lives to help us fight our battles, and He’s with us through every battle as well. Let’s take stock today, praising Him for not only what He’s given us, but also who He is to us.