Tag Archives: inspiration

You Are Loved, You Are Chosen

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Chosen, Now What?

I Am Chosen | graceitsagodthing
Fiorella Montoya – CBN, com

Do you love surprises as much as I do? I think that Jesus is an expert on that since every day He does something different in my life. A little over a year ago, Jesus introduced Himself to me, a 23-year-old journalist with a desire to learn who was working on a recording set surrounded by lights, microphones, and people with enormous hearts, not only for their work but for their work for Jesus. My job title could have been “God’s production assistant.”

God can also do something different or surprising in your job or church ministry—wherever He has chosen to place you. God chose us and gave us a name and a life for His service. He sits down and takes control he describes in the prophecy about Ethiopia.

This is what the LORD says to me: “I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest” (Isaiah 18:4 NIV).

Imagine Someone with His gaze fixed on our day-to-day life. Sometimes it seems strange, although it is beautiful to know that there is such a great covering over us. And yet, our role simply begins when we first open our eyes to Him. As with an edited piece of video, opening our eyes is only the first scene, followed by the acts that God wants to perform in our lives.

As human beings we carry fears and sometimes those fears are magnified when we forget who walks in front of us. If you still don’t know your purpose, I recommend that you start by accepting that you are chosen by God, then abandon your fears, and start the movie of your own life.

In Isaiah, the people of Egypt were warned that they would be struck down and their strength would be exhausted, but when they cried out to God, He would be there to defend them. The same thing happens when you or I give in to fear.

It will be a sign and witness to the LORD Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them (Isaiah 19:20).

The world offers us temptations and there are hundreds of voices around waiting for us to deviate from our divine purpose. Perhaps thoughts like, I can’t, I’m not qualified, I’m too young, or I’m too old are part of the fears that can knock on your door but recognizing that God walks hand in hand with you is the key to defeating doubts and overcoming fears.

Now, your job is to create the rest of the scenes that God planned for your life. Ask Him to help you do that today. He chose you; now what? He will watch over you to fulfill the beautiful purpose He has for your life. Know with confidence that He walks before you and will be a shield against any fear.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

October 3

Psalms 27:1, 4 1The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?

4One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

David declared the LORD to be his light and his salvation. It was the presence of the LORD in his life that enabled him to see things as they really were, that kept him from stumbling in the darkness. It was the presence of the LORD in his life that saved him out of all his difficulties. The LORD was his salvation. He didn’t lean on self to understand or to get him out of danger. He recognized that his help came from the LORD.

He goes on to say that men cannot make him afraid. If God is sovereign, and He has become my light and my salvation, what can man do to me? With the LORD as his stronghold, he always knew where to run for safety. Do you turn to God first in all your fears and concerns? Is He your light and salvation, the stronghold of your life? Without that, men will cause you to fear. Situations will overwhelm you. With that assurance, you will always know that the will of the God who loves you will be done. He will see you through anything men or demons can dish out.

And if you are called home, you will be in His presence forever. What is the worst man can do -kill me? Then I will end up where I long to be, gazing upon the beauty of the LORD and seeking Him in His heavenly dwelling place. David may have been referring to the tabernacle, but I think his mind moved from the earthly to the reality in heaven. His great desire was to spend eternity gazing upon God. Somewhere in those years of shepherding or training under Saul, he must have had a vision of the beauty of God. That became the one thing his soul sought after. We need a vision like that so that He becomes our singular focus. Then, if illness strikes, or men threaten, like the Apostle Paul, we can say, “To die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Consider: Make the LORD your singular focus.

Streams in the Desert – October 3

  • 20223 Oct

And after the earthquake a fire; and after the fire a sound of gentle stillness” (1 Kings 19:12, RV margin.)

A soul, who made rapid progress in her understanding of the Lord, was once asked the secret of her easy advancement. She replied tersely, “Mind the checks.”

And the reason that many of us do not know and better understand Him is, we do not give heed to His gentle checks, His delicate restraints and constraints. His is a still, small voice. A still voice can hardly be heard. It must be felt. A steady, gentle pressure upon the heart and mind like the touch of a morning zephyr to your face. A small voice, quietly, almost timidly spoken in your heart, but if heeded growing noiselessly clearer to your inner ear.

His voice is for the ear of love, and love is intent upon hearing even faintest whispers. There comes a time also when love ceases to speak if not responded to, or believed in. He is love, and if you would know Him and His voice, give constant ear to His gentle touches. In conversation, when about to utter some word, give heed to that gentle voice, mind the check and refrain from speech.

When about to pursue some course that seems all clear and right and there comes quietly to your spirit a suggestion that has in it the force almost of a conviction, give heed, even if changed plans seem highest folly from standpoint of human wisdom.

Learn also to wait on God for the unfolding of His will. Let God form your plans about everything in your mind and heart and then let Him execute them. Do not possess any wisdom of your own. For many times His execution will seem so contradictory to the plan He gave. He will seem to work against Himself. Simply listen, obey and trust God even when it seems highest folly so to do. He will in the end make “all things work together,” but so many times in the first appearance of the outworking of His plans,

“In His own world He is content
To play a losing game.”

So if you would know His voice, never consider results or possible effects. Obey even when He asks you to move in the dark. He Himself will be gloriously light in you. And there will spring up rapidly in your heart an acquaintanceship and a fellowship with God which will be overpowering in itself to hold you and Him together, even in severest testings and under most terrible pressures.
–Way of Faith

The Holiness of God

God is perfectly just and merciful.

October 3, 2022

Revelation 4:1-11

The scene in today’s passage gives us a glimpse of a holy God who is worthy of mankind’s worship. He’s perfectly pure in His thoughts, motives, choices, and actions, and His holiness is also revealed in His separateness from all evil and transgression. Since God cannot tolerate or ignore sin, every wrong must be punished—with the penalty paid either by the offender or by an adequate substitute. And Jesus Christ is the fully sufficient substitute who paid what every one of us owed. What’s more, He’s the only one who can reconcile sinful mankind to God.

The Son of God took on human flesh and lived a sinless life. Then, as 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV) tells us, Jesus “bore our sins in his body on the cross” to pay the penalty of divine wrath. His resurrection is the proof that the sacrifice was acceptable to His heavenly Father. All who trust in Christ as their substitute are reconciled to God, but those who reject the Savior must themselves bear God’s wrath for their sin.

If we’ll acknowledge our unworthiness, confess our sins, and trust in Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf, our sins will be forgiven. The Judge of all humanity declares us not guilty. What’s more, He also credits us with Christ’s righteousness. And someday we’ll join the saints in heaven praising our gracious, holy God.

Let Your Little Light Shine

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Let Your Little Light Shine

lighting a candle using a wooden match stick

Remember those first days, weeks, or months after you accepted Jesus as your Savior? Everywhere I went people would say, “You look different, you have this glow!” I was hungry to learn about Him and so eager to be like Him! But, has it happened to you that as time passes you start getting more comfortable and suddenly you realize that sometimes you’re not as eager anymore? Or is it just me?

God made me take a good look at myself a while ago. I had been sharing my apartment with a friend for a few years, but my friend was not always keeping her part of the responsibilities. Many times I was the only one attending to the upkeep. Even though I tried different ways of communicating these issues and my feelings to her, she was not listening. And so the friendship became strained; nothing I did was working and I couldn’t deal with the state of our living conditions.

One day, my brother, who’s a pastor, said to me, “Sis, I’m going to tell you this as God is telling me to tell you… You must love her!” My jaw dropped to the floor; I was speechless! Then I began to cry, and I said to him, “How? I’ve done everything I know how to do!”

That word stayed with me for a couple of weeks, and one morning as I was driving to work, suddenly it dawned on me, and I said out loud, “What a hypocrite, how can I say that I love God when I can’t stand my friend!” I remember getting to my office, locking the door behind me, and telling God, “Daddy, I forgive her and I place her into Your hands. I’ve done on my own all that I can and I’m letting go of her. If You want me to love her, Daddy, You have to put that love in my heart for her, because right now I don’t have it.”

God changed my heart and filled me with His love. Even though we no longer live together and the friendship is not as close as it once was, I can be there for my friend if she needs me without feeling angry or resentful. The peace that I have in my heart is amazing.

See, we get comfortable with the idea that doing good deeds makes us more like Jesus. But there is so much more than that. The Bible says,

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)

I learned that God didn’t want me to carry that burden. All I needed to do was talk to Him, be honest about what I was feeling, and He would give me the answer. When we follow Jesus’ example, we will always find out that love is the key ingredient. When we surrender to God’s will, we always be on the right path, and we will be the light that God want us to be here in this world.

I know life can be hard and stressful at times, but I also know the promises that God has for me and for you. Our walk with God must be intentional, not comfortable; ask God to examine your heart every now and then, see where you are, listen to what God tells you to do. Be  obedient and don’t let the worries of life turn off your light.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of Light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10)

 

Give Me More of God

Why Spiritual Intimacy Can Feel Elusive

Jon Bloom, desiringGod.org

Deep in the heart of every true disciple of Jesus is a deep longing for more of God. But what is this more we desire? We might each describe our want somewhat differently, depending on how this longing refracts through our biology, history, and theological influences. To some degree, none of us has words for it. But at the core, what we desire is to really know God — to know him in the intimate ways that only love knows.

And we have this desire because, by God’s unfathomable grace toward us in Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9), he first has known and loved us (1 Corinthians 8:31 John 4:19). It is his great desire, one he expresses in the promise of Jeremiah’s great prophecy (quoted in full in Hebrews 8):

This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:33–34)

At the heart of the new covenant is God’s great desire that we “shall all know” him.

Known by Love

You don’t need to know Hebrew (or Greek) to discern the knowing God desires. It is the knowing of relational intimacy, of deep friendship — the kind of knowing that only love knows. For to truly know God is to love God.

“To truly know God is to love God.”

The role of love in intimately knowing someone is profound. On one hand, we cannot intimately love someone we do not know. So, knowledge must precede love. But on the other hand, the deep love of intimate friendship is the door to even deeper knowledge of the beloved, because intimate friends entrust themselves and so disclose more of themselves to each other. So, there is an intimate knowledge accessible only through the deep love that results from and produces even more profound trust.

We see one illustration of this dynamic in play at the end of John 6, when, as a result of hearing Jesus say offensive-sounding things, “many of his [wider group of] disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (John 6:66). But the twelve didn’t leave him. Why? Because, to use Peter’s words, that they had “come to know” that he was “the Holy One of God” (John 6:69).

For eleven of them, this knowledge wasn’t merely intellectual; they had come to love him and trust him, even when he confused them. And because they trusted him, Jesus disclosed to them “secrets of the kingdom” he didn’t disclose to others (Luke 8:10). To really know Jesus was to really love Jesus, which was the door to knowing Jesus more. This is what Jesus is getting at when he later says to them,

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)

The Way Is Simple

Notice the simplicity in those words: Jesus will manifest himself to whoever loves him. And two sentences later, he says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). If we love Jesus, both the Father and the Son will manifest themselves to us through the “Spirit of truth” who “dwell[s] in” us (John 14:17).

These are precious and very great promises (2 Peter 1:4). The way to know the triune God intimately, to experience the relational communion promised in the new covenant, is not complex. Jesus calls us to keep his commandments, or keep his word, which is essentially what he means when he says, “Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). Jesus doesn’t give us a list of rituals, ascetic rigors, detailed prayer requirements, long pilgrimages, meditative practices, or instructions for creating special aesthetic environments to experience communion with him and the Father through the Spirit. The way is simple: “Believe in me.”

How Awesome Is This Place

How Awesome is this place
By Rev. Kyle Norman

“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:16-17)

Sometimes the most profound experiences of God’s presence occur within the ordinary places of over lives. God comes amid the regular and routine, catching us unawares. This is no truer than in the story of Jacob. One of the high points of his life with God is when he dreams of a ladder upon which the angels of God ascend and descend. Rising from his dream Jacob exults the presence of the Lord saying, “Surely the Lord is in this place!” He dedicates the spot to the Lord, and calls the place Bethel, meaning “The House of God”. Bethel becomes a recurring place of divine encounter throughout the Scripture.

Did Jacob simply happen to lie down in a thin place, a place where heaven and earth touch? Was his dream nothing more than blessed happenstance, a byproduct of resting near the stairway of the heavens? If we read the scripture this way, then we must assume that Jacob has the dream simply because he happened to lie down in the correct spot. The implication of this is clear; if we wish to have a similar occurrence, we must make our way to the appropriate location. God will come to us if we to rest in the correct place.

But what does this mean? Does God remain hidden behind secret doors and heavenly staircases? Does an encounter with God simply boil down to being in the right place at the right time – even if it’s by accident?

The account of Jacob’s dream testifies to the exact opposite. Jacob does nothing to bring about this dream, he is but a passive recipient. At the time of this encounter, Jacob had just swindled his brother out of his rightful blessing. What is more, the divine blessing which Jacob stole did not lead to immediate satisfaction. Instead, Jacob must contend with the murderous intent of his brother. When Jacob lies down that evening, he is not desiring divine communication; he is running for his life. Jacob lies down to rest in a very ordinary and routine way.

Similarly, Scripture goes out of its way to describe the place of Jacob’s resting as “a certain place” (Genesis 28:11). In fact, scripture records that the reason why Jacob lies in that place is because the sun had set. The place of Jacob’s dream is a random location; it is ordinary and nondescript. If Jacob had run more quickly or started his journey hours earlier, he would have rested in a place far from that location.

But the dream would have still happened because, in the end, the dream was not about where Jacob laid his head; it was about the presence of God. The dream testified to God’s gracious love toward Jacob, a love that is expressed despite his duplicity and deception. While we often title the dream “Jacob’s ladder,” the point of the dream isn’t about the ladder at all. Even the angels slip into the background when Jacob awakes. Instead, he rises with the knowledge that God is with him. The one who made him also sustains him. Surely the Lord is in this place. Surely this is the house of the Lord.

It’s Just a Flesh Wound

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It’s Just a Flesh Wound

mother placing a bandage on her child

 

Linda Vulcano – cbn.com

Years ago, a friend was telling me about a scene from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. A character has one arm cut off and then the other, but keeps saying things like, “It’s just a flesh wound! No problem!”

Even though I didn’t see the movie myself, I’m often reminded of that scene when I’m being honest about my personal struggles with unforgiveness.

As a passionate follower of Christ, I know the dangers of unforgiveness. Matthew 18:21-35 records the parable about a man who had a great debt forgiven, only to fail to forgive someone else. His punishment is harsh.

I know I am required to forgive when someone hurts me. My problem is, I often don’t want to admit that I have been hurt.

Like the man in the movie, I say, “It’s just a flesh wound… really nothing!” I end up harboring bitterness and resentment way down deep in my heart, simply because I am unwilling to admit I have been hurt.

I think the problem is, I don’t want to face the fact that once I choose to love someone, I am also giving them the power to hurt me. Such vulnerability is scary. To think I can be wounded by criticism or rejection from someone I care about is sometimes a reality I want to run from.

I want to be invincible to such hurts. The problem is, I’m not invincible. And no one who loves will ever be safe from harm. After all, it was Christ who loved like no one else, and the result was unimaginable suffering.

So, we have to choose. The only way to be protected from hurt is to love no one. And that’s not a real choice. Being hurt will always be part of living in a fallen world.

I attend a church that uses liturgy as part of the worship service. Each week, we confess that we have “sinned in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and what we have left undone.”

Sometimes I need to make another confession – for me a much harder one. “I confess that I have been sinned against.”

My pastor is faithful to remind us often of the scriptural teaching from Ephesians 4:26-27 warning us to not let the sun go down on our anger. I have let many “suns” set while failing to forgive, simply because I didn’t want to admit I was hurt.

Ephesians 4:27 ends with the words,

“… for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”

It’s a sobering reminder of the results of harboring unforgiveness.  A warning that I hope I can remember the next time I am hurt by someone I love.

Speaking Life with Fruitful Words

 By Megan Evans, Crosswalk.com

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” — Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)

If you were to record every word that you spoke for an entire day and then played it back to yourself, what message would you hear? Would you hear life-giving speech or words full of negativity, criticism, and gossip? I don’t know about you, but depending on the day, I might be glad I was the only one listening to that recap. We aren’t perfect, and it’s easy for words to slip out before we think, but this proverb reminds us that our words matter.

Taking a quick inventory of our conversations not only points us to the power of the tongue but also to the fruit of its words. Who wants to eat rotten fruit all day? Yet without even realizing it, the words we say and hear can begin to negatively affect how we feel about ourselves, others, and even our world. Likewise, we may even be inadvertently shaping the thoughts of others.

Careless and complacent words may seem irrelevant, but our words matter to God, to others, and even to ourselves. Instead of spoilage, we have the choice to speak with healthy and delicious words that leave behind the aroma of Christ every single day. And when we do, we will not only speak life into others but ourselves too. The Bible is God’s Living Word, and when we live out and speak its message, the world gets a taste of Jesus. As it says in Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

Our tongue is also an important part of our testimony, mission field, and ministry. In order to change the fruit that our words produce, we have to start by planting healthy seeds. When we feast upon God’s Word daily, we will receive essential nourishment for our body, mind, and soul, as well as delicious and healthy fruit we can offer to others. We’ve all spoken words that we wish we could take back, and it is here in God’s love and grace that we will find forgiveness for unloving words and fresh new mercies for our tongue.

Do you find it hard to control what comes out of your mouth? Me too! Humans might be able to tame animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, yet James 3:8 reminds us that the tongue has yet to be mastered. This sounds a bit like a losing battle for us, so what do we do? Is there hope for the fruit of life-giving words over death?

Thankfully, a Child of God never has to choose defeat or settle for less than God’s best. Yes, we will remain in a battle for control over our tongue for the rest of our lives. Yet, as we lean into the counsel and teaching of the Holy Spirit, we can begin to cultivate wise and winning words. Victory over any sin begins by asking God for help.

When we surrender our life to Jesus, He becomes Lord over every area of our life–and this means He will lead us and show us how to speak, what to speak, and when to speak. Praise God!

Therefore, we can ask God then for awareness of words that are not pleasing to Him, and we can ask God to grow the fruit of His Holy Spirit in us instead. Daily, let’s begin feasting on the fruit of God’s Living Word. Let’s store up so much of this treasure that it begins to spill over and pour from our mouth. Today, let’s choose to speak words of life.

Streams in the Desert – October 1

  • 20221 Oct

It is good for me that I have been afflicted (Ps. 119:71).

It is a remarkable circumstance that the most brilliant colors of plants are to be seen on the highest mountains, in spots that are most exposed to the wildest weather. The brightest lichens and mosses, the loveliest gems of wild flowers, abound far up on the bleak, storm-scalped peak.

One of the richest displays of organic coloring I ever beheld was near the summit of Mount Chenebettaz, a hill about 10,000 feet high, immediately above the great St. Bernard Hospice. The whole face of an extensive rock was covered with a most vivid yellow lichen which shone in the sunshine like the golden battlement of an enchanted castle. There, in that lofty region, amid the most frowning desolation, exposed to the fiercest tempest of the sky, this lichen exhibited a glory of color such as it never showed in the sheltered valley.

I have two specimens of the same lichen before me while I write these lines, one from the great St. Bernard, and the other from the wall of a Scottish castle, deeply embossed among sycamore trees; and the difference in point of form and coloring between them is most striking. The specimen nurtured amid the wild storms of the mountain peak is of a lovely primrose hue, and is smooth in texture and complete in outline, while the specimen nurtured amid the soft airs and the delicate showers of the lowland valley is of a dim rusty hue, and is scurfy in texture, and broken in outline.

And is it not so with the Christian who is afflicted, tempest-tossed, and not comforted? Till the storms and vicissitudes of God’s providence beat upon him again and again, his character appears marred and clouded; but trials clear away the obscurity, perfect the outlines of his disposition, and give brightness and blessing to his life.

Amidst my list of blessings infinite
Stands this the foremost, that my heart has bled;
For all I bless Thee, most for the severe.

–Hugh Macmillan

There Is Someone Who Understands You

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There Is Someone Who Understands You

person taking notes

 

Jessica Teed – cbn.com

Walking through times of suffering is when I have experienced the most spiritual growth in my relationship with the Lord. These often painful and difficult moments have helped shape me into who I am today. Can you relate?

After college, I worked in a very toxic environment at a job that I did not enjoy. I was belittled and criticized, and it seemed that nothing I did was good enough for my boss. Being at work was a daily emotional roller coaster that I desperately wanted to end.

I had only known the Lord for about five years at this point, but I wouldn’t say that I walked closely with Him or depended upon Him. I depended upon my well-paying job to provide for all my needs, and it was more a part of my identity than being a follower of Jesus Christ. When I lost my job in 2007, many emotions ran through me, and I was inconsolable. I felt like the rug was ripped out from underneath me.

Since I had no way to pay rent, I moved in with a friend while her husband was deployed in Afghanistan. I remember feeling so completely lost. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Negativity consumed me and I struggled with feeling grateful for what I did have. I was angry with God, and I could feel myself drifting away from Him. I was angry at myself, too, for not making better choices with my finances. I was convinced that God was punishing me for my poor choices, and I listened to the lie that no one understood what I was going through.

It was through the help of a close friend that my eyes were opened. She suggested that I read through the book of Psalms and write down words that described who God is in each one. The more time I spent doing this, the closer I felt to God. Little by little, I began to see who God really was. I could also see that He was right there with me, walking with me one step at a time.

God used this to draw me closer to Him. Over the next several months, I learned what it meant to trust in the Lord and to depend upon Him for all that I need. I learned what it meant to seek after Him with all my heart. I learned the truth about who God is and who I am in Christ. The lies I had been believing for so many years were exposed, and God began to bring healing into my life where I needed it the most. As Ephesians 3:20 NLT says, God is truly:

…able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever ask or think.

The truth is, God did not cause me to lose my job, but He did use my job loss to draw me closer to Him. God also chose to use that loss as a way to set me free from a toxic work environment that regularly filled my mind with lies about who I am.

The Great Feast

Julia Prins Vanderveen, Today Devotions

  REVELATION 19:1-9

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come. . . .

—  Revelation 19:7

In the school where I teach, our senior students spend a lot of their spare time planning their graduation banquet. They taste samples from a banquet menu, raise funds so that they can have a special celebration, and imagine how great it will be to celebrate their long-awaited milestone.

A great feast is also at the culmination of God’s great story of redemption in the Bible. Throughout Scripture, many stories show how God feeds his people. It’s like a long bread-thread woven through and baked into the whole story of God’s amazing work in and through his people. And this great feast will have the finest and best of breads—no meal could be complete without it. This great feast combines so many things at once: it is high and long and wide and deep with the love of Christ; it celebrates manna in the wilderness and the “bread of the Presence” of God; it multiplies the feeding of the 5,000 exponentially; it recalls the bread that Jesus gave thanks for and broke with his disciples; and it fills us with Jesus himself, the bread of life.

All of these great memories and the fullness of every promise come together at the great supper of the Lamb in the new heaven and earth.

“Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:12)

Streams In the Desert – September 30

  • 202230 Sep

As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him” (Deut. 32:11-12).

Our Almighty Parent delights to conduct the tender nestlings of His care to the very edge of the precipice, and even to thrust them off into the steeps of air, that they may learn their possession of unrealized power of flight, to be forever a luxury; and if, in the attempt, they be exposed to unwonted peril, He is prepared to swoop beneath them, and to bear them upward on His mighty pinions. When God brings any of His children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count upon Him to deliver them.
–The Song of Victory

“When God puts a burden upon you He puts His own arm underneath.”

There is a little plant, small and stunted, growing under the shade of a broad-spreading oak; and this little plant values the shade which covers it, and greatly does it esteem the quiet rest which its noble friend affords. But a blessing is designed for this little plant.

Once upon a time there comes along the woodman, and with his sharp axe he fells the oak. The plant weeps and cries, “My shelter is departed; every rough wind will blow upon me, and every storm will seek to uproot me!”

“No, no,” saith the angel of that flower; “now will the sun get at thee; now will the shower fall on thee in more copious abundance than before; now thy stunted form shall spring up into loveliness, and thy flower, which could never have expanded itself to perfection shall now laugh in the sunshine, and men shall say, ‘How greatly hath that plant increased! How glorious hath become its beauty, through the removal of that which was its shade and its delight!'”

See you not, then, that God may take away your comforts and your privileges, to make you the better Christians? Why, the Lord always trains His soldiers, not by letting them lie on feather-beds, but by turning them out, and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. This is the way in which He makes them soldiers–not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made; but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets and roaring cannonades, not in soft and peaceful times.

Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? Is He not developing in you the qualities of the soldier by throwing you into the heat of battle, and should you not use every appliance to come off conqueror?

Love to Jesus

By: Charles Spurgeon

“O thou whom my soul loveth.” Solomon’s Song 1:7

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 103

The Christian, if he had no Christ to love, must die, for his heart has become Christ’s. And so if Christ were gone, love could not be; then his heart would be gone too, and a man without a heart is dead. The heart, is it not the vital principle of the body? And love, is it not the vital principle of the soul? Yet there are some who profess to love the Master, but only walk with him by fits, and then go abroad like Dinah into the tents of the Shechemites. Oh, take heed, ye professors, who seek to have two husbands; my Master will never be a part-husband. He is not such a one as to have half of your heart. My Master, though he be full of compassion and very tender, hath too noble a spirit to allow himself to be half-proprietor of any kingdom. Canute, the Danish king, might divide England with Edmund the Ironside, because he could not win the whole country, but my Lord will have every inch of thee, or none. He will reign in thee from one end of the isle of man to the other, or else he will not put a foot upon the soil of thy heart. He was never part-proprietor in a heart, and he will not stoop to such a thing now. What saith the old Puritan? “A heart is so little a thing, that it is scarce enough for a sparrow’s breakfast, and ye say it be too great a thing for Christ to have it all.” No, give him the whole. It is but little when thou weighest his merit, and very small when measured with his loveliness. Give him all. Let thy united heart, thy undivided affection be constantly, every hour, given up to him.

For meditation: The members of the Godhead are the only joint-owners of the Christian. May God teach us his way—that our hearts may be united and wholly for him (Psalm 86:11-12).

Our Identity in Christ

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Our Identity in Christ

senior woman brushing her hair
Robyn Hattingh – Communications Manager – CBN South Africa

What, or who, is your image rooted in?

The older I get, the more confident and comfortable I become with who I am. I think that this is partly due to maturity and regulated hormones, as well as finding security in who God created me to be. But, as we’ve seen in the world around us, our identity is majorly under attack, almost constantly. For some of us it may be sexuality, our role as a parent, or our purpose in life. One of my greatest identity challenges started just as the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world… I was diagnosed with a chronic disease that was influencing every single part of my life.

It was just before I was set to undergo surgery that someone in my team here in South Africa shared this Scripture:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

It came at a time where I was seriously questioning my identity as a child of God. I was struggling to understand why, after so many years and months of prayer for healing, I was still not healed and still in so much pain and discomfort. I was questioning God’s goodness for me, for my family, for who I was trying my best to be for Him. I was looking at people around me sharing incredible testimonies of God’s intervention, sharing about His goodness, and living out profound purposes for His kingdom.

And here I was, in my own eyes, failing miserably. I saw myself as a bad wife, an underperforming employee, and a horrible friend. That became how I identified myself.

This was exactly how the enemy was using my situation to distract me from God. The Scripture above reminded me that our identity and self-image is a big thing. The way we view ourselves has a massive impact on our thinking patterns, decision-making and the way we treat people.

Sometimes we become so busy and consumed, that before we know it, we base our value and worth on how we perform at work, at home, academically, our influence on social media—the list can be endless. All of these things are fleeting. Some days they go well, some days they go very badly – or even some long seasons go badly. I was so caught up in a bad season that I forgot the simple truths that had anchored me for so many years. I became so consumed with myself that I didn’t look to the Word for truth, I didn’t spend time in prayer seeking His comfort and gentle whispers, I didn’t rely on His grace to carry me through my trials.

This Scripture reminded me to get back to the basics. God prepared His good works, His workmanship—He prepared you and me—before we were even born so that we could walk in His promises and goodness. The only sure thing to root and anchor our identity in is God. We were created in His image (Genesis 1), He formed us intentionally and with purpose (Psalm 139), and He never changes—our value and worth will never change.

If you are struggling through your own hard season and have lost sight of your identity in Christ, recite this Scripture over and over until it feels real. Say it out loud, write it down, and put it where you can see it, and as I stand here in agreement with you, pray for God to make your identity in Him ever more real in your day-to-day life and trials.

The Book of Books

The Bible is an infallible source of truth.

September 29, 2022

Isaiah 55:9-11

Step into almost any bookstore, and you can find a volume on pretty much any topic you have in mind. Want new direction for your life? Are your children disobeying? Are you hoping to live in a healthier way? There are books that were written to help, but do the authors have trustworthy credentials?

There is a place to find accurate information and true guidance: The Bible will bless and benefit everyone who reads and applies its wisdom. Here’s what Scripture’s Author—“the God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16)—says about His own Word:

  1. The Bible gives direction for life (Psalm 119:105). God uses His Word to lead us, no matter what our circumstances may be.
  2. Scripture strengthens us in grief or difficulty (Psalm 119:28Psalm 119:116). By spending time processing what God says, we’re reminded that He loves us, cares about our situation, and can handle whatever we’re facing.
  3. God’s Word helps us understand our inner motivations (Hebrews 4:12). Scripture acts like a mirror that lets us see ourselves as we truly are.

The Bible is the very mind of God put into words so that we can know Him more fully. To what extent do you depend upon this amazing Book as your foundation for life?

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 1-5

Streams in the Desert – September 29

  • 202229 Sep

I will give myself unto prayer (Ps. 109:4).

We are often in a religious hurry in our devotions. How much time do we spend in them daily? Can it not be easily reckoned in minutes? Who ever knew an eminently holy man who did not spend much of his time in prayer? Did ever a man exhibit much of the spirit of prayer, who did not devote much time in his closet?

Whitefield says, “Whole days and weeks have I spent prostrate on the ground, in silent or vocal prayer.” “Fall upon your knees and grow there,” is the language of another, who knew whereof he affirmed.

It has been said that no great work in literature or science was ever wrought by a man who did not love solitude. We may lay it down as an elemental principle of religion, that no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be often, and long, alone with God.
–The Still Hour

‘Come, come,’ He saith, ‘O soul oppressed and weary,
Come to the shadows of my desert rest;
Come walk with Me far from life’s babbling discords,
And peace shall breathe like music in thy breast.’

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 29

Psalms 19:7-9 7The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

You are reading this devotion today because you believe God’s Word is a need in your life. This passage in Psalm 19 gives a picture of what a great need it is. In all this world, there is one perfect thing, the Word of God. It revives our soul. When you are downcast and need to find hope, the Word of God is the source of hope. It will revive your soul. If you are a simple trusting soul, where should you turn? The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy. Man will always disappoint. Not one man, other than Jesus, has completely trustworthy counsel.

Where can you go for true joy? Happiness will come and go, but the truth of God’s promises to you will give you an inner joy that will endure all circumstances of life. If you need clarity to see the way things really are, you need the radiant light of the Word. It illuminates the motivations of men. It illuminates the motivations of our own hearts. Without the Word of God our hearts would easily deceive us. The Word shines the light of truth on our thoughts and reveals whether they are from our flesh or the Spirit.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. In the Word we see the just judgment on those who turn from God and rebel against Him. We see the treachery and cunning of man’s own heart. The fear of our just God keeps us from playing around with the idea of compromising with sin. Every word of God is pure. You can trust every verse to be completely righteous. Sometimes our carnal mind gets confused by expressions in the Word. We struggle to accept what is written. But if we dig deeper, we find every word to be altogether righteous. Where else could you go to find all these wonderful things? The man or woman who does the same for you, is a man or woman full of the Word of God. They have had their mind renewed by the Word of God.

Encouragement: You are on the right track by taking time today to meditate on the Word.

Do I Hear Guilt?

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Do I Hear Guilt?

worried woman sitting alone on a couch

 

Gail Casteen – CBN, com

“Guilt!?! Do I hear guilt?” My friend could easily make me laugh. Even though I laughed every time she asked, her question awakened me to the fact that I’d chosen to shoulder guilt rather than let it go.

Guilt feels to me like a heavy, dark secret that others should never see. Yet, something as simple as making a minor blunder with a choice of words or a course of action can send me spiraling down into guilt. Often, it’s twin, shame, would come along for the ride. It could be nothing deep and dark to anyone, except to me! Still the guilt and shame dogged me.

I confided in my friend about everything. She knew things about me that only she and God knew. For years she would ask, “Guilt, do I hear guilt?”  Then she would follow with a second question, “Jesus died for that, so why are you carrying it?”

Great question. Why was it so easy to slip into the darkness where my less-than-stellar life events were tucked away? The place where when things went wrong, I believed I deserved it – I knew those secrets.  Sometimes it was as simple as, “I should have said this instead of that.” Or “Why did I do that?” Or “When will I learn to think through things instead of embarrassing myself?”  You know the questions.

When she moved across the country, I found the person asking those questions was ME! The answers were invariably, “Yes, I DO hear guilt.” and “Yes, Jesus DID die for that.” So, how do I get out from under that burden? I know. I know… repent! (Hearing that very word – REPENT – carried more guilt!)

In chapel one day, I heard a simple teaching that changed everything. When the teacher started talking about ‘repentance’ I had this sinking feeling, “Oh no. That’s all I need, one more message to make me feel worse about myself.”

But it didn’t go that way. He wasn’t preachy or condemning. He simply stated the fact that repent is made up of two Greek words, ‘meta’, meaning change, and ‘noeō’ meaning the mind. It means to change your mind! What a revelation! Think differently.

I had work to do. I had to learn that when I repented, God heard me and forgave me. That’s where I had to change my mind. It is finished! Once I go to Him and say, “Please forgive me”, it is done. That change of mind has carried me a long way.

As I learn to think differently, I am enjoying a new element of freedom I never imagined. Paul had it right when he said,

Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. (Romans 8:1, AMPC).

Go ahead and read all of Romans 8.  Boy-oh-boy! Talk about freedom.

Take Him at His Word, dark places are illuminated with His Life. He has brought us to this point of joy and liberty to empower us to be who we want to be in Him. Better yet, He’s setting us up to live our lives as He designed us from the foundation of the world.

Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4).

We live in a guilt-free zone! Thanks to Jesus!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 28

Psalms 19:1-3 1The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

David looked up at the night sky and saw a declaration of the glory of God. With the Hubble we can see even more wondrous and amazing sights far beyond the range of David’s eyes. But we have a different response. We have the audacity to think we have figured out God. Even macro-physicists include God in their equations. The more we discover the less we realize we know. Today you will find most astronomers believing there must be a God. One astronomer wrote that to find an argument against the existence of God, he had to go to another department. Yet the average person on the street has the impression that astronomers have creation all figured out as a natural process. Let’s hope that more astronomers will speak up about their lack of understanding of all that they see so that our perceptions will be corrected.

One of the sad byproducts of city life is that the stars can barely be seen. Our skies are so polluted that we have hidden the declaration. To replace that effect, we have the pictures from the Hubble continuing to come in as it shoots picture after picture of wonders full of color, design, and phenomena that cause us to marvel. It doesn’t need to be translated into French or Russian. It speaks in every language. It displays the knowledge of an infinite Creator who makes laws, order, and design. When you see those pictures, listen to God.

Consider: The heavens are still declaring the glory of God. Are you listening?

Streams in the Desert – September 28

  • 202228 Sep

In me… peace (John 16:33).

There is a vast difference between happiness and blessedness. Paul had imprisonments and pains, sacrifice and suffering up to the very limit; but in the midst of it all, he was blessed. All the beatitudes came into his heart and life in the midst of those very conditions.

Paganini, the great violinist, came out before his audience one day and made the discovery just as they ended their applause that there was something wrong with his violin. He looked at it a second and then saw that it was not his famous and valuable one. He felt paralyzed for a moment, then turned to his audience and told them there had been some mistake and he did not have his own violin. He stepped back behind the curtain thinking that it was still where he had left it, but discovered that some one had stolen his and left that old second-hand one in its place.

He remained back of the curtain a moment, then came out before his audience and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen: I will show you that the music is not in the instrument, but in the soul.” And he played as he had never played before; and out of that second-hand instrument, the music poured forth until the audience was enraptured with enthusiasm and the applause almost lifted the ceiling of the building, because the man had revealed to them that music was not in the machine but in his own soul.

It is your mission, tested and tried one, to walk out on the stage of this world and reveal to all earth and Heaven that the music is not in conditions, not in the things, not in externals, but the music of life is in your own soul.

Believers—lights in the world

‘Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.’ Philippians 2:14–16

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Timothy 1:8–2:5

Christians are soldiers. If our soldiers were to take it into their heads that they never ought to be seen, a pretty pass things would come to; what were the soldiers worth when they shunned parade and dreaded battle? We want not men who dare not show themselves to friend or foe. Christians are runners too, and what sort of runners are men who run in the dark? Not so says the apostle; we are ‘compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,’ and therefore he bids us ‘lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.’ What! a running match and no spectators? Hail Emperor! The champion salutes thee! He prays thee to dismiss the spectators. You common herd, retire, or put your fingers to your eyes, here comes a runner who is so dainty that he cannot be looked at, a swift-footed runner who must be scrutinised by no vulgar eye or he will faint and lose the crown. ‘Ha! Ha!’ the mob laughs. ‘These are not the men to make a Roman holiday; these timid fools had better play with babes in the nursery; they are not fit to consort with men.’ What think you of Christians who must have the stadium cleared before they can enter the course. Rather, O sons of God, defy all onlookers. Crowd the seats and look on, angels, and men, and devils too, and see what you will. What matters it to the Christian, for he is looking unto Jesus, he runs not for you but for the reward, and whether you look or not, his zeal and earnestness are still the same, for Christ is in him and run he must, look on who will.

For meditation: How can others see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven, if we are ashamed to let our lights shine before them (Matthew 5:16)?

Where God Leads, God Equips

 

Where God Leads, God Equips

10 Bible Verses about God Showing Us The Way. – Daily Bible Verse Blog

 

I never imagined I would become a CBN host. Since I was little, I was always very shy, in addition to having a small attention deficit that made me be more in the clouds than able to follow the thread of a conversation. I liked to sing, so I cultivated that dream, and at age 19, it led me to be in media circles.

I worked hard, and although I could sing in front of thousands of people, my social skills remained the same. My heart seemed like a bottomless barrel, and nothing filled it… until I met Jesus Christ. I was finally able to experience the joy that I had long sought. I wanted to tell the entire world that Jesus Christ is real, that He really exists!

Then came the invitation to become part of Vive Más, but the idea of not being able to do well terrified me. I thought if I could not follow a conversation, then how could I interview someone? However, the wonderful production team embraced me and never got tired of supporting me. This experience brought a most special meaning to me from this verse:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10 NIV).

Currently, the Vive Más program has been running for more than four years and God continues to develop my communication skills to carry His message through it. We share God’s wonderful works and see how people are rescued for His kingdom, day by day.

But something completely unexpected also happened during my journey. I can now carry on a conversation! God uses music to take me to places where there are many people who do not know Christ, and my new skills in conversation allow me to share Christ wherever He leads me.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).

Sowing the Word of God is sowing love, and in due time we will reap what we sow. This love will not necessarily come from those people with whom we share, but God’s love will fill our hearts with the joy of His presence and the knowledge that we are fulfilling His will in our lives. We may not see the fruit, but we can rejoice in having participated in the work! In this way, we will not get tired of doing good, because our joy is already fulfilled.

Let us do good all the time seeking to reflect God with our behavior, love, and patience. Let us not expect to see all the work finished overnight. Instead, let us sow patiently and in due time we will reap precious fruit with an abundance we never imagined. It is a fallen and oppositional world but we can focus on the fact that one day the work will be complete, and we will enjoy the reward that comes from the Lord.

“Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds” (Isaiah 3:10).

The greatest reward is to be able to serve and be useful tools in the hands of the Lord. Let us not grow weary of doing good, because even if we do not have the skills, those whom God calls, He trains.

What is the weak area of ​​your life that you need to give to the Lord? Do you think He would equip you if He called you?

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 27

Psalms 8:3-5 3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

The clear night sky is awe-inspiring. One of my favorite places is a canyon lake far from big cities. The night sky appears to be entirely filled with stars. The band of the Milky Way glows with the light of a million stars. We count the shooting stars until we fall asleep. Now we know so much more about the enormity and complexity of that night sky than David did. It should awe us even more when we consider that our God set all that in place. He decreed the laws by which it all functions. Man is increasingly wondering at the mysteries and beauty we see there.

Considering that seemingly infinite space and vast number of worlds, what is man that God is mindful of us? He thinks of each of us continually. Why? What a great priority He has placed upon us as small as we are. He made us a little lower than elohim. The Hebrew word is used for God or angelic beings, and that is why you find some variations in the translation. I prefer “a little lower than God,” since we will judge angels and they are sent to minister to us. It seems that David is in awe of the position God has given man in the order of creation. As small and insignificant as we seem, He has put great priority on us, crowning us with glory and honor.

In light of such honor, our sin is all the more abhorrent. To think that we would rebel against the Almighty, our Maker, who gave us such a lofty position, shows the depravity of our ingratitude. What is man? We are so honored and offered such glory that our minds can scarcely conceive it. Look up into the night sky.

Consider: How should I respond to such a gracious and loving God?

Streams in the Desert – September 27

  • 202227 Sep

I have found an atonement (Job 33:24, margin).

Divine healing is just divine life. It is the headship of Christ over the body. It is the life of Christ in the frame. It is the union of our members with the very body of Christ and the inflowing life of Christ in our living members. It is as real as His risen and glorified body. It is as reasonable as the fact that He was raised from the dead and is a living Man with a true body and a rational soul today at God’s right hand.

That living Christ belongs to us in all His attributes and powers. We are members of His body, His flesh and His bones, and if we can only believe and receive it, we may live upon the very life of the Son of God.

Lord, help me to know “the Lord for the body and the body for the Lord.”
–A. B. Simpson

“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.” (Zeph. 3:17). This was the text that first flashed the truth of Divine healing into my mind and worn-out body nearly a quarter century ago. It is still the door, wide open more than ever, through which the living Christ passes moment by moment into my redeemed body, filling, energizing, vitalizing it with the presence and power of His own personality, turning my whole being into a “new heaven and new earth.”

“The Lord, thy God.” Thy God. My God. Then all that is in God Almighty is mine and in me just as far as I am able and willing to appropriate Him and all that belongs to Him. This God, “Mighty,” ALL Mighty God, is our INSIDE God. He is, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in the midst of me, just as really as the sun is in the center of the heavens, or like the great dynamo in the center of the power-house of my three-fold being. He is in the midst, at the center of my physical being. He is in the midst of my brain. He is in the midst of my nerve centers.

For twenty-one years it has been not only a living reality to me, but a reality growing deeper and richer, until now at the age of seventy years, I am in every sense a younger, fresher man than I was at thirty. At this present time I am in the strength of God, doing full twice as much work, mental and physical, as I have ever done in the best days of the past, and this observe, with less than half the effort then necessary. My life, physical, mental and spiritual, is like an artesian well–always full, overflowing. To speak, teach, travel by night and day in all weather and through all the sudden and violent changes of our variable climate, is no more effort to me than it is for the mill-wheel to turn when the stream is full or for the pipe to let the water run through.

My body, soul and spirit thus redeemed,
Sanctified and healed I give, O Lord, to Thee,
A consecrated offering Thine ever more to be.
That all my powers with all their might
In Thy sole glory may unite.–Hallelujah!

–Dr. Henry Wilson

The Spirit-Filled Life

From: Intouch Ministeries

Our self-driven efforts will produce frustration and disappointment.

September 27, 2022

1 John 2:3-6

There was a time when I was so disheartened that I wondered whether to remain in the ministry. How could I tell people that Jesus would give them peace and joy when I didn’t feel it myself?

God let me stew in my anxiety until I was fully committed to finding out if His Word was true or not. I found my answer in a biography of missionary Hudson Taylor. For a long time he, too, felt that his efforts fell short of the Lord’s expectations. But Taylor realized God wanted believers to trust Him fully and rest on His promises.

As a child, I was taught that a person got saved and then went to work for God. You did the best you could to think, speak, and act in a wise, godly manner. When your best wasn’t good enough, well, you tried harder. Such an impossible expectation was wearing me out. This idea of letting Jesus Christ work through me sounded both biblical and liberating.

A grape branch doesn’t bear fruit because of its determined efforts to get sunshine; rather, it simply abides in the vine, and fruit appears. The vine does all the work. In the same way, believers are to be in union with their Savior so that spiritual fruit can grow in their life.

Bible in One Year: Habakkuk 1-3

Ditch the Rotten Fruit

 

Ditch the Rotten Fruit

young person getting fruit from a basket

Have you ever gone to the refrigerator or the fruit bowl to find that the fruit you recently bought has begun to perish? At that time, you can choose to remove the perishing item or leave it to decay, causing the other fruit around it to decompose. There is much about rotten fruit that is unappealing; unless dealt with appropriately, the smell will linger, the fruit will decay, and spread decay to other fruit.

The Bible talks about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23:

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (NLT)

These fruits are cultivated by the Holy Spirit in our lives. In verses 19-21 we read about “bad and rotten fruit,” which is the result of the works of “the sinful nature.”

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.

It’s unpleasant to deal with the rotten fruit of the sin nature. However, left unchecked, the consequences have serious repercussions.

Like literal rotten fruit, the acts of the sin nature begin to affect our lives and negatively influence those around us. Daily, we must choose to either continue following the desires of the flesh—or we decide to get rid of the rotten fruit and allow the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in our lives.

The choices we make ultimately determine whether we walk in peace or discord. Each choice positively or negatively affects us not only individually, but equally impacts those around us.

In Luke 6:43-45, Jesus says:

“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

From these verses, we see that our speech is an indicator of the condition of the heart. For out of the abundance (the overflow) of the heart, the mouth speaks. The words that we speak have creative power. They can build up or tear down; they can be life-giving or words of death that destroy.

Let’s pray:
Father, thank You for Your Spirit that produces good fruit in our lives—for our own benefit, and for the benefit of others. Let our attitudes and speech overflow with Your goodness, that You may be glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Streams in the Desert – September 26

  • 202226 Sep

We walk by faith, not by appearance (2 Cor. 5:7, RV).

By faith, not appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and Satan may want us to. But God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us.

When we face these precious facts, and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings.

God never gives feeling to enable us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to encourage us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to show that we have already and utterly trusted Him. God gives feeling only when He sees that we trust Him apart from all feeling, resting on His own Word, and on His own faithfulness to His promise. Never until then can the feeling (which is from God) possibly come; and God will give the feeling in such a measure and at such a time as His love sees best for the individual case.

We must choose between facing toward our feelings and facing toward God’s facts. Our feelings may be as uncertain as the sea or the shifting sands. God’s facts are as certain as the Rock of Ages, even Christ Himself, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

“When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.”

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 26

Psalms 2:6-8 6“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. 8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

Many of the psalms look forward in time to the first and second coming of Jesus. Because Jesus is referred to as ‘the son of David’, there are verses written about Solomon that are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.

In the second psalm God is speaking to the nations of the world that refuse God’s instruction. They rebel against His loving decrees. But God is not threatened at all. In fact, He laughs. If all the nations of the earth were to join together to fight against Him, it would not disturb His peace one bit. Then God declares where His sovereign will has placed all authority to rule, in His Son.

The Son was with God from the beginning, but there is a point in human history when he is born of a woman. The birth in Bethlehem was one of the most amazing and supernatural events to ever take place. God stepped into a human body. The Son was willing to set an example for mankind and redeem us through His own obedient death on the cross. God has given Him the right to rule the kingdoms of the earth. One day He will no longer allow man to rebel. The freedom to mock God and His laws and cause the people to suffer will no longer be allowed. Those rulers who would rebel will face the rod of iron. Man keeps trying to make the perfect government and failing. The perfect government is coming.

Meditation: The King of kings will be installed on Zion, God’s holy hill, and will reign in righteousness. Are you letting Him rule in your heart today?

They Broke Bread in their Homes

 Julia Prins Vanderveen, author, Today Devotiona

  ACTS 2:36-47

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. . . .

—  Acts 2:46

For a time, our church received donations of day-old bread from a bakery nearby. An elderly man from a neighboring church would pick up the bread and bring it to us on Sunday mornings. Some of it, however, was too tough for his church members to eat, he said, because many of them couldn’t afford dental care and were missing teeth. They could enjoy soft breads, but not the bagels, artisan loaves, and so on. So I suggested that some members in our church might like the breads that their members couldn’t use, and the elder thought that would make a great arrangement.

Early each Sunday morning, he dropped off a few gigantic bags of bagels and seedy artisan loaves, joking each time that this was his gift for “the church of the strong teeth”—and every week without fail we laughed about it. He saved the soft bread for his congregation, and our young people ate bagels after the morning service—and then also each morning throughout the week. This became a regular part of our Sunday gatherings. Our churches became closer because of it, and in a very real way we “ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”

Acts 2 gives a glimpse of the early church and how they gathered for worship and ate bread together. When we break bread together with glad hearts, we remember Jesus and take part in the joy shared by those early followers.

Jesus, by your Spirit be present among us as we break bread together. Amen.

 

You Have an Inheritance in God

psalms 1-30 scripture pictures | Scripture pictures, Psalms, Scripture36 Bible verses about Inheritance
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom He hath  chosen for His own inheritance.” Psalms 33:12 | Bible prayers, Psalms, God36 Bible verses about Inheritance
Random Bible Verse with Picture about God - KJV - DailyVerses.netJoshua 14:14 WEB - Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb
Joshua 14:14 WEB - Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of CalebProverbs 13:22 WEB - A good man leaves an inheritance to his

You Have an Inheritance in God

happy family eating pizza
Brenda Williams –  cbn.com

A few months ago, I woke up with the Lord saying that He was teaching me the “love of the Father.” This was very exciting! I’m now listening, waiting, and looking for ways in which I continue to see His love expressed. Everything the Lord does is out of His love for His sons and daughters.

My dad left us when I was three years old. I grew up the middle child of a single mom doing the best she could. I honor her for seeds planted during Bible study with my sister and me at the kitchen table. Through the people the Lord put in my life, He’s teaching me what He is like as Father. And, like an earthly father, the Lord wants us to “graduate” and walk into the higher learning of His kingdom through our one-on-one relationship with Him. Galatians 4:1-2 shows us that we are “heirs” and that God puts “guardians and stewards” over us so we might grow up in all things into Him (Ephesians 4:15and become mature believers.

My first pastor taught the Word chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and I learned the foundations of Christianity: Yahweh as the only God, Christ as His only Son, and the only way to eternal life; the Scriptures as the explicit, inerrant Word of God.

Later, the Lord led me to a church where I learned of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, His work in our lives, and the healing of old emotional wounds. Now I am seeking to learn the deeper truths of His Word and kingdom. The more time I spend with Him, intimacy with Father God deepens and a knowledge of His love in a more personal way than ever before. I pray we are all faithful in this pursuit.

As His heir, we have an inheritance and Christ wants us to receive all He died to give us.

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are … a son, then an heir of God through Christ. 
(Galatians 4:6-7)

Jesus called His Father “Abba” as did the Apostle Paul. There are many names of God, but I find this one to be personal and endearing. It makes me feel like I can reach out and touch Him. Truly, we all can. Strong’s concordance explains that “Abba” is one of the most sacred names of God. Abba: our master and teacher, our creator who brought each one of us into being, imparting to us His likeness and bestowing on us His benefits as any parent would want to. Doesn’t that make you feel special? This Aramaic term reveals a deep, intimate relationship. This is God’s great desire for us. He cares about everything that concerns us and we can be certain of His faithfulness. Earthly fathers aren’t always faithful, but Abba is.

Even with the best dad the world has to offer, the void in our hearts will not be filled without knowing God’s love. Abba desires to fill every void in our hearts with His love and presence. I love it that His arms are always open wide to enfold us.

Lord, we open our hearts to You today and ask that You keep us hungry, make us teachable so we can grow up in You. Teach us Your love, the love that is like no other. Fill us with Your love that we may love others as You do.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 25

Psalms 1:1-3 1Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

The book of Psalms is a collection of songs of praise. Originally they came in five different books. Many of them were penned by David. In them we find expressed the heart cry of man in nearly every situation. No matter what you are going through you can find a psalm that relates to your situation. I turn to them when I am discouraged, for they often begin with complaint and end in praise.

The first psalm warns us not to keep company with evil people. We are told not to listen to their counsel, stand in their way or sit in their seats. The word ‘blessed’ is translated ‘happy’ in some newer renderings. Blessing implies the goodness of God will be with such a person. Look for these beatitudes throughout Scripture. If the Word gives us instruction as to what to do to find God pouring out His goodness on us, we should give careful attention to that instruction. You will be blessed if you avoid bad company. Man has a natural tendency to gravitate toward mocking and complaint. Don’t!

Instead delight in God’s Word. Think on it day and night. If you will take some time each day to be in the company of the Word, and let Him speak to you, you will have a thought to dwell on that will build you up instead of tearing you down. Avoiding the mocking sinner and filling your mind with God’s instruction will cause you to be blessed.

In typical Hebrew style the psalmist expands on what it means to be blessed in a simile. You will be like a tree that bears fruit planted by a stream. You won’t dry out. You will prosper in everything you do. What a picture! What a promise! If you believe it, then you should act on it. Take time each day to delight in the Word of God. Take a thought with you through the day.

Consider: “If I meditate on God’s Word and don’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, whatever I do will prosper.”

Recognized When He Broke the Bread

 Julia Prins Vanderveen, Today Devotions

  LUKE 24:13-35

Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

—  Luke 24:35

There’s a story about a woman who happened to wander into a church on a Sunday morning. She was an atheist, so she wasn’t quite sure why she decided to sit there in a pew, and then when she was offered communion, for some reason she didn’t turn it down. As she heard the words “Take this bread” and ate the piece of bread, it was as if she received a revelation. From that moment on, she followed Jesus and then started a food bank so that she could help feed others.

This story and our reading in Luke today give glimpses of what’s possible even when people aren’t aware of who Jesus is. When we read the story of the men walking on the road to Emmaus, it’s hard not to wonder why Jesus kept them from recognizing him. He could easily have told them earlier who he was and filled them with joy. Yet God’s ways are not our ways. And then somehow, when Jesus “took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them,” their eyes were opened.

Can we accept that we can’t control how or when Jesus reveals himself to us, and that it may not depend on our intellectual ability?

Jesus allowed these followers, on the very day of his resurrection, to recognize him first and foremost in the breaking of bread, permitting them to understand and even to taste the truth of who he really was.

A divided heart

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty.” Hosea 10:2

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:4-12

If we would provoke the anger of the Most High and bring down trying providences on the churches, we have nothing to do but to be divided in our hearts and all will be accomplished. If we wish that every vial may empty out its ill, and that every vessel may withhold its oil, we have but to cherish our bickerings till they become animosities; we have but to nurse our animosities till they become hatreds, and all the work will be fully completed. And if this be the case in the church at large, it is peculiarly true in those various sections of it which we now call Apostolic Churches. Oh, my brethren, the smallest church in the world is potent for good when it has but one heart and one soul; when pastor, elders, deacons, and members, are bound together by a threefold cord that cannot be broken. Then are they mighty against every attack. But however great their numbers, however enormous their wealth, however splendid may be the talents with which they are gifted, they are powerless for good the moment they become divided amongst themselves. Union is strength. Blessed is the army of the living God, in that day when it goes forth to battle with one mind, and when its soldiers as with the tramp of one man, in undivided march, go onwards towards the attack. But a curse awaits that church which runs to and fro and which, divided in itself, has lost the main stay of its strength with which it should batter against the enemy. Division cuts our bowstrings, snaps our spears, houghs our horses, and burns our chariots in the fire. We are undone the moment the link of love is snapped. Let this perfect bond be once cut in twain and we fall down, and our strength is departed. By union we live, and by disunion we expire.

For meditation: Believers are not to try to create “unity” with those who preach another gospel, but we are urged to maintain the unity that already exists between true believers (Ephesians 4:3Philippians 1:27). What would somebody have to report about your church (and your own contribution in it)?

Fully Known and Fully Loved by God

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Fully Known and Fully Loved by God

happy woman taking notes beside open laptop

 

Tara Jackson – CBN.com

Embracing who God has made us to be unlocks a new level of freedom. I experienced this freedom in 2016 during my freshman year of college. It was the day I did a “big chop” and committed to wearing my hair in its natural, afro state.

To those who are unfamiliar with the term “big chop,” it’s used predominantly in the black community to refer to the act of cutting off one’s chemically relaxed hair in order to revert back to their natural hair texture. A relaxer (or perm) is a chemical treatment that is applied to curly hair to make it straight. In a nutshell, a big chop is a commitment to wearing one’s naturally curly hair instead of choosing to chemically straighten it. Perms can come with a few major side effects, including extreme burning and scalp irritation upon application of the perm, scabs on the scalp, and, over time, hair loss. You may be wondering, why in the world would anyone get a perm with all those adverse side effects? One word: acceptance.

As a child, the term “good hair” only represented one thing for me: straight, long hair… a European standard of beauty. Based on those qualifications, I did not make the cut. From passive remarks to outright insults of my hair and other kinkier hair textures of African descent, it was evident what was deemed acceptable and desirable for my hair was driven by society. I felt trapped. Thankfully, God’s life-giving Word provided a way out.

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4:7 ESV)

God’s Word outweighs every fleeting beauty standard of this world that strips image-bearers of their true worth. Numbers 23:19 is the Scripture that silenced any lingering doubts about God’s view of me:

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.

If God cannot lie, then He cannot lie about me; if He does not change His mind, then His declaration about me is definite. The decision to wear my natural hair is an outward expression that I believe what God says I am: beautiful.

While my testimony is about falling in love with my hair, my story is not unique. Every day, fellow image-bearers of God are made to feel “less-than” due to societal standards. Whether it be weight, height, accent, skin tone, etc. the world is constantly spreading the message that what God has declared “good” (see Genesis 1:26-31) is not good enough. If you are struggling with acceptance, know that you are fully known and loved by God. There is nothing you must alter to gain His acceptance. You are God’s masterpiece.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

September 24

Job 42:5-6 5My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job had been questioning God, but now it is God’s turn to question Job. The substance of God’s questions asks Job that if he lives in a world full of things beyond his understanding, why should he not be able to figure out what God is presently doing in his life? Such a wonderful Creator should be trusted by His creation to do what is in their best interest.

Job entered into a new relationship with God. Up until that time he had heard of God through lives and stories of others. Now he saw God with his own eyes. He had the same reaction that everyone does. He saw the holiness of God and by contrast, his wretched condition. But didn’t God say Job was righteous? No, God said there was no one on earth like him (1:8). Compared to other men he is blameless and upright. Compared to God he is a sin sick man with a sin-infested nature. Job learned genuine humility from this encounter. The manifest presence of God blows away any deception ideas of our own goodness. We need God’s manifest presence in the church today to see our real condition.

God restored everything that Job had lost, and then doubled it. There is one notable exception. He had as many children as he originally had. Why is that? Why weren’t they doubled? Besides being hard on his wife, they really were doubled. He never lost the first set of children. They merely moved to heaven before Job died. He now has twenty children, even though ten are in heaven. Things are not always as they appear. The book of Job is an exhortation to trust God no matter what you are going through.

Consider: You may never know the reasons for certain trials and struggles, but you can be sure your Creator’s character is impeccable. God will see you through, if you will continue to trust in Him.

When the Spirit Shuts a Door – Streams in the Desert – September 24

  • 202224 Sep

After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithyma: but the Spirit suffered them not (Acts 16:7).

What a strange prohibition! These men were going into Bithynia just to do Christ‘s work, and the door is shut against them by Christ’s own Spirit.

I, too, have experienced this in certain moments. I have sometimes found myself interrupted in what seemed to me a career of usefulness. Opposition came and forced me to go back, or sickness came and compelled me to retire into a desert apart.

It was hard at such times to leave my work undone when I believed that work to be the service of the Spirit. But I came to remember that the Spirit has not only a service of work, but a service of waiting. I came to see that in the Kingdom of Christ there are not only times for action, but times in which to forbear acting. I came to learn that the desert place apart is often the most useful spot in the varied life of man–more rich in harvest than the seasons in which the corn and wine abounded. I have been taught to thank the blessed Spirit that many a darling Bithynia had to be left unvisited by me.

And so, Thou Divine Spirit, would I still be led by Thee. Still there come to me disappointed prospects of usefulness. Today the door seems to open into life and work for Thee; tomorrow it closes before me just as I am about to enter. Teach me to see another door in the very inaction of the hour. Help me to find in the very prohibition thus to serve Thee, a new opening into Thy service. Inspire me with the knowledge that a man may at times be called to do his duty by doing nothing, to work by keeping still, to serve by waiting. When I remember the power of the “still small voice,” I shall not murmur that sometimes the Spirit suffers me not to go.
–George Matheson

Make Bread for Yourself

  EZEKIEL 4:1-16

“Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself.”

—  Ezekiel 4:9

In some grocery stores you can find “Ezekiel 4:9 Bread,” which contains the same ingredients God told Ezekiel to use here to make bread.

But the recipe God gave Ezekiel wasn’t intended to be an expensive specialty food. Although the combination of grains forms a complete protein and would have given Ezekiel a lot of important nutrients as he ate the small portions he was told to eat, the mixture of those ingredients was not part of his cultural tradition. It pointed to a pared-back diet for times of poverty and crisis. The wheat was to be mixed with grains and legumes that made for a scant vegetarian diet and weren’t very desirable. To make matters worse, Ezekiel had to cook the bread over manure!

This strange story is unsettling: Why would God ask Ezekiel to do this? And why did Ezekiel follow through even though it was awfully uncomfortable to do so?

There are no easy answers, but it seems that the message God intended here was that there would be harsh consequences for Israel’s disobedience, and yet this unusual bread would sustain people. A coming siege would bring horrible discomfort, but it would not completely obliterate God’s people. It would be a wake-up call to turn back to God. Many years later, Jesus would sound a similar call for the people to recognize God in their midst.

Lord, your ways puzzle us sometimes, and yet we trust you to turn us back to you. Amen.