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Don’t Stop Doing Good For Others

“She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” Proverbs 31:15 (ESV)

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Image result for pictures of brave peopleImage result for pictures of brave people
Holly Wagner October 11, 2016

From: Crosswalk.com

Find Your Brave

“She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” Proverbs 31:15 (ESV)

When my daughter, Paris, was in middle school, we participated in the school’s mandatory science fair. The teacher’s instructions stated that parents were not to help their children. I was elated; I had already graduated from middle school and felt no desire to do another science project.

Paris was interested in horses, so she chose to build a papier-mâché horse. And it did vaguely resemble a horse — except it leaned significantly to the left, and we’re still not sure why.

I helped her carry her project to the fair and was interested in seeing all the other sixth grade projects. After we set up Paris’ display, I looked around the room and saw some amazing projects, including a giant set of lungs that breathed and a map of the United States that lit up according to how much power each city used.

I looked back at Paris’ leaning horse and quickly realized that either some parents cheated, or we had somehow ended up at a university science fair!

After I reassured Paris that her project was interesting, I began to walk around the room, mainly to give myself time to forgive all those cheater parents. As I perused the submissions, I encountered the most amazing project: a miniature re-creation of the Biosphere 2, which I’m not so sure was built by a sixth grader. But I’m not bitter.

In 1991, eight scientists lived for two years in an artificial environment in Oracle, Ariz., called Biosphere 2.

Inside the 3-acre closed system was a small ocean, a rain forest, a desert and a savanna grassland. The scientists produced every kind of weather pattern except wind. Eventually the lack of wind caused the tree trunks to weaken and bend over. It’s the pressure of wind that strengthens tree trunks and allows them to hold up their own weight.

As I stared at that project and thought about the lessons from the Biosphere 2, I realized something important about life. Like it or not, we have to admit that weathering storms builds our strength.

So as much as I hate challenges, I think we need them. Proverbs 31 tells us why.

At first, I was rather put off by Proverbs 31:15, the verse that challenges us to rise “while it is yet night.” But I believe that verse has less to do with the time of day we get up and everything to do with being women who rise up when chaos and heartbreak and calamity abound. In the darkest hour, she rises.

On a personal level, perhaps your world is shaking. Maybe cancer has struck your family, or a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Perhaps divorce has torn apart your home. At times it seems there has never been more pain, disease, famine and heartbreak than now, and yet God has entrusted you and me with this moment in history!

When everything around us is in the midst of chaos, when our own world is quaking, we are to be “the she” who rises. She does not wilt; she does not complain; she does not blame. She finds her brave, and she rises.

She actually grows stronger in the midst of dark times when it seems the whole world is trembling. God is looking for a company of women who will find their brave and rise in the midst of any and every challenge — and then be a force for good to help others find their brave.

We do not have to remain stuck in our trials! We grow through them, and as daughters of the King, we can rise in the midst of dark, shaking moments.

Lord, You know the trouble I face today. I need Your strength to face it bravely and be a woman who helps others be brave as well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Making Hell Happy

From: Get more Strength.org

“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

I was guest preaching at a church when a woman who had waited in line to talk to me told me that she was thinking about leaving the church because the pastor had joined a country club. And apparently, someone had spotted him there on a Sunday morning.

“Why wasn’t he in church?” she indignantly asked me as though I should have the answer. I happened to know the pastor well—and I knew that he was on vacation at the time, so my educated guess was that he had attended a service the night before. I mentioned this and also told her that regardless of anything else, her church was doing an amazing job of impacting the community for Christ, so she should rejoice in the big picture and stay on board.

The timing was interesting. I had just finished preaching on avoiding the distractions that get us off the main task of being united in taking the redemptive power of Jesus into our world. And while I don’t want to get into a food fight with anyone who thinks that pastors shouldn’t join country clubs, I must admit that I am a little short-fused with how quickly we go after each other when it’s the gates of hell that we should be assaulting.

In Christ’s day, He faced groups who were all tangled up in major distractions. There were those who thought that political overthrow would bring in the kingdom of God. These “zealots,” as they were called, would have gladly spilled their blood in the streets to overthrow the oppressive regime of Rome. They remind me of a lot of American Christians who believe that if only we can get our nation to be Christian again through political overthrow we will be in good shape. What a major distraction! The only way that we are going to win America, or any other country for that matter, is to win people to the saving work of Jesus one person at a time. Our mission is not to save a nation but to save those living in the nation. Don’t forget that when Simon the Zealot met Jesus, he changed agendas and became one of the 12. He joined the right revolution (Mark 3:18)!

Then there were the Essenes who believed that they should withdraw from the world (they definitely wouldn’t have joined a country club!), because they felt that the only way to remain safe and pure was to cloister in closed communities until the Messiah came. This way they could be certain that no defiling influence would tarnish their lives. They carried it to such an extreme that they refused to have anyone who was lame, blind, or in any way physically handicapped in their groups.

What a difference from Jesus’ mission to engage this world with the love of His rescuing power! He crashed the gates of hell by spending time with sinners. And while it irritated a lot of religious folk, He was undaunted in His resolve to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Some may even be at the country club—hmm. In spite of Jesus’ example, there are still a few people around today who think that separating from the world and its sinners will make us ready for Jesus’ return. They are gate lockers, not gate crashers!

It seems to me that Satan doesn’t really care about whether or not we call ourselves Christians. All he needs to do is to distract us by getting us to throw rocks at each other or to somehow adjust the mission away from crashing the gates of hell. I’m sure he’s happy not having to worry about who is busting down his gates to set the captives free. So let’s not give hell something to be happy about!


God’s Silence— Then What?

From: Utmost.org

God’s Silence— Then What?

Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible— with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious— it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy— silence.



Changing Hearts

From: Our Daily Bread

Changing Hearts

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36

On the last day of the US Civil War, officer Joshua Chamberlain was in command of the Union army. His soldiers lined up on both sides of the road that the Confederate army had to march down in surrender. One wrong word or one belligerent act and the longed-for peace could be turned to slaughter. In an act as brilliant as it was moving, Chamberlain ordered his troops to salute their foe! No taunting here, no vicious words—only guns in salute and swords raised to honor.

When Jesus offered His words about forgiveness in Luke 6, He was helping us understand the difference between people of grace and people without grace. Those who know His forgiveness are to be strikingly unlike everyone else. We must do what others think impossible: Forgive and love our enemies. Jesus said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (v. 36).

Imagine the impact in our workplaces and on our families if we were to embrace this principle. If a salute can make armies whole again, what power there must be in Christ’s grace reflected through us! Scripture gives evidence of this in Esau’s embrace of his deceitful brother (Gen. 33:4), in Zacchaeus’s joyful penance (Luke 19:1–10), and in the picture of a father racing to greet his prodigal son (Luke 15).

With the grace of Christ, may we let this be the final day of bitterness and dispute between our enemies and us.

Lord, we know how the gentle power of forgiveness can bring healing in relationships. Grant us the courage to end our conflicts by Your grace.

Anger almost always vanishes in the face of grace.

Slow Down And Listen To God

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

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Jill Hoven October 10, 2016

Slow Down and Listen

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

The words “Be still” will now forever remind me of my mom.

“We’re home and fine,” I quickly called to tell her one day. I was always rushing. She simply wanted confirmation we had arrived home safely, but it felt unnecessary to call her.

Slow down; be patient, whispered a small voice in my mind. I pushed it aside, hung up the phone and rushed my toddlers to bed.

“Just one more thing?” Mom asked as I was leaving her hospital room, a few months later.

Pay attention; listen, whispered the still small voice.

I understood and returned to her bedside as she shared important information with me. She wanted to ensure I knew this before her procedure the next day, in case something went wrong.

“Everything will be fine, Mom,” I reassured her while wondering if it would be. It wasn’t. Over the next few days, complications of a rare disease and a series of small strokes stole Mom’s short-term memory.

“Where are you going?” Mom asked me about a year later, as I sat down next to her bed to give us both manicures. She couldn’t remember a necessary work party I was attending later, even though I’d already told her a few times. My heart still broke when she couldn’t remember things, but it didn’t really matter anymore. I wanted her nails to look nice for her upcoming funeral, but it was honestly just an excuse to be with her.

Be still; be present, whispered the still small voice.

Mom also couldn’t remember she was dying, which was a blessing. So we chatted about the party as I filed, buffed and polished. It was to be our last conversation.

A week later, peering down at those lovingly manicured nails in her casket, I whispered to the still small voice, Now what?

“Be still and know,” came the reply. I knew God’s presence. He carried me through the year of Mom’s whirlwind illness and death. He would continue to carry me through the next year of grief and searching. But being still was difficult.

I move quickly and always have. I rush to be on time, get things done and hurry to the next agenda item. This rushing often serves me well but also causes missed moments. I see this now.

God gently used my hardest days to teach me this lesson.

Slow down. Be patient. Pay attention. Listen. Be still. Be present.

His whispers to me then are what I teach others now. God directed me to a new path when I was quiet and still enough to listen. He’s continually teaching me.

Me? The girl who rushes? God asked me to help people with memory issues. Me? The one who’s always gone fast? I must now slow down and be patient. Me. The one who finds it difficult to stop moving … is learning to be still.

God is all around us. He speaks in His creation, a child’s laughter, a friend’s comfort or a hushed whisper. I always knew His presence but wasn’t always listening. God allows people, situations and things in our lives for reasons we may never understand. But He never leaves us; He is always present.

Understanding His presence and being still enough to sense it are two different things. I needed to slow down and quiet myself long enough to fully hear Him.

He’s been speaking my whole life. His inaudible whispers to my soul, the sense of what to do, say or not say — these were always present. But in my haste, I often failed to see or hear them. Making time, slowing down and putting God first has helped me hear His voice more clearly. I now know Him more and encourage others to as well. Hearing His whispers has led me to new adventures I could never have known on my own. But first, I needed to be still.

Do you sense His presence and still small voice? Pay attention. Slow down. Be still and know.

Dear Lord, we know Your presence is ever present with us. Equip our hearts and minds to be still and know this in the depths of our soul. Help us to hear and follow Your voice alone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Inside Out

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

“Out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, . . . blasphemy, pride, foolishness.” Mark 7:21-22

Shopping for a melon is a tough assignment. No matter how good it looks, it’s hard to tell! So I tap it, thump it, and, if no one is looking, squeeze it—and then take it home, only to discover that it’s bad on the inside.

When the Pharisees were irritated that Jesus’ disciples did not wash their hands before eating—a violation of one of their traditions—Jesus immediately challenged them. “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9). He even called them “hypocrites” and explained that what comes from the inside of a person is what “defiles” him, not the other way around.

If we’re not careful, we can become absorbed with looking good on the outside and forget what really counts. In fact, when we get to the place where we are keeping all the “right” rules, we may become proud of ourselves and judgmental toward others. But harboring bitterness, clinging to critical attitudes, and thinking too highly of ourselves are the kind of defiling stuff that make us guilty of Jesus’ charge of “hypocrite.”

So don’t miss the point. Remember, it’s the things on the inside—your heart, your thoughts, your attitudes—that really matter.

What matters to Jesus is what’s on the inside.



How Will I Know?

From: Utmost.org

How Will I Know?

We do not grow into a spiritual relationship step by step— we either have a relationship or we do not. God does not continue to cleanse us more and more from sin— “But if we walk in the light,” we arecleansed “from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It is a matter of obedience, and once we obey, the relationship is instantly perfected. But if we turn away from obedience for even one second, darkness and death are immediately at work again.

All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. You will never open them through philosophy or thinking. But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. Let God’s truth work into you by immersing yourself in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know the truth of God is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you. You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things as clear as sunlight. Don’t say, “I suppose I will understand these things someday!” You can understand them now. And it is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming one of the “wise and prudent.” “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know…” (John 7:17).

Doing the Opposite

From: Our Daily Bread

Doing the Opposite

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3

A wilderness excursion can seem daunting, but for outdoor enthusiasts this only adds to the appeal. Because hikers need more water than they can carry, they purchase bottles with built-in filters so they can use water sources along the way. But the process of drinking from such a container is counterintuitive. Tipping the bottle does nothing. A thirsty hiker has to blow into it to force the water through the filter. Reality is contrary to what seems natural.

As we follow Jesus, we find much that is counterintuitive. Paul pointed out one example: Keeping rules won’t draw us closer to God. He asked, “Why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These rules . . . are based on merely human commands and teachings” (Col. 2:20–22).

So what are we to do? Paul gave the answer. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above” (3:1). “You died,” he told people who were still very much alive, “and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (v. 3).

We are to consider ourselves “dead” to the values of this world and alive to Christ. We now aspire to a way of life demonstrated by the One who said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:26).

Consider what these counterintuitive principles from the Bible might mean for you: “Whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matt. 16:25). “The last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matt. 20:16). “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. 1 Corinthians 1:27

God Heals The Brokenhearted


  1. God is near.
    The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope. – Psalm 34:18
  2. God will strengthen you.
    You made me suffer a lot, but you will bring me back from this deep pit and give me new life. – Psalm 71:20
  3. God is with you.
    When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. – Isaiah 43:1

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Lysa TerKeurst October 6, 2016

From: Crosswalk.org

Don’t Let This Heartbreak Destroy You

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

There’s a line from the prayer my father-in-law prayed over us at our wedding that I think of quite often: “Lord, give them enough hurts to keep them human and enough failures to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours.”

There were many other lines of blessing in the prayer, but this part made me tilt my head, heavy with sprayed-up curls and a homemade veil.

My face flushed at the realization I’d forgotten to cross that part out.

I’d seen the prayer beforehand. It was all typed out. But in the rush of everything, I’d forgotten. And now, we had essentially asked God for heartbreak. At our wedding. Awesome.

But Art’s dad is a man of wisdom. And I’m thankful he didn’t take it upon himself to strike that part. I couldn’t have understood the prayer on that day full of white tulle, giddy whispers of love and my 3-year-old sister singing “Happy Birthday” during the lighting of the unity candle. But as life has unfolded, I now very much understand the beauty of those lines.

Our life could have been very self-focused. Our marriageOur home. Our kids. Our plans. Our life.

But God wanted so much more from us. He didn’t bring us together simply to build a life that would make us happy. He brought us together to be partners in the purpose He assigned. Our own strength would not have prepared us for kingdom assignments. It probably would have crippled us with selfishness and pride.

Heartbreak is a part of life.

It’s certainly been a part of different seasons of my marriage. And though every single hurt seemed like an exposure of weakness in our relationship, it actually brought out a strength we couldn’t have gotten any other way. The breaking of us has actually been the making of us … the God-strengthened us He could use.

I don’t know what kind of heartbreak you are walking through right now, sweet friend.

Maybe your marriage didn’t remain standing under the weight of life. Maybe you’ve never been married, but you long to be. Please don’t get stuck thinking these truths are only for couples.

Married or not, do not let the heartbreak you’ve experienced be wasted. God is still with you. His promises still stand. Soak in His truths and let them seep into the deepest places of your heart rubbed raw with uncertainty.

Don’t let what breaks your heart destroy your life.

Hold fast to Jesus and remember: This breaking of you will be the making of you. A new you. A stronger you. Strengthened not with the pride of perfection, but with the sweet grace of one who knows an intimate closeness with her Lord.

And don’t miss out on the hope God offers in our key verse: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” (Psalm 34:18).

Using the original language for this verse, you could read it like this: The Lord draws near to the one who’s had her heart shattered and delivers her from exposed grief to victory.

He draws you near despite the sharp evidence of your grieving heart. The anger. The deep disappointment and disillusionment. The questions of why you, and why now? The comparisons that make you feel as though God loves other people more. How could He let this happen? The cussing and banging your fist on the steering wheel. The shame and anguish. All of these are shards of being shattered.

God isn’t afraid of your sharp edges that may seem quite risky to others. He doesn’t pull back. He pulls you close. His love and grace covers your exposed grief. And step-by-step He leads you to a new place of victory.

Father God, thank You for the way You tenderly minister to the shattered places in my heart. I’m so grateful You are able to use every heartbreak in my life for good. I am choosing to believe today that You are leading me to a place of strength and victory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Psalm 34:17, “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” (NIV)


Holding Out For A Hero

From: Get More Strength.org


“He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

It’s not uncommon to see some familiar heroes come back to the silver screen. Sylvester Stallone was back in action as Rambo, reprising his role from over 20 years ago. And Harrison Ford dusted off his flying skills and reintroduced Han Solo and Star wars to a new generation of fans. There’s something about our longing for a powerful figure to solve the problems of the world and to restore justice and harmony to mankind in a way that captures our hearts and imaginations. Of course, getting the job done takes them about two hours on the silver screen, but in real life it’s a different deal.

Thankfully, in real life there is a “real hero.” Not the “two-hour” kind, but the kind of hero that ultimately gets the job done in a way that settles the issue of life finally and forever. I’m sure you’ve guessed it: I’m talking about Jesus. In fact, according to the prophet Isaiah, He has several names, all of which describe His capacity to finish the task and to satisfy the longing of our souls for life as it ought to be.

Among these compelling names, Isaiah includes the name, “Mighty God.” Jesus is the ultimate of heroes, infinitely strong and eternally mighty. But that extends far beyond bulging biceps and quick-trigger fingers. In fact, in the original language this name meant something far more specific. It’s the name El-Gibhor, the warrior God, the hero who will always prevail.

It’s the name for God used in the song of Moses found in Exodus 15. The Israelites have just seen God at war. He has brought a series of 10 miraculous plagues to Pharaoh—plagues that each, by the way, debunked a specific “god” of the Egyptians. To the Egyptians who worshiped a frog god, the warrior God brought hordes of frogs. It’s kind of like He said, “You like frogs? Watch this!” And the Egyptians worshiped the Nile, so the warrior God turned it to blood. And now Moses and the people are singing because this warrior God, El-Gibhor, has allowed His people to cross the Red Sea on dry land before pouring the waters over the pursuing Egyptian army.

What I find staggering about this name being included in the prophecy of the Messiah is that Jesus is the El-Gibhor, the Mighty God in the flesh! Actually dwelling in us, He’s not just some fictional wonder of a movie producer’s imagination. And, as the ultimate hero, He would face the hordes of hell, sin, and death on our behalf and emerge as the victorious champion over our greatest enemy. In fact, the prophecy of Isaiah comes full circle in the book of Hebrews when the author describes Jesus as the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). The original phrase for “author and perfecter” is one word in Greek, it’s the Greek word archēgos, and it means the “ultimate man” or the “champion”—or I guess in street talk it’s “He’s the man.”

So take heart today, He is our Mighty God! He is never at a loss, never overwhelmed, never surprised, never defeated, and never ashamed. You and I may feel powerless, helpless, and even hopeless at times, wondering if there is anyone who can rescue us. But in the midst of it all, Jesus is our ultimate hero! So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).


The Nature of Regeneration

From: Utmost.org

The Nature of Regeneration

If Jesus Christ is going to regenerate me, what is the problem He faces? It is simply this— I have a heredity in which I had no say or decision; I am not holy, nor am I likely to be; and if all Jesus Christ can do is tell me that I must be holy, His teaching only causes me to despair. But if Jesus Christ is truly a regenerator, someone who can put His own heredity of holiness into me, then I can begin to see what He means when He says that I have to be holy. Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into anyone the hereditary nature that was in Himself, and all the standards He gives us are based on that nature— His teaching is meant to be applied to the life which He puts within us. The proper action on my part is simply to agree with God’s verdict on sin as judged on the Cross of Christ.

The New Testament teaching about regeneration is that when a person is hit by his own sense of need, God will put the Holy Spirit into his spirit, and his personal spirit will be energized by the Spirit of the Son of God— “…until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). The moral miracle of redemption is that God can put a new nature into me through which I can live a totally new life. When I finally reach the edge of my need and know my own limitations, then Jesus says, “Blessed are you…” (Matthew 5:11). But I must get to that point. God cannot put into me, the responsible moral person that I am, the nature that was in Jesus Christ unless I am aware of my need for it.

Just as the nature of sin entered into the human race through one man, the Holy Spirit entered into the human race through another Man (see Romans 5:12-19). And redemption means that I can be delivered from the heredity of sin, and that through Jesus Christ I can receive a pure and spotless heredity, namely, the Holy Spirit.


Praising and Asking

From: Our Daily Bread

Praising and Asking

The highest heavens . . . cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 2 Chronicles 6:18

Teen Challenge, a ministry to at-risk youth that started in New York City, was born from an unusual commitment to prayer. Its founder, David Wilkerson, sold his television set and spent his TV-watching time (two hours each night) praying. In the months that followed, he not only gained clarity about his new endeavor but he also learned about the balance between praising God and asking Him for help.

King Solomon’s temple dedication prayer shows this balance. Solomon began by highlighting God’s holiness and faithfulness. Then he gave God credit for the success of the project and emphasized God’s greatness, declaring, “The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (2 Chron. 6:18).

After exalting God, Solomon asked Him to pay special attention to everything that happened inside the temple. He asked God to show mercy to the Israelites and to provide for them when they confessed their sin.

Immediately after Solomon’s prayer, “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple” (7:1). This incredible response reminds us that the mighty One we praise and speak to when we pray is the same One who listens to and cares about our requests.

How would you describe your conversations with God? What might help you grow closer to Him as you pray?

Prayer helps us see things as God sees them.

Work Tirelessly For Your Lord


So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.  I Corinthians 15:58

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Lynn Cowell October 5, 2016

From: Crosswalk.org

He Never Gives Up

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

The crunching of the gravel ceased as our van rolled to a complete stop. We had traveled from a swarming, heavily populated city in India to find the number of people had decreased, but the poverty had only increased.

Before that morning, I thought I was prepared for what we would see; our guide shared a video detailing the environment with us the night before. I soon learned a camera could not capture, nor is the human heart made to take in, the suffering we saw before us.

A handful of families made their home together, living as rag-pickers. Each day, their work consisted of going to the dump and pulling out anything of value — plastic, cardboard, fabric. After a full day’s work, they’d redeem their collections, earning approximately a dollar a day.

You would expect to see despair on the faces of those whose daily lives seem so dismal. Yet as the villagers emerged from their tarp-covered tent homes to greet us, not even the 110-degree temperature was enough to wilt their warm welcome. The children came first, extending their darling hands and dressed in vibrant shades of pinks, purples and whites.

Though our language was a barrier, our smiles connected us. They’d been expecting us.

Once inside the makeshift home, we were ushered to seats of honor with garlands of flowers placed upon our necks as these beautiful people expressed their gladness for our arrival. After offering a power-filled prayer of praise, the leader began songs of joyful worship, turning the dark, dingy shelter into a sanctuary. Louder and louder, the people clapped and sang praises to God for His goodness to them. Their glimmering eyes shone brightly; hope and gladness poured out.

While these are the poorest of the poor in India, the outcast and rejected of their culture, these people are not without hope. They’re on a new path, taking them to a new place.

This journey out of darkness and into life began when a man named Raju came to know Christ as his savior. From there, he became a student in a literacy class offered by Mission India. Besides teaching Raju to read, write and calculate, this class taught him more of the new life Jesus died to bring him. Raju didn’t keep this to himself. After completing his course, he became a literacy teacher and then a church planter.

Raju has become an advocate for his village. With this new confidence, he helped his village obtain a well, land rights and food rations. He is passing on his new knowledge.

The villagers are also learning to read and write and even more importantly, aout the salvation Jesus offers. They are growing daily in their relationship with Jesus through the literacy classes and church.

As we watched these beautiful people singing praises to Jesus, our Mission India leader asked, “Would any one like to give a word of encouragement?” Philippians 1:3-6immediately came to my mind and I asked to share. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (NIV).

Culture has shouted to these precious people: You are not wanted. Your life doesn’t matter. You are not welcome. In contrast, Christ says to us all: You are wanted. Your lives do matter. You are welcome. Once Jesus begins His work in our lives, He never gives up on us. He loves us, encouraging us to reach our fullest potential, no matter where we live or what others say about us.

We are partners together in sharing the Gospel, the Good News of the new life Christ offers each and every one of us. He will not stop working this good work in us, and He will never stop working in the lives of our new family members in India as well.


Lord, no matter where we live or how different our circumstances, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and family supports each other. May we do all we can — not only to share from what we have been given, but to help the Good News of Your new life reach the unreached. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Philippians 1:9-11, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.” (NIV)

The King Lives!

From: Get More Strength.org

“For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20 NASB

In the summer of 2006, the Prime Minister of Japan visited the US for high-level meetings with our President. Or at least that’s what I thought. Sure, he was here to visit the President, but much to everyone’s surprise, Japan’s most influential man was an Elvis fan and he wanted to go to Graceland to visit the home of his hero. So off he and George Bush went on Air Force One to give the Prime Minister a tour of the Elvis mansion. In fact, the white-tie dinner reserved for dignitaries that is usually held at the White House was held in the Memphis mansion. In the midst of this pop-culture pilgrimage, Prime Minister Koizumi even broke into an impromptu Elvis tune! It seems that Elvis obsessions extend well beyond the borders of the US!

In the years since Elvis passed away, the rumor mills have occasionally reported “Elvis-sightings” from diehard fans who refused to believe that “the King” is dead. People all over the world bore witness to the fact that they had seen Elvis in all kinds of places: grocery store parking lots, fast food joints, hotel swimming pools—and even cruising along in traffic (driving various shades of Cadillac)! Web sites and fan clubs are consumed by this sincere, yet ultimately trivial pursuit.

Which reminds me that our King—the ultimate and real King, Jesus—is notdead. And while Elvis fans are pursuing a glimpse of the “King,” think of how wonderful it would be if someone in your world were to see a “God sighting” by watching your life. Think of it: Each day we have a chance to give someone a God sighting as the attitudes and character of Jesus are seen through us. And, in fact, providing God sightings is God’s intended purpose for our lives, so that all can finally believe that Jesus really lives.

Let me explain. In our text, 1 Corinthians 6:20, we are told that Jesus paid a great price so that we might live to glorify Him. God’s glory is the manifest expression of all that He is in His all-surpassing, praiseworthy, stunning perfection! And glorifying Him is quite simply showing off the reality of His glorious character in all of our actions, encounters, and attitudes. It’s making the invisible God visible. And He has chosen to make His love, mercy, grace, justice, righteousness, holiness, and every other aspect of His stunning character visible through you and me! God’s glory is His “wow factor,” because when it is experienced and visibly seen, it’s an awesome reality!

So when was the last time you stunned your world by loving someone who is unlovable? By forgiving a deep offense? By choosing integrity over compromise? By serving others instead of serving yourself? By reaching out to the poor and oppressed? By extending grace to an undeserving soul?

What a privilege—we have been saved to provide a few “God sightings” in our world. Thank God, our King lives!

The Nature of Degeneration

From: Utmost.org

The Nature of Degeneration

The Bible does not say that God punished the human race for one man’s sin, but that the nature of sin, namely, my claim to my right to myself, entered into the human race through one man. But it also says that another Man took upon Himself the sin of the human race and put it away— an infinitely more profound revelation (see Hebrews 9:26). The nature of sin is not immorality and wrongdoing, but the nature of self-realization which leads us to say, “I am my own god.” This nature may exhibit itself in proper morality or in improper immorality, but it always has a common basis— my claim to my right to myself. When our Lord faced either people with all the forces of evil in them, or people who were clean-living, moral, and upright, He paid no attention to the moral degradation of one, nor any attention to the moral attainment of the other. He looked at something we do not see, namely, the nature of man (see John 2:25).

Sin is something I am born with and cannot touch— only God touches sin through redemption. It is through the Cross of Christ that God redeemed the entire human race from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin. God nowhere holds a person responsible for having the heredity of sin, and does not condemn anyone because of it. Condemnation comes when I realize that Jesus Christ came to deliver me from this heredity of sin, and yet I refuse to let Him do so. From that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation. “This is the condemnation [and the critical moment], that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light…” (John 3:19).


Good Medicine

From: Our Daily Bread

Good Medicine

A cheerful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22

Careless driving, rising tempers, and use of foul language among some taxi and minibus drivers are a constant source of traffic fights in our city of Accra, Ghana. But one traffic incident I witnessed took a different turn. A bus was almost hit by a careless taxi driver. I expected the bus driver to get angry and yell at the other driver, but he didn’t. Instead, the bus driver relaxed his stern face and smiled broadly at the guilty-looking taxi driver. And the smile worked wonders. With a raised hand, the taxi driver apologized, smiled back, and moved away—the tension diffused.

A smile has a fascinating effect on our brain chemistry. Researchers have found that “when we smile it releases brain chemicals called endorphins which have an actual physiological relaxing effect.” Not only can a smile diffuse a tense situation, but it can also diffuse tension within us. Our emotions affect us as well as others. The Bible teaches us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Eph. 4:31–32).

When anger or tension or bitterness threatens our relationship with the Lord and with others, it helps to remember that “a cheerful heart is good medicine” for our own joy and well-being.

Think about a time when you were angry with someone or when you had an argument. How did you feel inside? What parts of your life did it affect?

We find joy when we learn to live in Jesus’s love.

Prayer Changes Things You Can’t Change

Be Children of Light   Ephesians 5:18
17    Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

18   Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to reckless indiscretion. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

19   Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord,…

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Dannah Gresh October 4, 2016

From: Crosswalk.org

Praying Like a Drunk Woman

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly.” 1 Samuel 1:10 (NIV)

( Hannah was judged incorrectly by Eli to be drunk. She was not drunk but praying) *

I once lobbed a meatloaf at my husband’s head in front of my children.

Having just returned home after a few days away, I found laundry looming over my head like Mount Everest and a family who’d existed primarily on Fruit Loops for the extended weekend. It was one of those “emotionally wealthy” times of the month for me. And my family was emotionally needy.

I decided to bake a cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped, barbecue-laden meatloaf to make all things right in the world. The first bite was almost to my mouth when my husband did the unthinkable — he mentioned the laundry. The meatloaf went flying, and there was no taking it back.

That’s when I noticed the fear in my children’s sweet eyes. (Proof to you, I hope, that I don’t often throw meatloaf or any other items — food or otherwise.) I did what any woman would do: I ran to the bathroom.

I wept bitterly. I was embarrassed by what I’d done and fearful it would ensure my children spent hours on a psychiatrist’s sofa.

As I began to pray frantically, my husband opened the door on his white-hot mess of a wife who was praying so hard she looked insane. He offered me his hand as if he were asking me to dance. When I accepted, he led me back to the kitchen table, pulled out my chair and seated me like a princess. He then delivered a comedy routine that to this day I say deserves to be on late night television, making this memory one of our family’s funniest. (Prayer answered!)

I’m not the only woman to cry out to God in a prayer that makes her look half-crazy. Today’s key verse describes a woman who did the same.

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly (1 Samuel 1:10, emphasis added).

Hannah, a mother whose name makes it into the Bible, poured out her soul-breaking pleadings to God in such a way that she looked not just crazy, but drunk.

Eli, the priest, notices her.

This was a day and age of pretense and sophistication — not spontaneous, unveiled expression. The behavior of a woman in public was especially guarded.

But not for this woman.

The fear of man had fallen from her in her desperation.

The Bible says Hannah was praying so hard, her mouth was moving, but no sound came out. Distraught emotion distorts her expression.

Eli, the man of God, concludes: This woman has had too much wine.

“How long are you going to stay drunk?” he wrongfully challenges in 1 Samuel 1:14a (NIV).

Hannah claims she’s only drunk with the desire to be a mother.

And the man of God sees. As clearly as he sees the wet tears on her face, he sees the heart behind the guttural pleadings erupting from her soul.

“Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him,’” (1 Samuel 1:17, NIV).

And the peace comes. “She said, ‘May your servant find favor in your eyes.’ Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast,” (1 Samuel 1:18, NIV).

As I read the account of Hannah earlier this year, I felt a prayer of my own leap out from within me. I wrote it in the margin of my Bible: “Lord, make me drunk with prayer!”

I prayed what was really in my heart — the good, the bad, the ugly. After all, God already knew it was in there.

And you know what? It works. I feel peace after I pray like that. My problems aren’t always solved, but my heart is quieted. Maybe when the Bible says to “cast your cares” on God in Psalm 55:22, this is what it’s talking about.

Some people might misread and misunderstand you when you pray as fervently as Hannah did. But isn’t that the point of prayer? Isn’t prayer the tool of an audaciously optimistic woman? One whose faith rises above what her eyes tell her to be true? If prayer makes us anything, it should be radical.

Dear friend, God already knows what’s going on in your heart — the good, the bad, the ugly. Why not just pour it out?

Lord, I haven’t been bringing myself to You honestly. You know what’s inside of me and where the bitterness and anxiety rest. Please help me to pray like I mean it today, free of all pretense. I’ll trust You to sort it out. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

1 John 5:14, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (NIV)   (* Simposious.com addition)

Self-Focused Living

From: Get More Strength.org

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11

Learning more about myself is not always a pleasant experience. Introspection often compounds my insecurities and doubts. Trips into my inner self can expose memories of past failures and resurrect fears of the future. That’s why spending time getting to know Jesus is of such great value.

In fact, living to know Jesus is the key to understanding and making peace with ourselves.

Are you trying to discover your self-worth? You have it in Him—He died for you!

Are you plagued by failure and guilt? He does what no one else will or can do for you—He forgives and forgets, kills the fattened calf as heaven rejoices (Luke 15:22-24), and clothes you with the best robes of His righteousness.

Are you searching for significance? Search no more—you are His child. There is no greater significance than that.

Are you trying to figure out your life and wondering if there is any purpose for you on this earth? The mystery is unraveled in Him as He leads you to live for His glory and to reflect the reality of His character.

Let’s face it, you’ll never finally or fully make it on your own. Self is forever inadequate to satisfy your soul, and it is inept to solve the restless searching of your heart.

Until we learn that lesson, we will continue to discover that the trouble with self-focused living is that it is never resolved. Just when you think you know all about yourself, you’ll do something that surprises and disappoints you. Like the hamster that spends most of its time running in its wheel, self-absorbed people rarely get to resolution.

Life must be about more than getting to know ourselves. In fact, if you’re determined to spend a great deal of time preoccupied with yourself, life is bound to bore you to tears. None of us are special enough to enthrall ourselves with ourselves for the rest of our lives. So, welcome to the joy of living to know Jesus!


The Vision and The Reality

From: Utmost.org

The Vision and The Reality

Thank God for being able to see all that you have not yet been. You have had the vision, but you are not yet to the reality of it by any means. It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back. We are not quite prepared for the bumps and bruises that must come if we are going to be turned into the shape of the vision. We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to be battered into the shape of the vision to be used by God? The beatings will always come in the most common, everyday ways and through common, everyday people.

There are times when we do know what God’s purpose is; whether we will let the vision be turned into actual character depends on us, not on God. If we prefer to relax on the mountaintop and live in the memory of the vision, then we will be of no real use in the ordinary things of which human life is made. We have to learn to live in reliance upon what we saw in the vision, not simply live in ecstatic delight and conscious reflection upon God. This means living the realities of our lives in the light of the vision until the truth of the vision is actually realized in us. Every bit of our training is in that direction. Learn to thank God for making His demands known.

Our little “I am” always sulks and pouts when God says do. Let your little “I am” be shriveled up in God’s wrath and indignation— “I AM WHO I AM…has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). He must dominate. Isn’t it piercing to realize that God not only knows where we live, but also knows the gutters into which we crawl! He will hunt us down as fast as a flash of lightning. No human being knows human beings as God does.


Setting Prisoners Free

From: Our Daily Bread

Setting Prisoners Free
Read: Psalm 146 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 20–22; Ephesians 6

The Lord sets prisoners free. Psalm 146:7

When my wife and I visited the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force near Savannah, Georgia, we were especially moved by the prisoner-of-war exhibit, with its re-creation of a German prisoner-of-war camp’s barracks. Marlene’s dad, Jim, served in the Eighth Air Force, the “Mighty Eighth,” as they flew missions over Europe during World War II. During the war, the Eighth Air Force suffered over 47,000 injuries and more than 26,000 deaths. Jim was one of those shot down and held as a prisoner of war. As we walked through the exhibit, we recalled Jim telling about the absolute joy he and his fellow prisoners felt the day they were set free.

God’s care for the oppressed and liberation of the imprisoned are declared in Psalm 146. The psalmist describes the one who “upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry,” who “sets prisoners free” (v. 7). All of this is cause for celebration and praise. But the greatest freedom of all is freedom from our guilt and shame. No wonder Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Through Christ’s sacrifice, we are set free from the prison of sin to know His joy and love and the freedom that only forgiveness can bring.

The prison of sin cannot withstand the power of Christ’s forgiveness.

Be Patient!

Whoever is patient has great understanding,
but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if
we do not give up.
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Wendy Pope October 3, 2016

From; Crosswalk.com

It’s Taking Too Long

“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land.” >Exodus 13:17a (NLT)

Maggie and her husband, James, prayed their son would become a godly man, work hard for honest wages and someday lead a family of his own.

But Caleb had a different idea about how his life would be, and he wanted to live by his terms.

Though his parents offered grace and godly guidance, Caleb refused to obey their guidelines. As the head of their home, James told his son he could no longer live there. With a broken heart, Maggie supported her husband’s leadership and watched her son pack his bags.

For the next five years, she prayed. For five years, she waited. For five years, she carried his Bible in her purse.

We often interpret our seasons of wait as inconvenient, an interruption on the way to the ultimate outcome. Might I suggest we view our wait as an intermission, rather than an interruption? Maggie’s intermission started the day the locks were changed.

Thankfully, Maggie used her intermission as a time of refreshment and connection with the Lord. She spent time with Him in Bible study and prayer. She invested in her relationship with her husband. Maggie’s commitment to the Lord deepened, and she began to trust Him more than she did before her son left. She determined not to view her wait as an interruption but to serve the Lord by teaching young married women how to love and respect their husbands. As she grew in her relationship with God, her commitment to pray for Caleb never waned.

In our key verse, the Israelites are headed for a pause. “When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land” (Exodus 13:17a).

God knew there was a shorter route. He also knew the Israelites’ propensity to run back to the familiar places of sin and to their lives without devotion to Him. This longer route, this intermission, gave the Israelites the opportunity to learn to trust and obey God. Through the pause, they would learn that a daily dependency on God is the only way to truly live.

Are you stuck in a holding pattern? Ask God to reveal any area of rebellion. The Lord is close by to forgive our sins and provide all we need to enjoy the freedom of His presence and the fullness of His plans.

Lord, I know there are times when I grumble and complain about the path my life is taking. I know You are with me, even in the intermissions of life. Search and examine my heart today. I want to experience You each day as I learn to trust You and find joy in obeying Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

P.S. During her intermission, Maggie fully lived her renewed relationship with God and faithfully prayed for her prodigal son. One day, out of the blue, she received the text that said, “I’ve packed my bags. I’m ready to come home and follow the Lord.” Life after her pause hasn’t been perfect, but watching her son grow in his faith, fall more in love with his heavenly Father (while working in harmony, side-by-side with his earthly father) has made her every minute of her wait worthwhile.

>Luke 11:28, “He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it”



Join The Choir

“I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 89:1

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir in concert. Nearly 200 people who had been redeemed out of the bowels of Brooklyn—former crack addicts and prostitutes included—sang their hearts out to God. Their faces glistened with tears running down their cheeks as they sang about God’s work of redemption and forgiveness in their lives.

As I watched them, I felt somewhat shortchanged. Since I was saved when I was 6, I didn’t feel the same depth of gratefulness that they displayed as they sang about the dramatic rescue God had provided for them. I was saved from things like biting my sister—not exactly a significant testimony!

Then the Spirit reminded me that if He had not rescued me when I was young, who knows where my life would be today? What destructive paths would I have stumbled down if He had not been teaching me qualities like servanthood and self-control?

It became clear that I too am a great debtor to His grace. It’s not only what we are saved “out of” but what we have been saved “from” that makes our hearts worthy of a spot in the chorus of the redeemed. Anyone who receives Jesus as Savior is welcome to join in the choir of praise: “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever” (Ps. 89:1).

He’s been faithful, faithful to me;
Looking back, His love and mercy I see.
Though in my heart I’ve questioned, even failed to believe,
He’s been faithful, faithful to me.  —Cymbala

Praise flows freely from the choir of the redeemed.


The Place of Ministry

The Place of Ministry

“His disciples asked Him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ ” (Mark 9:28). The answer lies in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “This kind can come out by nothing but” concentrating on Him, and then doubling and redoubling that concentration on Him. We can remain powerless forever, as the disciples were in this situation, by trying to do God’s work without concentrating on His power, and by following instead the ideas that we draw from our own nature. We actually slander and dishonor God by our very eagerness to serve Him without knowing Him.

When you are brought face to face with a difficult situation and nothing happens externally, you can still know that freedom and release will be given because of your continued concentration on Jesus Christ. Your duty in service and ministry is to see that there is nothing between Jesus and yourself. Is there anything between you and Jesus even now? If there is, you must get through it, not by ignoring it as an irritation, or by going up and over it, but by facing it and getting through it into the presence of Jesus Christ. Then that very problem itself, and all that you have been through in connection with it, will glorify Jesus Christ in a way that you will never know until you see Him face to face.

We must be able to “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), but we must also know how to come down. The power of the saint lies in the coming down and in the living that is done in the valley. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and what he was referring to were mostly humiliating things. And yet it is in our power to refuse to be humiliated and to say, “No, thank you, I much prefer to be on the mountaintop with God.” Can I face things as they actually are in the light of the reality of Jesus Christ, or do things as they really are destroy my faith in Him, and put me into a panic?


No Outsiders

From: Our Daily Bread

No Outsiders

What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him.Deuteronomy 10:12

In the remote region of Ghana where I lived as a boy, “Chop time, no friend” was a common proverb. Locals considered it impolite to visit at “chop time” (mealtime) because food was often scarce. The maxim applied to neighbors and outsiders alike.

But in the Philippines, where I also lived for a time, even if you visit unannounced at mealtime, your hosts will insist on sharing with you regardless of whether they have enough for themselves. Cultures differ for their own good reasons.

As the Israelites left Egypt, God provided specific instructions to govern their culture. But rules—even God’s rules—can never change hearts. So Moses said, “Change your hearts and stop being stubborn” (Deut. 10:16 nlt). Interestingly, right after issuing that challenge Moses took up the topic of Israel’s treatment of outsiders. God “loves the foreigner residing among you,” he said, “giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (vv. 18–19).

Israel served the “God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome” (v. 17). One powerful way they were to show their identification with God was by loving foreigners—those from outside their culture.

What might this small picture of God’s character mean for us today? How can we show His love to the marginalized and the needy in our world?

Heavenly Father, help us bless others today by showing Your love in some small way.

In Christ, there are no outsiders.

Christianity Is A Relationship With Christ

Rituals and religion are not Christianity. Christianity is a relationship with the living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What we do for HIm should be done out of love and gratitude for what He has done for us. 

Romans 5:8

7    It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.

8    But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us

.9    Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him!…

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Pictures of various rituals from around the world

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Life Beyond The Rituals

From: Get More Strength.org

“They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Mark 1:18

A royal dignitary was greeting residents at a nursing home, when he was surprised by the unresponsiveness of one woman who just sat there and stared at him. Finally, the dignitary asked, “Do you know who I am?”—to which the woman responded: “No. But that nurse over there helps us with those kinds of things.”

Many people are confused about who Jesus is. But through His Word,  God helps us know and enjoy the real Jesus. You will find Him wonderfully compelling. Tough fishermen, tax collectors, and zealots gave up everything to follow Him (Mark 1:18). Women felt safe with Him. Crowds stood in awe of His power and authority.

Jesus is not content to be just our “fire insurance,” saving us from eternal punishment in hell. Rather, He wants us to know Him for who He really is, and He desires to connect with us on a deeper, more personal level.

If you are weary of a religion that is about rules and regulations, then welcome to life beyond the rituals. Welcome to a relationship in which you can find companionship, comfort, wisdom, and reality. Welcome to the wonderful privilege of getting to know Jesus and the joy of following Him.

Get to know Him—and you’ll grow to love Him more and more each day.

Which of all our friends, to save us,
Could or would have shed their blood?
But our Jesus died to have us
Reconciled in Him to God.  —Newton

To know Jesus is to love Jesus.



The Place of Humiliation

From: Utmost.org

The Place of Humiliation

After every time of exaltation, we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they really are, where it is neither beautiful, poetic, nor thrilling. The height of the mountaintop is measured by the dismal drudgery of the valley, but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mountain, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God— that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at some heroic level of intensity, simply because of the natural selfishness of our own hearts. But God wants us to be at the drab everyday level, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship with Him. Peter thought it would be a wonderful thing for them to remain on the mountain, but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the mountain and into the valley, where the true meaning of the vision was explained (see Mark 9:5-6Mark 9:14-23).

“If you can do anything….” It takes the valley of humiliation to remove the skepticism from us. Look back at your own experience and you will find that until you learned who Jesus really was, you were a skillful skeptic about His power. When you were on the mountaintop you could believe anything, but what about when you were faced with the facts of the valley? You may be able to give a testimony regarding your sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you right now? The last time you were on the mountain with God, you saw that all the power in heaven and on earth belonged to Jesus— will you be skeptical now, simply because you are in the valley of humiliation?


God’s Reminders

From: Our Daily Bread

God's Reminders

He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” Mark 8:21

My friend Bob Horner refers to Jesus as “the Master Reminder.” And that is good, because we are so doubting and forgetful. No matter how often Jesus met the needs of the people who came to Him when He was here on earth, His first disciples feared they would somehow be left in need. After witnessing miracles, they failed to understand the greater meaning the Lord wanted them to remember.

On a journey across the Sea of Galilee, the disciples realized they had forgotten to bring bread and were talking about it. Jesus asked them, “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” (Mark 8:17–18). Then He reminded them that when He fed five thousand people with five loaves, the disciples had collected twelve basketfuls of leftover pieces. And when He fed four thousand with seven loaves, they filled seven baskets with leftovers. Then “He said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’” (v. 21).

The Lord’s miraculous provision for people’s physical needs pointed to the greater truth—that He was the Bread of Life and that His body would be “broken” for them and for us.

Every time we eat the bread and drink the cup during the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of our Lord’s great love and provision for us.

In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus left us a great reminder of His sacrifice. Read about it in Matthew 26:17–30; Luke 22:14–20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26.

Communion is the Lord’s reminder to us of His love and provision.


Rest In God’s Care

11    “Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; Those
who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish.    Isaiah 41:10
(Babies may say, feed me, love me, I rest in your  care.  
We should say to God, feed me, love me, I rest in your care. )
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The Pursuit of Happiness

From: Get More Strength.org

“He 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.” Psalm 1:3

The movie The Aviator portrays the fascinating life of Howard Hughes. In the 1930s and 40s, he wowed the public with his brilliant advances in aviation technology and became the wealthiest man in America. He seemed to have everything a man could want. Yet he was surprisingly miserable and plagued by several mental disorders later in life that rendered him a paranoid recluse until the day he died.

His life is a reminder that when it comes to happiness, money is not the answer. This news isn’t new. Most of us would agree that money is not a ticket to happiness—yet we act like we believe it is.

Things like the lure of a better investment or a cash windfall of some kind, or the feeling that if I only had enough to buy that desired product, pull our hearts toward living for cash. We are like wanderers who crawl across the desert of life from one material mirage to another and wonder why we don’t feel happy.

In Psalm 1:1-6, before the psalmist tells us where to find the kind of happiness that God offers, we are told where not to find it. Hanging out with ungodly friends, listening to the advice of self-help books and horoscopes, and conforming to the cultural input around us all lead down dead-end streets. One of those major dead ends is “get-rich-and-be-happy” street. Unfortunately, ungodly influence doesn’t come only from people “out there.” It has subtly seeped into our church conversations with Christian friends, and it occasionally can come from unlikely places such as pulpits and church publications. Think of how easily bad advice has polluted your thoughts, distracted your focus, and diminished your sense of happiness. If your pursuit in life is material success, remember, it didn’t work for Howard Hughes, and you can bet that it won’t work for you either.

Here’s a great alternative. The psalmist affirms that the truly blessed life finds its joy and satisfaction in living by the words and ways of God. There is no greater happiness than the sense of a clear conscience, the confidence of being loved and led by God, and the wealth of knowing that life is being lived in the safety of God’s law. Reject the bad advice that God’s rules are divine handcuffs and rejoice that his “commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3) but a source of blessedness and joy (Joshua 1:8).

Looking for true happiness? Delight in the law of the Lord and live by the principles of His Word!


The true position of assurance

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.’ Ephesians 1:13

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 3:14–24

We know that God is true because we have proved him. Sometimes this comes through the hearing of the Word—as we listen our faith is confirmed. But there is doubtless besides this, a special and supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, whereby men are assured that they are born of God. You will observe in one place the apostle says that the Spirit ‘beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God;’ so that there are two witnesses—first, our spirit bears witness, that is, by evidences: I look at my faith, and see myself depending upon Christ, and then I know, because I love the brethren, and for other reasons, that I am born of God. Then there comes over and above the witness of evidence, faith and feeling, the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit. Have you not felt it? I cannot describe this to you, but you who have felt it know it. Did you not the other day feel a heavenly calm as you meditated upon your state and condition in Christ? You wondered where it came from. It was not the result of protracted devotion, but it stole over you, you knew not how it was, you were bathed in it as in sunlight, and you rejoiced exceedingly. You rejoiced in Christ—that was the basis of confidence, but that confidence came through the Spirit bearing witness with your spirit. And this has occurred sometimes in the midst of sharp conflicts just when dark despair seemed ready to overwhelm you. You may have enjoyed this comfort under peculiar trials, and losses of friends, and you may expect to have it when you come to die. Then, if ever in your life, you should be able to say, ‘I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.’

For meditation: We must not regard the Holy Spirit as a loose cannon giving us feelings, experiences and revelations which are nothing to do with the Scriptures. But he can confirm personally in our hearts what God has said in his Word and done in our lives (Romans 8:14–16;Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:24; 4:13).


The Place of Exaltation

From: Utmost.org

The Place of Exaltation

We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain, when we have seen things from God’s perspective and have wanted to stay there. But God will never allow us to stay there. The true test of our spiritual life is in exhibiting the power to descend from the mountain. If we only have the power to go up, something is wrong. It is a wonderful thing to be on the mountain with God, but a person only gets there so that he may later go down and lift up the demon-possessed people in the valley (see Mark 9:14-18). We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life— those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength. Yet our spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mountain. We feel that we could talk and live like perfect angels, if we could only stay on the mountaintop. Those times of exaltation are exceptional and they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware to prevent our spiritual selfishness from wanting to make them the only time.

We are inclined to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching. In actual fact, it is to be turned into something even better than teaching, namely, character. The mountaintop is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a terrible trap in always asking, “What’s the use of this experience?” We can never measure spiritual matters in that way. The moments on the mountaintop are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.


Hold On

From: Our Daily Bread

Hold On

Stand firm in the Lord. Philippians 4:1

Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie, China, is considered one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. To view its towering cliffs in all their glorious splendor, you must take the Tianmen Shan cable car, which covers a distance of 7,455 meters (4.5 miles). It’s amazing how this cable car can travel such long distances and scale such steep mountains without any motor on the car itself. Yet it moves safely up these spectacular heights by keeping a strong grip on a cable that is moved by a powerful motor.

In our journey of faith, how can we finish the race well and “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus”? (Phil. 3:14). Like the cable car, we keep a strong grip on Christ, which is what Paul meant when he said “stand firm in the Lord” (4:1). We have no resources of our own. We depend fully on Christ to keep us moving forward. He will take us through the greatest challenges and lead us safely home.

Toward the end of his earthly life, the apostle Paul declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). You can too. Simply keep a strong grip on Christ.

We’re grateful, Lord, that while we aim to keep a strong grip on You, You always keep a strong grip on us! You are working in us and giving us what we need to continue trusting You on our faith journey.

Keeping the faith means trusting God to faithfully keep you.

Find Peace Through Christ

John 14:27 

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”      John 14:27

PIctures of  a hectic life

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Glynnis Whitwer September 30, 2016

From: Crosswalk.com

The Promise of a Less-Hectic Life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (ESV)

For years I took pride in being overly busy.

Between the needs of family, work, home and church my days were filled to overflowing. Although my schedule was chaotic and I was nuts, I preferred to think of myself as a “highly productive person.”

Friends would ask, “How do you manage all you do?” And I’d respond with a humble-brag, “I guess I’m just wired that way.”

My heart did a little pitter-patter at the recognition of my work, at their respect of my achievements. I hungered for that type of response; it fueled me to keep pressing on.

But in the quiet of my day, my to-do list whispered another truth. The truth that glares at me and says I haven’t done it all. I knew this truth but chose to avoid it. It was easier to find excuses and place blame because, after all, I was “really busy.”

My friends don’t see that side of me. They have the advantage of seeing all I get done; not what’s left undone. But I do.

Perhaps you know this feeling too. No matter how much you accomplish, what bothers you most is what you didn’t finish. That long list of to-do’s (whether it’s on paper or just rolling around in your mind) keeps you up at night.

A lot of undone work includes mundane, everyday tasks like cleaning up, making a menu for the week or paying bills.

But there’s more. There are the dreams we cannot touch. Vacations we don’t plan. Time we want to be intentional with those we love, including God, but can’t seem to manage.

A few years ago I thought I was having a panic attack. I sat on my couch feeling a heavy weight on my chest. It was hard to breathe, and anxiety simmered, but there was no apparent threat. However, looming deadlines, a demanding home business, part-time work and mounting emails beckoned while five kids wondered, When will dinner be ready … and are there any clean socks?

My life felt out-of-control. I was burned out from having too much to do, and always feeling behind. The fear of disappointing someone chased me constantly. I was busy, but simply didn’t know how to stop the endless cycle.

Turns out I didn’t have an anxiety problem. I had an over-commitment problem.

In order to start making changes, I had to honestly face some hard things about myself. My hunger for significance drove me to take on more than I could handle. But the satisfaction of completing a task was momentary and shallow, leaving me with a hectic life and a hollow soul.

Before I could live the less-hectic life I desperately longed for, I had to address the root issue of my heart’s need. And part of that was identifying the lie that drove me to overwork.

Jesus promised an abundant life, but also told us there is an enemy plotting our downfall: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

And our enemy, “the thief,” is also a liar, always twisting the truth. So while Jesus promised an abundant life, Satan spins it so we think that life is found in an abundance of activity and commitments. Only too late do we realizethat life steals from us what’s best … room to breathe, focus and space in our schedules to fulfill our God-given priorities.

The abundant life Jesus offers isn’t filled with to-do’s. Tasks satisfy from the outside in, never reaching the core of who we are. Jesus’ satisfies from the inside out, as we experience the depth of His love, purpose and peace.

It took a year of trimming my responsibilities before I experienced the abundant life Jesus promised. I’ve discovered that doing less actually makes me feel more significant when I’m not seeking achievements to fill my heart.

Jesus promises a less-hectic life, and it’s a promise He can fulfill when we look to Him to fill our days, instead of an endless to-do list.

Heavenly Father, You never assigned me to live a hectic, harried life. A life found in You isn’t characterized by checks on a list, but in an abundance of love and joy. Help me find my significance in You alone, and live a less-hectic life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


The Assigning of the Call

From: Utmost.org

The Assigning of the Call

We take our own spiritual consecration and try to make it into a call of God, but when we get right with Him He brushes all this aside. Then He gives us a tremendous, riveting pain to fasten our attention on something that we never even dreamed could be His call for us. And for one radiant, flashing moment we see His purpose, and we say, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. Yet God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to use to crush us. We say, “If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way, then I wouldn’t object!” But when He uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object. Yet we must never try to choose the place of our own martyrdom. If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed—you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.

I wonder what finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you? Have you been as hard as a marble and escaped? If you are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you anyway, the wine produced would have been remarkably bitter. To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service. We have to be placed into God and brought into agreement with Him before we can be broken bread in His hands. Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.


Bad Faith, Good Faith

From: Our Daily Bread

Bad Faith, Good Faith

[Abraham] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God. Romans 4:20

“You gotta have faith,” people say. But what does that mean? Is anyfaith good faith?

“Believe in yourself and all that you are,” wrote one positive thinker a century ago. “Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” As nice as that may sound, it falls to pieces when it crashes into reality. We need a faith in something bigger than ourselves.

God promised Abram he would have a multitude of descendants (Gen. 15:4–5), so he faced a huge obstacle—he was old and childless. When he and Sarah got tired of waiting for God to make good on His promise, they tried to overcome that obstacle on their own. As a result, they fractured their family and created a lot of unnecessary dissension (see Gen. 16 and 21:8–21).

Nothing Abraham did in his own strength worked. But ultimately he became known as a man of tremendous faith. Paul wrote of him, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Rom. 4:18). This faith, said Paul, “was credited to him as righteousness” (v. 22).

Abraham’s faith was in something far bigger than himself—the one and only God. It’s the object of our faith that makes all the difference.

Lord, I want a strong faith in You, not just faith in myself or my abilities or in others. I am nothing without You.

Our faith is good if it’s in the right Person.

God’s Plan And Timing Are Perfect

Be Patient, God’s timing is perfect.

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Wendy Pope September 29, 2016

From: Crosswalk.com

Why Is God Taking So Long?

“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:11 (NIV)

Growing up, I had a set plan for my life. Get good grades. Become an elementary school teacher. Marry the cute guy with the cool car. Have babies.

My dreams came to pass, except one — a house full of children.

No matter how many tests I took, needles I got stuck with or remedies I tried, I could not get pregnant.

The desire to be a mother consumed my thoughts. Why can’t I get pregnant? What is wrong with me? What have I done to warrant such punishment from God? My girlfriends were getting pregnant. That just didn’t seem fair, so I determined that God wasn’t fair.

I began to decline invitations to the multitude of blue-and-pink parties. My husband and I purposely socialized with friends who were not expecting or didn’t have children. However, avoiding pregnant friends did not ease my pain or subdue my longing.

Trying harder didn’t help either. For two years, we endured infertility testing, but noone could explain why I was unable to conceive.

Medically, I was doing everything right; spiritually, I was not. The wait exhausted my faith. Resolving that God was mad at me, I was furious with Him. Maybe you can relate?

We have our plans and want our way. When things don’t happen accordingly, we retaliate by ignoring God. I felt this way for more than two years as the object of my desire became greater than the Person of my faith.

Struggling with infertility can take you down some winding roads full of dark thoughts and bumpy emotions. Without constant awareness of my need to allow truth to steer me, I could easily get lost wondering why God didn’t love me, assume He was punishing me or even question His ability to help.

Many of us face long delays in seeing the desires of our heart come to fruition. You may be waiting for a new job, a second chance at a relationship or a cure to poor health. Days, months, even years have passed without a glimmer of change. Questions of “when” and “why” fill your mind and heart.

Years went by before I eventually conceived my daughter. To be honest, I don’t have an exact answer now for why God asked me to wait to have children. But I do know what Psalm 33:11 shares with us, “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (NIV).

The word “purposes” jumps out at me. In the dark moments of hurt, frustration, doubt and mistrust, I had to remind myself of who God is and what His purposes are.

God is wise, good and caring.

God’s purposes are right, loving and on time.

When you’re in the middle of a long wait, these truths feel difficult to believe. Even after having my two children, it’s taken me years to trust in God’s perfect timing and ways. In fact, I’m currently waiting on Him to heal my husband from a sickness he’s battled for the better part of 10 years. I don’t know if healing Scott is part of the Lord’s purposes, but I do trust that whatever happens, God is wise, good, caring, right, loving and right-on-time.

Sometimes the wait is more about experiencing God than enduring the delay. We can rest assured that in due time, He will bring to fruition all His designs and they will be good. As we continue on our journey, let’s remain open to lining up our plans with God’s and allowing His truth to steer our wishes.

Lord, waiting is hard. Forgive me for being impatient and trying to “help” work out things on my own. I truly want to focus on You rather than the object of my wait. I ask Your Spirit to calm my anxious heart as l learn to patiently wait on Your best for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


The Awareness of the Call

From: Utmost.org

The Awareness of the Call

We are inclined to forget the deeply spiritual and supernatural touch of God. If you are able to tell exactly where you were when you received the call of God and can explain all about it, I question whether you have truly been called. The call of God does not come like that; it is much more supernatural. The realization of the call in a person’s life may come like a clap of thunder or it may dawn gradually. But however quickly or slowly this awareness comes, it is always accompanied with an undercurrent of the supernatural— something that is inexpressible and produces a “glow.” At any moment the sudden awareness of this incalculable, supernatural, surprising call that has taken hold of your life may break through— “I chose you…” (John 15:16). The call of God has nothing to do with salvation and sanctification. You are not called to preach the gospel because you are sanctified; the call to preach the gospel is infinitely different. Paul describes it as a compulsion that was placed upon him.

If you have ignored, and thereby removed, the great supernatural call of God in your life, take a review of your circumstances. See where you have put your own ideas of service or your particular abilities ahead of the call of God. Paul said, “…woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” He had become aware of the call of God, and his compulsion to “preach the gospel” was so strong that nothing else was any longer even a competitor for his strength.

If a man or woman is called of God, it doesn’t matter how difficult the circumstances may be. God orchestrates every force at work for His purpose in the end. If you will agree with God’s purpose, He will bring not only your conscious level but also all the deeper levels of your life, which you yourself cannot reach, into perfect harmony.


Within a Stone’s Throw

From: Our Daily Bread

Within a Stone’s Throw

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. John 8:7

As a group of religious leaders herded an adulterous woman toward Jesus, they couldn’t know they were carrying her within a stone’s throw of grace. Their hope was to discredit Him. If He told them to let the woman go, they could claim He was breaking Mosaic law. But if He condemned her to death, the crowds following Him would have dismissed His words of mercy and grace.

But Jesus turned the tables on the accusers. Scripture says that rather than answering them directly, He started writing on the ground. When the leaders continued to question Him, He invited any of them who had never sinned to throw the first stone, and then He started writing on the ground again. The next time He looked up, all the accusers were gone.

Now the only person who could have thrown a stone—the only sinless one—looked at the woman and gave her mercy. “ ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’ ” (John 8:11).

Whether today finds you needing forgiveness for judging others or desiring assurance that no sin is beyond His grace, be encouraged by this: No one is throwing stones today; go and be changed by God’s mercy.

Father, cleanse me of my judging nature and free me from the bonds of sin. Let me taste Your mercy and then help me to live a changed life.

We serve a Savior who is eager to forgive.