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More Than A Feeling

“It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (63).
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More Than a Feeling
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The pastor said, “If you’re like me, you …” Then he described his feelings that closely reflected my own. I was surprised to think my experience might be common.

When I was new at the church my husband and I now attend, Communion was wonder-filled. Not remarkably different in its practice from my previous experience. But profound with awe.

After a brief search for a new church home, we had come to this church–where children and grandchildren also worship. Communion here brought me a special sense of Christ’s presence. It gave me unexplainable peace and joy. Good feelings filled me.

Then the church community became familiar. I was still home–even more at home than before because I was getting to know the people around me. But good feelings come and go; the awe wore away.

I wanted that feeling, that awe, back.

Then the pastor drew me to John 6. Jesus multiplied the fish and the loaves. The people ate. They were satisfied. Good feelings filled them. They liked that feeling of the miraculous.

They followed so they could keep that feeling.

Then Jesus told them: “I am the bread of life” (John 6: 35 NASB). We follow, not for the physical fish and bread He had multiplied–and not for the feelings that came with them. We follow Jesus, just Jesus.

It was a turning point in Christ’s ministry–the call to follow the spirit of God and not the flesh of feelings.

“It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (63).

Christ and His words are miracle enough.

This turning point in His ministry became a turning point for the crowd of followers. Jesus didn’t just keep doing miracles to hang onto the crowd. He knew some in the crowd didn’t believe. They only liked the miracles. The free bread. The good feeling.

So when it looked like the show was over, when Jesus explained that “no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father,” (65) many left.

Feelings come and go. People sometimes do, too. Jesus retained a smaller crowd of followers–true believers and one betrayer.

The true believers were those who followed Him whether the good times continued or the tough times of persecution came–which they did.

Those who walked away went–to what? The next show? A circus that would end and leave them empty, hungering for the next experience.

And never knowing miracle again.

Those who stayed experienced testing and persecution. But they also experienced miracles again–the miracles of Pentecost, of redemption for themselves and for the Church that would grow from their own ministry.

They got to–and yet today get to–experience Christ and His words.

Following Christ is so much more than a feeling. And it leads us eventually to the ultimate awe.

He Sees Us

From: Our Daily Journey

He Sees Us

Read:

Acts 1:6-11
Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand (Acts 2:33).

Jesus’ life was full of surprises that defied everyone’s expectations. From an obscure village, He emerged as a miracle-working teacher who built His kingdom with sinners and the sick. Then, when His purposes seemed defeated by His shocking crucifixion, this apparent defeat was reversed with His resurrection only three days later!

The disciples’ heads must have been spinning. We’re winning! All is lost! No, all is won!

They might have expected their risen Lord would have another surprise in store. When the disciples asked whether He was about “to free Israel and restore our kingdom,” Jesus said the Spirit would empower them to witness about Him around the world (Acts 1:6-8). Then He “was taken up into a cloud” into heaven (Acts 1:9).

Although we can’t see Him, He sees us. Jesus returned to His Father, not to leave us, but so He could better serve us. Now enthroned in heaven, He is “the ruler of all the kings of the world” (Revelation 1:5), working in all things to restore His creation—and us (Ephesians 1:10Hebrews 2:8-10).

And our highly exalted King is also our High Priest. Having “entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf,” “He lives forever to intercede” (Hebrews 9:247:25). Having brought humanity from death into life on the cross, He now transforms us by God’s power (Romans 6:5-11). We can confidently “go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him” (Hebrews 10:21-22).

You’ve got a Friend in high places, seated “in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Colossians 3:1). May Jesus’ ascension into heaven assure you that nothing can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:34,39). Our future is secure in His nail-scarred hands.

 

Taking Possession of Our Own Soul

By Oswald Chambers

Taking Possession of Our Own Soul

When a person is born again, there is a period of time when he does not have the same vitality in his thinking or reasoning that he previously had. We must learn to express this new life within us, which comes by forming the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:5). Luke 21:19 means that we take possession of our souls through patience. But many of us prefer to stay at the entrance to the Christian life, instead of going on to create and build our soul in accordance with the new life God has placed within us. We fail because we are ignorant of the way God has made us, and we blame things on the devil that are actually the result of our own undisciplined natures. Just think what we could be when we are awakened to the truth!

There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives. Moods nearly always are rooted in some physical circumstance, not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise as a result of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do. The problem that most of us are cursed with is simply that we won’t. The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.

 

God Is Able To Deliver Us

The God we serve is able to deliver us from [the fire] . . . . But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods. Daniel 3:17–18

Even If

From: Our Daily Bread

Even If

The God we serve is able to deliver us from [the fire] . . . . But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods. Daniel 3:17–18

Sometimes life deals us a tremendous blow. Other times the miraculous happens.

Three young men, captives in Babylon, stood in front of the fearsome king of that land and boldly proclaimed that under no circumstances would they worship the giant image of gold towering above them. Together they declared: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know . . . we will not . . . worship the image” (Daniel 3:17–18).

These three men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were hurled into the fiery furnace; and God miraculously delivered them so that not a hair of their head was singed and their clothing was smoke-free (vv. 19–27). They had been prepared to die but their trust in God was unwavering—“even if” He had not saved them.

God desires that we cling to Him—even if our loved one isn’t healed, even if we lose our job, even if we are persecuted. Sometimes God rescues us from danger in this life, and sometimes He doesn’t. But the truth we can hold firmly is this: “The God we serve is able,” loves us, and is with us in every fiery trial, every even if.

Dear Lord, we love You! Please give us unwavering faith—and strength and hope for each day—no matter the circumstance.

God is able.

Out of the Wreck I Rise

Out of the Wreck I Rise

By Oswald Chambers

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? —Romans 8:35

God does not keep His child immune from trouble; He promises, “I will be with him in trouble…” (Psalm 91:15). It doesn’t matter how real or intense the adversities may be; nothing can ever separate him from his relationship to God. “In all these things we are more than conquerors…” (Romans 8:37). Paul was not referring here to imaginary things, but to things that are dangerously real. And he said we are “super-victors” in the midst of them, not because of our own ingenuity, nor because of our courage, but because none of them affects our essential relationship with God in Jesus Christ. I feel sorry for the Christian who doesn’t have something in the circumstances of his life that he wishes were not there.

“Shall tribulation…?” Tribulation is never a grand, highly welcomed event; but whatever it may be— whether exhausting, irritating, or simply causing some weakness— it is not able to “separate us from the love of Christ.” Never allow tribulations or the “cares of this world” to separate you from remembering that God loves you (Matthew 13:22).

“Shall…distress…?” Can God’s love continue to hold fast, even when everyone and everything around us seems to be saying that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice?

“Shall…famine…?” Can we not only believe in the love of God but also be “more than conquerors,” even while we are being starved?

Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver, having deceived even Paul, or else some extraordinary thing happens to someone who holds on to the love of God when the odds are totally against him. Logic is silenced in the face of each of these things which come against him. Only one thing can account for it— the love of God in Christ Jesus. “Out of the wreck I rise” every time.

 

Secret Storage

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From: Joe Stowell, Author

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

One of the New Year’s resolutions that I have managed to keep is my plan to clean out the two storage rooms in our basement. When we initially moved into our house, whenever the movers didn’t know where to put something, we sent them to the storage rooms. Since then, a similar fate has been assigned to the stuff we continue to accumulate and don’t know what to do with. Cleaning out those rooms seemed like a daunting task, but I have to tell you it’s great to have it done. I go down there a lot now just to revel in the victory!

While I was cleaning, throwing away, sorting, and organizing, I thought about my heart. I thought about the secret places in my life that no one sees. The storage rooms where stuff that should be discarded stacks up. And here is what became clear to me: Who I really am is not determined by the parts of my life that are open to public view. In our house we do a pretty good job of keeping them in good order. The real commentary on what kind of a person I am is the condition of the storage rooms. If they are cluttered with unwanted, bad, and unnecessary things, then it says something about me. It says I am too busy . . . or, too lazy . . . or, undisciplined . . . or, just apathetic. Or, it says that I really don’t mind a lot of junk behind closed doors. It might even say that I like the junk in the storage rooms.

It’s like that in life. Who we really are is a lot about the condition of the secret places of our hearts.

When I was done, my male need for affirmation was out of control, I wanted Martie to come down immediately and see how clean and organized it all was . . . I even told my son that he had to stop by and see! Which made me wonder if the true test of secret places being in good order might just be whether or not you’d like someone to open the door to see how it looks. As the writer in Proverbs says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”!

My Cup Overflows

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.

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Overflowing

From: Our Daily Bread

Overflowing

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. Romans 15:13

“No! No! No! NO!” I screamed. It didn’t help. Not one bit. My brilliant solution for our plugged problem—flushing again—accomplished exactly the opposite of what I’d intended. I knew I had made a mistake the second I pushed the lever down. And I stood helplessly as water overflowed.

How many times have our kids tried to pour milk and misjudged the process, with white liquid flowing everywhere. Or maybe we failed to remember that a two-liter bottle of soda just rolled around in the trunk . . . with explosively startling results.

No, spills are almost never a good thing. But there might be one exception. The apostle Paul uses that image of overflowing to describe a people so full of God’s Spirit that what naturally spills out of them is hope (Romans 15:13). I love that picture of being filled to the brim with joy, peace, and faith because of His powerful presence in our lives. So much so, in fact, that we can’t help but exude and express winsome confidence in our heavenly Father. That might be during the beautiful, sunny seasons of our lives. Or when the proverbial cup of our lives gets jostled. Either way, what sloshes out over the top is life-giving hope to those around us who are “drenched” by it.

Lord, spills happen in life. But when they do, help us to be so full of Your Spirit that what pours out of us is the kind of hope that others can’t help but notice and be blessed by.

The Father gave us the Spirit to make us like the Son.

 

May 18, 2018
From Breakdown to Breakthrough
AMY CARROLLImage result for picture of breakdown

“To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.” Proverbs 16:1 (NIV)

I hummed a tune while putting the finishing touches on dinner and the table. Some neighbors were coming to dinner, one set of new friends and one set of old, and I tingled with anticipation.

Suddenly my phone dinged, and my dear friend texted, asking me what time we were coming over. She also requested that I bring some salad dressing with me.

What? My mind spun in confusion. They’re supposed to be coming here, I thought. I picked up the phone, calling her to straighten the tangle, but she was as confused as I was.

In the midst of multiple phone calls and texts to plan the time with our new neighbors, my friend and I had gotten our wires crossed. Her house was decorated and ready with food in the oven — just like mine!

With irritation boiling below the surface, I asked her if I could think for a moment and call her back. Truthfully, my initial reaction wasn’t great. This is my party! After all this work, I want everyone at my house.

It took me a few minutes to struggle my selfishness to the ground, but thankfully I shushed my thoughts and asked the Lord what He thought.

“You can choose to push your plans, or you can prioritize the friendship. You can’t do both,” I felt Jesus whisper to my heart.

My heart wavered in the choice. I really, really wanted my own way. I could think of lots of reasons why my plans should prevail. The 3-year-old part of my brain was on the brink of throwing a tantrum, but I knew that wouldn’t produce the results I wanted.

After all, I love my sweet friend deeply, and I didn’t want anything to come between us. In the deepest part of me, the Spirit moved, and God shifted my motives until I desired a breakthrough, not a breakup.

Suddenly, I remembered a fun idea for an evening with friends, and I called her back with a revised set of plans.

“How about we make this a progressive dinner?” I asked my friend. “We’ll walk around the corner to your house and bring our side dishes. After eating the main meal at your house, we’ll walk back to mine for coffee and dessert. What do you think?”

My friend loved the idea, so we set off on a short walk to spend a long evening basking in the company of our friends.

I want to take a short pause here to praise Jesus for growth in my life. In the past, I wouldn’t have responded so graciously. I’m a planner, and woe to anyone who messes with the plan. But God’s ways are always better than our plans, and Proverbs 16:1 is true: “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.”

I’m thankful that in the tangle of upended plans, God pointed me not only to the priority of friendship but gave me the words and a solution for our problem.

The time with our friends that evening was even more fun than if we’d eaten at one house or the other. Our progressive dinner provided additional opportunities to enjoy the warmth of each other’s homes and laugh about how easily miscommunication happens.

When our best-laid plans go awry, we can agonize or ask God to give us an apt word and a fresh solution. That night’s happy ending built my faith, and next time, I know I’ll be able to turn to God more quickly for the right words to turn things around.

Lord, help me hold the plans I create with open hands, ready to flex with grace. Thank You for promising to give us wise words that preserve relationships. We’re grateful that You help us prioritize friendship when miscommunication derails our carefully crafted schedules. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Streams In The Desert

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May 18
Unanswered?
“Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily” (Luke 18:6, 7).
God’s seasons are not at your beck. If the first stroke of the flint doth not bring forth the fire, you must strike again. God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our minds have appointed; He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations. Hence the need of perseverance and importunity in supplication.
In the days of flint and steel and brimstone matches we had to strike and strike again, dozens of times, before we could get a spark to live in the tinder; and we were thankful enough if we succeeded at last.
Shall we not be as persevering and hopeful as to heavenly things? We have more certainty of success in this business than we had with our flint and steel, for we have God’s promises at our back.
Never let us despair. God’s time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing has arrived. Ask in faith nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the King delays to reply. Strike the steel again. Make the sparks fly and have your tinder ready; you will get a light before long. –C. H. Spurgeon
I do not believe that there is such a thing in the history of God’s kingdom as a right prayer offered in a right spirit that is forever left unanswered. –Theodore L. Cuyler

Live Abundantly Through Christ

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives
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An Ordinary Person?

From: Our Daily Journey

An Ordinary Person?

Read:

Galatians 5:13-26
Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives (Galatians 5:25).

If you get to know Lilian, you’ll soon discover that she has a contagious love for Jesus. After much prayer and counsel, Lilian and her husband left their careers to share the love of Jesus with college students in India and later in the United States. Even after her husband’s passing, Lilian continues to mentor and pray with young people who need direction in their lives. Her favorite time of the day is any time she gets to talk with Jesus and hand Him all her worries and problems.

This woman’s passion for life and her love for Jesus and those around her reminds me of Paul’s encouragement to believers in the province of Galatia. He told them to “follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of [their] lives” (Galatians 5:25).

What does that kind of total commitment look like? Paul emphasized that as followers of Jesus, they were free from the bondage of sin (Galatians 5:1). But that didn’t mean they could use their freedom in any way they wanted. Instead, they were to “let the Holy Spirit guide [their] lives,” because the Spirit gives “desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires” (Galatians 5:16-17).

What an amazing and liberating truth! The divine Advocate whom Jesus had promised believers would never leave them (John 14:16), would direct them to honor and obey God, and would teach them to “serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13). Ultimately, believers’ actions toward each other within the body of Christ would show that they had Christ’s Spirit living within them (Galatians 5:22-23).

May the God of hope and strength give us the motivation today to walk in step with the Holy Spirit, both as individuals and in our communities of faith!

 

Doubting God

From: Christian Broadcasting Network

When doing strenuous exercise it is wise to keep your head above your heart so that your brain is getting plenty of oxygen-rich blood flow. I find that principle applies to many other areas of life as well. If we make major decisions primarily guided by our hearts instead of our minds, we may act unwisely.

One exception to this rule is when we talk about faith. The moment I begin to contemplate some of the stories, promises and principles in the Bible from a strictly cerebral perspective doubt begins to creep in. Think about it: water turning into wine, multitudes being fed by a few loaves of bread and a couple of lousy fish, a sea parting so that people can cross without learning the backstroke, little guys killing giants, dead people coming back to life…come on! Sounds like something from a Tolkein novel.

Fortunately God knows of my over-thinking, doubting nature (just as He did of Thomas) and loves me in spite of it. When my mind begins to wander down the path of doubt all it usually takes is to steer my mind toward the opposite. Can I believe Jesus was a liar? Could God not be real or faithful? Is there no plan for my life…everyone’s life? When I die is that the end?

Well, when you put it that way the answer is a resounding NO! I simply do not believe we are in the world alone to fend for ourselves and turn into dust at the end. I’ve experienced too many spectacular, undeniable encounters with my God to stop believing. It has to be one or the other; I either believe or I don’t and the answer becomes clear (once again) that I DO. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” instructs Proverbs 3:5.

But why is my faith so weak? I’d like to think it’s because my mind’s so strong, but that’s obviously not it. I simply fall into the “What have you done for me lately” camp. I need to be reminded frequently that God is always with me but that I often forget to do my part; seek His face. I go on about my busy life, and then suddenly need comfort, peace, protection or rest and wonder why I’m not getting it.

Matthew 14:31 says, “…You of little faith, why do you doubt?” Even though He’s proven Himself to me time and again, I’m right there in the boat with those thick-headed disciples. My dwindling faith amazes even me sometimes.

Faith needs to be exercised and nurtured in order to gain strength. The sustenance for faith comes in the good times and the busy times, not just in the needy and desperate times.

If you start to doubt God’s love, promises, faithfulness, or even His very existence, try imagining how it would feel to stand firmly claiming those things are false. Can’t do it, can you? So get off the doubting road and get back to the path of believing, then stay put. Time to change up and keep your heart (and spirit) above your head. You may not always be able to see what He’s done for you lately, but what He did once and for all is the undeniable foundation to build lasting faith on.

 

His Ascension and Our Access

By Oswald Chambers

 His Ascension and Our Access

We have no experiences in our lives that correspond to the events in our Lord’s life after the transfiguration. From that moment forward His life was altogether substitutionary. Up to the time of the transfiguration, He had exhibited the normal, perfect life of a man. But from the transfiguration forward— Gethsemane, the Cross, the resurrection— everything is unfamiliar to us. His Cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by His resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to anyone, and by His ascension our Lord entered heaven, keeping the door open for humanity.

The transfiguration was completed on the Mount of Ascension. If Jesus had gone to heaven directly from the Mount of Transfiguration, He would have gone alone. He would have been nothing more to us than a glorious Figure. But He turned His back on the glory, and came down from the mountain to identify Himself with fallen humanity.

The ascension is the complete fulfillment of the transfiguration. Our Lord returned to His original glory, but not simply as the Son of God— He returned to His father as the Son of Man as well. There is now freedom of access for anyone straight to the very throne of God because of the ascension of the Son of Man. As the Son of Man, Jesus Christ deliberately limited His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. But now they are His in absolute, full power. As the Son of Man, Jesus Christ now has all the power at the throne of God. From His ascension forward He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Free To Follow

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.              Matthew 4:18-20

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Free to Follow

From: Our Daily Bread

Free to Follow

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

My high school cross-country coach once advised me before a race, “Don’t try to be in the lead. The leaders almost always burn out too quickly.” Instead, he suggested I stay close behind the fastest runners. By letting them set the pace, I could conserve the mental and physical strength I’d need to finish the race well.

Leading can be exhausting; following can be freeing. Knowing this improved my running, but it took me a lot longer to realize how this applies to Christian discipleship. In my own life, I was prone to think being a believer in Jesus meant trying really hard. By pursuing my own exhausting expectations for what a Christian should be, I was inadvertently missing the joy and freedom found in simply following Him (John 8:32, 36).

But we weren’t meant to direct our own lives, and Jesus didn’t start a self-improvement program. Instead, He promised that in seeking Him we will find the rest we long for (Matthew 11:25–28). Unlike many other religious teachers’ emphasis on rigorous study of Scripture or an elaborate set of rules, Jesus taught that it’s simply through knowing Him that we know God (v. 27). In seeking Him, we find our heavy burdens lifted (vv. 28–30) and our lives transformed.

Because following Him, our gentle and humble Leader (v. 29), is never burdensome—it’s the way of hope and healing. Resting in His love, we are free.

Lord, I’m so thankful I don’t have to be in charge of my own life. Help me rest in You.

True freedom is found in following Christ.

 

The Habit of Recognizing God’s Provision

By Oswald Chambers

The Habit of Recognizing God’s Provision

We are made “partakers of the divine nature,” receiving and sharing God’s own nature through His promises. Then we have to work that divine nature into our human nature by developing godly habits. The first habit to develop is the habit of recognizing God’s provision for us. We say, however, “Oh, I can’t afford it.” One of the worst lies is wrapped up in that statement. We talk as if our heavenly Father has cut us off without a penny! We think it is a sign of true humility to say at the end of the day, “Well, I just barely got by today, but it was a severe struggle.” And yet all of Almighty God is ours in the Lord Jesus! And He will reach to the last grain of sand and the remotest star to bless us if we will only obey Him. Does it really matter that our circumstances are difficult? Why shouldn’t they be! If we give way to self-pity and indulge in the luxury of misery, we remove God’s riches from our lives and hinder others from entering into His provision. No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges— always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. And there is nothing lovely or generous about our lives.

Before God becomes satisfied with us, He will take everything of our so-called wealth, until we learn that He is our Source; as the psalmist said, “All my springs are in You” (Psalm 87:7). If the majesty, grace, and power of God are not being exhibited in us, God holds us responsible. “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you…may have an abundance…” (2 Corinthians 9:8)— then learn to lavish the grace of God on others, generously giving of yourself. Be marked and identified with God’s nature, and His blessing will flow through you all the time.

 

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May 16, 2018
Fearless Parenting
KATHI LIPP

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

While raising my kids in the late ‘90s, the overwhelming theme I heard from other parents, church members and Christian books was consistent: Protect your children at all costs.

As Christian parents, we were told to not let our kids:

  • consume any media (unless it was the Adventures in Odyssey radio program)
  • listen to secular music (and even some Christian rock was considered too edgy)
  • play with kids who weren’t from Christian families (unless they were specifically doing so to eventually invite them to church. Yes, these kinds of playdates were a thing.)

Fear is a very powerful force. It can make us fear our kids will make the wrong choices. It can make us fear a lack of control. It can make us fear being viewed as bad parents. I’ve also seen how fear can absolutely be the most destructive tool in our parenting bag.

Instead of fear, God longs for us to see His power and love and grow in self-discipline. As 2 Timothy 1:7 reassures us, For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

So how do we moms transition from parenting out of fear to fearless parenting? I’ve got a few ideas.

  1. Talk about the steadfastness of God. God has given us a spirit of power and we are powerful because we are His. Make sure your kids know the power they possess because of Who lives in them.
  2. Teach your kids how to love others well. You are their first example and their first teacher of loving well. Loving when circumstances are tough and when your kids are difficult are both great examples. Then, teaching your kids to love people even when they are unlovable is one of the best skills they can possess.
  3. Transition from the role of protector. It’s easy to want to stay in the role of our kids’ protector longer than we should. And with all that goes on in the world, who can blame a mom for wanting to keep her family safe?

As an adult, my friend Kimberly endured the unimaginable — being taken at gunpoint while walking to her car after work. Fortunately, after hours of terror and devastation, Kim survived that kidnapping and has gone on to share her story of hope. But of course, no trauma is wrapped up in a tidy little package. Not only did those events affect Kim, but they also affected her whole family, including her mom, Ann.

For years, Ann felt overwhelming guilt for not being able to keep Kim from such a horrific situation. But after years of praying and processing, Ann came to understand that her role was not to protect her daughter.

Kim says, “My mom came to this place of peace after my kidnapping. Even though I was a 28-year-old woman, she somehow thought she should have been able to protect me from that event. She realized her job had been to prepare me to handle all the things life would throw at us kids — not protect us from anything ever happening.”

As our kids grow, our job is to fearlessly transition our parenting from protecting to preparing our kids and trusting them to God. And He’s given us the ability to do that because of His power in each of us.

Heavenly Father, my prayer is that I parent out of the love You have poured out for me and my child. I pray that I never parent out of fear, but out of the unending love and grace You’ve shown me. Let my child see glimpses of You through my love for them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

God At Work

Psalm 118:23-25 

23 This is the Lord‘s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.

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God at Work

From: Our Daily Bread

God at Work

May he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ. Hebrews 13:21

“How have you seen God at work lately?” I asked some friends. One replied, “I see Him at work as I read the Scriptures each morning; I see Him at work as He helps me face each new day; I see Him at work when I know that He has been with me every step of the way—I realize how He has helped me to face challenges while giving me joy.” I love his answer because it reflects how through God’s Word and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, God stays near to, and works in, those who love Him.

God working in His followers is a wonderful mystery that the writer to the Hebrews refers to as he draws his letter to a close in what’s known as a benediction: “. . . and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21). With this conclusion, the writer reinforces the essential message of his letter—that God will equip His people to follow Him and that God will work in and through them for His glorry. 

The gift of God working in us can take us by surprise; perhaps we forgive someone who wrongs us or show patience to someone we find difficult. Our “God of peace” (v. 20) spreads His love and peace in and through us. How have you seen God at work lately?

Lord Jesus Christ, You equip me to do Your works for Your glory. Open my eyes today, that I might understand how You are calling me to follow You.

God works in and through His followers.

 

The Habit of Rising to the Occasion

The Habit of Rising to the Occasion

By Oswald Chambers

Remember that you have been saved so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in your body (see 2 Corinthians 4:10). Direct the total energy of your powers so that you may achieve everything your election as a child of God provides; rise every time to whatever occasion may come your way.

You did not do anything to achieve your salvation, but you must do something to exhibit it. You must “work out your own salvation” which God has worked in you already (Philippians 2:12). Are your speech, your thinking, and your emotions evidence that you are working it “out”? If you are still the same miserable, grouchy person, set on having your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you.

God is the Master Designer, and He allows adversities into your life to see if you can jump over them properly— “By my God I can leap over a wall” (Psalm 18:29). God will never shield you from the requirements of being His son or daughter. First Peter 4:12  says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you….” Rise to the occasion— do what the trial demands of you. It does not matter how much it hurts as long as it gives God the opportunity to manifest the life of Jesus in your body.

May God not find complaints in us anymore, but spiritual vitality— a readiness to face anything He brings our way. The only proper goal of life is that we manifest the Son of God; and when this occurs, all of our dictating of our demands to God disappears. Our Lord never dictated demands to His Father, and neither are we to make demands on God. We are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. Once we realize this, He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine with which to feed and nourish others.

 

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PASSING CLOUDS – STREAMS IN THE DESERT – MAY 15

But now, the sun cannot be looked at – it is bright in the skies – after a wind passed and swept the clouds away.Job 37:21

The world owes much of its beauty to cloudland. The unchanging blue of the Italian sky hardly compensates for the changefulness and glory of the clouds. Earth would become a wilderness apart from their ministry. There are clouds in human life, shadowing, refreshing, and sometimes draping it in blackness of night; but there is never a cloud without its bright light. “I do set my bow in the cloud!”

If we could see the clouds from the other side where they lie in billowy glory, bathed in the light they intercept, like heaped ranges of Alps, we should be amazed at their splendid magnificence.

We look at their under side; but who shall describe the bright light that bathes their summits and searches their valleys and is reflected from every pinnacle of their expanse? Is not every drop drinking in health-giving qualities, which it will carry to the earth?

O child of God! If you could see your sorrows and troubles from the other side; if instead of looking up at them from earth, you would look down on them from the heavenly places where you sit with Christ; if you knew how they are reflecting in prismatic beauty before the gaze of Heaven, the bright light of Christ’s face, you would be content that they should cast their deep shadows over the mountain slopes of existence. Only remember that clouds are always moving and passing before God’s cleansing wind.
—Selected

“I cannot know why suddenly the storm 
Should rage so fiercely round me in its wrath; 
But this I know—God watches all my path, 
And I can trust.

“I may not draw aside the mystic veil 
That hides the unknown future from my sight, 
Nor know if for me waits the dark or light; 
But I can trust.

“I have no power to look across the tide, 
To see while here the land beyond the river; 
But this I , know—I shall be Gods forever; 
So I can trust.”

Not What It Seems

The Habit of Enjoying Adversity

By Oswald Chambers

The Habit of Enjoying Adversity

We have to develop godly habits to express what God’s grace has done in us. It is not just a question of being saved from hell, but of being saved so that “the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” And it is adversity that makes us exhibit His life in our mortal flesh. Is my life exhibiting the essence of the sweetness of the Son of God, or just the basic irritation of “myself” that I would have apart from Him? The only thing that will enable me to enjoy adversity is the acute sense of eagerness of allowing the life of the Son of God to evidence itself in me. No matter how difficult something may be, I must say, “Lord, I am delighted to obey You in this.” Instantly, the Son of God will move to the forefront of my life, and will manifest in my body that which glorifies Him.

You must not debate. The moment you obey the light of God, His Son shines through you in that very adversity; but if you debate with God, you grieve His Spirit (see Ephesians 4:30). You must keep yourself in the proper condition to allow the life of the Son of God to be manifested in you, and you cannot keep yourself fit if you give way to self-pity. Our circumstances are the means God uses to exhibit just how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure His Son is. Discovering a new way of manifesting the Son of God should make our heart beat with renewed excitement. It is one thing to choose adversity, and quite another to enter into adversity through the orchestrating of our circumstances by God’s sovereignty. And if God puts you into adversity, He is adequately sufficient to “supply all your need” (Philippians 4:19).

Keep your soul properly conditioned to manifest the life of the Son of God. Never live on your memories of past experiences, but let the Word of God always be living and active in you.

 

Final Exam

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From: Joe Stowell, Author

“God tested Abraham.” Genesis 22:1

In universities everywhere, mid-May brings late-night study sessions, caffeine-fueled writing binges, and ulcer-inducing stress as students are preparing for final exams—those critically important tests to determine how well the student has learned the lessons of the semester.

Let’s look at a familiar incident in the life of Abraham through that lens.

Genesis 22 begins by saying, “God tested Abraham.” In other words, it’s like Abraham’s big exam. And what is the test? God is about to test Abraham’s allegiance to the one true God in a most stressful way.

So let’s review: God called out Abraham to the city of Ur. Ur was an advanced culture and a highly sophisticated town, but it was rampant with idolatry. When God passed out this test to Abraham, Abraham was wandering through Canaan—yet another pagan, idolatrous region. And keep in mind that in pagan idolatry, the highest demonstration of loyalty to one’s god was to offer—you guessed it—your children as a sacrifice.

With that in mind, look back at Genesis 22:1. The text actually says that it is the God who tests Abraham. This is in contrast to those lifeless forms of wood and stone that were the idols of the pagan Canaanites. And it’s theone true God who comes to Abraham and gives him the following test.

Would the loyalty and allegiance of Abraham to the genuine Creator God match the misplaced loyalty and devotion of the surrounding nations to their false idols? The test is simple yet very demanding: “Abraham,” God says, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love . . . and sacrifice him.”

That’s the test, plain and simple. It’s a pass/fail exam with no room for grading on the curve. If Abraham obeys, demonstrating his allegiance, loyalty, and trust in the promises of God, he passes the test. If he refuses, he retains control over his son’s destiny, but fails to demonstrate his commitment to following God no matter what the cost.

Well, we know the rest of the story. In fact, it’s amplified and explained beautifully in the book of Hebrews where the writer explains that Abraham by faith obeyed, reckoning that even if Isaac died, God could raise him from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19).

So what does Abraham’s test have to do with us? While God won’t ask you to literally sacrifice a child on an altar, He does often require the things in your life that are precious to you. Think about it. Isaac was God’s gift to Abraham. All of God’s promises were wrapped up in that miracle child. How easy it would have been for Abraham to love Isaac more than he loved God. Or to put it another way, to love the gift more than the Giver! The test may be the same for you. God always wants to know that nothing in your life is more important or more valuable than your relationship to Him. It may even be a sinful pattern that for some reason provides temporary kicks, comfort, or security. Do you love Him more than the sin in your life?

If by faith you can believe with Abraham that when God takes something from you, God will give something back in even better terms, then you will pass the test and give Him all He demands and all He desires. Whether it’s your money, your possessions, your career, your dreams, or even your children to His service—everything we give to Him is an opportunity to pass the test and in worship prove to Him that nothing in our lives is of greater value than His friendship and fellowship.

As you face the tests of this week, know that your Tester loves you deeply and is ready to help you pass, like Abraham, with flying colors!

Treasure In Heaven

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Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6: 19-21

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Treasure in Heaven

From: Our Daily Bread

Treasure in Heaven

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

When I was growing up, my two sisters and I liked to sit side-by-side on top of my mother’s large cedar-lined chest. My mom kept our wool sweaters in it and handiwork that was embroidered or crocheted by my grandmother. She valued the contents of the chest and relied on the pungent odor of the cedar wood to discourage moths from destroying what was inside.

Most earthly possessions can easily be destroyed by insects or rust, or can even be stolen. Matthew 6 encourages us to place a special focus—not on things that have a limited lifespan but on those that have eternal value. When my mom died at fifty-seven, she had not accumulated a lot of earthly possessions, but I like to think about the treasure she stored up in heaven (vv. 19–20).

I recall how much she loved God and served Him in quiet ways: caring faithfully for her family, teaching children in Sunday school, befriending a woman abandoned by her husband, comforting a young mother who had lost her baby. And she prayed. . . . Even after she lost her sight and became confined to a wheelchair, she continued to love and pray for others.

Our real treasure isn’t measured in what we accumulate—but in what or whom we invest our time and our passions. What “treasures” are we storing up in heaven by serving and following Jesus?

Dear Father, help me to choose to invest my life in things that are eternal.

Our real wealth is what we invest for eternity.

The Habit of Keeping a Clear Conscience

By Oswald Chambers

The Habit of Keeping a Clear Conscience

God’s commands to us are actually given to the life of His Son in us. Consequently, to our human nature in which God’s Son has been formed (see Galatians 4:19), His commands are difficult. But they become divinely easy once we obey.

Conscience is that ability within me that attaches itself to the highest standard I know, and then continually reminds me of what that standard demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul which looks out either toward God or toward what we regard as the highest standard. This explains why conscience is different in different people. If I am in the habit of continually holding God’s standard in front of me, my conscience will always direct me to God’s perfect law and indicate what I should do. The question is, will I obey? I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I can live without any offense toward anyone. I should be living in such perfect harmony with God’s Son that the spirit of my mind is being renewed through every circumstance of life, and that I may be able to quickly “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 ; also see Ephesians 4:23).

God always instructs us down to the last detail. Is my ear sensitive enough to hear even the softest whisper of the Spirit, so that I know what I should do? “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” (Ephesians 4:30). He does not speak with a voice like thunder— His voice is so gentle that it is easy for us to ignore. And the only thing that keeps our conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside. When you begin to debate, stop immediately. Don’t ask, “Why can’t I do this?” You are on the wrong track. There is no debating possible once your conscience speaks. Whatever it is— drop it, and see that you keep your inner vision clear.

 

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From: Streams In The Desert

We know not what we should pray for as we ought (Rom. 8:26).

Much that perplexes us in our Christian experience is but the answer to our prayers. We pray for patience, and our Father sends those who tax us to the utmost; for “tribulation worketh patience.”

We pray for submission, and God sends sufferings; for “we learn obedience by the things we suffer.”

We pray for unselfishness, and God gives us opportunities to sacrifice ourselves by thinking on the things of others, and by laying down our lives for the brethren.

We pray for strength and humility, and some messenger of Satan torments us until we lie in the dust crying for its removal.

We pray, “Lord, increase our faith,” and money takes wings; or the children are alarmingly ill; or a servant comes who is careless, extravagant, untidy or slow, or some hitherto unknown trial calls for an increase of faith along a line where we have not needed to exercise much faith before.

We pray for the Lamb-life, and are given a portion of lowly service, or we are injured and must seek no redress; for “he was led as a lamb to the slaughter and… opened not his mouth.”

We pray for gentleness, and there comes a perfect storm of temptation to harshness and irritability. We pray for quietness, and every nerve is strung to the utmost tension, so that looking to Him we may learn that when He giveth quietness, no one can make trouble.

We pray for love, and God sends peculiar suffering and puts us with apparently unlovely people, and lets them say things which rasp the nerves and lacerate the heart; for love suffereth long and is kind, love is not impolite, love is not provoked. LOVE BEARETH ALL THINGS, believeth, hopeth and endureth, love never faileth. We pray for likeness to Jesus, and the answer is, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” “Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong?” “Are ye able?”

The way to peace and victory is to accept every circumstance, every trial, straight from the hand of a loving Father; and to live up in the heavenly places, above the clouds, in the very presence of the Throne, and to look down from the Glory upon our environment as lovingly and divinely appointed.
–Selected

I prayed for strength, and then I lost awhile
All sense of nearness, human and divine;
The love I leaned on failed and pierced my heart,
The hands I clung to loosed themselves from mine;

But while I swayed, weak, trembling, and alone,
The everlasting arms upheld my own.

I prayed for light; the sun went down in clouds,
The moon was darkened by a misty doubt,
The stars of heaven were dimmed by earthly fears,
And all my little candle flames burned out;

But while I sat in shadow, wrapped in night,
The face of Christ made all the darkness bright.

I prayed for peace, and dreamed of restful ease,
A slumber drugged from pain, a hushed repose;
Above my head the skies were black with storm,
And fiercer grew the onslaught of my foes;

But while the battle raged, and wild winds blew,
I heard His voice and Perfect peace I knew.

I thank Thee, Lord, Thou wert too wise to heed
My feeble prayers, and answer as I sought,
Since these rich gifts Thy bounty has bestowed
Have brought me more than all I asked or thought;

Giver of good, so answer each request
With Thine own giving, better than my best.
–Annie Johnson Flint

Take The Time

Romans 12:2

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Biblical People Under Pressure)
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Take the Time

From: Our Daily Bread

Take the Time

Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today. Luke 19:5

Rima, a Syrian woman who had recently moved to the United States, tried to explain to her tutor with hand motions and limited English why she was upset. Tears trickled down her cheeks as she held up a beautifully arranged platter of fatayer (meat, cheese, and spinach pies) that she had made. Then she said, “One man,” and made a swishing sound as she pointed from the door to the living room and then back to the door. The tutor pieced together that several people from a nearby church were supposed to visit Rima and her family and bring some gifts. But only one man had shown up. He had hurried in, dropped off a box of items, and rushed out. He was busy taking care of a responsibility, while she and her family were lonely and longed for community and to share their fatayer with new friends.

Taking time for people is what Jesus was all about. He attended dinner parties, taught crowds, and took time for interaction with individuals. He even invited Himself to one man’s house. Zacchaeus, a tax collector, climbed a tree to see Him, and when Jesus looked up, He said, “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:1–9). And Zacchaeus’s life was changed forever.

Because of other responsibilities, we won’t always be able to take the time. But when we do, we have a wonderful privilege of being with others and watching the Lord work through us.

How have others taken time for you? How might you show Jesus’s love to someone this week?

The best gift you can give to others may be your time.

 

The Habit of Having No Habits

By Oswald Chambers

The Habit of Having No Habits

When we first begin to form a habit, we are fully aware of it. There are times when we are aware of becoming virtuous and godly, but this awareness should only be a stage we quickly pass through as we grow spiritually. If we stop at this stage, we will develop a sense of spiritual pride. The right thing to do with godly habits is to immerse them in the life of the Lord until they become such a spontaneous expression of our lives that we are no longer aware of them. Our spiritual life continually causes us to focus our attention inwardly for the determined purpose of self-examination, because each of us has some qualities we have not yet added to our lives.

Your god may be your little Christian habit— the habit of prayer or Bible reading at certain times of your day. Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes. We say, “I can’t do that right now; this is my time alone with God.” No, this is your time alone with your habit. There is a quality that is still lacking in you. Identify your shortcoming and then look for opportunities to work into your life that missing quality.

Love means that there are no visible habits— that your habits are so immersed in the Lord that you practice them without realizing it. If you are consciously aware of your own holiness, you place limitations on yourself from doing certain things— things God is not restricting you from at all. This means there is a missing quality that needs to be added to your life. The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere. Is there someplace where you are not at home with God? Then allow God to work through whatever that particular circumstance may be until you increase in Him, adding His qualities. Your life will then become the simple life of a child.

Under Pressure

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By: Joe Stowell, Author

“You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:3

When our kids were growing up, we loved having picnics in the backyard. No picnic was complete without a plate full of big, juicy watermelon slices! From my kids’ point of view, part of the fun was playing with the seeds. As soon as a wet seed hit the table, they couldn’t resist the urge to press it with their thumb to see how far they could make it fly across the table.

I can’t help but think we’re a lot like that when life presses down on us. When the pressure gets too intense, we start looking for ways to bail out from under the thumb of circumstances that seem too much to handle. And all too often we are tempted to bail in terms of our attitudes, feeling angry, bitter, or even mad at God—or anyone else we can blame our problems on. Or, we are tempted to bail in our actions by refusing to persevere in righteous ways.

Thankfully, James offers some great advice about why it’s so important to stay under the pressure. He reminds us that God has a purpose in mind when He allows trials to press down on us. Like turning coals into diamonds, some things only happen under a lot of pressure. Staying under the pressure is how God tests our faith in order to make us “mature and complete” (James 1:4). But, if we bail in our attitudes or actions under the burden, we interfere with the productive intentions that God has for our lives.

It’s interesting that the Greek word James uses in our text for “perseverance” (James 1:3) is hupomeno. It’s derived from two Greek words: hupo (under) and meno (remain). James is making the point that in order to achieve God’s refining goals for our lives, we need to be willing to cooperatively remain under the pressure.

It boils down to whether or not you want comfort or character. You may think that life should be a bed of roses, but if that’s your take on life, you’re in for a big surprise—trouble happens! The issue is not if you will face trials, it’s how you will respond to the inevitable pressure that the problems of life bring.

It may be that you face pressure at work. In the face of a seemingly insurmountable project, it’s easy to think, “If I just fudge a little bit I could get this job done faster.” Or, when the problems at home won’t go away, we find ourselves wondering, “Maybe I’ll just leave so I won’t have to deal with this anymore.” The sin of pride causes us to respond to problems with thoughts like, “I don’t deserve this.” And soon our attitudes are in the dumper and God’s work is derailed.

In fact, the next time you’re tempted to bail on God and squeeze out from under the trouble, think of Jesus, who “humbled himself and became obedient to death” (Philippians 2:8). He “remained under” great suffering for the purpose of making you better.

So embrace the process and permit God to do His work of making you more mature and usable, for your good and His glory. Believe me—the pain will be worth the gain!

Perseverance By Faith

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Persevering with Peace

From: Our Daily Bread

Persevering with Peace
Read: Psalm 3 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 13–14; John 2

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. Psalm 3:5

As I continue trusting God through my struggles with chronic pain, even the simplest setback can feel like a fierce enemy attacker. Problem One jabs me from the right. Problem Two shoves me from behind. Problem Three punches me square in the nose. During these times, when my strength wanes and immediate relief evades me, running and hiding can seem like a good idea. But since I can’t escape my pain, change my circumstances, or ignore my emotions, I’m learning slowly to rely on God to carry me through.

When I need encouragement, comfort, and courage, I prayerfully read through the songs of the psalmists, who honestly bring their situations to God. In one of my favorite psalms, King David flees from Absalom, his son who wanted to kill him and take his kingdom. Though David lamented his painful situation (Psalm 3:1–2), he trusted God’s protection and expected Him to answer his prayers (vv. 3–4). The king didn’t lose sleep worrying or fearing what could happen, because he trusted God to sustain and save him (vv. 5–8).

Physical and emotional pain can often feel like aggressive adversaries. We may be tempted to give up or wish we could escape when we’re weary and can’t see the end of our current battle. But, like David, we can learn to trust that God will hold us up and help us rest in His constant and loving presence.

Lord, thanks for giving us rest in the peace of Your constant presence and assuring us of the victory You’ve already won.

God offers us peace as He holds us up and carries us through every trial.

“Love One Another”

By Oswald Chambers

 

Love is an indefinite thing to most of us; we don’t know what we mean when we talk about love. Love is the loftiest preference of one person for another, and spiritually Jesus demands that this sovereign preference be for Himself (see Luke 14:26). Initially, when “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5), it is easy to put Jesus first. But then we must practice the things mentioned in 2 Peter 1 to see them worked out in our lives.

The first thing God does is forcibly remove any insincerity, pride, and vanity from my life. And the Holy Spirit reveals to me that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now He commands me to show the same love to others by saying, “…love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He is saying, “I will bring a number of people around you whom you cannot respect, but you must exhibit My love to them, just as I have exhibited it to you.” This kind of love is not a patronizing love for the unlovable— it is His love, and it will not be evidenced in us overnight. Some of us may have tried to force it, but we were soon tired and frustrated.

“The Lord…is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish…” (2 Peter 3:9). I should look within and remember how wonderfully He has dealt with me. The knowledge that God has loved me beyond all limits will compel me to go into the world to love others in the same way. I may get irritated because I have to live with an unusually difficult person. But just think how disagreeable I have been with God! Am I prepared to be identified so closely with the Lord Jesus that His life and His sweetness will be continually poured out through Me? Neither natural love nor God’s divine love will remain and grow in me unless it is nurtured. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained through discipline.

 

 

 

 

 

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We went through fire and through water: but thou brought us out into a wealthy place (Ps. 66:12).

Paradoxical though it be, only that man is at rest who attains

it through conflict. This peace, born of conflict, is not like the deadly hush preceding the tempest, but the serene and pure-aired quiet that follows it.

It is not generally the prosperous one, who has never sorrowed, who is strong and at rest. His quality has never been tried, and he knows not how he can stand even a gentle shock. He is not the safest sailor who never saw a tempest; he will do for fair-weather service, but when the storm is rising, place at the important post the man who has fought out a gale, who has tested the ship, who knows her hulk sound, her rigging strong, and her anchor-flukes able to grasp and hold by the ribs of the world.

When first affliction comes upon us, how everything gives way! Our clinging, tendril hopes are snapped, and our heart lies prostrate like a vine that the storm has torn from its trellis; but when the first shock is past, and we are able to look up, and say, “It is the Lord,” faith lifts the shattered hopes once more, and binds them fast to the feet of God. Thus the end is confidence, safety, and peace.
–Selected

The adverse winds blew against my life;
My little ship with grief was tossed;
My plans were gone–heart full of strife,
And all my hope seemed to be lost–
“Then He arose”–one word of peace.
“There was a calm”–a sweet release.

A tempest great of doubt and fear
Possessed my mind; no light was there
To guide, or make my vision clear.
Dark night! ’twas more than I could bear–
“Then He arose,” I saw His face–
“There was a calm” filled with His grace.

My heart was sinking ‘neath the wave
Of deepening test and raging grief;
All seemed as lost, and none could save,
And nothing could bring me relief–
“Then He arose”–and spoke one word,
“There was a calm!” IT IS THE LORD.
–L. S. P.