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Miracles Happen When We Least Expect Them

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Miracles Happen When We Least Expect Them

miracles happen

 

Whitney Ballard – Social Media Marketing Producer

We see them every day. On television, online, in books, and sometimes, in our very own lives. The question is—what do we do with these miracles that we see, or read about, or most importantly, experience ourselves?

God has performed countless miracles in my life. Looking back, my first human instinct is to ask “how” and “why”? I tried to find reason within the miracles of my life. Instead, God met me in my darkest moments.

I was a teen, finding out I would soon become a mother. Alone. I was sure my life was over. But God!

There was no luck about it. God carried me emotionally and spiritually, and He provided financially. During the most trying days of my life, God filled in the gaps and performed an absolute miracle in my life! I founded a relationship with God during this time … which is a miracle in itself.

You see, God performs miracles out of our realm of understanding. They don’t always make sense to the human eye. They don’t always follow the trends or statistics.

He is the one you praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.” Deuteronomy 10:21

Your eyes are not deceiving you. God creates miracles from scratch, with no need for reason and logic. He is capable of all things!

When I begin to doubt the miracles in my life, big or small, I think back to the story of the blind man that Jesus healed. Jesus used mud to cover this man’s eyes and then told him to wash his eyes at the river. Once the man washed his eyes, he could see!

In John 9:3, Jesus assured us that this man was not blind because of sin, as many of his peers had suspected:

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

This reminds us that God does not put us through trials out of punishment but because He is using us so that others may see Him through us.

In John 9, the Pharisees question HOW this man could now SEE. It didn’t make sense to them! It couldn’t be!

Oh, how often I have acted like the Pharisees when something just didn’t make sense to me, questioning just how God orchestrated everything out for my good.

But God reminds us In Mark 9:23, “All things are possible to him who believes.”

ALL things are possible, not just the things that can be explained, understood, or broken down. God said, ALL things. Let’s believe him. If he can heal a blind man, what can He do for us?

Today’s Devotions

Morning

May 25

1 Samuel 26:10, 24 10As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish.

24As surely as I valued your life today, so may the LORD value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”

David learned from his experience with the wicked Nabal, that the LORD is more than capable of dispensing justice. He learned from his past experience and applied it to his present circumstance. That is something we all need to do. In verse 10 David’s friend wanted to kill the sleeping Saul. This is the second time God had delivered Saul into David’s hands, but he left vengeance to God. He will let the LORD take care of him.

David knew that when he became king others would treat him the way he treated the king. He believed in the law of sowing and reaping. If he is faithful to obey the LORD in not harming Saul, God would preserve his life. We see that in the New Testament lesson of the measuring cup. The same measure you use toward your brother will be used toward you (Mark 4:24). If you use a spoon of grace toward others, you will receive a spoon back from them and from God. David looked for the biggest measure of grace and mercy he could find, for he wanted that from others and from God. He certainly would need it in the future, and he did receive it. To think you won’t need it is foolish. Be gracious toward those who have wronged you, and the LORD will be gracious to you.

Prayer: Lord, help me to trust You to deal with those who do me wrong.

Streams in the Desert – May 25

The Power of Silence

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

Is there any note of music in all the chorus as mighty as the emphatic pause? Is there any word in all the Psalter more eloquent than that one word, Selah (Pause)? Is there anything more thrilling and awful than the hush that comes before the bursting of the tempest and the strange quiet that seems to fall upon all nature before some preternatural phenomenon or convulsion? Is there anything that can touch our hearts as the power of stillness?

 

There is for the heart that will cease from itself, “the peace of God that passeth all understanding,” a “quietness and confidence” which is the source of all strength, a sweet peace “which nothing can offend,” a deep rest which the world can neither give nor take away. There is in the deepest center of the soul a chamber of peace where God dwells, and where, if we will only enter in and hush every other sound, we can hear His still, small voice.

 

There is in the swiftest wheel that revolves upon its axis a place in the very center, where there is no movement at all; and so in the busiest life there may be a place where we dwell alone with God, in eternal stillness, There is only one way to know God. “Be still, and know.” “God is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” –Selected

 

“All-loving Father, sometimes we have walked under starless skies that dripped darkness like drenching rain. We despaired of starshine or moonlight or sunrise. The sullen blackness gloomed above us as if it would last forever. And out of the dark there spoke no soothing voice to mend our broken hearts. We would gladly have welcomed some wild thunder peal to break the torturing stillness of that over-brooding night.

 

“But Thy winsome whisper of eternal love spoke more sweetly to our bruised and bleeding souls than any winds that breathe across Aeolian harps. It was Thy ‘still small voice’ that spoke to us. We were listening and we heard. We looked and saw Thy face radiant with the light of love. And when we heard Thy voice and saw Thy face, new life came back to us as life comes back to withered blooms that drink the summer rain.”

 

The Truth Will Set You Free

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The Truth Shall Make You Free

prayer circle of people holding hands

 

Lina Johnson – Prayer Center Coach, cbn.com

Have you ever heard of the sinner’s prayer? It’s not found in Scripture, but it’s an introductory prayer that many use to lead someone to Christ. Typically, the prayer may look like this:

Lord Jesus, I ask you to come into my life. I want to turn from living my life under my control. Come now and live in me. Cleanse me from my sins. I receive you as my Lord and Savior. I will live for you and serve you all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I have led people in such prayer and will continue to do so. However, that prayer is not the end of the matter, but rather the beginning!

Jesus never told us to go and make converts. Instead, he commanded us to make disciples:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).

So, what’s the difference between converts and disciples? John 8:31-32 tells us how to be a disciple:

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

As we share the good news of Jesus, let us remember that while the moment of salvation comes by believing and confessing (Romans 10:9), God wants so much more. He wants us to grow. He wants us to learn. He wants us to be disciples, and just like with the first twelve, He wants our fellowship and friendship. And He also wants us to be free. Remember John 8:32:

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

As His disciples, we grow in freedom. What a blessing! I know there have been many times when I felt bound to a sin or a mindset that caused me pain. God does not want us to remain in pain. We receive freedom from pain, sin, hopelessness, and shame when we allow His truth in our lives.

My hope for you today is that you will allow God, through His word and through His Spirit, to lead you into all truth so that you may indeed be His disciple and reap every benefit He has for you. (John 16:13)

Lord, help us be your disciples and help us to make disciples. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

May 24

1 Samuel 24:5-7 5Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.

After all that Saul had done to David, trying to kill him with a javelin three times, promising one wife and not delivering, giving away his wife to another, and having David’s priestly friends killed, David will not do a thing against him. In fact, just cutting off the corner of his robe caused his conscience to be stricken. He recognized Saul as the one on whom the anointing of God had been placed. Even though the anointing is on David now, he still respects Saul. Perhaps David realizes that what he does to Saul will set an example for others behavior toward him when he becomes king.

All of your brothers and sisters in Christ has been anointed. Do you treat them with as much respect and fear of the LORD as David did with Saul? It is no different. We are given opportunities to slander our brothers, even speak the truth that would damage their reputations. Are you convicted to take even a corner from their robe, so to speak? Has any of them done even half the wrongs that Saul did toward David? No? Then consider the example of David here. Remember your brothers and sisters have the same anointing you have. They may be side-tracked, but that is for God to deal with. They may be in your hand, so to speak, but that is a test for you. Will you come away with a testimony like David’s? His action and words were a rebuke to his soldiers.

Streams in the Desert – May 24

  • 202224 May

Sarah bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him (Gen. 21:2).

The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11). But we must be prepared to wait God’s time. God has His set times. It is not for us to know them; indeed, we cannot know them; we must wait for them.

If God had told Abraham in Haran that he must wait for thirty years until he pressed the promised child to his bosom, his heart would have failed him. So, in gracious love, the length of the weary years was hidden, and only as they were nearly spent, and there were only a few more months to wait, God told him that “according to the time of life, Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen. 18:14). The set time came at last; and then the laughter that filled the patriarch’s home made the aged pair forget the long and weary vigil.

Take heart, waiting one, thou waitest for One who cannot disappoint thee; and who will not be five minutes behind the appointed moment: ere long “your sorrow shall be turned into joy.”

Ah, happy soul, when God makes thee laugh! Then sorrow and crying shall flee away forever, as darkness before the dawn.
–Selected

It is not for us who are passengers, to meddle with the chart and with the compass. Let that all-skilled Pilot alone with His own work.
–Hall

“Some things cannot be done in a day. God does not make a sunset glory in a moment, but for days may be massing the mist out of which He builds His palaces beautiful in the west.”

Some glorious morn–but when? Ah, who shall say?
The steepest mountain will become a plain,
And the parched land be satisfied with rain.
The gates of brass all broken; iron bars,
Transfigured, form a ladder to the stars.
Rough places plain, and crooked ways all straight,
For him who with a patient heart can wait.
These things shall be on God’s appointed day:
It may not be tomorrow–yet it may.

Learning to Forgive

Forgiveness means sharing the same gift Jesus extended to us—regardless of the offense.

Colossians 3:12-15

We’ll often try to justify an angry, unforgiving heart by thinking, Well, the Lord knows what that person did to me. So He gets why I feel this way. Certainly Jesus—who was fully God and fully man—knows human emotions inside and out. In fact, He Himself experienced betrayal and abandonment, so it’s true that He understands our pain. Nevertheless, He does not approve of an unforgiving attitude.

Through the Savior, we see how God views forgiveness, even when it comes to the vilest offenses. And consider this: We are the ones who continually betray Him. How? We’ve denied Him His rightful place in our life, doubted His Word, and ignored His instruction. There are times we kick Him out of our daily activities and decisions so we can pursue things more to our own liking. What’s more, we have sinned against both Him and other people.

And what is Jesus’ disposition towards us? “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Now, do you really believe He will justify our unforgiveness? No, He wants us to instead look at the cross. There we will discover the price that was paid for our own forgiveness. Just as we have been forgiven, so we must now become forgivers (Col. 3:13).

Bible in One Year: Ezra 5-7

From Darkness To Light

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From Darkness to Light

small light in the darkness

 

Lorie Hartshorn – Co-Host – The 700 Club Canada

I remember a few years ago when I was at our cottage with my kids, and we drove the boat down the lake to visit some people at a nearby camp. By the time we left, it was dark. I hadn’t thought of what it would be like to be on the water in the dark. There were not many cottages on our lake at the time, so the shoreline was pitch black. I couldn’t tell the difference between the water and the land. The sky was also pitch black, clouded over with no shining moon. It was frightening, to say the least. To make matters worse, I could not find the flashlight that was supposed to be in every boat as a safety requirement! And I hadn’t remembered to leave a light on in my own cottage to guide me home.

As I headed out on the water in total blackness, I strained to look ahead. Suddenly, a small light appeared, coming from a cottage up on a hill not too far from our cottage. That little beacon became my guide. I knew if I pointed the boat directly in line with it, I would avoid any shorelines and I could then find my dock. I remember the relief when I slowly came up to our dock and parked the boat without incident. That small light from that cottage broke through all the surrounding darkness and showed us the way home.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Jesus broke through the darkness of this world, the darkness of sin that had separated us from God, the darkness of the demonic forces that were working against our knowledge of God to show us the way home. Without Jesus, we would be lost in the dark, out on the water, floating aimlessly, afraid and alone. He shows us the way out of our darkness and our brokenness. And in the next chapter, Jesus demonstrated this by healing a blind man:

“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing (John 9:5-7).

When we follow Jesus, who is the light, He frees us from darkness, heals our spiritual blindness, and leads us safely home to the Father. Unfortunately, not everyone welcomes the light:

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).

Satan wants to keep us away from the light, and sin has a way of blinding us. Because of our shame, we choose to hide in the dark. We don’t want to be exposed. When Jesus says He is light, it is to deliver us to safety, free us from shame, and bring us home to the Father. Just as a boat needs a lighthouse to safely reach a port at night, we need Jesus to light the way for us through the Bible and by His Spirit. If you’re feeling lost on the waters of life, look to Jesus who is the way home—because that’s courageous living:

Jesus, Light of the World, guide my steps. When the way is unclear and darkness surrounds me, light my path and grant me wisdom and trust to follow You.

 

Living in Grace

By Kyle Norman,   crosswalk. com

“May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” – 2 Corinthians 13:14

As an Anglican, the words “The Grace” are ingrained in how we do Church. Many of our church services either begin or end, with these words. These words do not just appear in our services; they are also the standard close for any Bible study, meeting, or potluck. In fact, so familiar are we with these words, that some may not even recognize them as a passage of scripture.

Of course, when Paul penned these words, he did not have in mind potlucks, Bible studies, or liturgical services; nor were these words designed simply to conclude his letter in a crisp and poetic fashion. Rather, in writing these words, Paul pronounces a reality which encompasses the lives of all Christians. Simply, the words of the grace declare a truth about your life. This truth has three components.

Firstlythe grace of Jesus Christ is upon you. Scripture uses the word “grace” as a shorthand for the entire redemptive activity of our Lord. The entire arc of salvation history is contained in this small 5-letter word. Grace is Jesus entering your world in the most vulnerable of fashions; It is him walking toward you amid threatening storms; It is Jesus touching you in the place of your brokenness and offering his healing presence. Grace is Jesus weeping with you as you mourn the losses and struggles of life; It is Jesus journeying into the place of death and sin, violence and pain, to dethrone their power over your life; It is Jesus rising in the power of God, and extending that resurrection like a blanket over you. Grace is the intimate presence of the Lord precisely in the places where you feel that you do not, or cannot, deserve it.

When Paul writes “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .be with you” everything stated above is declared to be a truth for your life. In hearing these words, you are invited to live in this reality and to allow these promises to enfold you. Jesus, the exalted Lord, surrounds you.

Paul does not stop there. Paul also writes about the reality of God’s love over you. I encourage you to sit with the awesomeness of this proclamation. Consider the sheer delight in being able to declare, under the authority of scripture, that the love of the creator surrounds you. The declaration of God’s love isn’t just something quaint we say. It is not a slogan of faith that sounds nice but lacks reality. No, God’s love is extended to you. This is a fact.

Scripture is replete with declarations regarding the activity of God’s love upon our lives. No matter what is going on in life, no matter how far off course one may have gone, God surrounds us with the deepest expression of love that we can ever imagine. And to top it all off, such love will not change or diminish.  It will not lessen in degree or intensity.  The love of God is constant.

LastlyPaul concludes this life-giving verse by invoking the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. This statement refers to an active engagement with the Holy Spirit in our lives. This flows naturally out of the other two statements. If we truly recognize that we are immersed in our Lord’s redemptive work, and rooted in the sacrificial love of God, then how can we not see ourselves as filled with the power of Spirit? The Spirit invites us to participate in God’s activity in the world.  We are invited to share in the work of the Kingdom.

Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel

By: Charles Spurgeon

Looking unto Jesus

“They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.” Psalm 34:5

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

See there he sits in heaven, he has led captivity captive, and now sits at the right hand of God, for ever making intercession for us. Can your faith picture him today? Like a great high priest of old, he stands with outstretched arms: there is majesty in his demeanour, for he is no mean cringing suppliant. He does not beat his breast, nor cast his eyes upon the ground, but with authority he pleads, enthroned in glory now. There on his head is the bright shining mitre of his priesthood, and look you, on his breast are glittering the precious stones whereon the names of his elect are everlastingly engraved; hear him as he pleads, hear you not what it is?—is that your prayer that he is mentioning before the throne? The prayer that this morning you offered before you came to the house of God, Christ is now offering before his Father’s throne. The vow which just now you uttered when you said, “Have pity and have mercy,”—he is now uttering there. He is the Altar and the Priest, and with his own sacrifice he perfumes our prayers. And yet, mayhap, you have been at prayer many a day, and had no answer; poor weeping suppliant, you have sought the Lord and he has not heard you, or at least not answered you to your soul’s delight; you have cried unto him, but the heavens have been as brass, and he has shut out your prayer, you are full of darkness and heaviness on account of this, “Look to him, and be lightened.” If you do not succeed, he will; if your intercession be unnoticed, his cannot be passed away; if your prayers can be like water spilt on a rock which cannot be gathered up, yet his prayers are not like that, he is God’s Son, he pleads and must prevail.

For meditation: The prayers of the true seeker and of believers are not a waste of effort; they are not like letters lost in the post, but reach the throne of God (Acts 10:4Revelation 5:8). But only praying in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is accepted; prayers addressed to saints, to false gods or to the dead are always turned away—“not known here.”

 

Thirst for Living Water

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Thirst for Living Water

drinking water from hands

 

Lina Johnson – Prayer Center Coach

In John 4, we read that Jesus met a Samaritan woman at “Jacob’s well,” and asked her for a drink of water. When she questioned His behavior, He engaged her in conversation:

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water” (John 4:10).

Wait a minute. Why would she ask Him for “living water”? I mean, even if she knew Jesus was the Messiah or if she had known He was God, why would she think to ask for that?

John 7:37-39 reveals the answer.

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

The prophet Jeremiah had this insight. God revealed to him that God alone is the source of living water. We see this in Jeremiah 2:13,

For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me—the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!

We see it again in Jeremiah 17:13,

O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who turn away from you will be disgraced. They will be buried in the dust of the earth, for they have abandoned the Lord, the fountain of living water.

Wow! Jesus basically came straight out and told the woman in John 4, “I am God.” We know from Jeremiah that no one else can give living water. However, the poor woman missed it. Have we missed it? What is God really saying here? We know from John 7:39 that this living water is, in fact, the Holy Spirit. God wants to satisfy our thirst for His presence through the gift of His Spirit.

Some years ago, while fasting, I felt God’s leading for me to take Communion alone, just He and I. This was not like any other time I’ve participated in Holy Communion. As I sat alone in my room eating that bread, I became very aware of how thirsty I suddenly became. I then drank the grape juice, and hunger returned for the first time since starting the fast. I ate more bread. Again, I thirsted, so I drank–only to hunger again. I repeated this several times while asking the Lord, “What are You trying to show me?”

The Lord spoke to my spirit through His Spirit: Jesus is the bread, Jesus is the Word. The Bible is My Word. I want you to read my Word until you thirst for Me. Then I want you to sit in My presence until your thirst is satisfied and your hunger returns. I want you to repeat this and make it a lifestyle.

Prayer:
Oh God, forgive us for not seeking more of You. We need Your living water. We need Your Word, the “bread of life.” How quickly we have forgotten Your words in John 6:35:

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Lord, You want to satisfy us, but we get busy following our own plans. Help us to yield to You and let You satisfy our hunger and thirst.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

May 22

1 Samuel 18:7-9 7As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” 8Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” 9And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.

Jealousy, the green-eyed monster, reared its ugly head in the heart of King Saul. On the return from the battlefield, the maidens sang this song. Saul may have been a bit on edge because of Samuel’s prediction about the kingdom no longer belonging to him. This song stirred an ugly spirit up in him. He was the one they sang praise about before. Now someone else is the chief person in the song, and he is credited with more than the king! Be careful with your words of praise for men. The enemy can use them in destructive ways.

“Welcome home pastor. Your assistant did such a great job that we forgot you were gone,” a well-meaning board member says. The enemy places a wedge of competition between two people who are striving for the Kingdom of God. If one of them has an ear that will listen to the flesh, he will never be striving together again. Friendly voices have unwittingly sowed the seed of competition. Saul could never look at David the same way again.

There may have been more to it than that. It may have also been backed by the fact that Saul saw in David what he had lost. He saw the love for God and faith in God’s word that once was so real to him but now seemed so distant. He saw the humility of this young man and recognized his was gone. Those are the assets that put him on the throne. Those are the assets that make you useful to God. Don’t allow words of praise for others become that to you.

Consider: Rejoice when others pass you up in service to our King. He is the cause we fight for, not self!

Streams in the Desert – May 22

Leave It To God

“Roll on Jehovah thy way” (Ps. 37:6).

Whatever it is that presses thee, go tell the Father; put the whole matter over into His hand, and so shalt thou be freed from that dividing, perplexing care that the world is full of. When thou art either to do or suffer anything, when thou art about any purpose or business, go tell God of it, and acquaint Him with it; yes, burden Him with it, and thou hast done for matter of caring; no more care, but quiet, sweet, diligence in thy duty, and dependence on Him for the carriage of thy matters. Roll thy cares, and thyself with them, as one burden, all on thy God. –R. Leighton

 

***

 

Build a little fence of trust

Around today;

Fill the space with loving work

And therein stay.

Look not through the sheltering bars

Upon tomorrow;

God will help thee bear what comes

Of joy or sorrow. –Mary Butts

 

***

 

We shall find it impossible to commit our way unto the Lord, unless it be a way that He approves. It is only by faith that a man can commit his way unto the Lord; if there be the slightest doubt in the heart that “our way” is not a good one, faith will refuse to have anything to do with it. This committing of our way must be a continuous, not a single act. However extraordinary and unexpected may seem to be His guidance, however near the precipice He may take you, you are not to snatch the guiding reins out of His hands. Are we willing to have all our ways submitted to God, for Him to pronounce judgment on them? There is nothing a Christian needs to be more scrutinizing about than about his confirmed habits and views. He is too apt to take for granted the Divine approbation of them. Why are some Christians so anxious, so fearful? Evidently because they have not left their way with the Lord. They took it to Him, but brought it away with them again. –Selected

Burdened for Souls

From: Inspirational Ministries

“There is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have surrendered us into the power of our wrongdoings.” – Isaiah 64:7 NASB

Did people really care? Isaiah wondered. Even though there were countless problems, no one cared enough to call on God.

Frank Bartleman had a similar perspective. In December 1904, he and his family moved to Pasadena, California. They had no income and were forced to live by faith. But he believed God had called him there. Within two weeks, their youngest child, Esther, died. It was a devastating moment. But he continued to serve God faithfully.

He felt God was preparing him for a new ministry. Longing “to know Him in a more real way,” he cried for God to do a mighty work. He prayed for revival. Although still filled with grief, he began to preach at a local mission.

Inspired by Isaiah 64, he felt that few believers were moved by the spiritual needs of the community or the presence of sin. But Bartleman was determined to intercede. “Greatly burdened for souls,” he preached nearly every day. He also passed out tracts and witnessed.

Soon, revival broke out in Pasadena, sweeping through Southern California. God moved, in part, because Bartleman had a burden for souls.

Today, what is God saying to you? Ask that He might give you a burden for souls. People all around you are lost. Pray that He would send His Holy Spirit to bring salvation. And give of your time and resources that He might use you to spread the Good News.

The Lord Looks at the Heart

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The Lord Looks at the Heart

hand holding felt heart

Marissa lives with her husband and children in Arizona. She’s been with CBN less than a year. In her free time, you may find her restoring furniture, on a walk with her boys, or writing music.

Marissa Nordlum – Email Analyst, cbn.com

“You really want THOSE chairs?” my husband said to me reluctantly as I showed him the ad for six used chairs from an old barbeque restaurant in our town. I searched for the perfect chairs to put at our dining room table for weeks. With toddlers in our house, I knew our chairs would get marked and stained, and I figured a little DIY project was just the thing for my kitchen’s “custom made” chairs.

Even though my husband was skeptical, I finally convinced him of what these chairs could be. So, he went down to the restaurant and picked up my six chairs. When he brought them home, they were definitely dirty. From the outside, it looked as if these chairs were trash and too far past refurbishment. But I still set out to see if they would work for our kitchen table. First, I cleaned the chairs, sanded them, and then painted them with nice white paint multiple times. It sure was a labor of love!

I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face as I showed him the finished project in our garage. I was so excited for him to see what I had imagined finally. While the chairs looked dirty and past use at first glance, they were now clean, sturdy, and beautiful! He was astonished at how beautiful the chairs became!

This DIY project reminds me of the words Jesus spoke to the crowd of people in John 7:24 (NLT) when he said,

“Look beneath the surface so that you can judge correctly.”

In John 7, the crowd began asking Jesus questions to see why He did things differently than they were used to. They were skeptical of who He was and where He came from. As Jesus taught them, He told them to look beneath the surface of what they were seeing to “judge correctly” for who He was and why He healed on the Sabbath.

The crowd, the Pharisees, and the religious leaders were often confused about who Jesus was and His methods. They were perplexed, surprised, and left in awe of Him. They didn’t understand his methods because they were blinded, so they couldn’t see who Jesus truly was.

How often do we do this also when we misjudge people or things that may seem “different” than us or our methods?

The Bible shows us time and time again that we should not judge by outward appearance or first glance, but as the Lord does. The Lord looks at the heart of a man.

1 Samuel 16:7 says,

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

How easy it is for us to look at what we first see and make assumptions about people or things. Just as the crowd did with Jesus and just as one could have with my kitchen chairs. But Jesus shows us that the Kingdom of God is different. Beneath the surface, we find true beauty and character.

May our eyes today be positioned to see as Jesus sees. To see beauty in what seems like ashes. To see restoration in what seems hopeless and see as the Kingdom of God does

An Ancient, Creed-like Hymn

  PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

—  Philippians 2:5

In worship services it is common to sing songs of praise and hymns to God our Savior.

In many ways, the Apostles’ Creed is like a hymn, and many songs have been composed from the words of this creed.

The Bible includes many song texts as well, and our reading from Philippians 2 includes one of them. This text in verses 6-11 appears to be a hymn (or part of one) that was recited and sung by early Christians in the first century. And the apostle Paul uses it to summarize a number of important teachings as he urges readers to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” In some ways like the Apostles’ Creed, this ancient hymn tells us who Jesus is, what he did for us, and what will happen when he comes again.

Imagine yourself in a worship service 2,000 years ago, surrounded by sisters and brothers in the Lord and singing these words together. Then reread (or sing) this ancient hymn that has echoed down through the centuries. Reflect and meditate on the deep, life-changing truths we can celebrate because of “Jesus, Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.”

This hymn in Scripture, like the Apostle’s Creed, allows God’s Word to settle into our hearts. And it calls us to humble ourselves like Jesus in all our relationships as we seek to live for God by loving and serving each other.

Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle

By: Charles Spurgeon

The believer sinking in the mire

‘Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink.’ Psalm 69:14

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 14:22–3115:21–28

Luther was a man of the strongest faith, and yet at times of the faintest hope. He was, and he was not, a firm believer. His faith never wavered as to the truth of the cause which he advocated; but his faith as to his own interest in Christ, seldom, if ever, amounted to full assurance. The force of his faith spent itself in carrying on with fearful vigour the war against antichrist and error of all shapes. He believed the truth, and held right manfully to justification by faith; but he was at times very doubtful as to whether he himself was justified in Christ Jesus. He believed in salvation by the precious blood of Christ; but, especially at the last, it became a very serious matter with him as to whether he had ever been washed in that precious blood. Roman Catholic biographers, who, of course, if they can, will slander him, say that he had doubts as to everything which he preached, and that at the last, he found his faith was not in accordance with truth. Not so; no man stuck to his testimony with more tenacity than the great reformer; but yet I marvel not that they should say so. He never doubted the truth of the things which he preached; but he did doubt his own interest in them frequently; and when he came to die, his testimony, though amply sufficient, was nothing like so brilliant as that of many a poor old woman who has died in a humble cottage, resting upon Jesus. The poor peasant who knew no more than her Bible true, was utterly unknown to the Vatican, and fame’s trumpet will never resound her name, but yet she entered into eternal peace with far louder shoutings of joy than Martin Luther, who shook the world with his thundering valour.

For meditation: You don’t have to be great to be rich in faith (James 2:5). The Lord’s apostles often displayed a weak faith (Matthew 8:2614:3116:817:20Mark 4:40John 20:25) which was overshadowed by the faith of anonymous believers (Matthew 15:28Luke 7:9).

Praying in a Crisis

From: In Touch ministries

Even when we feel small and helpless, we can change lives through prayer.

May 21, 2022

Numbers 21:6-8

When was the last time you cried out to God about something other than personal issues? We’re often so absorbed in our own life that we fail to see the crises others are facing. But whether a hardship impacts total strangers or hits close to home, do you ever feel some matters are just too big for one person’s prayer to make a difference?

Well, don’t believe it. James 5:16 assures us that “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (ESV). And the next verse gives a powerful example: “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”

Almighty God is able to heal, bring peace, and change circumstances. And He has chosen to let His children participate in the process through prayer. In fact, He wants us to talk with Him about everything (Philippians 4:6).

The next time you hear of a tragedy or problem—regardless of whether it affects you or perfect strangers—resist the temptation to distance yourself from it. You can influence the lives of others when you intercede on their behalf. Let crises become a catalyst for prayer.

Turn Back or Not?

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Turn Back or Not?

driving a car

 

Merle Mills – Partner Service Representative, cbn.com

Merging onto the interstate was easier than I had expected. It was 8:30 a.m. Without traffic backups, I would arrive in time to pick up my niece at 9:00 for her appointment.

Traffic slowed. This was a perfect time to check my cell phone to ensure there were no messages with last-minute changes from my niece. I reached carefully into the usual spot in my handbag. It was not there. In rushing, I had forgotten it.

Should I turn back? With a 60-mph speed limit, time restraints, and no upcoming exits, there was little choice. I decided to proceed without it.

Have you ever left home without your cell phone? What were your feelings?

I suspect most Americans feel uneasy leaving their phone at home.

For the next few hours, I would have no mobile functions: no calling or texting, GPS navigation, emergency alerts, verse of the day, or lunch menu choices or other notifications… I began to feel “uneasy.” Should I have turned back?

I thought of a few examples in the Bible about those who did not consider turning back, such as the twelve disciples:

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:66-68).

The adulterous woman. Jesus forgave her past and told her,

“Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).

David the psalmist confessed:

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight (Psalm 51:4).

He later declared,

I will praise the Lord all of my life. I will sing praise to my God as long as I live (Psalm 146:2).

The Apostle Paul said of himself:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15

He later said:

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

I too have received God’s forgiveness from a broken past. No… turning back is not an option:

I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes (Psalm 119:59).

Without my cell phone, all went well. My niece arrived early for her appointment, we used verbal communication (an almost-forgotten skill) to arrange meet up after, and we used her cell phone to help locate her favorite Colombian Blend coffee shop.

Five hours later, I was reunited with my handheld device. On checking, the only communication I had received was a message at 8:57: “Good morning, Aunt Merle. You haven’t forgotten me, right?”

What to Do When Worry Comes

By:  Betsy St. Amant , Crosswalk.com

Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

My teen daughter went to a concert in Dallas a few nights ago with her best friend and her best friend’s mom. This was a Big Deal, as you probably remember your first “real” concert and how cool it was—and how cool you felt! I was excited for her—but not so much for me. As a mother, I struggle with anxiety, especially when I’m away from my kids. I think we all do in some form because mothers are wired that way—to nurture, to protect.

Sometimes, though, that natural, God-given wiring can glitch a little into full-blown anxiety. When my daughter left on this trip, I expected the worry to come. I anticipated it, even. I knew that having worrisome thoughts did not mean it was a premonition of disaster. It was simply anxiety, it was normal, and it would pass. I was all fired up to walk this out well and overcome my typical patterns of worry. The plan was that after the concert, the three of them would drive back to the friend’s house in town and crash for the night, then I’d pick up my teen the next morning after they’d slept in and recovered.

After the concert was over, they texted me as expected to let me know they were in the car and heading home. It was around 10:30 p.m., and it would be a good three-hour drive. I knew the mom in charge was trustworthy and competent (and a good friend of mine!), and I had no reason to worry. In fact, you might even say I basked in the fact that I wasn’t worrying at all as I tracked my daughter’s progress down I-20 on a phone app. I marveled at how non-panicky I was as I watched them inch their way down the gray highway line on my map. I was doing so great!

At 10:45, they told me they were heading to a well-known truck stop/souvenir shop to gas up and get snacks, and they would let me know when they arrived safe and sound back at the friend’s house. After monitoring their progress on my app for about an hour, I finally fell asleep around 11:30. At 12:30, I abruptly woke up. I immediately checked my app, but it wasn’t updating. No matter how many times I refreshed the page, it simply would not give me my daughter’s location after 11:30 p.m.

That’s when the worry struck. I knew, deep down in the logical part of my heart and brain, that nothing was wrong, that she was probably just in a bad service area, or that her phone had run out of charge after spending hours taking video and photos of the concert. I texted the mom, who was driving and likely not going to see the text anyway and waited. Nothing.

That’s when the not-so-logical part of my heart and brain immediately assumed that surely, they’d all three been kidnapped at the gas station and their phones smashed. That was the only remaining option. (Illogical fears make so much more sense in the middle of the night!) I tried to go back to sleep, but my thoughts refused to stop churning and generating various new disasters that could explain the silence. (Sometimes, it’s really difficult to be a fiction author with a good imagination!)

Finally, I remembered I also had the best friend’s phone number, so I shot her a quick text. Within three minutes, she wrote back. All was well. They were sugared up and halfway home. Oops.

It’s easy to trust God when we feel in control, isn’t it? When the apps are working and we can watch what’s happening from afar when we have information exactly when we want it, and when all is going according to plan. It’s a lot harder to trust when we’re stripped of our resources and suddenly very aware of how much we’re not in control.

I was no longer proud of myself. And then I realized (thank you, Holy Spirit!) that my pride was based on illusion, anyway. All those hours prior, I wasn’t overcoming anxiety—I was simply believing I was in control. Everything was going my way. That’s a huge difference! It wasn’t that I was trusting God—I was trusting myself and technology and communication. Oops again.

Colossians 1 reminds us that in Christ, all things hold together. They’re not held together in smartphones. Or in tracking apps. Or in padded bank accounts or thriving romantic relationships or in corporate ladder climbing. In today’s world of upgraded technology, instant communication, and easy access, it’s tempting to trust in the wrong things. Where is your trust today?

If you struggle with anxiety and worry, you’re not alone. And for believers, there’s no condemnation in Christ, so don’t beat yourself up over those middle-of-the-night fears. Instead, learn from them. Create a resource of Scripture that you can go to when the worry strikes (because it will). Reassure yourself that God is in control, and that’s exactly how it should be. After all, at the end of the day, I don’t think you and I truly want that responsibility! He’s much better at it than us. And He doesn’t even need an app.

Coming to Judge

  MARK 13:24-27

From: Today Devotions

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”

—  Mark 13:26

The details about Jesus’ second coming are mysterious, and there are differing interpretations of some of the Bible’s statements about end times and the return of Christ. But in teaching about Christ’s return, the Apostles’ Creed simply states this bold biblical truth: “He will come to judge the living and the dead.”

Someday Jesus will return from heaven. He didn’t say when this will be, but he did say that he will return “with great ­power and glory” for all to see.

Jesus’ coming again will be a day of great joy for all his followers, who have been redeemed through his sacrifice on the cross. For them the whole curse of death and hell has been removed (Romans 8).

But Jesus’ return will also be a day of great trembling because, as the Bible warns, he will judge once and for all the people who have rejected him.

Though believers in Christ may not agree on all the details of his return, we certainly can agree on how we should live for him. Jesus calls us to follow him faithfully, dying daily to ourselves so that we can walk in step with his Spirit, using our gifts for God’s glory and bearing fruit in his name (John 15:1-17Galatians 5:22-26). This involves showing God’s love to everyone and sharing his desire that everyone believe in him.

Serving the Lord from Generation to Generation

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L’Dor v’Dor: Serving the Lord from Generation to Generation

father-holding-toddler-hand-walking

 

Sean Lewandowski – Product Manager, cbn.com

Mighty men of valor! Is that us? Is that our children? As parents, we have surely heard the popular Scriptures on raising our children to know the Lord. From Proverbs 22:6, we are told to train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. In Deuteronomy 11:19, we are told to continuously teach God’s Word to our children—sitting at home, walking along the road, lying down and getting up. And of course, the real attention-getter—he who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly (Proverbs 13:24). The Bible is clear that as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and members of a family, both physical and spiritual, teaching the next generation a biblical worldview is an act of obedience. We take our children to Bible class, church, and VBS. We give them rules and tell them about Jesus at home. Is there more that we need to do?

L’dor v’dor translated from Hebrew means “from generation to generation.” This is an important biblical concept that encompasses passing down family traditions, stories, and values to the next generation. As with all of God’s commands, our obedience to His command to pass down His ways to the next generation comes with His promises of blessings, even when the world around us grows more turbulent.

Throughout the Old Testament as the Israelites struggled to remain faithful, there was always a remnant that remained obedient and passed down God’s way from generation to generation. In 1 Chronicles 9:1, we are told that Judah was carried away to Babylonian captivity because of their unfaithfulness. Then verse 9:2 skips the 70 years of captivity and focuses on the return to the Promised Land.

And the first inhabitants who dwelt in their possessions in their cities were Israelites, priests, Levites, and the Nethinim (1 Chronicles 9:2).

Notice which people are called out. The passage specifically mentions the priests and Levites. When the nation of Israel returns and rebuilds, we see the priests and Levites resume their duties. How did they know what they were supposed to do? Starting with the establishment of the priesthood with Aaron at Mt. Sinai and continuing through Babylonian captivity, each generation taught the next generation their role in the service of the Lord. Further down, we see how faithful the priests were in teaching the next generation:

… and their brethren, heads of their fathers’ houses—one thousand seven hundred and sixty. They were very able men for the work of the service of the house of God (1 Chronicles 9:13).

The phrase “very able men” can be translated as “mighty men of valor.” This phrase is used in the Old Testament to describe mighty warriors like King David that fought for the Lord (1 Samuel 9:1). This generation of priests were leaders and warriors for the Lord, and there were a lot of them. The praise is not limited to the priests. In 1 Chronicles 9:20, the Levite Gatekeepers’ work is reminiscent of Phinehas’ zeal for God (Numbers 25:11).

There will be a next generation of mighty warriors for the Lord, and they will be zealous for the Lord in their work. As a physical and spiritual family, we need to, by faith, train up our children in the service of the Lord. Being a servant of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ needs to be who are as family.

Streams in the Desert – May 19

Don’t Be Offended

“Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Luke 7:23).

It is sometimes very difficult not to be offended in Jesus Christ. The offenses may be circumstantial. I find myself in a prison-house — a narrow sphere, a sick chamber, an unpopular position — when I had hoped for wide opportunities. Yes, but He knows what is best for me. My environment is of His determining. He means it to intensify my faith, to draw me into nearer communion with Himself, to ripen my power. In the dungeon my soul should prosper. The offense may be mental. I am haunted by perplexities, questions, which I cannot solve. I had hoped that, when I gave myself to Him, my sky would always be clear; but often it is overspread by mist and cloud. Yet let me believe that, if difficulties remain, it is that I may learn to trust Him all the more implicitly — to trust and not be afraid. Yes, and by my intellectual conflicts, I am trained to be a tutor to other storm-driven men.

 

***

 

The offense may be spiritual. I had fancied that within His fold I should never feel the biting winds of temptation; but it is best as it is. His grace is magnified. My own character is matured. His Heaven is sweeter at the close of the day. There I shall look back on the turnings and trials of the way, and shall sing the praises of my Guide. So, let come what will come, His will is welcome; and I shall refuse to be offended in my loving Lord. –Alexander

Today’s Devotions

Morning

May 19

1 Samuel 17:36-37 36Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

David had been going back and forth from playing music for the king to tending his father’s flock. His father asked him to take some food to his older brothers and get their promise that they would share the spoils of war. When he delivered the food, he saw the enemy army send out one giant man who asked for a one on one to determine the outcome of the battle without the two armies clashing. Whoever lost would be servants of the other nation.

David inquired about the reward for fighting Goliath and spoke boldly that someone needed to kill this heathen. It was reported to King Saul who had David brought before him. David told the king not to worry. He volunteered to fight the giant. The king told David that a boy did not have a chance against a seasoned veteran like Goliath. Then David relayed his experiences of killing a bear and a lion to protect his flock.

David had confidence in God because of past victories. He had faith that God would win this battle because this giant was defying the armies of the living God. Experience and faith told David that this lion that threatened God’s sheep would be like the lion he had slain defending his father’s sheep. You have been given victories in your past to help you have confidence in what God can do today. Mix the experience from your past victories with faith in God’s heart and take on the giants of life today.

Meditation: “Go and the LORD be with you!”

The Only Way to Heaven

From: InTouch ministries

In Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have a path to eternal life in heaven.

May 19, 2022

Matthew 7:13-14

One of the most difficult truths of Christianity is that there’s but one way to heaven: Jesus Christ. People would rather believe that all paths lead to God—and that no religion can exclude someone. But in John 14:6, Jesus claimed to be “the way” and explicitly said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

That raises an important question: How do we come to God through Jesus? It’s not by means of religious rituals, good works, or self-effort—because even “our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” before God (Isaiah 64:6). Scripture provides the answer: We are saved by God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). And that means we must …

• Hear the message of the gospel. It includes both the bad news of our sinful condition and the good news that God offers forgiveness through faith in His Son (Ephesians 1:7).

• Acknowledge our need of a Savior. This involves repentance and faith. We turn from our sins and believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our wrongdoing and then rose from the dead. Trusting in the Savior allows us to stop living for ourselves and to start living for Him instead (Romans 6:10-11).

Truly, the way to salvation is narrow, but it’s the only path that leads away from condemnation and into the eternal glory of heaven.

Fish, Loaves, and Spaghetti?

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Fish, Loaves, and Spaghetti?

person carrying a large covered pot of food

 

Lina Johnson – Prayer Center Coach, cbn.com

My husband and I were hosting a team of people who desired to increase their knowledge of providing ministry.

“Do not eat the spaghetti,” my husband whispered as he pulled me aside. “We will eat peanut butter and crackers once everyone leaves. Let’s feed them first, small servings. Hopefully there will be enough for those who are here for ministry.”

That is exactly what we did—well, almost. We fed everyone. Then, they had seconds. Then, my husband and I ate spaghetti.

The next day, we ate peanut butter and crackers for breakfast, spaghetti for lunch and dinner. This went on every day for a week.

The day we ran out of spaghetti, a friend showed up at the door. She did not know about our lack of food. We had told no one. Yet here she was with three paper sacks full of groceries.

I know it sounds crazy, but it really did happen just like that. My story is not so odd. When we look at God’s Word, we see this has happened before.

John 6:1-15 tells the story of Jesus feeding five thousand men, plus women and children, with nothing but one boy’s lunch: five loaves and two fish. What an amazing miracle!

In 1 Kings 17:8-16 we find Elijah, a widow, and her son in the village of Zarephath. There was a drought, and Elijah was sent by God to the widow. He asked her to make him a little bread before she made any for herself and her son. Because she did as he asked, she and her son always had enough flour and oil throughout the remainder of the famine.

In all three of these stories, no one thought there would be enough food. Yet in each situation, the food was given to others first, then the miraculous happened: God multiplied it.

God is so faithful that even though the owners of the food never asked God to multiply it, He did it anyway. There is no mention of the widow asking or believing for the multiplication. She simply obeyed the prophet. The same is seen when that little boy gave Jesus his lunch. He simply handed it over. Then there’s my husband. He believed we would run out of spaghetti, but we fed everyone to their fill and then we ate.

The result in all three cases was abundance. Each story ends with more than enough. There were twelve baskets of leftovers from the loaves and fish. The widow had oil and flour until the crops grew. The spaghetti fed us until the three paper sacks full of groceries arrived. God provided more than what was needed.

These three stories show us the true character of God. He loves us and wants to bless us. He instructs us to seek Him and obey Him so we can receive from Him. This truth is found in Mathew 6:33 (NLT):

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

When we seek Him, He will give us abundance. God did this for King Solomon. 1 Kings 3:3-14 is the famous story. Solomon sought the Lord asking for wisdom and understanding. God gave him both, and so much more.

I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! vv. 12-13

May we always remember to trust God. Even in times of apparent lack, He is faithful.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

May 18

1 Samuel 16:23 23Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

The Spirit of God departed from Saul and an evil spirit was sent by God to trouble him. Evil spirits are always waiting to trouble us, but they need permission to attack those who belong to God. A spirit was given permission to oppress Saul. It would put him in a foul mood. Saul invited this spirit through his disobedience and pride. Nevertheless, he did not like the effects the spirit produced. Someone in his court suggested that music would cause the spirit to leave him. David was called in to play the harp. The man who has been anointed the next king was called to help Saul deal with the consequences of his choices.

It worked. Music seemed to bring the king relief. It works for us too. You’ll find that when you are in a foul mood, if you will listen to praise music. You will be uplifted, and your mind will pull out of the rut in which it seems to be stuck. If, by faith, you can sing, you’ll feel much better. I have even made up songs to deal with certain attacks of the enemy. God allows this to strengthen and test us or wake us up to our sin. In many cities you can turn on Christian radio and get instant help through the songs of praise.

Why was David’s music so effective? The Spirit of the LORD had come upon David in power. (1Samuel 16:13) A worshiping saint causes the enemy to cringe and flee. There are accounts of the wonders that praise music has done in asylums. It is a powerful tool. Use it for the glory of God.

Consider: How can I have praise music available for times when I struggle?

Our Eternal Home

Heaven is more than an idea—it is a real place of healing, restoration, and unimaginable joy.

May 18, 2022

John 14:1-6

When Jesus told His disciples He was going away, He promised to return and take them to His Father’s house, where He had prepared a place for them. This confirms that heaven is a real place, not some ethereal cloud where we play harps.

We tend to think of anything heavenly as less tangible than earth, but Scripture suggests the opposite. Hebrews 11:10 tells us that by faith, Abraham “was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” And Revelation 21:10-27 describes this city—called the New Jerusalem—in great detail. Unlike earth, the kingdom of heaven cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:27-28). It exists forever, and we’ll be worshipping and serving the Lord there.

As Christians, we know our citizenship is in heaven. When we die, our spirits immediately go there (2 Corinthians 5:8), into the presence of the Lord, awaiting the immortal body we’ll be given at Christ’s return. That new body will be perfectly suited for heaven and free from the temptations, trials, heartaches, pain, and death that make life on earth so wearying. There will be rest, not from activity and fulfilling work, but from the consequences of sin that plague us here. I believe the joy we’ll experience when we finally see our Savior face to face is beyond our imagination.

Bible in One Year: 2 Chronicles 24-25

 

Streams in the Desert – May 18

  • 202218 May

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

Pray Before Speaking

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Pray Before Speaking

woman praying alone

 

Debby Mendez – Prayer Center Coordinator – Latin America

One night at my church, a lady approached me and said that she had a word from God for me. I quickly heard the voice of the Holy Spirit warning me, “Pray before she speaks!” and I prayed. Her words declared things about me that were far from true. At that moment, I felt very confused—because nothing she said made sense to me or to those who knew me best.

Jesus said:

“If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true” (John 5:31-32).

The Holy Spirit had indeed warned me about this person who was speaking falsely. He knew that my identity in Himself would be confronted by the enemy, but I know that God knows me and confirms my acts done in faith. When we do things according to God’s will, our fruit speaks for itself (see Matthew 7:20).

At that moment, I remembered these words of Jesus,

“And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face” (John 5:37).

An intimate and genuine relationship with the Father will bear consistent spiritual fruit evident to others. We don’t have to accept someone who wants to speak—on God’s behalf or their own—into our lives just because they do it in a church setting. Someone who genuinely knows our character and maturity will not go where they are not invited.

Perhaps many people have tried to label you according to your past: lazy, a thief, good-for-nothing, liar, crazy, or even unfaithful. Your heavenly Father does not identify you according to what you’ve done. He is always waiting for you to turn back to Him and receive a new identity in Christ. It is important to know and discern what God says about you and hold steadfast to the truth of your genuine relationship with the Father. When needed, God can and does bring loving, humble correction through another; this will always be consistent with biblical truth.

In my daily work at CBN Guatemala, I have the privilege of praying for many people who are going through difficult situations. Others have gone through terrible things and have overcome them. Having a genuine relationship with the Father, and my identity grounded in Him, is my greatest strength to help and guide others.

The good news today and forever is that God loves you so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for you on a cross. God has faith in you and has plans for your life. Give your life to the Father today and you will see how false and degrading words toward you will come to nothing. You will see how the roads in the middle of the desert open up and you will see His hand move in your favor. God loves you simply because it pleases Him! And that is more than enough reason to love Him in return. Remember:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

On the Third Day He Rose

From Today Devotions

  1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-23

Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

—  1 Corinthians 15:20

Why do we say that Jesus rose “on the third day”? Some people might argue that the number of days he lay in the grave would confirm that he had died. Others point out that this fulfills a prophecy about Jesus’ death (Matthew 16:211 Corinthians 15:4). But the mention of “the third day” isn’t the main point of the creed’s declaration saying, “The third day he rose again from the dead.”

The main point is that at a specific moment in time Jesus rose again from the dead!

Jesus’ resurrection not only stands at the center of the Apostles’ Creed; it stands firmly at the center of the Bible’s teaching. Indeed, Christ’s ­resurrec­tion is the foundation on which our Christian faith rests. For, as the apostle Paul emphasizes, if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, all who hope in him should be the most pitied of all people. For if Jesus didn’t rise, we are all still shackled by the chains of sin and doomed to death forever.

But by his resurrection, Jesus has conquered death, washed away our sins, and covered us with his own righteousness. By his resurrection, Jesus has made us his own and raised us to a new life of walking with him. By his resurrection, Jesus also assures us that one day we too will be raised from the dead.

Alleluia! He is risen indeed!

Jesus, you rose from the grave in triumph over sin and death! We thank you and praise you! Now help us to live for you. In your name we pray. Amen.

Streams in the Desert – May 17

Your Crown of Glory

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb . . . and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11).

 

When James and John came to Christ with their mother, asking Him to give them the best place in the kingdom, He did not refuse their request, but told them it would be given to them if they could do His work, drink His cup, and be baptized with His baptism.

 

Do we want the competition? The greatest things are always hedged about by the hardest things, and we, too, shall find mountains and forests and chariots of iron. Hardship is the price of coronation. Triumphal arches are not woven out of rose blossoms and silken cords, but of hard blows and bloody scars. The very hardships that you are enduring in your life today are given by the Master for the explicit purpose of enabling you to win your crown.

 

Do not wait for some ideal situation, some romantic difficulty, some far-away emergency; but rise to meet the actual conditions which the Providence of God has placed around you today. Your crown of glory lies embedded in the very heart of these things–those hardships and trials that are pressing you this very hour, week and month of your life. The hardest things are not those that the world knows of. Down in your secret soul unseen and unknown by any but Jesus, there is a little trial that you would not dare to mention that is harder for you to bear than martyrdom.

 

There, beloved, lies your crown. God help you to overcome, and sometime wear it. –Selected

 

“It matters not how the battle goes,

The day how long;

Faint not! Fight on!

Tomorrow comes the song.”

Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel: 365 Sermons

By: Charles Spurgeon

Christ—the power and wisdom of God

“Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:24

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 10:34-43

Christ is the power of God, for he is the Creator of all things, and by Him all things exist. But when he came to earth, took upon himself the fashion of a man, tabernacled in the inn, and slept in the manger, he still gave proof that he was the Son of God; not so much so when, as an infant of a span long, the immortal was the mortal, and the infinite became a babe; not so much so in his youth, but afterwards when he began his public ministry, he gave abundant proofs of his power and godhead. The winds hushed by his finger uplifted, the waves calmed by his voice, so that they became solid as marble beneath his tread; the tempest, cowering at his feet, as before a conqueror whom it knew and obeyed; these things, these stormy elements, the wind, the tempest, and the water, gave full proof of his abundant power. The lame man leaping, the deaf man hearing, the dumb man singing, the dead rising, these, again, were proofs that he was the “power of God.” When the voice of Jesus startled the shades of Hades, and rent the bonds of death, with “Lazarus come forth!” and when the carcase rotten in the tomb woke up to life, there was proof of his divine power and godhead. A thousand other proofs he afforded; but we need not stay to mention them to you who have Bibles in your houses, and who can read them every day. At last he yielded up his life, and was buried in the tomb. Not long, however, did he sleep; for he gave another proof of his divine power and godhead, when starting from his slumber, he affrighted the guards with the majesty of his grandeur, not being held by the bonds of death, they being like green twigs before our conquering Samson, who had meanwhile pulled up the gates of hell, and carried them on his shoulders far away.

For meditation: This very same power of God is mighty to save believers through the gospel (Romans 1:16), is at work within them (Ephesians 1:19) and can enable them to fight the good fight of the faith against all evil powers (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Simple Truths

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Simple Truths

reading Bible

 

Maria Stockman – Digital Copywriter

I had been looking for a suitable apartment for months. I was fresh out of college and still living at home but longing for a life on my own. So I scoured the internet and newspapers and asked everyone I knew about apartments for rent near my workplace.

Every place I looked at was either outside of my budget, in the wrong area, or didn’t fit my needs. I was so disappointed. I had this expectation of finding the perfect place to live so I could officially start this next chapter of life. That’s what people do, right? You graduate from college, move out of your parents’ house, and get a job. I had two of these three secured, so I just needed to find a home to complete the final piece of the puzzle.

God’s timing didn’t align with mine, and I stayed at home for another year before the right location was available. At first, I felt defeated and unsure of what God was doing in my life, but soon realized that what the world says my life should look like is rarely what God has for me.

In John 5, as Jesus healed a man who was disabled for nearly four decades, the Jewish leaders swooped in and began to condemn Him for healing on the Sabbath. Instead of celebrating and standing in awe of what Jesus did for this man, they objected to the healing because of the day of the week.

Sometimes it feels easy to read the Scriptures and say, those leaders had it all wrong; how did they not see what Jesus was doing, or even claim we would never respond that way, but don’t we often lose sight of what’s important?

Aren’t we all too often like the Jewish leaders? We get caught up in how we think or want Jesus to act and lose sight of what He has for us. Are we missing out on what Jesus has for us because it doesn’t look like we think it should?

Jesus says at the end of this chapter:

“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life” (John 5:24).

How simple is this message from Jesus? Just listen to Him and believe, and you’ll have eternal life! Yet, we often look for our way of doing things, not God’s. So, while I often want to do things on my own, like move into the next chapter of my life in my time, this verse reminds me that Jesus is God, and He always does what He says He’s going to do. Therefore, we can hope and trust in Him for all of our needs!

Descended to Hell

  ISAIAH 53:1-12

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. . . . He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.

—  Isaiah 53:8

The Bible teaches about a place called “hell” that is reserved for God’s enemies. The New Testament mentions hell 162 times, and Jesus himself mentions it over 70 times.

People have found it puzzling, though, that the Apostles’ Creed says Jesus “descended to hell.” Appearing in some versions of the creed from the fourth century, this phrase may be based partly on some statements by the apostle Peter, who wrote that Jesus “went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits” (1 Peter 3:19-204:6). Some people have taken this to mean that after he died, Jesus descended to hell to free ancient sinners. Others have said that “descended to hell” refers to the depths of Christ’s anguished suffering throughout his life, crucifixion, death, and burial for our sake.

Whatever the full meaning is, this phrase should not distract from the bedrock teachings about Jesus and the Christian faith. At the very least, the phrase captures in a condensed way Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering servant—our Savior, Jesus, who suffered and died for us. This teaching assures us in our own moments of fear and temptation that Jesus, through his sacrifice for us, suffered in a way that we, by grace, will never have to suffer.

Because of your suffering and death, Lord Jesus, hell has no power over us. Thank you for making sure that nothing can separate us from you. Amen.

Faithful in the Fire

By Kyle Norman, crosswalk.com

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:24-25)

We would love to affirm that faith makes the problems of life disappear. How grand would it be if we could live our lives without hassle, discouragement, or frustration? Sadly, we know this is not the case. We are never removed from the frailty of life. We go through times of burden, hardship, and struggle. There may even be seasons where we feel tossed into a fiery furnace of affliction.

Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego knew about fiery afflictions…literally. These three young Hebrew men, probably no more than 20 years of age, find themselves on the wrong side of the King’s ire. They are arrested and threatened with death, all because they will not violate their allegiance to God. In refusing to bow down before the golden statue, they oppose the royal edict and must suffer the consequences.

What do you think they would be feeling as they are hauled before the king? Do you think they were afraid? Do you think they felt overwhelmed, discouraged, or downcast? And what about when they were bound and brought to the furnace? Do you think they questioned if that would be the end? Have you ever felt this way, or been asked those questions, in your life? Have you ever felt tossed into the fire?

Shadrack, Meschack, and Abednego, as faithful as they are, are not kept from the fiery furnace. There is no grand display of divine might that protects them from this experience. The three men are arrested. They are bound. They are tossed into a furnace.

I’m sorry to say this, but there may be times when we are asked to face a fiery furnace. There may be a season where life seems to turn against us, and where everything that we once knew feels ripped away. Israel was not immune from this. The disciples were not immune from this. Jesus was not immune from this. If we think that our faith in God means that such things don’t occur in our lives, then we will be left feeling condemned when these things befall us. We will feel that our fear, or our discouragement, somehow betrays the fullness of our faith. This is not true.

The truth upon which we stand is not that God shelters us from all struggles, but that God’s love remains with us during those times; God is present within the flames. Our times of hardship and struggle speak not of God’s absence. In fact, these are the times when God draws incredibly near. True, Shadrack Meshack and Abednego aren’t saved from entering the furnace, but they are surrounded by the flames. It was in that oven, and not a moment before, that they meet the presence of the one who appears like the son of God. God dwells amid the fire. God incarnates God’s self in the flames. And it is because God is present in that place, that the power of God extends over the three men, and the flames have no power over them.

God’s response to the fiery furnaces of our lives isn’t to destroy them, but to dwell in them. This is what is shown in this beloved tale in the book of Daniel. More importantly, this is what is revealed on the cross. The cross testifies that there is no place where the loving power of God will not be present. The cross, which is the most extreme example of the world’s rejection, is transformed into the place where Christ’s relentless love is disclosed.

 Standing Firm:  InTouch Ministries

If we want to withstand trials and evil temptations, we must plant ourselves on a foundation of faith.

May 16, 2022

Ephesians 6:10-17

Did you know that you’re in a battle every day of your life? The enemy’s goal is to weaken, deceive, and lead believers astray. God protects all who belong to Him, so wicked forces can never touch our salvation (1 Peter 1:3-5). But they can lead us into sin, cause discouragement, ruin our witness for Christ, and bring about other damage.

The main charge in today’s passage is “Stand firm,” and it’s mentioned three times (Eph. 6:11; Eph. 6:13-14). Paul says the purpose of the armor of God is to enable us to stand our ground in the battle, and his list of armor would not be complete without the footwear mentioned in verse 15. The soles of a Roman soldier’s sandals were studded with iron hobnails, which enabled him to stand his ground against an enemy assault.

Today our anchoring footwear is faith in the gospel, which not only grants us peace with the heavenly Father but also makes us Satan’s adversaries. So plant your feet and anchor yourself on a solid foundation of faith. When we don’t avail ourselves of the protection provided through Christ, we’re more likely to give way in the fight and yield to Satan’s temptations.

Bible in One Year: 2 Chronicles 18-20