Tag Archives: prayer

God Is Spirit

John 4: 24-26

24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

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What Is God Like?

From: Our Daily Bread

What Is God Like?

The Son is . . . the exact representation of [God’s] being. Hebrews 1:3

To celebrate a special occasion, my husband took me to a local art gallery and said I could choose a painting as a gift. I picked out a small picture of a brook flowing through a forest. The streambed took up most of the canvas, and because of this much of the sky was excluded from the picture. However, the stream’s reflection revealed the location of the sun, the treetops, and the hazy atmosphere. The only way to “see” the sky was to look at the surface of the water.

Jesus is like the stream, in a spiritual sense. When we want to see what God is like, we look at Jesus. The writer of Hebrews said He is “the exact representation of [God’s] being” (1:3). Although we can learn facts about God through direct statements in the Bible such as “God is love,” we can deepen our understanding by seeing the way God would act if He faced the same problems we have on Earth. Being God in human flesh, this is what Jesus has shown us.

In temptation, Jesus revealed God’s holiness. Confronting spiritual darkness, He demonstrated God’s authority. Wrestling with people problems, He showed us God’s wisdom. In His death, He illustrated God’s love.

Although we cannot grasp everything about God—He is limitless and we are limited in our thinking—we can be certain of His character when we look at Christ.

Dear God, thank You for making a way for us to know You. Help us to grow closer to You by looking at Jesus.

Looking at Jesus shows us God’s character.

 

Seeing is not believing, but believing is seeing

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.’ 1 Peter 1:8

Suggested Further Reading: John 20:19–31

Carnal people will imagine that if there could be something to touch or smell they should get on, but mere believing and loving are too hard for them. Yet such thought is not reasonable, and I can show you so. Occasionally one meets with an illiterate working man who will say to those whose occupation is mental, ‘I work hard for my living,’ insinuating that the mind-worker does not work at all. Yet I ask any man who is engaged in a mental pursuit, whether he does not know that mental work is quite as real work—and some of us think more so—as working with the hand or the arm. The thing is mental, but is none the less real. Just transfer that thought. Coming into contact with Christ by touch looks to most people to be most real; that is because their animal nature is uppermost; coming into contact with Jesus by the spirit seems to them to be unreal, only because they know nothing of spiritual things. Mere animal men will often say, ‘I can understand the headache, I can understand the pain of having a leg cut off;’ but the pain of injured affection, or of receiving ingratitude from a trusted friend, this is by the rough mind thought to be no pain at all. ‘Oh,’ says he, ‘I could put up with that.’ But I ask you who have minds, is there any pain more real than mental pain? Is it not the sharpest when the iron enters into the soul? Just so the mental operation—for it is a mental operation—of coming into contact with Christ by loving him and trusting him is the most real thing in all the world, and no one will think it unreal who has once exercised it.

For meditation: Unlike Thomas we cannot touch the Lord to bolster our faith (John 20:27–29). Claiming that unscriptural religious acts are not articles of faith but visual aids to faith is carnal, not spiritual, in both origin and outcome (John 3:6). Finding it ‘helpful’ to confess sins to a human ‘priest’ ignores the existence of the Great High Priest in heaven who makes such a go-between surplus to requirements (Hebrews 4:14,168:1).

 

The necessity of increased faith

By: Charles Spurgeon

“And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” Luke 17:5

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 4:13-25

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” They went to the right person. They did not say to themselves, “I will increase my faith;” they did not cry to the minister, “Preach a comforting sermon, and increase my faith;” they did not say, “I will read such-and-such a book, and that will increase my faith.” No, they said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” Faith’s author can alone increase it. I could inflate your faith till it turned into presumption, but I could not make it grow. It is God’s work to feed faith, as well as to give it life at first; and if any of you desire to have a growing faith, go and take your burden this morning to God’s throne, crying, “Lord, increase our faith!” If you feel that your troubles have been increased, go to the Lord, and say, “Increase our faith!” If your money is accumulating, go to the Lord, and say, “Increase our faith;” for you will want more faith as you get more prosperity. If your property is diminishing, go to him, and say, “Increase our faith,” so that what you lose in one scale you may gain in the other. Are you sickly and full of pain this morning? Go to your Master, and say, “Increase our faith, so that I may not be impatient, but be able to bear it well.” Are you tired and weary? Go and supplicate, “Increase our faith!” Have you little faith? Take it to God, and he will turn it into great faith. There is no hot-house for growing tender plants in like a house that is within the curtains—the tabernacle of God, where his glory dwells.

For meditation: The Christian has no need to undertake pilgrimages and to seek out so-called holy men to increase his faith. The expert in increasing faith is the very one in whom we have faith, who lives in us by his Spirit (Hebrews 12:2).

 

True Freedom

From: Cathy Irvin, Author

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When you think about July 4th, what comes to mind?

Perhaps you think about a day off from work with picnics, fireworks, and those red, white, and blue flags displayed in front yards along your neighborhood.

This is all good, but the one word that comes to my mind is freedom.

It is a fact that we live in the United States of America where we can voice our opinions freely and can vote for the people of our choice. These are very good reasons why we should never take our freedom for granted.

Each year, I notice that some people really go all out decorating for every holiday. For the 4th of July, I display my flag in the yard for the entire month. The flag means a lot to me because of those in my family who have been in wars. I have also had friends who served our country, and I have known some who did not come home in the past and present war.

My father served in World War II. My mother was a Red Cross volunteer during that war. My niece and her husband served in Desert Storm. I also have had loved ones in the Vietnam War and a friend now in Afghanistan.

Because of their contributions in keeping us all free, I proudly display the flag.

Have you thought about the American flag and all that it stands for? This emblem of the greatest nation on earth is placed on graves of our honored dead who fought for us to remain a free nation, and it flies high during times of peace, as well as war. “Old Glory” is its name.

There is another real freedom we can have. We can display it every day of the year, and that is our freedom “In Christ” to live a life to glorify Him, so that His banner of love, truth, and peace can be seen by all.

It is a flag flown high in the castle of my heart (taken from a song). We can be free in our spirit to serve the Creator of the whole universe and that my friends, is True Freedom.

Romans 8:2 says,

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.”  (ASV)

Just like the flag that represents freedom, Jesus is a banner over us, protecting and shielding us. He is the “Glory and the Lifter of our heads” at all times. Let freedom ring out in your heart today.

Psalm 3:3 reads,

“But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” (KJV)

Share The Light Of Christ

Light of the World

Light of the World

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in. Revelation 3:20

One of my favorite pieces of art hangs in the Keble College chapel in Oxford, England. The painting, The Light of the World by English artist William Holman Hunt, shows Jesus holding a lantern in His hand and knocking on a door to a home.

One of the intriguing aspects of the painting is that the door doesn’t have a handle. When questioned about the lack of a way to open the door, Hunt explained that he wanted to represent the imagery of Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”

The apostle John’s words and the painting illustrate the kindness of Jesus. He gently knocks on the door of our souls with His offer of peace. Jesus stands and patiently waits for us to respond. He does not open the door Himself and force His way into our lives. He does not impose His will on ours. Instead, He offers to all people the gift of salvation and light to guide us.

To anyone who opens the door, He promises to enter. There are no other requirements or prerequisites.

If you hear the voice of Jesus and His gentle knock on the door of your soul, be encouraged that He patiently waits for you and will enter if you welcome Him in.

Lord, thank You for the gift of salvation and Your promise to enter when we open the door. Please help me to respond to this gift and open the door for You today.

Open the door to Jesus; He is patiently waiting for you.

Do It Now!

By Oswald Chambers

Do It Now!

In this verse, Jesus Christ laid down a very important principle by saying, “Do what you know you must do— now. Do it quickly. If you don’t, an inevitable process will begin to work ‘till you have paid the last penny’ (Matthew 5:26) in pain, agony, and distress.” God’s laws are unchangeable and there is no escape from them. The teachings of Jesus always penetrate right to the heart of our being.

Wanting to make sure that my adversary gives me all my rights is a natural thing. But Jesus says that it is a matter of inescapable and eternal importance to me that I pay my adversary what I owe him. From our Lord’s standpoint it doesn’t matter whether I am cheated or not, but what does matter is that I don’t cheat someone else. Am I insisting on having my own rights, or am I paying what I owe from Jesus Christ’s standpoint?

Do it quickly— bring yourself to judgment now. In moral and spiritual matters, you must act immediately. If you don’t, the inevitable, relentless process will begin to work. God is determined to have His child as pure, clean, and white as driven snow, and as long as there is disobedience in any point of His teaching, He will allow His Spirit to use whatever process it may take to bring us to obedience. The fact that we insist on proving that we are right is almost always a clear indication that we have some point of disobedience. No wonder the Spirit of God so strongly urges us to stay steadfastly in the light! (see John 3:19-21).

“Agree with your adversary quickly….” Have you suddenly reached a certain place in your relationship with someone, only to find that you have anger in your heart? Confess it quickly— make it right before God. Be reconciled to that person— do it now!

 

 

“There was silence, and I heard a still voice” (Job 4:16, margin).

A score of years ago, a friend placed in my hand a book called True Peace. It was an old mediaeval message, and it had but one thought–that God was waiting in the depths of my being to talk to me if I would only get still enough to hear His voice.

I thought this would be a very easy matter, and so began to get still. But I had no sooner commenced than a perfect pandemonium of voices reached my ears, a thousand clamoring notes from without and within, until I could hear nothing but their noise and din. Some were my own voices, my own questions, some my very prayers. Others were suggestions of the tempter and the voices from the world’s turmoil.

In every direction I was pulled and pushed and greeted with noisy acclamations and unspeakable unrest. It seemed necessary for me to listen to some of them and to answer some of them; but God said, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Then came the conflict of thoughts for tomorrow, and its duties and cares; but God said, “Be still.”

And as I listened, and slowly learned to obey, and shut my ears to every sound, I found after a while that when the other voices ceased, or I ceased to hear them, there was a still small voice in the depths of my being that began to speak with an inexpressible tenderness, power and comfort.

As I listened, it became to me the voice of prayer, the voice of wisdom, the voice of duty, and I did not need to think so hard, or pray so hard, or trust so hard; but that “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit in my heart was God’s prayer in my secret soul, was God’s answer to all my questions, was God’s life and strength for soul and body, and became the substance of all knowledge, and all prayer and all blessing: for it was the living GOD Himself as my life, my all.

It is thus that our spirit drinks in the life of our risen Lord, and we go forth to life’s conflicts and duties like a flower that has drunk in, through the shades of night, the cool and crystal drops of dew. But as dew never falls on a stormy night, go the dews of His grace never come to the restless soul.
–A. B. Simpson

 

Vision

By: Sharon Elliott

In Acts 10, we read of two men whose worlds were about to intersect. Cornelius was a God-fearing Gentile, a really nice guy, but also a centurion, a leader of the Italian Regiment who was in Caesarea to control it for the Roman empire. Peter was a Jew, a Christ-follower, and the head of the Jerusalem church, the group of new believers just after the resurrection.

Both Cornelius and Peter saw visions. An angel appeared to Cornelius and told him to find a guy named Peter, send for him, and listen to what he has to say. Cornelius obeyed immediately. Peter saw a vision of a sheet filled with “…all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air” (Acts 10:12 NKJ). The Lord’s voice said, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat” (Acts 10:13), but Peter refused saying he’d never eaten anything common or unclean. This vision repeated to Peter three times, each time with the Lord’s response, “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). The passage then takes up the story:

Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. “Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” Acts 10:17-20 (NKJ)

Thanks to these men acting on these two visions, the mission of the Church was advanced. Cornelius’ faith was made complete when Peter preached Jesus to him. Cornelius was baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit, and his whole household was saved. Peter’s vision helped him understand that salvation was for the Gentiles also (who were considered unclean by Jews in those days).

Acting on vision is still important. Maintaining a God-consciousness allows God to communicate clearly what He wants to happen. When reading the Bible or listening to a sermon, keep the heart attitude that asks, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” The vision may start as a prick in your heart, something that causes you to raise an eyebrow and say, “Wow.” Go with that. Move in the light of that vision and don’t allow it to dim.

When God gives you a vision, it is specific and individual. Although it’s expressly for you, it is also intertwined with His bigger picture. Your job is to obey the vision you’ve received just like mine is to obey the one He’s sent to me. Then, as with Cornelius and Peter, when our worlds intersect, the mission of the Church will be advanced, God receiving the ultimate glory. Only by obediently acting upon the individual vision God gives us will we be operating in harmony with His bigger plan. We’ll then be pleasantly surprised and awed as we witness mighty moves of God’s hand, and amazingly humbled to realize He’s used us to accomplish His work.

Christ Is King Forever

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

1 Kings 2:33

“So shall their blood return on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever; but to David and his descendants and his house and his throne, may there be peace from the LORD forever.”

1 Kings 2:45

“But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever.”

Psalm 89:29

“So I will establish his descendants forever And his throne as the days of heaven.

Psalm 89:36

“His descendants shall endure forever And his throne as the sun before Me.

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The King Forever

From: Our Daily Journey

The King Forever

Read:

Isaiah 9:1-7
His government and its peace will never end (Isaiah 9:7).

On April 30, 2019, Japan’s Emperor Akihito will mark his 85th birthday with a historic act: he will abdicate the throne, something that hasn’t happened in the nation for more than two centuries. While the emperor’s plans are controversial, the larger concern is that the royal line has a diminishing number of heirs, a situation that may eventually develop into a constitutional crisis. These realities are all the more unnerving because the Japanese dynasty is the oldest monarchy in the world, tracing its lineage back to the year 660.

The prophet Isaiah announced that God would send a king into the world to rescue humanity. Isaiah proclaimed that though the people “walk in darkness,” the darkness would not overwhelm them. Soon, they would “see a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). And this great light would pierce the oppressive gloom. It would come in the person of a powerful king who would “break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders” (Isaiah 9:4). This king would “break the oppressor’s rod” (Isaiah 9:4).

Shockingly, this King would arrive as a child, a mere baby who would grow up into the fullness of God. And one day, in God’s time, this baby would be our true ruler, and all the governments of the world would “rest on his shoulders” (Isaiah 9:6). This means that when the story concludes, every knee (every government, every human institution) will bend their knee before this King of love and justice (Romans 14:11). And, thanks be to God, the reign of this good King “will never end” (Isaiah 9:7). Never.

There’s very little we can count on in this world, but we can rest all of our future and all of our hopes on the reign of Jesus who will be the true King forever.

The Strictest Discipline

By Oswald Chambers

The Strictest Discipline

Jesus did not say that everyone must cut off his right hand, but that “if your right hand causes you to sin” in your walk with Him, then it is better to “cut it off.” There are many things that are perfectly legitimate, but if you are going to concentrate on God you cannot do them. Your right hand is one of the best things you have, but Jesus says that if it hinders you in following His precepts, then “cut it off.” The principle taught here is the strictest discipline or lesson that ever hit humankind.

When God changes you through regeneration, giving you new life through spiritual rebirth, your life initially has the characteristic of being maimed. There are a hundred and one things that you dare not do— things that would be sin for you, and would be recognized as sin by those who really know you. But the unspiritual people around you will say, “What’s so wrong with doing that? How absurd you are!” There has never yet been a saint who has not lived a maimed life initially. Yet it is better to enter into life maimed but lovely in God’s sight than to appear lovely to man’s eyes but lame to God’s. At first, Jesus Christ through His Spirit has to restrain you from doing a great many things that may be perfectly right for everyone else but not right for you. Yet, see that you don’t use your restrictions to criticize someone else.

The Christian life is a maimed life initially, but in Matthew 5:48 Jesus gave us the picture of a perfectly well-rounded life— “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

 

The Hot Shot Café

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From: Author, Joe Stowell

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11

The Hot Shot Café in Asheville, North Carolina, is where the locals hang out. Old jukebox and all—no pretense—just good old home cooking. A while back I had the chance to eat there. The meal was delicious, and as I was paying my bill, I noticed a shelf full of shiny new Hot Shot Café mugs. I knew I needed one. It was a compulsion I couldn’t resist. So, I forked over a few extra bills and left with the mug.

It may sound weird, but I love heavy porcelain mugs with nifty logos. Over the years I have collected so many you would think I had enough, but no. I needed just one more!

If it were only about the mugs in our lives, or the teddy bears, CDs, or shoes—it wouldn’t really be a big deal. The thing is, it’s about more than that. It’s about this inner dynamic where we need just one more thing all the time. The technophile needs the fastest computer processor; the fashionista must have the latest open-toe sandals; the car enthusiast yearns for the perfect low-profile tires.

I think the issue behind our constant craving for more and more, for the latest and greatest, is contentment. It is easy to let our longings for possessions, relationships, and experiences shape our lives. The danger is, when we’re constantly on the hunt for the next thing, our life circumstances become pumped up with importance, while our Bibles collect dust on the shelf.

When we let the passion to consume crowd out the contentment we have in Christ, the result is an endless chase for the proverbial carrot on a stick. Since we can never have “enough” of what we crave, the emptiness makes us vulnerable to aloneness, and that leads us to sacrifice ourselves on the altar of the “next big thing” only to find that we still aren’t satisfied. Jesus alone gives the power to live a life where inner contentment abounds, regardless of our circumstances.

In 2 Corinthians 11:16-33, Paul listed some of his life circumstances. He was beaten with whips and rods, stoned, and shipwrecked three times. He survived a night and a day in the open sea, rivers, bandits, his own countrymen, Gentiles, and false brothers. He had often gone without sleep, food, water, clothing, or heat. And, he lived every day with concern for the churches he planted. He doesn’t even mention the fact that he wrote most of the New Testament from a jail cell!

Despite all of this, Paul wrote these words in the last chapter of Philippians. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:11-12).

What was Paul’s secret for contented living? I’ll tell you what it wasn’t. It wasn’t his mug collection and certainly not his life circumstances. It was his deep awareness of the supernatural presence of Christ in his life, and an abiding sense of all that Jesus alone provided for him.

The next time you’re at the Hot Shot Café, or wherever it is that you’re tempted to reach for “just one more thing,” remember that Christ alone provides the relaxing peace of contentment. Having Him, we have it all!

Anyone Who Believes Will Be Saved

Romans 8:38-39

38    For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
 39    neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Mighty to Save

From: Our Daily Journey

Mighty to Save

Read:

Psalm 124:1-8
What if the LORD had not been on our side? (Psalm 124:1).

During WWII, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill hailed the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of Allied troops from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk as a “miracle of deliverance.” The event was so widely celebrated that Churchill had to remind people that “wars are not won by evacuations.”

Trapped by Hitler’s forces and with one route of escape, the Prime Minister had admitted that only 20,000 to 30,000 troops seemed likely to make it out safely. On hearing this, King George VI called for the people of Britain and of the Empire to commit their cause to God in a National Day of Prayer. They poured out their hearts to the only One who could deliver them and—in God’s providence—they were delivered.

Out of gratitude, people across Britain observed a Day of National Thanksgiving. Up and down the country, choirs and congregations sang the words of Psalm 124.

“What if the LORD had not been on our side? Let all Israel repeat: what if the LORD had not been on our side when people attacked us? They would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger. The waters would have engulfed us; a torrent would have overwhelmed us. Yes, the raging waters of their fury would have overwhelmed our very lives” (Psalm 124:1-5).

Perhaps you’ve witnessed a deliverance by Almighty God in your life. Whether a healing, a wondrous provision, or a beautiful reconciliation, you carry with you a sense of humble gratitude to God who chose to intervene in a situation that seemed utterly hopeless at the time (Psalm 124:6-7).

God often works powerfully through hard things that come our way. But even when the answer isn’t what we hoped for, we can declare, “Our help is from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).

 

Held by the Grip of God

By Oswald Chambers

Held by the Grip of God

Never choose to be a worker for God, but once God has placed His call on you, woe be to you if you “turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deuteronomy 5:32). We are not here to work for God because we have chosen to do so, but because God has “laid hold of” us. And once He has done so, we never have this thought, “Well, I’m really not suited for this.” What you are to preach is also determined by God, not by your own natural leanings or desires. Keep your soul steadfastly related to God, and remember that you are called not simply to convey your testimony but also to preach the gospel. Every Christian must testify to the truth of God, but when it comes to the call to preach, there must be the agonizing grip of God’s hand on you— your life is in the grip of God for that very purpose. How many of us are held like that?

Never water down the Word of God, but preach it in its undiluted sternness. There must be unflinching faithfulness to the Word of God, but when you come to personal dealings with others, remember who you are— you are not some special being created in heaven, but a sinner saved by grace.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

 

A door opened in heaven (Rev. 4:1).

You must remember that John was in the Isle of Patmos, a lone, rocky, inhospitable prison, for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. And yet to him, under such circumstances, separated from all the loved ones of Ephesus; debarred from the worship of the Church; condemned to the companionship of uncongenial fellow-captives, were vouchsafed these visions. For him, also a door was opened.

We are reminded of Jacob, exiled from his father’s house, who laid himself down in a desert place to sleep, and in his dreams beheld a ladder which united Heaven with earth, and at the top stood God.

Not to these only, but to many more, doors have been opened into Heaven, when, so far as the world was concerned, it seemed as though their circumstances were altogether unlikely for such revelations. To prisoners and captives; to constant sufferers, bound by iron chains of pain to sick couches; to lonely pilgrims and wanderers; to women detained from the Lord’s house by the demands of home, how often has the door been opened to Heaven.

But there are conditions. You must know what it is to be in the Spirit; you must be pure in heart and obedient in faith; you must be willing to count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ; then when God is all in all to us, when we live, move and have our being in His favor, to us also will the door be opened.
–Daily Devotional Commentary

God hath His mountains bleak and bare,
Where He doth bid us rest awhile;
Crags where we breathe a purer air,
Lone peaks that catch the day’s first smile.
God hath His deserts broad and brown–
A solitude–a sea of sand,
Where He doth let heaven’s curtain down,
Unknit by His Almighty hand.

Faith Unlocks God’s Power In You

Philippians 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

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Unlocked

From: Our Daily Bread

Unlocked

Once you were alienated from God . . . . But now he has reconciled you. Colossians 1:21–22

A boy born with cerebral palsy was unable to speak or communicate. But his mother, Chantal Bryan, never gave up, and when he was ten years old she figured out how to communicate with him through his eyes and a letter board. After this breakthrough, she said, “He was unlocked and we could ask him anything.” Now Jonathan reads and writes, including poetry, by communicating through his eyes. When asked what it’s like to “talk” with his family and friends, he said, “It is wonderful to tell them I love them.”

Jonathan’s story is profoundly moving and leads me to consider how God unlocks us from the prison of sin. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Colossae, once we were “alienated from God” (Colossians 1:21), our evil behavior making us His enemy, but through Christ’s death on the cross we are now presented to God as “holy in his sight” (v. 22). We may now “live a life worthy of the Lord” as we bear fruit, grow in the knowledge of God, and are strengthened in His power (vv. 10–11).

We can use our unlocked voices to praise God and share His good news that we are no longer bound to a life of sin. As we continue in our faith, we can hold firm to our hope in Christ.

Lord God, You have released us from our chains of unbelief and given us words to praise You. May we share this freedom with others for Your glory.

The Lord unlocks us from our prison of sin.

 

FROM: STREAMS IN THE DESERT

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The Lord hath sent strength for thee (Ps.68.28, PBV).

The Lord imparts unto us that primary strength of character which makes everything in life work with intensity and decision. We are “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” And the strength is continuous; reserves of power come to us which we cannot exhaust.

“As thy days, so shall thy strength be”—strength of will, strength of affection, strength of judgment, strength of ideals and achievement.

“The Lord is my strength” to go on. He gives us power to tread the dead level, to walk the long lane that seems never to have a turning, to go through those long reaches of life which afford no pleasant surprise, and which depress the spirits in the sameness of a terrible drudgery.

“The Lord is my strength” to go up. He is to me the power by which I can climb the Hill Difficulty and not be afraid.

“The Lord is my strength” to go down. It is when we leave the bracing heights, where the wind and the sun have been about us, and when we begin to come down the hill into closer and more sultry spheres, that the heart is apt to grow faint. I heard a man say the other day concerning his growing physical frailty, “It is the coming down that tires me!”

“The Lord is my strength” to sit still. And how difficult is the attainment! Do we not often say to one another, in seasons when we are compelled to be quiet, “If only I could do something!”

When the child is ill, and the mother stands by in comparative impotence, how severe is the test! But to do nothing, just to sit still and wait, requires tremendous strength.

“The Lord is my strength!” “Our sufficiency is of God” (2 Cor. 3:5. from The Silver Lining

The conversion of Saul of Tarsus

By: Charles Spurgeon

“And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Acts 26:14

Suggested Further Reading: John 15:16-25

When you were first pricked in the heart, how personal the preacher was. I remember it well. It seemed to me that I was the only person in the whole place, as if a black wall were round about me, and I were shut in with the preacher, something like the prisoners at the penitentiary, who each sit in their cell and can see no one but the chaplain. I thought all he said was meant for me; I felt persuaded that some one knew my character, and had written to him and told him all, and that he had personally picked me out. Why, I thought he fixed his eyes on me; and I have reason to believe he did, but still he said he knew nothing about my case. Oh, that men would hear the word preached, and that God would so bless them in their hearing, that they might feel it to have a personal application to their own hearts. But note again—the apostle received some information as to the persecuted one. If you had asked Saul who it was he persecuted, he would have said, “Some poor fishermen, that had been setting up an impostor; I am determined to put them down.” “Why, who are they? They are the poorest of the world, the very scum and dregs of society; if they were princes and kings we perhaps might let them have their opinion; but these poor miserable ignorant fellows, I do not see why they are allowed to carry out their infatuation, and I shall persecute them. Moreover, most of them are women I have been persecuting—poor, ignorant creatures. What right have they to set their judgement up above the priests? They have no right to have an opinion of their own, and therefore it is quite right for me to make them turn away from their foolish errors.” But see in what a different light Jesus Christ puts it. He does not say, “Saul, Saul, why didst thou persecute Stephen?” or “Why art thou about to drag the people of Damascus to prison;” No—“Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

For meditation: What a personal Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ is! He personally calls his people to himself (Luke 19:5) and he takes it personally when they are persecuted (Luke 10:16).

 

The Overshadowing of God’s Personal Deliverance

By Oswald Chambers

The Overshadowing of God’s Personal Deliverance

God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally— “…your life shall be as a prize to you…” (Jeremiah 39:18). That is all God promises His children. Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives. Our personal property and possessions are to be a matter of indifference to us, and our hold on these things should be very loose. If this is not the case, we will have panic, heartache, and distress. Having the proper outlook is evidence of the deeply rooted belief in the overshadowing of God’s personal deliverance.

The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” Even the most devout among us become atheistic in this regard— we do not believe Him. We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Jesus Sets You Free

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery         .Galatians 5:1 

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.      Galatians 5:13 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spir

it of the Lord is, there is freedom.      2 Corinthians 3:17 

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.      John 8:36 

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Set Free

From: Our Daily Bread

Set Free

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

When I was a boy in the village, something about chickens fascinated me. Whenever I caught one, I held it down for a few moments and then gently released it. Thinking I was still holding it, the chicken remained down; even though it was free to dash away, it felt trapped.

When we put our faith in Jesus, He graciously delivers us from sin and the hold that Satan had on us. However, because it may take time to change our sinful habits and behavior, Satan can make us feel trapped. But God’s Spirit has set us free; He doesn’t enslave us. Paul told the Romans, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1–2).

Through our Bible reading, prayer, and the power of the Holy Spirit, God works in us to cleanse us and to help us live for Him. The Bible encourages us to be confident in our walk with Jesus without feeling as if we are not set free.

Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). May the freedom we have in Christ spur us on to love Him and serve Him.

Lord, forgive me for sometimes revisiting my past and forgetting that You have washed away my sins. Thank You for taking my burden and setting me free to enjoy living for You.

My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee. Charles Wesley

 

Arlene Pellicane June 26, 2018
The Power of a Praying Mom 
ARLENE PELLICANE

“Then Hannah prayed and said: ‘My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.’” 1 Samuel 2:1 (NIV)

I wanted to pinch myself as we drove home from the hospital. The police officer at the accident had said, “When we hear bike vs. car, we just cringe because of what it can mean.”

Hours earlier, my 7-year-old son Ethan was riding his bike with his little sister and my husband. As Ethan made a wide right turn in our quiet neighborhood, he expected the road to be empty. The approaching driver immediately stepped on the brake, but not before Ethan plowed right into his front bumper. The ambulance arrived before I could get there. Approaching that scene was one of the scariest moments of my life. 

I began to pray. 

Ethan was lying on the road softly crying, but his helmet looked normal, and he wasn’t bleeding anywhere. I told him not to worry because God was with him. By the end of that sobering day, my little second-grader was discharged from the hospital with a few bruises but nothing else wrong with him! 

I praised and thanked God because He’d completely protected Ethan from injury. He answered my prayers for my son! 

Hannah in the Old Testament was thankful too, because God answered her prayers, opening her barren womb, giving her a son. When God delivers us, we must remember to express our thanks. Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2 focuses on God’s greatness, not her little Samuel’s cuteness. It reminds me that the God who blesses is greater than the blessing itself.

We read in 1 Samuel 2:1-2, “Then Hannah prayed and said: ‘My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.’” 

One of the best gifts we can give children is the gift of prayer. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking. You have a Heavenly Father who’s eager to answer. I’m still praying for my son Ethan who now rides his bicycle to high school. It’s hard to believe he’s grown so much! The streets are much bigger than they were years ago, and his needs are much greater. As children grow into adults, they need our prayers more than ever. 

Not only prayers for physical protection, but more importantly, spiritual protection for their minds and hearts. Most parents are filled with questions like: Will my child do well in school? Will they try drugs or have sex? What kind of person will they marry? Will they still choose to follow God after high school? Are they becoming addicted to video games or social media? Let’s take all our questions to God through prayer. 

Exchange your worries about your child’s future for praise. The future may be uncertain, but God is unchanging and fully capable of taking care of your child. Hannah praised God in the temple where she was leaving young Samuel for a life of service to God. She’d promised if God gave her a child, she would give him to serve God in the temple. She made good on her promise because God had made good on His. 

Can God be trusted with our children? Absolutely! Does God always answer our prayers? Yes — although not always in the way (or timing) we desire. When children are away from home, we can pray but we need not worry. After all, God can take care of them much better than we can. 

Lord Jesus, You are good. Please protect my children and deliver them from evil. Use them as a witness to their friends. May they grow strong and mighty in You filled with Your joy and compassion for others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

 

Good Gifts

By: Sherrie Brouhard, author

Gifts

Going to the grocery store was always fun when my three sons were young and still at home. In the early days, one would be in the baby seat, one would walk and help push the cart, and one would ride in it. As time went by and they grew, there were two walking beside me. Then, later on, there were three. I always had a list and they helped read and follow the list. If needed, I would send one down an aisle to get something when we were short on time.

To reward them for their good behavior, and also just because I loved them, I would let them choose a treat, such as their favorite yogurt, animal crackers, or Cracker Jacks. It was such a joy, especially when I was so pleased with their obedience and behavior. But mostly because I love them!

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:11

I am reminded of how much more God desires to give good gifts to His children. He loves us, and simply asks for our loving, willing obedience. His will is that we fellowship with him, spend time in His presence, and that we obey his commandments. In the same way we enjoy spending time with our children, he is pleased when we spend time with Him.

During times of giving, let us remember that we are to first give ourselves to God. As we walk with the Lord, we should be growing and maturing. He may send us here or there on an assignment to do His will and accomplish His purpose. Sometimes we aren’t sure which direction to go. (He knows the way!) It may be something that seems very small and insignificant, or it may appear overwhelming. But it was on his list. When we delay obeying what he has called us to do, the journey may take longer.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9.

We need to seek Him and seek Him first. We must depend on His guidance, leading, and Lordship in our lives.

Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” Psalm 143:8.

A key word is trust. God loves each one of us and His desire is that we would all accept His Son Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and receive the gift of eternal life and have fellowship with Him. That is the beginning. From then on, you continue to obey and trust Him with every area of your life. With that trust, your anxieties will fade and you will experience peace and joy. What wonderful gifts: love, joy, and peace!

Don’t we all enjoy being with our precious children and spending quality time together? We want to have an ongoing growing relationship with our sons and daughters. Don’t we just delight in that fellowship?

Let us endeavor to pursue intimacy with God, growing and maturing in our relationship with Him. Let us not allow things to distract us or cause us to detour off the path. Sometimes we are interrupted on our journey, causing us to take our mind off of our goal. We mustn’t forget to keep our focus on Him and our feet on the right path.

Blooms In The Desert

Isaiah 35

Joy of the Redeemed

35 The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God.

 

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Blossoms in the Desert

From: Our Daily Journey

Blossoms in the Desert

Read:

Luke 14:7-14
“When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, . . . “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” (Luke 14:12-13).

The most dangerous place for Christians to be is in comfort and safety, detached from the suffering of others,” argue the authors of Common Prayer, suggesting that following Jesus includes a commitment to the “abandoned places of the empire”—places the world has given up on. In a special way, those places where we might expect only despair are often where we see most clearly the persistent love of a God who nevergives up on His world.

It’s only natural to want protection from suffering and loss. But Jesus taught that, paradoxically, it’s when we “try to hang on” to our lives that we lose them, and it’s when we “give up” on securing our lives that we find real life (Luke 9:24).

Over and over in His ministry, Jesus called for His followers to choose another path than the pursuit of power and security. When He attended a banquet where guests were scrambling for “seats of honor,” He taught that they should instead choose the “lowest” seat at the table (Luke 14:7,10). Then He went even further. Turning to the host, He said our celebrations shouldn’t be events for our “friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors” (Luke 14:12). Instead, they should be feasts for “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. . . . those who could not repay you” (Luke 14:13-14).

We are all poor before God, able only to receive His gifts (1 Corinthians 4:7). It’s only in humble awareness of our need that we can draw near to His heart (James 4:10). And as we follow Jesus’ example of self-giving love in the hardest places of our world, we will also witness new creation where no one thought possible, new life blossoming in the desert (Isaiah 35:1).

Receiving Yourself in the Fires of Sorrow

By Oswald Chambers

Receiving Yourself in the Fires of Sorrow

As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself, accepting His position and realizing His purpose, in the midst of the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour.

We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to accept and receive ourselves in its fires. If we try to evade sorrow, refusing to deal with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life, and there is no use in saying it should not be. Sin, sorrow, and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them.

Sorrow removes a great deal of a person’s shallowness, but it does not always make that person better. Suffering either gives me to myself or it destroys me. You cannot find or receive yourself through success, because you lose your head over pride. And you cannot receive yourself through the monotony of your daily life, because you give in to complaining. The only way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow. Why it should be this way is immaterial. The fact is that it is true in the Scriptures and in human experience. You can always recognize who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, and you know that you can go to him in your moment of trouble and find that he has plenty of time for you. But if a person has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous, having no respect or time for you, only turning you away. If you will receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people.

 

“Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward” (Exod. 14:15).

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Imagine, O child of God, if you can, that triumphal march! The excited children restrained from ejaculations of wonder by the perpetual hush of their parents; the most uncontrollable excitement of the women as they found themselves suddenly saved from a fate worse than death; while the men followed or accompanied them ashamed or confounded that they had ever mistrusted God or murmured against Moses; and as you see those mighty walls of water piled by the outstretched hand of the Eternal, in response to the faith of a single man, learn what God will do for His own.

Dread not any result of implicit obedience to His command; fear not the angry waters which, in their proud insolence, forbid your progress. Above the voices of many waters, the mighty breakers of the sea, “the Lord sitteth King for ever.”

A storm is only as the outskirts of His robe, the symptom of His advent, the environment of His presence.

Dare to trust Him; dare to follow Him! And discover that the very forces which barred your progress and threatened your life, at His bidding become the materials of which an avenue is made to liberty.
–F. B. Meyer

Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life,
Where, in spite of all you can do,
There is no way out, there is no way back,
There is no other way but through?
Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene
Till the night of your fear is gone;
He will send the wind,
He will heap the floods,
When He says to your soul, “Go on.”
And His hand will lead you through—clear through–
Ere the watery walls roll down,
No foe can reach you, no wave can touch,
No mightiest sea can drown;
The tossing billows may rear their crests,
Their foam at your feet may break,
But over their bed you shall walk dry shod
In the path that your Lord will make.
In the morning watch, ‘beneath the lifted cloud,
You shall see but the Lord alone,
When He leads you on from the place of the sea
To a land that you have not known;
And your fears shall pass as your foes have passed,
You shall be no more afraid;
You shall sing His praise in a better place,
A place that His hand has made.
–Annie Johnson Flint

Whatever You Do

I Corinthians 10: 31-33

31  So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

 32  Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God

33  even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

 

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Whatever You Do

From: Our Daily Journey

Whatever You Do

Read:

John 17:13-19
Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world (John 17:18).

As my friend and I were talking while she was washing the dishes after dinner, I looked up and noticed a wooden plaque above the sink. Engraved on it were the words of 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” After I asked her why she chose to display that verse, she told me it reminds her to honor God through every situation, even when she’s washing dishes!

When Jesus began His ministry, He proclaimed the arrival of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:15). He came to free people from sin and death, model a new way of life, and in this way establish God’s kingdom on earth. And this new kingdom way of life included the call for His disciples to “give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

God’s kingdom includes every aspect of our lives. As we pledge allegiance to King Jesus, our values and perspectives are transformed. Knowing God’s purposes for our lives changes the way we engage with others.

Realizing we don’t just work to make money, but to serve those around us, gives our work new meaning. We begin to reflect the grace and wisdom of God’s kingdom at the workplace through our actions, attitudes, and relationships. Through Jesus’ leading and power we can serve and love others, a small reflection of all He’s done for us.

Of course, not every employee in the workplace is a believer. But all of us play a part in working for God’s kingdom. In every situation, as the Holy Spirit equips us, we can honor God by loving those around us sacrificially, following the example of Jesus, who “came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

 

God’s cure for man’s weakness

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By: Charles Spurgeon

‘Out of weakness were made strong.’ Hebrews 11:34

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 11:1–7

Faith makes the crown of eternal life glitter before the believer’s eye; it waves before him the palm branch. Sense pictures the grave, loss, suffering, defeat, death, forgetfulness: but faith points to the resurrection, the glorious appearance of the Son of Man, the calling of the saints from every corner of the earth, the clothing of them all in their triumphant array, and the entrance of the blood-washed conquerors into the presence of God with eternal joy. Thus faith makes us out of weakness to become strong. Let me remind you that the essential ingredients of faith’s comfort are just these: faith sees the invisible and beholds the substance of that which is afar off: faith believes in God, a present, powerful God, full of love and wisdom, effecting his decree, accomplishing his purpose, fulfilling his promise, glorifying his Son. Faith believes in the blood of Jesus, in the effectual redemption on the cross, it believes in the power of the Holy Spirit, his might to soften the stone and to put life into the very ribs of death. Faith grasps the reality of the Bible; she does not look upon it as a sepulchre with a stone laid thereon, but as a temple in which Christ reigns, as an ivory palace out of which he comes riding in his chariot, conquering and to conquer. Faith does not believe the gospel to be a worn-out scroll, to be rolled up and put away; she believes that the gospel instead of being in its dotage is in its youth; she anticipates for it a manhood of mighty strugglings, and a grand maturity of blessedness and triumph. Faith does not shirk the fight; she longs for it, because she foresees the victory.

 

The desire of the soul in spiritual darkness

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By: Charles Spurgeon

“With my soul have I desired thee in the night.” Isaiah 26:9

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 42

There are times when all the saints can do is to desire. We have a vast number of evidences of piety: some are practical, some are experimental, some are doctrinal; and the more evidences a man has of his piety the better, of course. We like a number of signatures, to make a deed more valid, if possible. We like to invest property in a great number of trustees, in order that it may be all the safer; and so we love to have many evidences. Many witnesses will carry our case in the courts better than a few: and so it is well to have many witnesses to testify to our piety. But there are seasons when a Christian cannot get any. He can get scarcely one witness to come and attest his godliness. He asks for good works to come and speak for him. But there will be such a cloud of darkness about him, and his good works will appear so black that he will not dare to think of their evidences. He will say, “True, I hope this is the right fruit; I hope I have served God; but I dare not plead these works as evidences.” He will have lost assurance, and with it his enjoyment of communion with God. “I have had that fellowship with him,” perhaps he will say, and he will summon that communion to come and be in evidence. But he has forgotten it, and it does not come, and Satan whispers it is a fancy, and the poor evidence of communion has its mouth gagged, so that it cannot speak. But there is one witness that very seldom is gagged, and one that I trust the people of God can always apply, even in the night: and that is, “I have desired thee—I have desired thee in the night.”

Believing God

“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

John 20:31

but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Mark 11:24

“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

John 20:29

Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

 

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Believing God

From: Our Daily Journey

Believing God

Read:

Hebrews 10:38–11:6
This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith (Romans 1:17).

A common belief about God is that if we can “do enough good things,” we earn His favor. Naturally, the next question becomes: How much is enough? When can we be sure we’ve done enough good things? Well, we can’t! But thankfully, such a concept isn’t found in the Bible. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 2:8-9).

We might misunderstand this grace or have an incomplete grasp of what faith means, thinking that because of God’s grace, it doesn’t matter what we do. Or we may believe that once we put our faith in God, we must then live painstakingly cautious lives so that we never sin. Neither of these concepts has biblical support either.

Martin Luther looked for spiritual peace in a monastery. He didn’t find it until he understood Paul’s description of God’s offer of salvation. “This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith” (Romans 1:17). To emphasize the point, Paul quoted the Old Testament prophet: “It is through faith that a righteous person has life” (Romans 1:17Habakkuk 2:4).

It’s easy to believe in God. Most people do. We stumble over believing God—simply taking Him at His Word.

The book of Hebrews reiterates this: “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” The text continues, “Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation” (Hebrews 11:1-2). Through their faith!

Here’s the comforting conclusion. God is pleased by our faith in Him. We’re simply called to “believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

May we believe in Him and also believe Him by His grace.

 

Clear View

From: Joe Stowell, Author

“Offer your bodies as living sacrifices . . . this is your spiritual act of worship” Romans 12:1

I love Wrigley Field in Chicago. But like most old ballparks, it has the necessary but aggravating problem of support posts that obscure the view of the game. Unfortunately, I got stuck behind one of those posts at a game once, and, needless to say, it was disappointing. Without a clear view, I became easily distracted.

It can be like that with worship. Without a clear view of what really counts, we are quickly distracted by lesser things in life. And when that happens, our worship becomes ritualistic and routine. Worship isn’t meant to be a drab experience, but rather an active, ongoing, enthusiastic response to God for His work and worth in our lives.

As I sat distractedly behind the post, I often wondered why everyone was cheering. What had I missed? Losing sight of the real game, God’s wonderful worth to us, will make you wonder why others are so excited about God and why you are only excited about your own dreams, desires, and possessions. Maybe it’s time to look around the obstructions of life to see Jesus clearly again and notice what He is worth to you—personally.

And what would that worship look like? Well, it would be more than singing in church. True worship is a surrender of all that we are and have. Paul told the believers in Rome to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). Our lives are to be placed on the altar as an act of worship as well! Is He worth that kind of sacrifice? You bet! He gave up everything to set you eternally free. It’s time to tell Him how much He is worth by returning the favor. Being truthful, loving, honest, and forgiving even when it hurts would be a great place to start. And be careful, living sacrifices tend to want to climb off the altar!

Go ahead—get out from behind the support posts so you can get a fresh glimpse of Jesus. He’s the only action worth worshiping in your life!

From: Streams in the Desert

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So he said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:29-30)

Peter had a little faith in the midst of his doubts, says Bunyan; and so with crying and coming he was brought to Christ.

But here you see that sight was a hindrance; the waves were none of his business when once he had set out; all Peter had any concern with, was the pathway of light that came gleaming across the darkness from where Christ stood. If it was tenfold Egypt beyond that, Peter had no call to look and see.

When the Lord shall call to you over the waters, “Come,” step gladly forth. Look not for a moment away from Him.

Not by measuring the waves can you prevail; not by gauging the wind will you grow strong; to scan the danger may be to fall before it; to pause at the difficulties, is to have them break above your head. Lift up your eyes unto the hills, and go forward—there is no other way.

“Dost thou fear to launch away?
Faith lets go to swim!
Never will He let thee go;
’Tis by trusting thou shalt know
Fellowship with Him.”

Fellowship With Jesus

Psalm 55:14

We who had sweet fellowship together Walked in the house of God in the throng.

Acts 2:42

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

1 John 1:7

but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

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Image result for pictures of fellowship with JesusImage result for pictures of fellowship with Jesus
Image result for pictures of fellowship with JesusImage result for pictures of fellowship with Jesus
Image result for pictures of fellowship with JesusImage result for pictures of fellowship with Jesus

Fellowship with Jesus

From: Our Daily Bread

Fellowship with Jesus
Read: Philippians 3:7–14 | Bible in a Year: Esther 6–8; Acts 6

 I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:8

I’ll never forget the time I had the privilege of sitting next to Billy Graham at a dinner. I was honored but also somewhat nervous about what would be appropriate to say. I thought it would be an interesting conversation starter to ask what he loved most about his years of ministry. Then I awkwardly started to suggest possible answers. Was it knowing presidents, kings, and queens? Or preaching the gospel to millions of people around the world?

Before I had finished offering suggestions, Rev. Graham stopped me. Without hesitation he said, “It has been my fellowship with Jesus. To sense His presence, to glean His wisdom, to have Him guide and direct me—that has been my greatest joy.” I was instantly convicted and challenged. Convicted because I’m not sure that his answer would have been my answer, and challenged because I wanted it to be.

That’s what Paul had in mind when he counted his greatest achievements to be of no worth compared to the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). Think of how rich life would be if Jesus and our fellowship with Him was our highest pursuit.

Lord, forgive me for chasing after things that matter far less than my fellowship with You. Thank You that You stand ready to enrich my life with Your presence and power.

To remain faithful where God has placed you, give Christ first place in your heart.

The Unchanging Law of Judgment

By Oswald Chambers

The Unchanging Law of Judgment

This statement is not some haphazard theory, but it is an eternal law of God. Whatever judgment you give will be the very way you are judged. There is a difference between retaliation and retribution. Jesus said that the basis of life is retribution— “with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” If you have been shrewd in finding out the shortcomings of others, remember that will be exactly how you will be measured. The way you pay is the way life will pay you back. This eternal law works from God’s throne down to us (see Psalm 18:25-26).

Romans 2:1 applies it in even a more definite way by saying that the one who criticizes another is guilty of the very same thing. God looks not only at the act itself, but also at the possibility of committing it, which He sees by looking at our hearts. To begin with, we do not believe the statements of the Bible. For instance, do we really believe the statement that says we criticize in others the very things we are guilty of ourselves? The reason we see hypocrisy, deceit, and a lack of genuineness in others is that they are all in our own hearts. The greatest characteristic of a saint is humility, as evidenced by being able to say honestly and humbly, “Yes, all those, as well as other evils, would have been exhibited in me if it were not for the grace of God. Therefore, I have no right to judge.”

Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). He went on to say, in effect, “If you do judge, you will be judged in exactly the same way.” Who of us would dare to stand before God and say, “My God, judge me as I have judged others”? We have judged others as sinners— if God should judge us in the same way, we would be condemned to hell. Yet God judges us on the basis of the miraculous atonement by the Cross of Christ.

 

With Prayer, We Cannot Fail

Author: Eddie Jones

he Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the [Lord’s people]. Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

“Chaplain, sit for a moment. I want to talk to you about this business of prayer.” George S. Patton stood by the window watching the steady rain. For days the Third Army had been bogged down due to the weather. “Chaplain,” asked Patton, “How much praying is being done in the Third Army?” The Chaplain admitted that lately, not much.

“Chaplain, I am a strong believer in prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want: by planning, by working, and by praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that’s working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. Up to now, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy: simply because people prayed. But we have to pray for ourselves too. We must ask God to stop these rains. This Army needs the assurance and the faith that God is with us. With prayer, we cannot fail.”

But what if we are forbidden to pray for the protection of our nation, the wisdom of our leaders, and the freedoms of our people? On August 29, 2011, a three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled officials could not pray before public meetings. The ruling, in the case of Joyner v. Forsyth County, admonished public officials to refrain from invoking the name of Jesus.

To pray is to call upon God and to invite Him into conversation.

The Greek word enteuxis is often translated “intercession.” In the New Testament the word is used to describe a petition presented to a king on the behalf of another. A petition is not an unspoken request but a bold supplication that carries with it the signatures of those who dared to come before the ruling authorities.

Jesus told this parable of the persistent neighbor:

“Suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything. I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.'” Luke 11:7-8 (NIV)

God listens to our silent prayers, but He also longs to hear our voices raised to the heavens, demanding justice for the oppressed and assistance for the wounded and hurting.

Between December 12 and December 14, 1944, two hundred and fifty thousand copies of General Patton’s Prayer Card were distributed to the troops. On December 20, the rains ceased. For almost a week, American warplanes bombarded the German army that had been advancing under the cloak of fog. General Patton prayed for fair weather and God sent it.

Perhaps it’s time to gather in our homes, churches, public squares, and courtrooms and ask God to have mercy on us and to forgive our sins. Each year the United States recognizes a national day of prayer. What our country needs is citizens who will pray without ceasing.

Will we embrace that challenge?