Tag Archives: salvation

Jesus Was Arrested For Our Sins

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Arrested

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Maria Stockman – Digital Copywriter, cbn.com

Have you ever heard the saying, “If you were arrested for your faith, would there be enough evidence for your conviction”? It’s an interesting question to reflect on. Do I go to church enough? Am I nice to the cashier at the supermarket? Do I yield for the right amount of time and wave people on ahead of me enough? Thankfully, none of my good deeds equate to my salvation through the blood of Jesus. But I think about John and Peter in Acts 4 and how they were arrested for sharing about Jesus:

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. (Acts 4:1-3 ESV)

They had healed a man who was crippled, and the religious leaders weren’t too fond of the idea that this had happened in the name of Jesus. As they questioned Peter, he proclaimed the gospel in his explanation, stating that Jesus was raised from the dead and through Him alone can we receive salvation.

Verse 8 says that Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit,” and later in verse 13, the religious leaders “saw the boldness of Peter and John.” How incredible is it to know that as believers, we have the Holy Spirit in us and can be bold for Jesus!

Peter and John were truly arrested for their faith and, according to the religious leaders, had cause for their conviction. As much as I wouldn’t want to be arrested if the charges are based on my faith, I pray that my life has been one that boldly and loudly screams the name of Jesus Christ.

How are you living? Are your actions and words evidence of your faith in Jesus Christ? I’m not talking about whether you are kind to strangers, but are you boldly sharing the name of Jesus to your family, friends, and neighbors who don’t know Him? No matter your answer, I invite you to join me in being intentional with sharing Jesus this week with a loved one.

Father, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to dwell within us and empower us to speak boldly about your Son, Jesus. Please give us an opportunity to share Him with someone this week. Use us to speak Your Truth and Life to someone who needs it most. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 18

1 Kings 12:7-8 7They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” 8But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.

Solomon reigned for forty years, the same number of years as his father David. Because his heart turned to other gods, the LORD promised ten tribes to one of his overseers, Jeroboam. When Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was to be crowned king, the people asked him to please lighten the burden Solomon had placed on them. Solomon had heavily taxed the people and given them assignments in service to the kingdom. Rehoboam asked the people to give him three days to consider this.

He went to the elders that had advised his father. They had been a part of the success of his father and had a track record of giving good advice. They had years of experience and were very wise individuals. They advised Rehoboam to be a servant leader. They told him that if he would indeed lighten their load, the people would keep their word and serve him faithfully all their life.

Rehoboam didn’t like that advise. He wanted what his father had. Why should he tighten his belt and do with less? He sought out the advice of the young men he grew up with. They told him what he wanted to hear. He answered the people that he would be harsher than his father. The ten northern tribes drew away with Jeroboam as their leader, fulfilling the word of God.

Mankind always wants more. It is hard for the carnal nature to give up niceties of life but oh so easy to desire more. In Rehoboam’s greed, he lost nearly all. Instead of a minor cutback, he had to make a major one.

Consider: When seeking advice we have a tendency to look to those who will tell us what we want to hear, and we reject the advice of those who tell us what we would rather not hear. Though age does not always bring wisdom, ask advice of those who have the life that shows they are wise. Ask people who demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit. Even if you don’t like their answers, realize they are best for you. Refusing sound advice may cause you greater loss than you feared.

Beautiful Death

  MATTHEW 27:45-54

[Jesus] gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

—  Matthew 27:50-51

 

You might wonder why the title of this meditation is “Beau­tiful Death.” The Bible affirms life, so how could any death be considered beautiful?

But, in a way, this title is similar to the name “Good Friday,” which we use to refer to the day of Jesus’ death. In some ways that day was not good at all. We mourn the death of Jesus, and we regret the sin that caused him to die. But in other ways the day has been very good indeed. The death of Jesus is good news for the world, because in his death Jesus tore down the barrier between God and sinful humanity. Now we can be united with God because of Jesus’ death. So we can say that the death of Jesus was beautiful.

The book of Matthew adds that at the moment of Jesus’ death, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” That curtain barred the way to the holiest room in the temple. It represented the separation between the holy God and his sinful people. But because of Jesus’ death, the curtain was not needed anymore. People could be united with God again. God loved the world so much that he sent Jesus to die, uniting us with himself again—and that is beautiful!

Lord Jesus, we praise you for your great love, shown by your death for all who believe in you. Thank you for your beautiful death, which unites us with God again. Amen.

Vile ingratitude

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations.” Ezekiel 16:1,2

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

God gives to his people riches, and they offer them before the shrine of their covetousness. He gives them talent, and they prostitute it to the service of their ambition. He gives them judgement, and they pander to their own advancement, and seek not the interest of his kingdom. He gives them influence; that influence they use for their own aggrandisement, and not for his honour. This is like taking his gold, and his jewels, and hanging them upon the neck of the god Ashtaroth. Ah! Let us take care when we think of our sins, that we set them in this light. It is taking God’s mercies to lavish them upon his enemies. Now, if you were to make me a present of some token of your regard, I think it would be the meanest and most ungracious thing in the world I could do to take it over to your enemy, and say, “There, I come to pay my respects.” To pay my respects to your foe with that which had been the token of your favour! There are two kings at enmity with one another—two powers that have been at battle, and one of them has a rebellious subject, who is caught in the very act of treason, and condemned to die. The king very graciously pardons him, and then munificently endows him. “There,” says he, “I give you a thousand crown-pieces;” and that man takes the bounty, and devotes it to increasing the resources of the king’s enemies. Now, that were a treason and baseness too vile to be committed by worldly men. Alas then! That is what you have done. You have bestowed on God’s enemies what God gave to you as a love-token. Oh, men and brethren, let us bow ourselves in dust and ashes before God.

For meditation: Is a readiness to use God’s gifts selfishly the reason why he appears to say “No” to so many of your prayer-requests (James 4:3-4)?

Jesus Glory In Us

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His Glory in Me

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Marissa Nordlum – Email Analyst, cbn.com

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Jesus with skin on”?

This phrase is often used by pastors and leaders alike to remind us to be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever we go. Just as Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, he left us His Spirit and we have His help to “be Jesus with skin on” wherever we go. Growing up in youth group, I heard this phrase from my youth pastor often. He would encourage us to shine the love of Jesus so brightly, that wherever we went others would see Him in and through us—His glory on display in our lives.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (NIV)

Having His glory at work within my life is still a goal and a prayer of mine today as an adult. We can read about Jesus’ glory on display through the early church when we read the book of Acts.

Jesus’ disciples were on fire. Not literally, but they were filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Everywhere they went, the glory of Jesus shone through them. They accepted the Great Commission and began to preach the Gospel and heal in the name of Jesus. They were literally “Jesus with skin on.”

Acts 3:1-10 tells the story of Peter as he heals a lame beggar by the temple gate called Beautiful. This is one of the first recorded miracles after Jesus’ resurrection. This blind beggar was carried to the gate every day since birth in hopes that one day he would be healed. Can you imagine? Every single day. Holding onto a shred of hope that tomorrow just “might” be the day that you are healed. I can’t help but wonder if the man ever lost hope for healing. I imagine so, because one day when Peter and John walked by him, instead of asking for healing, he asked for money (Acts 3:3-4).

But Peter had something better to offer him. He came as Jesus with skin on, and in the name of Jesus, he was ready to help this man.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. ”Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. Acts 3:6-8

This man who was crippled from birth was at that moment healed. His feet and ankles became strong, and he wasn’t just walking, but jumping and running around the temple courts praising God for this miracle! The glory of Jesus was on full display in and through the disciples, and in turn, it was then on full display in and through this once-crippled beggar.

Today my prayer is that the glory of Jesus would be on full display in and through my life. So much so that people will not only see it, but be changed and transformed by it as well, just like in Acts 3. May we become mindful and aware that everywhere we go, we can be Jesus with skin on. May others see and experience the glory of the Lord in and through our lives.

Let’s pray: Lord, may we always give You the glory for every miracle. Our reward is found in giving glory to You. Let Your glory be evident in and through our lives today and let others see, experience, and be changed by You in us. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Let Down Your Wings – Streams in the Desert – June 17

  • 202217 Jun

Then there was a voice from above the platform over their heads when they stood still. (Ezek 1:25)

That is the letting down of the wings? People so often say, “How do you get the voice of the Lord?” Here is the secret. They heard the voice when they stood and let down their wings.

We have seen a bird with fluttering wings; though standing still, its wings are fluttering. But here we are told they heard the voice when they stood and had let down their wings.

Do we not sometimes kneel or sit before the Lord and yet feel conscious of a fluttering of our spirits? Not a real stillness in His presence.

A dear one told me several days ago of a certain thing she prayed about, “But,” said she, “I did not wait until the answer came.”

She did not get still enough to hear Him speak, but went away and followed her own thought in the matter. And the result proved disastrous and she had to retrace her steps.

Oh, how much energy is wasted! How much time is lost by not letting down the wings of our spirit and getting very quiet before Him! Oh, the calm, the rest, the peace which come as we wait In His presence until we hear from Him!

Then, ah then, we can go like lightning, and turn not as we go but go straight forward whithersoever the Spirit goes. (Ezek. 1:1, 20)

“Be still! Just now be still!
Something thy soul hath never heard,
Something unknown to any song of bird,
Something unknown to any wind, or wave, or star,
A message from the Fatherland afar,
That with sweet joy the homesick soul shall thrill,
Cometh to thee if thou canst but be still.

The most beautiful Kingdom Possible­

From; Today Devotions

  MATTHEW 5:1-12

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of ­heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

—  Matthew 5:3-5

People often say that they are “blessed” when they are enjoying good things in life: a beautiful sunset, time with their loved ones, a comfortable place to live, exciting travels. But when we hear what Jesus taught about being “blessed,” we get a different picture. Jesus describes a number of people who seem to be the opposite of blessed. The list includes people who are broken down, struggling, or even persecuted. How could Jesus call them blessed?

Through his life and teaching, Jesus introduced a new kind of world. It was a new way of understanding what a beautiful community looks like. Jesus called this beautiful new community “the kingdom of God” or “the kingdom of heaven.” And in God’s kingdom, the typical priorities of our world (wealth, pride, winning at all costs) are turned upside down.

In God’s kingdom, Jesus says all people are welcome, not just those who are rich or respectable. In God’s kingdom, a beautiful life of mercy and peace is possible by God’s grace. We may feel disoriented at first when we follow Jesus, because his values are not the values of the world. But the right-side-up kingdom of God is good news for us and for the whole world, because it is the most beautiful kingdom possible.

Jesus, thank you for bringing the kingdom of God. Thank you for teaching us about a beautiful new kind of world, even though it can seem upside down to us at first. Amen.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 17

1 Kings 11:4 4As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.

Solomon started with a heart after God. He had learned from his father, David, that God was worthy of all our praise. The blessing of God was upon Solomon, and he was probably the wisest and wealthiest king to ever live. But in prosperity, there is great danger. He had a weakness for women. He married women from the countries that the Lord had forbidden the Israelites to marry. God had warned in the Law that if there should be a king over Israel, he was not to multiply to himself many wives (Deuteronomy 17:17). God warned that wives of other nations would turn his heart from the true God.

There are a number of warnings for us in this sad account of the demise of Solomon. The first is to pay attention to the word of God. We may think our abilities or gifts make us exempt from some command of God. We may justify our sin in any number of ways, but we will suffer for disobedience. The warnings in the Word are for our own good.

Choose your mate carefully. Overtime your mate will affect your relationship with God. You may think you can win him or her, or that you will not be affected, but two do become one. There will be influence. If you are already in a marriage with an unbeliever, pray! Pray for strength to stand firm in your faith. Pray for opportunities to help turn your mates’ heart. Look for the leading of the Holy Spirit to share God’s love for him or her.

We see in this passage that God is after a fully devoted heart, not a heart of compromise. In our old age when we are slowing down, we are tempted to slow down on our wholehearted devotion. Don’t go there! Finish strong. Endure to the end. Have a heart like David!

Admonition: Don’t let anything or anyone dilute your testimony.

Christ’s Lingering Fragrance

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For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being  saved
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Christ’s Lingering Fragrance

by Annie Yorty, Crosswalk.com

“Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 NASB 1995)

Over a month ago, my daughter wore a new shirt, one with tiny, sparkly sequins sewn throughout the fabric. Today I opened my dresser drawer and something shiny caught my eye. You guessed it! A gold sequin from my daughter’s blouse nestled among my jeans.

That’s not the only place I’ve found the sparkles. I spotted them on the front porch, in the silverware drawer, on my car seat, in the clothing hamper, and even in my shoe. Though I’ve cleaned my house (I promise, I do vacuum regularly), they keep gleaming from my area rugs and winking from the hard surface floors. And let’s not even talk about the collection I’ve discovered in the washer’s rubber gasket and the dryer’s lint collector.

It’s a wonder there are any sequins remaining on the shirt. And all that was from just one wearing. I wonder if our lives should be a bit like those shimmering sequins reflecting the light. Does evidence of Jesus keep shining in the places we’ve been? Have we influenced anyone for Christ by our presence?

In 2 Corinthians, Paul compares this idea of lasting influence to fragrance. First and foremost, he says, we need to pass the sniff test with God. Does a “Christ-like” aroma emanate from us? Research reveals that mothers recognize their own babies by scent.1 Likewise, God knows the aroma of His Son, Jesus. If we’re sticking close to the presence of Jesus, His glorious fragrance rubs off on us. This pleasing aroma then rises from us to God.

But anyone who has ever baked chocolate chip cookies knows that smells also permeate every bit of airspace in your home. In the same way, the sweet aroma of Christ wafting from us should infuse the atmosphere wherever we go. Paul says those we meet will sense Jesus in us and respond.

Responses to the fragrance of Christ will vary. “To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume” (2 Corinthians 2:16 NLT).

Who wants to smell like death? I don’t think that perfume will ever be sold at Saks Fifth Avenue. But apparently, that’s what some people will discern from the presence of Christ in us. His righteousness is an affront that spotlights the doomed state of their souls. Others, however, will bask in Christ’s life-giving perfume. They will deeply inhale the scent of life and be saved.

We do not control the perception of our Christ-like fragrance. Instead, we focus solely on faithfully disseminating the aroma of Jesus.

And what is the aroma of Jesus? A hymn writer once wrote that if the ocean were filled with ink, we could exhaust its supply just by writing about the love found in Jesus (The Love of God, 1917)2. But Philippians 2:8 distills Christ’s character into two words: humble obedience. Jesus, though He was God, chose to allow His Father to lead every thought, word, and deed.

We have the same mandate. As we yield in submission to God’s Spirit in us, our characters reflect more and more of Jesus. We will desire and be empowered to obey God’s directions. His character, His fragrance, will cling to us and penetrate the senses of everyone we meet.

In Ephesians chapter five, Paul provides some practical ways the Spirit, in cooperation with our submitted will, helps us exude Christ’s fragrance. Our speech, Paul says, must transform from foolish and coarse talk to thankfulness (5:4). He also explains that we must reject greed, which leads to the worship of false gods (5:5). In this chapter, you can read many other examples of fragrance-producing attitudes and actions that are pleasing to God.

I don’t know how many sequins were sewn onto my daughter’s glittering blouse. Though it’s hard to imagine, the sequins will eventually run out as she continues to shed them.

Fortunately, we need never conserve the fragrance of Christ. His supply is limitless, so we can liberally soak ourselves in it every day. When we do, His cloud of sweet perfume will rise pleasing to God and life-changing to people.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 16

1 Kings 10:8-9 8How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.”

The Queen of Sheba had heard of the wisdom of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD. We often overlook her interest in Solomon’s relationship to the name of the LORD. The LORD’s name is the sum of all His attributes. The LORD is all-wise, but He is also faithful, merciful, loving, just, true, holy, etc. She came to see it all in Solomon. All men are a poor reflection, but Solomon was one of the best in the world at that time.

After spending time asking questions, hearing his answers, and seeing the wealth and splendor of his royal court, she burst into the praise of verse 9. Once again, we have an expression of just why it is the LORD bestows His favor. Why did God place Solomon over Israel? It was because of His eternal love for her.

Have people ever come to visit with you because of your relation to the name of the LORD? They may have without your awareness of the real reason for their visit. If we are truly walking with the LORD, in His Spirit, the seekers will be overwhelmed too. It is not you they are overwhelmed about, but the LORD whose life is expressed through you.

Why has God placed you where you are and have you doing what you do? It is because He loves the people around you and desires for you to be an example of Him in that environment.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me express Your wonderful character in my daily life that others might come to know You.

The Answer to Prayer – Streams in the Desert – June 16

  • 202216 Jun

Patiently wait for God alone, my soul! For he is the one who gives me confidence. — Ps 62:5

Our too general neglect of looking for answers to what we ask, shows how little we are in earnest in our petitions. A husbandman is not content without the harvest; a marksman will observe whether the ball hits the target; a physician watches the effect of the medicine which he gives; and shall the Christian be careless about the effect of his labor?

Every prayer of the Christian, made in faith, according to the will of God, for which God has promised, offered up in the name of Jesus Christ, and under the influence of the Spirit, whether for temporal or for spiritual blessings, is, or will be, fully answered.

God always answers the general design and intention of His people’s prayers, in doing that which, all things considered, is most for His own glory and their spiritual and eternal welfare. As we never find that Jesus Christ rejected a single supplicant who came to Him for mercy, so we believe that no prayer made in His name will be in vain.

The answer to prayer may be approaching, though we discern not its coming. The seed that lies under ground in winter is taking root in order to a spring and harvest, though it appears not above ground, but seems dead and lost.
—Bickersteth

Delayed answers to prayer are not only trials of faith, but they give us opportunities of honoring God by our steadfast confidence in Him under apparent repulses.
—C. H.

Beauty Revealed

  GENESIS 28:10-17

“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. . . . How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God.”

—  Genesis 28:16-17

I often pray that God would give me more clear examples of his presence and beauty in my life. I hear about Christians who have a vibrant prayer life, or who feel the presence of God so surely, and I wish that I had those experiences more often myself. I pray that God would show up more in my life.

Those are good desires to have and good prayers to pray. But I could also pray for the ability to see God’s beautiful salvation that is already present in my life and in the world.

That’s what Jacob was able to see. He had a dream about a stairway with the angels of God going up and down on it. God spoke directly to Jacob in that dream, reminding him of God’s promises to love him and to care for his family. When Jacob awoke, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” The beauty of God’s salvation had been with him all along.

That doesn’t always happen in dreams, but God does assure us that he is true to his promises. I am thankful that God’s presence is always with me, whether I recognize it or not.

I pray that God will be near, and I also pray that I will be able to recognize God’s presence and beauty all around.

God of Jacob, I praise you for your presence in my life. Thank you for the times when I am surprised by your beauty and your loving presence, assuring me that you are always with me. Amen.

Holy Spirit Outpouring

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Holy Spirit Outpouring

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Maria Stockman – Digital Copywriter, cbn.com

Have you ever been so drunk you couldn’t get up and walk? I have! I am a bit embarrassed to share but it may help someone.

So, a dear friend and I had driven to N.C. for a special church service. We were hungry for the Lord. We went expecting to receive from the Lord, and we did. The presence of the Lord was in that place. During worship, I forgot all about my friend and realized I could no longer stand. I was weeping and got all snotty-nosed. Strangely, I was also laughing because the joy of the Lord was flowing all through me. My friend was trying to protect me from getting trampled upon as people were headed to and from the altar and dancing around, but I was oblivious to any danger. It was Jesus and me. I remember hearing the preacher did some sort of altar call and I decided I wanted that too. The only problem was that I couldn’t get up off that floor. So, I tried crawling, a sight for sore eyes indeed! That night was so good! And that, my friends, is what drunkenness looks like!

The Bible shares the account of a whole house full of believers who see and feel the power of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. How I would have loved to be in that upper room! Acts 2:2-4 says,

“And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (ESV).

This encounter both “amazed and perplexed” the crowds gathered in Jerusalem (verse 12). Some ridiculed them as being “filled with new wine” (verse 13). Peter stood up and let people know the truth about what had taken place. Acts 2:15 says,

“For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.”

Oh, that the power of God would alight upon us like this today!

Peter and the other disciples, empowered to witness, left the confines of that upper room, and spoke with great boldness “the mighty works of God” (verse 11). Peter began quoting a familiar passage to them from the prophet Joel. That prophetic Word came to pass in their midst as God remembered His people.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 15

1 Kings 8:59-61 59And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, 60so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. 61But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”

Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple is worth taking time to study. The end of that prayer is our Scripture today. He asks that this prayer be continually before the LORD and to uphold their cause. The reason he is bold enough to ask this is verse 60, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. This was God’s heart. If Israel would truly live in relationship with God, then the world would receive the witness of God’s faithfulness and love. The world would know there is no other god. That was God’s intention in forming Israel as a nation, to witness to the world the blessing of obedience and worship of the one true God.

But, there is always a condition. That is because we are creatures with a free will. But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God. It is the same today. You are the only bible that many will read. God will hear your prayer and uphold your cause, but your heart must be fully committed to Him. If people look to you as a person in relationship with God but your walk does not match your talk, they will be misled. But if you are fully committed, even with your mistakes, they will see an example. The eyes of Israel had been on David when he fell, but because his heart was fully committed, they saw an example of conviction and repentance. They saw a humbled man.

Consider: Is there room for any other loyalty in your heart, or are you fully committed? If at this time you are fully committed, see that you stay that way. Then you can know that the LORD will hear your prayer and uphold your cause.

Omniscience

Author: Charles Spurgeon

Omniscience: means God knows everything.

“Thou God seest me.” Genesis 16:13

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 94:4-11

It were hard to suppose a God who could not see his own creatures; it were difficult in the extreme to imagine a divinity who could not behold the actions of the works of his hands. The word which the Greeks applied to God implied that he was a God who could see. They called him Theos; and they derived that word, if I read rightly, from the root theisthai, to see, because they regarded God as being the all-seeing one, whose eye took in the whole universe at a glance, and whose knowledge extended far beyond that of mortals. God Almighty, from his very essence and nature, must be an Omniscient God. Strike out the thought that he sees me, and you extinguish Deity by a single stroke. There would be no God if that God had no eyes, for a blind God is not God at all. We could not conceive such a one. Stupid as idolaters may be, it is very hard to think that even they had fashioned a blind god: even they have given eyes to their gods, though they see not. Juggernaut, or Jagannatha (a god worshipped in some areas of Hinduism), has eyes stained with blood; and the gods of the ancient Romans had eyes, and some of them were called far-seeing gods. Even the heathen can scarce conceive of a god that has no eyes to see, and certainly we are not so mad as to imagine for a single second that there can be a Deity without the knowledge of everything that is done by man beneath the sun. I say it is as impossible to conceive of a God who did not observe everything, as to conceive of a round square. When we say, “Thou God,” we do, in fact, comprise in the word “God” the idea of a God who sees everything, “Thou God seest me.”

For meditation: The proofs of Jesus’ deity in Mark 2:5-8: He could see faith, forgive sins and perceive the thoughts of the heart. He still can!

Our Protector

Though hardship in life is inevitable, God is our protector and refuge, and He is with us through it all.

Psalm 62:5-8

Have you noticed all the instability in our world today? There is much to fear if we have only ourselves or others to rely on in these troubling times. But God is our Protector, and when we run to Him, we can have peace in the midst of uncertainty. If He is our Rock, then we won’t be shaken by the events in this world or even those in our own life.

The Lord is able to safeguard us in treacherous times. No matter where trouble originates—with others, external circumstances, or our own actions—we can find ourselves in danger and afraid. Thankfully, we have a loving God who leads us to safety.

Now that doesn’t mean the Lord will rescue us from all trouble, but He will walk with us through every painful circumstance. As we pour out our heart to God and let His Word bring comfort, He will renew our mind, calm our fears, and strengthen our trust in Him.

Do you take refuge in God when circumstances are frightening, or do you watch the news or browse the web looking for hope and reassurance? The world cannot provide the help you seek. Only when the Lord is your stronghold will you remain unshaken.

 

Empowered To Witness

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Empowered to Witness

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Tori Troncone – Email Analyst, CBN.com

Recently, I was asked to give a presentation on behalf of my local pregnancy resource center to a company looking to partner with nonprofit organizations in my community. I prepped for weeks. I made a slide show filled with statistics, facts, graphics, and great pictures. I was confident that they couldn’t say no to the pitch I had planned!

But when it was time to present, my slide show wouldn’t work. It was all I had prepared; I didn’t have notes; there was no backup plan. So it was just me and that blank screen.

Yikes! Isn’t that everyone’s greatest fear when it comes to public speaking? Even with all the preparation in the world, something can go wrong. We’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, of sounding silly, or that somehow, we’ll be left without the tools we need.

I sometimes experience these same fears when it comes to talking about Jesus. I know Jesus commissioned me to be a witness for Himself, but what if I say the wrong thing or don’t make a good enough pitch? I want to tell others the Good News, but what if I mess it up?

Thankfully, because we serve a good God, He has not given us this commission without the key to fulfilling it! We don’t have to rely on our ability when bearing witness. We don’t have to depend on a slide show presentation or any other earthly thing.

Before His Ascension, Jesus said,

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NLT).

In addition to the command to be His witnesses, Christ promised that He will never leave us standing unprepared or empty-handed when sharing our testimonies. He made similar promises in John 14:16-17 and Luke 24:49. Jesus promised us something infinitely more reliable than a slide show presentation; He promised us the power of the Holy Spirit!

Paul knew this truth and expressed it in 1 Corinthians 2:4,

“My message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Christ has already equipped us to be His witnesses by the power of the Holy Spirit. We don’t need a fancy presentation or a long speech full of big words. The power of our testimony is not dependent on us but our never-failing God!

May these promises encourage and empower us to be witnesses to a world that is in desperate need of the hope of Jesus Christ. We can depend on the power of the Holy Spirit as promised to us in the Word of the Lord!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 14

1 Kings 8:10-11 10When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.

When Solomon had finished building the temple that David had planned, the priests stepped out of the Holy Place (an inner room of the temple). Then a cloud filled the temple of the LORD. The Hebrews associated clouds with the glory of God. Their ancestors had seen the cloud on Sinai when Moses met with God. The glory of the LORD so filled the temple that the priests could not come in and do their assigned duties.

Our bodies are the temples of the LORD. Jesus said, “Destroy this temple (meaning his body) and in three days I will raise it up.” His body was so full of the glory of God that He did nothing except what the Father showed Him. Jesus didn’t really have His own ministry isolated and of itself. He was a yielded instrument to the glory of His Father. He always yielded Himself to the Father, and so “we have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 The glory of the Father was His operating source.

We are often carried away with our ministry and wrapped up in what must be done. If we are not careful and focused, we will end up ministering from the wrong source. The glory needs to fill our temple, our earthly body. Then there is no room for us to get in the way and make a mess of things. The glory needs to fill us so that He is the source of our activity and we are merely submitted vessels for that glory.

Consider: What is the source of your activity? Is your temple filled with the glory of God?

Streams in the Desert – June 14

  • 202214 Jun

But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:32)

Christian, take good care of thy faith, for recollect that faith is the only means whereby thou canst obtain blessings. Prayer cannot draw down answers from God’s throne except it be the earnest prayer of the man who believes.

Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth to Heaven, on which God’s messages of love fly so fast that before we call He answers, and while we are yet speaking He hears us. But if that telegraphic wire of faith be snapped, how can we obtain the promise?

Am I in trouble? I can obtain help for trouble by faith. Am I beaten about by the enemy? My soul on her dear Refuge leans by faith.

But take faith away, then in vain I call to God. There is no other road betwixt my soul and Heaven. Blockade the road, and how can I communicate with the Great King?

Faith links me with Divinity. Faith clothes me with the power of Jehovah. Faith insures every attribute of God in my defense. It helps me to defy the hosts of hell. It makes me march triumphant over the necks of my enemies. But without faith how can I receive anything from the Lord?

Oh, then, Christian, watch well thy faith. “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”
—C. H. Spurgeon

We boast of being so practical a people that we want to have a surer thing than faith. But did not Paul say that the promise was, by FAITH that it might be SURE? (Romans 4:16)

His Name is Grace

From: Today Devotion

  EXODUS 34:5-10

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness . . . forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

—  Exodus 34:6-7

What do you say when you introduce yourself? Most people introduce themselves by saying their name, and they might tell about something they like to do, what their work is, or where they are from. People can learn some important things about you right away, just from the words of your introduction.

In our reading from Exodus today, God meets with Moses and pauses to describe himself so that the people can know who he is. God calls himself “the Lord” and says he is “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Similar descriptions of God are included in many places in the Bible. The gracious nature of God is at the heart of his identity. How beautiful!

Knowing who God is, we can take comfort that nothing from our past, present, or future will separate us from God’s love. When we meet the God of grace, we can find peace, knowing that God is forgiving, patient, and loving. God’s grace and forgiveness lead us to know him, and his patience and lovingkindness faithfully guide us to follow him forever.

Lord, I praise you for your beautiful name. You are compassionate and merciful. I praise you for forgiving my sin, and for guiding me to follow you always. Amen.

—Dan Crawford.

What He’s Done For Me

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What He’s Done for Me

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Maria Stockman – Digital Copywriter, cbn.com

There are times in my life when I pause and try to think back on what Jesus has done for me. It’s easy to go directly to the cross and thank God for making a way for me to be in a relationship with Him through the sacrifice of Jesus. I am so thankful for this truth, but oftentimes when I’m reflecting on what Jesus has done for me, I’m usually trying to think of the more seemingly minor everyday things that I quickly forget about and never stop to give Him thanks!

After Jesus rises from the dead, He appears to the disciples three times. In John chapter 21, we see Jesus meeting the disciples as they are fishing. He directs them where to cast their nets and then brings them back to shore for a meal.

John 21:25 is the last verse of the book of John, and it has always been one of my favorites. It says,

Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.

If we tried to write down everything that Jesus has done, “the whole world could not contain the books.” How crazy is that! Now think of the things he’s done in your life.

I’m sitting in my house enjoying a warm breeze wafting through the open windows while drinking tea and eating a little snack. In these moments, I try to remember that God provides all things for me; a safe place to live, air to breathe, nourishing foods to enjoy and fuel my body, and the list goes on and on!

Today, I encourage you to take some time to thank God for the beautiful pieces of life that He gives.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 13

1 Kings 6:7 7In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.

Imagine the precision that had to be used to have the stones perfectly fit when they arrived at the temple site! Three-dimensional exactness had to be obtained at the quarry, for no pounding of any iron tool was to be heard at the site. Each block was custom made for an exact location to fit with the blocks beside and below.

Peter refers to believers as living stones (1 Peter 2:4-5). What kind of parallel can we see here? Jesus is the builder of the eternal temple of God, as the author of Hebrews declared (Hebrews 3:3-4). He must shape us to perfectly fit into the place God has for us and that includes fitting in with those around us. Each of us has a calling and a place in the temple. But what does this noiseless activity represent?

The pounding and shaping, the noisy activity, should go on outside the temple site. When we gather to worship, it is not the time to hash out our differences. There we quietly behold His glory or sing His praises. There, our focus is not on our fit with the stone next to us but the wonder of our Savior. O come let us adore Him. Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

The hammering and shaping should go on in the quarry. One on one with the Lord, we should allow ourselves to be shaped. The places we do not fit with the other living stones must be chiseled away. That noisy and often painful activity goes on in the quarry with Jesus so that we do not disturb the focus of others as we gather to worship corporately. Are you letting Him remove from you the protrusions in your life that keep you from fitting perfectly with the rest of the building?

Take time alone with God to let Him make some reductions in you so that you fit with the other living stones.

Streams in the Desert – June 13

  • 202213 Jun

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage. (John 14:27)

Two painters each painted a picture to illustrate his conception of rest. The first chose for his scene a still, lone lake among the far-off mountains.

The second threw on his canvas a thundering waterfall, with a fragile birch tree bending over the foam; and at the fork of the branch, almost wet with the cataract’s spray, sat a robin on its nest.

The first was only stagnation; the last was rest.

Christ’s life outwardly was one of the most troubled lives that ever lived: tempest and tumult, tumult and tempest, the waves breaking over it all the time until the worn body was laid in the grave. But the inner life was a sea of glass. The great calm was always there.

At any moment you might have gone to Him and found rest. And even when the human bloodhounds were dogging Him in the streets of Jerusalem, He turned to His disciples and offered them, as a last legacy, “My peace.”

Rest is not a hallowed feeling that comes over us in church; it is the repose of a heart set deep in God.

The wicked man’s life, funeral, and epitaph

By: Charles Spurgeon

“And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 8:10

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 16:19-23

Go into Bunhill Fields, and stand by the memorial of John Bunyan, and you will say, “Ah! There lies the head that contained the brain which thought out that wondrous dream of the Pilgrim’s Progress from the City of Destruction to the Better Land. There lies the finger that wrote those wondrous lines which depict the story of him who came at last to the land Beulah, and waded through the flood, and entered into the celestial city. And there are the eyelids which he once spoke of, when he said, “If I lie in prison until the moss grows on my eyelids, I will never make a promise to withhold from preaching.” And there is that bold eye that penetrated the judge, when he said, “If you will let me out of prison today, I will preach again tomorrow, by the help of God.” And there lies that loving hand that was ever ready to receive into communion all them that loved the Lord Jesus Christ: I love the hand that wrote the book, “Water Baptism no bar to Christian Communion.” I love him for that sake alone, and if he had written nothing else but that, I would say, “John Bunyan, be honoured for ever.” And there lies the foot that carried him up Snow Hill to go and make peace between a father and a son, in that cold day, which cost him his life. Peace to his ashes! Wait, O John Bunyan, till thy Master sends his angel to blow the trumpet; and methinks, when the archangel sounds it, he will almost think of thee, and this shall be a part of his joy, that honest John Bunyan, the greatest of all Englishmen, shall rise from his tomb at the blowing of that great trump. You cannot say so of the wicked.

For meditation: In Heaven the saved are still known by name—Abraham, Lazarus; in hell the lost are at best known only by a description—Dives is just the Latin for “a rich man”. See the contrast in Proverbs 10:7. Are the names and burial-places of John Bunyan’s enemies well known even on earth?

 

Your Life: The Sign the World Is Looking For

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Your Life: The Sign the World Is Looking For

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Rich Miller – Manager, CBN Prayer Center Digital Interactions, cbn.com

I wasn’t necessarily doing anything ‘spiritual,’ per se. I was waiting for my clothes to finish at the laundromat and reading a book about Christ-centered families for one of my university classes. I definitely was not sitting there praying and asking the Lord to open the door to witness. Instead, my face was buried in the book so that I could catch up on our required homework.

Then, a gentleman approached me and tried to strike up a conversation. While outwardly polite, I was a little annoyed and did not want to be distracted. Yet I also knew from experience that Jesus usually sets up scenarios like this. So, after a few minutes of trying to do both, I surrendered to the divine appointment and set down the book.

At some point during the conversation, I mentioned the Lord, and that is when he dropped a bomb. It turns out that he was a former pastor who had gotten hurt in ministry and not only left the church but walked away from God. The Lord had been dealing with his heart to come back to Him.

I was floored by this divine appointment God had set up; we had similar stories growing up and had even dealt with similar health challenges. He later told me that as soon as he saw me, he knew that he was supposed to approach me and that God would speak to him through me. A couple of hours into the conversation, I asked him if he wanted to return to the Lord. He ended up rededicating his life to Jesus that night. In that encounter, the Lord had me there to be a sign for him.

This brief encounter reminds me of how John the disciple concluded his gospel:

So then, many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing you may have life in His name (John 20:30-31 NASB).

How about you? Whether you are new to life with Jesus or have walked with Him for years, the Lord wants to use you as a sign to point others to Him. He wants to use your story to draw those who have experienced similar life circumstances to Himself. The prophet Isaiah said,

“Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of armies, who dwells on Mount Zion” (Isaiah 8:18).

Our Father designs encounters for others to believe in Him and invites you to be a part of this journey. We must be sensitive to the doors He opens. It will often not be part of the schedule we have planned. Yet, most of us came to the Lord because of others who were willing to be inconvenienced for Him and to be a sign to help us believe.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 12

1 Kings 3:5,9 5At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 9So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

Solomon began his reign with a heart after God. After offering a thousand sacrifices upon the high place of Gibeon, the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream promising him whatever he would ask.

Of all the things Solomon could have desired, he asked for a discerning heart and wisdom to rule God’s people. He recognized his need for discernment. This pleased the heart of God. He was then told that he would also receive the things for which man would normally ask: riches, long life, and the death of his enemies.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Isn’t seeking the kingdom seeking the good of the people in it? Solomon was thinking of others and not himself. It is sad that his heart did not remain in this condition, but at the time it was genuine.

We have here both the good example of seeking the best for the people of God, and the warning to be careful that we do not turn our attention to pleasing ourselves. If you will seek the good of others, God will see that you are taken care of, and you will be laying up treasures in heaven.

Consider what you would ask of God.

We have Seen His Glory

From: Today Devotions

  JOHN 1:1-5, 14-18

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son. . . .

—  John 1:14

Many Christians have sung praise to Jesus for his beauty in these words by Joseph A. Seiss: “Beautiful Savior! King of creation! Son of God and Son of Man! Truly I’d love thee, truly I’d serve thee, Light of my soul, my joy, my crown.”

Jesus is the King of creation. He was present at the beginning of time, and he now rules over all things. And when Jesus came to live among us, to die for our sin, and to rise again in victory over death, we saw his beauty and his glory. We saw the beauty and glory of God revealed to us in Jesus.

The gospel of John begins by telling us about “the Word,” which is how John describes Jesus. “The Word became flesh,” says John—and this means that we can know the glory and beauty of God because we know Jesus, who became human like us.

John states that “no one has ever seen God.” But John also explains that God’s perfect beauty doesn’t have to be just a distant concept or an unreachable mystery to us. In Jesus, God offers us his beauty. In Jesus, we are invited into the beauty of God forever. We can respond just as the hymn says, by promising to our beautiful Savior that we will truly love him and truly serve him.

“Beautiful Savior! Lord of the nations! Son of God and Son of Man! Glory and honor, praise, adoration, now and forevermore be thine!”

Our Hearts

From: Inspiration org.


“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, to give to each person according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” – Jeremiah 17:9-10 NASB

We may think we know ourselves and our real motives. But the Bible tells us that none of us knows the truth about ourselves or others. Only God knows the whole truth. We may have subjective opinions, but God has searched us and knows us, inside and out. And He knows how easily we can fool ourselves. Because of this weakness, He warns that we are “cursed” if we trust others (v. 5). We are destined for disappointment.

We can easily feel frustrated and disillusioned by other people, even other Christians. But we need to remember that we all are imperfect with hearts that are “deceitful.” Instead, the Bible urges us to trust God. He promises never to disappoint us.

This trust helps us understand our own nature and the people around us. If we trust Him, we can have a deeper level of peace and confidence, for He is trustworthy and has a perfect perspective. He does not change and will be with us throughout our lives.

Today, renew your faith in God. Fellowship with Him. Talk to Him about your problems and frustrations. Read and study His Word. You might have been hurt or disappointed by people. Others may have failed you and fallen short. But God is trustworthy and faithful. He will answer your prayers, give you peace, and meet your needs if you trust Him.
Reflection Question: How can you remember to trust only in God instead of others?

Jesus Is Risen from The Tomb

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The Empty Garden Tomb

The Empty Garden Tomb

The garden tomb in Israel is a really special place. It’s said that Jesus was buried Here after his crucifixion.

When you read Scriptures about the burial of Jesus, two people are mentioned: Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man who was a secret follower of Jesus, and Nicodemus, a pharisee who actually met with Jesus one-on-one to understand His teachings and to find out who He truly was. When I read through John 19, I picture Joseph and Nicodemus taking Jesus’ body off the cross, carrying it to a tomb really similar to the garden tomb, preparing His body for burial, wrapping His broken, bloody body in linens and anointing His body with ointment and perfume (John 19:38-42).

I can only imagine their heartbreak as they took His body off the cross and prepared the One they admired — the One they loved, for burial. What disappointment the disciples must have felt. This person they followed daily for three years was someone they lived with, shared meals with, and experienced miracles with; they heard Christ’s teachings.

Jesus was a friend to them. Jesus was a brother to them.

I also think of the women at the cross — Mary, the mother of Jesus. What heartbreak and disappointment to watch Him from afar, take His last breath. Plus the sorrow and grief they all felt as Jesus was laid in the tomb.

But here’s the turning point: the radical, unrivaled joy that each one of those people experienced when they realized His body was no longer in this tomb. Their mourning turned into dancing when Jesus himself appeared to them. Imagine their joy as the angel appears to the women and says,

“Don’t be afraid … He is not here, for He is risen.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

Wherever you’re at right now in life, please know that nothing can harm you permanently. No loss is lasting, no defeat more than passing, and no disappointment final.

I hope this quote encourages you:

“Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all of these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever.” – Brennan Manning, The Ragamufin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out.

Whatever disappointment you’re going through, whatever heartbreak you’re suffering from and grief you can’t seem to shake, hold onto this truth: Jesus is no longer in the tomb and He is literally seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and I. This means that grief cannot hold us. It means that we don’t have to be heartbroken forever and disappointments in life don’t have to last forever. With Jesus, there is resurrection life.

Friend, our darkest days are not the end, the best is yet to come for you. Put your hope and your faith in Jesus because in Him, we will always and forever have hope.

Streams in the Desert – June 11

  • 202211 Jun

And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, (2 Tim 2:24)

When God conquers us and takes all the flint out of our nature, and we get deep visions into the Spirit of Jesus, we then see as never before the great rarity of gentleness of spirit in this dark and unheavenly world.

The graces of the Spirit do not settle themselves down upon us by chance, and if we do not discern certain states of grace, and choose them, and in our thoughts nourish them, they never become fastened in our nature or behavior.

Every advance step in grace must be preceded by first apprehending it, and then a prayerful resolve to have it.

So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness, and crucifixion involves suffering; it is a real breaking and crushing of self, which wrings the heart and conquers the mind.

There is a good deal of mere mental and logical sanctification nowadays, which is only a religious fiction. It consists of mentally putting one’s self on the altar, and then mentally saying the altar sanctifies the gift, and then logically concluding therefore one is sanctified; and such an one goes forth with a gay, flippant, theological prattle about the deep things of God.

But the natural heartstrings have not been snapped, and the Adamic flint has not been ground to powder, and the bosom has not throbbed with the lonely, surging sighs of Gethsemane; and not having the real death marks of Calvary, there cannot be that soft, sweet, gentle, floating, victorious, overflowing, triumphant life that flows like a spring morning from an empty tomb.
—G. D. W.

“And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).

 God Cleanses

From: Today Devotional

  PSALM 51:1-12

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Sometimes we use fancy language in our prayers to God. It can sound as if we are trying to make a good impression. Other times, though, we are direct and brutally honest in our prayers, confessing our sin with a broken heart because we know we have failed.

Psalm 51 is a brutally honest prayer. The psalmist describes sin as a great stain on his life. He knows that the sin he has done messes up the beauty of his life. Sin is offensive to God, and it needs to be washed away.

Just as surely as sin stains a person’s life, God has the power to wipe that life clean again. The psalmist prays for forgiveness, asking God to cleanse him and make his life beautiful again. The honesty of the confession is possible because of the trust that God will hear and forgive.

Because of the grace of Jesus shown to us on the cross, we can also pray to God with brutal honesty, confessing the stain of our sin and asking God to give us pure hearts again. God promises to cleanse us and make us beautiful again. God promises to take away our guilt and shame and to renew our spirits. Our honest confession is met with God’s faithful grace and love.

The heavenly race

By: Charles Spurgeon

“So run, that ye may obtain.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 11:39-12:2

When zealous racers on yonder heath are flying across the plain, seeking to obtain the reward, the whole heath is covered with multitudes of persons, who are eagerly gazing upon them, and no doubt the noise of those who cheer them onward and the thousand eyes of those who look upon them, have a tendency to make them stretch every nerve, and press with vigour on. It was so in the games to which the apostle alludes. There the people sat on raised platforms, while the racers ran before them, and they cried to them, and the friends of the racers urged them forward, and the kindly voice would ever be heard bidding them go on. Now, Christian brethren, how many witnesses are looking down upon you. Down! Do I say? It is even so. From the battlements of heaven the angels look down upon you, and they seem to cry today to you with sweet, silvery voice, “Ye shall reap if ye faint not; ye shall be rewarded if ye continue steadfast in the work and faith of Christ.” And the saints look down upon you—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; martyrs and confessors, and your own pious relatives who have ascended to heaven, look down upon you; and if I might so speak, I think sometimes you might hear the clapping of their hands when you have resisted temptation and overcome the enemy; and you might see their suspense when you are lagging in the course, and you might hear their friendly word of caution as they bid you gird up the loins of your mind, and lay aside every weight, and still speed forward; never resting to take your breath, never staying for a moment’s ease till you have attained the flowery beds of heaven, where you may rest for ever.

For meditation: Do Spurgeon’s words, spoken on a Friday afternoon from the “Grand Stand, Epsom Race-course” strike you as over-fanciful? The pages of Scripture are full of lessons from the heroes of faith, still speaking to us down the centuries (Hebrews 11:4). They witness to us from their own experience “It can be done; by God’s grace we ran the race; by God’s grace you can run it too” (2 Timothy 4:7).

 

Righteous Child

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Righteous Child

child

 

Lina Johnson – Prayer Center Coach, cbn.com

In 2 Chronicles 34:1-2 (NLT) we learn:

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right.

Wow! Josiah not only became king, but he also chose not to follow in the ways of his father. Josiah chose to please God.

We see in 2 Chronicles 34 that Josiah began to seek God in his youth. He goes on to put a stop to the worship of false gods. Then he proceeds to restore the worship of the one true God. He commissions the repairs of the temple. During this time, the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been written by Moses is found. When Josiah hears its words, he despairs. He tears his clothes. He then gives orders to seek the Lord.

Imagine that! Even in those days the law fulfilled its purpose. Romans 3:19-20 shows us the law’s purpose.

Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

We see Josiah repent and seek the Lord. Just as now in the new covenant we have through Jesus, God forgave Josiah and turned His wrath aside for the remainder of Josiah’s life. God’s grace was extended even then to those who repented.

This is explained it Romans 3:21-26.

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Josiah goes on to lead the nation to repent and this leads the people into God’s grace. So, it seems no coincidence to me that the first celebration he reinstated in 2 Chronicles 35 is Passover. After all, Passover was, of course, a foreshadowing of what Jesus would do and now has done for us.

Revelation 13:8 lets us know that Jesus is:

… the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made.

Jesus was the plan from the beginning.

Thank You, Jesus, for all You did. Amen!

Today’s Devotions

Morning

June 10

2 Samuel 21:1 1During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the LORD. The LORD said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”

When the weather conditions were severe so that they suffered a lack of food, David sought the face of the LORD. He did not think it was just cycles. He did not consider it coincidence or natural phenomenon. He looked to God for the reason behind this “natural” problem. When we seek, we will find.

God spoke to David. We do not know how. It may have been audible, or it may have been in his heart. It could have been through one of the prophets. The answer was that the land was experiencing the judgment of God for something that had happened years earlier. Saul had violated the ancient covenant that Joshua made with the Gibeonites. Pretending they had come from a far-off country, they had tricked Israel into a peace treaty. Nevertheless, the covenant was made. Saul made war on them, breaking this ancient treaty.

There are times in life when we face the consequences of another’s actions. It is not always clear why there are problems, but it could be God balancing the books. If we seek the face of the LORD, He may show us some way to rectify the imbalance so that God can justly bless the land again with rain. Often it will be something in our own life. It may be an apology that needs to be made, or forgiveness that needs to be granted.

Consider: Trials may come from our own failures or others’ failures, but there is always a lesson to be learned if we will seek the face of the LORD.

All Things Work Together for Good – Streams in the Desert – June 10

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And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, (Rom 8:28)

How wide is this assertion of the Apostle Paul! He does not say, “We know that some things,” or “most things,” or “joyous things,” but “ALL things.” From the minutest to the most momentous; from the humblest event in daily providence to the great crisis hours in grace.

And all things “work’—they are working; not all things have worked, or shall work; but it is a present operation.

At this very moment, when some voice may be saying, “Thy judgments are a great deep,” the angels above, who are watching the development of the great plan, are with folded wings exclaiming, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” (Ps. 145:17)

And then all things “work together.” It is a beautiful blending. Many different colors, in themselves raw and unsightly, are required in order to weave the harmonious pattern.

Many separate tones and notes of music, even discords and dissonances, are required to make up the harmonious anthem.

Many separate wheels and joints are required to make the piece of machinery. Take a thread separately, or a note separately, or a wheel or a tooth of a wheel separately, and there may be neither use nor beauty discernible.

But complete the web, combine the notes, put together the separate parts of steel and iron, and you see how perfect and symmetrical is the result. Here is the lesson for faith: “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.”
—Macduff

In one thousand trials it is not five hundred of them that work for the believer’s good, but nine hundred and ninety-nine of them, and one beside.
—George Mueller

Developing Godly Thinking

Salvation is a gift, but sanctification requires diligent effort on our part.

Philippians 4:4-9

Most of us know that at salvation, our sins are forgiven and God gives us eternal life. But much more accompanies our redemption: We receive a new nature, power over sin, and a renewed mind. However, these qualities require development, which happens through knowledge of Scripture, submission to the Spirit, and diligent effort on our part.

It’s a good idea to periodically evaluate whether our thinking, attitudes, and behavior are in line with God’s character and the truths of Scripture. Also, we should take note of what absorbs our attention. It’s not healthy to overload our mind with media reports or entertainment that doesn’t reflect God’s values. Regular exposure to such material can easily produce anxiety, discontent, and ingratitude.

The apostle Paul gave us a measuring stick to help us determine what is worthy of our attention. He said to dwell on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8). With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can filter our thoughts through this list.

So ask yourself, What fills my mind? and give priority to things in these categories. As your thoughts align with Christ’s, you’ll begin to recognize what is right, good, and wise—and your life will more closely reflect His.

Walk Out Your Faith

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Walk Out Your Faith

walk out your faith

 

Jordan Buntgen – Email Marketing Strategist, cbn.com

Several years ago, I met one of my best friends. We were at a gathering for my husband’s employer, and we instantly connected. Everything about her was friendship material except for her faith, which was a big question mark. When we hung out, we could discuss any topic except for religion; she avoided the subject like the plague, and I let her. I really had no idea if she even believed there was a God, and I also didn’t ask.

A year passed by, and we were very close, but If I had a prayer request, I would send it to my other friends who were believers instead of her. If God showed up in my life, I would tell everyone about His glory and instead give her the watered worldly version. I never talked much about church or my calling in ministry because this part of my world was set aside in her presence.

But one Sunday morning changed everything. Our sermon at church was about Peter and his denial of Jesus. Our pastor spoke about how in the presence of certain people, Peter denied his connection to Jesus because of his fear of what they would think or do to him. In one chapter, he went from defending his Savior passionately to denying he even knew Him.

Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in. The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?”

“No,” he said, “I am not.”

Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself (John 18:15-18).

Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.”

But one of the household slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?” Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed (John 18:25-26).

The Holy Spirit gently convicted my heart that I was living like Peter. I was scared that if I was truly myself and she saw my faith in action, I would no longer be welcome in our friendship. So that morning, I settled in my heart that there were no longer two versions of myself but just one authentic version that was walking out my faith in every situation amongst every person.

The next day, I sent her my first prayer request, and I received a kind message back saying that she loved me and would be thinking of me.

Relief flooded my heart as I knew that I was walking out the Great Commission with this step of obedience. I continued to share prayer requests through the years, and her responses changed from “thinking of you” to “praying for you.” She slowly would share her view of God and occasionally share a verse that she found with me.

After years of inviting her to a women’s event at church, she finally attended in March. During the event, I looked over, and she had tears running down her face during worship; at that moment, Jesus reminded me that when we step out in faith and stand firm in who we are in Him, the Kingdom will grow. And that is the only thing that matters; it’s our calling and mission to carry His goodness and love to the people right outside our front door. They are the nation, and we are the carriers of the Good News.

Sinking

By: Rebecca Jordan Heys, author, today devotion

  PSALM 69:1-3, 13-15

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink into the miry depths. . . .

—  Psalm 69:1

Imagine being a sailor or part of a fishing crew at the time the biblical psalms were written. The waters are important for your livelihood, but they can also threaten you. The waters of a river, lake, or sea can turn dangerous and chaotic. Stormy waves can be scary, and heavy rains can bring dangerous, destructive flooding.

Psalm 69 uses this imagery to describe troubles and hardship that threaten to turn God’s beauty and order in our lives into chaos. Our own sin and the sins of others can disrupt our lives so much that it can feel like we are drowning.

Some of us know from experience what it’s like to deal with flooding or with a storm at sea. And all of us have seen destructive threats to our own lives and in the world around us through broken relationships, addiction, violence, division, and disease.

When we are threatened by such chaos, we can cry to God for help. The writer of Psalm 69 prays, “In your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.” God’s salvation is sure indeed, even when we feel afraid. The threatening ­waters of sin and brokenness will not overwhelm us in the end, because God promises to keep us safe.

Rescuing God, sometimes things in this world and in my own heart threaten to overwhelm me like a flood. Save me, Lord, by your great power and love. Amen.

Streams in the Desert – June 9

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Trust in the Lord and do what is right! Settle in the land and maintain your integrity! (Ps 37:3)

I once met a poor colored woman, who earned a precarious living by hard daily labor; but who was a joyous triumphant Christian. “Ah, Nancy,” said a gloomy Christian lady to her one day, “it is well enough to be happy now; but I should think the thoughts of your future would sober you.

“Only suppose, for instance, you should have a spell of sickness, and be unable to work; or suppose your present employers should move away, and no one else should give you anything to do; or suppose—”

“Stop!” cried Nancy, “I never supposes. De Lord is my Shepherd, and I knows I shall not want. And, Honey,” she added, to her gloomy friend, “it’s all dem supposes as is makin’ you so mis’able. You’d better give dem all up, and just trust de Lord.”

There is one text that will take all the “supposes” out of a believer’s life, if it be received and acted on in childlike faith; it is Hebrews 13:5, 6: “Be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
—H. W. S.

Our Thought Life

True change starts with the Holy Spirit transforming our heart and thoughts.

June 9, 2022

1 Corinthians 2:11-16

God calls His children to live holy lives. Yet in our attempts to obey this command, we often commit to change our behavior, only to fail a few days later. The problem is that we’re starting at the wrong place.

Ungodly actions flow from sinful thoughts and attitudes, like selfishness, greed, jealousy, anger, resentment, and unforgiveness. These can be changed only as our mind is renewed by the Holy Spirit. As we spend time each day in Scripture, the Spirit transforms our mind and strengthens our inner being. But when we neglect God’s Word, we leave ourselves open to the influence of the world and our “flesh,” both of which oppose godliness. Then, if we try to change our behavior without adjusting our thinking, we’ll find ourselves doing precisely what we want to avoid (Romans 7:15).

Holiness, on the other hand, encompasses our entire being, which is why Jesus said we should love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength (Mark 12:30). It’s a lifelong process that requires learning God’s thoughts and adopting them as our own. Then, as the Spirit develops within us the mind of Christ, our actions will become increasingly holy.