Tag Archives: Sports

God Gives Us More Than Stuff

See the Pictures below of yard sale stuff. God gives us much more than stuff. He has given us eternal life through believing in His Son Jesus as our Savior.
Share more that stuff with people who want to know God as their Savior.
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Sharing More Than Stuff

By: Peter Chin

Bible in a Year:

Genesis 39–40; Matthew 11

Your people will be my people and your God my God.

“But I don’t want to share!” wailed my youngest child, brokenhearted that he would have to part with even one of his many LEGO pieces. I rolled my eyes at his immaturity, but truthfully, this attitude is not limited to children. How much of my own life, and really all of human experience, is marked by a stubborn resistance to freely and generously give to others?

As believers in Jesus, we’re called to share our very lives with one another. Ruth did just that with her mother-in-law, Naomi. As a destitute widow, Naomi had little to offer Ruth. And yet Ruth connected her own life to her mother-in-law’s, vowing that they would press on together and that not even death would separate them. She said to Naomi, “Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). She freely and generously gave to the older woman—showing love and compassion.

While sharing our lives in this way can be difficult, we should remember the fruit of such generosity. Ruth shared her life with Naomi, but later she bore a son, the grandfather of King David. Jesus shared His very life with us, but was then exalted and now reigns at the right hand of the Father in heaven. As we generously share with one another, we can be confident that we will experience greater life still!

Corn in Egypt

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.” Genesis 42:1,2

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 13:24-34

God in his wisdom has made the outward world, so that it is a strange and wonderful picture of the inner world. Nature has an analogy with grace. The wonders that God does in the heart of man, each of them finds a parallel, a picture, a metaphor, an illustration, in the wonders which God performs in providence. It is the duty of the minister always to look for these analogies. Our Saviour did so. He is the model preacher: his preaching was made up of parables, pictures from the outer world, accommodated to teach great and mighty truths. And so is man’s mind constituted, that we can always see a thing better through a picture than in any other way. If you tell a man a simple truth, he does not see it nearly so well as if you told it to him in an illustration. If I should attempt to describe the flight of a soul from sin to Christ, you would not see it one half so readily as if I should picture John Bunyan’s pilgrim running out of the city of destruction, with his fingers in his ears, and hastening with all his might to the wicket gate. There is something tangible in a picture, a something which our poor flesh and blood can lay hold of; and therefore the mind, grasping through the flesh and the blood, is able to understand the idea, and to appropriate it. Hence the necessity and usefulness of the minister always endeavouring to illustrate his sermon, and to make his discourse as much as possible like the parables of Jesus Christ.

For meditation: How observant are you? The world around us is always teaching us lessons and underlining the truths of God’s Word (Matthew 6:26-30Mark 13:28,29Romans 1:201 Corinthians 11:14,15).

 

The Glory That Follows

From: Ray Stedman

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.

Mark 9:2

A remarkable event! There are four dramatic occurrences in this account that immediately capture our attention: First, there is the glorious change in the person of the Lord Himself: Suddenly, as they were with Jesus there on that mountain, His countenance altered. His face began to shine, His garments became white, and His whole being radiated glory. What happened to Jesus? We can only understand this when we see that what He did was to slip back into eternity, in a sense, back into his pre-human glory. It is evident therefore that our Lord did not have to die. That is one of the meanings of the transfiguration. It makes clear that He had no reason to pass through death. He could step back across the boundary of time into eternity without passing through death.

The second thing that grips us is the account of the heavenly visitors, Moses and Elijah. The disciples seemed to have no difficulty at all in recognizing instantly who these men were. Jesus did not say, Now, Peter, James, and John, I’d like you to meet Moses and Elijah. No, they knew instantly who they were. There will be no need for introductions in glory.

The third element of great interest in this account is the proposal that Peter makes. After hearing these men discussing these strange events together, Peter, in his usual manner, interrupts: Master, it is good for us to be here. This is tremendous! Let’s make three booths and live here. Let’s settle down here and make this our world headquarters. We’ll make one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. He evidently has in mind that they would transform that mountain into the headquarters for the worldwide reformation movement that was going to start. They would operate right from that mountain, as the center of all activity. That shows how foolish he was and how little he understood what Jesus had been trying to tell him. Someone has said that there are only two kinds of speakers: those who have something to say, and those who have to say something! Peter was someone who just had to say something. So he makes this proposal that they make this their headquarters for a great campaign to take over the world.

But he scarcely had gotten the words out when he was interrupted, and the fourth dramatic event occurred. Suddenly they were overshadowed with a cloud. It is my conviction that it was the identical cloud mentioned in the Old Testament, which hovered over the tabernacle during the day–the glory of God, called the shekinah. They heard a voice speaking out of the cloud saying, This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him. There is no doubt that this is a correction of Peter’s brash statement. The Father Himself is saying, Peter, do not put Jesus on a par with Moses and Elijah. You listen to Him. He is the one of whom Moses and Elijah spoke. He is the one who fulfilled all the predictions of the prophets and the sacrifices of the law. Listen to Him; this is my beloved Son.

 

Finishing Your Course

by Inspiration Ministries

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8 NASB

To observers, Eric Liddell clearly was an outstanding athlete. He was born on this day in 1902 in China, where his parents were missionaries. When he was five, his family returned to their native Scotland, where he competed in countless contests, consistently winning. His skills were so extraordinary that he was named to the Olympic team in 1924. Many expected him to contend for a medal.

His plans changed when the preliminary races for his best event in those Olympics were scheduled for Sunday, July 6. This day presented no complications for most athletes. Even those with strong Christian commitments might have been willing to race on Sunday in this once-in-a-lifetime event.

But Liddell would not compromise. So while others competed in a race for which he had trained his whole life, Liddell was preaching in a Paris church.

He was able to compete in other events, winning the bronze medal in the 200-meter sprint and the gold in the 400-meter race. But his testimony has endured and provided a powerful example.

In 1924, Liddell returned to China, where he devoted his life to missionary work. He had the right priorities and made his life count for God.

Today, think about your priorities. What are you doing with your time, talent, and treasure? Is your focus on earthly rewards? Or are you focusing on God’s Kingdom?

Do not compromise. Make a total commitment to God. Make your life count for eternity.

Prayer

Father, help me to have the right priorities. I dedicate my life and everything I have to You. Use me to impact lives for Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

God Gives Us A Song

God Gives A Comforting Song After A Disaster. God also gives His comforting presence, assurance, and mercy. He also gives us hope for the future.
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A Song in the Night

From: Our Daily Bread

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If we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

My father’s life was one of longing. He longed for wholeness, even as Parkinson’s disease gradually crippled more and more of his mind and body. He longed for peace, but was tormented by the deep pain of depression. He longed to feel loved and cherished, but often felt utterly alone.

He found himself less alone when he read the words of Psalm 42, his favorite psalm. Like him, the psalmist knew a desperate longing, an unquenched thirst for healing (vv. 1–2). Like him, the psalmist knew a sadness that felt like it never went away (v. 3), leaving times of pure joy merely a distant memory (v. 6). Like my dad, as consuming waves of chaos and pain swept over him (v. 7), the psalmist felt abandoned by God and asked, “Why?” (v. 9).

And as the words of the psalm washed over him, assuring him he was not alone, my father felt the beginnings of a quiet peace enter in alongside his pain. He heard a tender voice surrounding him, a voice assuring him that even though he had no answers, even though the waves still crashed over him, still he was dearly loved (v. 8).

And somehow hearing that quiet song of love in the night was enough. Enough for my dad to quietly cling to glimmers of hope, love, and joy. And enough for him to wait patiently for the day when all his longings would finally be satisfied (vv. 5, 11).

By Monica Brands

Today’s Reflection

Lord, we know that You have carried all our suffering and will one day turn it around into resurrection life. Still, there is so much healing that we wait and long for. As we wait for that morning, help us to rest in Your song of love in the night.

 

Satisfaction

by Inspiration Ministries

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 NASB

“Money Can’t Buy Happiness.” The conclusion of an exhaustive study published by the American Psychological Association. This study found that “money leads to autonomy, but it does not add to well-being or happiness.”

Once basic needs are met, “more money leads to marginal gains at best.” As people increase their earnings, they tend to become more competitive. They lose perspective and focus more on “keeping up with the Joneses.”

We see these kinds of patterns every day, driven by a culture that encourages us to feel dissatisfied. Compelled to possess what we don’t have. To crave more.

In practical terms, there are justifiable reasons to buy “new” things. Yet the problem is not with things but our hearts. With our attitudes and expectations. The Bible urges us to remember what happens so easily to our money: “What good is wealth except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!” (Ecclesiastes 5:11 NLT).

Jesus taught that the only people who really are satisfied aren’t obsessed with things, but those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Who place a higher emphasis on doing what is right than on what they own. Who are focused on the quality of life rather than the quantity of possessions.

In your life, seek to keep your eyes on God. Trust Him to supply every need. Seek first His Kingdom. Ask Him to help you do what is right in every situation. Practice contentment and a spirit of thankfulness. As you seek His Kingdom and do what is right, God promises more of His blessings…and lasting satisfaction.

Prayer

Father, thank You for all that You have given me. Help me to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Thank You for helping me be content. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Do You Walk In White?

By Oswald Chambers

Do You Walk In White?

No one experiences complete sanctification without going through a “white funeral” — the burial of the old life. If there has never been this crucial moment of change through death, sanctification will never be more than an elusive dream. There must be a “white funeral,” a death with only one resurrection— a resurrection into the life of Jesus Christ. Nothing can defeat a life like this. It has oneness with God for only one purpose— to be a witness for Him.

Have you really come to your last days? You have often come to them in your mind, but have you really experienced them? You cannot die or go to your funeral in a mood of excitement. Death means you stop being. You must agree with God and stop being the intensely striving kind of Christian you have been. We avoid the cemetery and continually refuse our own death. It will not happen by striving, but by yielding to death. It is dying— being “baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3).

Have you had your “white funeral,” or are you piously deceiving your own soul? Has there been a point in your life which you now mark as your last day? Is there a place in your life to which you go back in memory with humility and overwhelming gratitude, so that you can honestly proclaim, “Yes, it was then, at my ‘white funeral,’ that I made an agreement with God.”

“This is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Once you truly realize this is God’s will, you will enter into the process of sanctification as a natural response. Are you willing to experience that “white funeral” now? Will you agree with Him that this is your last day on earth? The moment of agreement depends on you.

Are You Called By God?

Samuel was called by God as a little boy
The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”     I Samuel 3: 3-4

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The Call of Isaiah ……..Isaiah 6

Then he touched my mouth with the hot coal and said, “When this hot coal touched your lips, your guilt was taken away, and your sins were erased.[d]

Then I heard the Lord’s voice, saying, “Who can I send? Who will go for us?”

So I said, “Here I am. Send me!”

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Called By God

By Oswald Chambers

Called By God

I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” —Isaiah 6:8

God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, “…who will go for Us?” The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude. “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). That is, few prove that they are the chosen ones. The chosen ones are those who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and have had their spiritual condition changed and their ears opened. Then they hear “the voice of the Lord” continually asking, “…who will go for Us?” However, God doesn’t single out someone and say, “Now, you go.” He did not force His will on Isaiah. Isaiah was in the presence of God, and he overheard the call. His response, performed in complete freedom, could only be to say, “Here am I! Send me.”

Remove the thought from your mind of expecting God to come to force you or to plead with you. When our Lord called His disciples, He did it without irresistible pressure from the outside. The quiet, yet passionate, insistence of His “Follow Me” was spoken to men whose every sense was receptive (Matthew 4:19). If we will allow the Holy Spirit to bring us face to face with God, we too will hear what Isaiah heard— “the voice of the Lord.” In perfect freedom we too will say, “Here am I! Send me.”

 

Inheriting the Earth

by Inspiration Ministries

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5 NASB

In a series of brilliant military campaigns, Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world. After initial victories in Greece, his armies rapidly swept eastward. No nation seemed able to stop his juggernaut. But on June 10, 323 BC, he died, at only 32 years old. Almost immediately, disputes arose among his chief lieutenants. Once seeming to be unified and loyal to Alexander, they divided his kingdom into spheres of influence. Alexander’s influence would continue for a time, but his kingdom did not last.

Battles like this are fought every day throughout the world. Battles over succession, power, and control. In government, business, and even churches. Many focus on human ways to gain control. But Jesus taught a completely different way to “inherit the earth,” and experience God’s blessings. The answer is not by being powerful or strong but being “gentle.” The Greek word used here indicates that we should be meek, mild, and humble.

In the world, it can seem that the rich and powerful are in control, and hold every advantage. But ultimately, all earthly kingdoms and their riches will fade away. Even dominant ones like the one created by Alexander. Ultimately, we all will learn that God controls the earth. That “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him” (Psalm 24:1 NLT).

In your life, focus on the kingdom that will last: God’s Kingdom. Remember that the way to receive His blessing is to be gentle and humble. This is how you can “inherit the earth.”

Prayer

Father, I submit my life to You. Thank You for every gift You have given me. I worship and praise You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Extended Reading

Matthew 5

 

Hunter’s Got a Gun

By: Daphne Delay

When I was a child, I had many favorite movies. One that stands out above the rest is the Disney classic, The Fox and the Hound. I loved the story of Tod and Copper as young childhood friends who discovered they were supposed to be enemies. Since becoming an adult, and especially a Christian, certain scenes from this movie have resurfaced in my memory bank as illustrations of real-life truths.

One scene, in particular, is when the owl, “Big Mama,” warns Tod (the young fox) of becoming friends with the hunter’s puppy. The fox had dangerously encountered the hunter once, but despite the warnings, took the risk a second time in order to play with Copper. His second trip, however, turned out to be a big mistake.

Big Mama scolded Tod and said, “Didn’t you learn anything? It’s either education or elimination! If you’re so foxy and that hound’s so dumb, then why does that hound get the fox on the run? ‘Cause he’s got the hunter… and the hunter’s got the gun… KABAM! Elimination! Lack of education!” (I can still hear Pearl Bailey’s voice.)

But I also hear God’s Word. Paul told the Corinthians,

“Lest Satan should take advantage of us, …we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NKJV)

Ignorance isn’t stupidity; it is a lack of knowledge, or in this case, a lack of education. Just as Big Mama tried to explain to the fox that the hunter and his dog were not his friends, Paul is telling us sin may be fun for a season, but Satan is the hunter and the hunter’s got a gun, so don’t be ignorant!

God said in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (NKJV)

Why do God’s people get destroyed? Because they are ignorant (lack knowledge) of Satan’s devices.

The world makes sin look fun and appealing. But that puppy grows into a big dog — and that dog is trained to bite and kill!

Later, Paul said,

“I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 (NKJV)

Paul was alarmed at their behavior.

“For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted — you may well put up with it.” 2 Corinthians 11:4(NKJV)

In other words, if we don’t get educated concerning the deception of Satan and his devices, we’ll find ourselves prancing right over to the hunter’s house. Only this time, the hunter is waiting with a gun. Whereas “it didn’t hurt us” last time, we may just find ourselves looking down the nose of a barrel with nowhere to run.

The Bible says, “… Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14 (NKJV)

Is he an angel of light? No, he is only pretending in order to deceive God’s people. More and more, the lines between right and wrong have faded in the church and Christians are allowing things before their eyes and in their hearts that start out looking innocent but soon open them up to full-fledged destruction.

Why? Because “It’s either education or elimination!” If you and I don’t know Satan’s devices, we will be taken advantage of. And because of our ignorance, we will be destroyed. So as Big Mama said, “Didn’t you learn anything?”

Tod had to grow up and let go of childish things, just as we do. Spiritual maturity is not based on the number of years you’ve been saved, but by your application of God’s Word. Our adherence to God’s instruction is a protector from the hunter, whose only desire is “… to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” John 10:10 (NKJV)

So remember, we are sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves and should always be wiser than the hunter—I mean, as wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16).

Remember, God Is With You

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Overcoming Worry

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Part 1

We were excited about moving for my husband’s job. But the unknowns and challenges left me feeling anxious. Thoughts of sorting and packing up belongings. Looking for a place to live. My finding a new job too. Making my way around a new city, and getting settled. It was all . . . unsettling. As I thought about my “to-do” list, words written by the apostle Paul echoed in my mind: Don’t worry, but pray (Phil. 4:6–7).

If anyone could have been anxious about unknowns and challenges, it would have been Paul. He was shipwrecked. He was beaten. He was jailed. In his letter to the Philippian church, he encouraged his friends who also were facing unknowns, telling them, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (v. 6).

Paul’s words encourage me. Life is not without uncertainties—whether they come in the form of a major life transition, family issues, health scares, or financial trouble. What I continue to learn is that God cares. He invites us to let go of our fears of the unknown by giving them to Him. When we do, He, who knows all things, promises that His peace, “which transcends all understanding, will guard” our heart and mind in Christ Jesus (v. 7).

 

Do You Not Yet Understand?

From: Ray Stedman

Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?

Mark 8:17b-18

In this series of questions, our Lord is suggesting for them, and for us, what to do when we get the spiritual blahs. One young man came to me and said, I’m a graduate of a Bible college. I’ve been a Christian for a number of years. But I must tell you that I feel so blah, so empty. I’ve lost all interest in what God is doing, and I just don’t have any desire even to get involved in a Bible study anymore. What should I do? I had just been studying this passage, so I did what our Lord suggests in this passage without telling this young man what I was doing.

The first thing the Lord suggests is to use your mind. Do you not see or understand? Stop and think about where you are, about what is happening to you, and why it happened.

Analyze it. Read what the Bible has to say about it. That is what the mind is for. Study the revelations of God to you. Use your mind.

Second, He asks, Are your hearts hardened? That is, analyze the state of your heart. Are you dull, or do you respond? Have you forgotten truth? Because if the heart does not respond to what the mind has understood, then it is because you have not really believed it. You may have recognized mentally that it is true, but you have not acted upon it. You do not really believe God is going to do what He has said He will do. This is always revealed by a dull, unresponsive heart. Truth always moves us—when we believe it. It always grips us and excites us. And if we are not excited, it is because the mind has grasped it but the heart has not.

Jesus moves on: Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? Jesus said these words again and again to the people He taught, and each time He means the same thing. Do not just look at the events you are seeing and think that is all there is to it. It is a parallel to something deeper and more important concerning your spirit. As these men were being fed by the loaves and the fishes, He was saying to them, Don’t think of this merely as a way of getting a good, quick, free meal. Remember that I am telling you that you have a deeper need, a far more demanding need, which needs daily replenishment as well.

And finally, Don’t you remember? Hasn’t God taught you things in the past through your circumstances? Hasn’t He led you through events that have made you understand something about your life? Do you not remember the times He said things like that in the past? Remember them now, and recognize that you are in the hands of a loving Father who has put you right where you are to teach you a very needed truth.

Forgive me, Father, for the dullness of my heart. Help me to give myself every day to this One who is the bread sent down from heaven.

Life Application

We may experience times of spiritual lethargy, but we do not need to settle for that state of mind & heart. There are 4 helpful ways to combat it & be spiritually restored.

 

Portraits of Christ

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By: Charles Spurgeon

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Romans 8:29

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 2:28-3:5

That image is so perfect I can never reach it. It is high as heaven, what can I know? It surpasses my thoughts, I cannot conceive the ideal, how, then, can I reach the fact? If I were to be like David I might hope it; if I were to be made like Josiah, or some of the ancient saints, I might think it possible; but to be like Christ, who is without spot or blemish, and the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely, I cannot hope it. I look, sir; I look, and look, and look again, till I turn away, tears filling my eyes, and I say, “Oh, it is presumption for such a fallen worm as I, to hope to be like Christ.” And did you know it, that while you were thus speaking, you were really getting the thing you thought to be impossible? Or did you know that, while you were gazing on Christ, you were using the only means which can be used to effect the divine purpose? And when you bowed before that image overawed, do you know it was because you began to be made like it? When I come to love the image of Christ, it is because I have some measure of likeness to it. It was said of Cicero’s works, if any man could read them with admiration, he must be in a degree an orator himself. And if any man can read the life of Christ, and really love it, methinks there must be somewhat—however little—that is Christ-like within himself. And if you as believers will look much at Christ, you will grow like him; you shall be transformed from glory to glory as by the image of the Lord.

For meditation: Getting to know Christ now is the process by which the Christian will become like Christ in the future. (Philippians 3:8,10,20,21). We may say “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” (Psalm 139:6), but the image of Christ in the believer is no more impossible to God than the conception of Christ in a virgin (Luke 1:37).

Jesus Showing Compassion

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A Heart of Compassion

By: Craig von Buseck

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Jesus was having what we, in the natural, would call a ‘bad day’. He had just received the news that the person who most understood him, his cousin, the prophet John the Baptist, had been wantonly murdered to fulfill a shallow promise by a lustful king.

Jesus, though he was God, was also human, with human emotions. When he received this tragic news he just wanted to get away from it all. Matthew tells us:

“Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself …” Matthew 14:13a (NASB)

We’ve all been in that place where the cares of this world come over us like a tidal wave and all we want to do is to get away and be alone with God.

But the people would not let him have this time of mourning. Matthew tells us that

“… when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.” Matthew 14:13b (NASB)

Jesus could have sent Peter or James out to tell the masses that he was taking the day off. He could have asked John to let the throng know that he was ‘indisposed’. But the Bible tells us how Jesus responded:

“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14 (NASB)

Earlier, Jesus revealed the heart of God to his disciples when he told them:

… “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13 (NASB)

Jesus made it clear that not only does God have compassion on sinners, but He desires that we have that same compassion. He wants to turn our hearts of stone — as a result of hurts, betrayal, cynicism, or selfishness — into hearts of flesh that long to love God and make His love known to the world … even when we’re having a ‘bad day’.

Today, as we go through our day, let’s take some time to ask that God would give us a heart of compassion for the lost. Let’s pray that through this heart of compassion we would be moved to become a part of what God is doing to take the gospel to hurting people around the world.

Pray that God’s love would be loosed in our hearts and that we would be moved with compassion — just as Jesus was — for sinners in need of a Savior.

This is the heart of God. By His grace, may it also be our heart.

“For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help, the afflicted also, and him who has no helper. He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and the lives of the needy he will save.” Psalm 72:12-13 (NASB)

 

No Exceptions

by Inspiration Ministries

“Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham…Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is…thrown into the fire.” Matthew 3:9-10 ESV

John the Baptist proclaimed an uncompromising message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v. 2). His directive was to “bear fruit” (v. 8). Those serious about serving God needed to demonstrate this commitment with tangible changes. By how they lived.

It was a message every person needed to hear, regardless of age. They could not hide behind traditions or make excuses because of their position. No one was exempt. Everyone needed to encounter God. To bear fruit.

Some responded instantly, but others resisted. The fact was that there were many excuses, and many reasons why people didn’t think they needed to repent.

As a man called to “prepare the way of the Lord” (v. 3), John asked everyone to make a similar commitment. To put everything else aside and make Jesus the focal point of their lives. To live in such a way that others could see that the Gospel was true.

This message still is true. All of us need to humble ourselves before God. To repent of things we shouldn’t have said or done. To make Jesus our Lord and surrender our lives to Him. To allow God to correct and purify us. To bear “good fruit.”

These principles apply to each one of us. As the prophet wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

We all need Jesus. We all need to live for Him and bear fruit.

Extended Reading   Matthew 3

Have You Ever Been Alone with God? (1)

By Oswald Chambers

Have You Ever Been Alone with God? (1)

Our Solitude with Him. Jesus doesn’t take us aside and explain things to us all the time; He explains things to us as we are able to understand them. The lives of others are examples for us, but God requires us to examine our own souls. It is slow work— so slow that it takes God all of time and eternity to make a man or woman conform to His purpose. We can only be used by God after we allow Him to show us the deep, hidden areas of our own character. It is astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves! We don’t even recognize the envy, laziness, or pride within us when we see it. But Jesus will reveal to us everything we have held within ourselves before His grace began to work. How many of us have learned to look inwardly with courage?

We have to get rid of the idea that we understand ourselves. That is always the last bit of pride to go. The only One who understands us is God. The greatest curse in our spiritual life is pride. If we have ever had a glimpse of what we are like in the sight of God, we will never say, “Oh, I’m so unworthy.” We will understand that this goes without saying. But as long as there is any doubt that we are unworthy, God will continue to close us in until He gets us alone. Whenever there is any element of pride or conceit remaining, Jesus can’t teach us anything. He will allow us to experience heartbreak or the disappointment we feel when our intellectual pride is wounded. He will reveal numerous misplaced affections or desires— things over which we never thought He would have to get us alone. Many things are shown to us, often without effect. But when God gets us alone over them, they will be clear.

Be Thankful, God Cares For You

 
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I Need to Know You Care

By: Kathy Collard Miller

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Recently, I felt anger rise within me when my husband, Larry, had promised several times to help me with a computer problem. Although the problem didn’t really affect my work much, it still seemed like I needed help right then!

“Larry, I really need you to help me.”

“Okay, Kath. No problem. I can’t right now but I’ll help later.”

Later came and went along with several other “laters.” Each time, my anger increased. But then as I prayed asking the Lord why it bothered me so much, I realized I wasn’t so much bothered by the delay as feeling like Larry didn’t really care about me and my needs. I remembered what happened when the disciples felt like Jesus didn’t care for them. Here’s the story.

On that day, when evening had come, he [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41 (ESV)

I can certainly understand the disciples’ terror. Even though most of them were seasoned fishermen, this storm was obviously way beyond their comfort zone and they knew the danger. The Sea of Galilee was famous for sudden windstorms and many of their friends had most likely perished. Plus, the boat was not just taking on water — it was “already filling.” As they looked around for help, what did they see? Jesus asleep on a cushion. The man who should have been the first to take care of them was completely oblivious to their need and fear.

After waking him, they asked, “Teacher, don’t you care we are perishing?”

Their question is often what our heart is crying out to know: do you care? We can be tempted to express it through emotional outbursts because we’re afraid we’ll hear, “No, I don’t care because you don’t deserve it.” As my anger showed the other day, my heart was actually crying out, “Show me you care about me! Maybe my anger, distress, or craziness will get your attention!”

After Jesus calms the storm and the danger is past, the disciples are filled with wonder and awe. They rightly ask, who is this who can calm the wind and sea? If they had asked that question at the beginning, they wouldn’t have become distressed. Because the answer is: “This is no surprise to Jesus. Even though he seems to be asleep on a cushion, he hasn’t stopped loving us or caring for us because he is the powerful and omniscient God. We can trust whatever reason he is allowing this.”

When you feel like you’ve asked Jesus, “Do you care?” he isn’t upset about your question but he does want you to hear, “Child, I do care! Trust me. I know exactly what I’m doing and it’s for your good and my glory.”

 

Flawed People

by Inspiration Ministries

“David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife…” Matthew 1:6 NIV

In many societies, official records are edited to emphasize what is deemed important. In the process, mistakes often are covered up or ignored. Biographies are shaped to present impressive backgrounds and ideal preparation for leadership.

But the Bible is different. In fact, it was written with a surprising level of honesty. We see the flaws of characters, even prominent people like David and Solomon, Moses and Abraham.

This honesty is present in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus. There has been no attempt to ignore or eliminate people who might be perceived as questionable. In fact, this list includes Rahab the prostitute (Joshua 2) and Tamar, who seduced her father-in-law, Judah (Genesis 38). We see Ruth, a woman from Moab, which had been Israel’s enemy. Bathsheba is not specifically named, but Matthew speaks of “her who had been the wife of Uriah” (v. 6 NKJV), reminding us of David’s sinful actions. Others include men like Manasseh, a king who committed “detestable sins” (2 Kings 21:9-11). But the Bible also tells us that, later in life, Manasseh “humbled himself greatly before…God” and was restored (2 Chronicles 33:12).

The details found in Jesus’ genealogy demonstrate that God knows our sins, flaws, and mistakes. The Bible is reminding us that Jesus came from a line of imperfect people. People who made mistakes. Here we see a powerful example of God’s grace at work. And we are reminded that He can use anything and anyone to achieve His purposes.

How He can use people like you.

 

Streams In The Desert

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God (Isaiah 40:1).

Store up comfort. This was the prophet’s mission. The world is full of comfortless hearts, and ere thou art sufficient for this lofty ministry, thou must be trained. And thy training is costly in the extreme; for, to render it perfect, thou too must pass through the same afflictions as are wringing countless hearts of tears and blood. Thus thy own life becomes the hospital ward where thou art taught the Divine art of comfort. Thou art wounded, that in the binding up of thy wounds by the Great Physician, thou mayest learn how to render first aid to the wounded everywhere. Dost thou wonder why thou art passing through some special sorrow? Wait till ten years are passed, and thou wilt find many others afflicted as thou art. Thou wilt tell them how thou hast suffered and hast been comforted; then as the tale is unfolded, and the anodynes applied which once thy God wrapped around thee, in the eager look and the gleam of hope that shall chase the shadow of despair across the soul, thou shalt know why thou wast afflicted, and bless God for the discipline that stored thy life with such a fund of experience and helpfulness.
–Selected

God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.
–Dr. Jowett

They tell me I must bruise
The rose’s leaf,
Ere I can keep and use
Its fragrance brief.
“They tell me I must break
The skylark’s heart,
Ere her cage song will make
The silence start.
They tell me love must bleed,
And friendship weep,
Ere in my deepest need
I touch that deep.
Must it be always so
With precious things?
Must they be bruised and go
With beaten wings?
Ah, yes! by crushing days,
By caging nights, by scar
Of thorn and stony ways,
These blessings are!

Overcoming Worry

Do Not Worry      Matthew 6

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

 

Overcoming Worry

From: Our Daily Bread

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Discover more about putting your worries to work for you, rather than allowing them to consume you as you read these 5 reflections from Our Daily Bread.

Part 1

We were excited about moving for my husband’s job. But the unknowns and challenges left me feeling anxious. Thoughts of sorting and packing up belongings. Looking for a place to live. My finding a new job too. Making my way around a new city, and getting settled. It was all . . . unsettling. As I thought about my “to-do” list, words written by the apostle Paul echoed in my mind: Don’t worry, but pray (Phil. 4:6–7).

If anyone could have been anxious about unknowns and challenges, it would have been Paul. He was shipwrecked. He was beaten. He was jailed. In his letter to the Philippian church, he encouraged his friends who also were facing unknowns, telling them, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (v. 6).

Decisive Commitment

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by Inspiration Ministries

“Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him.” 1 Kings 18:21 NASB

Julius Caesar needed to make a decision. And he knew that whatever he decided would change his life and history. The moment took place on this day in 49 BC.

He and his army were north of the Rubicon, a stream forming the boundary between Italy and a key Roman province. Although Caesar commanded Roman troops, the Roman Senate feared the disruption he might cause and banned him from entering Italy with his army.

So he waited. Finally, he decided to “cross the Rubicon,” stating, “The die is cast.” This decision led to a civil war in which Caesar was victorious. Today, people still use the phrase “to cross the Rubicon” to indicate they have made an important decision.

There are times when each of us must “cross the Rubicon.” We must make decisions and not sit on the fence.

Israel faced one of those times when many served false gods. Elijah called the people to stop hesitating, and decide whom they would serve. When no one responded, Elijah tested the prophets of these gods. Elijah had made his decision. He was willing to make a bold stand for God, who brought a great victory.

Today, ask yourself how committed you are to God’s Kingdom. Are you compromising with the world? Wavering back-and-forth? Or are you willing to make a total commitment to Him? Commit your life to Him. Serve Him with your whole being, and all that you have. Do not hold back.

Seeing Through

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From: Authentic Christianity

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.

Mark 6:5-6

We can gather up the meaning of this whole account in just a few words: Limited views mean limited lives. That is, if your view of life is so narrow and crabbed, so withered and shrunken as to include nothing but what you can see and feel and taste and smell and hear and reason, then your life is going to be horribly deprived and poverty stricken. This is how it was in Nazareth. Jesus had been in Nazareth the year before. They tried to kill Him on that occasion because He would not do what they wanted. Now He comes back again and teaches in the synagogue, and they are astonished. They ask the right questions: Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to Him? What mighty works are wrought by His hands!

But their answers to their own questions are horribly limited. Who is this? Is this not the carpenter? Why, He made the table in our house. I remember when we used to feed Him tea and sandwiches for lunch when He came to help us build the house where I live! He was just a carpenter! And His brothers and sisters live here–we know the whole family! Why, He couldn’t be this powerful a man! And they did the incredible–they took refuge in that final resort of all weak and small minds–they ridiculed Him. They took offense at Him and began to discount all He had done.

Therefore, Jesus pointed out to them that this is characteristic of fallen human nature. There was no recognition of His worth, no honor accorded Him in His own hometown. And as a result, there was no mighty work done there. He responded to the few who had faith, but there was nothing the town could boast of. And is it not amazing that through all these centuries, though Nazareth has never been forgotten as the town in which Jesus grew up, yet to this very day it is regarded in Palestine with some sense of embarrassment! They missed their great opportunity.

What is this all saying–this entire account of the healing of the woman, the raising of Jairus’s daughter, and the reception given him by the people of Nazareth? It is saying to us today, Lift up your eyes and look beyond the visible to the realities of God. Live in the full dimensions of life, as God intended life to be. Life can never be explained entirely in terms of the natural. We are left impoverished and despairing if all we have to depend on is our natural resources, natural power. But God is rich in grace, rich in power, rich in inward strength and sympathy, and His cry to us is, No longer be unbelieving, but believe and have faith that I am at work, and I will enrich your life beyond your wildest dreams.

Teach me, Lord to respond with the touch of faith–not the thronging of admiration, but the touch of faith–to this Blessed One who, now in our midst, is ready to meet our need.

 

Jesus Is God With Us

 

 Pictures of Jesus Doing His MInistry.

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What Kind of Savior Is He?

What Kind of Savior Is He?

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. John 6:66

Last year, friends and I prayed for healing for three women battling cancer. We knew God had the power to do this, and we asked Him to do so every day. We’d seen Him work in the past and believed He could do it again. There were days in each one’s battle where healing looked like it was a reality, and we rejoiced. But they all died that fall. Some said that was “the ultimate healing,” and in a way it was. Still the loss hurt us deeply. We wanted Him to heal them all—here and now—but for reasons we couldn’t understand, no miracle came.

Some people followed Jesus for the miracles He performed and to get their needs met (John 6:2, 26). Some simply saw Him as the carpenter’s son (Matthew 13:55–58), and others expected Him to be their political leader (Luke 19:37–38). Some thought of Him as a great teacher (Matthew 7:28–29), while others quit following Him because His teaching was hard to understand (John 6:66).

Jesus still doesn’t always meet our expectations of Him. Yet He is so much more than we can imagine. He’s the provider of eternal life (vv. 47–48). He is good and wise; and He loves, forgives, stays close, and brings us comfort. May we find rest in Jesus as He is and keep following Him.

Thank You, Jesus, that You are the kind of Savior we need. Wrap us in Your love and bring us confident rest in You.

I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” Psalm 31:14

Free grace

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.” Ezekiel 36:32

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

My God! I have rebelled against thee, and yet thou hast loved me, unworthy me! How can it be? I cannot lift myself up with pride, I must bow down before thee in speechless gratitude. Remember, my dear brethren, that not only is the mercy which you and I have received undeserved, but it was unasked. It is true you sought for mercy, but not till mercy first sought you. It is true you prayed, but not till free grace made you pray. You would have been still today hardened in heart, without God, and without Christ, had not free grace saved you. Can you be proud then?—proud of mercy which, if I may use the term, has been forced upon you?—proud of grace which has been given you against your will, until your will was changed by sovereign grace? And think again—all the mercy you have you once refused. Christ sups with you; be not proud of his company. Remember, there was a day when he knocked, and you refused—when he came to the door and said, “My head is wet with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night; open to me, my beloved;” and you barred it in his face, and would not let him enter. Be not proud, then of what you have, when you remember that you once rejected him. Does God embrace you in his arms of love? Remember, once you lifted up your hand of rebellion against him. Is your name written in his book? Ah! there was a time when, if it had been in your power, you would have erased the sacred lines that contained your own salvation. Can we, dare we, lift up our wicked heads with pride, when all these things should make us hang our heads down in the deepest humility?

For meditationFor meditation: Whatever we have become or achieved in the Christian life must always be attributed to God’s grace and directed to his glory. The apostle Paul needed no reminder (1 Corinthians 15:10).

 

Prayerful Inner-Searching

By Oswald Chambers

Prayerful Inner-Searching

“Your whole spirit….” The great, mysterious work of the Holy Spirit is in the deep recesses of our being which we cannot reach. Read Psalm 139. The psalmist implies— “O Lord, You are the God of the early mornings, the God of the late nights, the God of the mountain peaks, and the God of the sea. But, my God, my soul has horizons further away than those of early mornings, deeper darkness than the nights of earth, higher peaks than any mountain peaks, greater depths than any sea in nature. You who are the God of all these, be my God. I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot discover, dreams I cannot realize. My God, search me.”

Do we believe that God can fortify and protect our thought processes far beyond where we can go? “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). If this verse means cleansing only on our conscious level, may God have mercy on us. The man who has been dulled by sin will say that he is not even conscious of it. But the cleansing from sin we experience will reach to the heights and depths of our spirit if we will “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). The same Spirit that fed the life of Jesus Christ will feed the life of our spirit. It is only when we are protected by God with the miraculous sacredness of the Holy Spirit that our spirit, soul, and body can be preserved in pure uprightness until the coming of Jesus-no longer condemned in God’s sight.

We should more frequently allow our minds to meditate on these great, massive truths of God.

What if?

What if everyone followed the teachings of Jesus Christ and accepted Him as Lord and Savior?  The world would be pleasantly wonderful.

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What If

by Inspiration Ministries

“The serpent was more crafty…‘God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’…She took of its fruit and…she also gave some to her husband.” Genesis 3:1-7 ESV

How would we have reacted if we were in the Garden of Eden instead of Adam and Eve?

God gave them an environment filled with riches. They simply had to do things His way. But the serpent urged them to set their own standards and make their own decisions. If they did, he said they would become “like God, knowing good and evil.”

Believing this argument, they tasted the fruit and felt empowered…until they realized they had defied God. They felt compelled to hide from Him. But, in His presence, they realized they had cut themselves off from His blessings. In a sense, they were on their own.

In reality, we face questions like this every day. Opportunities to evaluate our priorities and standards. Crossroads where decisions need to be made. Determining what to believe.

How often voices in the world urge us to follow the same logic provided by the serpent. To ignore or reinterpret God’s Word, and go our own way. They argue that believing in God and the Bible are outdated ideas. That we don’t need to be concerned about Him. That to be free and fulfilled, we must go our own way.

Today, remember that you have the opportunity to decide what direction you will take. To whom will you listen? Remember that God had promised blessings beyond anything you can imagine. But receiving those blessings requires that you do things His way.

Make the right choice!

Prayer

Father, help me to stay faithful to Your Word. Give me discernment. Help me reject the voices that want me to go my own way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Extended Reading

Genesis 3

 

DEVOTION FOR TODAY — JANUARY 8TH

Secrets Revealed

By: Ray Stedman

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.

Mark 4:33

This verse presents one great rule of revelation: God only reveals as much as they could understand.Jesus teaches people only as they can take it. This is the rule upon which God works with us. He does not show us everything at once. If He did, He would destroy us.

One man who attended a pastors’ seminar held at Peninsula Bible Church was a great big man. He was drinking in all that was given to him, and at our closing meeting it was amusing to watch him. He was like a child around a Christmas tree, so turned on by all he had discovered that he was just glowing, going around hugging everyone he met. He told me, Oh, this has been so great! I’d like to go home and take my Bible and get into it and find so much more of this. Then he stopped himself and said, But I suppose if I did, it would kill me! I just couldn’t handle it. And he was right; he could not have handled it. It would have been too much. And God knows that and does not show you any more than you are able to handle.

That is the glory and the wonder of the Scriptures. They are put together in such an amazing way that it takes both the Word and the Spirit to understand the Bible. You can read the Word, and if you are not ready for them and open to them, those words will not say a thing to you. But if you are open, you will learn something from them. The next time you can come back, read the same words, and learn something more. Each time you will learn something more. It never ceases to refresh your spirit and instruct your mind and to open and expand your capacity to receive from God. That is the way God teaches us truth–as we are able to bear it.

And this is true also of His revelation to us about ourselves. One of the things about Scripture is that it shows you who you are and who you have been all along. God is gracious to us that way. He does not just rip the veil off, and suddenly you see the whole ghastly thing. If He did, we would be wiped out. But He lifts it little by little. You shake and tremble and say, Is that the way I’ve been? You are aghast at the way you have been treating people, and you think, Thank God that’s over! The next week He lifts it a little higher. You shake and tremble and go through it again and say, At last we got to the bottom! Then God lifts it high enough for you to see more, and you are wiped out again. But you handle it, little by little. Because, along with the revelation of yourself, He also reveals Himself and His adequacy to handle your inadequacies.

Is it not wonderful that He understands us that way and deals with us like that? If He revealed the glories of heaven to us suddenly, everyone of us would be running out to jump into the ocean, to get there as fast as possible. But He lifts the veil only a little at a time, as we are able to bear it.

Open my eyes, Father, that I may see glimpses of truth you have for me. Help me to under stand what I read and to search out what I do not understand.

Who’s Holding All the Cards?

By: Joe Stowell

“Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz.” Ruth 2:1

To borrow a poker phrase, some people seem to hold all the cards. They are dealt a winning hand while the rest of us do the best with what few resources we may have. And with a “winner takes all” frame of mind, many of these high-profile, prosperous people manipulate and maneuver their wealth and power to pursue their own interests and advance their own cause. We all know the type.

In the story of Ruth, Boaz holds all the cards. He enters the scene as a man of great wealth and power. Yet I am struck by several aspects of his life that set him apart from the typical guy who holds all the cards.

I love the fact that he willingly aligns his resources with God’s heart for the poor and needy. God outlined in Levitical law that those who didn’t have the resources to survive could be “gleaners”—gathering grain that intentionally was left at the edge of the fields during harvest time. Boaz lived in a time when everyone did what was right in their own eyes. After a devastating famine, he could easily have ignored God’s heart for the poor in order to secure an abundant harvest for himself. But unlike other wealthy landowners, he still welcomed gleaners in his field. It was a tangible display of God’s love for the needy.

God also provided ways in which foreigners could be welcomed in Israel. Again, Boaz aligned himself with God’s heart—even for a Moabite from enemy territory. He could have cast Ruth aside when he learned she was not a Jew. Instead, he opened his heart to her. Sometimes we don’t want other “kinds” of people to move into our neighborhood, but God is actually delighted when they do. It’s an opportunity for us to do what Boaz did—open our hearts to “different” people who could use a tangible expression of God’s love and grace in their lives.

Not only did Boaz use his wealth for the benefit of those in need and welcome a foreigner to his field, he also desired to see God’s blessing poured out on her (Ruth 2:12) and then proceeded to be the instrument of God’s blessing in her life (Ruth 2:14). He became the answer to her prayers.

Boaz was also abundantly generous in his care for Ruth. Once again he put his treasures where God’s heart is. It is the character of God to be a generous God “able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

So when was the last time you planned to cooperate with God and be the answer to someone’s prayers? You may think, Easy for Boaz—he had all the cards! But we all have some cards. Whether big or small, there’s always something we can do to bring the heart of God to a needy life that crosses our path.

Besides, God is the One who really holds all the cards. He shares His resources with us not for us to consume them all ourselves, but to share them for His glory and the good of others. So life is not about holding all the cards. From God’s point of view, it’s what you do with your cards. Use them as God would to bless others who cross your path.

Being Close To Jesus

 

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Intimate With Jesus

By Oswald Chambers

Intimate With Jesus

These words were not spoken as a rebuke, nor even with surprise; Jesus was encouraging Philip to draw closer. Yet the last person we get intimate with is Jesus. Before Pentecost the disciples knew Jesus as the One who gave them power to conquer demons and to bring about a revival (see Luke 10:18-20). It was a wonderful intimacy, but there was a much closer intimacy to come: “…I have called you friends…” (John 15:15). True friendship is rare on earth. It means identifying with someone in thought, heart, and spirit. The whole experience of life is designed to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ. We receive His blessings and know His Word, but do we really know Him?

Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away…” (John 16:7). He left that relationship to lead them even closer. It is a joy to Jesus when a disciple takes time to walk more intimately with Him. The bearing of fruit is always shown in Scripture to be the visible result of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ (see John 15:1-4).

Once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely and we never lack for understanding or compassion. We can continually pour out our hearts to Him without being perceived as overly emotional or pitiful. The Christian who is truly intimate with Jesus will never draw attention to himself but will only show the evidence of a life where Jesus is completely in control. This is the outcome of allowing Jesus to satisfy every area of life to its depth. The picture resulting from such a life is that of the strong, calm balance that our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.

Death Denied

From: CBN

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I had just cheerfully entered my dentist’s office for more extensive repair work. It started like the other dental visits. But this time, as I hoped, while Mercedes, his dental assistant prepared me for the work, Dr. Azarbal asked about the source of my joy and positive demeanor. I had only been a patient for a few months, and he and his staff seemed perplexed that my disposition was consistently favorable and upbeat – not that of the typical dental patient.

“Doc”’ often commented to his assistants that I meditate while he works on my teeth. Mostly, I pray, focus on scripture verses or sing to myself, to divert my attention away from discomfort and the dreaded drill.

“You always seem to be in a good mood – how do you manage that?” he asked.

Anxiously anticipating the opportunity to share my testimony, I responded instantly, “I don’t have any bad days, because every day is a gift from God to me. I am a bona fide miracle. Less than two years ago, I was dying after a brain aneurysm. By God’s grace, I survived brain surgery, my memory has been restored, and my healing is nothing short of miraculous!”

As I completed my statement, Mercedes’ swift retort pierced my heart, pinning me to the chair. “My Mom didn’t make it.”

Her words, so matter-of-fact, stunned me into momentary silence.

Certainly, I could not expect her to share my joy, but I sensed the Lord wanted me to connect with her sorrow.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15 (NIV)

“Oh Lord, I thought, what can I say to her?” Taking a few deep breaths, I turned my face to meet her eyes and asked, “Can you talk about what happened?”

My own gratitude and enthusiasm on hold for a moment, I listened as she spoke easily and freely, recalling the events of her mom’s last hours, following a brain aneurysm. I marveled at the calmness of her voice as she shared that her mother’s friend was present when her mother collapsed, yet panic paralyzed her, delaying a lifesaving 911 call. It had been seven years since she lost her mom, her best friend.

“I am so very sorry; this has to be extremely difficult for you,” I offered. Then I asked if she had been able to open her heart to release forgiveness to her mother’s friend.

After a pause, she stated, “I was angry with her for many years because she wasted precious time calling family members when she should have called the paramedics…but I have forgiven her.”

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 (NLT)

Hers was not the first incident shared with me about a family member who succumbed to the very affliction I had survived. Yet, each story amazed me, further confirming the unexplainable sovereign move of God. The more stories I heard – Felicia’s younger brother, Diane’s mother, Cynthia’s older brother, Mildred’s sister, a 17-year-old student, and many others – the more awed I became of God’s bountiful grace to me. While I have no answers for why so many lost loved ones, I can encourage them to do the difficult, yet necessary, healing work of forgiving.

Lord, losing a loved one is one of the most difficult, painful experiences to understand. Sometimes that pain has caused me anger as I searched for answers. When I am honest, I realize I am most angry at you for not healing them. Help me to trust your sovereign wisdom, releasing all bitterness and unforgiveness. Lord, help me to rejoice with others whom you choose to heal. Amen.

An Ordinary Man

An Ordinary Man

People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

William Carey was a sickly boy, born to a humble family near Northampton, England. His future didn’t look too bright. But God had plans for him. Against all odds, he moved to India, where he brought incredible social reforms and translated the Bible into several Indian languages. He loved God and people, and accomplished many things for God.

David, son of Jesse, was an ordinary young man, the youngest in his family. He was seemingly an insignificant shepherd on the hills of Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:11–12). Yet God saw David’s heart and had a plan for him. King Saul had been rejected by God for disobedience. While the prophet Samuel mourned Saul’s choices, God called Samuel to anoint a different king, one of Jesse’s sons.

When Samuel saw the handsome, tall Eliab, he naturally thought, “surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord” (v. 6). However, God’s strategy to select a king was much different than Samuel’s. In fact, God said no to each of Jesse’s sons, except the youngest one. Selecting David as king was definitely not a strategic move from God’s part, or so it seemed at first glance. What would a young shepherd have to offer his community, let alone his country?

How comforting to know that the Lord knows our hearts and has His plans for us.

Dear Lord, thank You that You care more about my heart’s attitude toward You than my outward beauty, possessions, or achievements.

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God’s priority is your heart.