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Be Happy With What You Have

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When What God Gives Isn’t Enough … Or Is It?

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“One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” Luke 17:15 (NLT)

Luke 17: 11-19 tells the time Jesus was traveling and entered a village when ten lepers approached him. They begged Jesus to have mercy on them.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’” Luke 17: 14 NLT.

 As they went on their way, the Bible tells us they were cleansed.

While it is interesting to note they were not immediately healed upon their first petition, it is clear healing began the minute they encountered Jesus. Ultimately, all ten were healed, however only one of the men came back to thank Jesus. Not only did one come back, but the passage tells us he shouted his thanks and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet.

What happened to the other nine? Were they upset the healing wasn’t instant? Were they disappointed they had to go and show themselves to the priests? Maybe being cleansed wasn’t enough. They wanted more! Perhaps they, like many of us, simply forgot they asked Jesus for help, therefore forgot to thank Him. How many times have your prayers been answered, and you forgot to circle back and thank God?

We don’t know for sure, but we do know Jesus was not thanked for healing the nine. It is hard to condemn the nine lepers when I think of the many times I have forgotten to thank God when He promptly answered prayers and the many times I am not satisfied with His provision and want more!

I pray for healing for myself or others. I beseech God to help me or a friend or family member out of a situation. I beg for grace or cleansing. Time goes by, and sometimes I forget I asked. Sometimes when the answer doesn’t come immediately or the way I expect, it is out of my head. Not only do I forget to thank God, often, I find myself asking for more!

I remember a time when our third daughter, Riley, was just learning to talk. Her vocabulary was still limited, but she could convey her needs quite clearly. One morning I had to help with a project at our older daughters’ school. Riley had to come with me, and in my rush to get all of us to the school she missed a complete breakfast. My meetings went longer than expected, and I neglected to pack snacks to hold her over until lunch. Over and over she said, “Eat!” “Eat!” Unfortunately, I didn’t have my purse so I didn’t have cash.

I remembered my sentimental silver 50-cent piece. Years before, my father had given it to me, and I kept it tucked away in a special compartment in my car. As I vacillated between parting with my beloved possession and my beloved daughter’s wellbeing, I reluctantly decided I had no choice but to spend my 50-cent piece on a package of crackers!

Riley was satisfied and while she didn’t quite have the words to thank me, I knew she was grateful. That is until half way through her first cracker, the next word came out of her full mouth, “Juice!” “Juice!”

Like my daughter, why am I always asking for more? Why do I forget to be thankful? Why can’t I be satisfied and grateful for the abundant blessings God has provided?

My desire is to be like the man who shouts my thanks and falls on my face at Jesus’ feet! I pray I will be mindful of the psalmist’s words,

“Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 100: 3-4 NLT

 

The Corinthian Man-Creed

15 Bible Verses About Trust — Religious Verses About Trust

by Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.com

Be on your guard, stand firm in faith, be men of courage, be strong; do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Today’s verse hangs on a board on the wall of my son. But years ago, long before my son was even an inkling, I came across that verse as I was sending my own father one of many letters I composed over the years to share with him the importance of salvation, and the value of life in Christ. My sister, mother, and I came to know the Lord in 1980, but it took another 17 years, seven months, and 26 days worth of praying, heart softening, and brokenness for Dan McEvoy to surrender.

And it wasn’t this letter or the above verse that pushed him into it. No, this letter I was writing simply to tell him how blessed I was to have begun dating a woman (who eventually became my wife) for whom faith came first, and I was giving God all the glory and credit and all that good stuff, and probably telling him how God delights in blessing those who trust in Him.

With the letter I enclosed a quick-and-dirty page of graphic art involving the aforementioned verse from Corinthians in some fancy font, with a clip-art picture of a sailboat, kind of as a visual aid to my letter, indicating, I suppose, what it was like for the man of God to live in this world under the Captaincy of Christ.

Well, so. After he died in 2001, I found that letter and piece of “art” in my father’s desk, looking as if it had been read and glanced at often. Something in me knew then that if I were ever to have a son, I’d commit to raising him to manhood under these same five principles:

  • Be on your guard. Be ready, be alert. Expect God to be involved, expect Satan to attack. Let the wonder of creation still catch your eye.
  • Stand firm in faith. Be unmoved because you know intimately that of which you believe in. Become biblically literate.
  • Be a man of courage. Fear is not from God (2 Timothy 1:7), so go your way boldly. The worst that can happen – even death – still ends in victory and glory for the Christian.
  • Be strong. Physically, yes, let’s take care of ourselves, and present our bodies as holy. But remember that the Lord is the strength of the strong (Ephesians 6:10), and that “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
  • Do everything in love. Here’s your motivation, because he that doesn’t love doesn’t know God (1 John 4:8), and the world shall know you by your love (John 13:35).

So when Jordan was born, and we had the dedication service at our church, that’s the verse we selected to have read. When he was about two-and-a-half, he started reciting it by memory and making up arm/hand motions to go with it. We call it our “Man-Creed.”

But here’s the secret: these couple verses from the closing of Paul’s first letter to Corinth aren’t first-and-foremost for Jordan… they’re for me.

When I first realized that, it caught me, ironically enough, “off my guard.” I had been more than happy to tell my own father how to “be a man,” and was perfectly willing to raise my son to be one according to the Word. How, I wonder, did I intend to do so without living out the credo, making it my own?

 

Streams in the Desert

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

He knoweth the way that I take (Job 23:10).

Believer! What a glorious assurance! This way of thine–this, it may be, a crooked, mysterious, tangled way–this way of trial and tears. “He knoweth it.” The furnace seven times heated–He lighted it. There is an Almighty Guide knowing and directing our footsteps, whether it be to the bitter Marah pool, or to the joy and refreshment of Elim.

That way, dark to the Egyptians, has its pillar of cloud and fire for His own Israel. The furnace is hot; but not only can we trust the hand that kindles it, but we have the assurance that the fires are lighted not to consume, but to refine; and that when the refining process is completed (no sooner–no later) He brings His people forth as gold.

When they think Him least near, He is often nearest. “When my spirit was overwhelmed, then thou knewest my path.” Do we know of ONE brighter than the brightest radiance of the visible sun, visiting our chamber with the first waking beam of the morning; an eye of infinite tenderness and compassion following us throughout the day, knowing the way that we take?

The world, in its cold vocabulary in the hour of adversity, speaks of “Providence”–“the will of Providence”–“the strokes of Providence.” PROVIDENCE! what is that? Why dethrone a living, directing God from the sovereignty of His own earth? Why substitute an inanimate, death-like abstraction, in place of an acting, controlling, personal Jehovah?

How it would take the sting from many a goading trial, to see what Job saw (in his hour of aggravated woe, when every earthly hope lay prostrate at his feet)–no hand but the Divine. He saw that hand behind the gleaming swords of the Sabeans–he saw it behind the lightning flash–he saw it giving wings to the careening tempest–he saw it in the awful silence of his rifled home.

“The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” Thus seeing God in everything, his faith reached its climax when this once powerful prince of the desert, seated on his bed of ashes, could say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”
–Macduff

Your Testimony

by Inspiration Ministries

God be merciful to us and bless us … That Your way may be known on earth … Let all the peoples praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth.” – Psalm 67:1-4 NKJV

The psalmist was honest. He asked God to be merciful, bless His people, and cause His face to shine upon them. They depended on Him to bless them, provide for them, and meet their needs.

But there was another perspective. His actions provided a testimony and a witness. Through His mercy and blessings, God became known throughout the world. His actions demonstrated that His ways are true. He showed that He really could provide salvation. Regardless of how things appeared on the surface, God will provide justice and righteous judgment. He ultimately will “govern the nations on earth.”

The realization of God’s presence and sovereignty should fill us with praise. Knowing that He is in control should relieve our burdens and encourage all of us to praise Him, to “be glad and sing for joy!”

Praise for His mercy and blessing is a central part of our testimony. Yes, we desire God to meet our needs, but we also are to become testimonies for others, so through our lives, others would see the wonderful things that He has done. Others need to see the truth of His promises, why we can trust Him, why we don’t need to carry our burdens or live in fear, and why we truly can shout for joy.

May the way we live show others why they should commit their lives to Him to know Him and serve Him.

God Is Full Of Mercy

25 Important Bible Verses About Mercy (10 Major Things To Know)12 Bible Verses About God's Mercy to Help You Deeply Feel His Mercy and Love
Bible Verses about Mercy27 Bible Verses about Mercy - DailyVerses.net

8 Best Mercy Bible Verses - Encouraging ScriptureA.W. Tozer | Quotes, Spiritual quotes, Faith quotes

You've been searching and searching for a way around it, but all of your  efforts have failed. In your … | Quotes about god, Mercy quotes,  Inspirational bible quotes12 Bible Verses About Mercy: Learn About God's Mercy and Love

Tender Mercy, Pure Heart

25 Bible Verses On Forgiveness To Bring You Peace | Compassion UK

Scripture Reading — Matthew 5:7-12

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” — Matthew 5:7-8

I find it hard to receive mercy. I beat myself up; I thank God for forgiving me, but I have trouble forgiving myself. I have learned, though, that Jesus invites me into the mercy circle: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Jesus is not saying that receiving mercy is a reward for being merciful. Rather, he is teaching us that receiving mercy becomes easier when we are merciful. The acts of receiving and showing mercy strengthen each other. As I share mercy, my own ability to receive ­mercy and also forgive myself become stronger.

Mercy is like a powerful detergent that purifies our hearts. And as the heart is purified, the eyes learn a new way of seeing. They come to see the presence of God in all kinds of unexpected places. The pure in heart “will see God,” Jesus declares.

With our hands open to receive mercy and a purified heart that refocuses our eyes, we grow to see all the people around us with God’s mercy, and we begin to appreciate how much he loves them, cares for them, and wants full life for them—for all of us!

Decades ago Christian singer Noel Paul Stookey (formerly of Peter, Paul, and Mary) recorded a gentle song called “Tender hands, softest eyes.” It captures some parts of Jesus’ teaching here beautifully. Tender hands and soft eyes become instruments of blessing that transmit the grace of God.

 

Streams in the Desert – April 21

Picture Quotes About Gods Mercy. QuotesGram

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

And being absolutely certain that whatever promise He is bound by, He is able to make good (Rom. 4:20).

We are told that Abraham could look at his own body and consider it as good as dead without being discouraged, because he was not looking at himself but at the Almighty One. He did not stagger at the promise, but stood straight up unbending beneath his mighty load of blessing; and instead of growing weak he waxed strong in the faith, grew more robust, the more difficulties became apparent, glorifying God through His very sufficiency and being “fully persuaded” (as the Greek expresses it) “that he who had promised was,” not merely able, but as it literally means “abundantly able,” munificently able, able with an infinite surplus of resources, infinitely able “to perform.”

He is the God of boundless resources. The only limit is in us. Our asking, our thinking, our praying are too small; our expectations are too limited. He is trying to lift us up to a higher conception, and lure us on to a mightier expectation and appropriation. Oh, shall we put Him in derision?

There is no limit to what we may ask and expect of our glorious El-Shaddai; and there is but one measure here given for His blessing, and that is “according to the power that worketh in us.”
–A. B. Simpson

“Climb to the treasure house of blessing on the ladder made of divine promises. By a promise as by a key open the door to the riches of God’s grace and favor.”

 

New Mercies Every Morning

27 Bible Verses about Mercy - DailyVerses.net

Bonny Mulder-Behnia. todaydevotional

Scripture Reading — Lamentations 3:19-26

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. . . . — Lamentations 3:22-23

Lamentations is not lighthearted reading; it’s a collection of desperate cries from the bottom of a pit. The author laments the suffering of God’s people during their time of captivity, which left them trapped in misery for years.

But in the middle of the book, a glimmering light shines through the darkness, as the weeping writer lifts his head and proclaims hope in the God of love and compassion. We witness the progression from a downcast, bitter soul (verse 20) to an upright, resolute warrior refusing to be consumed by the troubles of life (verse 22).

The rallying cry of confidence is that God will ultimately save his people.

This passage is a favorite of my Aunt Ruth, who has become increasingly paralyzed over the past 45 years from a debilitating disease. For months at a time, she was unable to speak because of tracheal stenosis, and she has endured more than 30 surgeries. In those quiet seasons, she would still whisper to her soul, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him” (verse 24).

Aunt Ruth is one who knows that problems don’t disappear overnight, yet she testifies that God’s mercies to her are new every morning. We too can find God’s blessings in big and small ways each day if we make a point of looking for them. Great is God’s faithfulness.

Purity, Dedication, Focus

Alma 42:15 - Latter-day Saint Scripture of the Day
by Inspiration Ministries

“The Levites may go in to serve the tent of meeting. But you shall cleanse them and present them as a wave offering; for they are exclusively given to Me.” – Numbers 8:15-16 NASB

To God, it was not enough that the Levites were born into a special family or called to ministry. God required a personal commitment from each one. He wanted them to be dedicated, to demonstrate that they were set apart to serve Him and focused to not allow anything to distract them.

He also wanted them to be purified. Each Levite was to experience a complete cleansing. Their whole bodies were to be shaved and sprinkled with “purifying water” (v. 7). And all their clothes were to be washed.

They also were to be cleansed spiritually by confessing their sins. Then, they were to approach God with a special offering. They also needed to present themselves as an offering.

God was giving us a picture of the kind of dedication He wants from His people. Some people are satisfied with just going to church or living a religious life. But God wants people with a full-time commitment, who realize that their relationship with Him changes everything. Only in His presence can they find “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). He wants people who present their bodies as “a living and holy sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).

Follow the call of God on your life. Dedicate yourself to serving Him. Seek to be free of distractions. Allow Him to probe your life and help you be clean in spirit, soul, and body. Be a living sacrifice, an offering pleasing in His sight.

 

Lord, Have Mercy

Your Mercy And Grace Quotes. QuotesGram
Bonny Mulder-Behnia.  todaydevotional.com

Scripture Reading — Psalm 31:9-16

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. — Psalm 31:9

Sometimes the suffering of life feels overwhelming, as if we are under attack and can’t find any relief. We may be debilitated by the grief of losing a loved one. Or maybe we are sick from a medical condition or treatment. Whatever the case, there are days when we feel the weight of the world on us. Lord, have mercy.

The psalmist here is feeling besieged by relentless human forces, along with the abandonment of his friends. He uses words like distress, anguish, groaning, affliction, forgotten, and terror. He fears that he will die at the hands of his enemies, and he cries out to God in agony. Lord, have mercy.

Perhaps you can recall a time you felt that way, when the walls and ceiling seemed to be closing in on you. While my personal suffering pales in comparison to that of people with chronic illness, I do remember feeling particularly burdened when—a few weeks after my second surgery for cancer—my husband had a heart attack and also needed surgery. In his recovery room, a compassionate nurse prepared a bed beside him for me to rest in as well.

Looking back on turbulent times, we can see how the Lord was with us and delivered us. God answers the cries of his people and shines his loving face on us, lighting up the darkness.

Be careful to listen to God

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Being Quick to Listen in a World of Talk

 

16 Encouraging Bible Verses about Being Still: Being Still Before God, Being Still & Listening, Being Still & Meditation, Being Still & Waiting on God. – Daily Bible Verse Blog

by Mike Pohlman, Crosswalk.com

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.” –James 1:19-20

We live in a world of talk. Talk, talk, talk. Speak, speak, speak. Ours is the age of talk radio (news talk, sports talk, money talk, self-help talk, car talk, I-just-want-to-talk talk), podcasts and cell phones. Everyone, it seems, wants to be heard.

Speaking of cell phones, the other day I was in line at one of my local Starbucks and the gentleman in front of me was ordering a caramel macchiato while talking to a buddy on his iPhone. The barista was more than gracious as the customer stopped and started his order apparently not able to put his other conversation on hold (I like what one coffee house in Bellingham, Washington has done by posting a sign that says, “We’ll serve you once you hang up the phone”).

But it’s not just at Starbucks. After arriving home recently from a business trip, I left Los Angeles International Airport in one of those shuttle vans. I shared it with seven other passengers that were making the 40-mile trip north. While most of us were quiet, preferring to read or look out the window at the sea of cars that had us moving at a crawl, there were two college-age men who had to talk. They made call after call on their cell phones to chat with friends about all the amazing things that must have happened during their several days away. I got to hear about the party later that night, the car that broke down, the lonely girlfriend and the overbearing parents. Let’s just say they were conversations I didn’t need to be a part of.

We have become a culture full of talking heads regardless of where we find ourselves. Ad the chatter is deafening.

Into this noise come the words of James: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak. This exhortation is almost unintelligible to a culture intent on talking. We have it backwards: we are quick to speak, slow to hear.

But God would be the primary voice heard in the universe. He is the One who has much to say. He speaks, in the Bible, of the riches of His mercy in Christ. He broadcasts His forgiveness and love. He heralds the wonder of redemption. He calls us to repent and beckons us to draw near.

Am I listening?

Do you remember the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42? Luke offers us a helpful contrast in speaking and listening. Martha was frantically trying to make dinner preparations for Jesus and the disciples. I envision her running around the house uttering things under her breath like, “I can’t believe Jesus is here on such short notice—not to mention all his disciples—and I have to pull this dinner together.” And, “Why doesn’t Mary get in here and help me?” Unlike Martha, Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching” (10:39).

Not surprisingly, Martha gets a bit frustrated at Mary’s lack of effort with the event. So Martha does what we probably all would do under similar circumstances—she starts talking: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (10:40). We are not left to wonder which course of action Jesus commends. We see it in his gentle rebuke: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Mary was quick to listen and slow to speak. She knew when to be quiet. In a culture full of chatter I want to learn the discipline of silence so I can hear what the Lord wants to teach me. He’s speaking; am I listening?

Through The Bible Devotions

Joshua 4:23-24 (NIV) 23For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”

When Israel was prepared to cross, the Levites carried the ark into the Jordan River at flood stage. As soon as their feet touched the water it rolled back like the time they crossed the Red Sea. The Levites stood there with the ark while the whole nation crossed. Then a man from each tribe picked a stone out of the riverbed to make a memorial. When the ark was carried to the other side the water returned to flood stage.

It’s humorous to hear people try to give physical reasons as to why that happened. I think they are desperate to say it wasn’t an unexplainable miracle. Does it really matter? It would be just as great a miracle if some physical event caused it at the very moment the feet of those carrying the ark touched the water. It is as if we do not want to acknowledge that God can do anything He wants any time He wants. That thought makes God so much greater than we usually think of Him. It humbles us. Mankind doesn’t like to be humbled.

God did it like He did to show He is powerful and that you might always fear the Lord your God. God is on the throne of heaven and can do whatever He wills. Learn to love it now, because it will be that way forever.

Pleasant and Good

Julia Prins Vanderveen, Reframemedia.om

Scripture Reading — Isaiah 55

“Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.” — Isaiah 55:13

Several passages in Isaiah warn God’s people about the destruction that will come upon them because they have rejected the Lord and been unfaithful. And yet, as we find in our passage for today, God also declares that he will reverse the situation and bring about healing and restoration.

When Isaiah writes that the juniper will grow instead of the thornbush, I think of the thorny, invasive plants that grow near our house and are very hard to get rid of. What a gift it would be to have those rooted out for good! Thornbushes and ­briers make places inhospitable to people and many animals, so to have those harsh plants replaced by junipers and myrtle would be wonderful. This means not only that the situation would be more bearable, but also that the shrubs and trees replacing the unwanted plants would be edible and medicinal. Junipers and myrtles are beautiful as well as functional: junipers have anti­septic properties, and myrtles provide delicious, nutrient-rich berries and have leaves that can be used for medicine.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that our amazing God would replace thorns with shrubs and trees that are both pleasant to the sight and good for food? This demonstrates God’s attentive care for his people.

In what ways do you see God at work in your life, replacing thorns and briers with things that are both pleasant and good?

Prayer

Lord, please root out the thornbushes of discontent, struggle, and strife in our lives. And fill us with healing and nourishment, that we may join with creation in praising you. Amen.

Your Assignment

by Inspiration Ministries

“You shall assign to each man by name the items he must carry.” – Numbers 4:32 NKJV

In the wilderness, each Israelite was given an assignment. No one was left out. Every task was important. The future of the entire community depended upon each person doing the assigned job.

As they traveled, some had specific responsibilities for tearing down or setting up the tent. Some were assigned to carry specific items. All the while together they watched out for danger. Together, following God’s commandments, they found the food and water they needed.

The body of Christ operates in the same way. Each person is unique in God’s sight. Each of us is assigned individual tasks, called to fulfill specific functions, and given unique gifts and talents to accomplish these tasks.

We should be humbled and grateful! This helps us understand God’s plans and purposes. Each of us is special to Him! It also helps us answer the fundamental questions of life: Why do I exist? What is my purpose? How can I find meaning?

The answer to these questions is remarkably simple: to know God and to bring Him glory. Serve Him. Submit your life to Him. Follow His plan. Seek His will and direction. Trust Him to give your life fulfillment.

Learn what tasks You have been assigned. Discover and apply the unique gifts God has given you. Spend your life focused on fulfilling your personal calling. As you are faithful, celebrate the fact that He loves you and knows you by name.

Let Others See Jesus In You

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Can I Have an Example, Please?

Jeff Schreve  Crosswalk.com

“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:12

When I was working in the chemical business, I had a customer named Dave who worked at the power plant of a major university. He was a quiet man with a great reputation among the other plant employees. One of the ladies who worked there told me, “Now, Dave … he is a real Christian.” Dave was not a hypocrite. He walked the talk. He was an example to the rest of the people at the power plant of what a true Christian really is. His speech and conduct glorified Christ. Because his walk was genuine and exemplary, his influence was great.

THE KEY TO GREAT INFLUENCE

Many people desire to live a life of great influence. To be sure, that is a good and godly desire. But how is that desire achieved? The answer is simple: through example. Paul told Timothy to show himself as “an example of those who believe.”

If you name the name of Christ, people will watch you like a hawk to see if your walk matches your talk. If it doesn’t—if you let your tongue loose in evil, if you listen and laugh at the dirty jokes, if you gossip about your boss and coworkers, if you lie, cheat, and backstab to get ahead—you will be quickly dismissed as just another Christian hypocrite. But, if you present yourself as genuine and true (not perfect because no one is), others will take note and will respect you greatly, even if they don’t agree with you. You will have influence on your job, in your neighborhood, in your school, and in your church. A godly example is a powerful witness for Jesus Christ.

Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” How sad, but how true so much of the time. Gandhi was looking for a godly example, but he found none. A poem I like says this:

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.

I’d rather you go with me than merely point the way.

The eye is a more ready pupil than ever was the ear.

Good advice is often confusing, but example is always clear.

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.

LOOKING WITHIN

As you take a long and sober look into your own heart, what do you see? How is your example? If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Do the people you rub shoulders with each day see Jesus in you? Are you letting your light shine? If not, why not?

The Lord has called us to come out from among them and be separate. He has called us to be holy and live godly lives where we deal with sin and walk in the light with Jesus. God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit are available to each one of us. And only by His grace and power, can we rise above our circumstances to be the shining examples He has called us to be.

The world is watching. Your friends and neighbors and workmates and classmates are watching. May we be able to say with Paul, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1

Taking God for Granted

By: Greg Laurie, Crosswalk.com

“And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” (Psalm 106:15 NKJV).

Even on foot, it doesn’t take 40 years to go from Egypt to Israel. So why did the children of Israel wander in the wilderness for four decades?

It took that long because they weren’t learning the lessons that God wanted them to learn. So they effectively went around and around in circles. Even so, they had it made in the shade. The Lord provided them with food every day, which was called manna. The Bible describes it as “angels’ food” (Psalm 78:25).

But it wasn’t very long until they started complaining. They said, “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!” (Numbers 11:5-6 NLT).

They started crying out to Moses that they wanted meat, so God gave them what they asked for. It literally rained quail, and the people caught as many as they wanted.

The problem with the Israelites was they had forgotten how miserable they were back in Egypt. They had forgotten the sting of the Egyptian whip and that they cried out to God for someone to deliver them.

Then the Bible tells us, “While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague” (verse 33 NKJV).

Offering commentary on this event, Psalm 106:15 says, “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” (NKJV).

Let’s not take what God has done for us for granted. Let’s not look over our shoulders wanting to go back to the old life again, because the first step to going back is looking back.

Streams in the Desert – April 19

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exod. 14:13).

These words contain God’s command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut upon the right hand and on the left. What is he now to do?

The Master’s word to him is “stand still.” It will be well for him if, at such times, he listens only to his Master’s word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions. Despair whispers, “Lie down and die; give it all up.” But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness.

Cowardice says, “Retreat; go back to the worldling’s way of action; you cannot play the Christian’s part; it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles.”

But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it, if you are a child of God. His Divine fiat has bid thee go from strength to strength, and so thou shalt, and neither death nor hell shall turn thee from thy course. What if for a while thou art called to stand still; yet this is but to renew thy strength for some greater advance in due time.

Precipitancy cries, “Do something; stir yourself; to stand still and wait is sheer idleness.” We must be doing something at once–we must do it, so we think–instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something, but will do everything.

Presumption boasts, “If the sea be before you, march into it, and expect a miracle.” But faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, “Stand still,” and immovable as a rock it stands.

“Stand still”–keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.’
–Spurgeon

Prepared and Ready

by Inspiration Ministries

“The children of Israel shall pitch their tents, everyone by his own camp, everyone by his own standard, according to their armies.” – Numbers 1:52 NKJV

As he studied the military campaigns of Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte concluded that one factor more than any other contributed to his success: how the camps of his army were organized. This produced amazing advantages.

Caesar had followed a tradition established in Rome years earlier, which provided maximum protection and readiness. In fact, for more than a thousand years, it was said that “there is no case where one of their camps was overrun.” They always seemed ready.

God gave the Israelites specific instructions about how to set up camp. Each tribe had a specific role, and everyone had an important assignment. When they did everything God commanded, they were organized and safe. It was an efficient operation.

We can be sure that each of us will face many kinds of spiritual attacks and challenges. How often might we be vulnerable because we are not ready?

If you want to be prepared for life’s battles, be sure to surrender your life to Jesus, be filled with the Spirit, and operate in His power. Fill your mind and heart with His Word, and declare His promises to be true for you. Be a person of prayer, constantly seeking His wisdom.

Be sure you are armed and ready. Be protected by the whole armor of God, so you can be “Strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).

Blessed Is The Man That Trusts God

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Well-Seasoned in the Word

 

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15, NLT)

As the world grows darker in sin, we must find time to trim our wicks and fill our lamps with oil. We are to be light to the world and salt to the earth. But have we lost our flavor? If we are well-seasoned in the Word and we maintain our prayer life, we will be making an obvious difference.

It takes soaking up the Word of God daily for the words that flow from our lips to be a sweet savor, an encouraging word to the hearer. It is so easy to become dull and bland without those times of refreshing in God’s presence. Nobody likes plain ‘ole, plain ‘ole anything.

Many times, even a good steak needs some seasoning salt, a little garlic, butter, or steak sauce while it is marinating on the grill. The flavor of the meat is greatly enhanced. And so it is with us. When our lives reflect Christ, it will be evident after we have spent time with Him, because we will manifest His glory. The light will shine brightly for all to see.

People need to see Christ in us, the hope of glory, for them to want Him. Who wants what we have if we are not positive, and not full of joy and peace? I hear some Christians who always speak negatively. They are worrying all the time, and they are sad and gloomy. I think they must be lacking in some quality Bible study time, prayer, and church fellowship. We want those who do not know Him to say, “I know there is something different about you” or ask, “Why are you so happy?” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear them say, “I want whatever it is that you have”?

I remember that I said those very words more than 29 years ago. I gave my heart to the Lord while watching The 700 Club. I went to visit a local church. The people there were singing and clapping, and some even danced in the aisle to the songs. I was overwhelmed. I had always attended a very traditional church while growing up, and I felt no enthusiasm or joy in it at all. I recall listening to the message intently; I had blocked out everything and had focused intently on the preacher as he spoke. I sat on the edge of my seat like I was at a long-awaited concert.

At the close of the service, I remember a lady asking me if I wanted to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t even know what she was talking about, but I said, “Whatever you people have, I want it!” I was gloriously filled that very evening and spoke in tongues. My life was changed forever, and I have felt the joy ever since.

We can share the things we have learned by being salt and light with other believers so that they can enjoy their Christian walk and be better witnesses. It is important to remember that we are not offering a “religion” to anyone. We are telling them about a relationship with a loving, living Savior who can transform their lives and not only give them the gift of eternal life, but also the abundant life while here on planet earth. Jesus wants to add some seasoning to a bland spiritual life.

Got your lamps filled with oil? Follow me! Let’s shine our lights and pour out some salt on those who need to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him. (Psalm 34:8, NKJV)

Through The Bible Devotions

Joshua 2:10-11 (NIV) 10We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

Of all the people in this city, this harlot named Rahab was the one who wanted the true God. They all heard the stories of how God had been with Israel, and they were all fearful, but only Rahab had the sense to align herself with that God.

Your testimony is one of your most powerful witnesses that your God is God in heaven above and earth below. Perhaps you do not have amazing stories like the Israelites did, but a godly life is an amazing story. The fruits of the Spirit have their own attractive testimony. Honest people know they are evidence of God at work in the world! If you have an impressive story of deliverance tell it. Don’t underestimate the testimony of a godly life.

There are Rahabs out there in the world watching and discerning. We should watch for them also so that we can tell them the wonder of the God who delivered us and goes before us through life. The Spirit of God goes before us, preparing hearts to be receptive. Rahab became a part of the lineage of Jesus. You never know how your testimony will affect lives. The ramifications are usually much wider than we can imagine.

The Redeemer’s prayer

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24

Suggested Further Reading: Song of Solomon 5:1-8

When we get a glimpse of Christ, many step in to interfere. We have our hours of contemplation, when we draw near to Jesus, but alas! how the world steps in and interrupts even our most quiet moments—the shop, the field, the child, the wife, the head, perhaps the very heart, all these are interlopers between ourselves and Jesus. Christ loves quiet; he will not talk to our souls in the busy market place, but he says, “Come, my love, into the vineyard, get thee away into the villages, there will I show thee my love.” But when we go to the villages, behold the Philistine is there, the Canaanite has invaded the land. When we would be free from all thought except thought of Jesus, the wandering band of Bedouin thoughts come upon us, and they take away our treasures, and spoil our tents. We are like Abraham with his sacrifice; we lay out the pieces ready for the burning, but foul birds come to feast on the sacrifice which we desire to keep for our God and for him alone. We have to do as Abraham did; “When the birds came down upon the sacrifice, Abraham drove them away.” But in heaven there shall be no interruption, no weeping eyes shall make us for a moment pause in our vision; no earthly joys, no sensual delights, shall create a discord in our melody; there shall we have no fields to till, no garment to spin, no wearied limb, no dark distress, no burning thirst, no pangs of hunger, no weepings of bereavement; we shall have nothing to do or think upon, but for ever to gaze upon that Sun of righteousness, with eyes that cannot be blinded, and with a heart that can never be weary.

For meditation: We are never going to be free from outside distractions and wandering thoughts in this life, but we do need to seek to have some time each day when we can shut them out as far as possible and spend time alone with our heavenly Father (Matthew 6:6).

Gossip and Judgment

by Inspiration Ministries

“Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him.” – Leviticus 24:14 NIV

Too often, people feel free to criticize others, to spread rumors and gossip without any sense of responsibility. Sadly, this activity takes place even among Christians! But the Bible warns us against actions like these. It teaches the importance of accountability.

In the Law, for example, no one was to be convicted based on anonymous rumors. In the case of blasphemy, nothing would happen until a person’s accusers came forward. In public! All who witnessed the sin were to “lay their hands on his head.” They had to name the charge and then personally participate in the punishment. This procedure made them think carefully before making an accusation.

Jesus taught a similar principle when He said that if we see someone sin, we should show them their faults in private. We are not to gossip. When He saw men confronting a woman caught in adultery, Jesus taught, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).

Imagine how the world would be different if God’s people obeyed His Word! If no one spread rumors or gossiped, if we were more careful about our words, and if we knew we had to make accusations in public and be careful before we threw stones, the world would be a much nicer place.

Today, think about these standards before you criticize or gossip. Remember, God is watching and listening.

You Are The Salt Of The Earth

 

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By Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk.com

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men (Matthew 5:13).

I think sometimes we get so used to our familiar metaphors, we fail to let their significance really sink in. What Christian hasn’t proclaimed brightly: “We’re salt and light!”? And yet, do we really think about the significance of that imagery? In a faith tradition where we have so many great metaphors and allegories, let’s remember to ponder this one that Jesus coined.

What does it mean to be “the salt of the earth”?

Salt Enhances

As we know too well in our sodium-filled modern world, salt makes things taste better. But condiment connoisseurs will make sure to explain that salt, when used properly, brings out the flavor already present in the food itself. Unlike pepper, which was used in ancient times to mask distasteful rotting and souring in foods such as meat, salt only enhances what’s there.

As Christians, we aren’t here to blot out the colors and flavors around us. We’re not here to ignore or destroy what we see and replace it with something else. Rather, we are to be (tasty) ambassadors of Christ on a mission to draw out and display goodness. God made a good world, and, though fallen, it’s still good! We still have the breath of life from God inside us. So let’s remember to point to the truth and be the people who enhance and brighten wherever we go, not overpower our surroundings like too much pepper.

Salt Preserves

Before the age of refrigeration, how did people preserve perishable food? That’s right: salt. Something about packing meat with salt slows down the process of decay, making it easier to store, transport, and save meat without it going rancid right away.

Likewise, let us as the salt of the earth remember to preserve what is good. In matters of justice and stewardship, Christians should be front and center to fight for what is right, what is safe, and what brings life to the world around us. Our homes, families, and communities should be solid and fresh, not rotting and fetid.

If we fail to protect and preserve, what good are we? If we fail to enhance the flavor of what’s around us, there’s nothing left for us “except to be thrown out” (so to speak).

Streams in the Desert – April 17

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

The hand of the Lord hath wrought this (Job 12:9).

Several years ago there was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the world’s history. It was presented to the King of England to blaze in his crown of state. The King sent it to Amsterdam to be cut. It was put into the hands of an expert lapidary. And what do you suppose he did with it?

He took the gem of priceless value, and cut a notch in it. Then he struck it a hard blow with his instrument, and lo! the superb jewel lay in his hand cleft in twain. What recklessness I what wastefulness! what criminal carelessness!

Not so. For days and weeks that blow had been studied and planned. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, its defects, its lines of cleavage had all been studied with minutest care. The man to whom it was committed was one of the most skillful lapidaries in the world.

Do you say that blow was a mistake? Nay. It was the climax of the lapidary’s skill. When he struck that blow, he did the one thing which would bring that gem to its most perfect shapeliness, radiance, and jewelled splendor. That blow which seemed to ruin the superb precious stone was, in fact, its perfect redemption. For, from those two halves were wrought the two magnificent gems which the skilled eye of the lapidary saw hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.

So, sometimes, God lets a stinging blow fall upon your life. The blood spurts. The nerves wince. The soul cries out in agony. The blow seems to you an apalling mistake. But it is not, for you are the most priceless jewel in the world to God. And He is the most skilled lapidary in the universe.

Some day you are to blaze in the diadem of the King. As you lie in His hand now He knows just how to deal with you. Not a blow will be permitted to fall upon your shrinking soul but that the love of God permits it, and works out from its depths, blessing and spiritual enrichment unseen, and unthought of by you.
–J.H. McC.

In one of George MacDonald’s books occurs this fragment of conversation: “I wonder why God made me,” said Mrs. Faber bitterly. “I’m sure I don’t know what was the use of making me!”

“Perhaps not much yet,” said Dorothy, “but then He hasn’t done with you yet. He is making you now, and you are quarrelling with the process.”

If men would but believe that they are in process of creation, and consent to be made–let the Maker handle them as the potter the clay, yielding themselves in resplendent motion and submissive, hopeful action with the turning of His wheel–they would ere long find themselves able to welcome every pressure of that hand on them, even when it was felt in pain; and sometimes not only to believe but to recognize the Divine end in view, the bringing of a son unto glory.

Little sins

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Is it not a little one?” Genesis 19:20

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 2:1-11

There is a deep pit, and the soul is falling down,—oh how fast it is falling! There! The last ray of light at the top has disappeared, and it falls on and on and on, and so it goes on falling—on and on and on—for a thousand years! “Is it not getting near the bottom yet? No, you are no nearer the bottom yet: it is the “bottomless pit;” it is on and on and on, and so the soul goes on falling, perpetually, into a deeper depth still, falling for ever into the “bottomless pit” and on and on and on, into the pit that has no bottom! Woe without termination, without hope of coming to a conclusion. The same dreadful idea is contained in those words, “The wrath to come.” Notice, hell is always “the wrath to come.” If a man has been in hell a thousand years, it is still “to come.” What you have suffered in the past is as nothing, in the dread account, for still the wrath is “to come.” And when the world has grown grey with age, and the fires of the sun are quenched in darkness, it is still “the wrath to come.” And when other worlds have sprung up, and have turned into their palsied age, it is still “the wrath to come.” And when your soul, burnt through and through with anguish, sighs at last to be annihilated, even then this awful thunder shall be heard, “the wrath to come—to come—to come.” Oh, what an idea! I know not how to utter it! And yet for little sins, remember you incur “the wrath to come.”

For meditation: This shocking description can give only a faint idea of the just punishment of our sins. Are you trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ to deliver you from the wrath to come? He is able to do it because he suffered the wrath of his loving heavenly Father on the cross (Romans 5:9;

Merciful God Strengthens Us

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Life Happens

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There isn’t a human on earth who hasn’t at one time or another been discontented, distressed, or in debt. Even at an early age, children and teenagers experience moments of being dissatisfied or fed up with school or rules. And people of all ages have unfortunately suffered heartache and anxiousness. This is the world we live in— this is the world that has always existed. So what’s a person to do? Do we just accept it and mope through life waiting for the sweet by and by?

NO, of course not. First of all, this is why Jesus is called our Savior. He came to save all who were/are perishing in this world. Faith in Jesus Christ changes everything. And as a Christian, you know this. But life can still be difficult, even as a born-again believer. So then what?

I suggest we learn from those who have gone before us. Specifically, let’s learn from David today. Here was a man who was forced to run for his life— after being hand-picked by God to be king. I have never had to run for my life, but I can relate to David in more ways than one. Like him, I have found great encouragement from God to press forward despite the obstacles. I have been surrounded by people in no better shape than myself, but discovered the joy of contagious faith. And time and time again, I have been delivered from the enemy’s plan.

David found himself running from the former king who wanted him dead, only to be surrounded by “everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented” (1 Samuel 22:2). When you pray and call out to God, the last thing you are hoping for is a bunch of people in worse condition than yourself. But the Bible says David “become captain over them.” He didn’t despise the broken people God sent him. He realized there’s something he had that they needed. And because David’s faith was contagious, these men became mighty warriors.

End of story? No, this isn’t a made-for-tv movie. This is real life. And just like our lives, David found himself alone again. An enemy attacked their homes and took all the women and children. And instead of being angry at their true enemy, David’s men turned on him. They wanted to stone him, which sounds ridiculous, but that’s what happens when the enemy finds a way to discourage people.

But David knew something we all need to remember:

“David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6b).

This is our only option. This needs to be our daily option— our daily routine.

Life happens. We live in a world that is confused and lost, but we should never be! Despite the challenges that want to surround and overwhelm us and the despair of others in the same boat, YOU and I have a choice. We do not have to cave to the pressure. Even if left completely alone (everyone forsaking you), you can turn to God and encourage yourself in His faithfulness. This is what David did time and time again. We are privileged to have access to his journal (the Book of Psalms). David repeatedly found comfort in the Lord his God!

And notice, he encouraged himself. He didn’t wait for a pastor, a podcast, a service, a friend, or a quiet day on the couch binging on Netflix. No, David encouraged himself in the “I AM”— the One who said He would never leave us or forsake us.

David turned his thoughts, his words, and his heart toward God. He didn’t meditate on the problem. He meditated on the answer. He exercised his faith in the One who saved him (time and time before). This is our example. We have a Savior and He is faithful. Decide today (and every day) that no matter what may come, or who may come against you, YOU can encourage yourself in the Lord.

Through The Bible Devotions

Joshua 1:7-8 (NIV) 7Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

The Law was to guide the new nation in the ways of God. Joshua, as their commander, was told to be careful to obey it all. If leaders do not follow God, they lead the people astray. But if they follow hard after God through obedience to His Word, many will be challenged to do the same. Joshua was encouraged to meditate on the words of the Law. He was supposed to talk about it all the time. Most of all, he was told to be careful to live it. We can talk about it and study it, but if that does not translate into living it then our words are misunderstood by the message our actions preach.

If Joshua would do these things, he was twice promised that he would be successful, and even prosperous. I don’t think the principle has changed. If we will do the same thing, we will have the same results.

Meditation upon the Word is a holy habit that is not much employed today. Most mature Christians will spend time reading the Word, speaking the Word, and applying it to their lives, but few meditate upon the passages they read. This often involves memorization. Take time to let the Word speak to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to make it come alive and apply it to your daily situations. The quantity of Scripture read is not as important as seeing the application to our lives. Look for God’s eternal truth in each passage you read.

Meditate on the Scripture for today. What is God saying to you?

Christ—our substitute

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 53:10-12

In no sense is he ever a guilty man, but always is he an accepted and a holy one. What, then, is the meaning of that very forcible expression of my text? We must interpret Scriptural modes of expression by the words of the speakers. We know that our Master once said himself, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood;” he did not mean that the cup was the covenant. He said, “Take, eat, this is my body”—none of us conceives that the bread is the literal flesh and blood of Christ. We take that bread as if it were the body, and it actually represents it. Now, we are to read a passage like this, according to the analogy of faith. Jesus Christ was made by his Father sin for us, that is, he was treated as if he had himself been sin. He was not sin; he was not sinful; he was not guilty; but, he was treated by his Father, as if he had not only been sinful, but as if he had been sin itself. That is a strong expression used here. Not only has he made him to be the substitute for sin, but to be sin. God looked on Christ as if Christ had been sin; not as if he had taken up the sins of his people, or as if they were laid on him, though that were true, but as if he himself had positively been that noxious—that God-hating—that soul-damning thing, called sin. When the judge of all the earth said, “Where is sin?” Christ presented himself. He stood before his Father as if he had been the accumulation of all human guilt; as if he himself were that thing which God cannot endure, but which he must drive from his presence for ever.

For meditation: God regarded Christ crucified just as if he were sin, not Son. The substitutionary atonement is the key which enables the Christian to make use of the description “Just as if I’d never sinned.”

Compassion

by Inspiration Ministries

“You shall not reap to the very corners of your field … Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger.” – Leviticus 19:9 NASB

God made it clear: He desired to bless His people. But they were not to hoard these blessings. He wanted them to care for others, to have hearts overflowing with love. They were to love their neighbor as themselves. As Jesus said, this was second in importance only to loving the Lord with all their being (Matthew 22:36-38).

They had an opportunity to demonstrate this compassion during harvest time. If they were motivated by selfishness, they would keep all the crops for themselves. But God commanded them to show concern for others even while harvesting. They intentionally were not to reap a part of their fields. God wanted them to leave some behind for those less fortunate, the needy, and strangers.

These principles still are true. As you look around, ask God to give you His perspective. Souls are lost and dying in sin. Others suffer from physical, financial, or spiritual needs. You might have the resources they need. Think about all that God has given you and remember that He blesses you, so you might be a blessing to others.

Ask God to give you a heart of compassion, to open your eyes to ways you can help. Seek to be filled with His Spirit that you might overflow with love. As He leads, be ready to share from your resources, help the poor and needy, spread the Gospel, and change lives.

 

Go Your Way With God

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Go Your Own Way?

59 Bible verses about Guidance, Receiving God's

“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, y will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5 (NASB)

You ever open your computer screen, scroll through the awful headlines and think to yourself, I’m glad I’m not like them.

I have. My guess is that you have, too.

The Bible reading in Luke today is both awful and interesting. In the first part of Luke 13, Jesus speaks of an incident that apparently took place in the temple. Roman soldiers cut down some Galileans and their blood was mixed with some of the blood sacrifices.

This appalled the Israelites. The Lord’s answer—as usual—is both unexpected and profound. Basically, He states that unless the people repent, they will all suffer the same fate.

Not what the people wanted to hear.

No one likes to hear about repentance.

Why?

Repentance means turning around, going in a different direction, admitting guilt. And face it, most of us like going a direction of our choosing. And according to our culture, you should never feel guilt—it’s always someone else’s fault.

Not according to God’s Word. Not according to Jesus.

In fact, let’s go back in the gospels to the first mini-message of our Lord:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 NASB

What does He mean?

Jesus is saying, in essence, I’m here. Turn to me. Don’t follow your own way. Give me your life. You need a Savior for your sin.

How about we skip over to John 8? A woman is caught in adultery. The Pharisees try to trap Jesus into going against the Law—read the account yourself. My point is, at the end, when it is just this condemned woman and Jesus, He tells her, “From now on, sin no more.”

In other words, turn from your sin and turn to Jesus.

In this culture, we don’t often use the word sin. We say we “made a mistake,” or “were at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Or even, “I was hanging with the wrong crowd.”

All of these may be true.

Or not.

Philippians 2:9-11 states:

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (NASB)

Judgment will one day come to this old earth. Those who have trusted Christ and repented of their sins will be saved. Those who have not will be condemned.

If you are a follower of Christ, be glad. Turn from any known sin.

If you are not, trust Him today. Repent of going your own way.

The Apostle Peter said this in Acts 4:12,

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (NASB).  (Turn, Today)

Human Logic vs. Spiritual Wisdom: How God Changes Hearts – Crosswalk the Devotional

by Kelly-Jayne McGlynn

Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Ah, my own understanding… How I love thee. So limited, and yet seemingly so inviting to lean on as I attempt to take charge of my own repentance.

When I was in college, I double-majored in English and Philosophy. Every paper I wrote–and there were a lot of them–would end in a clear conclusion neatly supported by every line of the rest of my argument. I could always back up my opinion in class. I even used to do Logic homework problems for fun. The truth is, I love my brain.

What God has been teaching me recently, though, is that when it comes to matters of my heart, I cannot rely on my own brain… even if my brain is telling me the truth.

Even when our ‘own understanding’ is based on Scripture, and the step-by-step process of repentance is clear in our minds—it is still the hand of God that we must rely on transform our hearts. In all our ways we must submit to him, because he will be the one to make our paths straight!

Last week, I was on the phone with one of my Moms-in-the-Faith. You know, the type of woman in your life who knows how to ask you just the right question. I was expressing frustration to her about a situation with my friend, who is a new follower of Christ. As her sister, I had been trying to get her to fully understand an aspect of her life in which in order to please God, she would have to give something up. I was frustrated because to me, it seemed so simple.

The scriptures about it were right there. As I would have done in Philosophy class, I had stated Premise 1, then Premise 2, which led to the Conclusion. Boom. Why wasn’t she getting it?

But my Spiritual Mom reminded me, “Kelly-Jayne…sometimes it isn’t that easy. If [last year] someone had tried to get you to fully believe in God’s love and protection for you that same way, would that have been helpful? Would that have really convinced you?” She, of course, was right.

You see, two years ago, my apartment was broken into in the middle of the night. It was very difficult for me to trust in God’s protection following that. Nearly impossible, really. At that time, when I would read scriptures about God’s protection, they just felt hollow and untrue. If anyone shared one with me, I typically just became angry instead of encouraged. It took months and months of prayer, experience, and God changing my heart for me to actually believe in that truth.

Even if someone had blatantly stated “Read Psalm 91:9-10. Premise 1: The Lord is your refuge. Premise 2: The Bible says that if the Lord is our refuge, no harm will overtake us. Conclusion: God protected you that night from harm–whether or not you think so,” that would not have been helpful to my heart. At all. Instead, what really changed my heart was sitting at God’s feet, hearing his voice through the scriptures.

Jesus reminds us of this in John 5:39: “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (NLT). Jacob physically wrestled with God. David struggled in prayer. He begged God to create in him a pure heart, instead of trying to logically think his way there. These men submitted their ways to God—which was really an invitation to see him face-to-face. And God blessed them for it.

Sometimes we want a quick fix with Devotionals. We want to Google a scripture, write it on a post-it, and magically have our hearts renewed. We want a change of heart, and in our fast-paced society, we want it now.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that there is power in the word of God. But if we rely on our own brains to make ourselves accept the truth found in Scriptures, we miss out on the chance to truly meet with God!

God invites us to rest on his power, not our own. Even when our understanding is based on truth, God calls us to lean on his understanding, to walk with him, to sit as his feet. Today, as you read his powerful word, seek God through his scriptures and not just solutions. Hear his voice speaking to your heart

Hope for a Tree

Scripture Reading — Job 14:1-1219:25-27

“At least there is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.” — Job 14:7

I grew up on a farm in Central Alberta, where poplars, aspens, and birch trees grow along the edges of fields. While there are some big trees, it takes a long time for them to grow, and non-native trees have to be cared for meticulously in order to thrive.

A year ago last winter, temperatures quickly dropped below -35C (-31F) and damaged some of the trees. However, rather than simply cutting down what looked like dead trees in the spring, my parents were hopeful that the trees might recover. And by the middle of summer, many of the damaged trees had new saplings growing around the base of the trunk.

When Job was at his lowest point—after losing his family, his home, and his livelihood— and he wasn’t receiving support from his friends, he looked to trees as a sign of resilience. He lamented that “a man dies and is laid low,” but he noted, “At least there is hope for a tree.” At that point, Job couldn’t see past his sorrow. But awhile later he summoned up a clear statement of faith: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”

Job then echoed the idea of a stump dying in the soil and yet putting out shoots at the scent of water as he said, “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. . . . How my heart yearns within me!”

Prayer

God our Father, summon deep hope in us that one day, even after our flesh has failed, that because of Jesus’ resurrection, we too, in our flesh, will see you. In your name we pray. Amen.

What Others See

by Inspiration Ministries

“Do not lie to one another, since you … have put on the new self which is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created it.” – Colossians 3:9-10 NASB

Leila Morris spent much of her life in active church work. Born in Ohio on this day in 1862, she also wrote more than a thousand hymns and spiritual songs, even composing when her eyesight began to fail.

In 1917, burdened by the need for a stronger Christian witness, she wrote a hymn, called “Can the World See Jesus in You?” Here, she asked a series of questions. First, she asked herself, “Can the world see Jesus in me?” Then, she turned to other Christians: “Can the world see Jesus in you?” She is asking others to examine how pure their witness is and how persuasive their lives are.

She recognized that we can’t change without spending time alone with Jesus. She asked, “Do we live so close to the Lord today” that the world can see a likeness of Him?

She knew how easily we can be busy and fail to show the love of Christ. She asked whether we really love those who are “lost in the mire of sin.” Are we willing to reach out to touch lives whatever the cost?

We need to realize that our lives are like an open book. As others watch us and listen to our words will they be attracted to or turn away from the Gospel? When others look at your life, do they see Jesus? Surrender everything to Him. Make your life count for His Kingdom.