Tag Archives: travel

God’s Love Is Deep

A Prayer for the Ephesians

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

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God of the Depths

From: Our Daily Bread

God of the Depths
Read: Job 41:12–34 | Bible in a Year: Job 41–42; Acts 16:22–40

There is the sea, vast and spacious, . . . and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. Psalm 104:25–26

“When you go to the deep sea, every time you take a sample, you’ll find a new species,” says marine biologist Ward Appeltans. In one recent year, scientists identified 1,451 new types of undersea life. We simply don’t know the half of what’s down there.

In Job 38–40, God reviewed His creation for Job’s benefit. In three poetic chapters, God highlighted the wonders of weather, the vastness of the cosmos, and the variety of creatures in their habitats. These are things we can observe. Then God spoke of the mysterious Leviathan—for an entire chapter. Leviathan is a creature like no other, with harpoon-deflecting armor (Job 41:7, 13), graceful power (v. 12), and “fearsome teeth” (v. 14). “Flames stream from its mouth . . . smoke pours from its nostrils” (vv. 19–20). “Nothing on earth is its equal” (v. 33).

Okay, so God talks about a huge creature we haven’t seen. Is that the point of Job 41?

No! Job 41 broadens our understanding of God’s surprising character. The psalmist expanded on this when he wrote, “There is the sea, vast and spacious, . . . and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there” (Psalm 104:25–26). After the terrifying description in Job, we learn that God created a playpen for this most fearsome of all creatures. Leviathan frolics.

We have the present to explore the ocean. We’ll have eternity to explore the wonders of our magnificent, mysterious, playful God.

Our exploration of creation teaches us about the Creator.

 

A Longer Process

From: Our Daily Journey

A Longer Process

Read:

1 Peter 2:9-12
Live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will . . . give honor to God (1 Peter 2:12).

By nearly all accounts, the founder of a prominent multinational technology company was a difficult man to work for. Early on, his abrasive tone and management style caused many employees to leave the company. But those who endured his initial rudeness often came to win their boss’ respect, and eventually developed a productive relationship with him. But that positive relationship was the fruit of a longer process; it certainly wasn’t instantaneous.

In today’s passage, when Peter describes how we should interact with non-believers, he implies a level of disagreement or hostility mentioning that they will “accuse you of doing wrong” (1 Peter 2:12). Often this idea becomes the foundation for how we relate to non-believers: We think we’re so different in perspective and behavior that it’s pointless to share any sort of relationship with them.

But in truth, that hostility isn’t the end of the story, but only a midpoint of a larger process. Although it’s true that we can often have profound disagreements with non-believers, our behavior, when it’s truly Christ-like, can result in their receiving “God’s mercy” (1 Peter 2:10). They may be so affected by how we live that they can’t help but “give honor to God” (1 Peter 2:12). Such a transformation isn’t possible if we turn away from them at the first sign of conflict.

It’s far too easy (and natural) to avoid or abandon a difficult relationship, especially one in which there’s a major disagreement. But we shouldn’t be too quick to turn our backs on those who don’t yet know Christ, no matter how profound our disagreements. If we do, we miss out on the chance to show them “the goodness of God,” and how He can live in them as well (1 Peter 2:9).

 

The Spiritually Lazy Saint

By Oswald Chambers

The Spiritually Lazy Saint

We are all capable of being spiritually lazy saints. We want to stay off the rough roads of life, and our primary objective is to secure a peaceful retreat from the world. The ideas put forth in these verses from Hebrews 10 are those of stirring up one another and of keeping ourselves together. Both of these require initiative— our willingness to take the first step toward Christ-realization, not the initiative toward self-realization. To live a distant, withdrawn, and secluded life is diametrically opposed to spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it.

The true test of our spirituality occurs when we come up against injustice, degradation, ingratitude, and turmoil, all of which have the tendency to make us spiritually lazy. While being tested, we want to use prayer and Bible reading for the purpose of finding a quiet retreat. We use God only for the sake of getting peace and joy. We seek only our enjoyment of Jesus Christ, not a true realization of Him. This is the first step in the wrong direction. All these things we are seeking are simply effects, and yet we try to make them causes.

“Yes, I think it is right,” Peter said, “…to stir you up by reminding you…” (2 Peter 1:13). It is a most disturbing thing to be hit squarely in the stomach by someone being used of God to stir us up— someone who is full of spiritual activity. Simple active work and spiritual activity are not the same thing. Active work can actually be the counterfeit of spiritual activity. The real danger in spiritual laziness is that we do not want to be stirred up— all we want to hear about is a spiritual retirement from the world. Yet Jesus Christ never encourages the idea of retirement— He says, “Go and tell My brethren…” (Matthew 28:10).

A Sure Foundation

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Foundations Of Nations

Joshua 6:26

Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.”

 

Foundations Of Buildings

Matthew 7:24-27

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

 

Spiritual Foundations

1 Corinthians 3:11

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

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A Sure Foundation

From: Our Daily Journey

A Sure Foundation

Read:

Isaiah 33:1-13
In that day he will be your sure foundation (Isaiah 33:6).

Mary’s life today as an office manager and single mother is vastly different from her previous years spent with an abusive husband. Her married life involved intense cycles of injury and apology. When authorities finally ended the violence by jailing her spouse, Mary moved to a new location. There, friends and family helped her begin to rebuild her life after her painful ordeal. During the healing process, Mary was able to co-found Healing Hearts Ministry as a way to help others rebuild their lives after the trauma and devastating effects of domestic abuse.

The people of ancient Israel had to deal with the fear, trauma, and effects of enemy invasions. During those frightening times, God wanted them to know they could trust Him as their ultimate source of help. God said He would be their “strong arm each day and [their] salvation in times of trouble” (Isaiah 33:2), the One they could depend on as their “sure foundation” (Isaiah 33:6).

The Israelites needed this image of God as a solid place to stand when they faced the threat of large-scale violence, death, and loss. An Assyrian victory would result in the collapse of their communities and way of life (Isaiah 33:7-9). They would be marched away to a distant land and have to permanently identify themselves as citizens of a new nation. Everything would be in flux.

Times of transition show us our undeniable need for God. Whether we’re escaping an abusive relationship, breaking free from destructive habits, or trying to turn a long-held dream into reality, we need something steady to hold on to. God is our unchanging rock (Malachi 3:6). Through it all He’s pleased to steady us with knowledge, wisdom, and the assurance of our salvation through Jesus.

 

One of God’s Great “Don’ts”

By Oswald Chambers

One of God’s Great

Fretting means getting ourselves “out of joint” mentally or spiritually. It is one thing to say, “Do not fret,” but something very different to have such a nature that you find yourself unable to fret. It’s easy to say, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7) until our own little world is turned upside down and we are forced to live in confusion and agony like so many other people. Is it possible to “rest in the Lord” then? If this “Do not” doesn’t work there, then it will not work anywhere. This “Do not” must work during our days of difficulty and uncertainty, as well as our peaceful days, or it will never work. And if it will not work in your particular case, it will not work for anyone else. Resting in the Lord is not dependent on your external circumstances at all, but on your relationship with God Himself.

Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God.

Have you been propping up that foolish soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God to handle? Set all your opinions and speculations aside and “abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about whatever concerns you. All our fretting and worrying is caused by planning without God.

 

Stephanie Raquel July 4, 2018
Lord, Help Me Honor Your Miracles
STEPHANIE RAQUEL

“Then Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘In the future your children will ask, “What do these stones mean?”’” Joshua 4:21 (NLT)

Every 4th of July, the United States launches into full celebration mode. 

We mark this federal holiday with parades and fireworks, honoring July 4 as the birthday of the USA, because that’s when the Continental Congress approved the final wording for the Declaration of Independence in 1776. 

Not only is it our national birthday, July 4 is also my spiritual birthday. It marks the season of my life when I renewed my faith in Jesus, culminating in a week-long event that began on July 4. It’s a date I’m good at silently thanking God for and remembering, but I wish I were better about actually celebrating it.

It’s easy to celebrate Christmas and Easter. I also love honoring birthdays and other significant dates. But commemorating such a personal faith day? God gave me eternal life … and adopted me as a part of His family. Knowing what God has done through His Son Jesus, I’d like to get better at acknowledging such miracles.

I take comfort knowing I’m not the only one needing a reminder. God gave the Israelites directions to recognize God’s faithfulness as they navigated their way into the Promised Land.

In the book of Exodus, God used Moses to lead the nation of Israel out of slavery. Then Moses assigned 12 representatives from each tribe to go scout the Promised Land for 40 days. All but two scouts (Joshua and Caleb) thought the land was inhabited with fierce giants. The whole nation erupted in fear and anger, plotting ways to find a new leader to take them back to Egypt. (Numbers chapters 13 and 14)

God was displeased with their faithlessness. The result? Ten of those 12 scouts died from a plague, and God told Moses that due to their distrust, the entire nation would wander in the wilderness one year for each day the scouts were assigned to survey the land, until that generation had passed. 

This meant that an 11-day journey would take 40 years. Fast-forward four decades.

The Israelites finally approached the Promised Land. This was a huge deal, one God didn’t want His chosen to forget. He led them right to the edge of the Jordan River, then parted the flowing waters. Suddenly, millions of men, women and children (plus the Ark of the Covenant) walked across dry land. And the minute they’d crossed over, the rushing river returned.

To ensure they would always remember His faithfulness, God ordered them to take 12 large stones from the middle of the dry riverbed, right where the priests stood with the Ark of the Covenant, and create a memorial from them. 

He next gave this directive in Joshua 4:21-24 …

“Then Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘In the future your children will ask, “What do these stones mean?” Then you can tell them, “This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” For the LORD your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the LORD’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the LORD your God forever.’” 

God wanted the Israelites to remember the miracle of what He had done. So He had them collect dry stones from the middle of the riverbed, tangible proof of God’s miracle. Then they were instructed to tell others. The reason? The world will know how tenderly God loves us when we begin sharing our stories.

Deep in my heart, I try to remember my “dry stones” — the many miracles I’ve personally witnessed, including my spiritual birthday. But some days, I still need God’s help to recognize all He’s done.

On good days and bad, but especially on challenging days when I think it sure would be “easier” to slip into old patterns and head back into “slavery” … Lord, help me see and honor the incredible things You’ve done. Help me remember and celebrate how You’ve led me to true freedom, using big miracles and small. 

What tales of God’s greatness do you have to tell? How has He rescued you? Maybe like me, you could use a gentle nudge to meaningfully share what God’s done in your life. The world desperately needs more reasons to celebrate — especially when we honor God’s powerful hand at work!

God Sees You

Job 13:27

“You put my feet in the stocks And watch all my paths; You set a limit for the soles of my feet,

Job 16:9

“His anger has torn me and hunted me down, He has gnashed at me with His teeth; My adversary glares at me.

Psalm 139:16

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

2 Corinthians 12:19

All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved

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I See You

From: Our Daily Bread

I See You
Read: Psalm 121 | Bible in a Year: Job 25–27; Acts 12

The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:8

When Xavier was two, he darted into one aisle after another in a small shoe store. Hiding behind stacks of shoeboxes, he giggled when my husband, Alan, said, “I see you.”

Moments later, I saw Alan dash frantically from aisle to aisle, calling Xavier’s name. We raced to the front of the store. Our child, still laughing, ran toward the open door leading to the busy street outside.

Within seconds, Alan scooped him up. We embraced as I thanked God, sobbed, and kissed our toddler’s chubby cheeks.

A year before I became pregnant with Xavier, I’d lost our first child during the pregnancy. When God blessed us with our son, I became a fearful parent. Our shoe store experience proved I wouldn’t always be able to see or protect our child. But I discovered peace as I learned to turn to my only sure source of help—God—when I struggled with worry and fear.

Our heavenly Father never takes His eyes off His children (Psalm 121:1–4). While we can’t prevent trials, heartache, or loss, we can live with confident faith, relying on an ever-present Helper and Protector who watches over our lives (vv. 5–8).

We may encounter days when we feel lost and helpless. We may also feel powerless when we can’t shield loved ones. But we can trust that our all-knowing God never loses sight of us—His precious and beloved children.

Thank You for watching over our loved ones and us, Lord.

God always keeps His eye on His children.

 

The Concentration of Personal Sin

By Oswald Chambers

The Concentration of Personal Sin

When I come into the very presence of God, I do not realize that I am a sinner in an indefinite sense, but I suddenly realize and the focus of my attention is directed toward the concentration of sin in a particular area of my life. A person will easily say, “Oh yes, I know I am a sinner,” but when he comes into the presence of God he cannot get away with such a broad and indefinite statement. Our conviction is focused on our specific sin, and we realize, as Isaiah did, what we really are. This is always the sign that a person is in the presence of God. There is never any vague sense of sin, but a focusing on the concentration of sin in some specific, personal area of life. God begins by convicting us of the very thing to which His Spirit has directed our mind’s attention. If we will surrender, submitting to His conviction of that particular sin, He will lead us down to where He can reveal the vast underlying nature of sin. That is the way God always deals with us when we are consciously aware of His presence.

This experience of our attention being directed to our concentration of personal sin is true in everyone’s life, from the greatest of saints to the worst of sinners. When a person first begins climbing the ladder of experience, he might say, “I don’t know where I’ve gone wrong,” but the Spirit of God will point out some definite and specific thing to him. The effect of Isaiah’s vision of the holiness of the Lord was the directing of his attention to the fact that he was “a man of unclean lips.” “He touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged’ ” (Isaiah 6:7). The cleansing fire had to be applied where the sin had been concentrated.

God’s Independence Day

By: Beth Patch, Author

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Independence Day — burgers and hot dogs sizzle on grills and fireworks burst in the sky. We eat, maybe hear The Star Spangled Banner, watch fireworks, and go home. July fourth has become commonplace, another day for big sales events and flying an American flag; far removed from the early celebrations marking the end of the Revolutionary War and founding a new country.

However, an Independence Day celebration approaches that will impress the whole world and never be diminished! We don’t know its date and shouldn’t believe anyone who tells us they do. But, no one on earth or in heaven will miss its importance; and it will mark a day of freedom from the greatest oppressor ever – Satan.

It is the day of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ’s return. It is the beginning of real freedom, like no one has ever had before (except Adam and Eve before they sinned). Those who have believed in Christ’s atoning blood for their sins and have trusted and believed in Him, might have what an old preacher of mine used to call “a Hallelujah breakdown!”

This Independence Day will release Christians from the many sins keeping them entangled. Imagine, no more sickness, no more addictions, no more gossip, no more unkindness, no more anything that does not reflect the positive attributes of the love of our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Currently, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, to strengthen us, to comfort us, and to give us power through Christ’s death and resurrection. However, we are still tripped up by sin as long as we live in this fallen world. When Jesus comes, all our ungodliness along with our negative baggage goes away. I can’t think of a better freedom than that.

Actually, the whole scene of Jesus’s return sounds so incredible, I doubt there are words to describe the immense emotional, spiritual, and physical response people will have.

The Bible tells us Jesus will return to earth just like He left, through the clouds (Acts 1:11b), with his angels (Matt 16:27), with the trumpet call of God and a loud command (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Scripture says believers in Christ will be changed in a twinkling of an eye and Jesus will destroy all dominion, authority, and power standing in opposition to Almighty God (1 Corinthians 15:521 Corinthians 15:24).

Our earthly minds are limited in their comprehension of this miraculous time. It’s a God thing, and try as we may, we can’t peg down the details on how God will accomplish the return of Jesus Christ and the destruction of evil.

Picture the sky filled with God’s mighty angels, the sound of God’s trumpet, which has to be the most beautiful and loudest sounding instrument, and our Lord Jesus shining radiantly as He leads His mighty angelic troop in the sky.

Envision watching victory as Christ and his angels capture Satan and his demons, and justice is completed. It will be more graphic and stirring than any riveting movie Hollywood could ever think of producing.

Many theologians have studied the return of Christ and have disagreed about the order of when things happen and exactly how they happen. These varied opinions on the return of Christ and the disappearance of believers from the earth have created divisions among believers who desperately want to cling to one decided order of the end times.

My response to such division is that it won’t matter how we interpret end times scriptures when God’s day of Independence comes. Everything will be revealed in God’s perfect timing. The Independence Day of our God will come when we least expect it and we are instructed to be ready as if it were the next moment. So, in case it happens to be today, Happy Independence Day!

Be God’s Light In The Workplace

James 5: 1-16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
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More than Co-workers

More than Co-workers

Read:

Romans 16:1-16
Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus (Romans 16:3).

Abbie had been working in the same company for two years when she began to realize that her colleagues were more than just people who happened to work in the same place. They were an important part of her life. So she began to learn more about them, and they would sometimes even share a meal together. Even though some co-workers were difficult to relate to, Abbie and her colleagues began to create an environment where everyone could grow and develop together.

The apostle Paul had an amazing team of more than twenty co-workers whom he listed by name in his letter to believers in Rome (Romans 16:1-16). One of the reasons he listed each might have been to establish credibility with the church there—letting them know he knew many of their leaders. But he probably also simply wanted to affirm and honor his colleagues by name.

The stories of each of these people are not known in detail. But Paul lists some amazing facts. Phoebe was a deacon, which is translated in some versions as servant, and she helped many believers including Paul (Romans 16:1). Priscilla and Aquila had suffered persecution, yet they persevered and at one time even risked their lives for Paul (Romans 16:3-4Acts 18:2). Epenetus was the first believer in Asia Minor, who probably led many others there to become believers (Romans 16:5).

Although Paul was focused on advancing the kingdom of God, he didn’t do it alone, nor did he treat his co-workers as mere tools in his mission. Instead, he sought to develop and encourage them by speaking positively about them and giving specific examples of things he appreciated about them. Whenever possible, may we also seek to encourage and honor our colleagues in their work for Christ’s kingdom.

Personal service

From: Charles Spurgeon

“O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.” Psalm 116:16

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 6:15-23

A liberty to be holy is a grander liberty than a licence to be sinful. A liberty to be conscientious; a liberty to know forgiven sin; a liberty to trample upon conquered lusts, this is an infinitely wider liberty than that which would permit me to be the comfortable slave of sin, and yet indulge the elusive hope that I may one day enter the kingdom of heaven. The largest expressions that can ever be used by the boldest minister of free grace, cannot here be exaggerations. Luther may exhaust his thunders, and Calvin may spend his logic, but after all the grand things that have been spoken about the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, we are freer than those men knew. Free as the very air he breathes is the Christian, if he lives up to his privileges. If he is in bondage at all, it is because he has not as yet yielded his spirit fully to the redeeming and emancipating influence of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the fullest and widest sense therefore, the believer may cry, “Thou has loosed my bonds.” Nor is this liberty merely consistent with the profoundest and most reverent service, but the service is, indeed, a main characteristic of the exalted freedom. “Truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid.” This does not conflict with the sentence that follows it,—“Thou hast loosed my bonds.” This fact of my being God’s servant is to me a proof and evidence, and a delightful fruit and effect of my having had my bonds loosed by the great emancipator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Service then, as well as liberty!

For meditation: The Christian has been freed from being a slave of sin in order to become a servant of God. Does your lifestyle illustrate this (Galatians 5:13)?

The dove’s return to the ark

‘But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot.’ Genesis 8:9

Suggested Further Reading: Mark 12:28–34

We must love something, or some one. Man was not made to live alone, and therefore no man lives unto himself. Our heart must flow like a river, or it corrupts like a stagnant pool. Some have great hearts, and they require a great object on which to spend their love. They love fondly and firmly, too fondly and too firmly for earthly love. These are they who suffer from broken hearts. They have so much love that when they set it upon an unworthy object they reap a proportionate degree of misery and disappointment. Now let me say solemnly that no heart of a child of God will ever be satisfied with any object or person short of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is room for wife and children, there is room for friend and acquaintance, and all the more room in one’s heart because Christ is there, but neither wife, nor children, nor friends, nor kinsfolk can ever fill the believers’s heart. He must have Christ Jesus; there is no rest for him elsewhere. Do I address any believer who has been making an idol? Have you set up any god in your heart? Have you loved any creature so as to forget your Saviour? Be it child, or husband, or friend, take heed of the sin of idolatry. You cannot, you shall not find rest for the sole of your foot in the creature, however fair that creature may seem. God will break your idol before your eyes, or if he suffer that idol to stand, it shall remain to plague and curse you, for ‘thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.’ ‘Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?’ Give your hearts to the Lord Jesus and he will never disappoint you. Lean on him with all your weight of affection, for he will never fail you.

For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ has told us that we must love both God and man, but he has also specified who should come first (Mark 12:28–30), who should come second (Mark 12:31) and where we should place the emphasis (Matthew 10:37).

The Conditions of Discipleship

By Oswald Chambers

The Conditions of Discipleship

If the closest relationships of a disciple’s life conflict with the claims of Jesus Christ, then our Lord requires instant obedience to Himself. Discipleship means personal, passionate devotion to a Person— our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a vast difference between devotion to a person and devotion to principles or to a cause. Our Lord never proclaimed a cause— He proclaimed personal devotion to Himself. To be a disciple is to be a devoted bondservant motivated by love for the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not truly devoted to Jesus Christ. No one on earth has this passionate love for the Lord Jesus unless the Holy Spirit has given it to him. We may admire, respect, and revere Him, but we cannot love Him on our own. The only One who truly loves the Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit, and it is He who has “poured out in our hearts” the very “love of God” (Romans 5:5). Whenever the Holy Spirit sees an opportunity to glorify Jesus through you, He will take your entire being and set you ablaze with glowing devotion to Jesus Christ.

The Christian life is a life characterized by true and spontaneous creativity. Consequently, a disciple is subject to the same charge that was leveled against Jesus Christ, namely, the charge of inconsistency. But Jesus Christ was always consistent in His relationship to God, and a Christian must be consistent in his relationship to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to strict, unyielding doctrines. People pour themselves into their own doctrines, and God has to blast them out of their preconceived ideas before they can become devoted to Jesus Christ.

God Is Spirit

John 4: 24-26

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

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What Is God Like?

From: Our Daily Bread

What Is God Like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking at Jesus shows us God’s character.

 

Seeing is not believing, but believing is seeing

From: Charles Spurgeon

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

Suggested Further Reading: John 20:19–31

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

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

 

The necessity of increased faith

By: Charles Spurgeon

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

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 4:13-25

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

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

 

True Freedom

From: Cathy Irvin, Author

july-fireworks-beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 8:2 says,

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

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

Psalm 3:3 reads,

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

Share The Light Of Christ

Light of the World

Light of the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do It Now!

By Oswald Chambers

Do It Now!

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Vision

By: Sharon Elliott

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christ Is King Forever

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

1 Kings 2:33

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

1 Kings 2:45

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

Psalm 89:29

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

Psalm 89:36

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

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The King Forever

From: Our Daily Journey

The King Forever

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

The Strictest Discipline

By Oswald Chambers

The Strictest Discipline

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

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

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

 

The Hot Shot Café

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From: Author, Joe Stowell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone Who Believes Will Be Saved

Romans 8:38-39

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

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Mighty to Save

From: Our Daily Journey

Mighty to Save

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Held by the Grip of God

By Oswald Chambers

Held by the Grip of God

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

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

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

 

A door opened in heaven (Rev. 4:1).

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

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

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

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

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

Faith Unlocks God’s Power In You

Philippians 2:5-11

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

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

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

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

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Unlocked

From: Our Daily Bread

Unlocked

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord unlocks us from our prison of sin.

 

FROM: STREAMS IN THE DESERT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The conversion of Saul of Tarsus

By: Charles Spurgeon

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

Suggested Further Reading: John 15:16-25

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

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

 

The Overshadowing of God’s Personal Deliverance

By Oswald Chambers

The Overshadowing of God’s Personal Deliverance

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

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

 

Jesus Sets You Free

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

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

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spir

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

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

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Set Free

From: Our Daily Bread

Set Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

I began to pray. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Good Gifts

By: Sherrie Brouhard, author

Gifts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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