Tag Archives: wine

Be A Good Soldier For Christ

2   And the things that you have heard me say among many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be qualified to teach others as well. 
4A soldier refrains from entangling himself in civilian affairs, in order to please the one who enlisted him.…     2 Timothy 2:3
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A Day to Honor Life

From: CBN

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Memorial Day – to some it’s merely the beginning of summer and to others it’s a solemn day to remember those who have passed from this life. However, to the war veteran and to the families of fallen soldiers, Memorial Day carries significance so deep that words cannot express their hearts.

When we look into the eyes of those who still mourn these once vibrant men and women, we often sense their loneliness and pain. We hear them choke back tears as they simply say the ranks and names of their military brothers and sisters at a Memorial Day service. White gloves, dress uniforms, rigid posture, and perfectly precisioned salutes represent the reverence and respect flowing from within. Those who have been personally affected by war understand and appreciate this day of remembrance.

What should we say to those who sincerely honor this day? “Happy Memorial Day” doesn’t seem fitting. “I’m sorry for your loss” may be closer to appropriate. What would the fallen soldier want from their comrades and the rest of the country on this day?

In an often quoted Memorial Day speech given in 1884 by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the speaker ended his address with these words, “Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death — of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.”

The American soldier who gave his or her life for U.S. citizens to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness won’t be telling us how to observe the holiday. But I believe that Holmes’ proposition to “think of life, not death” would honor the fallen soldier. Their sacrifice follows the example of Jesus Christ laying down His life for our freedom. It’s selfless love for others – not so others can mourn forever, but live!

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16

Notice that in scripture and in military service, the willingness to give up one’s life is not dependent on the worthiness of the people who benefit from the honorable act. In a perfect world, all who receive freedom and grace would be worthy of such a sacrifice and full of gratitude. But that’s not the way it is anywhere on Earth or in Heaven.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8

We are blessed to be living in a free society. May we honor our American soldiers for the liberty we have in this country. May we also give thanks to Almighty God for the freedom we have to spend eternity with Him because of His gift of forgiveness through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

A Memorial Meal

By: Dianne Neal Matthews

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Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, was instituted to honor Civil War dead. Local observances were held as early as 1866, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried. The first official and large observance took place on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, which held the remains of twenty thousand Union soldiers and several Confederate dead. Five thousand people attended the ceremony.

New York was the first state to declare the holiday, in 1873; other states quickly followed. After World War I, citizens expanded the observances to honor those who died in all American wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday and changed the date to the last Monday in May. In recent years, many use the occasion to decorate the graves of loved ones.

Under God’s direction, the Israelites had “Memorial Day” celebrations to help them remember major events in their history. They celebrated Passover each year to commemorate their miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt. When Jesus ate his last Passover meal, he instituted a new memorial to commemorate the deliverance from slavery to sin that he would accomplish for all believers through his death. As he shared the bread and wine with his disciples, he instructed them to eat and drink in remembrance of him.

The speaker at the first official Memorial Day service urged the audience to tend the graves of the dead soldiers to testify that our country had not forgotten the cost of a free, undivided republic. When we take part in the Lord’s Supper we are testifying that we remember the cost of our salvation. We are celebrating a “Memorial Meal” in honor of the One who won the war against death and sin.

[Jesus told his disciples,] “Do this to remember me.” (Luke 22:19)

The Good or The Best?

The Good or The Best?

By Oswald Chambers

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and physically gratifying possibilities will open up before you. These things are yours by right, but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you. This is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice.

Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight. The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. In this passage, it would seem that the wisest thing in the world for Abram to do would be to choose. It was his right, and the people around him would consider him to be a fool for not choosing.

Many of us do not continue to grow spiritually because we prefer to choose on the basis of our rights, instead of relying on God to make the choice for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eyes focused on God. And God says to us, as He did to Abram, “…walk before Me…” (Genesis 17:1).

 

Tossing And Turning

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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Tossing and Turning

From: Our Daily Bread

Tossing and Turning
Read: Psalm 4 | Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 22–24; John 8:28–59
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

What keeps you awake at night? Lately I’ve been losing sleep, tossing and turning on my bed, trying to work out a solution to an issue. Eventually I begin fretting about not getting enough rest to handle the challenges of the next day!

Sound familiar? Troubled relationships, an uncertain future, whatever it is—we all give in to worry at one point or another.

King David was clearly in distress when he penned Psalm 4. People were ruining his reputation with groundless accusations (v. 2). And some were questioning his competency to rule (v. 6). David probably felt angry for being treated so unfairly. Surely he could have spent nights stewing about it. Yet we read these remarkable words: “In peace I will lie down and sleep” (v. 8).

Charles Spurgeon explains verse 8 beautifully: “In thus lying down, . . . [David] resigned himself into the hands of another; he did so completely, for in the absence of all care, he slept; there was here a perfect trust.” What inspired this trust? From the start, David was confident that God would answer his prayers (v. 3). And he was sure that since God had chosen to love him, He would lovingly meet his needs.

May God help us to rest in His power and presence when worries threaten. In His sovereign and loving arms, we can “lie down and sleep.”

Dear Father, thank You for hearing me when I call. I surrender my worries to You and rest in Your power and presence.

We can entrust our cares to a wholly trustworthy God.

 

One

From : Our Daily Journey

One

Read:

Ephesians 2:14–3:13
Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people (Ephesians 2:14).

“Sometimes, going to church just seems irrelevant. After all, we listen to sermons via podcasts and can live-stream a church service . . . in our pajamas. Personally, I enjoy having access to so many Christian resources at the swipe of my finger on my iPhone. . . . I also meet in Christian community on Wednesday nights for small group Bible study. That’s good enough, right?” Those words, from a thoughtful post by Lindsay Blackburn, reflect the ambivalence many people feel about being part of a local church.

Paul wrote of the beauty of being “members of God’s family,” part of the “one new people,” “one body,” and one “house” that Jesus made possible on the cross (Ephesians 2:15-16,20). And Jesus referred to the church as the ekklesía—meaning “a gathered group.” But He also prayed that we would “all be one” (John 17:21).

So what does it mean for the church to be one? We’re one in Christ—“united” as one people (Ephesians 2:14). We’re one holy people—meaning that we’re sanctified, set apart for Him and to Him (Ephesians 5:26). We’re built on one foundation “of the apostles and the prophets”—on the message of salvation found in Jesus (Ephesians 2:203:5Matthew 5:17Revelation 21:14).

So what are we to do as one church in Christ? “Display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10). That wisdom flows from His plan to “[reconcile] everything to himself . . . by means of Christ’s blood” (Colossians 1:20).

May we “not neglect our meeting together” but continue to serve and grow with other believers (Hebrews 10:25). The church, both local and universal, is the one community God has established to reveal His love.

 

Neither Do I Condemn You

By: Brooke Keith, Author

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I’d heard it all week in my spirit, “Does anyone condemn you?”

The woman shook her head.

“Neither do I condemn you.” John 8:11 (NIV)

These words came from Jesus’s lips as He smiled down to the woman caught in sin, just moments before what might have been her stoning by masses and certain death. (If you are struggling with something you’ve done, read about it. It’s a riveting Bible story!)

Like the woman in the Bible, I too had been struggling with something. It was different, but all sins in the eyes of God are sins no less. So, heavily convicted by the Spirit and equal parts condemned by the enemy, I fell on my knees in broken surrender. My heart had never been so contrite to have sinned against God before.

The conviction I could handle. The condemnation I could not.

As my weeping turned to rejoicing, I heard the words again. “Neither do I condemn you.”

But Satan has been at his job a very long time. He’s a master of deception. Though Satan failed miserably, He even tried to trip up Jesus! Satan is smart. He is convincing. He twisted God’s Word against me. My heart inside me ached. I couldn’t sleep and when I did, I woke up with guilt unshakable, my heart racing. Not only was Satan warring against me in my waking hours, he was at it in my sleep too!

Sin is hard to talk about, isn’t it? It is and it is not because we don’t all sin, but because we all do. It is hard to call up a friend at 2 a.m. and say “I did XYZ.” Many of us know this because we have tried before and what we said found its way back to our ears. Other times, we have been the trust betrayers ourselves.

That’s why I did what anybody does at 2 a.m. when a question keeps them up at night. I asked my old friend Google, because Google can’t talk unless you have voice activation!

I had never used a prayer chat line before. I was nervous. I shut myself in the bathroom. I hid in secret to divulge the secrets of my heart. I felt strange as the rotating circle loaded, soon knowing why. The person on the other end of the rotating circle proceeded to tell me how devastating the effects of sin are, why I should feel shameful and then immediately began to pray for me to FEEL the magnitude of the guilt of my sins. WOW! I felt worse than ever. I wanted to remind her of Jesus’ words, but I bit my tongue. Maybe I heard in my spirit all wrong that week.

Had I never known Jesus, this would have been my only snapshot of Him. I knew better, but to be sure I wasn’t a big, fire-breathing monster, I tried one more prayer line.

“I’m iffy about this,” I said to another person I will never meet this side of heaven. “I have something I want to bring to the light. I really messed up…” Enter my spiritual dumping onto the ears of a stranger.

“Let me assure you that I have been there too,” Joan said. “Life is made up of seasons and we are equipped for them. You are in the middle of this, but just like me, you will come out the other side. This too shall pass. Every time you come to a season like this remember… God will always bring you through it.”

Simple words… until Joan quoted the Bible verse that had been in my spirit all week.

So why would God send me to the wrong place first?

He wanted to show me the difference in condemnation and grace. Condemnation says, “Crucify yourself over your sin.” Grace speaks peace. Grace says, “I have already been crucified in your place. There’s nothing to see here. Move along.”

Satan loves to keep us guessing. Are we forgiven? Can we trust God with our mistakes? Can we believe Him when He says, “Neither do I condemn you.”? Can we too strive to be the people who say those five healing words?

We can.

Why? Because all of us escaped our stoning. Because in what they thought would be His tomb, Jesus rolled away the stone. Because of this, there is some VERY Good News in your bad news.

Yes. I’m here to be your Joan.

Come to Jesus. You are in condemnation no longer. You are free to move along.

“If then the son may make you free, in reality, ye shall be free.” John 8:36 YLT

Looking To Jesus

Hebrews 12:1-2

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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Looking To Jesus

By: Charles Spurgeon

“They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.” Psalm 34:5

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

See there he sits in heaven, he has led captivity captive, and now sits at the right hand of God, for ever making intercession for us. Can your faith picture him today? Like a great high priest of old, he stands with outstretched arms: there is majesty in his demeanour, for he is no mean cringing suppliant. He does not beat his breast, nor cast his eyes upon the ground, but with authority he pleads, enthroned in glory now. There on his head is the bright shining mitre of his priesthood, and look you, on his breast are glittering the precious stones whereon the names of his elect are everlastingly engraved; hear him as he pleads, hear you not what it is?—is that your prayer that he is mentioning before the throne? The prayer that this morning you offered before you came to the house of God, Christ is now offering before his Father’s throne. The vow which just now you uttered when you said, “Have pity and have mercy,”—he is now uttering there. He is the Altar and the Priest, and with his own sacrifice he perfumes our prayers. And yet, mayhap, you have been at prayer many a day, and had no answer; poor weeping suppliant, you have sought the Lord and he has not heard you, or at least not answered you to your soul’s delight; you have cried unto him, but the heavens have been as brass, and he has shut out your prayer, you are full of darkness and heaviness on account of this, “Look to him, and be lightened.” If you do not succeed, he will; if your intercession be unnoticed, his cannot be passed away; if your prayers can be like water spilt on a rock which cannot be gathered up, yet his prayers are not like that, he is God’s Son, he pleads and must prevail.

For meditation: The prayers of the true seeker and of believers are not a waste of effort; they are not like letters lost in the post, but reach the throne of God (Acts 10:4Revelation 5:8). But only praying in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is accepted; prayers addressed to saints, to false gods or to the dead are always turned away—“not known here.”

 

To the Lonely

From: Our Daily Journey

To the Lonely

Read:

1 Kings 19:1-21 
The people of Israel have broken their covenant with you. . . . I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too (1 Kings 19:10).

In 2017, two surveys highlighted the growing number of lonely people in the UK. One report claimed that some eight million men felt lonely at least once a week, with an estimated three million experiencing it every day. Another survey of more than 2,000 people suggested that nearly 75 percent of young people with disabilities suffered from loneliness.

While some believe isolation is particularly prevalent today—the price paid for our modern lifestyle—feelings of loneliness have been around for a long time. The prophet Elijah, who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Ahab, frequently felt isolated and lonely (1 Kings 18:1–19:21). God used him to defeat 450 prophets of Baal and in answering his prayer for rain brought an end to a three-year drought (1 Kings 18:19-46). Despite this, when Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, threatened to kill him, Elijah ran scared. All alone, he headed into the wilderness and prayed, “I have had enough, LORD. . . . Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died” (1 Kings 19:1-4).

Although God sent an angel to comfort and sustain Elijah, he still felt alone (1 Kings 19:5-9). “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too” (1 Kings 19:10).

As feelings of isolation threatened to overwhelm Elijah, God made Himself known to His servant (1 Kings 19:11-13), encouraging him to return to the work he’d been called to and reminding him he wasn’t alone (1 Kings 19:14-21).

God gave Elijah renewed hope and purpose in his time of loneliness. He’s there for you in your loneliness too.

 

Calling Down the Light

By: Eddie Jones, Author

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When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ John 8:12

Each morning I make it a point to request from God a ray of light for my day, a beam of divine guidance for my steps.

My prayer includes; “May your kingdom come, may your will be done, on earth and in my life, in the same way your will is done in heaven. Lead me to where you would have me to serve you today.”

I figure if God does in my life exactly what He thinks is best, if He places me in the middle of His purpose, then all I have to do is enjoy the challenges, tend the small flock entrusted to my care and say “thanks” for the opportunity to work for Him.

Yesterday, while I sat on the bench beneath the willow tree, I lifted my eyes and cocked my ears, listening for God’s voice. Gray clouds moved swiftly overhead as a cold wind blew down from Canada. Pine tops tipped, their branches rustling as if to whisper; “It’s cold, boy. Go get warm.” As I opened my Bible, the dog pawed at my knee, begging me to take her inside so she could lie by the gas logs. I stroked her ears and told her to sit, that God and I weren’t through talking.

I enjoy my outdoors, buddy time with God, but in the winter His Garden feels more like a Popsicle than paradise. It’s here on the bench beneath the willow tree that I get my work orders for the day. I study each verse of Scripture, searching for promises, commands, warnings, praise, prayers and words of comfort. When I sense His voice whispering, “Pay attention, this is important,” I highlight the verse and write it in my journal. Then I ponder its meaning for me that day. I am the light of the world. Whoever follows… will have the light of life. Light of the world… light in the world… those who follow the light find life.

While I read those words yesterday, a ray of sunshine fell across my shoulder. The rest of the yard remained cloaked under the shadow of clouds but on my bench the sun shone, warming me just enough to remain in His Word a while longer and ask, “Who needs your light, Lord? Bring them into my life that I might reflect your glory into their darkness.”

That’s all I need, really; God’s Will in my life, sun on my shoulder and His Son in my heart. The rest of the world may grow cold in their love towards God and each other, but if His light guides my day, there will be warmth enough for those I meet and radiance enough for my steps.

Today, ask God to shine on you. Ask that His will be done in your life; that His kingdom rule in your home and heart. Then snuggle up with the Good Book and listen to His words.

 

Up A Tree

Luke 19

Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

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Up a Tree

From: Our Daily Bread

Up a Tree

In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. Jonah 2:2

My mother discovered my kitten Velvet atop the kitchen counter, devouring homemade bread. With a huff of frustration, she scooted her out the door. Hours later, we searched our yard for the missing cat without success. A faint meow whistled on the wind, and I looked up to the peak of a poplar tree where a black smudge tilted a branch.

In her haste to flee my mother’s frustration over her behavior, Velvet chose a more precarious predicament. Is it possible that we sometimes do something similar—running from our errors and putting ourselves in danger? And even then God comes to our rescue.

The prophet Jonah fled in disobedience from God’s call to preach to Nineveh, and was swallowed up by a great fish. “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me’ ” (Jonah 2:1–2). God heard Jonah’s plea and, “commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (v. 10). Then God gave Jonah another chance (3:1).

After exhausting our efforts to woo Velvet down, we summoned the local fire department. With the longest ladder fully extended, a kind man climbed high, plucked my kitten from her perch, and returned to place her safely in my arms.

Oh the heights—and the depths—God goes to in rescuing us from our disobedience with His redeeming love!

Dear God, how we need Your rescue today!

Jesus’s death on the cross rescued us from our sins.

Looking like Jesus

From: Our Daily Journey

Looking like Jesus

Read:

Matthew 7:1-6,15-23
Not everyone who calls out to me, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter (Matthew 7:21).

Years ago I knew a legislative staffer who suddenly joined a church. That seemed out of character for him, so I asked him about it. “I’m thinking about running for office,” he admitted, “and my boss told me it looks good.”

Contrast that story with Max (not his real name), who works in a country where it’s dangerous to declare your belief in Jesus. Yet he started a house church to share Christ with his neighbors.

It takes genuine commitment to attend Max’s church. But what about those who identify as believers in areas where it’s normal to call yourself a Christian? Should we judge the validity of each other’s faith?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presented a paradox. He said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1). But just a bit later He warned, “Beware of false prophets,” and told us how to detect them (Matthew 7:15). “A good tree produces good fruit,” He said, “and a bad tree produces bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17). Then He added, “Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matthew 7:20). But isn’t that judging?

In the first instance Jesus is instructing us to be self-discerning. We have no business judging others because our focus should be on what we need to repent of. In contrast to that, Jesus teaches us to be wary of false teachers. We’re to judge their deeds to see if they can be trusted as brothers and sisters in Christ. And clearly, they can’t. Their bad fruit proves their false religion (Matthew 7:17-18).

I didn’t need to judge my friend; I needed to share my faith with him. Ultimately, the key question to ask isn’t, “Is that person a true believer?” but rather, “Do I have a passion to obey Jesus?”

 

The Explanation For Our Difficulties

By Oswald Chambers

The Explanation For Our Difficulties

If you are going through a time of isolation, seemingly all alone, read John 17 . It will explain exactly why you are where you are— because Jesus has prayed that you “may be one” with the Father as He is. Are you helping God to answer that prayer, or do you have some other goal for your life? Since you became a disciple, you cannot be as independent as you used to be.

God reveals in John 17 that His purpose is not just to answer our prayers, but that through prayer we might come to discern His mind. Yet there is one prayer which God must answer, and that is the prayer of Jesus— “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22). Are we as close to Jesus Christ as that?

God is not concerned about our plans; He doesn’t ask, “Do you want to go through this loss of a loved one, this difficulty, or this defeat?” No, He allows these things for His own purpose. The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical and fault-finding, and more insistent on our own way. The things that happen either make us evil, or they make us more saintly, depending entirely on our relationship with God and its level of intimacy. If we will pray, regarding our own lives, “Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42), then we will be encouraged and comforted by John 17, knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom, accomplishing what is best. When we understand God’s purpose, we will not become small-minded and cynical. Jesus prayed nothing less for us than absolute oneness with Himself, just as He was one with the Father. Some of us are far from this oneness; yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him— because Jesus prayed, “…that they all may be one….”

 

A Humbled Servant

I Peter 5:1-11

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

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A Humbled Servant

From: Our Daily Journey

A Humbled Servant

Read:

1 Peter 5:1-11
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).

For the past decade, I’ve served in East Africa and have gained far more understanding of my heart, motives, and attitudes than I would have had I not taken the step of faith to live and work in a foreign land. Among the more humbling insights has been my occasional tendency to assume that my knowledge and resources are superior to those in the developing nation where I’m serving.

While there are principles and resources that are beneficial for me to pass along, when I allow a condescending spirit to overshadow the gospel, I’m displaying pride, not humility. According to 1 Peter 5, pride is in direct opposition to the servant posture God desires for us to take in our relationships with others (1 Peter 5:5-6). As the apostle wrote, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Aware of my shortcomings, I’m drawn to Peter’s message to church elders that gives us a model for ministry built on grace. He begins by establishing common ground with the elders. He and they, he explains, are witnesses “to the sufferings of Christ” and “will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 5:1).

Leaders in ministry are called to lovingly oversee “the flock that God has entrusted to [them]” and to do so with a willing, not begrudging, attitude (1 Peter 5:2). When our motive is to eagerly serve God and others, we’ll be prepared to lead with a good example and be less inclined to “lord it over” (domineer over, act arrogantly toward) the people we’re called to walk alongside (1 Peter 5:3).

As we allow scriptural principles to influence our motives and guide our work, God can work in and through us to humbly, effectively serve others and honor Him (1 Peter 5:5).

 

A Prayer of Forgiveness

From: Our Daily Bread

A Prayer of Forgiveness

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27–28

In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to integrate an all-white public elementary school in the American South. Every day for months, federal marshals escorted Ruby past a mob of angry parents shouting curses, threats, and insults at her. Safely inside, she sat in a classroom alone with Barbara Henry, the only teacher willing to instruct her while parents kept their children from attending school with Ruby.

Noted child psychologist Robert Coles met with Ruby for several months to help her cope with the fear and stress she experienced. He was amazed by the prayer Ruby said every day as she walked to school and back home. “Please, God, forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing” (see Luke 23:34).

The words of Jesus spoken from the cross were stronger than the hatred and insults hurled at Him. In the most agonizing hours of His life, our Lord demonstrated the radical response He taught His followers: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you . . . . Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:27–28, 36).

This remarkable approach is possible only as we consider the powerful love Jesus has given us—love stronger than even the deepest hatred.

Ruby Bridges helped show us the way.

Father, You have so graciously forgiven us. Help us today to forgive others who have wronged us.

Bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.

 

Having God’s “Unreasonable” Faith

By Oswald Chambers

Having God’s

When we look at these words of Jesus, we immediately find them to be the most revolutionary that human ears have ever heard. “…seek first the kingdom of God….” Even the most spiritually-minded of us argue the exact opposite, saying, “But I must live; I must make a certain amount of money; I must be clothed; I mustbe fed.” The great concern of our lives is not the kingdom of God but how we are going to take care of ourselves to live. Jesus reversed the order by telling us to get the right relationship with God first, maintaining it as the primary concern of our lives, and never to place our concern on taking care of the other things of life.

“…do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25). Our Lord pointed out that from His standpoint it is absolutely unreasonable for us to be anxious, worrying about how we will live. Jesus did not say that the person who takes no thought for anything in his life is blessed— no, that person is a fool. But Jesus did teach that His disciple must make his relationship with God the dominating focus of his life, and to be cautiously carefree about everything else in comparison to that. In essence, Jesus was saying, “Don’t make food and drink the controlling factor of your life, but be focused absolutely on God.” Some people are careless about what they eat and drink, and they suffer for it; they are careless about what they wear, having no business looking the way they do; they are careless with their earthly matters, and God holds them responsible. Jesus is saying that the greatest concern of life is to place our relationship with God first, and everything else second.

It is one of the most difficult, yet critical, disciplines of the Christian life to allow the Holy Spirit to bring us into absolute harmony with the teaching of Jesus in these verses.

 

This Old Tent

I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 2 Peter 1:13-14 NIV
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21
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This Old Tent

By: Dalen keys

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The family tent was old by the time I came along. I was the youngest of three children by many, many years and my family had thoroughly broken it in. To me, it seemed ancient! I can’t absolutely prove it, but I am pretty sure that our tent came from Corinth and was stitched personally by Paul. (Acts 18:1-3)

I especially remember our tent during a camping trip to Bankhead National Forest in Double Springs, Alabama. Night was already falling when we arrived. My brother and I set up the tent as Mom and Dad pulled together a quick meal. Then off to bed so that we’d be rested for a fun day of activities. Unfortunately, the zipper broke on the tent as Dad was closing up for the night. Mom and Dad did the best they could to hold the flaps together with any pins and clips Mom happened to have in her purse. But, we all awakened to itchy and swollen eye lids, ears and cheeks from the persistent mosquitoes that found their way through the gaps and holes that just couldn’t be patched up.

We recovered during a day filled with swimming and relaxing under the blue Alabama sky; only occasionally scratching at the bites from the night before. After dinner that night, we gathered around the picnic table and played Flinch under a lantern hanging from a tree limb above us. Laughter filled the warm night until we finally made our way to bed. Although somewhat nervous about another attack by those blood thirsty mosquitoes, Dad had made repairs during the day that brought us some sense of security. Nonetheless, I was going to keep my head under the covers, just in case. But, another surprise awaited us during the night.

At first it was just random flashes gently illuminating the tent. Then we heard the rumbles following those flashes as the wind began to swirl around the trees above us. Our tent held firm. Eventually, the heavens opened with torrents of rain. It was not just one of those passing storms, by no means, this one lingered. The poor tent did its best to defend us from the onslaught but it eventually began to sag and leak as the canvas became increasingly saturated. Dad finally relented and gave the command. We all jumped into action as we quickly packed up in the pouring rain to head home. We jammed our personal belongings and camping utensils into the trunk of the car with the poor tent being the last item smashed in to the cramped trunk. The tent was never the same after that night.

These days I relate more and more to that old family tent. I’m tending to sag and droop as the years pass. I might not be losing a zipper, but other body parts are beginning to fail, usually at the most embarrassing moments. There is no rush; but fortunately, I’ll set aside my frail tent one day.

I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 2 Peter 1:13-14 NIV

I’m reassured with God’s promise of that greater day. On those days when the knees creak and the hips are stiff, I long to put aside this old tent of mine.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21

I hope that eternity has some essence of that night in Bankhead National Forest. That night filled with so much laughter that our sides ached. I believe that someday I’ll set aside my old tent and put on a glorious new body. Then I’ll have eternity to swim, relax and laugh with my friend, my Savior. And, I’m pretty sure that heaven is mosquito-free.

 

The believer sinking in the mire

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink.’ Psalm 69:14

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 14:22–3115:21–28

Luther was a man of the strongest faith, and yet at times of the faintest hope. He was, and he was not, a firm believer. His faith never wavered as to the truth of the cause which he advocated; but his faith as to his own interest in Christ, seldom, if ever, amounted to full assurance. The force of his faith spent itself in carrying on with fearful vigour the war against antichrist and error of all shapes. He believed the truth, and held right manfully to justification by faith; but he was at times very doubtful as to whether he himself was justified in Christ Jesus. He believed in salvation by the precious blood of Christ; but, especially at the last, it became a very serious matter with him as to whether he had ever been washed in that precious blood. Roman Catholic biographers, who, of course, if they can, will slander him, say that he had doubts as to everything which he preached, and that at the last, he found his faith was not in accordance with truth. Not so; no man stuck to his testimony with more tenacity than the great reformer; but yet I marvel not that they should say so. He never doubted the truth of the things which he preached; but he did doubt his own interest in them frequently; and when he came to die, his testimony, though amply sufficient, was nothing like so brilliant as that of many a poor old woman who has died in a humble cottage, resting upon Jesus. The poor peasant who knew no more than her Bible true, was utterly unknown to the Vatican, and fame’s trumpet will never resound her name, but yet she entered into eternal peace with far louder shoutings of joy than Martin Luther, who shook the world with his thundering valour.

For meditation: You don’t have to be great to be rich in faith (James 2:5). The Lord’s apostles often displayed a weak faith (Matthew 8:2614:3116:817:20Mark 4:40John 20:25) which was overshadowed by the faith of anonymous believers (Matthew 15:28Luke 7:9).

Sermon no. 631

A sense of pardoned sin

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” Isaiah 38:17

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 32

We are saved by faith, and not by feeling. “We walk by faith and not by sight.” Yet there is as much connection between faith and hallowed feeling, as there is between the root and the flower. Faith is permanent, just as the root is ever in the ground; feeling is casual, and has its seasons. Just as the bulb does not always shoot up the green stem; far less is it always crowned with the many, many-coloured flower. Faith is the tree, the essential tree; our feelings are like the appearance of that tree during the different seasons of the year. Sometimes our soul is full of bloom and blossom, and the bees hum pleasantly, and gather honey within our hearts. It is then that our feelings bear witness to the life of our faith, just as the buds of spring bear witness to the life of the tree. Presently, our feelings gather still greater vigour, and we come to the summer of our delights. Again, perhaps, we begin to wither into the dry and yellow leaf of autumn; nay, sometimes the winter of our despondency and despair will strip away every leaf from the tree, and our poor faith stands like a blasted stem without a sign of greenness. And yet, my brethren, so long as the tree of faith is there we are saved. Whether faith blossom or not, whether it bring forth joyous fruit in our experience or not, so long as it be there in all its permanence we are saved. Yet we should have the gravest reason to distrust the life of our faith, if it did not sometimes blossom with joy, and often bring forth fruit unto holiness.

For meditation: True joy cannot exist without saving faith (1 Peter 1:8-9), but sometimes our salvation needs to have its joy restored (Psalm 51:12).

More Than A Feeling

“It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (63).
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More Than a Feeling
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The pastor said, “If you’re like me, you …” Then he described his feelings that closely reflected my own. I was surprised to think my experience might be common.

When I was new at the church my husband and I now attend, Communion was wonder-filled. Not remarkably different in its practice from my previous experience. But profound with awe.

After a brief search for a new church home, we had come to this church–where children and grandchildren also worship. Communion here brought me a special sense of Christ’s presence. It gave me unexplainable peace and joy. Good feelings filled me.

Then the church community became familiar. I was still home–even more at home than before because I was getting to know the people around me. But good feelings come and go; the awe wore away.

I wanted that feeling, that awe, back.

Then the pastor drew me to John 6. Jesus multiplied the fish and the loaves. The people ate. They were satisfied. Good feelings filled them. They liked that feeling of the miraculous.

They followed so they could keep that feeling.

Then Jesus told them: “I am the bread of life” (John 6: 35 NASB). We follow, not for the physical fish and bread He had multiplied–and not for the feelings that came with them. We follow Jesus, just Jesus.

It was a turning point in Christ’s ministry–the call to follow the spirit of God and not the flesh of feelings.

“It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (63).

Christ and His words are miracle enough.

This turning point in His ministry became a turning point for the crowd of followers. Jesus didn’t just keep doing miracles to hang onto the crowd. He knew some in the crowd didn’t believe. They only liked the miracles. The free bread. The good feeling.

So when it looked like the show was over, when Jesus explained that “no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father,” (65) many left.

Feelings come and go. People sometimes do, too. Jesus retained a smaller crowd of followers–true believers and one betrayer.

The true believers were those who followed Him whether the good times continued or the tough times of persecution came–which they did.

Those who walked away went–to what? The next show? A circus that would end and leave them empty, hungering for the next experience.

And never knowing miracle again.

Those who stayed experienced testing and persecution. But they also experienced miracles again–the miracles of Pentecost, of redemption for themselves and for the Church that would grow from their own ministry.

They got to–and yet today get to–experience Christ and His words.

Following Christ is so much more than a feeling. And it leads us eventually to the ultimate awe.

He Sees Us

From: Our Daily Journey

He Sees Us

Read:

Acts 1:6-11
Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand (Acts 2:33).

Jesus’ life was full of surprises that defied everyone’s expectations. From an obscure village, He emerged as a miracle-working teacher who built His kingdom with sinners and the sick. Then, when His purposes seemed defeated by His shocking crucifixion, this apparent defeat was reversed with His resurrection only three days later!

The disciples’ heads must have been spinning. We’re winning! All is lost! No, all is won!

They might have expected their risen Lord would have another surprise in store. When the disciples asked whether He was about “to free Israel and restore our kingdom,” Jesus said the Spirit would empower them to witness about Him around the world (Acts 1:6-8). Then He “was taken up into a cloud” into heaven (Acts 1:9).

Although we can’t see Him, He sees us. Jesus returned to His Father, not to leave us, but so He could better serve us. Now enthroned in heaven, He is “the ruler of all the kings of the world” (Revelation 1:5), working in all things to restore His creation—and us (Ephesians 1:10Hebrews 2:8-10).

And our highly exalted King is also our High Priest. Having “entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf,” “He lives forever to intercede” (Hebrews 9:247:25). Having brought humanity from death into life on the cross, He now transforms us by God’s power (Romans 6:5-11). We can confidently “go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him” (Hebrews 10:21-22).

You’ve got a Friend in high places, seated “in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Colossians 3:1). May Jesus’ ascension into heaven assure you that nothing can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:34,39). Our future is secure in His nail-scarred hands.

 

Taking Possession of Our Own Soul

By Oswald Chambers

Taking Possession of Our Own Soul

When a person is born again, there is a period of time when he does not have the same vitality in his thinking or reasoning that he previously had. We must learn to express this new life within us, which comes by forming the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:5). Luke 21:19 means that we take possession of our souls through patience. But many of us prefer to stay at the entrance to the Christian life, instead of going on to create and build our soul in accordance with the new life God has placed within us. We fail because we are ignorant of the way God has made us, and we blame things on the devil that are actually the result of our own undisciplined natures. Just think what we could be when we are awakened to the truth!

There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives. Moods nearly always are rooted in some physical circumstance, not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise as a result of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do. The problem that most of us are cursed with is simply that we won’t. The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.

 

God Is Able To Deliver Us

The God we serve is able to deliver us from [the fire] . . . . But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods. Daniel 3:17–18

Even If

From: Our Daily Bread

Even If

The God we serve is able to deliver us from [the fire] . . . . But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods. Daniel 3:17–18

Sometimes life deals us a tremendous blow. Other times the miraculous happens.

Three young men, captives in Babylon, stood in front of the fearsome king of that land and boldly proclaimed that under no circumstances would they worship the giant image of gold towering above them. Together they declared: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know . . . we will not . . . worship the image” (Daniel 3:17–18).

These three men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were hurled into the fiery furnace; and God miraculously delivered them so that not a hair of their head was singed and their clothing was smoke-free (vv. 19–27). They had been prepared to die but their trust in God was unwavering—“even if” He had not saved them.

God desires that we cling to Him—even if our loved one isn’t healed, even if we lose our job, even if we are persecuted. Sometimes God rescues us from danger in this life, and sometimes He doesn’t. But the truth we can hold firmly is this: “The God we serve is able,” loves us, and is with us in every fiery trial, every even if.

Dear Lord, we love You! Please give us unwavering faith—and strength and hope for each day—no matter the circumstance.

God is able.

Out of the Wreck I Rise

Out of the Wreck I Rise

By Oswald Chambers

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? —Romans 8:35

God does not keep His child immune from trouble; He promises, “I will be with him in trouble…” (Psalm 91:15). It doesn’t matter how real or intense the adversities may be; nothing can ever separate him from his relationship to God. “In all these things we are more than conquerors…” (Romans 8:37). Paul was not referring here to imaginary things, but to things that are dangerously real. And he said we are “super-victors” in the midst of them, not because of our own ingenuity, nor because of our courage, but because none of them affects our essential relationship with God in Jesus Christ. I feel sorry for the Christian who doesn’t have something in the circumstances of his life that he wishes were not there.

“Shall tribulation…?” Tribulation is never a grand, highly welcomed event; but whatever it may be— whether exhausting, irritating, or simply causing some weakness— it is not able to “separate us from the love of Christ.” Never allow tribulations or the “cares of this world” to separate you from remembering that God loves you (Matthew 13:22).

“Shall…distress…?” Can God’s love continue to hold fast, even when everyone and everything around us seems to be saying that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice?

“Shall…famine…?” Can we not only believe in the love of God but also be “more than conquerors,” even while we are being starved?

Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver, having deceived even Paul, or else some extraordinary thing happens to someone who holds on to the love of God when the odds are totally against him. Logic is silenced in the face of each of these things which come against him. Only one thing can account for it— the love of God in Christ Jesus. “Out of the wreck I rise” every time.

 

Secret Storage

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From: Joe Stowell, Author

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

One of the New Year’s resolutions that I have managed to keep is my plan to clean out the two storage rooms in our basement. When we initially moved into our house, whenever the movers didn’t know where to put something, we sent them to the storage rooms. Since then, a similar fate has been assigned to the stuff we continue to accumulate and don’t know what to do with. Cleaning out those rooms seemed like a daunting task, but I have to tell you it’s great to have it done. I go down there a lot now just to revel in the victory!

While I was cleaning, throwing away, sorting, and organizing, I thought about my heart. I thought about the secret places in my life that no one sees. The storage rooms where stuff that should be discarded stacks up. And here is what became clear to me: Who I really am is not determined by the parts of my life that are open to public view. In our house we do a pretty good job of keeping them in good order. The real commentary on what kind of a person I am is the condition of the storage rooms. If they are cluttered with unwanted, bad, and unnecessary things, then it says something about me. It says I am too busy . . . or, too lazy . . . or, undisciplined . . . or, just apathetic. Or, it says that I really don’t mind a lot of junk behind closed doors. It might even say that I like the junk in the storage rooms.

It’s like that in life. Who we really are is a lot about the condition of the secret places of our hearts.

When I was done, my male need for affirmation was out of control, I wanted Martie to come down immediately and see how clean and organized it all was . . . I even told my son that he had to stop by and see! Which made me wonder if the true test of secret places being in good order might just be whether or not you’d like someone to open the door to see how it looks. As the writer in Proverbs says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”!

My Cup Overflows

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.

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Overflowing

From: Our Daily Bread

Overflowing

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. Romans 15:13

“No! No! No! NO!” I screamed. It didn’t help. Not one bit. My brilliant solution for our plugged problem—flushing again—accomplished exactly the opposite of what I’d intended. I knew I had made a mistake the second I pushed the lever down. And I stood helplessly as water overflowed.

How many times have our kids tried to pour milk and misjudged the process, with white liquid flowing everywhere. Or maybe we failed to remember that a two-liter bottle of soda just rolled around in the trunk . . . with explosively startling results.

No, spills are almost never a good thing. But there might be one exception. The apostle Paul uses that image of overflowing to describe a people so full of God’s Spirit that what naturally spills out of them is hope (Romans 15:13). I love that picture of being filled to the brim with joy, peace, and faith because of His powerful presence in our lives. So much so, in fact, that we can’t help but exude and express winsome confidence in our heavenly Father. That might be during the beautiful, sunny seasons of our lives. Or when the proverbial cup of our lives gets jostled. Either way, what sloshes out over the top is life-giving hope to those around us who are “drenched” by it.

Lord, spills happen in life. But when they do, help us to be so full of Your Spirit that what pours out of us is the kind of hope that others can’t help but notice and be blessed by.

The Father gave us the Spirit to make us like the Son.

 

May 18, 2018
From Breakdown to Breakthrough
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“To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.” Proverbs 16:1 (NIV)

I hummed a tune while putting the finishing touches on dinner and the table. Some neighbors were coming to dinner, one set of new friends and one set of old, and I tingled with anticipation.

Suddenly my phone dinged, and my dear friend texted, asking me what time we were coming over. She also requested that I bring some salad dressing with me.

What? My mind spun in confusion. They’re supposed to be coming here, I thought. I picked up the phone, calling her to straighten the tangle, but she was as confused as I was.

In the midst of multiple phone calls and texts to plan the time with our new neighbors, my friend and I had gotten our wires crossed. Her house was decorated and ready with food in the oven — just like mine!

With irritation boiling below the surface, I asked her if I could think for a moment and call her back. Truthfully, my initial reaction wasn’t great. This is my party! After all this work, I want everyone at my house.

It took me a few minutes to struggle my selfishness to the ground, but thankfully I shushed my thoughts and asked the Lord what He thought.

“You can choose to push your plans, or you can prioritize the friendship. You can’t do both,” I felt Jesus whisper to my heart.

My heart wavered in the choice. I really, really wanted my own way. I could think of lots of reasons why my plans should prevail. The 3-year-old part of my brain was on the brink of throwing a tantrum, but I knew that wouldn’t produce the results I wanted.

After all, I love my sweet friend deeply, and I didn’t want anything to come between us. In the deepest part of me, the Spirit moved, and God shifted my motives until I desired a breakthrough, not a breakup.

Suddenly, I remembered a fun idea for an evening with friends, and I called her back with a revised set of plans.

“How about we make this a progressive dinner?” I asked my friend. “We’ll walk around the corner to your house and bring our side dishes. After eating the main meal at your house, we’ll walk back to mine for coffee and dessert. What do you think?”

My friend loved the idea, so we set off on a short walk to spend a long evening basking in the company of our friends.

I want to take a short pause here to praise Jesus for growth in my life. In the past, I wouldn’t have responded so graciously. I’m a planner, and woe to anyone who messes with the plan. But God’s ways are always better than our plans, and Proverbs 16:1 is true: “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.”

I’m thankful that in the tangle of upended plans, God pointed me not only to the priority of friendship but gave me the words and a solution for our problem.

The time with our friends that evening was even more fun than if we’d eaten at one house or the other. Our progressive dinner provided additional opportunities to enjoy the warmth of each other’s homes and laugh about how easily miscommunication happens.

When our best-laid plans go awry, we can agonize or ask God to give us an apt word and a fresh solution. That night’s happy ending built my faith, and next time, I know I’ll be able to turn to God more quickly for the right words to turn things around.

Lord, help me hold the plans I create with open hands, ready to flex with grace. Thank You for promising to give us wise words that preserve relationships. We’re grateful that You help us prioritize friendship when miscommunication derails our carefully crafted schedules. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Streams In The Desert

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May 18
Unanswered?
“Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily” (Luke 18:6, 7).
God’s seasons are not at your beck. If the first stroke of the flint doth not bring forth the fire, you must strike again. God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our minds have appointed; He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations. Hence the need of perseverance and importunity in supplication.
In the days of flint and steel and brimstone matches we had to strike and strike again, dozens of times, before we could get a spark to live in the tinder; and we were thankful enough if we succeeded at last.
Shall we not be as persevering and hopeful as to heavenly things? We have more certainty of success in this business than we had with our flint and steel, for we have God’s promises at our back.
Never let us despair. God’s time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing has arrived. Ask in faith nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the King delays to reply. Strike the steel again. Make the sparks fly and have your tinder ready; you will get a light before long. –C. H. Spurgeon
I do not believe that there is such a thing in the history of God’s kingdom as a right prayer offered in a right spirit that is forever left unanswered. –Theodore L. Cuyler

Live Abundantly Through Christ

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives
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An Ordinary Person?

From: Our Daily Journey

An Ordinary Person?

Read:

Galatians 5:13-26
Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives (Galatians 5:25).

If you get to know Lilian, you’ll soon discover that she has a contagious love for Jesus. After much prayer and counsel, Lilian and her husband left their careers to share the love of Jesus with college students in India and later in the United States. Even after her husband’s passing, Lilian continues to mentor and pray with young people who need direction in their lives. Her favorite time of the day is any time she gets to talk with Jesus and hand Him all her worries and problems.

This woman’s passion for life and her love for Jesus and those around her reminds me of Paul’s encouragement to believers in the province of Galatia. He told them to “follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of [their] lives” (Galatians 5:25).

What does that kind of total commitment look like? Paul emphasized that as followers of Jesus, they were free from the bondage of sin (Galatians 5:1). But that didn’t mean they could use their freedom in any way they wanted. Instead, they were to “let the Holy Spirit guide [their] lives,” because the Spirit gives “desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires” (Galatians 5:16-17).

What an amazing and liberating truth! The divine Advocate whom Jesus had promised believers would never leave them (John 14:16), would direct them to honor and obey God, and would teach them to “serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13). Ultimately, believers’ actions toward each other within the body of Christ would show that they had Christ’s Spirit living within them (Galatians 5:22-23).

May the God of hope and strength give us the motivation today to walk in step with the Holy Spirit, both as individuals and in our communities of faith!

 

Doubting God

From: Christian Broadcasting Network

When doing strenuous exercise it is wise to keep your head above your heart so that your brain is getting plenty of oxygen-rich blood flow. I find that principle applies to many other areas of life as well. If we make major decisions primarily guided by our hearts instead of our minds, we may act unwisely.

One exception to this rule is when we talk about faith. The moment I begin to contemplate some of the stories, promises and principles in the Bible from a strictly cerebral perspective doubt begins to creep in. Think about it: water turning into wine, multitudes being fed by a few loaves of bread and a couple of lousy fish, a sea parting so that people can cross without learning the backstroke, little guys killing giants, dead people coming back to life…come on! Sounds like something from a Tolkein novel.

Fortunately God knows of my over-thinking, doubting nature (just as He did of Thomas) and loves me in spite of it. When my mind begins to wander down the path of doubt all it usually takes is to steer my mind toward the opposite. Can I believe Jesus was a liar? Could God not be real or faithful? Is there no plan for my life…everyone’s life? When I die is that the end?

Well, when you put it that way the answer is a resounding NO! I simply do not believe we are in the world alone to fend for ourselves and turn into dust at the end. I’ve experienced too many spectacular, undeniable encounters with my God to stop believing. It has to be one or the other; I either believe or I don’t and the answer becomes clear (once again) that I DO. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” instructs Proverbs 3:5.

But why is my faith so weak? I’d like to think it’s because my mind’s so strong, but that’s obviously not it. I simply fall into the “What have you done for me lately” camp. I need to be reminded frequently that God is always with me but that I often forget to do my part; seek His face. I go on about my busy life, and then suddenly need comfort, peace, protection or rest and wonder why I’m not getting it.

Matthew 14:31 says, “…You of little faith, why do you doubt?” Even though He’s proven Himself to me time and again, I’m right there in the boat with those thick-headed disciples. My dwindling faith amazes even me sometimes.

Faith needs to be exercised and nurtured in order to gain strength. The sustenance for faith comes in the good times and the busy times, not just in the needy and desperate times.

If you start to doubt God’s love, promises, faithfulness, or even His very existence, try imagining how it would feel to stand firmly claiming those things are false. Can’t do it, can you? So get off the doubting road and get back to the path of believing, then stay put. Time to change up and keep your heart (and spirit) above your head. You may not always be able to see what He’s done for you lately, but what He did once and for all is the undeniable foundation to build lasting faith on.

 

His Ascension and Our Access

By Oswald Chambers

 His Ascension and Our Access

We have no experiences in our lives that correspond to the events in our Lord’s life after the transfiguration. From that moment forward His life was altogether substitutionary. Up to the time of the transfiguration, He had exhibited the normal, perfect life of a man. But from the transfiguration forward— Gethsemane, the Cross, the resurrection— everything is unfamiliar to us. His Cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by His resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to anyone, and by His ascension our Lord entered heaven, keeping the door open for humanity.

The transfiguration was completed on the Mount of Ascension. If Jesus had gone to heaven directly from the Mount of Transfiguration, He would have gone alone. He would have been nothing more to us than a glorious Figure. But He turned His back on the glory, and came down from the mountain to identify Himself with fallen humanity.

The ascension is the complete fulfillment of the transfiguration. Our Lord returned to His original glory, but not simply as the Son of God— He returned to His father as the Son of Man as well. There is now freedom of access for anyone straight to the very throne of God because of the ascension of the Son of Man. As the Son of Man, Jesus Christ deliberately limited His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. But now they are His in absolute, full power. As the Son of Man, Jesus Christ now has all the power at the throne of God. From His ascension forward He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.