Tag Archives: wine

Christ Died To Save Our Souls

25 Bible Verses about Faith - Scripture Quotes for Strength & Hope79 Bible Verses about Faith - DailyVerses.net
20 Bible Verses About Faith – Faith-Filled Bible VersesPin on Inspiring Christian Quotes
25 Bible Verses About Faith to Help You in Tough Times | Compassion UK32 Bible verses about Saved By Faith
20 Bible Verses About Faith – Faith-Filled Bible VersesGod and Jesus Christ:I am one of those. Daily Faith | Jesus christ quotes, Christ quotes, Bible scriptures

The Easy Way Is Not Always the Right Way

“Then the men of David said to him, ‘This is the day of which the Lord said to you, Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” 1 Samuel 24:4 NKJV

Sometimes everything seems to simply line up; doors open, opportunities arise, and the choice seems obvious. Simply receive the opportunity and proceed. Or is it so simple? Are there other factors to consider?

In 1 Samuel 24:1-22, the Bible tells about a time when King Saul took 3000 men to hunt David down to kill him. As circumstances would have it, and unbeknownst to King Saul, it was David who found Saul and his men first.

The Bible says David’s men rejoiced. They suggested it was the Lord who delivered Saul and his men into their hands. They encouraged David to do whatever he wanted to them. As David considered his options, he secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe while Saul slept.

Everything seemed perfect. All David had to do was kill his enemy. Instead, he hesitated. The Bible says David’s heart troubled him.

You see, David knew God’s law. He was familiar with God’s instruction about vengeance. It belonged to God alone. David understood if he killed King Saul, he would be killing one of God’s anointed, and he knew it was forbidden.

“And he said to his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.’” 1 Samuel 24:6 NKJV

Can you relate to David? Have you been offered an opportunity but don’t have peace? It may be the Holy Spirit reminding you the opportunity is not God’s best. There may be an undisclosed unethical component, and God wants you to turn it down.

A friend recently confided she and her husband were going through a difficult time in their marriage. Out of the blue, she meets another man. He appeared to offer traits and qualities her husband lacked. She convinced herself it was God who sent the new man. How easy it is for us to rationalize or justify our decisions when an opportunity presents itself at just the right time. It is our human condition and frailty at work when we charge ahead in life without allowing the Holy Spirit to be our guide.

It is no wonder the Bible warns us,

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

If we familiarize ourselves with the Bible and, like David, know what God desires, we will know how to choose right! It is much easier to obey God and avoid the heartache of bad decisions.

Like my friend, we are all tempted at times. She came to her senses when she remembered the Apostle Paul’s words,

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face … he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG

We have choices or opportunities that may be appealing in the moment or an easy way out of situations. It is wise to filter those opportunities through Deuteronomy 30:15 NLT,

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.”

Have you been confronted with an opportunity or decision first appearing to be sent from heaven? How did you respond? Did you jump on board or filter your opportunity through God’s Word? Sometimes the easy way is not the right way. The good news is Jesus will help us choose His way if we allow Him!

John 3:16 – The Love of God Through Jesus

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. – John 3:16

If we ever memorize a verse of Scripture, it will most likely be John 3:16. It is the verse most often heard in the simplicity and beauty of a little child’s voice proudly reciting it from memory. John 3:16 is the one verse showing up on large placards at football games and other major sporting events. Those signs are located where television cameras cannot avoid its message. This is the one verse that has been spoken by many older saints as they breathed their final breath.

John 3:16 is the entire gospel in a nutshell.

Angel Martinez, the late evangelist who had memorized the entire New Testament, referred to John 3:16 as salvation’s formula and observed that it contained four very insightful truths. It is the gospel in one verse. John 3:16 reveals to us salvation’s cause, its cost, its condition, and its consequence.

John 3:16 – Salvation’s Cause

“For God so loved the world”

The motivating factor behind God’s redemptive plan for every man and woman is His love for us. He not only loves us, He so loves us! Later, the apostle Paul sought to describe this love by speaking of its “breadth, and length, and depth, and height” (Ephesians 3:18), “God is love” (1 John 4:16), and this deep emotion is what brings about the possibility of our redemption; knowing Him in the intimate relationship of Father and child. God’s love for you is the motivating cause of salvation. “For God so loved…”

John 3:16 – Salvation’s Cost

“that He gave His only begotten Son”

Our salvation, the free pardoning of our sin, and the promise of abundant and eternal life in Christ did not come without cost. Freedom is never free; it is always bought with blood. From the early chapters of Genesis, there is a scarlet thread woven throughout the pages of Scripture revealing the blood atonement. It climaxes in the final and complete sacrifice for sin on a Roman cross outside the city gates of Jerusalem. Jesus not only spoke of His love for us, “but God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Our salvation in Christ came at a great cost: God “gave His only begotten Son.”

John 3:16 – Salvation’s Condition

“that whoever believes in Him”

Salvation is not spelled “d-o,” but “d-o-n-e.” Many people, however, think their own good works are the pathway to eternal life. Consequently, they do this or do that, or they don’t do this or don’t do that, all in order to earn salvation. But our salvation is done. It is already purchased for us with the blood of Christ on the cross. Our part is to believe, to transfer our trust from ourselves and our own efforts to His finished work on the cross of Calvary.

To believe does not mean to simply give intellectual assent to the claims of Christ. It means to transfer our trust to Him alone for our salvation.

The most pointed question in the entire Bible is asked of the apostle Paul by a Philippian jailer:

What must I do to be saved? – Acts 16:30

Paul’s immediate reply follows in the next verse:

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. – Acts 16:31

I believe in George Washington, but I don’t believe on him; I don’t trust my life to him. Salvation’s condition is through faith — and faith alone — in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Living with Suffering – Streams in the Desert – August 28

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

There he proved them (Exod. 15:25).

I stood once in the test room of a great steel mill. All around me were little partitions and compartments. Steel had been tested to the limit, and marked with figures that showed its breaking point. Some pieces had been twisted until they broke, and the strength of torsion was marked on them. Some had been stretched to the breaking point and their tensile strength indicated. Some had been compressed to the crushing point, and also marked. The master of the steel mill knew just what these pieces of steel would stand under strain. He knew just what they would bear if placed in the great ship, building, or bridge. He knew this because his testing room revealed it.

It is often so with God’s children. God does not want us to be like vases of glass or porcelain. He would have us like these toughened pieces of steel, able to bear twisting and crushing to the uttermost without collapse.

He wants us to be, not hothouse plants, but storm-beaten oaks; not sand dunes driven with every gust of wind, but granite rocks withstanding the fiercest storms. To make us such He must needs bring us into His testing room of suffering. Many of us need no other argument than our own experiences to prove that suffering is indeed God’s testing room of faith.
–J. H. McC

It is very easy for us to speak and theorize about faith, but God often casts us into crucibles to try our gold, and to separate it from the dross and alloy. Oh, happy are we if the hurricanes that ripple life’s unquiet sea have the effect of making Jesus more precious. Better the storm with Christ than smooth waters without Him.
–Macduff

What if God could not manage to ripen your life without suffering? 

Be Careful and Commit Things To God

10 Bible Verses about Being Careful – Daily Bible Verse BlogBe careful whom you follow (Biblical Homemaking) | Good morals, Words,  Inspirational quotes
Matthew 6 :22-23 Oh be careful little eyes what you see... | Christian  encouragement, Matthew 6, Scripture versesBe careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. Proverbs  4:23 | Proverbs 4 23, Proverbs 4, Proverbs
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with…  | Peace of god, Life verses, Scripture versesPin on Sayings
James 3:5 | Kjv, Words of jesus, King james bibleYour Thoughts Matter | Thoughts, Verse of the day, Daily bible verse

 

Watch Where You Are Going

Distractions abound in this modern futuristic world. People texting on their smartphones while driving…the only thing smart about that is the phone. People hurt and dying because someone is not watching where they’re going.

A man or a woman captured by the allure of a coworker, found in a situation which breaks trust with their spouse or loved one. All because they’re not watching where they’re going.

A business leader enticed by the easy riches of ill-gotten gain, now imprisoned after not watching where he was going.

Politicians, religious authorities, educational activists, and the list goes on and on. Not to belabor the point but did you ever just stop, look around and say to yourself, “ Everybody! Watch where you’re going!”

Hindsight is 20/20 but hindsight always comes when it’s too late. Just ask Adam. God’s created man who carried the future of humanity within him. God gave him a law, a warning to not eat the fruit of that one tree. Now Adam wasn’t stupid. In fact, he was very intelligent, yet what did he do?

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:6NIV)

Adam didn’t watch where he was going and so subsequently he led his family and all who would come after them to become a fallen race.

There was another man mentioned prominently in the Bible who did watch where he was going. The Lord Jesus, the Son of the living God. His life was devoted to one purpose, to fulfill the calling that Father God had placed before him. To fulfill the law and redeem this fallen race by his sacrifice on a cross. With all the many distractions, obstacles, and temptations, he watched where He was going, pushed towards the will of God, and succeeded. He won us back.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 KJV)

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV)

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)

We must fix our eyes on where we are going, and not get sidetracked by the pleasures of this world. For the pleasures of this world are only temporary. But friendship with God is forever!

Lord, help us watch where we are going and keep our eyes on what is important and eternal. Help us keep our eyes upon you.

 

The King’s Table

By: Ryan Duncan

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. – John 14:2

One of my favorite Bible stories is 2 Samuel 2:1. The story begins a few years after David has finally become King of Israel. Before this, his life had been an endless string of running, fighting, and hiding, as he was mercilessly pursed by Saul, who wanted nothing more than David’s head on a spike. Now Saul was dead, and David would have been perfectly justified in dishing up some well-deserved payback on the royal family. Instead, he does something completely different.

David reaches out to Saul’s last living grandson, a poor cripple named Mephibosheth. Despite being Saul’s grandson, Mephibosheth’s life hadn’t been that great. His legs had been broken as a baby, both his parents were dead, and he was living alone in exile. When he heard David was coming, Mephiboseth probably assumed that was it for him. Just imagine his surprise at what followed,

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons. Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table, and he was crippled in both feet. – 2 Samuel 9:7-13

The Bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart, and I think here we can see why. The story of David’s compassion to Mephibosheth is in some ways a foreshadowing to God’s compassion for all of us. We are all the broken children of Adam and Eve, people who turned their backs on God. Yet instead of abandoning us, God has made a place for us at his table. He has brought us out of exile and taken us home.

 

Responding to Tough Times

From: InTouch ministries

Proverbs 3:5-6

Tough times have a way of revealing our true nature. If two people were to face the same dilemma, one may grow closer to God and bear fruit while the other becomes anxious and doubts God’s faithfulness. How we respond to trials makes all the difference.

Like it or not, hardship is part of life. Becoming a Christian doesn’t change that fact (John 16:33). What shifts is our understanding of God’s sovereignty—nothing touches our life unless He permits it. Consider David, for example: God allowed a murderous king to pursue him for years (1 Samuel 23:151 Samuel 23:25), but David responded to adversity with faith and called God his stronghold and refuge (Psalm 59:16).

If we let them, challenges can grow our faith, change our perspective, or deepen our compassion. But no matter what, the Lord is available to help us in our affliction (Psalm 46:1). Either we can turn toward Him for comfort, guidance, and support, or we can get angry and resentful that we’re not being rescued from our valley.

When affliction strips away every crutch, one has only the Lord to depend upon. Though some people are destroyed by that kind of situation, others are built into undaunted believers.

Taken Aside by Jesus – Streams in the Desert – August 27

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

And he took him aside from the multitude (Mark 7:33).

Paul not only stood the tests in Christian activity, but in the solitude of captivity. You may stand the strain of the most intense labor, coupled with severe suffering, and yet break down utterly when laid aside from all religious activities; when forced into close confinement in some prison house.

That noble bird, soaring the highest above the clouds and enduring the longest flights, sinks into despair when in a cage where it is forced to beat its helpless wings against its prison bars. You have seen the great eagle languish in its narrow cell with bowed head and drooping wings. What a picture of the sorrow of inactivity.

Paul in prison. That was another side of life. Do you want to see how he takes it? I see him looking out over the top of his prison wall and over the heads of his enemies. I see him write a document and sign his name–not the prisoner of Festus, nor of Caesar; not the victim of the Sanhedrin; but the–“prisoner of the Lord.” He saw only the hand of God in it all. To him the prison becomes a palace. Its corridors ring with shouts of triumphant praise and joy.

Restrained from the missionary work he loved so well, he now built a new pulpit–a new witness stand–and from that place of bondage come some of the sweetest and most helpful ministries of Christian liberty. What precious messages of light come from those dark shadows of captivity.

Think of the long train of imprisoned saints who have followed in Paul’s wake. For twelve long years Bunyan’s lips were silenced in Bedford jail. It was there that he did the greatest and best work of his life. There he wrote the book that has been read next to the Bible. He says, “I was at home in prison and I sat me down and wrote, and wrote, for joy did make me write.” The wonderful dream of that long night has lighted the pathway of millions of weary pilgrims.

That sweet-spirited French lady, Madam Guyon, lay long between prison walls. Like some caged birds that sing the sweeter for their confinement, the music of her soul has gone out far beyond the dungeon walls and scattered the desolation of many drooping hearts.

Oh, the heavenly consolation that has poured forth from places of solitude!
–S. G. Rees

Taken aside by Jesus,
To feel the touch of His hand;
To rest for a while in the shadow
Of the Rock in a weary land.
Taken aside by Jesus,
In the loneliness dark and drear,
Where no other comfort may reach me,
Than His voice to my heart so dear.
Taken aside by Jesus,
To be quite alone with Him,
To hear His wonderful tones of love
‘Mid the silence and shadows dim.
Taken aside by Jesus,
Shall I shrink from the desert place;
When I hear as I never heard before,
And see Him ‘face to face’?

God’s Word Enlightens Us

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path." This is the  first verse I recall learning as a child. It has so much… | Open bible,25 Bible Verses about Light - DailyVerses.net
08.27.18 Sunday Message — Marie OsmondUsing Scripture in Prayer—the Light to My Path | matterofprayer
MCF Life Church: Your Word is a lamp for my feetScripture Memory verses: hiding God's Word in our hearts - Authentic  Christian Living

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105  | by Keith McGivern | MediumGod's Word Is a Lamp to Our Feet and a Light to Our Path - Psalm 119:105

 

Step by Step

Recently, my thoughts have been drifting back to a crisp fall evening several years ago. Earlier that day, I had been in Istanbul, Turkey. I rode across the Greek border in a small van, filled with 10 or so missionaries. During our drive, I couldn’t peel my face away from the window. The winding coastal drive had surpassed my every imagination of all things Mediterranean. On one side of the car, vineyards spilled down the massive mountains, which inspired the mythological tales of old. On the other side, a stunning palette that variegated from gold to turquoise, to cobalt blue as the shore melted into the same sea that carried Paul on most of his journeys.

At dusk, we settled into a camp halfway between Istanbul and Thessaloniki. There was just enough light to see olive trees greeting us at the entrance and a small mess hall where our dinner awaited. We were welcomed by the enthusiastic kisses and hugs of the Greek family that ran the camp. Before we knew it, the sun had said goodnight and our camp (being far away from any major cities) was very dark.

Before we turned in, one of our guides said to a small group of us, “Do you want to see something cool?” He handed us a couple of flashlights. We began to weave our way through the thick trees and bushes of the camp. I had to concentrate carefully on each step and the darkness forbid me to see anything other than the few inches in front of me.

Then, our guide led us to a cliff! There was a rough, winding, stairway nestled inside a stone wall. Though I was anxious and unsure, I began to make my way down the steep steps, concentrating on the narrow ray of light cast in front of me. Step. Step. Step. I still couldn’t see where we were going. Step. Step. Step.

However, when we got to the bottom, I no longer needed my flashlight. Beneath me was white sand, across from me was a glassy sea, and hovering above it all was the most sensational display of stars eradicating the darkness with a brilliant explosion of heavenly light. I had never before (and have never since) seen such an awe-inspiring spread of constellations. I had stumbled upon a romantic encounter between sky and earth. It was such a sacred and heavenly moment; it seems a mere mortal should not have been invited. And yet, I was, thanks to a very dark night, my small flashlight … and one obedient step after another. All the while, the scripture that came to mind was,

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

This is how our spiritual journey can be at times. As much as I would like God to reveal his big plan for my life, my journey is comprised of one small, obedient step at a time. I can’t see the 5-year plan. As much as I’d like to start preparing for the unknowns of my future, they remain unknown. As much as I would like for the Lord to prove upfront that He is faithful, kind, loving, and unfailing, there is no faith or adventure in that. God knows that we grow closer to Him by leaning on Him for every moment and every decision. He promises that there are amazing blessings for those who bravely follow Him, without doubting. We just have to learn to trust our guide and take it … step, by step, by step.

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

 

Spending Time With God in the Busyness of Life

“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” Genesis 5:24 (NIV)

As I sat down to read my Bible, my mind was bombarded with an ever-growing to-do list.

Almost immediately, I remembered wet clothes that needed to be transferred to the dryer, the email response I never sent and a project with a looming deadline. The desire to skip my time with God kept tempting me with each gnawing reminder of what I had not done.

Eventually, I succumbed to the pressure of getting things done over spending time with God. I had become Martha instead of Mary, and it all began with what seemed to be a harmless decision.

“Let me just check my email first,” I said to myself.

Soon, one email turned into many and begot a never-ending cycle of tackling everything that appeared to be urgent and pressing.

At the end of the day, I had not spent time with God at all.

I wish I could say this only happened on rare occasions, but the reality is, it has happened more than I care to admit.

Yet, I imagine God is not looking down in disappointment but with an extended hand, offering me an open invitation to come and spend time with Him.

He does this with all of us.

This is an invitation I believe Enoch accepted often because Genesis 5:24 describes him as one who “walked faithfully with God.” Given the fact that Enoch was a mere human being, this is a fascinating verse.

The book of Genesis is the first place where we see the extreme distinction between man and God. Man is considered common and of low degree. God is Elohim, sovereign and omnipotent. Enoch existed before the death and resurrection of Christ, so we know that in addition to his common nature, he was also separated from God by his sin.

Despite all of these barriers, Enoch’s relationship with God was one where he walked in step with his Creator. He did not walk behind God, missing His leading. Nor did he walk in front of God, moving without His authority and backing. Enoch accompanied God.

This would require him to keep pace with God the Father. If it were me, I think I would either be running — out of breath, trying to keep up — or lagging very far behind. Can you imagine keeping pace with God spiritually?

Surely this was cultivated over time. It is possible Enoch and God had regular, frequent conversations. Enoch must have been in the habit of repenting of his sin because sin could not persist in the presence of an omniscient God.

The interaction between Enoch and God was not religious, filled with regimented rituals and routines. What they had was a genuine relationship. God loved Enoch so much that the second half of the verse tells us He simply took Enoch away.

Enoch never had to taste the bitterness of death: “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24). He simply was and then he was no more. This is a beautiful depiction of what a relationship with God can be. We, too, though common and of low degree, can have this same type of relationship with our omnipresent God.

We can walk with Him through our deepest valleys and highest mountaintops. His invitation remains open for you and me. We have the privilege and honor of walking in step with God our Father. This requires that we choose Him over every competing distraction. In doing so, we, just like Enoch, accept the invitation to spend time with our unchanging God.

Dear God, thank You for being Elohim, sovereign and able to do anything. Thank You that Jesus broke down every barrier between You and me so we could have a beautiful and intimate relationship. I want to talk to You and spend time with You every day. Please help me make that a priority in my life, like Enoch did. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

 

Never Ashamed

by Inspiration Ministries

“In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be ashamed; in Your righteousness deliver me.” – Psalm 31:1 NASB

David was concerned about being ashamed. We might assume he was thinking about sins or questionable actions. But David displayed another perspective.

The Hebrew word here suggests being disappointed. He thought he had not trusted God completely. He thought he had set a bad example that others might follow.

David used the same word to declare how he took refuge in God, knowing He would “put to shame” those who opposed him (Psalm 14:6). David this word used four times in Psalm 25, confirming that he trusted in God, praying that he would not be ashamed.

In Psalm 31, David was concerned with his response to opposition. The shame was possible if he reacted in the wrong way. His cry was, “Let me never be ashamed.” Ultimately, David knew that he would not feel shame because he took refuge in the Lord. He was David’s “fortress” and his “rock of strength” (v. 3-4). He prayed instead, “Let the wicked be put to shame” (v. 17).

We might feel ashamed in many ways. But, as David discovered, we can feel shame if we react to problems with fear and worry rather than faith or when we realize others might follow our example and drift away from Him.

Today, make sure that you trust in Him. Be confident in Him and an example of faith to others, so you will not feel ashamed.

Trust Gods Love and Grace

25 Encouraging Bible Verses About Trusting God (9 Major Truths)TRUST GOD FIRST: Top 25 Bible Verses About Trusting God - Elijah Notes

54 Bible Verses about Trust - DailyVerses.net48 Bible verses about Faith And Trust
27 Bible Verses About Trusting God - Scripture to Inspire Trust ...54 Bible Verses about Trust - DailyVerses.net
10 Bible Verses about Trusting God Not Man, Trusting God Instead ...Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord - Free Bible Verse Art Downloads ...

God Opens Doors Out of the Blue

What if today, right out of the clear blue sky, or tonight, out under the stars, God placed before you a clear-cut opportunity for an adventure in faith with Him? Are you ready? Ready to lace up your shoes, step through that door, and follow Him?

Why do we shy away from open doors, from the prospect of new adventures in faith? Why do we let opportunity after opportunity pass us by, even though we feel a stirring of desire and a tug on our hearts to respond? What holds us back?

I think many of us are simply too weighed down and tangled up by our past to step into God’s purpose today. How sad. We lose “today” because of “yesterday.” Life flows on by, and age creeps up on us while we remain mired in doubts, fears, and hesitations.

Have you ever met some older person, now physically unable to work or travel, who could only look back on life with regrets? It’s not a happy story. Some older man will say, “Years ago I had the opportunity to serve the Lord overseas—and deep down, I really wanted to go. But I had a good job, and I was climbing the ladder. So I held back. Then the opportunity passed me by—and it never came again.”

Or some older lady saying, “My husband and I couldn’t have children. He wanted to adopt a baby girl from China, but I was afraid, I kept stalling the decision, and we never did. Now my husband’s gone, and here I am with no one in my life. It would be so wonderful to have a daughter.”

Life is too short to live with regrets! Life is too precious to turn away from promising opportunities to serve the King in His kingdom.

The psalmist said,

“I run in the path of your commandments, for you have set my heart free.” (Psalm 119:32 WEB)

That’s what we want. To just run and run and run into His will and the paths of His purpose. With a light heart, a clear eye, and hope rushing bank-high through the channels of our heart.

But we can’t run if we have huge packs on our backs or ropes tangling up our feet that keep us from embracing God Adventures. Be open when God calls, even out of the blue.

 

Oh, the Places God Will Take You!

By:  Veronica Neffinger, crosswalk.org

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  –Proverbs 3:5-6

Looking at my stash of postcards, I can’t help but think of the Dr. Seuss book title, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

I have been a lot of places (within the U.S. anyway): Bayfield, WI for their apple orchards and outdoor concert venue, winding Lombard Street in San Francisco, the mangroves of the Florida Keys, Pike’s Peak in Colorado…and the list goes on.

As I look at the postcards which mark each place I’ve been, I also can’t help but think that rather than the places I’ll go, the theme for my life has been “Oh, the places the Lord will take you!”

Sometimes these are literal, physical places like the ones mentioned above, but more often they are intangible places of spiritual growth.

All Christians seem to love the popular Proverbs verses: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight,” but oftentimes it seems we do not trust in God to lead us down the right metaphorical path, while we do trust our GPS to get us to that scenic overlook, that historical attraction, that famed wonder of nature–all physical realities.

I would wager that many of us have discovered the hard way that when you think you know better than your GPS and you override it, you usually end up lost.

I don’t think it would be a stretch to claim that we often do the same with God as our guide.

It’s easy to think we know best how to direct our own paths and get where we want to go, but the truth is, we probably wouldn’t have many spiritual “postcards” hanging in the room of our hearts if we went our own way.

God is trustworthy. He is always ready to prove that.

I bet many, many of us could look back on the life we have already lived and point to dozens of times when we saw God’s hand orchestrating situations, bringing certain people into our lives, opening certain doors, closing others, bringing us to a place in which we can look back and see his Providence.

Many of us will also probably admit that those paths didn’t look very straight at the time when we were in the valley, but after all, it’s the same on a map: a road may look straight from a bird’s-eye view, but when you walk or drive it, you may find it has many bends and curves.

And yet, we still trust that the road will take us where the map or a GPS said it would take us–what if we did the same in our relationship with God?

 

Mourning into Dancing

by Inspiration Ministries

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.” – Psalm 30:11-12 NASB

The Bible tells us, “there is a time for every event under heaven.” Both a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and dance (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4).

Yes, there are times when mourning is appropriate. Yet we easily can become absorbed in the emotions of the moment and wallow in sadness. We can become saturated with anger, bitterness, fear, or worry.

David discovered that God had the power to change everything. He could lift his burdens and turn his moments of mourning into times of celebration. He did not have to stay sad or depressed.

Everything might seem dark, but God could shine His light and change hopelessness into hope. Instead of dreading his circumstances, he could be confident. God could fill his life with so much radiance that he would burst out in songs of praise. Instead of wallowing in anguish, he could be filled with thanksgiving.

No matter what is happening in your life, remember that God loves you. He has a plan for you. He is God, and He is still on the throne. Commit every situation to Him, no matter how big or small. No matter what obstacles you face or how hopeless everything may seem, He can give you hope.

Allow God to fill your heart with joy and confidence. Don’t allow circumstances to control you, but trust in Him. Celebrate His goodness! Let Him turn your mourning into dancing!

 

Streams in the Desert

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

Shut up to faith (Gal. 3:23).

God, in olden time suffered man to be kept in ward by the law that he might learn the more excellent way of faith. For by the law he would see God’s holy standard and by the law he would see his own utter helplessness; then he would be glad to learn God’s way of faith.

God still shuts us up to faith. Our natures, our circumstances, trials, disappointments, all serve to shut us up and keep us in ward till we see that the only way out is God’s way of faith. Moses tried by self-effort, by personal influence, even by violence, to bring about the deliverance of his people. God had to shut him up forty years in the wilderness before he was prepared for God’s work.

Paul and Silas were bidden of God to preach the Gospel in Europe. They landed and proceeded to Philippi. They were flogged, they were shut up in prison, their feet were put fast in the stocks. They were shut up to faith. They trusted God. They sang praises to Him in the darkest hour, and God wrought deliverance and salvation.

John was banished to the Isle of Patmos. He was shut up to faith. Had he not been so shut up, he would never have seen such glorious visions of God.

Dear reader, are you in some great trouble? Have you had some great disappointment, have you met some sorrow, some unspeakable loss? Are you in a hard place? Cheer up! You are shut up to faith. Take your trouble the right way. Commit it to God. Praise Him that He maketh “all things work together for good,” and that “God worketh for him that waiteth for him.” There will be blessings, help and revelations of God that will come to you that never could otherwise have come; and many besides yourself will receive great light and blessing because you were shut up to faith.
–C. H. P

Great things are done when men and mountains meet,
These are not done by jostling in the street.

Reclaim The Joy

Pin on Quote10 Bible Verses on Joy

Printable Verses About Joy15 Best Bible Verses about Happiness | Encouraging Scripture on Joy
1 Peter 1:8 - Unspeakable Joy - Free Art Download – Bible Verses To Go20 Bible Verses about Joy - Scripture Quotes to Rejoice in the Lord
Uplifting Bible Verses About Joy – Bible Verses To Go10 Bible Verses on Joy

Reclaim the Joy

“Wanna come fishing with us, Grami?” asked my grandson, Deacon, as I sat on the veranda enjoying my book, coffee, and the cool morning quiet of the surrounding mountains. He was up early.

I’m not a fan of fishing, but I am a fan of my grandkids. Laying aside my book, I followed Deacon and his sister Eden to the dock where their dad stood baiting the fishing lines. I sat in a lawn chair next to my daughter to watch the activity. Her family was vacationing in the North Georgia Mountains near my home and had asked me to join them.

It wasn’t long before the sounds of excitement signaled someone had a bite. Surprised, I saw it was Eden who is usually more reserved than her brother. She didn’t rival Deacon’s noisiness, but the amazement and joy on her face was something to behold.

Her first catch! A live wiggly fish dangled on the end of her line. As I looked into Eden’s face, I caught the excitement and clapped in delight. I was taken back to my childhood summers when each day unveiled new and wondrous discoveries to be made.

And I had to wonder: When do we stop looking at each day with anything less than joyful anticipation? Why do we resist getting animated about life? Maybe the peer-pressured years of our teens change us. Maybe we hide our emotions because the world tells us we’re unsophisticated for believing there’s anything new under the sun. Maybe we let the disappointments and troubles we encounter rob us of hope.

When we let boredom or cynicism become our default mode, we aren’t experiencing life abundantly as Jesus intends. Consider what Jesus says in Matthew 19:14 (NIV):



”Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Jesus wants all His children, young and old, to enjoy life. And when we show our joy, we serve as witnesses for Him and the abundant life He came to give (John 10:10).

Joy is a response to God’s gifts and to who we are in Him. It’s not difficult to find and express joy.

  • We start by remembering each new day is from God.
  • We express gratitude for this gift.
  • We open our eyes and see signs of God’s love all around us.
  • And just like children, we celebrate.

“This is the day the LORD has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 CSB)

Thank you, Lord, for this day you have made. Make my eyes and heart like those of little children. Help me see the many reasons I have to rejoice and be glad. And remind me not to hide my joy because, by sharing it with others, I am showing them You. Amen.



What do you have to celebrate today?

 

God Is So Much More

by Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.org

For your Maker is your husband–the LORD Almighty is his name–the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth – (Isaiah 54:5).

It is natural and good for us to turn to God for comfort when we are overwhelmed by life. Scripture, prayer, and meditation can help us through anxiety, loneliness, divorce, the death of a loved one, and depression. Divorce rates continue to skyrocket, and many women (including single mothers) struggle to fill the hole in their lives with promises of God’s faithfulness. Many women use Scripture to remind themselves that, like Hosea married Gomer, the LORD said:

“I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy” (Hosea 2:19).

As I have been pondering this notion of God acting as husband to an aging single, a neglected wife, a grieving widow, or a lonely divorcee, something interesting came to mind. Something that maybe changes the way we think about God as a husband figure.

Marriage today is not what it was for biblical authors. Today, in the Western world at least, marriage is a union based on commitment, love, and common interest. We marry someone who shares our worldview, so we can journey through life together. We marry someone to whom we are physically attracted, so that we can enjoy them to the fullest. We marry for romance; we marry for personal fulfillment. Mostly, we marry because we want to – not because we have to. Women who remain single are fully capable of earning a living, doing good works for the Kingdom, and enjoying life.

Women in the ancient near east had a much more complex understanding of marriage. Yes, in Genesis 2, the Song of Solomon, and other places, we see that God’s plan was for marriage to create emotional and physical fulfillment and pleasure. But marriage for ancient Israelite women was more than emotional and physical partnership. It was – literally – a lifesaver. A woman who married gained the chance to have her own home. A woman who married gained the chance to have sons (essentially the life-goal of any ancient near-eastern woman). A woman who married would be provided for, fed, and cared for. If anyone hurt her, she had a legal protector and a place to find safety in much greater measure than if she still lived in her father’s household (or, God forbid, had no father or family).

Kind of makes looking to God as “husband” to fulfill emotional needs seem… pretty shallow, doesn’t it? Check out this passage in Isaiah that really elaborates on the significance of the metaphor:

“Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD. “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shameDo not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband— the LORD Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth” (Isaiah 54:1-5, emphasis mine).

To ancient Israel, saying “God is your husband” meant that God was their redeemer, God was their savior from captivity, their savior from barrenness.

An important realization comes with this fuller understanding of the God-as-husband metaphor. We can realize that, while God is protector and ultimate satisfaction, he is not a cure-all for our momentary pain. God never promises that his relationship with us can –or should– eliminate every negative emotion that we feel. We must have grace for ourselves, and grace for each other, to mourn and work through pain, without guilt or shame for doing so.

 

Always Ready

by Inspiration Ministries

“Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone … Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” – Matthew 24:36, 42 NASB

For centuries, Rome had ruled much of the world, but gradually it had declined and become vulnerable. Then suddenly, on this day in 410 AD, the Visigoths, a tribe of Teutonic people, sacked Rome.

This invasion caught the Roman leaders and military off guard. Procopius, a sixth-century historian, recalled that the emperor in Rome, Honorius, never had “a thought of war in his mind” but simply was happy “if men allowed him to remain quiet in his palace.”

Many people thought an invasion was impossible. Depending on Rome’s reputation, some assumed it always would be safe. Many Christians thought God always would protect Rome since the empire had been Christian for almost one hundred years.

After Rome was destroyed, many wondered why God had allowed this destruction. Grappling with this question helped motivate St. Augustine to write his monumental work The City of God. Remember, God is not bound to explain why He allows anything, but He is always in control; He is always good.

Many people go about their lives, just like Honorius, unconcerned about the future. Others feel confident that they have nothing to worry about. They forget the Bible’s warning that no knows the hour when Jesus may return. We always need to “be on the alert” (Matthew 25:13).

Today, seek to be faithful with the tasks God has given you. Focus on His Kingdom. Make sure you are alert and ready for Jesus’ return.

 

Tomorrow

By: Charles Sourgeon

“Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1

Suggested Further Reading: Proverbs 31:10-25

On one occasion I pleaded for a friendly society, and not knowing a more appropriate text, I selected this, “Take no thought for the morrow, for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” Some of my hearers, when I announced my text, feared the principle of it was altogether hostile to anything like an insurance, or providing for the future, but I just showed them that it was not, as I looked upon it. It is a positive command that we are to take no anxious thought concerning tomorrow. Now, how can I do that? How can I put myself into such a position that I can carry out this commandment of taking no thought for the morrow? If I were a man struggling in life, and had it in my power to insure for something which would take care of wife and family in after days, if I did not do it, you might preach to me for all eternity about not taking thought for the morrow; but I could not help doing it, when I saw those I loved around me unprovided for. Let it be in God’s word, I could not practise it; I should still be at some time or other taking thought for the morrow. But let me go to one of the many excellent institutions which exist, and let me see that all is provided for, I come home and say, “Now, I know how to practise Christ’s command of taking no thought for the morrow; I pay the policy-money once a year, and I take no further thought about it, for I have no occasion to do so now, and have obeyed the very spirit and letter of Christ’s command.” Our Lord meant that we were to get rid of cares.

For meditation: Are you playing your part to provide practically for the members of your family? (1 Timothy 3:4-5125:4,16). If not, perhaps you should start getting anxious (1 Timothy 5:8).

Grace and Truth Came By Jesus Christ

Pin on Bible Verses18 Bible Verses About God's Grace
9 Bible Verses on Grace16 Bible verses about God, Grace Of
5 Comforting Verses to Reaffirm God's Grace - Topical StudiesInspirational Pictures, Images and Bible Verses of God's Grace ...
What Does the Bible Say About God's Mercy and Grace?: 85 Bible ...43 Bible Verses about Grace - DailyVerses.net

 

Abundant Grace

I receive e-mails, phone calls and texts from people who say, “Pray for me I can’t stop sinning.” Let me share some great news with you today.

” … Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV

Wow, Brad, is that the great news? Let me explain what some preach from this passage, GUILT!

Jesus says in Matthew 5:28 NIV,

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

So, does this keep us out of heaven? Well, if you interpret the above passage with none of God’s grace then yes. I know many drunkards, sexually immoral, slanderers, and swindlers who will be in heaven. Why?

Because of the last part of the passage above in 1 Corinthians 6:11, NIV:

“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

No one can lead a perfect life after they become a believer. It is ONLY by God’s grace that we are saved (see Ephesians 2:8-9).

When we get to heaven, it will not be of ANYTHING we did, but it will be in whom we put our faith and trust. He purchased what we could not. The more we rely on the Holy Spirit the less we will sin, but we will still sin till God calls us home. The sin we do cannot separate us from God, but the sin we do can make our lives miserable here on this earth. We can have dysfunctional families because of our sin. We can have all sorts of abuse from our sin and on and on. But that sin will never separate us from God when we have BY FAITH put our trust in the Lord.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.” Romans 8:38-39 NIV

If people are constantly bringing up your sin, then they are the older prodigal brother who never loved the Father in the first place. Maybe today, if you are the prodigal older brother, you too may need to be broken into a thousand pieces like the younger brother. The younger brother only loved His Father when he was truly broken. Then, when he was broken, he saw that the Father did not condemn him or bring up his past, but loved him and gave him his inheritance back.

May the Lord bless you in a mighty way for helping us to help others. May we all feel like the younger brother who came over the last hill, and instead of experiencing shame we experience true love, redemption, joy, and hope for a glorious future. Please pray that many more would be written in the Lambs Book Of Life. Thank you again for helping us to keep on keepin’ on.

 

Sick on the Scenic Route

John UpChurch, Crosswalk.org

 

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” – Philippians 3:12 

On my way home from North Carolina, I followed my impulse to jump on the Blue Ridge Parkway that meanders along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. Late spring had hit, and the trees on that slithering byway had burst into color. And if you know me, you know I can’t resist a scenic detour in spring… or summer…  or anytime I’m sure my car won’t get stuck for some reason.

If you’ve ever had the chance to sling along the Blue Ridge, you’ll find it hard to keep your eyes on the road. Gasp-worthy valley vistas pretty much assault you wherever you turn with their seductive greens and purples and blues. The only problem with a wandering gaze, however, is that many of the turns on that road completely bend back on themselves. So, you’re constantly looking out in awe—and then whipping the car back on the road before you become part of that valley view.

In fact, those stomach-churning curves nearly got the better of me. Never before or since have I suffered from motion sickness while driving. But that road, with all its flipping and flopping, beat me up. By the time I finally escaped that tangled beast of a road, I was actually happy to see the interstate and all its rush-hour traffic (well, for the most part). At least those bumper-to-bumper shenanigans meant I’d be going straight.

For many of us, our pursuit of Christ swings us around in much the same way. We whip around curves that seem to take us the long way round, nearly bumble off the road because something shiny catches our eyes, and let the cares along the way nauseate us. It’s a circuitous route, this Christian life, and one that doesn’t move us from start to finish quickly.

But it’s a path paved by the One who made us His own.

Each bend, each switchback curve, brings us closer to the goal He made possible. His mountain climbing 2000 years ago means we can follow Him all the way, no matter how far away the goal may seem. We’re His, and He’s calling us home.

Streams in the Desert

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

He went out, not knowing whither he went (Hebrews 11:8).

It is faith without sight. When we can see, it is not faith, but reasoning. In crossing the Atlantic we observed this very principle of faith. We saw no path upon the sea, nor sign of the shore. And yet day by day we were marking our path upon the chart as exactly as if there had followed us a great chalk line upon the sea. And when we came within twenty miles of land, we knew where we were as exactly as if we had seen it all three thousand miles ahead.

How had we measured and marked our course? Day by day our captain had taken his instruments and, looking up to the sky, had fixed his course by the sun. He was sailing by the heavenly, not the earthly lights.

So faith looks up and sails on, by God’s great Sun, not seeing one shore line or earthly lighthouse or path upon the way. Often its steps seem to lead into utter uncertainty, and even darkness and disaster; but He opens the way, and often makes such midnight hours the very gates of day.

Let us go forth this day, not knowing, but trusting.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

“Too many of us want to see our way through before starting new enterprises. If we could and did, from whence would come the development of our Christian graces? Faith, hope and love cannot be plucked from trees, like ripe apples. After the words ‘In the beginning’ comes the word ‘God’! The first step turns the key into God’s power-house, and it is not only true that God helps those who help themselves, but He also helps those who cannot help themselves. You can depend upon Him every time.”

 

The Voice of the Lord

by Inspiration Ministries

“The voice of the Lord is powerful, the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; Yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.” – Psalm 29:4-5 NASB

The Bible describes moments when God spoke to His people. But many wonder if He speaks to people today. For some, the idea of hearing from God seems like a fantasy, like fiction or even a delusion.

David had no doubts that God spoke to His people. In fact, he had experienced God’s voice in several ways. He described His voice as “powerful” and “majestic” (v. 4). His voice “shakes the wilderness” and “strips the forests bare” (v. 9). When God speaks, the impact can change physical objects. But His voice also can foster intimate moments.

The experience of hearing God’s voice can be life changing. As David described, those in His temple say “Glory” (v. 9). They are overwhelmed and filled with praise.

The Bible reminds us that God speaks in many ways. He speaks through His written Word. He can speak through pastors, counselors, and others who are sensitive to His leading.

God speaks through His Spirit (John 16:13). He can speak in loud, earth-shattering ways, but, as Elijah discovered, also in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12)

God desires to have a personal relationship with you. He is not a cold, distant deity; He is alive and real. Talk with Him. Share your deepest needs and concerns with Him. But don’t just talk. Take time to listen. Be sensitive to His leading. He might speak in a still, small voice.

Ways To Conquer Fear

How to overcome FEAR - Biblical Principles for Overcoming Fear ...Verses To Help Us Overcome Fear | SPIRIT 105.9
Bible Verses on Overcoming Fear and Worry – Heather C. King – Room ...FEAR NOT: 32 Bible Verses About Fear - Elijah Notes
17 Bible Verses About Fear — Bible Quotes to Overcome Fear65+ Bible Verses that will Help You Conquer Fear - Extravagant Hope
Overcoming Fear So We Can Yield to the Call of GodTop 7 Bible Verses About Overcoming Fear | Jack Wellman

 

Ways to Conquer Fear

The other day while my fingers danced on my keyboard, suddenly something happened. My muscles tightened. “Cindi, don’t know what’s wrong,” I wrote to my very-wise friend. “I’m stuck, really stuck. My computer says there’s no room on the disk and I’m out of memory.”

Even from far away, she resolved the crisis. “Sometimes,” she wrote gently, “this can happen when you have too many windows open.”

Duh! That’s exactly what had happened. I, the queen of multi-tasking, had so many windows open at once that a mighty draft was most likely blowing my way.

Why do we do that? We open windows in life too—our kids do something off-the-wall for the umpteenth time, and we open the window of worry. When will they ever learn? Money problems don’t let up, so we open the window of anxiety. The doctor’s office leaves a message, “We found something abnormal in the test.” Then we open the window of fear. Our spouse still won’t understand us so we fling open the window of anger.

Then our life gets stuck with no more memory of joy. The file where peace was stored can’t be accessed and the folder of security is empty.

I’ve been there and it’s an ugly place when that folder is empty, when it’s void of confidence, of reassurance or hope. Unable to deal with an unexpected tragedy, I filled the folder of my heart with grief and gloom. At 31, a retinal disease robbed my sight, aggressively, completely, and with no expectation of regaining it again.

That’s when I opened not just a window, but a huge patio door of self-pity. Why me? I asked over and over again. The winds of anxiety and fear blew right through my soul. What will I do being blind, unable to care for my 3, 5, and 7-year-old sons? Where would I find help, answers to my questions, comfort? How could I calm my nagging fears?

In the midst of all those questions, like my friend Cindi, Jesus was gentle to come to my rescue. To remind me and to point to a different kind of fear, the fear that ushers perfect comfort:

“How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.” Psalm 31:19 (NLT)

And while under His refuge, windows of destructive emotions closed. Doors of wisdom opened instead. They ushered three important truths to conquer fear:

  • The God of the universe is watching. He’s listening and is ready to point the way in the darkness.
  • He will hold us up, give us strength, and begin a new life in us.
  • He will fulfill His promise:

“Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will bring me safely through them.” Psalm 138:7a (TLB)

Father, in the midst of fear that fuels my stress, how comforting it is to know that you, with your mighty power, will bring me safely through all of these frightening emotions. Teach me to trust in you, in your timing and in your ways. Because of you, I will purposefully close each window of negative emotions so I can settle in the freedom from all my fears. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Remember Your Baptism

by Liz Kanoy, crosswalk.org

“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.'” – Acts 2:38-39

Three years ago on Pentecost, I attended my godson’s baptism. The pastor encouraged parents and godparents to remind their children and godchildren of their baptisms often. He also encouraged all believers to continually remember their own baptism and to remember what baptism means for those in the body of Christ.

When I was baptized at 23, the pastor prefaced my baptism by saying “there is nothing magical about this water,” and he was right. There is no magic in the water and the water itself will not change you, but there is extraordinary power and hope in the One who makes baptism possible – the One who baptizes in the Spirit and transforms the heart.

Whether you lean toward infant baptism or a believer’s baptism theologically, Christians can all agree that baptism is a symbol of eternal hope in Christ. For Christian parents, their baby’s baptism is a symbol of their promise to raise the child to know and love God. For believers, baptism is a symbol of the lasting hope they possess and a reminder of the promise that has been fulfilled.

Remember your baptism, but don’t just remember the day or the act – remember the gospel of Jesus Christ, which gives purpose to all baptisms. Remember that the Lord called you to Himself, and He chose you by name – not by any merit of your own but by His free gift of grace.

Throughout the Bible, we can see that God chose people whom we might consider not so deserving – polytheists, murderers, adulterers, harlots, liars, and all other sorts of sinners and sins combined. His point in showing us the flaws of the people He chose is to remind us that no one is deserving. He can give mercy to anyone He chooses because all have fallen short of His glory, and no one can be justified and sanctified apart from Jesus.

When you remember your baptism, remember that you were nothing and God made you new. You were without hope, but He called you His own. He has adopted you as His child and heir. Remember the sin that caused the world to fall, understand the consequence of sin for every human being, and realize your continual need for the perfect Savior who lived and died and rose for all who would believe.

 

The Judgment of Believers

From: InTouch ministries

2 Corinthians 5:9-10

What do you feel when you think about standing before the judgment seat of Christ—fear or dread? The apostle John says that if we abide in Christ, then when the Lord appears, we can have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame (1 John 2:28). The reason is that we belong to Jesus, who went to on the cross to bear our sins and take the penalty we deserved.

Our future judgment has nothing to do with determining our eternal destiny; that has already been settled. Instead, this judgment is Christ’s evaluation of our deeds—to evaluate “whether [they are] good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The word bad refers not to evil acts but to those that are of zero value. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 likens Christ’s judgment to a fire that consumes every worthless deed but leaves untouched those worthy of eternal reward. Although our life may look impressive by worldly standards, God alone knows the heart’s motives and which deeds are truly good (1 Corinthians 4:5).

Our actions don’t determine whether we spend eternity with God, but He is gracious to consider them for the purpose of reward. Together, let’s seek to live for Him and His glory each day. And let us also rest, knowing that His righteousness makes us worthy of heaven.

Desperate Moments

by Inspiration Ministries

“To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy.” – Psalm 28:1-2 ESV

David was desperate. He had prayed but nothing seemed to change. It was as if God was deaf. David had worshiped but still nothing changed.

All the while, it seemed that world conditions were deteriorating and the ungodly were being successful. David’s plea was that God would recognize their ways and reward them accordingly in order to make things right.

Finally, David sensed that God had not really ignored him: “He has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy” (v. 6). With this new confidence, David blessed the Lord. He realized, “the Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him” (v. 7).

His message was, “the Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed” (v. 8). David ended with a prayer that God would save His people, bless His heritage, and “be their shepherd” (v. 9).

Have you had moments like this, when it seems that God is not hearing you? In these moments, continue to seek Him. Even if He seems silent, realize that He really is hearing you. Continue to praise and trust Him. Commit your needs to Him. Be confident that He is aware of the actions of the ungodly.

Rest in Him. Trust in Him. Continue to serve Him and to pray for others

Identity In Christ

Your True Identity in Christ: 76 Inspirational ScripturesIdentity in Christ Bible Verses ~ Coffee With Starla
20 Encouraging Bible Verses about Our Identity in ChristIdentity In Christ | Student Devos - Youth and Teenage Devotions
25 Important Bible Verses About Identity In ChristBible verse: 1 Peter 2:10--You are God's people Uncover your true ...
32 Bible Verses For Women - Affirming Your Beauty & ValuePin on Christian Inspiration

Identity in Christ

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me” 1 Corinthians 4:3-4(NIV)

Paul did not care if other people judged him. He knew the Lord judges. When we stop caring about our image but instead care about what the Lord thinks of our character, we eliminate the need to seek external approval. It doesn’t matter what the next-door neighbor believes; God knows the intentions of our hearts. He alone is the judge; we are not.

What relief we feel when we don’t have to “keep up with the Joneses.” Status, fame, and worldly concerns slip away. Instead, we get our approval from one source—God—who loves us enough to send his one and only son to die for us.

Our identity is in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice he made for us. We get off the emotional roller coaster when we do not link our identity to our accomplishments or sins. Christ took our sins upon himself when he died on the cross, so we would be made holy and clean before God. Now we are part of his family:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV).

What a relief to know that we will not be condemned when we go to heaven, because Jesus was condemned for us, and he received our punishment.

It doesn’t matter what you think of yourself, because you become transformed as you trust Jesus to take away your sins—to be the sacrificial lamb that died for you. Once you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and follow him, he becomes your new identity.

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ …” (2 Corinthians 2:15 NIV).

God even thinks we smell like his son! Ask the Lord to exchange the desire you have for the world’s approval, for his approval.

When we are not concerned with what others think of us, or even what we think of ourselves, but instead focus on what God thinks, we arrive at humility. Timothy Keller, author of The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, wrote,

“The essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”

Instead of worrying about how you look or focusing on your weight, you should think less about yourself altogether. Focus on who you are in Christ.

 

The Karate Kid – Crosswalk the Devotional – August 21

by Ryan Duncan

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. – Matthew 5:39

When it comes to old movies, there’s really no beating the 1984 Karate Kid. It’s the classic coming-of-age story of a young boy who finds his potential with the help of a wise, old man. Of course, back then all I cared about were the awesome fight scenes. The first time I saw the movie I must have spent a week doing “Crane kicks” around the house like an inebriated flamingo. Those same action sequences haven’t aged well, and these days The Karate Kid looks downright corny, but the film still contains some valuable lessons for people who listen.

At one point in the movie Daniel grows frustrated with his training. He’s tired of being bullied, tired of being treated like a loser, he wants some payback and karate seems like the best way to get it. Mr. Miyagi listens patiently as his young pupil vents his anger, then pulls him aside and in broken English tries to explain the essence of what he’s teaching.

Pointing to his head, Miyagi says, “Daniel san, karate here.” He then points to his heart and says “Karate here.” Lastly, he points at his fists and say, “karate never, never here.”

The Karate Kid might be a cheesy movie, but I think a lot of Christians could take a lesson from Mr. Miyagi. It bothers me how often I hear pastors and Christian leaders say things like, “We’re soldiers in the army of God”, “We’re fighting a Culture War”, or “The line is being drawn in the sand”. I understand how hard it is to live as a Christian in modern culture, believe me, but that doesn’t mean we start living our faith with our fists. In fact, that sounds almost counter to what Jesus told his disciples to do.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”– Luke 6:27-31

The truth is Jesus doesn’t need us to fight His battles. Our job is to be reflections of His love and mercy, and we can’t do that when we’re branding people as enemies of the Church. The same principles Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel about karate are true for Christians. God is in our hearts, God is in our minds, but God is never, never in our fists.

 

Accountable to God

From: InTouch ministries

Acts 24:24-25

Are you accountable to anyone? We all need accountability because it serves as a guardrail, keeping us on the right path. Some people act as if they answer to no one, and yet ultimately we’re all accountable to God and will one day stand before Him to be judged.

The Bible describes two separate judgments—one will be for believers (2 Corinthians 5:9-10) and the other, for unbelievers (Revelation 20:11-15). The basis for both is a person’s works, but the outcomes are quite different. Since Christ bore divine judgment for the sins of His followers, they will never be held accountable for transgressions. So when Christians stand before Christ, their works will be evaluated for the purpose of rewards. But unbelievers will be held responsible for sins they committed and will be sentenced to eternal punishment.

What is your first reaction to our future judgment? You might feel scared if you have not trusted Jesus as your Savior. If so, this is an opportunity to consider asking Him into your heart. But for those of us who have placed faith in Him, the thought of evaluation should inspire thanksgiving for Jesus’ sacrifice. It should also motivate us to live in a manner pleasing to God so we can hear Him say, “Well done!”

Who Is God to You?

by Inspiration Ministries

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?” – Psalm 27:1 NASB

What did God mean to David? Serving Him was not just a religious act. For David, the Lord was his light, providing guidance in every situation. He gave him wisdom and discernment. He encouraged him and gave him hope. He lifted his spirits and provided him with joy and peace.

David also realized that the Lord was his salvation. In every kind of situation, God saved him from danger, worry, temptations, and traps – from every enemy.

Because God was his light and salvation, David had no reason to be afraid! As he faced problems, he could depend on God. He did not need to fear enemies or anything they did. He was not even afraid in the face of his own mistakes, weaknesses, or doubts.

David knew that God could do the same thing for anyone who trusted in Him. He can light our path and provide salvation from anything and anyone. When we trust Him, we have no reason to fear any person, any situation, or any problem. God will show us what to do and give us the power and ability to do it. He will save us!

What does God mean to you? Look to Him and let Him be your light. Allow Him to take away your fears, guide you, and protect you. Take refuge in Him, no matter what problems you face. Be confident in Him. Realize He is your salvation in every situation!

Be Loyal To God

Bible Quotes About Loyalty. QuotesGram29 Bible Verses About Wives, Marriage and Love

21 Bible Verses about Honesty - DailyVerses.netNLT Bible Verse on Twitter: ""Create in me a clean heart, O God ...
March Scripture Graphic Inspiration | Kanakuk KampsParaphased 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Bible Verse About Love

14 Bible Verses About Friendship - Spiritual Quotes About FriendshipProverbs 20:6 - Bible Verse about Friendship - Bible Verse Images

What Could Have Been

One of the thoughts I constantly struggled with earlier in my Christian walk was whether I should wait until my old age to serve God wholeheartedly. To me, Christianity was full of rules and inhibitions, you cannot do this, etc. I felt it would simply deny me of enjoying my life. I was even more worried considering my hormones were raging, and the Bible was clearIy against premarital sex. I was thinking I should rather wait until my old age and then give my life wholeheartedly to God. But I did not consider that the length of my days are numbered and dictated by none other than God and that the whole duty of man is to serve God, hence I had better heed the advice of the sage to serve the Lord in my youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Nonetheless, I was quickly brought to my senses when I was miraculously saved from drowning. I was at the beach with friends and since I only knew some basic swimming skills, I stayed at the shore, following the advice of the lifeguard. I was jumping in the waves with friends. Everything was ok and I was really enjoying the whole experience. Then once I jumped and this time my feet did not touch the ground! I was trying to swim, but the waves were too strong for my basic skills. I was disoriented and did not know which direction to go. I was trying to shout, but when I opened my mouth I was drinking seawater!

In my desperation, I cried out to God. When I thought all hope was gone, a hand held me and brought me ashore. Like Jonah from the belly of the fish, I realized that the most important factor in this life is God. When I was drowning, my qualifications and credentials, networks, the material things that were competing for my commitment with God, could not help!

When I was ashore I kept wondering, “Is this how fast life can slip away, just one jump?” Just one jump and see where I ended up, so far away from the shore where I thought I was safe! I asked the one who accidentally swam to my end what prompted him to come that far and he said, “Something just made me come that far.” I thanked him for listening to that small voice but thanked God ultimately for coming to my rescue as His grace and mercies found me even when I was doubting Him. Without God, I would be an educated fool, because there is always a way that seemeth right unto a man but the end is death. However, with God, you can access wisdom to navigate the issues of life successfully.

That night as I lay on my bed, I kept staring at the ceiling, knowing that I could have been lying in the morgue or my coffin some few hours earlier. And it has been a fruitful journey thus far and I have come to welcome the twists and turns as He did not promise a life without challenges. When you give your life to God, then you can truly enjoy life abundantly. The thief cometh only to kill and destroy, but in Him is life. As much as I love to socialize, I have also learned to be guided by the counsel … blessed is he who does not sit in the counsel of the ungodly.

Sometimes we may deceptively think we are on the shores of a worldly temptation, but soon realize we are in deep waters and struggling to overcome. His hands are not too short to bring us to the shores of His presence, where there is fullness of joy.

 

Sinners Gonna Sin – Crosswalk the Devotional – August 20

by John UpChurch

“For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” Philippians 3:18-19

 

We should never be surprised by sin. Humans run to it, fill their hands with the dripping filth, and smear it over their bodies. From birth. From conception (Psalm 51:5). It’s the natural state of what it means to be a fallen Homo sapiens.

Often, though, it’s easy to forget our own dip into the slop. Years of following Jesus can make that mud bath indistinct and alien in our memories. We were, but are no longer (Romans 6:6). The times we plunged headfirst into sin no longer seem real. We forget how arduous the road has been that’s brought us here—the struggles, the temptations, the urges to turn around and dive back in. We forget that each victory came with wounds. We forget why we have the scars.

With that newness of rebirth comes the temptation to compare everything and everyone with where we are now. Our filth cleansed, we see clearly. And what we see are those pitiful figures still flailing in the dirt, still covering themselves with sin.

It’s easy to be disgusted. The mud seems much dirtier now than it was when we were in it, more putrid to our nostrils. Certainly we would never do what they do—those still wallowing, those whose god is their every whim and desire. There’s nothing very attractive in the mess.

But when you think of what will become of those who blindly grope in the sludge, when you consider the destiny of those who glory in their own shame, you start to see something else. God looked into just such filth to find a struggling wretch—one that looked just like you. His love wasn’t deterred by all your caked-on grime. His compassion wasn’t stopped by the junk that clung to you. He yanked you from the pit and put your feet on the rock. Then, He washed you clean.

Sin comes naturally to humanity. But love that looks past the grime to share the hope of the gospel? That’s the hard thing. That’s the thing worth doing.

 

Why Jesus Asks Us to Bear One Another’s Burdens

Clarence L. Haynes Jr.Contributing Writer, crosswalk.org

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)

If you’re like me, you’ve experienced some burdens in your life. They can come in all shapes and sizes. Big, small, bearable, even unbearable…or at least that’s how they feel. Yet within the pages of Scripture we see instructions calling for us to bear one another’s burdens. Why does Jesus ask us to bear burdens? That is the question on the table for today and I think you may like the answer.

What Does it Mean to Bear a Burden?

The word to bear comes from the Greek word bastazo which means to carry, to take up or even to take away or carry off.

The word burden comes from the Greek word baros which means a weight.

When you put those together, to bear a burden means to take away or carry off the weight someone else is experiencing. In essence, you are bringing some form or relief and comfort to someone else’s challenging situation.

For example, let’s say someone lost their job and they are facing the weight of having to buy groceries to feed their family. Bearing their burden may mean buying groceries for the family so they can have food to eat in the house.

By doing this you have carried off their weight for that moment in time.

Why Jesus Asks Us to Bear Burdens

If you are wondering why Jesus asks us to bear burdens, then consider the second part of Galatians 6:2, “and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Let’s go back to two statements Jesus said about the law.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. – Matthew 22:37-40

When you consider this statement, you understand why Jesus would ask us to bear burdens. By doing so you are showing the love of God by loving your neighbor as yourself.

If you were facing a burden would you want help? If you are honest (and not prideful) the answer is yes. Also, if you knew of someone who was facing a burden and you were in a position to help, would you? Hopefully, the answer is yes.

In both of these instances, the law is being fulfilled because you are either being loved or loving your neighbor as you would yourself. When you do this, you are actually being Christ’s hands and arms extended.

3 Practical Areas in Which to Bear One Another’s Burdens

Because burdens come in all shapes and sizes there are literally an unlimited amount of ways to bear burdens. I am going to give you some ideas, but I’m sure you can come up with more.

1. Financial Burdens

– Start a food coop to pool resources together.

– If you belong to a membership retailer share some of the groceries with a neighbor.

– Go to a local food pantry on behalf of someone else, pick up the groceries and deliver them.

– Create a directory of all the available places and resources people can use to get assistance because many times people don’t know what options are available.

– If you can afford it, pay someone’s utility bill for a month.

2. Spiritual Burdens

– If someone is struggling with a besetting sin be willing to be their accountability partner.

– Start a Bible study group to help people study the Bible—there are plenty of devotionals to help you if you are not sure if you are “qualified” enough.

– Be willing to pray for and with people.

– Call someone and let them share their heart with you and just listen.

3. Family Burdens

– Offer to watch the kids so a husband and wife can have a date night.

– Schedule a weekly walk with a friend just to give them a space of rest and someone to talk to.

These are just a few ideas but there are plenty more. The idea is just simply looking for ways to help alleviate the weight people are experiencing. Sometimes you may not be able to take off the whole weight; so do what you can, because every little bit helps.

 

Integrity’s Confidence

by Inspiration Ministries

“Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.” – Psalm 26:1 NASB

David confidently asked God for vindication. He could be so confident about the outcome because he had walked in integrity. He felt he had “trusted in the Lord.” Because of this confidence, he called on God without doubts.

Yet David knew that God still needed to search his life: “Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart” (v. 2). He knew we all could harbor hidden sins. We often do or say the wrong things.

David ended the psalm by stating his determination to walk in integrity, confident that his feet were standing “on a level place” (v. 12). He didn’t want to slip into sin and sought to keep God’s lovingkindness constantly before him.

He was careful about his relationships and would not “sit with deceitful men,” or “go with pretenders” (v. 4). He hated “the assembly of evildoers” and would not “sit with the wicked” (v. 5). He was committed to fellowship with people who genuinely sought to please the Lord.

He focused on serving God, desiring to “proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders” (v. 7). He loved His house, where he would be with other believers, where “I shall bless the Lord” (v. 12).

Focus on serving God. Fill your mind with His Word. Seek His help when you face choices. Stay sensitive to His Spirit. Seek to have a clean heart in His sight.

God Is With Us During Trouble

DO NOT FEAR. 40 VERSE FROM THE BIBLE THAT TELL YOU THAT "DO NOT ...
33 Bible Verses About Faith And Trust During Hard Times33 Bible Verses About Faith And Trust During Hard Times

Pin on Unknown Hebrew100 Inspirational Quotes That Will Give You Strength During Hard ...

50 Bible verses about Staying Strong During Hard Times33 Bible Verses About Faith And Trust During Hard Times
33 Bible Verses About Faith And Trust During Hard Times44 Bible verses about Trusting God In Difficult Times

A Step of Faith into the Unknown

Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”

I imagine the devil wishes he could’ve connected the dots better before he instigated the crucifixion of Jesus. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he said,

“…we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8 NKJV).

In other words, they didn’t know His death would be our life!

And I think this principle helps us in our faith, because how many times have we been nervous to take a step of faith into the unknown? I’ll raise my hand first and say, “Many times!” But here’s what I’ve learned: for every time it felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff with one instruction from God to step out, He met me there.

Things are hidden for two reasons: protection and protection. I repeated myself on purpose because think about the scenario Paul was speaking of — heaven’s agenda was hidden to protect it from being exploited or foiled by the enemy. But it was also hidden to protect God’s precious gift of life to man.

The good news is that things of the Spirit don’t have to remain hidden from God’s children any longer.

“As it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV).

Too often, we stop and marvel at verse 9 that there are innumerable things that God’s children haven’t seen or heard. On the one hand, I think that’s okay because faith marvels. But I love that we aren’t in the dark. God, through His Spirit, wants to share His heart and purpose with us. And it’s done through our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

In the natural, I agree with Steve Jobs. Without faith, we can only connect dots behind us. But we are not operating only in the natural (without faith). The Holy Spirit abides in us, while also intimately abiding with God, knowing His heart and mind. Therefore, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can take steps of genuine faith connecting dots as we move forward with Him.

The Message Translation explains this well:

“The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, ‘Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?’ has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 MSG).

So yes, we can connect future dots when we are led by the Spirit. We hold the thoughts, feelings, and purposes of His heart within us.

It’s just a matter of faith.

The Attractiveness of a Surrendered Life
By Sarah Phillips

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22 NIV

“I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.” St. Francis of Assisi

Have you ever wished you could share your faith with friends or loved ones who do not know Christ? Or have you ever worried that our culture is slipping farther and farther away from God’s truth, but don’t know how to turn it around? In past devotionals, several of us have quoted St. Francis of Assisi’s approach to evangelism: “Preach the Gospel all times and when necessary, use words.”

St. Francis’ entire life was one of radical conversion that led to many giving their lives to Christ. Let’s see what we can apply from his medieval story to modern times.

Francis’ story takes place in the early 1200’s – an era when Christianity enjoyed prominence in Europe. But sadly, even with widespread power and acceptance of the Church, many Christians did not lead lives in keeping with their faith. Francis was no exception. He came from a wealthy Italian family; his father earned a comfortable life as a successful cloth merchant, and his mother was of noble birth. The handsome, witty Francis was spoiled rotten by his parents, showing more interest in playing than in his academics or his father’s career.

Francis’ life of ease and play received a rude but life-changing interruption in 1201. After being captured in a small battle between rival cities, Francis spent a year sick and alone. His time of weakness and contemplation made him realize how useless his life had been up to that point.

But transformation for Francis was slow. After he regained his health, Francis desired personal glory. He signed up for the military, even fancying one day he’d be a great prince. But illness and a sense that God was calling him back to Assisi brought him home again.

It was around this time friends began to notice a lasting change in this attractive, party guy. Friends asked if he had a woman on his mind. He responded, “I am about to take a wife of surpassing fairness.” But this wife was not a mortal woman. Instead, Francis renounced his inheritance, gave what he had to the poor, and wedded himself to “Lady Poverty” (much to his father’s fury).

Not long after taking his vow of poverty, Francis heard Christ speak to him while he was praying in a small, shabby chapel. The voice said, “Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down.” At first, Francis thought he needed to repair the actual building he was praying in. But soon it became clear Francis’ mission was really to restore genuine faith among the church – God’s people.

So Francis began spending most of his time praying, serving the sick and preaching repentance throughout the region. He had no intentions of starting a community of religious, but single men of diverse backgrounds became intrigued by Francis’ humility and wholehearted devotion to the Gospel. And not long after men began joining his mission, a privileged young woman named Clare left her riches behind, bringing women alongside Francis to restore genuine faith among the people.

With so many joining in, Francis realized he was becoming the leader of a monastic movement. So, he sought to keep their focus on Christ by establishing a rule of life on Scripture. In short, the mission of the Franciscan monks and Poor Clare nuns would be to “Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff” (Luke 9:1-3). They imitated the early disciples by traveling in twos, owning few personal possessions, and serving those in need while sharing the Gospel to all. Their spiritual legacy continues with Franciscan and Poor Clare communities in regions all over the world today.

Some other little-known facts of how God worked through this influential Christian:

Did you know Francis once challenged a Muslim sultan to consider the truth of Christianity – and the sultan actually considered it?

Did you know Francis is credited with creating the first living Nativity scene at Christmas?

Did you know that, centuries before the Reformation, Francis taught and wrote about the faith in local dialects so commoners could understand?

Francis’ story gives us encouragement today. After all, we too live in a culture where Christianity was the dominant religion for a long time but sadly, it’s now common for good people to lose sight of the faith. But God worked through a spoiled, wealthy young man to show the surrounding community that even worldly comforts could not satisfy the deepest yearnings of their souls – and He can do the same today.

While most of us are not called to take vows of poverty, it was Francis’ unwavering, single-minded devotion to the Gospel that most attracted others to him. And this is something we can – and should – aspire to imitate. As we seek to surrender our lives to Christ more completely, God will work through each one of us in unique ways to inspire others to join us on the faith journey.

 

Love for the Lonely

by Inspiration Ministries

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” – Psalm 25:16 NASB

In his book about the American frontier, author Louis Fairchild described how lonely life was for many 19th-century Texas settlers. While land was plentiful, many lived in relative isolation. Overwhelmed and alone.

In 1880 when the first census was taken of the Texas panhandle, only 1,600 people were counted in one 25,000-square-mile region. In fact, six counties had no inhabitants at all.

Settlers could spend months without seeing anyone outside their own family. They readily welcomed visitors, eager for the opportunity to interact.

In this atmosphere, many found hope by turning to God. They discovered that He was with them, even when no one else was there. They longed to gather together to fellowship, to worship God, and to study His Word. On many occasions, revivals broke out.

In our modern world, loneliness still is a major problem. We can escape into our own homes, ignorant of the pains others may suffer behind closed doors. We may try to fill the silences with the media, music, or phone interactions. But our hearts still crave Christian fellowship and the love of Christ.

Ask God to help you be sensitive to the needs of the people around you. Be ready to reach out, give encouragement, and show His love. Let Him use you to change lives. Don’t crowd Him out of your schedule. Spend time alone with Him! Develop a more intimate relationship right where you are.

 

Christ’s first and last subject

By: Charles Spurgeon

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17. “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47

Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 3:1-14

If you are renewed by grace, and were to meet your old self, I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company. “No,” say you, “No, sir, I cannot accompany you.” “Why, you used to swear!” “I cannot now.” “Well, but,” says he, “You and I are very near companions.” “Yes, I know we are, and I wish we were not. You are a deal of trouble to me every day. I wish I could be rid of you for ever.” “But,” says Old Self, “you used to drink very well.” “Yes, I know it. I know you did, indeed, Old Self. You could sing a song as merrily as any one. You were ringleader in all sorts of vice, but I am no relation of yours now. You are of the old Adam, and I of the new Adam. You are of your old father, the devil; but I have another—my Father, who is in heaven.” I tell you, brethren, there is no man in the world you will hate so much as your old self, and there will be nothing you will so much long to get rid of as that old man who once was dragging you down to hell, and who will try his hand at it over and over again every day you live, and who will accomplish it yet, unless that divine grace which has made you a new man shall keep you a new man even to the end. Good Rowland Hill, in his “Village Dialogues,” gives the Christian, whom he describes in the first part of the book, the name of Thomas Newman. Every man who goes to heaven must have the name of new-man. We must not expect to enter there unless we are created anew in Christ Jesus.

For meditation: In our testimonies we should own up to what we used to be, but in such a way that we also disown the people we used to be. Don’t be like the biography of a Christian which seems to glory in the sin of the past—reserve all the glory for your Saviour (1 Corinthians 15:9,101 Timothy 1:13-17).