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Desire The Beauty Of Holiness

Psalm 96:7-12

O nations of the world, recognize the Lord;
    recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.
Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!
    Bring your offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.
    Let all the earth tremble before him.
10 Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
    The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.
    He will judge all peoples fairly.

11 Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
    Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
12 Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
    Let the trees of the forest sing for joy

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Beauty-Driven Worship

From: Our Daily Journey

Beauty-Driven Worship

Read:

Exodus 25:1-9
Tell the people of Israel to bring me their sacred offerings. Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them (Exodus 25:2).

Few us of spend enough time paying attention to beauty, especially in our times of worship. But when we do, it speaks to us like few things do.

Perhaps this explains why God placed a heavy emphasis on beauty when He called for the construction of the tabernacle—the first structure of public worship recorded in the biblical story (Exodus 25:1-9). Building the tabernacle was no mere intellectual endeavor. God called for people to offer items they were “moved” in their “hearts” to give—beautiful things they could deeply appreciate through their senses of sight, touch, and smell.

In fact, God values beauty so much that He placed His Spirit within the designers and craftsmen tasked with constructing His beautiful tabernacle (Exodus 35:30-35). He not only wanted them to excel in building the structure He came to dwell in as His people journeyed to the Promised Land, but He also made sure He picked those who possessed “the ability to teach their skills to others” (Exodus 35:34).

God planned for beauty to remain an important focus of His people long after the building of the tabernacle. Centuries later, during what could be likened to an outdoor church service, Jesus directed the attention of His audience to the beauty that surrounded them. “Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow,” He said sitting on the side of a mountain. In other words, notice them. Pay attention. “They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are” (Matthew 6:28-29).

May you intentionally include the beauty of music, art, and nature in your worship. Allow it to draw your full attention toward the One who created beautiful things.

 

Do It Yourself (2)

By Oswald Chambers

Do It Yourself (2)

Determinedly Discipline Other Things. This is another difficult aspect of the strenuous nature of sainthood. Paul said, according to the Moffatt translation of this verse, “…I take every project prisoner to make it obey Christ….” So much Christian work today has never been disciplined, but has simply come into being by impulse! In our Lord’s life every project was disciplined to the will of His Father. There was never the slightest tendency to follow the impulse of His own will as distinct from His Father’s will— “the Son can do nothing of Himself…” (John 5:19). Then compare this with what we do— we take “every thought” or project that comes to us by impulse and jump into action immediately, instead of imprisoning and disciplining ourselves to obey Christ.

Practical work for Christians is greatly overemphasized today, and the saints who are “bringing every thought [and project] into captivity” are criticized and told that they are not determined, and that they lack zeal for God or zeal for the souls of others. But true determination and zeal are found in obeying God, not in the inclination to serve Him that arises from our own undisciplined human nature. It is inconceivable, but true nevertheless, that saints are not “bringing every thought [and project] into captivity,” but are simply doing work for God that has been instigated by their own human nature, and has not been made spiritual through determined discipline.

We have a tendency to forget that a person is not only committed to Jesus Christ for salvation, but is also committed, responsible, and accountable to Jesus Christ’s view of God, the world, and of sin and the devil. This means that each person must recognize the responsibility to “be transformed by the renewing of [his] mind….” (Romans 12:2).

The death of the Christian

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season.” Job 5:26

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1-8

Wait a little, beloved. In a few more years you and I shall be carried through the heavens on the wings of angels. When I die, the angels approach. I am on the wings of cherubs. Oh, how they bear me up—how swiftly and yet how softly. I have left mortality with all its pains. Oh, how rapid is my flight! Just now I passed the morning star. Far behind me now the planets shine. Oh, how swiftly do I fly, and how sweetly! Cherubs! What sweet flight is yours, and what kind arms are these I lean upon. And on my way you kiss me with the kisses of love and affection.You call me brother. Cherubs; am I your brother? I who just now was captive in a tenement of clay—am I your brother? “Yes!” they say. Oh, hark, I hear music strangely harmonious! What sweet sounds come to my ears! I am nearing Paradise. Do not spirits approach with songs of joy? “Yes!” they say. And before they can answer, behold they come—a glorious convoy! I catch a sight of them as they are holding a great review at the gates of Paradise. And there is the golden gate. I enter in; and I see my blessed Lord. I can tell you no more. All else were things unlawful for flesh to utter. My Lord! I am with thee—plunged into thee—lost in thee just as a drop is swallowed in the ocean—as one single tint is lost in the glorious rainbow! Am I lost in thee, thou glorious Jesus? And is my bliss consummated? Is the wedding-day come at last? Have I really put on the marriage garments? And am I thine? Yes! I am.

For meditation: Are you looking forward to this time (Philippians 1:23)? You can if you are a Christian.The unbeliever has another prospect ahead (Hebrews 10:27). See the contrast in Luke 16:22,23.

Be Yourself With God

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Being Real with God

From: Our Daily Bread

Being Real with God

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

I bow my head, close my eyes, lace my fingers together and begin to pray. “Dear Lord, I’m coming to you today as your child. I recognize your power and goodness. . .”Suddenly, my eyes snap open. I remember that my son hasn’t finished his history project, which is due the next day. I recall that he has an after-school basketball game, and I imagine him awake until midnight finishing his schoolwork. This leads me to worry that his fatigue will put him at risk for the flu!

C. S. Lewis wrote about distractions during prayer in his book The Screwtape Letters.He noted that when our minds wander, we tend to use willpower to steer ourselves back to our original prayer. Lewis concluded, though, that it was better to accept “the distraction as [our] present problem and [lay] that before [God] and make it the main theme of [our] prayers.”

A persistent worry or even a sinful thought that disrupts a prayer may become the centerpiece of our discussion with God. God wants us to be real as we talk with Him and open up about our deepest concerns, fears, and struggles. He is not surprised by anything we mention. His interest in us is like the attention we would receive from a close friend. That’s why we’re encouraged to give all of our worries and cares to God—because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Dear God, You know what’s on my mind today. Help me to experience the peace that comes from sharing my concerns with You.

Distractions don’t have to derail our prayers.

 

The question of fear and the answer of faith

From: Charles Spurgeon

“Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me.” Job 23:6

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:14-3: 5

Didst thou ever stand and take a view of heaven? Hast thou discerned the hills which lie between your soul and paradise? Hast thou counted the lions thou hast to fight, the giants to be slain, and the rivers to be crossed? Didst thou ever notice the many temptations with which thou art beset, the trials thou hast to endure, the difficulties thou hast to overcome, the dangers thou hast to avoid? Didst thou ever take a bird’s eye view of heaven, and all the dangers which are strewn thickly along the path thither? And didst thou ever ask thyself this question, “How shall I, a poor feeble worm, ever get there?” Didst thou ever say within thyself, “I am not a match for all my foes, how shall I arrive at paradise?” If thou hast ever asked this question, I will tell thee what is the only answer for it: thou must be girded with almighty strength, or else thou wilt never gain the victory. Easy thy path may be, but it is too hard for thy infantile strength, without the almighty power. Thy path may be one of little temptation, and of shallow trial; but thou wilt be drowned in the floods yet, unless almighty power preserve thee. Mark me! However smooth thy way, there is nothing short of the bare arm of deity that can land any one of you in heaven. We must have divine strength, or else we shall never get there. And there is an illustration of these words: “No, but he will put his strength in me.” “And shall I hold on to the end?” says the believer. Yes, thou wilt, for God’s strength in is thee. “Shall I be able to bear such-and-such a trial?” Yes, thou wilt. Cannot omnipotence stem the torrent? And omnipotence is in thee; for, like Ignatius of old, thou art a God-bearer; thou bearest God about with thee. Thy heart is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and thou shalt yet overcome.

For meditation: For meditation: Without Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5)—we have no reason for self-confidence. In Christ we can do all things (Philippians 4:13)—there is no need for despair. Do you regard yourself as self-sufficient or as Christ-sufficient? See 2 Corinthians 12:9.

 

Do It Yourself (1)

By Oswald Chambers

Do It Yourself (1)

Determinedly Demolish Some Things. Deliverance from sin is not the same as deliverance from human nature. There are things in human nature, such as prejudices, that the saint can only destroy through sheer neglect. But there are other things that have to be destroyed through violence, that is, through God’s divine strength imparted by His Spirit. There are some things over which we are not to fight, but only to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord…” (see Exodus 14:13). But every theory or thought that raises itself up as a fortified barrier “against the knowledge of God” is to be determinedly demolished by drawing on God’s power, not through human effort or by compromise (see 2 Corinthians 10:4).

It is only when God has transformed our nature and we have entered into the experience of sanctification that the fight begins. The warfare is not against sin; we can never fight against sin— Jesus Christ conquered that in His redemption of us. The conflict is waged over turning our natural life into a spiritual life. This is never done easily, nor does God intend that it be so. It is accomplished only through a series of moral choices. God does not make us holy in the sense that He makes our character holy. He makes us holy in the sense that He has made us innocent before Him. And then we have to turn that innocence into holy character through the moral choices we make. These choices are continually opposed and hostile to the things of our natural life which have become so deeply entrenched— the very things that raise themselves up as fortified barriers “against the knowledge of God.” We can either turn back, making ourselves of no value to the kingdom of God, or we can determinedly demolish these things, allowing Jesus to bring another son to glory (see Hebrews 2:10).

 

God’s Love Is Unchanging

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.4

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

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( God Never Changes)

Unchanging Love

Our Daily Bread, Source

Unchanging Love

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17

When I was in high school I played on the varsity tennis team. I spent many hours of my teenage years trying to improve my skills on four concrete courts located just two blocks from my home.

The last time I visited that city, one of the first things I did was drive to the tennis courts, hoping to watch others play and reminisce for a moment. But the old courts, so familiar to my memory, were nowhere to be seen. In their place was a vacant field, inhabited only by an occasional weed waving silently in the breeze.

That afternoon remains in my mind as a stark reminder of the brevity of life. One of the places where I expended some of my best youthful strength no longer existed! Reflecting on that experience later brought me to this truth, expressed by an aging King David: “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him” (Psalm 103:15–17).

We grow older and the world around us may change, but God’s love doesn’t. He can always be trusted to take care of those who turn to Him.

Faithful Father, thank You for Your love that never changes! Help me to love You by serving You faithfully today.

In our changing world, we can always depend on our unchanging God.

 

Worship in the Waiting

From: Our Daily Journey

Worship in the Waiting

Read:

1 Samuel 1:1-28
They worshiped the Lord there (1 Samuel 1:28).

It’s not uncommon for people, whether believers in Jesus or not, to wrestle with God as to why He allows certain things. When it comes to believers, it can shake our faith to see prayers seemingly go unanswered. But the questions we face aren’t new or unique to this age.

In the book of 1 Samuel, we read of a woman named Hannah, the wife of a man named Elkanah, who struggled with prayers that seemed to go unanswered. Hannah was “reduced to tears” (1 Samuel 1:7) each year because she couldn’t have children, and she was taunted by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, who had borne children (1 Samuel 1:6). Hannah cried out in prayer for a son, vowing that she would give him back to God: “He will be yours for his entire lifetime” (1 Samuel 1:11). While she promised this, Hannah was praying so fervently that Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk! (1 Samuel 1:12-15).

The next morning, the family went to worship God, and a short time later Hannah became pregnant! (1 Samuel 1:19-20). But take note of the order in which these events took place; Hannah worshiped before her prayer was answered.

When her son Samuel was weaned, Hannah brought him to the temple and dedicated him to God just as she promised. The chapter ends with Hannah and Eli worshiping God (1 Samuel 1:28). Hannah kept her promise in dedicating Samuel “to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:11), and worshiped Him for the gift of her son.

It’s easy to worship when things are going the way we had hoped, but it becomes more challenging when we’re praying and it feels like God is completely ignoring us—though He’s not. He hears our every prayer and can be trusted with our heart concerns. Let’s remember to worship Him with gratitude today, regardless of whether or not our prayers are answered as we would like.

Both Eyes Open

Alisa Hope Wagner, Author

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I couldn’t help but stare at my daughter. We were in the backyard, letting our new puppy run and play. My baby girl’s expression was animated with amusement as she watched the brown, miniature dachshund chase her pink princess ball. The morning was bright and sunny, but I made sure that we each wore hooded jackets to protect our faces from the crisp, cool wind.

I sat in a wicker chair, thankful that both my daughter and the puppy burned a ton of their childish energy during their play. My daughter continually kicked the pink ball and cried with delight when he went to chase it. I knew they would be tuckered out soon, and I could foresee long naps in their distant future. I felt so blessed, like God had written, cast, and directed a mini-movie just for my pleasure.

As I watched my girl, I noticed that something happened to my view. I could see her playing, but I could also see a white covering blocking my view. I finally realized that the hood of my jacket had fallen over my right eye. When I stared at her, I could see both the presence and absence of her simultaneously.

I squinted my right, and I could see my daughter clearly. Then, I squinted my left eye, and my daughter disappeared. I opened my eyes, and my vision was filled with her presence again, yet the corner of my hood still blacked half my view.

“Maybe I should just keep my right eye closed,” I said to myself.

“But I gave you two eyes,” the Holy Spirit whispered back.

Just like Jesus, we are people born of two worlds: our outer person was born of the physical world, but our inner person was born of the spiritual world.

“There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.” 1 Corinthians 15:40 (NIV)

When our inner person is brought to life through Christ, we will see life through both sets of eyes; and God has designed our view to incorporate both worlds. The question is, which eye will be our dominant eye?

God makes many promises in the Bible, and the Holy Spirit gives us many promises individually. However, it is hard to chase those promises when we don’t see them. Many times our spiritual eye is weak because we’ve allowed our physical eye to dominate our lives. But when we practice cultivating our spiritual eye through deepening our relationship with Christ, reading the Bible, and trusting the leading of the Holy Spirit, our spiritual eye begins to awaken with light.

The point isn’t learning how to shut out the physical view; rather, it’s learning to see through both eyes and give precedence to our spiritual view. Seeing both the presence of God’s miracles (in the spiritual realm) and the absence of God’s miracles (in the physical realm) simultaneously forces us to walk by faith. And chasing after these promises forces us to strengthen our spiritual eye and give it dominance over our lives.

The Bible says,

“The heavens belong to the LORD, but he has given the earth to all humanity.” Psalm 115:16 (NLT)

Although God is the creator and controller over the universe, He gives His children free will to create good on the earth. It’s up to us to look through both our physical and spiritual eyes, pluck out those spiritual promises and transplant them into reality on this earth.

 

 

Tested But Trusting

Abraham in the Bible, the Hebrew patriarch from whom all Jews trace their descent (Genesis 11:27–25:10), directed by God to leave his own country for another land. In Genesis 22 he is ordered by God to sacrifice his son Isaac as a test of faith, a command later revoked.

 

Abraham Was Tested By God

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Tested but Trusting

From: Our Daily Journey

Tested but Trusting

Read:

Job 23:1-17
[Job] fell to the ground to worship [saying], “The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:20-21).

In my view, besides our relationship with God, each of us typically desire three key treasures—health, possessions, and family. A loss to any can be heart wrenching. The Old Testament patriarch Job experienced a triple test—financial ruin, the deaths of his ten children, and painful ill health (Job 1:14-192:7). We can’t imagine the intensity of pain Job had to bear.

Coming to comfort him (Job 2:11), his three friends invariably raised the million-dollar question: “Why do we suffer?” Over three rounds of heated disagreement (Job 4:1–14:22Job 15:1–21:34Job 22:1–27:23), they maintained that suffering is always the result of sin. But Job could not accept their one-dimensional explanation.

In bitter pain, Job reached out to God, wanting to know the reasons for his suffering (Job 23:1-5), for he had lived a blameless life (Job 1:1,8). But God could not be found. At the time when Job most desperately needed Him, God was seemingly absent, not making His ways known (Job 23:3,8-9).

You may have asked God at times: “Where are You when I’m hurting?” How can we cope with life’s tragedies when God doesn’t seem to care?

After pouring out his lament, Job eventually experienced God and reaffirmed his trust in Him (Job 23:10-12). God may have been silent, but He wasn’t absent. And Job could even say that good would come out of his pain: “When [God] tests me, I will come out as pure as gold” (Job 23:10).

Life’s suffering tests our faith and our obedient trust (Job 23:11-12). When experiencing personal loss, let’s “[fall] to the ground to worship,” praise Him (Job 1:20-21), and “be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). And may we draw strength from God’s Word, treasuring “his words more than daily food” (Job 23:12).

 

A Worthy Pursuit

By: Joe Stowell, Author

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

Let’s face it, if you are a follower in a world that celebrates leaders, you don’t feel all that good about yourself. Walk into any bookstore, and you will note that many of the bestsellers are about how to be a great leader or how to make something of your life. Bestsellers are written by people who became successful by doing their own thing. Entrepreneurs are lauded for their independence and “out of the box” thinking. But nobody seems to notice followers, which makes being an authentic Christian an interesting challenge.

When Jesus called His inner circle to join His cause, He didn’t lure them by offering them great positions of leadership and notoriety. In fact, quite the opposite: He recruited them to be followers. And it needs to be noted that in spite of the bad press that following gets, He had no trouble building His team. He was so compelling that rugged fishermen, a greedy tax collector, a tough member of the resistance force, capable women, and many others left everything to become His followers. When He called them, He offered no conditions. No negotiations. No particulars. No contractual exceptions or arrangements. All He asked was that they follow. Those who responded to the call never saw it as a demotion. For them it was an honor!

But would it be an honor for you? After all, it sounds more like losing than winning. It feels like losing control, like losing the potential of managing your own life the way you want to manage it.

That’s exactly what following Jesus is all about! When He called the disciples, He framed it like this: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Note the formula. In essence He is saying, “Follow me, and let me make something of your life.” Most of us want to make something of our lives on our own terms, and are happy to fit Jesus into the picture now and then. But that’s not the way it works, and thankfully so. Left to ourselves, we tend to mess things up. Or, if we succeed, we become proud and consume time and energy reaching for the next golden ring, only to find that ultimately “the good life” is either illusive or unfulfilling.

It makes a lot of sense to give Jesus His well-deserved chance at being in charge. After all, He is smarter than we are, and since He has already proven how much He loves us, we know we can trust Him implicitly. He has our best in mind.

So what does following Jesus look like? It’s like the old “follow the leader” game we used to play as kids—with the Leader out in front, and His followers walking behind Him, doing whatever He does and going wherever He leads. We are to be following His example of forgiveness, truth, righteous attitudes and actions, honesty with ourselves and others, integrity, serving even at risk and loss to ourselves, loving our enemies, caring for the needy and the poor, loving the losers, and generously extending grace and mercy to the undeserving.

Letting Jesus make something of our lives is a plan worth implementing. The outcomes are so rewarding that it makes following a worthy pursuit. Your relationships, family, career, and even your leisure will all be more successful if you approach every situation as an opportunity to be a follower of Jesus. And, by the way, those who are called to lead are not exempt. Leadership that begins by following Christ is far more effective.

When He looks over His shoulder, be there!

 

Who Are You Listening To?

By: Jimmie Arron Kepler, Author

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As an older teenager, I can remember clearly my invalid maternal grandmother calling me to her bedside. Her words have resonated through my thoughts for decades. She said, “Your mother tells me you’ve started running with the wrong people. You’re hanging out with the crowd that smokes, drinks, and has questionable morals. You’re allowing what they say impact your decisions.”

“But, Grandma,” I interrupted.

“Don’t Grandma me. I don’t want to hear you try to justify your choices. And don’t you dare say that you can be a good influence and Christian witness to them. That’s nothing but foolishness. It just doesn’t work that way. The Bible’s teaching is straightforward in this area. It says, ‘Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)

“But, Grandma.”

“I told you to don’t but Grandma me,” she said. She then went on to tell me the story of Rehoboam.

Rehoboam became the King of Israel following his father Solomon’s death. Soon, the people of Israel came to him requesting he lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke King Solomon had put on them. They said if he honored their request they would serve him. 1 Kings 12:4 (NIV)

Rehoboam sought advice from two groups. The first group was the elders who had served his father. The second group was the young men who grew up with him and were now helping him.

The elder’s group advised him to serve the people, grant their petition, and speak kind words to them. In so doing they would serve him forever. 1 Kings 12:7 (NIV) The second group told him to increase the people’s labor, taxes, and for him to assert his control over them.

Unwisely, he did not accept the recommendations of the first group, the elders. Instead, Rehoboam took the counsel of the second group, the young men’s advice. So, he spoke harshly to the people and increased their labor and burdens.

Rehoboam’s listening to the wrong counselors had terrible repercussions for him and the nation he led. Although our wrong choices may not have such disastrous consequences as his wrong decisions did, we’d do well to learn from his folly by being very careful in our counselor selection. The goal in seeking wise counsel is to find someone who will tell us the truth based on what God says in His Word.

The writer of the Proverbs gives direct counsel in this area where he writes:

“remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.” Proverbs 25:5 (NIV)

We need to be careful in whose company we spend our time. We need to exercise just as much care from where we seek counsel. You will not receive Godly advice from non-Christians.

Making Godly choices includes looking at what God and His Word says, not on what your friends think. It will consist of praying for God’s guidance. Non-Christians dismiss the word of God and prayer as irrelevant to decision making. They may even suggest actions that are not Scriptural and may even violate God’s Word. They also may be critical of Christian leaders, godly people, and may even be living an ungodly lifestyle. Don’t listen to them.

Running with the wrong crowd and seeking and following ungodly never leads anywhere good. We have the choice of the people we associate with and who we ask for advice. Why not choose to associate with Godly people and seek Godly counsel?

 

Good For The Soul

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Good for the Soul

From: Our Daily Journey

Good for the Soul

Read:

Psalm 19:1-14
The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living (Psalm 19:8).

As we ascended up and out of a dimly lit subway station, the street corner’s bright lights belied the evening dusk settling over the city. Although we had already been in New York City for several days on a family vacation, the activity of Times Square far surpassed any busyness we had yet encountered. Flashing advertisements, video screens playing production clips, and the constant buzz of pedestrian and automobile traffic met us everywhere we turned. Not a single corner of quiet could be found.

Society today doesn’t often make room for silence and reflection. Whether the distractions come in the form of our own racing thoughts, demanding to-do lists, or the delicate ding of a social media notification, we’re at the beck and call of a busy world. Learning to rest our minds and spirits amid the chaotic flow is no easy task, even when we know doing so is good for the soul.

Just as the psalmist David needed to spend time in stillness and contemplation of God, our human need for stillness hasn’t changed. Busyness drives us into self, while quiet meditation reminds us how the skies wordlessly declare God’s greatness, power, and faithfulness (Psalm 19:1-6). Our God stands above every aspect of our human concerns.

When we take time to reflect on God’s Word, we create the room in our lives to absorb its truth, not only in our spirits but our thoughts and even our decision-making: “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul” (Psalm 19:7). It’s in those moments we remember that His words are good and that He heals our brokenness (Psalm 19:9-13). Then we, like David, can ask God for purity of heart even as we worship Him—our “rock and [our] redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

 

The new heart

By: Charles Spurgeon

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 9:10-17

The promise is that he will give us new hearts and right spirits. Human nature is too far gone ever to be mended. It is not a house that is a little out of repair, with here and there a slate blown from the roof, and here and there a piece of plaster broken down from the ceiling. No, it is rotten throughout, the very foundations have been eroded; there is not a single timber in it which has not been eaten by the worm, from its uppermost roof to its lowest foundation; there is no soundness in it; it is all rottenness and ready to fall. God does not attempt to mend; he does not shore up the walls, and repaint the door; he does not garnish and beautify, but he determines that the old house shall be entirely swept away, and that he will build a new one. It is too far gone, I say, to be mended. If it were only a little out of repair, it might be mended. If only a wheel or two of that great thing called “manhood” were out of repair, then he who made man might put the whole to rights; he might put a new cog where it had been broken off, and another wheel where it had gone to ruin and the machine might work anew. But no, the whole of it is out of repair; there is not one lever which is not broken; not one axle which is not disturbed; not one of the wheels which act upon the others. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot, to the crown of the head, it is all wounds and bruises and putrefying sores. The Lord, therefore, does not attempt the repairing of this thing.

For meditation: The only cure for man’s sinful condition is a heart transplant carried out by the Great Physician (Romans 2:28,29).

 

Watching With Jesus

By Oswald Chambers

Watching With Jesus

“Watch with Me.” Jesus was saying, in effect, “Watch with no private point of view at all, but watch solely and entirely with Me.” In the early stages of our Christian life, we do not watch with Jesus, we watch for Him. We do not watch with Him through the revealed truth of the Bible even in the circumstances of our own lives. Our Lord is trying to introduce us to identification with Himself through a particular “Gethsemane” experience of our own. But we refuse to go, saying, “No, Lord, I can’t see the meaning of this, and besides, it’s very painful.” And how can we possibly watch with Someone who is so incomprehensible? How are we going to understand Jesus sufficiently to watch with Him in His Gethsemane, when we don’t even know why He is suffering? We don’t know how to watch with Him— we are only used to the idea of Jesus watching with us.

The disciples loved Jesus Christ to the limit of their natural capacity, but they did not fully understand His purpose. In the Garden of Gethsemane they slept as a result of their own sorrow, and at the end of three years of the closest and most intimate relationship of their lives they “all…forsook Him and fled” (Matthew 26:56).

“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 2:4). “They” refers to the same people, but something wonderful has happened between these two events— our Lord’s death, resurrection, and ascension— and the disciples have now been invaded and “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Our Lord had said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8). This meant that they learned to watch with Him the rest of their lives.

 

Beyond The Stars

God’s Glory

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. – Philippians 4:19-20

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God. – Romans 4:20

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:6

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14 

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. – Psalm 19:1

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Beyond the Stars

From: Our Daily Bread

Beyond the Stars

You have set your glory in the heavens. Psalm 8:1

In 2011, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration celebrated thirty years of space research. In those three decades, shuttles carried more than 355 people into space and helped construct the International Space Station. After retiring five shuttles, NASA has now shifted its focus to deep-space exploration.

The human race has invested massive amounts of time and money, with some astronauts even sacrificing their lives, to study the immensity of the universe. Yet the evidence of God’s majesty stretches far beyond what we can measure.

When we consider the Sculptor and Sustainer of the universe who knows each star by name (Isaiah 40:26), we can understand why the psalmist David praises His greatness (Psalm 8:1). The Lord’s fingerprints are on “the moon and the stars, which [He] set in place” (v. 3). The Maker of the heavens and the earth reigns above all, yet He remains near all His beloved children, caring for each intimately and personally (v. 4). In love, God gives us great power, responsibility, and the privilege to care for and explore the world He’s entrusted to us (vv. 5–8).

As we study our star-spattered night skies, our Creator invites us to seek Him with passion and persistence. He hears every prayer and song of praise flowing from our lips.

Loving Creator of the universe, thank You for being mindful of us.

The greatness of God is evident in His awesome vastness and intimate nearness.

 

The Good Life

“Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Luke 12:15

Driving down the highway in Houston, I passed a billboard with large letters that announced “THE GOOD LIFE!” I couldn’t wait to get closer to read the small print, which explained that the “good life” was about buying a lakefront home starting at $300,000. Which made me wonder if some unhappy families might live in those homes, with kids who never see their parents, or couples who, though living on the lake, wish they weren’t even living together.

Luke 12:15 came to mind as I remembered the story of the man who asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. That was the wrong thing to ask Jesus! He replied with a warning, “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” He then went on to tell the story of an extremely rich man who, from God’s point of view, was a fool—not because he was successfully wealthy but because he was not rich toward God.

The sooner we get over the illusion that more stuff means more peace, happiness, and self-fulfillment, the better off we will be. And then the more able we will be to find the longed-for peace and happiness—the true “good life”—that only Jesus can provide.

O Lord, help us to be content,
Whatever we possess;
Protect us from the foolish lie
That “more” brings happiness.  —Sper

The “good life” is found in the richness of God.

 

The Power of Asking

By: Tim Abel

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As a father of four children, I have many rich memories of those amazing, early years. I remember Christmas mornings, birthday parties, backyard games … and countless lessons learned. Those lessons were not always intended for the kids. In fact, many of the lessons were meant for me! Looking back now, I recognize how many times God used those daily interactions as my personal learning opportunities.

For instance, I can remember shopping trips with my children. Many times they would bring me merchandise with bold requests. “Daddy, can I have this? I really need one of these!”

They were not bashful about asking. Often I would find myself at the checkout, paying for some random item simply because those kids were persistent in their asking.

My children gave me insight into an essential truth. They taught me the importance of asking. If there had been no request for a battery powered water gun, I certainly never would have bought one. Asking is essential. Too often, we assume our Heavenly Father will simply pour out answers to prayers we never actually prayed. God invites us to ask. His Word tells us in Philippians 4:6:

“…present your requests to God.” (NIV)

He is not bothered when we bring Him our requests. James 4:2 tells us:

“…you do not have because you do not ask.” (NIV)

Granted, I sometimes said “no” to these requests. Sometimes my children wanted things that weren’t good for them. It might have been too much candy or too many toys. Sometimes I had insight about a request they couldn’t yet appreciate. On some occasions, they even made requests for items I had already hidden in the “Christmas closet.” They had no idea there was an even better answer waiting for them just a few days away.

There are lessons here we can learn with regard to our Heavenly Father. Let me encourage you to be bold in your prayers … and to trust in His grace. We serve a powerful God who loves us with an everlasting love. Embrace a childlike faith and run to your Father with those requests.

Remember Jesus’ promise in Matthew 7:7:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (NIV)

Whether you need a financial miracle, a physical healing, or wisdom for decisions, God invites you to ask. As you pray, watch for his supernatural intervention in your life. Trust in the wisdom of His goodness and grace.

Take heart, my friend. Jesus hasn’t changed. He promised He would never leave us or forsake us. You and I still have access to the miracle worker. Recognize this powerful truth and humble yourself in the presence of your King. Come boldly to the Father with your requests … Ask!

A Warm Glow

2 Corinthians 8:1-5
They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to
the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do (2 Corinthians 8:5).
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Warm Glow

Warm Glow

Read:

2 Corinthians 8:1-5
They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do (2 Corinthians 8:5).

A study conducted by a group of neuroeconomists from the University of Zurich found that people who showed generosity were happier than people who acted in a selfish way. In fact, they found that if people were even a little bit generous, they still experienced a pleasant feeling. The researchers measured activity in areas of the brain linked to contentment and generosity. Interestingly, the feeling of happiness that one experiences when giving has been termed a “warm glow.”

If this study had been done among the Macedonian churches Paul highlighted in his second letter to the Corinthian church, the researchers would likely have found their findings corroborated. According to Paul, the believers in Macedonia gave willingly and experienced “abundant joy, which [had] overflowed in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3).

Paul was encouraging the Corinthians to follow through on their promise of support by lifting up the Macedonian believers as compelling examples. The Macedonian believers’ generosity didn’t depend on their level of comfort or economic stability. They were “tested by many troubles, and they [were] very poor” (2 Corinthians 8:2). Yet they gave “not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will” (2 Corinthians 8:3).

What was their secret? How could they help others when they themselves were struggling? The secret was that “their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to [other believers], just as God wanted them to do” (2 Corinthians 8:5).

As followers of Jesus, we too can give generously, not from obligation but with joy. As we commit ourselves and our possessions to Him, may the Holy Spirit lead us to emit the warm glow of giving generously.

 

Heaven and hell

By: Charles Spurgeon

“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 8:11-12

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 46:8-13

“I will,” says man, and he never performs; “I shall,” says he, and he breaks his promise. But it is never so with God’s “shalls.” If he says, “shall,” it shall be; when he says, “will,” it will be. Now he has said here, “many shall come.” The devil says, “they shall not come;” but “they shall come.” Their sins say, “you can’t come;” God says, you “shall come.” You, yourselves, say, “we won’t come;” God says, “you shall come.” Yes! There are some who are laughing at salvation, who scoff at Christ, and mock at the gospel; but I tell you some of you shall come yet. “What!” you say, “can God make me become a Christian?” I tell you yes, from here rests the power of the gospel. It does not ask your consent; but it gets it. It does not say, will you have it, but it makes you willing in the day of God’s power. Not against your will, but it makes you willing. It shows you its value, and then you fall in love with it, and immediately you run after it and have it. Many people have said, “we will not have anything to do with religion,” yet they have been converted. I have heard of a man who once went to chapel to hear the singing, and as soon as the minister began to preach, he put his fingers in his ears and would not listen. But by and by some tiny insect settled on his face, so that he was obliged to take one finger out of his ear to brush it away. Just then the minister said, “he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” The man listened; and God met with him at that moment to his soul’s conversion.

For meditation: When God speaks he means it—every single word (Psalm 119:160Proverbs 30:5). Does this fact strike you when you read or hear his word?

 

Love and the Electric Tea Kettle

By: Debbie Burgett, Author

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My poor old tea kettle had finally kicked the bucket. I walked into the kitchen one morning and found water covering the stove top. It had whistled its last whistle. But I knew one thing for sure. I didn’t want a new electric one to replace it.

With all kinds of electrical gadgets, TVs and now even computers adorning kitchens, I was determined to keep at least one thing that embodied for me a slower, gentler, less complicated era—a simple, stove-top tea kettle. Besides, we didn’t have room on the counter anyway.

There was just one problem. My husband really wanted one.

After a trip to visit his sister, he came home raving about electric kettles.

“They cut the boiling time in half and don’t heat up the whole kitchen!”

Since we live in Florida, he thought this was a real plus in their favor.

But I couldn’t be persuaded. I’d rather die of heat exhaustion before I cluttered up my counter.

However, since I hadn’t found the exact kettle I wanted yet, I began using a small pan. What a mess. It poured everywhere except in the cup, left hard-water stains on the interior and seemed to take forever to boil. The longer the situation went on, the more frustrated I became. Why couldn’t I find the kettle I wanted?

Then Philippians 2:4 brought the answer into focus:

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV)

I knew I needed to want the kettle that my husband wanted. Isn’t that how love is supposed to work? And isn’t that how it worked when we first got married? We actually enjoyed wanting what the other one wanted, not because we really wanted it ourselves, but because we loved them and they wanted it.

I realized this was an opportunity to give my husband the gift he had so often given me — the gift of wanting what the other wants.

So early the next Saturday, I said, “You know what? I think we do need an electric tea kettle. You want to go help me pick one out?”

I wish you could have seen my husband’s face as he nearly jumped out of bed. He couldn’t get ready fast enough!

But it turns out God had been waiting for this very change of heart to give me something much more than just a tea kettle.

We soon found one we liked and it was even on sale. But I would have been willing to pay much more for the special light it brought to my husband’s eyes that day. As he squeezed my hand and led me excitedly through the store toward the kitchen appliances, that light clearly said,

“This is my wife and I love her. She cares deeply about every detail of my life — even tea kettles.”

Yes, I would have paid dearly for the priceless gift that seeing those thoughts gave me.

And surprise, surprise—there was room on the counter after all, without looking cluttered.

Imagine that.

Now I’m the one raving about how fast the water boils and also, about the filter which keeps all the hard water “gunk” out of the cup. Had I known about the totally clear tea I could have been drinking all along, I would have gotten an electric one years ago.

But I’m raving even more about the God who loves us too much to stop working in our hearts.

Sometimes, we just don’t know what we’re missing by wanting what we want. We think that what we want is the best choice and that it will make everything good and right and better. But often our choices are actually settling for so much less. I’m very grateful God didn’t allow me to settle for what I thought I wanted.

Now as I pour another steaming cup of tea and set the kettle back in place, I know I always want to make room on the counter of my life for what God wants to put there—a wonderful blessing that I may be resisting.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways …” Isaiah 55:8 (ESV)

What We Worship

 

Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you.      Exodus 23:25 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. 
Praise the Lord.       Psalm 150:6 

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.     Acts 16:25 

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.      John 4:24 

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.     Psalm 103:1
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What We Wors

From: Our Daily Journey

 

Psalm 115:1-18
Those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them (Psalm 115:8).

The idolatry of ancient Israel’s neighbors led the psalmist to write, “Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see” (Psalm 115:4-5). In essence, he was asking, “Why would a person feel the need to worship and bring a sacrifice to an idol? Who would devote their lives to a god they know is false—somehow hoping it would bless them?”

I would, because I do. My laptop and smartphone chime their call to “worship,” and I double-click into their glittering space. I’m instantly immersed in rows of icons that promise delights, if only I will give them my attention. My devices ask nothing from me. They invite me to passively consume their fleeting pleasures. My devices ask nothing, but they take everything. These tiny gods consume my attention. Minutes turn into hours turn into, Where did my day go? What happened to my life? I spent it online.

God warns, “Those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them” (Psalm 115:8). Old Testament idolaters became as weak and powerless as their blind, deaf, and mute idols. What about us? Our technological gods can turn us into passive consumers—lethargic and shallow voyeurs easily distracted by clickbait. Our devices can also take away our taste for transcendence. Unable to feel awe, we waste our lives yearning for the next virtual thrill.

The psalmist urges, “All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord! He is your helper and your shield” (Psalm 115:11). Let’s consider turning off our phones for a while and calling out to Jesus. As He draws us to worship, we’ll also experience His transforming work as He makes us more like Himself. To that I say, “Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 115:18).

 

A Life of Pure and Holy Sacrifice

By Oswald Chambers

A Life of Pure and Holy Sacrifice

Jesus did not say, “He who believes in Me will realize all the blessings of the fullness of God,” but, in essence, “He who believes in Me will have everything he receives escape out of him.” Our Lord’s teaching was always anti-self-realization. His purpose is not the development of a person— His purpose is to make a person exactly like Himself, and the Son of God is characterized by self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us— and we cannot measure that at all.

When Mary of Bethany “broke the flask…of very costly oil…and poured it on [Jesus’] head,” it was an act for which no one else saw any special occasion; in fact, “…there were some who…said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil wasted?’ ” (Mark 14:3-4). But Jesus commended Mary for her extravagant act of devotion, and said, “…wherever this gospel is preached…what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Mark 14:9). Our Lord is filled with overflowing joy whenever He sees any of us doing what Mary did— not being bound by a particular set of rules, but being totally surrendered to Him. God poured out the life of His Son “that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Are we prepared to pour out our lives for Him?

“He who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”— and hundreds of other lives will be continually refreshed. Now is the time for us to break “the flask” of our lives, to stop seeking our own satisfaction, and to pour out our lives before Him. Our Lord is asking who of us will do it for Him.

Unto you it is given… to suffer (Philippians 1:29).

God keeps a costly school. Many of its lessons are spelled out through tears. Richard Baxter said, “O God, I thank Thee for a bodily discipline of eight and fifty years”; and he is not the only man who has turned a trouble into triumph.

This school of our Heavenly Father will soon close for us; the term time is shortening every day. Let us not shrink from a hard lesson or wince under any rod of chastisement. The richer will be the crown, and the sweeter will be Heaven, if we endure cheerfully to the end and graduate in glory.
–Theodore L. Cuyler

The finest china in the world is burned at least three times, some of it more than three times. Dresden china is always burned three times. Why does it go through that intense fire? Once ought to be enough; twice ought to be enough. No, three times are necessary to burn that china so that the gold and the crimson are brought out more beautiful and then fastened there to stay.

We are fashioned after the same principle in human life. Our trials are burned into us once, twice, thrice; and by God’s grace these beautiful colors are there and they are there to stay forever.
–Cortland Myers

Earth’s fairest flowers grow not on sunny plain,
But where some vast upheaval rent in twain
The smiling land.
After the whirlwinds devastating blast,
After the molten fire and ashen pall,
God’s still small voice breathes healing over all.
From riven rocks and fern-clad chasms deep,
Flow living waters as from hearts that weep,
There in the afterglow soft dews distill
And angels tend God’s plants when night falls still,
And the Beloved passing by that way

Will gather lilies at the break of day.
–J.H.D.

God Gives Us More Than Enough

 

Malachi 3

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

11 “And I will rebuke the devouter for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;
12 “And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the Lord of hosts.   Malachi  3 

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God Is the God of More than Enough

By: Martha Noebel, Author

There are so many people with issues that seem to overwhelm them. Whether it is a father out of work, sickness in the home, broken down cars, not enough food on the table, or even a runaway child looking for their own way in the world, our hearts may seem to long for peace.

From experience, I have found that as long as I try to fix the problems without trusting the Lord to deal with them, then I am left feeling frustrated and without hope. Peace comes as I lean on God for the answers and wait on His timing.

At one particular season of my life, I was living far from family and friends. My husband had a job in which he traveled one hour from home. I had a teenage son, a toddler, and I was pregnant. There was barely enough money for food and expenses; except for the gas money to get my husband to work. It was a scary time.

I wish I could say that I immediately filled my heart with an abundance of faith and never doubted God’s ability to bring us through for a single moment. But my attitude was to face things one day at a time. I am so much wiser now. Having seen so many miracles in these recent years I know that He is more than capable of working all things out for our good.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (KJV)

The Bible even shares how, in Matthew 15, Jesus saw the multitude was hungry after listening to Him teach for three days. Jesus being full of faith told the disciples to gather the seven loaves of bread and fishes. He blessed the food and sent the disciples into the crowd with these items. After they all ate and were full, the leftover food filled seven baskets. The crowd consisted of four thousand men and included the women/children. Now that is how faithful our God is when a need is presented to Him.

So what is your concern today? How much faith do you possess? Even faith the size of a grain of a mustard seed is all you need to see the victory in your life.

“…Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 NIV

The paths you are following are hard to understand at times. God is with you! He is passionately in love with you and cares about your every need. The trials of today will one day be over and as you look back you will see how far you have come.  As I share in a previous devotional: Hope Is Real.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV

With a heart full of faith and hope for the days ahead, move onward. Trust the Lord. You will be amazed!

 

Destined To Be Holy

By Oswald Chambers

We must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life. We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness. Today we have far too many desires and interests, and our lives are being consumed and wasted by them. Many of them may be right, noble, and good, and may later be fulfilled, but in the meantime God must cause their importance to us to decrease. The only thing that truly matters is whether a person will accept the God who will make him holy. At all costs, a person must have the right relationship with God.

Do I believe I need to be holy? Do I believe that God can come into me and make me holy? If through your preaching you convince me that I am unholy, I then resent your preaching. The preaching of the gospel awakens an intense resentment because it is designed to reveal my unholiness, but it also awakens an intense yearning and desire within me. God has only one intended destiny for mankind— holiness. His only goal is to produce saints. God is not some eternal blessing-machine for people to use, and He did not come to save us out of pity— He came to save us because He created us to be holy. Atonement through the Cross of Christ means that God can put me back into perfect oneness with Himself through the death of Jesus Christ, without a trace of anything coming between us any longer.

Never tolerate, because of sympathy for yourself or for others, any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God. Holiness means absolute purity of your walk before God, the words coming from your mouth, and every thought in your mind— placing every detail of your life under the scrutiny of God Himself. Holiness is not simply what God gives me, but what God has given me that is being exhibited in my life.

 

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’ 1 Corinthians 2:14

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 1:15–2:6

The same power which raised Christ Jesus from the dead must be exerted in raising us from the dead; the very same omnipotence, without which angels or worms could not have had a being, must again step forth out of its privy-chamber, and do as great a work as it did at the first creation in making us anew in Christ Jesus our Lord. There have been attempts at all times to get rid of this unpleasant necessity. Constantly the Christian church itself tries to forget it, but as often as ever this old doctrine of regeneration is brought forward pointedly, God is pleased to favour his church with a revival. The doctrine which looks at first as though it would hush every exertion with indolence, and make men sit down with listlessness and despair, is really like the trump of God to awake the dead; and where it is fully and faithfully preached, though it grate upon the carnal ear, though it excite enmity in many against the man who dares to proclaim it, yet it is owned of God. Because it honours God, God will honour it. This was the staple preaching of Whitefield. He was always great upon that which he called the great R—Regeneration. Whenever you heard him, the three Rs came out clearly—Ruin, Regeneration, and Redemption! Man ruined, wholly ruined, hopelessly, helplessly, eternally ruined! Man regenerated by the Spirit of God, and by the Spirit of God alone wholly made a new creature in Christ! Man redeemed by precious blood from all his sins, not by works of righteousness, not by deeds of the law, not by ceremonies, prayers, or resolutions, but by the precious blood of Christ! We must be very pointed, and very plain about regeneration, for this is the very pith and marrow of the matter—‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’

For meditation: Man ruined (Titus 3:3), man regenerated (Titus 3:5), man redeemed (Titus 2:14). Have you experienced all three points or just the first?

 

Jesus Calms Our Storms

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Mark 4:35-41

Jesus Calms the Storm

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

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Help in the Storm

From: Our Daily Journey

Help in the Storm

Read:

Isaiah 4:1-6
The Lord will provide . . . a hiding place from storms (Isaiah 4:5-6).

In 2017, when a hurricane leveled the island of Puerto Rico, millions were without electricity, clean water, medicine, and food. And since only a handful of the country’s cell towers were left standing, the majority of people had no way to communicate. However, a pharmacy owner discovered that her satellite, intended for transmitting prescriptions, was still receiving a signal. For days, the woman’s neighbors lined up to call their friends and loved ones to let them know they were okay. This working phone tucked behind a pharmacy counter provided a lifeline. The phone didn’t mean they avoided hardship, but it did provide help as they endured the devastation.

The prophet Isaiah spoke words both grave and comforting to Israel as they faced their own violent storm. In Israel’s case, however, the wreckage was not caused by ravaging hurricanes but rather by their own wrongdoing. Because of flagrant rebellion and persistent injustice, the nation was in ruins (Isaiah 1:7).

Even still, God refused to give up on His people. He never abandons us. Though distress would come, God would “provide a canopy of cloud during the day” as refuge from the heat (Isaiah 4:5). And when the fierce gales pounded, God would provide “a hiding place from storms and rain” (Isaiah 4:6). Over and over again, Scripture insists that God provides help and shelter in our most desperate hours. “God is our refuge and strength,” the psalmist says, “always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

While the Bible never promises that God will keep us from ravaging tempests, we do have a promise that God will always be with us in the midst of our troubles. He is our help in the storm.

“My Joy…Your Joy”

August 31 

By Oswald Chambers

What was the joy that Jesus had? Joy should not be confused with happiness. In fact, it is an insult to Jesus Christ to use the word happiness in connection with Him. The joy of Jesus was His absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice to His Father— the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do— “…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2). “I delight to do Your will, O my God…” (Psalm 40:8). Jesus prayed that our joy might continue fulfilling itself until it becomes the same joy as His. Have I allowed Jesus Christ to introduce His joy to me?

Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances. Jesus said, “…the cares of this world,…choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). And before we even realize what has happened, we are caught up in our cares. All that God has done for us is merely the threshold— He wants us to come to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim who Jesus is.

Have the right relationship with God, finding your joy there, and out of you “will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Be a fountain through which Jesus can pour His “living water.” Stop being hypocritical and proud, aware only of yourself, and live “your life…hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). A person who has the right relationship with God lives a life as natural as breathing wherever he goes. The lives that have been the greatest blessing to you are the lives of those people who themselves were unaware of having been a blessing.

As a Deer

From: Joe Stowell

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1

Several years ago my wife Martie and I had the unique experience of going on a camel safari in the desert of the United Arab Emirates. We rocked back and forth on top of those ugly beasts for an hour as we perused the quiet of the desert. In the course of describing the attributes of camels, our guide mentioned that they could live for 3 months without water. They are obviously built for the desert.

What a contrast to the sleek, “type A” gazelle the writer had in mind in Psalm 42:1-11. Bounding through the meadows and the forests, the deer is satisfied and sustained on a regular basis by water. He needs it and yearns for it in his fast-paced existence.

How easy it is in the midst of our abundance to be far more like the camel than the deer. Rarely sensing a need for God, some people can go for months without desiring Him. For some of us, life has been a long stretch of religious and secular activity without any sense of utter dependence on Him or sincere desire to know Him. The problem is that we weren’t built for life in a spiritual desert. We were built—redeemed, in fact—for regular, satisfying access to the refreshing presence of God in our souls.

So what is it that keeps us from really longing for and seeking Him? Of all the things that make us like the camel, none is so glaring as the sin of self-sufficiency. We have relegated Jesus to the sidelines, while we go about our business. Cultivating him as our soul mate and supreme necessity for life has somehow escaped us. But it hasn’t escaped Him. He still knocks at our heart’s door to offer the sweet fellowship that only He can bring (Revelation 3:20).

Let’s drink deeply, living in Jesus more like a deer and less like a camel.