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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 29 Aug 2015, 9:25 pm

Telling Others the Gospel, Even When It's Difficult
Luis Palau

Telling others the gospel isn't easy. I know -- as a young man, I was 
convinced I didn't have the gift of evangelism. It was obvious. No matter 
how hard
I tried, no one was coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing I did seemed to 
make a difference. I was inspired by the things I read and heard about Billy
Graham's ministry, but I knew I didn't have his gifts.

I remember giving God a deadline: If I don't see any converts by the end of 
the year, I'm quitting. Oh, I would still be an active Christian, but I 
planned
to resign myself to simply teaching other believers.

The end of the year came and went. No converts. My mind was made up: Now I 
was sure I didn't have the gift of evangelism.

On Saturday about four days into the New Year, the small church I attended 
in Argentina held a home Bible study. I didn't feel like going, but went 
anyway
out of loyalty to the elders.

The fellow who was supposed to give the Bible study never showed up. So the 
man of the house said, Luis, you are going to have to say something. I was
completely unprepared. I had been reading a book by Billy Graham, however, 
based on the beatitudes. So I read
Matthew 5:1
and simply repeated whatever I remembered from Dr. Graham's book.

As I was commenting on the beatitude, Blessed are the pure in heart, for 
they shall see God, a lady suddenly stood up. She began to cry: My heart is 
not
pure. How can I see God? Somebody tell me how I can get a pure heart.

I don't remember the woman's name, but I will never forget her words: 
Somebody tell me how I can get a pure heart. Together we read in the Bible, 
The blood
of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin
(1 John 1:7).
Before the evening was over, that woman found peace with God and went home 
with a pure heart overflowing with joy. How delightful it was to lead her to
Jesus Christ!

When you win someone to Christ, it's the greatest joy. Your graduation is 
exciting, your wedding day is exciting, your first baby is exciting. But the
most thrilling thing you can ever do is to win someone to Christ.

Yet today, in an effort to be sophisticated and contemporary, many
Christians
have stopped trying to persuade others to follow Christ. There's an 
underlying feeling in our society that nice people just don't go around 
persuading
other people to do things. We don't want to offend people, appear strange, 
or lose our newfound status. So we do nothing.

I, too, have been guilty of this. When I lived in Mexico City, my next-door 
neighbor was a young television personality. We would chat from time to 
time,
and he even mentioned that he listened to our radio program occasionally. 
But I didn't share the Gospel with him. After all, I thought, he seems 
completely
immune to the problems of life.

Eventually, though, my neighbor changed. The joy seemed to have left his 
face. He and his wife started driving separate cars to work. I could tell 
their
marriage was souring, and I felt the need to talk with him, but I didn't 
want to meddle in his life. I went about my business and headed off for an 
evangelistic
crusade in Peru. After all, that was the polite thing to do.

When I returned home, I learned my neighbor had killed himself. I was 
heartbroken. I knew I should have gone to him and persuaded him to repent 
and follow
Christ. But because of false courtesy, because I followed a social norm I 
didn't do it.

It's very convenient to make excuses for not persuading others to follow 
Christ. We may say we don't want to be overbearing or offensive. We may 
think
we can't possibly witness to someone because he or she will become angry.

Not Closed At All

But over the years I have learned that some of the people I thought would be 
most closed to the Gospel often are the most receptive. Although they may
outwardly fear it, in their hearts they welcome the message of the Gospel.

I saw this attitude clearly during a visit to the Soviet Union. Christians 
there were persecuted for decades. Now, evangelism is permitted. I've 
traveled
all over the world, and I've never seen a place as hungry and desperate to 
hear the Gospel. But many Soviet Christians are just beginning to realize 
the
fields are white already to harvest.

Just before my evangelistic team's Soviet campaign was over, a Baptist 
pastor brought an acquaintance to one of our meetings in Moscow. The friend, 
head
of an academic department at the university and a leading scientist, 
listened as I preached the Gospel. Then, to the pastor's surprise, this 
scientist
prayed out loud to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior. And then, with tears, 
he came forward to confess Christ publicly.

The Russian pastor was astonished at his friend's response to the Gospel. He 
was equally surprised by the phone call he received at 7:15 the next 
morning.
I would like to express my gratitude to you, the scientist said. You invited 
me to meet the Lord Jesus Christ. I didn't sleep the whole night. I just 
prayed.
I asked God whether He would accept me, whether He would pardon me.

So the pastor asked, Well, do you think God pardoned you? And his friend 
replied, Yes, I'm absolutely sure that God accepts me as His prodigal son. 
Later
the pastor told me, I never thought a scientist would accept the Lord Jesus 
as Savior. But now I've seen it with my own eyes. What a great experience!

Having a part in leading a friend or acquaintance to faith in Jesus Christ 
is exciting. But actually praying with someone who wants to make that 
decision
is even more thrilling.

Yet I've seen Christians lead someone to the point of decision and then 
panic. A Christian woman was witnessing to a Hungarian businesswoman sitting 
in
front of me on a flight from Budapest to London. At the same time our team's 
European director and I were discussing the evangelistic rally we had in 
Budapest
the day before.

While we were talking the Christian woman stood up, turned around and said, 
Excuse me. Are you talking about the rally yesterday with Luis Palau? I said
yes. Do you know where brother Palau is? I said that was me. Then she said, 
I've been talking to this Hungarian lady, and I think she's ready to be 
converted.
But I don't know how to do it.

I told her, I've been listening to what you've been saying and you've done a 
terrific job. But she felt afraid of doing something wrong when it came time
to pray with someone who was ready to receive Christ.

I agreed to talk with the Hungarian businesswoman for a minute. Did you 
understand what this lady said to you?

Yes.

Are you ready to trust Christ and follow Him?

Yes.

At that, I asked the Christian woman to lead her in a prayer. I could have 
done it myself. It would have been great. But I just sat back and watched as
the Christian woman in front of me at first hesitated, then turned to this 
Hungarian woman, put her arm around her, and for the first time led someone
to Christ.

A Challenge

I challenge you to pray: Dear God, I want that experience. I want to know 
what it is to win someone to Jesus Christ.

Why be ashamed of the Gospel? It is the power of God for the
salvation
of everyone who believes (
Romans 1:16).
It changes lives here and now, and for eternity!

The Dutch evangelist Corrie ten Boom had a God-given desire to win others to 
Christ. One of her poems says, When I enter that beautiful city / And the
saints all around me appear, / I hope that someone will tell me: / It was 
you who invited me here.

Whatever our place in the Body of Christ, let's actively and prayerfully 
invite others into God's kingdom. After all, God doesn't have a plan A, a 
plan
B and a plan C for evangelizing the world. He has only one plan and that's 
you and me.
LightSource.com Featured Ministry
Jonathan Bernis
Jewish Voice

You Don't Really Know Who Your Friends Are Until...
external link

You don't really know who your friends are until their relationship with you 
becomes a liability instead of a benefit. Many celebrities, and even 
Christian
celebrities, have learned this lesson the hard way. In the blink of an eye, 
or the release of a news story, they went from fêted to ignored, from 
celebrated
to invisible. They learned quickly that many of their so-called friends had 
actually not been friends at all, but people thriving on a kind of symbiotic
relationship where each benefited the other. When the relationship become a 
liability, their friends were suddenly nowhere to be found.

This happened to Jesus. When he was performing miracles and laying verbal 
beatings on the Pharisees and healing men who had been born blind, his 
friends
were only too happy to ally themselves with him. They were proud to know 
him, to be known in relation to him, and to be in his inner circle. But when 
he
became a hated criminal, when he was dragged before the courts and accused 
of crimes, his friends quickly made themselves scarce. They disappeared into
the night, leaving him to fend for himself.

For as long as you and I have lived, at least if you have lived in this 
Western, first-world culture, friendship with Jesus has been beneficial. At 
worst
this friendship has been neutral so the benefits have balanced the 
drawbacks. And while I am no prognosticator of doom, it seems increasingly 
clear that
a relationship with Jesus will soon be more and a more of a liability before 
this watching, judging world.

Looking at the people around me who have professed faith in Christ, and 
looking at many of the Christians I know through social media, I see two 
kinds
of concerning reaction.

Some are denying him and rejecting him. They have determined that the cost 
of associating with Jesus is too high, and they have walked away from him 
altogether.
Any association with Jesus typecasts them as bigoted, as intolerant, as 
judgmental, as trapped in an appallingly outmoded system of morality. They 
have
chosen to leave him behind.

Many more are redefining the terms of their friendship by redefining their 
friend. They are creating a new version of their friend Jesus, rewriting him
in their own image, or in the image of the culture around them, making him 
into a figure who has been misunderstood and who is far more tolerant, far 
more
accepting, far more palatable. This inoffensive Jesus loves without 
judgment, he gives without expectation, he proudly waves a rainbow flag.

But, of course, Jesus is unchanged and unchanging. He will not bow to the 
changing culture, he will not cede to the rising tide. Jesus will only ever 
be
who he is and who he has always been. And each of us has a choice to make.

You don't really know who your friends are until their relationship with you 
becomes a liability instead of a benefit. We don't really know who Jesus
friends are until a relationship with him becomes a liability instead of a 
benefit. We know that Jesus is proud to be the friend of sinners, and in the
days to come, we will discover which sinners are truly proud to be friends 
with him.
DEAN MASTERS

New Post on KenBible.com - Anticipation
----------------------------------------------------------
Anticipation


In my office hangs a poster of a large whale's tail. The tail alone is seen 
above the water's surface, with the other 99% of the whale being out of 
sight.

I've enjoyed this poster for years. I've owned it since before I had a good 
place to hang it.

What draws me to it, I believe, is its promise. What I see is impressive. 
But what I don't see intrigues me more. The whale's tale suggests a bigger 
being,
a completely different type of being, a deeper life, a greater realm. What I 
see is a promise of what I don't see, and it fuels my longing to see and 
know
more.

It reminds me of God. What I know of Him is spectacular, but everything I 
learn promises even more that I have not yet seen or experienced, that I 
cannot
yet fully grasp. As Job said after describing God's greatness in creation:

Behold, these are the fringes of His ways;
And how faint a word we hear of Him!
But His mighty thunder, who can understand? (Job 26:14, NASB)

God's promise through Paul is even more explicit:

Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but 
then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians
13:12, NASB)

God has poured out Himself, His own breath, His own life force, on all of us 
who simply trust Him. He has lavished on us His power, wisdom, and love, 
through
the Holy Spirit of His glorious Son. But as great as this Gift is, it is 
only a downpayment, a deposit, a promise of His full gift of Himself to His 
people:

Having also believed, you were sealed in [Christ] with the Holy Spirit of 
promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the 
redemption
of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14, 
NASB. See also 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5)

Consider the greatness of God's gift of His Spirit. Right here and now He 
can be more and wants to be more than you have let Him be. But also, let 
this
great gift fuel your anticipation for the greater gift that is yet to come: 
our complete and constant union with God.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 27 Aug 2015, 9:42 pm

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Today's Devotional

Naming The Animals

Psalm 50:10 – For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a 
thousand hills. (NIV)

Genesis 2:19 – Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild 
animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what
he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that 
was its name. (NIV 2011)

When spring finally arrived, I went out to the garden with some fresh water 
for my box turtle that had emerged safe and sound from her hibernation spot.
But I was surprised to discover that she had company – three adorable baby 
cottontails! Although I was tempted to pick them up, something told me that
it wasn't a good idea. So I went online to research "baby rabbits". What I 
learned is that most of the time, the mother is nearby; therefore, I should
not automatically assume that the bunnies had been abandoned. I was 
satisfied with this information as the animals appeared healthy and ready to 
explore
the world on their own. Then later, a friend brought me the cutest little 
baby turtle from her backyard. I named him "Buttons" because of the markings
on his shell.

Interestingly, it was the first human, Adam, who named the animals. This was 
his first act of dominion over the creatures around him. Perhaps God 
intended
this exercise as a way for Adam to develop a deep sense of concern and 
responsibility for the wellbeing of what he had authority over.

Contemplating my experience with wildlife, I thought about our 
responsibility before God to be good stewards over all His creation, 
including the animals.
Let us consider the following:

• The Lord tells the righteous to "care for the needs of their animals". 
(Proverbs 12:10 NIV)
• He instructs Israel to allow their animals to rest on the Sabbath. 
(Deuteronomy 5:14)
• He prohibits the mismatching of animals so as not to burden them with 
undue stress. (Deuteronomy 22:10)
• He prohibits muzzling the ox as it treads grain. (Deuteronomy 25:4)
• He commands shepherds to "know the condition of your flocks". (Proverbs 
27:23 NIV)
• People are to rescue a fallen beast even if it belongs to the enemy. 
(Exodus 23:4-5)

Questions for reflection: What experience, if any, have you had with animals 
in your own life, domestic or wild? What spiritual lessons have you drawn?
How is it our duty to exercise dominion over animals according to God's 
plan?

Prayer: Heavenly Father and Creator of all things, we thank You for Your 
glory and majesty that are displayed throughout all the world. As Your word 
declares,
everything that has breath will praise You — even the animals. Grant us each 
a caring spirit and a teachable heart, that we may learn from even the 
lowliest
of Your creatures and see Your wisdom in all that You have made. Amen.

Lori Ciccanti 

Which God Do You Serve?
by Greg Laurie

A group of seminary students were given the task of organizing the Ten 
Commandments in their perceived order of importance. Interestingly, these 
students
felt that the sixth commandment, "You shall not murder," should be 
number-one on the list. The seventh commandment, "You shall not commit 
adultery," was
also placed near the top. But the group relegated the first commandment, 
"You shall have no other gods before Me," to the bottom of the list. They 
didn't
think it was all that important.

In God's listing, however, it is a different story. He puts this commandment 
at the top of the list. But why is it the number-one offense to God? It 
comes
down to this: If you have broken this one, then everything else will fall 
apart.

One day a man came to Jesus and asked Him, "Of all the commandments, which 
is the most important?" (Mark 12:28 NLT). Jesus responded,

"The most important commandment is this: 'Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God 
is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your
heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.' The second is 
equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is
greater than these." (verse 29, NLT)

With that statement, Jesus essentially summed up the Ten Commandments: Put 
God in His rightful place. Make Him number-one in your life.

Could this be said of us today? A survey revealed that 76 percent of 
Americans believed they had been completely faithful to the first 
commandment. In
other words, they might have problems with some of the other commandments, 
but for them, the first commandment was not a problem. But is that true? 
It's
hard to say.

You see, everyone has a god. Everyone, including atheists, bows at some 
altar. We don't all worship the true God, but we all worship. Everyone has 
something
they believe in, some passion that drives them, something that gives their 
life meaning and purpose. For some, their god is possessions or money. 
Others
worship their bodies. They worship at the church of the perfect physique. 
Still others worship success or pleasure or relationships. But we all 
worship
someone or something.

With the first commandment, God was establishing the fact that He is our God 
and was showing us His place in our lives: "I am the Lord your God, who 
rescued
you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any 
other god but me" (Exodus 20:2-3 NLT). It is amazing how much can be 
revealed
by a simple little pronoun such as "I." Only one letter long, it conveys a 
profound and fundamental truth about who God is. When He said, "I am the 
Lord,"
He was, in effect, refuting all other belief systems, including pantheism, 
polytheism, deism, and new-age thinking. When God says, "I am," He is 
revealing
that He is a being, not a mere force of nature. He says, "I am. . . . I 
feel. I think. I care."

God is not an impersonal force, as pantheism would teach. Nor is He one of 
many gods, as polytheism claims. God said, "I am the Lord your God" 
(emphasis
mine). As 1 Timothy 2:5 reminds us, "For there is only one God and one 
Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity-the man Christ Jesus" (NLT).

In contrast to the teaching of deism, which says that God has no interest in 
the affairs of men, the first commandment shows us that we have a God who
sees and hears and cares. God reminded Israel that He had blessed and 
protected them up to this point: "I am the Lord your God, who rescued you 
from the
land of Egypt, the place of your slavery."

The Bible says that God is a jealous God. By "jealous," it doesn't mean that 
God is one who is controlling and demanding and flies into a rage without
the slightest reason or provocation. The jealousy the Bible is speaking of 
is the jealousy of a loving Father who sees the possibilities and potential
of His children and is brokenhearted when those things are not realized, or 
worse, are wasted and squandered.

Jesus said, "And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose 
your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?" (Matthew 16:26 NLT). 
Is
God number-one in your life today? Or, are you allowing other gods to crowd 
Him out?

Reproduced by permission from
Harvest Ministries
with Greg Laurie, PO Box 4000, Riverside, CA, 92514.


A Word About Faith

One day some religious people, a group known as the Sadducees, tried to draw 
Jesus into a theological trap on a speculative question about the afterlife.
Instead of answering their question directly, Jesus said: “You are in error 
because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” That was a 
shocking
confrontation. These people knew the Hebrew Scriptures very well. It was 
their profession and their preoccupation. But because they were using the 
word
of God instead of trusting it, Jesus told them they quite simply didn’t 
“know” it.

ManLookingUp

This series is called How to Understand the Bible, but it could have been 
called How to Understand the Bible in a Way that is Accurate According to 
the
Standards of Language and that is Faithful According to God’s Intent. (In 
prior centuries book titles were sometimes that long!)

In order to get out of Scripture all that is there for us, we have to read 
it both as an ordinary text, and an extraordinary one. This is not a 
contradiction.
We must follow the rules that apply to ordinary language because this word 
of God came to us in the ordinary forms of letters and oracles, poetry and 
proverb,
simile and metaphor, and all the other ordinary ways ordinary words work. We 
must read Scripture naturally, in other words, and not by some artificial
assumptions about the words of the Bible. It is all-important, for instance, 
for us to read portions of Scripture in their context because words have 
meaning
only in context. We expect other people to understand what we say in context 
out of fairness, not quoting us in a way that misrepresents us. We should
show God the same respect. We like to quote individual Bible verses as 
answers to complex problems, but our application of a verse is only as good 
as our
understanding the verse in context. No prophet or apostle would have ever 
conceived of his oracle or epistle chopped up into such tiny bits.

We must also read Scripture with eyes of faith as a body of extraordinary 
texts. Not everybody who reads the Bible considers it the Holy Bible or the 
word
of God. But if you do, that will shape your understanding.

The Christian thinker Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) famously said: “I 
believe in order that I may understand” (Credo ut intelligam). The principle
is otherwise known as “faith seeking understanding,” as it was expressed by 
Augustine of Hippo in the fourth century.

Putting it simply, these leading thinkers and many others have said it is 
when our lives are connected with our Creator, when our minds and hearts are
awakened to his power and presence, when we are “believers,” that we will 
begin to understand the way things really are.

Knowing the Bible is not the ultimate objective. Knowing God is. Really 
knowing God. And knowing God via the revelation God has given of himself, 
not our
imaginary constructs. This is exciting! When we commit ourselves to knowing 
the Scriptures, we are truly embarking on a life-transforming experience. 
And
the real beginning is when we say, “I believe…”
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 26 Aug 2015, 9:39 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
June 25, 2015

Divine Appointments
By Answers2Prayer


Philip was instructed by God to go to a certain place at a certain time, and 
when he arrived, there just "happened" to be an Ethiopian official on that
same road, an Ethiopian with lots of questions about Scripture.

A chance meeting?

Hardly. Truly a divine appointment, for in the end, this Ethiopian went on 
his way home a changed man, for thanks to Philip, he understood, believed 
and
was baptised (see
Acts 8:26-40).

But that was the early church. We don't see those kind of random things 
happening today.

Or do we?

I had just finished my oncology visit and was back in radiology to pick up 
CDs of some radiographic studies when I met them. The woman was pushing her
husband, who we will call "Charley," in a wheelchair, and Charley was 
waiting for x-rays. We exchanged pleasantries, and then I went to the 
counter to
pick up my exams.

"I'm sorry," said the technician behind the counter. "Your x-ray study from 
today isn't up on the system yet."

My smile became a bit strained.

"Maybe if you can wait a few more moments, it will come up," she stated 
hopefully.

I shrugged. Though I was in a bit of a rush to get home, better to wait a 
few more minutes than have to return!

As I returned to the waiting room, I again noticed Charlie and his wife. I 
sat down across from them, and despite my innate shyness, we struck up a 
conversation.
I soon learned that Charley had been in Oncology all day, receiving 
radiation therapy for lung cancer. Due to other health concerns that had 
arisen, however,
he was now in the midst of tests. His wife was nearly beside herself with 
worry, and God gave me a few words of encouragement for her.

It wasn't long before Charlie had finished his x-rays, and the couple were 
preparing to leave. Tell them you'll pray for him! whispered a voice inside
my mind, and I found my mouth forming those words: "I'll be praying for 
Charley!"

The woman looked surprised but relieved at the same time. "Thank you!" she 
said with conviction.

The moment they left the room, the x-ray technician returned with my CD, and 
I immediately knew why my x-ray study hadn't been ready. This was no random
meeting. It was a divine appointment.

But then, there are no random meetings, are there? Everything is under God's 
control. He knows exactly how to connect us with what we need at just the
right moment, and His timing is always impeccable.

I would like to challenge each of you today to do two things:

1. Be on the lookout for God's divine appointments in your life. The moment 
you feel discouraged or have any other need, and someone or something comes
along that brings you hope, recognize God's hand on your life and give Him 
the praise.

2. Be ever ready to be God's hands and feet on Earth, should we find 
ourselves in the "giving" end of a divine appointment.

Let's remember: "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches 
in glory by Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19, NKJV)

Oh, and would you all join me in praying for "Charlie" as well?

In His love,
Lyn

Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "
Aboard God's Train
-- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator 
for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and
Scriptural Nuggets,
a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with
Answers2Prayer Ministries.
Follow Lyn on
Twitter
@lynchaffart.

Announcement:

The Nugget has featured several series' on Temples in the Bible: "
Wilderness Instructions
"; "
Lessons From Ezekiel's Temple
"; and most recently, "
Building Solomon's Temple".
There is just one other temple given significant mention in the Bible, and 
this is the Heavenly temple. Join us on Saturdays in July for "The Heavenly
Temple" -- A Mini-series by Lyn Chaffart

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."

Dive In
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an 
opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. –
Galatians 5:13

One summer when I was younger, my church organized a week-long camping trip 
to Glacier National Park for all the high school boys. It was after one 
particularly
long day of hiking that a few of us decided we’d cool off by taking a swim 
in a nearby lake. So we grabbed our swim trunks and towels and ran full 
speed
into the lake, desperate to escape the summer heat. Now, I’m going to pause 
here and ask two questions…

First Question: Where does the water in these lakes come from?

Answer: Well, ice from the glacier melts and runs down through the 
waterfalls until it empties out into the lake.

Second Question: Does the water ever get warm?

Answer: No

The moment our feet hit the water we were stopped cold. We all stood ankle 
deep trying to figure out what to do next. A handful of the boys tried to 
edge
gradually into the water, but after almost twenty minutes they still hadn’t 
made it past their knees. As for me and a few other boys, we decided it was
best not to wait. We dove headfirst into the water. For a time it was 
unbelievably cold, but eventually our bodies adjusted and we spent the 
entire afternoon
diving and swimming far out in the lake.

Followers of Christ can encounter the same problem my friends and I had on 
the beach of that lake. God wants us to dive headfirst into the Christian 
life,
to forget our worries and troubles and just focus on Him. Instead, many of 
us will stand on the fringes of our
faith,
trying to slowly and comfortably ease our way into God’s plan for our lives. 
We aren’t meant to stand in the shallows of God’s love, however, so even 
though
jumping in can be difficult at first, it’s the best way. Only by 
surrendering to God as the center of our lives do we become truly free.

Intersecting Faith and Life: Have you been avoiding the call to do more with 
your faith? Consider where and how you can serve, and start at the very next
opportunity.

Further Reading

Romans 12:11

The Poverty of the Prosperity Gospel
Vaneetha Rendall / June 29, 2015
The Poverty of the Prosperity Gospel

The Book of Job has both shaken me and shaped me.

When I first read it, I found it troubling. It didn’t seem fair. Job was a 
righteous man. But over the years, this story has helped forge my 
understanding
of God and my theology of suffering. It has taught me that God himself — not 
anything he gives me — is my greatest treasure.

Years ago, a colleague mentioned what he had learned from Job. I was 
surprised to hear that his study had yielded a markedly different conclusion 
than
mine. In his words, “Job got everything back and more for his suffering. He 
was blessed with more children and more money than he ever had before. That’s
what the story shows us — doing the right thing always brings blessing and 
prosperity.â€

While the first part was true, I disagreed with his conclusion. He subtly 
was echoing the message of the so-called “health, wealth, and prosperity 
gospelâ€
— that God’s goal for us in this life is perfect health, total happiness, 
and financial gain. In this life. “We simply need to name what we want,†it 
says,
“live the right way, and then claim our victory. That is what living for God 
looks like.â€

I contend that this approach is not living for God. Such thinking is 
idolatry. It is elevating God’s gifts above him, the giver. And that is a 
great assault
on God’s value.

The Truly Abundant Life

Proponents of the prosperity gospel see things differently. They believe 
their position is biblical, citing Scripture to back up their claims. One 
such
verse is John 10:10: “I came that they may have life and have it 
abundantly.â€

Jesus does give us abundant life, but his abundant life is independent of 
circumstances.

A diagnosis of cancer, a stock-market crash, and a child’s rebellion cannot 
diminish the abundant life we have in Christ. And a miraculous healing, a 
financial
windfall, and a prodigal’s return don’t transform it either. True abundant 
life rests in the God who is Lord over the good things and the terrible 
things
in our life. As Job says, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not 
receive evil?†(Job 2:10)

When we assert that pain-free lives are God’s reward for the righteous, we 
insinuate to the wounded that their problems are of their own making. As 
Randy
Alcorn
says,

Tragically, the prosperity gospel has poisoned the church and undermined our 
ability to deal with evil and suffering. Some churches today have no place
for pain. Those who say God has healed them get the microphone, while those 
who continue to suffer are shamed into silence or ushered out the back door.

I personally have been ushered out the back door at healing services, after 
being publicly chastised. Many other disabled people have experienced 
similar
treatment under the assumption that if you’re not healed, it’s your fault. 
“Because God’s will is for everyone to be healed. Always. The faithful will
never suffer.â€

This belief is contrary to the Bible. Jesus says we will have tribulation 
(John 16:33). Peter says we shouldn’t be surprised by suffering (1 Peter 
4:12).
James says to expect trials, and to count it all joy (James 1:2). And Paul 
says afflictions bring endurance and glory (Romans 5:3–5; 2 Corinthians 
4:17).

Of course, healing in this life can bring God glory as well. Sometimes God 
intervenes in our lives in supernatural ways and miraculously heals them 
from
disease. And God is glorified when that happens.

But I have seen God even more glorified when people are not healed yet 
continue to praise him in the midst of deep suffering — when everything they 
have
is stripped away and all that is left is God alone. And he is found 
sufficient.

God is most glorified when we declare him sufficient in the midst of great 
loss. Just as Job did.

Giver More Than Gifts

The prosperity gospel teaches that we live for God’s blessing. Job teaches 
that we live for God’s glory. At the heart of the prosperity gospel is our 
value.
At the heart of Job, and all of Scripture, is God’s value.

Satan is a proponent of the prosperity gospel, as he tells God that Job’s 
faithfulness is predicated on God’s blessings. And if those blessings are 
taken
away, he believes Job will curse God to his face. Satan is implying that God 
is valuable only for what he gives Job.

But God contends just the opposite. God asserts that Job loves him for who 
he is, not for what he gives.

And when Job is able to say, after losing everything, “The Lord gave, and 
the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord†(Job 1:21), he 
declares
the surpassing worth of God. God himself, not his gifts, is Job’s true 
treasure.

As the Psalmist declares:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 
73:25–26)

May we all, like Job, find our treasure in God, who is our portion forever.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 25 Aug 2015, 10:38 pm

nourish

Do You Believe?

God seems to work in themes in my life. You know what I mean. Every sermon, 
morning devotional, and Christian radio program all “coincidentally” speak
to me about the same subject for an uncomfortable length of time. I’ll even 
get a card in the mail from a Christian friend I haven’t seen in 10 years,
and—you guessed it—she’ll share a good word on the exact theme.

Soon after my 40th birthday, everywhere I turned I heard a message on 
belief. I’m humiliated to admit that I became somewhat annoyed not to be 
hearing
more on the subjects I really needed. After all, I was already a believer, 
and if believers don’t believe, what on earth do they do?

Several weeks passed, and I still didn’t get it. Finally one morning even 
Oswald Chambers had the audacity to bring up the subject in that day’s entry
of My Utmost for His Highest. I looked up and exclaimed, “What is this all 
about?” I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart, “Beth, I want you to
believe Me.” I was appalled. “Lord,” I answered, “of course I believe in 
You. I’ve believed in You all my life.” I felt He responded very clearly, 
adamantly:
“I didn’t ask you to believe in Me. I asked you to believe Me.”

Pull quote

I don’t mind telling you that my life changed dramatically after God 
interrupted my comfortable pace with the theme of belief. Some of it has 
been excruciating,
and some of it has been the most fun I’ve had in my entire Christian life. I 
have a feeling this is one theme I’ll run into again and again in the course
of my journey. Why? Because without faith it is impossible to please God. In 
other words, you and I will be challenged to believe Him from one season to
the next, all of our days. If we have even half a heart for God, He’s likely 
to shake our borders and stir up a little excitement.

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to 
him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek
him (Heb. 11:6).

The writer of Hebrews clearly lays out two requirements of a worshiper of 
God. First, we must believe that God exists. Without this belief no 
possibility
of faith exists. But belief in God is not enough. After all, the demons can 
know that sort of faith (Jas. 2:19). There must also be a conviction about
God’s moral character—belief “that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” 
(Heb. 11:6). Without that deep conviction, faith in the biblical sense is 
not
a possibility.

You may be thinking, I want to believe! I just don’t have enough faith! God’s 
Word records an encounter in Mark 9:14-24 to encourage every person who 
wants
to believe. Christ met a man with a son who had been possessed by the enemy 
since childhood. No telling how many physicians, witch doctors, religious 
fanatics,
wise men, and foolish men the father had sought to find freedom for his son.

Imagine the glimmer of hope that kindled this father’s soul when rumors 
circulated about the miracles performed by the disciples of Jesus. Then 
imagine
his devastation when they too were added to the list of the failed.

Pull quote

Jesus asked for the boy to be brought to Him. The father’s desperate plea 
could bring a lump to the throat of any parent: “If you can do anything, 
take
pity on us and help us.” I love Jesus’ powerful retort: “‘If you can?’ … 
Everything is possible for him who believes.’” The father’s reply represents 
one
of the most honest, priceless moments in the record of Christ’s human 
encounters.

I am convinced that God would rather hear our honest pleas for more of what 
we lack than a host of pious platitudes from an unbelieving heart. When I am
challenged with unbelief, I have begun to make the same earnest plea to the 
One who would gladly supply.

Remember, God always wills for you to be free from strongholds. We may not 
always be sure God wills to heal us of every disease or prosper us with 
tangible
blessings, but He always wills to free us from strongholds. You will never 
have to worry about whether you are praying in God’s will about strongholds:
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1).

Think of any stronghold you face. Does your stronghold require more power 
than it takes to raise the dead? I don’t think so. God can do it, fellow 
believer.
I know because He says so. And I know because He’s done it for me. Believe 
Him … and when you don’t, cry out earnestly, “Help me overcome my unbelief!”

----------------------------------------------------------

Excerpted from The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
Excerpted from
Living Free: Learning to
Pray God’s Word (Updated).

©2001 by Beth Moore. LifeWay Press.
Used by permission

Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah
Turning Point
Monday, June 29

Proactive Love

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is 
the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12

Recommended Reading
Galatians 5:13-14
The Golden Rule is found, in varying forms, in all religious and cultural 
traditions, many predating the time of Christ. Ethicists call it the “rule 
of
reciprocity”—letting how we desire others to act toward us be the guide for 
how we act toward them. But when Jesus Christ stated His version of the 
Golden
Rule, He gave it a twist that had been missing in other cultures.
Prior to Jesus, the rule of reciprocity had been stated in negative terms 
only. For instance, the Jewish book of Tobit said, “Do to no one what you 
yourself
dislike.” In other words, prior to Jesus, the Golden Rule focused on what 
not to do to others. But when Jesus stated it, He put it in positive terms: 
“Whatever
you want men to do to you, do also to them.” Instead of only withholding 
negative actions, Jesus said to demonstrate positive actions: Be proactive 
in
your behavior toward others by loving them the same way you would want to be 
loved. He said such a proactive posture was a good way to summarize the 
whole
Old Testament: “the Law and the Prophets.”

Not doing bad things is commendable, but doing good things is even better. 
Doing both is to love as God loves.

Our job is to love people we don’t have to love.
Keith Miller

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Psalms 141-150
David Jeremiah's Website

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 24 Aug 2015, 10:00 pm

The Ministries of Francis Frangipane

One Man
(En Español)

God's Response to Redemptive Intercession
When Abraham was confronted with the possibility of Sodom's destruction, he 
did not immediately jump on the "Destroy Sodom" bandwagon; instead, he went
before the Lord and prayed for mercy for the city. Abraham's prayer is an 
amazing study on the effect a mercy-motivated intercessor has on the heart 
of
God. Indeed, my objective here is to gaze into the heart of God as it is 
revealed in the discourse between the Lord and Abraham.

When we look at Abraham's prayer, we discover an amazing power granted us in 
intercession. And what is that? God is looking for a mercy reason that would
justify Him delaying or canceling wrath. We must not belittle this 
principle, for in it is great hope for our land as well. The mercy reason 
for delay
is found in the compassionate prayer of an intercessor.

Let us consider the Lord's initial response to Sodom's sin. First, He 
revealed to Abraham, His servant, what He was about to do. Why? Wasn't the 
evil so
dark that it deserved to be destroyed? Yes, the wickedness in Sodom fully 
deserved divine wrath. Yet that is not why the Lord revealed to Abraham the 
pending
judgment. The Lord informed Abraham of what was coming not so His servant 
could criticize, but so Abraham would intercede for mercy. Remember, God 
delights
in mercy (Mic. 7:18) and takes "no pleasure in the death of the wicked" 
(Ezek. 33:11). The Lord always seeks for opportunities of mercy. Therefore, 
let's
take note of how Abraham approached the Almighty:

"Abraham came near and said, ‘Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with 
the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You 
indeed
sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous 
who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous 
with
the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be 
it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?'" (Gen. 
18:23-25).

Notice, Abraham did not pray from a place of anger. He never said, "God, 
it's about time You killed the perverts." There was no finger-pointing 
vindictiveness
in Abraham's soul. Somehow we have come to believe that non-compromising 
Christians must also be angry. Abraham never compromised with Sodom's 
depraved
culture, yet he was above fleshly reaction. In fact, throughout his prayer, 
Abraham never mentioned what was wrong in Sodom. He appealed, instead, to 
the
mercy and integrity of the Lord.

This is vitally important for us, because Jesus said, "If you are Abraham's 
children, do the deeds of Abraham" (John 8:39). One of Abraham's most 
noteworthy
deeds involved his intercessory prayer for Sodom, the most perverse city in 
the world!

Abraham first acknowledged the Lord's integrity, then he spoke to the Lord's 
mercy.

"Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it 
away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty?" (Gen. 18:24).

The Lord knew that it would be unjust to slay the righteous with the wicked; 
Abraham's prayer did not enlighten the Lord of some unknown fact. But the
nature of life on earth is this: God works with man to establish the future, 
and in the process of determining reality, He always prepares a merciful 
alternative.
In other words, urgent, redemptive prayer shoots straight through the mercy 
door and enters God's heart. This door is never shut, especially since we 
have
a High Priest, Jesus Christ, ministering at the mercy seat in the heavens 
(Heb. 8:1). It is open each and every time we pray.

Listen to how the Lord answered Abraham's prayer for mercy: "If I find in 
Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on 
their
account" (Gen. 18:26).

How the truth of God's mercy flies in the face of those so eager to judge 
their nation! Incredibly, the Lord said He would spare the whole of Sodom if
He found fifty righteous people there. Now keep this in mind: the Hebrew 
word for "spare" means more than "not destroy"; it also means "to forgive or 
pardon."
This is a tremendous revelation about the living God. He will minimize, 
delay, or even cancel a day of reckoning as long as Christ-inspired prayer 
is being
offered for sinners!

Time and again throughout the Scriptures the Lord proclaims an ever present 
truth about His nature: He is "slow to anger, and abounding in 
lovingkindness"
(Exod. 34:6). Do we believe this? Here it is, demonstrated right before our 
eyes in the Scriptures. He tells us plainly that a few righteous people 
scattered
in a city can preserve that area from divine wrath.

Abraham knew the love of God. He was an intimate friend of God's. Abraham, 
in truth, had a clear view into the heart of God based on his own 
experiences.
This interceding patriarch had seen the Almighty bless, prosper, and forgive 
him, so he pressed God's mercy toward its limits.

"What if there are forty?"

The Lord would spare it for forty.

Abraham bargained, "Thirty?"

He would spare it for thirty.

"Twenty?"

He finally secured the Lord's promise not to destroy the city if He could 
find just ten righteous people there. On God's scales, wrath is on one side 
and
mercy on the other. Put the entire city of Sodom with all its sin and 
perversion on one side. The scales tip toward wrath as the weightiness of 
advanced
wickedness runs rampant through an entire city. Let's assume that there were 
two hundred thousand evil people in Sodom. It is weighed heavily on the side
of evil. Yet on the other side, place just ten righteous individuals. As the 
ten are placed on the scale, the spiritual weight of the righteous, with 
just
ten, tips the scales toward mercy!

In God's heart, the substance of the righteous far outweighs the wickedness 
of the evil! Herein we discover what we are seeking in the heart of God 
through
prayer: the Lord would spare (forgive) sinful Sodom, with its gangs of 
violent homosexuals, because of the influence of ten godly people who dwelt 
within
it!

How About Your Community?
Now, let's think of your city: Are there ten good people among you? Consider 
your region. Do you think there might be one hundred praying people living
within its borders, people who are pleading with God for mercy? What about 
nationwide? Do you suppose there might be ten thousand people interceding 
for
your country? God said He would spare Sodom for ten righteous people. Do you 
think God would spare your nation for ten thousand righteous?

I lived in a metropolitan area in the United States that has about two 
hundred thousand people. I can list by name scores of righteous individuals, 
including
pastors, intercessors, youth workers, black folks, white folks, Hispanic 
folks, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Christian business people, moms, 
dads,
godly teenagers, praying grandmothers, secretaries, policemen, and on and on 
who live there -- far more than the ten righteous needed to save a place 
like
Sodom. There are many who care about this city.

Think about your church and the greater church community in your city. 
Aren't there at least ten honorable people who sincerely care about your 
community,
who desire that God would bring revival? Remember, the Lord said He would 
spare Sodom for the sake of the ten.

My plea in this message is that you would see yourself as one who is 
standing in the gap for your city. See if there are others in your community 
who will
pray with you. The power of prayer can release a tsunami of mercy that can 
topple strongholds and set captives free in your region.

Finally, let us not give up our communities to the influences of hell. God 
is able to raise up a standard against wickedness. In fact, He says He looks
for a man who will stand in the gap, that He might not strike the earth in 
His wrath. Will you be that one? You see, the true measure of spirituality 
is
not how angry we become toward sinners, but how Christlike; our mission is 
not to see men destroyed, but redeemed.

Lord Jesus, forgive me for devaluing the power of prayer. Forgive me for 
underestimating how passionately You desire to reveal Your mercy. Lord, give 
me
grace to be one who never ceases to cry out to You for mercy. Lord, let me 
not base my obedience on what my eyes see or my ears hear, but upon the 
revelation
of Your mercy; let me build my life on Thee. Amen!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Signs

It seems that all through the ages people have wanted God to give them a 
sign. Some to know that He is really there and sometimes to show them the 
way. God has done this in the past as providing the pillar of fire by night 
and the cloud by day for the Israelites. Today it seems like you have a 
number of people going from this church to that church looking for some 
miraculous sign that God is moving more in that church than in any other. 
There were even people who saw Jesus who asked him for a sign that he was 
who He said He was. Most of the time if one receives a sign he doesn’t 
believe it or needs another sign soon to urge him on his Christian life.

Jacob was given a great sign included in a dream. In this dream he actually 
heard from God who was at the top of the ladder or staircase which went from 
that spot where Jacob slept to heaven.

Genesis 28:13-22 (NRSV)
13 And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of 
Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will 
give to you and to your offspring; 14 and your offspring shall be like the 
dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east 
and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall 
be blessed in you and in your offspring. 15 Know that I am with you and will 
keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will 
not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob 
woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did 
not know it!” 17 And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! 
This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” 
18 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put 
under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 
19 He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the 
first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will 
keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to 
wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord 
shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall 
be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to 
you.”

God made a promise to Jacob. Then when Jacob set up the altar he gives and 
“If…then” statement. If God does this for me then he will be my God. God has 
already spoken to Jacob. Jacob knows the accounts of God’s faithfulness from 
his ancestors. Does it have to be proven that God will do what he says he 
will do?

I can understand this by looking at Jacob’s life. He has always been a 
cheater. He took his brother’s birthright and then stole his blessing. Jacob 
is probably thinking that God wouldn’t bless him because of all the bad 
things he has done. The Hebrew word which is translated “if” in about all 
the translations I checked does have other meanings. We see how the Young’s 
Literal Translation puts it:

Genesis 28:20-22 (YLT)
20 And Jacob voweth a vow, saying, ‘Seeing God is with me, and hath kept me 
in this way which I am going, and hath given to me bread to eat, and a 
garment to put on— 21 when I have turned back in peace unto the house of my 
father, and Jehovah hath become my God, 22 then this stone which I have made 
a standing pillar is a house of God, and all that Thou dost give to 
me—tithing I tithe to Thee.’

So actually Jacob has seen everything the Lord had done for him in the past 
and trusts Him to do what he promised in the future.

You can trust all the promises of God. The Bible contains hundreds of 
promises which God has made. I believe that not all of them are for every 
Christian. As you read your Bible, pay attention to the leading of the Holy 
Spirit. At times when you are reading and come upon a promise God gave to 
someone in the Bible, he will be whispering to your spirit that the promise 
is for you. Claim this as one of God’s promises for you.

Don’t go looking for signs. Read your bible and pray and God will let you 
know what you are to do and what He will do for you. Then live your life 
obeying what He tells you and trusting totally in Almighty God for all He 
has promised you.

by Dean W. Masters
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

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How to Understand the Bible

What Are Some Good Disciplines for Reading Scripture?

As we near the end of this part of the series of “How to Understand the 
Bible,” we take up one very practical question: what can we do to make sure 
we are reading Scripture regularly?

I still cherish my boyhood memories of going fishing with my grandfather. It 
seems like it was yesterday. One day while I was sorting through the wide
variety of tackle I had collected, fidgeting with lures and sinkers and 
bobbers and the rest in my fancy tackle box, my grandfather looked at me and 
said:
“Mel, you won’t catch a thing unless your hook is in the water.” Of course, 
he was right. His hook was always in the water, and he had much more to show
for it.

ReadingBible

The main principle of reading Scripture for a lifetime of spiritual growth 
is: just read it. Don’t spend too much time looking for the “just right” 
study
Bible, or other helps. Don’t neglect reading Scripture because you are in a 
period when you are having a hard time understanding it. And don’t slow down
because you have not found a plan that is right for you. Put your hook in 
the water. Something will happen.

Here are some guidelines for a lifestyle of fruitful Bible reading.

1. Follow a plan, but vary the plan year by year. There are plans that are 
structured for reading the whole Bible in a year, or two years. The plan may
go from Genesis to Revelation, but some plans have you read an Old Testament 
portion, a New Testament portion, and a Psalm every day, for instance. One
very ambitious plan has you reading the whole Bible in 90 days. I like doing 
that every couple of years. It takes me about a half-hour of reading a day.
One plan gets you through the four Gospels in 40 days. Another goes through 
just the New Testament in a year. There are holiday reading plans for Lent
or Advent which really help us focus on the birth, death, and resurrection 
of Christ. You can find verse-of-the-day devotions, but they are of limited
worth because you do not get the broad scope of the story of Scripture.
BibleGateway
is a good place to find
a wide variety of plans.

2. Do not give up. If you start a reading plan in January and falter in 
March, getting hopelessly behind the plan, just choose another plan for the 
year.
Keep your hook in the water. If all else fails, just read a chapter a day. 
Consider a day incomplete unless you read something in Scripture.

3. Use a simple tool for a schedule. I like printing out a plan on a single 
sheet of paper and having it tucked in the back of my Bible. You can use an
online scheduling function on your computer or mobile device, but make sure 
it is a function that is easy to use and easy to access.

4. Decide whether you will make notes or not. Writing your thoughts and 
questions down as you read helps with comprehension, and many people do it 
faithfully.
I have generally preferred not doing that, however, because I know I will 
keep reading every day if it is just me and the Bible in my hand. It is 
different
when I am studying Scripture for a group I am in or a teaching I am 
preparing in which case I take careful notes. You should figure out what 
works best
for you. If taking notes does not bog you down, do it. You will have an 
accumulating treasure.

5. Know the time of day that is best for you, and set a pattern. This is 
really important. Lifestyle is about regularity. Most people eat and sleep 
on
a preferred pattern that works for them. So it is with reading Scripture as 
a lifestyle. I like the early morning when it is quiet in the house and my
to-do list isn’t pressing in on my mind. Others find a lunch break or the 
evening better.

6. Read introductions to Bible books. If you’ve gotten through Numbers and 
are ready to dive into Deuteronomy, don’t just plow ahead. Take a few 
minutes
to read an introduction which will orient you to the context, circumstances, 
date, themes, and author of what you are about to read. Study Bibles, for
instance, have concise introductions that are no more than a page, for 
instance,
The NIV Study Bible
(Zondervan) and
The ESV Study Bible
(Crossway). But you can get longer introductions in Bible dictionaries or 
handbooks. Some excellent choices are
The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary,
the
New Bible Dictionary,
and the
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

7. Allow time for reflection. In today’s hectic world this gets squeezed 
out, but it is essential. This may mean shutting your Bible, closing your 
eyes
for five minutes and thinking about what you’re read, speaking to God a word 
of thanks or frustration or inquiry. I find taking a walk after reading to
be an excellent way to let the thoughts circulate around in my mind. If 
there is a single verse, or even just a phrase or a single word, that 
strikes you
powerfully, take some time to ponder it. God the Holy Spirit may be placing 
a marker in your mind which will be important at some later point in your 
life.
Commit to this: read and reflect.

God's Good Grace
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

For it is by grace you have been saved, through
faith
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so 
that no one can boast. -
Ephesians 2:8-9

I was driving back to my apartment when I came to a stop sign on the side of 
the road. Now, I knew this area didn’t get much traffic, and I was in a big
hurry to be home. So instead of coming to a complete stop, I made a quick 
glance to make sure there were no cars coming… and coasted through to the 
next
street. That’s when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw there was a car 
behind me, specifically a white car with spinning lights and the word 
“police”
stamped across it. In that moment I knew I had to be the dumbest driver in 
the history of automobiles. Sure enough, the lights went on and I got pulled
over.

After the officer had taken my license and registration, I sat in my car 
feeling like an idiot. All I’d needed to do was stop for a full second and I 
wouldn’t
be in this mess. I attempted to calculate the cost of the ticket, and which 
part of my budget I’d have to slash in order to pay it. I suspected it would
be the grocery section, and that I’d be eating a lot of ramen noodles in the 
following week. Instead, the officer walked back to my car, handed me my 
license,
and said, “I’ll just give you a warning this time. Drive safely.” I was 
floored.

When I think about the relief that came over me in that moment, I begin to 
truly understand how much grace God has shown me in my life. Running a stop
sign has been the least of my sins. It’s very humbling to look through the 
darker moments of your life and realize God has forgiven you if you’ve asked
him to. Christians can get so lost in the concept of grace that we forget 
what it’s like to really experience it, to feel the weight of guilt and 
shame
– and sometimes even consequence – suddenly lifted from our shoulders. With 
Grace, you immediately get a clean slate, every mistake from the past is 
gone,
and once you’ve experienced that you begin to understand the power that lies 
in verses like John 1:17:

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus 
Christ.”

Intersecting Faith and Life: This day, extend the same grace toward others 
that God extended to you.

Further Reading

Ephesians 1:7-8

God Is Not Hiding His Will From You
by Dean Masters

Deuteronomy 30:11-14
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, 
neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will 
ascend
to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither 
is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us
and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very 
near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”

God’s commands for our lives are right in front of us and He has made His 
Word readily available for us to know what is right and to find His will for
our lives. He has not kept it a secret and He isn’t trying to make it 
difficult for us to know the way we should take and the stands we need to 
take for
what is right. If you are trying to figure out whether or not something is 
the will of God for you life the first thing you need to ask yourself is 
whether
or not it lines up with scripture. If you are going to be compromising 
something that you know God stands against or for then you know it is not 
the will
of God.

We will all stand before God one day to answer for how we act and the words 
we say and we will be without excuse for things we know are right and wrong.
I had someone ask me the other day how to be nice to someone who has been 
hateful and the answer is that you don’t answer to God for how other people 
treat
you but you will answer to God for how you treat them! We cannot control how 
others behave but we are to have self control for ourselves. As it says in
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, 
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. 
Against
such there is no law.

We know verses like Galatians 5:22-23 and many others that tell us how we 
are to live, it isn’t hidden from us. God made it very clear to the 
Israelites
in Deuteronomy 30 that He gave them His word to show them truth and life and 
they had the choice to choose His paths of life or they could choose death
and destruction. We have the same choices today. We can follow Him or take 
our own paths that will lead to heartache and destruction.

God loves you and wants His best for you that is why He has made it clear in 
His word what paths to follow and what choices to make along the way. Ask
Him today to show you any areas of your life that maybe you are not quite 
following Him in and ask Him to give you the strength you need to do what is
right.

Quote:
“The longer we follow the right path the easier it becomes.” Anonymous
Dean Masters
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 22 Aug 2015, 11:05 pm

Sunday Isn't Enough

Over the past 10 years I have watched a number of leaders suspend corporate 
worship on the Lord’s Day in order to do something “missional.” They have 
said
things like, “This Sunday don’t go to church, be the church!” This not only 
creates a false dichotomy between what God calls us to be and do, but also
misunderstands the priority and value of the church gathering for corporate 
worship on the Lord’s day.

I believe that the Lord’s Day is the most important day of the week, the 
most critical gathering of the church, and therefore essential for the 
spiritual
health of the people of God. The Lord’s Day is for the church, as set apart 
by Jesus, and through our gathering in the local church for word and 
sacrament
we find grace. In his exposition of the
Ten Commandments,
Thomas Watson explained:

Christ wrought most of his miracles upon the Sabbath; so he does still: dead 
souls are raised and hearts of stone are made flesh. How highly should we
esteem and reverence this day! It is more precious than rubies. God has 
anointed it with the oil of gladness above its fellows. On the Sabbath we 
are doing
angels' work, our tongues are tuned to God's praises. The Sabbath on earth 
is a shadow and type of the glorious rest and eternal Sabbath we hope for in
heaven, when God shall be the temple, and the Lamb shall be the light of 
it.1

Corporate worship is what fuels mission and sends us out to do what God has 
called us to. I recently wrote on the subject of "
Making the Most of Sunday,"
so see that post for more reflection in that direction.

Having said all of that, as important as this sacred gathering is to the 
health of the local church, it alone is not enough. Other gatherings are 
necessary.
The people of God must meet together in smaller numbers to carry out the 
will of God in each others’ lives. Of course this can be done in part 
through
informal meetings and natural, Christian friendships. This too must be a 
part of our lives. But in a more formal sense I believe it is imperative for 
the
church to meet together in small groups around thew word of God in order to 
serve one another with the truth of the gospel. For if we are only gathering
together on the Lord’s day for corporate worship how can we then fully 
“instruct one another” (Romans 15:14), “spur one another on toward love and 
good
deeds” (Hebrews 10:24), “encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25), “confess 
[our] sins to each other” (James 5:16), and “pray for each other” (James 
5:16)?
For all of this to be a part of the life of faith we need to be personally 
invested in each others lives through the ministry of the word.

Many churches today have small groups. Some call them community groups, or 
missional communities, or incarnational missional outposts of gospel 
centrality—or
whatever sounds cool. Gathering in small groups is good, but what is needed 
in these small groups is the ministry of the word pressed deeply into our 
hearts.

Words of Grace

When we started
Redeemer Fellowship
8 years ago we put the priority on the Lord’s Day gathering, but also 
emphasized the need for these smaller gatherings. This would be where gospel 
formed
community is experienced on an intimate level through the ministry of the 
word. It wouldn’t be a simple Bible study, but a binding of ourselves to one
another and the Lord in Christian fellowship.

You may not know it, but this model of small groups isn’t new at all. Of 
course we see it encourage implicitly throughout Scripture, and explicitly 
in
the book of Acts. But you might be surprised to hear the puritans had a well 
developed understanding of these kind of gatherings. These small gatherings
is were called “holy conference.”

In her book,
Godly Conversation: Rediscovering the Puritan Practice of Conference,
Dr. Joanne Jung unpacks the puritan practice of conference, providing us 
with a biblical picture of a kind of fellowship sure to bear fruit in the 
lives
of all who practice it. Dr. Jung explains that conference wasn’t just 
Christians hanging out, or even studying the Bible together. It was deeper 
than that
and emphasized the application of Scripture to each individual’s life.

In conference, participants regularly engaged with one another in 
discussions on biblical texts in conjunction with more intimate 
conversations over the
spiritual state of their souls. The use of Scripture, obtained by way of the 
minister, his sermons, the auditor’s sermon notes, or private Bible reading,
played an essential role in conference.

These smaller gatherings were often the context in which exhortation and 
encouragement happened naturally. Yes, these gatherings were more “inward” 
than
“outward” in that they focused on those gathered and their relationship with 
God, but this is something God calls us to. And this is what readies us for
better service to one another and those outside of the church. Jung 
summarizes the benefits of conference when she writes:

The profitability of conference was clear: enhanced biblical understanding, 
the warming of the soul, and even a greater desire for the Word.

A small group of believers who are experiencing the power of the word of God 
in their lives together are sure to be missional. But one gives birth to the
other. And like the Sunday gatherings, these were groups of mixed company, 
not divided by age or sex.

Jung continues:

Evidence shows that the advantages of gathering in small groups to discuss 
biblical passages as they relate to life experiences were extensive and were
not limited to any one particular group of people. There was no gender, 
literacy, or class distinction. In conference there would be no 
discrimination.

Works of Grace

Our small gatherings are not only the context in which we fan the flames of 
faith, but also where we serve one another in whatever ways are necessary.
It is when we are regularly together in small groups that we can be practice 
the commands to “be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50), “be devoted to
one another in brotherly love” (Romans 12:10), “honor one another above 
yourselves” (Romans 12:10), “live in harmony with one another” (Romans 
12:16),
“accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you” (Romans 15:7), 
“carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), “be patient, bearing with one 
another
in love” (Ephesians 4:2), and all the other “one another” passages God has 
given us in his word. Sunday services alone do not provide us with the 
opportunity
to hear our brothers fears, feel our sisters pains, to strengthen, correct, 
comfort, and specifically direct one another.

Sunday is a glorious day. We call it “The Lord’s Day!” It marks not only our 
calendars but also out lives. Yet, Sunday is not enough. God calls us to be
together not for mere education, but for edification; not just fraternity, 
but fellowship. We must make the most of corporate worship, but we must also
make the most of the ministry of the word in our hearts and the hearts of 
our brothers and sisters through holy conference.

1. Thomas Watson
A Body of Practical Divinity
(Aberdeen: George King, 1838) p. 372


Read
Revelation 2:2–4

Jesus rebukes the church at Ephesus for leaving their first love and 
settling for Christian activity. Although they were fulfilling all the 
external requirements
of Christianity, they were missing something fundamental. They no longer 
loved God with their whole hearts.

Guarding Our Hearts

When we are in love, we will do anything to be with the person who has 
captured our heart. In fact, we not only long to be with them but also would 
literally
do anything for them. Many of us begin our relationship with God like this. 
Overwhelmed with a revelation of his love, grace, and mercy, there is 
nothing
that we wouldn’t do to try to please him. Our earnest desire is to be with 
him and become like him.

Yet it is only by continually strengthening our spiritual heart muscle that 
we will be able to sustain this kind of passionate commitment to God for the
duration of our Christian walk. In the same way that a natural relationship 
left alone will just fizzle out and eventually die, so too will our 
relationship
with God.

In order to ensure that our love for God will not grow cold, we must 
proactively “keep [our] heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the 
issues
of life” (Prov. 4:23).
If we do not guard this core muscle, it will begin to weaken, and the very 
things that we once did wholeheartedly will eventually become nothing more 
than
religious burdens.

If we want the life of God to flow freely within our hearts, we must never 
allow anything to hinder the passion that we have for the Lord and his 
people.
If we fail to care for our spiritual heart and neglect its health, we will 
never possess the spiritual strength we need to love God with all our 
hearts.
Jesus taught us, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and 
to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it
more abundantly” (John 10:10).
By guarding our spiritual hearts, we ensure that the enemy has no access and 
is therefore unable to steal the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

Point to Ponder

Does your spiritual life lack passion? Do you feel like you are just going 
through the motions of being a Christian? If so, it’s possible that you have
left your first love. This doesn’t happen all at once. But gradually we let 
the cares of life crowd out the joy of our salvation. The good news is that
you don’t have to stay there. Jesus told the Christians at Ephesus to go 
back and recapture those loving feelings. You can too.
Devotions by Christine Caine, Copyright © 2012 by Christine Caine and Equip 
& Empower Ministries.


Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves 
with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (Col 3:12)

By Answers2Prayer
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A Moment of Kindness

After all of these years I can still remember my first moment of kindness. 
It was the first day of Kindergarten. I walked in with my mom and was amazed
at all the toys against the walls. It was like having my own tiny, toy 
store. I smiled and immediately ran over to them and started to play. Most 
of the
other kids were doing the same while the parents talked to the teacher 
before the start of class. In the corner, though, I saw one girl sitting by 
herself.
She was small and frail looking. She was the only one in the class shorter 
than me. Her red eyes looked like she had been crying. None of the other 
boys
and girls seemed to notice her there.

I went back to playing with the toy cars but after a minute looked up at her 
again. She seemed so sad and alone. Something inside of my chest started to
stir. I wasn't sure what it was. Being the youngest in my family I had 
become a bit spoiled. My older brothers had always taken care of all the 
chores
while I was free to play. It felt strange then to be thinking of someone 
other than myself, yet I couldn't stop looking at that lonely, little girl. 
After
a moment that stirring in my heart moved up to my mind and down to my feet. 
I picked up two of the toy cars and went over to her. "Do you want to play?"
I asked. She smiled at me and shook her head yes.

What made me remember that first unselfish act was a letter that little girl 
wrote me after we were both grown. She told me how she had been sick all of
her life and how her illness made the other kids avoid her. Then she told me 
how that moment of kindness had changed her life. She had cherished the 
friendship
I had offered her and carried it in her heart even after she moved away. I 
wrote her back that very day and we continued our friendship through the 
mail
for several years before the bad health that she had always fought finally 
took her life.

I was thinking of her again today and thanked God for stirring my selfish 
little heart that day and moving me to be kind to a little girl who needed a
friend. I thought too of how a moment of kindness can mean so much to 
another. I thought of how a simple, selfless act can make the world so much 
better.
I thought of how a little bit of love can move a heart, touch a soul, and 
change a life.

May all of your days be full of acts of kindness. May they be full of love, 
laughter, and smiles. May they be full of giving, caring, and helping. May
they bring joy to you while you bring joy to others. And may you always move 
your feet when God stirs your soul.

Joseph J. Mazzella

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©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 21 Aug 2015, 9:52 pm

I will arise and go to my Father!

(James Smith,
"Daily Bible Readings")

"I will arise and go to my Father!" Luke 15:18

This is a child's cry!

It is full of meaning.

It is full of love.

It is full of comfort.

It is a title which the Lord loves to hear us use!

Lord, give us the Spirit of adoption, and let
us know and feel, that we are Your children!

Believer!
To whom will you repair in trouble?
To whom will you look in difficulty?
To whom will you cry in danger?
From whom will you ask when in need?
Surely I hear you say, "My Father!"

Who speaks to you in the Bible?
Who tries you by His providence?
Who chastens you with His rod?
Who purifies and cleanses you?
Who humbles and reproves you?
Again you will say, "My Father!"

Who supports the world?
Who controls the nations?
Who chains up Satan?
Who comforts the believer?
Who pardons the backslider?
Again you reply, "My Father!"

Then I exhort you to . . .
trust your Father's Word,
abide in your Father's heart,
expect from your Father's hand,
and say in every trial:
"I will arise and go to my Father!"

~ ~ ~ ~

We have published
J.R. Miller's
comforting
2 page article, "
The Ministry of Hindrances".

~ ~ ~ ~
Feel free to forward these gems to others
who may be encouraged or profited by them!
Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)


How You Can Help Others Endure Hardships

June 24, 2015

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual 
should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest 
you
too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of 
Christ.

Galatians 6:1-2

There was a young lady I heard about years ago who had come to the end of 
herself. She was in a hopeless situation and saw no reason to continue 
living.
The purpose in her life was gone. So she went out onto the edge of a pier, 
closed her eyes, and leapt out into the cold, dark waters below.

But a young man walking nearby saw what happened. And before he could even 
think, he jumped off the pier himself into the turbulent frigid waters 
below.
But he had forgotten to consider one thing: he didn’t know how to swim. So 
as he was struggling to even keep his head above water, that young lady 
reached
over and began to help him.

They both made it out alive. And as a result, the woman realized she did 
have a purpose: to love others and to serve Jesus Christ. It wasn’t the fact 
that
the man saved her life through a great act of heroism that did it. It was 
that someone saw her pain and cared enough to step down and go through it 
with
her.

When it comes to loving others, that’s the call on our lives. Not to always 
have all the answers and be able to fix every problem, but to step into 
others’
lives, bear their burdens, and walk through their pain with them. That’s 
what it really means to help others endure life’s hardships!

LOVE OTHERS WELL BY STEPPING INTO THEIR LIVES, BEARING THEIR BURDENS, AND 
WALKING WITH THEM THROUGH HARD TIMES.

----------------------------------------------------------
For more from PowerPoint Ministries and Dr. Jack Graham, please visit
www.jackgraham.org
and Listen to
Dr. Jack Graham's daily broadcast on OnePlace.com.

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 25 June 22, 2015
A One-Legged Duck and Three Robins
Disclaimer: I do not speak Duck or Robin. I have not studied the Duck 
culture (please do not report me to the Duck Dynasty), and I have never gone 
undercover
(perhaps under-feather would be more appropriate) to watch and learn the 
ways of Robins. Nor have consulted an Ornithologist to check the accuracy of 
what
I am about to present. I am just an ordinary guy who recently saw a 
one-legged duck and later that same day took notice of three Robins in a 
rose garden.
The one-legged duck (actually it was a one-and-a-half-legged duck) was on 
the fringe. It did not appear that the other ducks were being unkind or 
keeping
their distance, it simply appeared that this duck felt more comfortable on 
the fringes. When on the ground the one-and-a-half-legged duck kept some 
distance
between him (not sure if it was him or a her) and the other birds. When he 
wobbled into the water again he seemed to keep a safe distance as he paddled
with his one leg.
Now shifting got the rose garden with the three robins, the atmosphere was 
quite different. These three robins came together — one from the fence, 
the
other two from other locations in the garden — and shared a worm. They all 
took a nibble or two then returned to their place. One enjoyed the rest of
the worm while perched atop the fence, the other two went back to search for 
more. After a search they came together again to share their findings, chat
a bit then flew away.
I noticed that the three robins seems happy. The three robins seemed 
concerned about each other. The three robins seemed to be helping one 
another. The
three robins seemed to enjoy being one another.
As I pondered these interesting creatures I was reminded of interactions I 
have observed within our spiritual communities.
Is there a one-and-a-half-legged duck in your church? You know them. Or, at 
least you have seen them. They come in late. That find a seat in an area 
where
few people sit. During time of fellowship they leave early, or they keep to 
themselves. The only interactions are those initiated by someone else. He is
not opposed to the connections, he probably would not be resistance to more 
in depth conversation, and even developing a relationship. He will not 
resist
it but he will never be able to make the first move because he has been 
injured. You cannot see his injury because it is on the inside.
The robins are a different kind of church. They are friendly, loving, 
caring, and devoted to one another. If one has a need, all others rally to 
provide
that need. If one struggles then all struggle. If one rejoices they all 
rejoices. Joy abounds within the community
The challenge here is for you, and your church, to look beyond the injury 
that has crippled the one-and-a-half-legged duck. The challenge is love him 
as
he is, injured, broken, and weak. It will be up to you to approach him, 
welcome him, show him you can trust him, and become a safe place for him, 
when
he is ready and willing, to reveal his injury to you. The reward for you, 
and for the body, will be when the one-and-a-half-legged duck is restored to
become a vibrant and resourceful member of his new found family.
Whether yours is a community of robins or you are a one-and-a-half-legged 
duck, there is a place for you to use your gifts and abilities to serve 
others
and bring glory to God. The challenge here is for you to be who God has 
created you to be, and to become.
Tom
A Norvell Note © Copyright 2015. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 20 Aug 2015, 8:31 pm

“Oh, Please Lord, Let It Be Your Will!”
by
Dean Masters

Proverbs 19:20-21
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the 
future. Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the 
Lord
that will stand.”

Did you cringe a little at the end of that verse? It may sound crazy but I 
did because unfortunately at times I start to bolt ahead with something and
then I read a verse like this and I stop and panic for just a second 
thinking back to see if I really prayed before I made my “big plans”. I have 
even
stopped before to say, “Oh please Lord, let this be your will.” Silly me!

Sometimes we forget that we are not above advice just because we are adults. 
There are many times I wish my Dad was still here on earth because I miss
being able to go to him for advice and wisdom! I have learned though that 
God does a great job if we allow Him to replace those people we have had in 
our
lives that pour into us and give us instruction and wisdom. God Himself will 
pour into you and give you His wisdom if you will take the time to listen
and then do as He says.

If you are in the will of God then you can truly always rest assured that 
even if things seem to be falling apart around you God’s plan will stand. He
may change things up a bit in order to fully accomplish all He desires to 
accomplish through you but His plan will not fail for you if you just follow
Him!

I am still a firm believer that everyone needs a godly mentor in their 
lives! I cherish the lady that has mentored me for years, her wisdom has 
saved me
from many mistakes even when I wasn’t crazy about what she had to say. Seek 
out godly friends and mentors, don’t just bolt ahead and then regret your 
decisions.
Pray and ask God to give you the direction you need and know that He will 
keep you from making a mistake if you ask Him to! God loves you and wants 
His
best for you ~ the best is yet to come!

Quote:
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from 
now and make a brand new ending.” Carl Bard


Overwhelmed Schedule, Underwhelmed Soul

I remember the first time I had to decline a friend's invitation to meet at 
the restaurant with the indoor playground because I'd scheduled writing 
time.
I felt so foolish. I wasn't a writer to her. Shoot, I wasn't a writer to 
myself either. I'd never written anything of any kind of significance – 
unless
you count that little book of poems I'd made for my mom when I was 10, the 
one with the poems written on parchment paper with burned edges. I was 
totally
into burned edges back then.

I wasn't a writer by anyone else's account except my mother's. But she was 
also the one who told me I could be a country singer because I had the voice
of a honky-tonk angel. This kind of motherly love is exactly what gets 
people their 15 seconds of shame on those TV singing shows. Moms, I love 
you, but
please don't encourage your babies to sing when they can't sing.

No, I couldn't sing. And maybe I couldn't write either. A book of poems 
written as a child hardly proved any sort of talent or ability. But writing 
was
in my soul. And it had to come out. I knew it.

Pull quote

At this point I was just a girl who talked about wanting to write. And now I 
had to decline my friend's invitation because on my little paper calendar
I'd written from noon to 3:30 p.m. "writing time." Everything in me wanted 
to just cross out that ridiculous 3.5-hour scheduled writing appointment and
go eat fries in the midst of colored plastic tubes and screaming kids.

I stood at my white linoleum countertops with the cordless phone receiver in 
my hand staring at my calendar. Was I going to just go with what felt normal
to me that day and meet my friends for lunch? Keep the familiar steps? Do 
what others wanted? Stay within the bounds of the expected? Or would I dare 
to
turn my body? Keep my writing appointment? Dare to put pen to paper? Honor 
God with this gift He'd given me for stringing words together and completely
change my approach to those 3.5 extra hours – hours that on previous weeks 
just leaked away from me?

God had given me a gift of this time. My time. My choice. My approach.

Your time. Your choice. Your approach.

What's that soul thing for you, that God-honoring thing that keeps slipping 
away because there's been no time to set aside and actually start? What's 
your
number? Take your 3.5 and schedule the start of your thing right now. It's 
time to set your soul free from being chained to an overwhelming schedule.

----------------------------------------------------------

Excerpted from The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
Excerpted from
The Best Yes
©2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Used by permission.

Why Are So Many Christians Unhappy?
Jim Johnston / June 19, 2015
Why Are So Many Christians Unhappy?

Joy is the emotion of salvation. We rejoice with joy that is inexpressible 
and filled with glory (1 Peter 1:8). If you’re a Christian, the Spirit gives
you soaring delight in Christ. His beauty and greatness thrill your soul.

But quite a few believers struggle to experience joy. Why is that?

Some people by nature tend to be sad, and joy is an ongoing challenge. When 
I read Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s classic,
Spiritual Depression,
I was surprised that he mentions temperament or personality as “the first 
and foremost cause.” He may be right.

But there are other reasons. Young moms are often surprised at how tired 
they are — sleepless and exhausted — and they wrestle to find joy. If you 
are
grieving or suffering, you may not realize that God has specific joys for 
you in your present circumstance. And don’t forget that our enemy hates us 
and
will steal every ounce of joy he can.

But the most miserable Christians I’ve seen are those who live with a foot 
in both worlds.

They hedge their bets. They have one eye on heaven and one on earth. They 
call on the name of Christ, but they still try to find security, 
satisfaction,
pleasure, or fulfillment from this world. They’re riding the fence. And they’re 
not happy.

Is that you? The only way to have joy is to say a full “Yes” to God. Which 
means saying “No” to the world.

The Great Yes

It is important for every Christian to be convinced that God is good. And 
what’s more — God alone is good.

If we are not absolutely convinced that God alone is good, we will not be 
able to say “No” to other gods that promise joy but deliver sorrow. We don’t
dare to imagine that there is even a sliver of good apart from God and his 
will for our lives. Not a shred.

The Psalms drive this truth home.

I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” (Psalm 
16:2)

And again,

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire 
besides you. (Psalm 73:25)

And again,

I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are . . . my portion in the land of the 
living.” (Psalm 142:5)

In the New Testament, James writes,

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect 
gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. (James 1:16–17)

Every ounce of good in this world comes from God. Nothing can possibly be 
good unless it comes from God. A joyful Christian believes this truth. She 
banks
her life — and her joy — on it.

Calvin put it this way:

it will not suffice simply to hold that there is one whom all ought to honor 
and adore, unless we are also persuaded that he is the fountain of every 
good,
and that we must seek nothing elsewhere than in him. . . . For until men 
recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his 
fatherly
care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek 
nothing beyond him — they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless 
they
establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves 
truly and sincerely to him. (Institutes, I, 2, 1)

God is good. God alone is good. And all good comes from God.

Best of all, God gives us himself. And he is our joy — the unspeakably 
glorious delight of our hearts. David says,

In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures 
forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

The Great No

Satan tempts us to think we can find something good and satisfying apart 
from God. But we must declare a strong, resounding “No” to anything that 
promises
good without him. This great “No” is at the heart of Christian joy.

The essence of sin is looking for good outside of God and his will. That is 
how our mother Eve was deceived.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a 
delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, 
she
took of its fruit and ate. (Genesis 3:6)

We stumble in the same way she did. When I dig beneath the surface of any 
sin in my life, I find that I am trying to get something good apart from God
and his ways. That good thing might be pleasure, security, significance, 
satisfaction, justice, belonging, comfort, some physical need, etc. But I 
try
to get it without God.

In the end, it is idolatry. I am looking to something other than God to meet 
my needs and satisfy my desires. These gods promise joy, but they deliver
misery.

That is why a half-hearted Christian cannot have ongoing joy in Christ. 
David says,

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply. (Psalm 16:4)

And again,

For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength 
fails because of my iniquity. (Psalm 31:10)

We run after other gods to find joy, but we find sorrow.

A young woman knows that she shouldn’t marry a non-Christian, but she thinks 
she will find love and security in this relationship — even though God is
not in it. She wants something good, but she is looking to another god to 
provide it, and her sorrows will multiply.

A man thinks he will find fulfillment in pornography or hooking up after 
work. Sexual pleasure is a good thing in God’s way. But this man is looking 
to
another god to give to him, and these brief seconds of pleasure will turn to 
gravel and ashes in his mouth.

A woman looks for significance through gossip. She feels important when she 
talks about what other people are doing. She is not finding her worth in 
Christ.
She is running after another god for her sense of value.

An unforgiving man holds a grudge. He thinks that it is his responsibility 
to make things right. Justice is a good thing, but he is not looking to the
“Judge of all the earth” to give it to him. He is running after another god.

So choose today whom you will serve. Look to God and his will for every good 
gift in your life. Say with the psalmist, “The Lord is my chosen portion and
my cup” (Psalm 16:5).

Half-hearted Christians are not happy Christians. Hope in God, and don’t run 
after other gods. That is the path to joy.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 19 Aug 2015, 3:39 pm

God’s Surprising Plans for Your Good

Why does God allow trouble to plague his people? How can it be considered 
loving for him to permit trials to run wild in our lives?

I gained fresh insight into these questions while watching a spellbinding 
four-minute video called “
How Wolves Change Rivers
.”

A slightly-too-exuberant, yet-delightfully-British narrator recounts the 
changes that resulted from the entrance of a pack of wolves into the 
eco-system
of Yellowstone National Park. It turns out that deer overpopulation had left 
massive portions of the park barren. Constant grazing had turned valleys 
into
wastelands. The lack of vegetation had caused soil erosion, which 
destabilized the banks of the river, slowing the flow of water. The lack of 
sufficient
water and vegetation, in turn, forced wildlife to move on. In short, life 
was fading from the park.

Then a pack of wolves moved in.

Do you think it would be life-enhancing for a pack of predators to be 
released into a national park? I imagine your initial response would be, 
like mine,
“No, that sounds terrible.”

But it turns out that it was the best thing that could have happened.

Wolves and a World of Good

The wolves predictably killed a few deer, thinning out the population. 
However, this was not the most significant change. The remaining deer were 
forced
to move to higher terrain and abandon the grasslands of the valleys.

These areas that had been mown down for so long then began to regrow at an 
accelerated rate. Aspen trees quintupled in size in less than six years. 
This
brought back birds to nest in the branches and beavers to eat the wood. The 
return of the beavers meant the return of beaver-dams, which created pools
that allowed for the repopulation of fish, otters, ducks, muskrats, 
reptiles, and amphibians. The wolves also cleared out some of the coyotes, 
which caused
rabbits and mice to return. This led to the return of hawks, weasel, foxes, 
and badgers.

Yet the most amazing impact occurred in the river itself. Because grasses 
were allowed to regrow, the soil collapsed less, allowing for firmer 
riverbanks.
This gave the river-flow greater direction, which reinforced the animal 
habitats.

In short, the entrance of a few wolves created a whole world of good in 
Yellowstone National Park, transforming wastelands into lush valleys teeming 
with
life.

So it turns out that the best thing to do to promote life was to release a 
few wolves into the valley.

Difficulty Brings Blessing

Why mention all of this? Try for a moment to imagine a board meeting where, 
after hearing desperate pleas for help to save the aspen trees of 
Yellowstone,
a park ranger responded by saying, “I’ll tell you what will ensure 
reforestation: a few more wolves around here!” Would anyone have taken him 
seriously?

In the same way, I think we would accuse God of being insane if we heard him 
respond to our cries for greater intimacy with our spouse, greater fruit in
our ministries, or greater intimacy with him, by saying, “You want more 
life? I’ll tell you what will give it: a medical emergency. Or losing your 
job.
Or a car accident.” We would think he’s out of his mind.

But search your past and tell me if it isn’t true: Often the introduction of 
something difficult, and even dangerous, into our lives by the hand of God
results in unanticipated, yet undeniable growth. Difficulty brings blessing. 
Hardship brings joy. Wolves change rivers.

This does not mean we should court danger. What it does mean, however, is 
that we should pause before we accuse God of injustice or indifference when 
he
allows hardship to enter our lives. It just might be the best thing for us. 
In fact, for those who love him, and are called according to his purposes,
it will be his working to produce his best for us.

Count It All Joy

James certainly thought so. In James 1:2–4 he went so far as to say, “Count 
it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know
that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness 
have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in 
nothing.”

James was so certain that the introduction of difficulty into our lives 
carries the potential to bring blessing that he calls us to rejoice, not 
only after
the trial has ended, but even while we are still in it.

This does not mean we need to pretend that difficulties are pleasant. They 
are not. Nor does it mean we should not pray to be delivered from, or seek 
to
remove, hardships from our lives. Both are permissible.

However, we have much gain hope from this realization: Often our loving God 
sees that bringing something unpleasant into our lives will lead to a 
thousand
good consequences. Therefore, as a good caretaker of our souls, he will 
allow wolves to enter for a season.

So when hardships come, we can cease shaking our fist and yelling at God, 
and instead lean into him and listen. He is good. He does care. He works all
things together for the good of his children — even the arrival of wolves.
Desiring God  desiringGod.org

THE BURGER MASK

For many Japanese women, having an Ochobo (small and modest mouth) is 
attractive. In public, a large open mouth is considered ugly and rude. 
Therefore,
many women deny themselves the pleasure of taking mouth-sized bites of big 
tasty burgers in order to maintain their good manners.

Japan’s Freshness Burger fast food restaurant decided to challenge this 
convention and free women from the spell of the Ochobo mouth by providing 
the ‘Liberation
Wrapper’. The ‘Liberation Wrapper’ is a large paper holder with a photo of a 
woman’s closed mouth, nose and chin printed on the paper. As it covers the
lower part of the face, it hides the mouth and allows a lady to eat a burger 
with a wide-open mouth, even with juice running down her chin. The clever
invention is a huge success.

Within a month after introducing the ‘Liberation Wrapper’, sales of Classic 
Burgers to female customers were up 213 percent! The campaign effort was 
featured
on national TV and welcomed by happy ladies across the social network media.

Source: The Internet

It is good that women across Japan can enjoy a juicy hamburger without 
feeling inhibited. However, the Bible warns us to be more concerned about 
our inner
appearance than our outer appearance.

People look at the outward appearance,

but the Lord looks at the heart

(1 Sam. 16:7b, NIV).

So whether you eat or drink

or whatever you do,

do it all for the glory of God

(1 Cor. 10:31, NIV).

Let us glorify God in all we do today -- whether inward or outward.

David Verwey
JAPAN MISSION
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 18 Aug 2015, 4:32 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

June 20, 2015

Revisiting the Well
By Answers2Prayer


"From there they went to Beer, which is the well where the LORD said to 
Moses, 'Gather the people together, and I will give them water.'" (Num 
21:16)

As a result of their disobedience, the Children of Israel spent 40 years 
wandering in the wilderness. We don't have very many specifics about these 
40
years, but as I read the above text the other day, which, incidentally, I 
found in the midst of a passage that talks about Israel moving from one 
place
to another about...say...eight or nine times, it drew my attention. This one 
place, called "Beer" was not a new place for Israel. It was, in fact, a 
place
where God had previously provided them with a miracle, a miracle of water.

As we read through the history of these 40 years of wandering in the 
wilderness, we see that the people complained many times about the lack of 
water (
Ex 15:22,
17:1
;
Num 5:9,
20:2,
21:5,
33:14,
to name a few), and each time God provided them with water in a miraculous 
way. I find it interesting that God then brings them back to one of the 
spots
where they had experienced this water miracle.

What can we learn from this verse?

When you are given a bad medical diagnosis, or when you lose a job, or when 
there are problems with family and loved ones, it seems very much like you
have arrived in a dry, dessert place with absolutely no hope on the horizon! 
God is trying to teach us an important lesson through this brief verse about
Israel revisiting a spot where He had miraculously provided them with water: 
During the times when there doesn't seem to be much hope, we need to go back
and revisit the times in our lives when God has miraculously provided for 
us!

We all have a few of those times stored away in our memories. In fact, if we 
look back over other rough times in our lives, we see that every time we've
needed His strength, He's come through for us. Spending time contemplating 
these past miracles will strengthen our faith and help us to look to Him 
instead
of to our negative circumstances, and when we do this, we open the door for 
more and more miracles of God.

Feeling down? Discouraged? Angry? Feeling like you can't keep on keeping on? 
Revisit the well! Spend some time today meditating on the times when God has
been there for you. You'll be amazed at how much stronger you will feel!

In His love,
Lyn

Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "
Aboard God's Train
-- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator 
for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and
Scriptural Nuggets,
a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with
Answers2Prayer Ministries.
Follow Lyn on
Twitter
@lynchaffart.

Announcement:

The early church united in prayer, and as a result, miracles upon miracles 
happened. Sadly, that unity experienced by the early church has been 
shredded
in modern times by differences of opinion and doctrinal disputes. Just what 
does the Bible have to say about doctrine? Check out the mini-series, "
True Doctrine: A Pentacost Message
"!

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."
How to Understand the Bible

How Can We Know If Someone is Giving False Teaching?

WolfSheepsClothing

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but 
inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them” 
(Matt.7:15-16).

When I was young in the faith, I had a deep hunger to find the truth of God 
because I had tasted it, it was deeply satisfying, and I sensed that my soul
was just waiting to be revived from some kind of hibernation. So I sought 
out different Christian teachers and preachers, read some best-selling 
books,
and sampled Christian radio teaching. But I was unsettled by the feeling I 
sometimes had that the Bible teaching I was hearing seemed only loosely 
linked
with the biblical text, and it was peculiar, out of sync, and did not have 
the “ring of truth” I experienced when reading Scripture itself.

Some years later, I came to the conclusion that the “smell test” needs to be 
taken seriously. If we are exposed to teaching that just doesn’t “smell” 
right,
then we ought to proceed carefully. Maybe the teaching is sound and we just 
need to get in sync with it, or it may be that our “noses” are all right and
we’re hearing that most dangerous thing—false teaching.

The Bible itself speaks of “false teaching.” There is a difference between 
truth and falsehood, and when it comes to Bible interpretation, there is a 
lot
of teaching that is garbage—and it smells that way.

So how can we know if someone is giving false teaching from the Bible?

First, we need to watch out for opportunists. Teachers who gain illicitly 
from their teaching need to be avoided. It is amazing, really, how many 
masses
of people will follow someone who is manipulative, grossly greedy, and 
dishonest. They promise prosperity if others make them prosperous, and they 
laugh
all the way to the bank. The short epistle of Jude offers a stark analysis 
of this kind of false teaching:

These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the 
slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without
rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and 
uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; 
wandering stars,
for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. … These people are 
grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast 
about
themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. (Jude 12-13, 16)

This is a stunning description of the destructive effects of “shepherds who 
feed only themselves.” The passage indicates that we must watch out for the
selfishness, fruitlessness, chaos, and arrogance of certain people. They 
gain influence via their sheer conceit. Ironically, we give them credence on 
the
basis of their pride, the character flaw that most disqualifies them. When 
we realize we have been sucked in by this kind of false teacher, we need to
do some soul-searching to figure out why.

Another kind of false teaching is ill-founded speculation. Some people make 
a career out of spouting details of topics like spiritual life or prophesy
or cosmology, which go way beyond what Scripture actually teaches. There are 
no controls on such speculation. Sometimes the motive is 
manipulation—esoteric
knowledge can be a power tactic. The last sentence of 1 Timothy is this 
plea:

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble 
and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing
it some have swerved from the faith. (1 Tim. 6:20-21 ESV)

Second Timothy contains a similar warning:

Charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but 
only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one 
approved,
a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more 
ungodliness,
and their talk will spread like gangrene. (2 Tim. 2:14-17 ESV)

A third kind of false teaching is legalism. Jesus confronted this distortion 
of the truth of God when he exposed the corrupt side of sectarianism: “Woe
to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all 
other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God” 
(Luke
11:42). First Timothy 4:3 warns about teachers who “forbid people to marry 
and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be 
received
with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.”

These and other forms of false teaching all have causes, and sometimes we 
will avoid spiritual collisions if we see them ahead of time. False teaching
can come from naiveté, arrogance, or selfish gain. The problem we face today 
is that it isn’t hard to grab a microphone, create a webpage, or even 
self-publish
a book. We must make careful choices about whom we listen to, and have the 
strength to turn away when a suspicious teacher is tickling our ears and 
offering
false comfort.

Our Pursuer

from the devotional book,
PICTURES OF GOD

Isaiah 65:1-3

When pursuing His wayward children, God doesn’t protect His dignity. He isn’t 
coy. He doesn’t play hard-to-get.

“I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’
To a nation which did not call on My name.
I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts,
A people who continually provoke Me to My face.” (Isaiah 65:1-3, NASB)

They have wronged God, yet He takes the initiative to make their 
relationship right again. While they blindly, stubbornly ignore Him, He 
continues to pursue
them, calling out, “Here I am! Here I am!”

Many believers have looked back on their conversion and have seen God this 
way: before they knew Him or cared about Him, even while they ran from Him,
He patiently, persistently pursued them.

C.S. Lewis testified to such a God in his spiritual autobiography, Surprised 
by Joy. But perhaps the most famous testimony is a poem whose very title 
portrays
such a pursuing God: “The Hound of Heaven,” by Francis Thompson (1859-1907). 
It opens this way:

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him…
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after…
With unhurrying chase
And unperturbed pace.”

The poem seems difficult and dated to modern readers, but it poignantly 
captures how God shamelessly chased His rebellious child. The child fled out 
of
fear and ignorance, afraid of the God who only wanted his best. God pursued 
him as a hunting dog would, never giving up.

That is the God who pursued you…and still pursues your best. He is pursuing 
your neighbor, your co-worker, the person ahead of you in traffic, and that
one who seems a million miles away from Him. He is pursuing your children, 
and He’ll pursue their children, and their children’s children, always 
calling
out “Here I am! Here I am!”
KenBible.com
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 17 Aug 2015, 7:43 pm


Hitting the Bottom
by Dean W. Masters
Lamentations 3:19-24 (The Message)
19 I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes,
the poison I’ve swallowed. 20 I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the
feeling of hitting the bottom. 21 But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: 22 God’s loyal love couldn’t have
run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. 23 They’re created new
every morning. How great your faithfulness! 24 I’m sticking with God (I say
it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.

Do you feel like you are hitting the bottom? Those who do not belong to
Jesus Christ and are at the end of their rope have two choices. They can
either let go or tie a knot in the end and hang on by their own strength.
There may be some like Little Orphan Annie who believe that everything will
be better tomorrow because the sun will be shining.

Jeremiah, who wrote the book of Lamentations, also believed that things
would be better tomorrow. He let the sun that rose the next day remind him
that just as the sun was always there even though we don’t see it all day
and night, God is always there whether we feel like he is or not.

If you belong to Jesus Christ and feel like you are hitting the bottom or
are at the end of your rope you don’t need to rely on your strength to get
you through. You can rely on the power of the Holy Spirit within you. You
need to know that Jesus Christ lives inside you no matter what is going
wrong in the physical. He is always there and always loves you.

If you feel like you are hitting the bottom due to some sin or sins that you
have committed be assured that if you confess your sin Jesus will forgive
you of your sins. He loves you and wants you to return, confessing your sin.
Then you will have an intimate relationship with Him.

There have been times in my life that I felt pretty low. There were
circumstances that were getting to me. I then heard a song that I had not
heard before that reminded me that Jesus loves me. That is why he went to
the cross and died. He did that for me and for you because He loves each one
of us. Even if you had been the only person living He would have done that
for you. Realize what great love he has for you. He is ever faithful. WE are
not always faithful to him but He is always there for us.

So when you are hitting bottom, don’t hope in hope, hope in Jesus Christ. Do
like Jeremiah did and stick with him. He’s all you have left and all you
will ever need.


World Challenge Pulpit Series
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Behold the Tenderness of Jesus
by David Wilkerson | June 8, 2015
[May 19, 1931 - April 27, 2011]

I once conducted a funeral service for a young man from our
church who died of cancer. When I arrived for the service, I
was told the young man's mother was the only surviving
member of a family of five. Her husband had died three years
earlier and her two other sons had also died. This was her
fourth funeral and the third son she'd had to bury.

I had prepared a message for that service, but when I saw
that mother sitting before me broken, full of pain and
sorrow, I couldn't preach it. Instead, I began to pray the
tender love of Jesus upon her. Later I did speak for about
fifteen minutes, and the Spirit of God flowed through me
with a quiet, calm tenderness toward that mother and her
friends. I had a very real sense that Jesus saw her deep
pain, the crushing sorrow of having to bury four of her
dearest ones and being left all alone. I knew in my heart
that Christ wanted her to know him in that hour as a tender,
caring Savior.

When I got home after the funeral the Holy Spirit led me to
Isaiah 42. The prophet Isaiah had been moved upon by the
Holy Spirit to bring forth a revelation concerning what the
Messiah will be like when he arrives. The opening word,
"Behold," meaning, "Prepare for a new revelation," tells us
to ready ourselves for a new picture of the Messiah to come.

We find the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in Matthew 12.
Jesus found out that the Pharisees had held a council to
plan to kill him. How did he react? "When Jesus knew it, he
withdrew himself " (Matthew 12:15). Jesus could have called
down a legion of angels to protect himself or called down
fire from heaven to consume his enemies. Instead, Jesus
merely withdrew from them and continued to minister to the
desperate.

Matthew says this was a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy:
"He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear
his voice in the streets" (12:19).

Here is what Isaiah's prophecy is saying, in essence: "The
Messiah isn't coming to force anybody into his kingdom. He
isn't coming as a loud, boisterous, overpowering
personality. You won't get to know him by outward signs or
by human reasoning. Instead, you'll hear him speak with a
still, small voice in your inner man."

I blush when I see TV preachers onstage with a camera
following their every movement from all angles. My reaction
to all this is, "Why not go through the streets quietly, as
Jesus did? Why not heal the sick and then tell those who are
healed, 'Keep this quiet. Give all glory to the Lord'?"
Consider with me the tenderness of Jesus in two different
aspects.

Behold the tenderness of Jesus toward sinners.

How wicked do sinners have to become before God gives up on
them? What about serial murder? Is that the last straw? I
think of David Berkowitz, known as the notorious Son of Sam,
one of the most reviled killers in American history. This
man now claims he was saved while in prison, that Jesus is
his Lord, and has been leading Bible studies with other
prisoners. What are we to make of that? Simply this: God has
said his mercies fail not. They are everlasting.

We must get the picture Isaiah portrays about the Savior.
He's saying, "I have preached judgment, telling you what is
going to happen to Israel. But there's something else you
must know about the Messiah. He is coming as a tender
deliverer. He's going to set free those who are shut up in
depression and despair. No one will be too blind to have
their eyes opened by him. No one will be too deaf or too
hardened to be healed. And no prison will be able to keep
its grip on those he sets free. He can release any sinner
from any bondage."

We've got to become acquainted with this Savior, who nurses
bruised reeds and hovers over every spark of hunger, ready
to fan the flame. I think of Madeline Murray O'Hare as the
most notorious atheist of our time. She had two sons, one of
whom carried the torch of atheism after her death. But even
this woman couldn't keep the Holy Ghost out of her home.
Jesus saw a spark in her other son, a man who was broken and
bruised because the doctrine his mother espoused didn't
satisfy his hurt or deepest inner needs. That son gave his
life to Jesus and is preaching the gospel today.

There may be hard cases in your family, at work or in your
neighborhood. As you look at their lives you think, "Yes,
Jesus has power, but I can't imagine that person ever being
reached. I can believe for anyone but him."

I have news for you: that person is probably the one Jesus
has his eye on right now. You don't know what's going on
inside that person, the pain he carries, the despair he
endures. He is bent and bruised, perhaps about to break. But
there may be a spark in him that is invisible to the human
eye. Do not give up on him. Jesus hasn't. He will not put
out any spark.

Behold the tenderness of Jesus toward you.

Often when I look out over our congregation, my heart aches
at all the burdens I see people carrying. As I gaze into all
the familiar faces, I wonder: "How many of these are the
bruised reeds Isaiah talks about?"

Sadly, in some I see a lifelong faith dying out. The bright
flame of devotion that was once in them for Jesus is now
only a flicker. I ask myself, "Was this one bruised by a
phony preacher? By hypocrisy in other Christians? Was that
one hurt by someone when she was much younger? Did something
in that man's past wound him, or sour him, so that his guard
is always up, his heart unable to be penetrated?"

I know a doctor who refuses to enter a church. He was
embittered and hardened to Jesus by what he experienced as a
child. His father was a preacher who moved their family
almost twenty times, uprooting his son over and over. In
that boy's eyes his father didn't live what he preached. And
the son, now a doctor, is still bruised some forty years
later.

Tender Jesus promises, "I won't break you down. And I won't
give up on you." He comes to us quietly and lovingly says,
"Let me heal that deep bruise. Let me tear down those hard
walls and restore you."

I know a Christian man who is one such bruised reed. He has
endured a sad divorce, financial setbacks and lawsuits from
the IRS for back taxes. He suffers from manic depression,
enduring great highs and excruciating lows. At times he has
thoughts that life is no longer worth living. He told me he
becomes so depressed that he can't think straight.

When I think of this brother, I thank God we have such a
tender Savior. Jesus sees such a man as a bruised reed,
capable of only a tiny spark of faith. And our Lord won't
give up on him.

Consider this word from Isaiah about the Messiah: "He shall
not fail nor be discouraged" (Isaiah 42:4). The New American
Standard Version translates it this way: "He will not be
disheartened or crushed." The New International Version
phrases it, "He will not falter or be discouraged." And the
original Hebrew reads, "He will not recede [back off],
neither will he be crushed, until he has established justice
on the earth."

Beloved, Jesus is not going to back off from you. He won't
be hindered or stopped until he has done all he can to put
you on your feet and set you on fire. Maybe you've failed
the Lord terribly. Are you disheartened or discouraged
because you wonder how long he can be patient with you, how
long he'll put up with your stumbling? Isaiah says he will
not be disheartened. Jesus hasn't lost heart over you; he
hasn't given up. He is determined to walk with you all the
way.

You may ask, "But doesn't there come a time when Jesus
finally says, 'Enough, it's all over'? What about all the
Scriptures describing nations, people and individuals who
were cut off when Israel was finally judged? Saul was cut
off. Even in the New Testament, Ananias and Sapphira dropped
dead after being judged. Nations and empires have been
crushed throughout history."

The answer to this is also found in Isaiah 42: "Who gave
Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did not the
Lord, he against whom we have sinned? For they would not
walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.
Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and
the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round
about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it
not to heart" (Isaiah 42:24-25).

The purpose of God's judgment is always to draw his people
back to himself. Israel became so set in their disobedience,
so hardened to his Word, divine fury was poured out on them.
Yet they were so far gone, so deep in sin, they didn't even
recognize judgment when it came. They were already too dead
to feel the heat of judgment.

That is when nothing will work. When we blow out the spark,
give up in despair and lie down; when we purposely shut out
the Holy Spirit, closing our eyes and ears and hardening our
hearts like rocks - we are the ones doing the rejecting. Our
Savior's tenderness is always available. He reaches out
lovingly and patiently to every broken reed, to raise us up
to new life and hope.

Isaiah leaves us with this precious promise from our tender
Lord: "I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I
will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will
make darkness light before them, and crooked things
straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake
them" (42:16).

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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 16 Aug 2015, 10:33 pm

Today's Devotional

God's Choir

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's
will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

On one recent morning, heading out to my weekly exercise program took every
ounce of willpower I possessed. It was a chilly, grey, drizzly day, and my
aching bones were screaming at me to go back to bed.

As I was climbing into my car, I saw a streaking movement out of the corner
of my eye. A large robin soared down and lit gracefully on my lawn. This
helped
to lift my dismal spirits, as robins always hold a special place in my
heart. Before I had time to turn my attention back to starting my car, a
second
robin glided in, landing near the first one. Then, even before I could touch
the starter, a third robin joined the first two.

Then their performance commenced.

They began to chirp in unison, like a beautiful choir, performing especially
for my benefit. Ignoring the drizzle and chilly weather, they raised their
heads and sang out their little hearts, almost as if they sensed how I was
feeling. "Cheer up, cheer up, cheer up." And to top it off, all three of
them
were facing in my direction. What a uniquely beautiful experience! I raised
my eyes and my heart in thanksgiving to my loving Lord, and humbly asked His
forgiveness for my attitude. Once again, He had taught me an important
lesson. Instead of being thankful for the new day that He had given me with
all
of its possibilities, I was groaning about the weather, which I couldn't do
anything about. Then there were the robins! I felt a stinging in my eyes as
I thought once again of the wonder of His amazing love, unearned and
undeserved.

As the robins flew off, I finally pressed the starter and headed out for my
exercises with a very different attitude. My heart was now singing in
gratitude
for God's beautiful choir.

If you ever happen to wake up feeling a bit out of sorts, take a minute to
look outside and listen for God's choir. You just may be blessed, as I was.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You know Your children so well, and You understand
our sometimes silly weaknesses. We are so thankful that You always lovingly
understand and provide a solution. Amen.

Sharon Greer


Delighting in God!

(James Smith,
"The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

"Delight yourself in the Lord--and He shall give you the desires of your
heart!" Psalm 37:4

Delighting in worldly things--effectually prevents our delighting in God.
Therefore it is often the case, that the Lord strips us of these things, or
incapacitates
us to enjoy them--in order to bring us back to delight in Himself.

He delights in His people--and He desires that His people to delight in Him.
In order to accomplish this, He has revealed Himself in the most amiable
characters,
as . . .
a Husband;
a Friend;
a Brother;
a Savior;
a Shepherd, and so forth--
all on purpose to endear Himself to us!

Surely if our hearts were right--we would delight in Him on account of . . .
His glorious perfections;
His unalterable love;
the perfect atonement made for our sins;
the promises made for our comfort and encouragement;
the gift of the Holy Spirit;
the communion we are urged to hold with Himself;
and the glorious paradise of blessedness set before us--where we shall
forever . . .
view the unfolding of His glories,
enjoy the riches of His grace, and
drink of the river of His pleasures!

Sick Christian, Jesus bids you to delight in Him!
Delight in Him as your Savior, Friend, and Brother!
Delight in His person and glories!
Delight in His perfect work!
Delight in His glorious fullness!
Delight in your salvation in Him, union to Him, and claim upon Him.
Oh, delight in Jesus!
You will have no permanent peace or solid satisfaction--but as you are
delight in Him, and rejoice in Him, saying, "You are my portion, O Lord!"

He who delights in God has the desires of His heart--because they are in
accordance with the purpose, promise, and pleasure of God.

The mind is thrown into the mold of God's mind, and the soul cries from its
inmost recesses, "Not my will--but may Your will be done!" Its pleasures are
spiritual, permanent, and satisfactory. The desire for earthly things
becomes very contracted--a little of the things of this poor world will
satisfy a
soul that is delighting in Jehovah.

Delighting in God always produces resignation and holy contentment. Whatever
they have--they enjoy it as the undeserved gift of God; and they feel
obligated
and thankful for all. They would rather be conformed to God's will--than
have their own will. They know that His appointments are best--because they
are
infinitely wise, holy, and gracious. They can say, "I trust in You, O Lord,
for You are my God! My times are in Your hand!" They find that godliness
with
contentment is great gain; and say with one of old, "The little that a
righteous man has--is better than the riches of many wicked!" "Better a
little with
the fear of the Lord--than great treasure with turmoil."

The presence, the promise, and the smile of God--are to them inestimably
valuable; but other things are not so important. They seek first the kingdom
of
God and His righteousness--and all other necessary things are added unto
them. They live at the fountain--when all the streams are dried up! They
delight
in God--when creatures fade and wither!

O Lord! I would delight in Thee,
And on Your care depend;
To You in every trouble flee,
My best, my only Friend!

No good in creatures can be found,
But may be found in Thee;
I must have all things and abound,
While God is God to me!

~ ~ ~ ~

We have published
J.R. Miller's
practical 2 page article, "
How to Meet Temptation".

~ ~ ~ ~

Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited
by them!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

How to Find Real Peace
LYNN COWELL

"Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come
to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of
death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."
Luke 1:78-79
(NIV)

I left my dying father’s hospital room and searched in vain for my car. The
parking deck hadn’t felt so dark and looming when I’d pulled in, but that
was
more than 24 hours ago. A new day had begun, but there was no shining sun.

As I opened my door, it was all I could do to hoist my mentally and
physically exhausted self up into my truck’s seat. It may have been my
birthday, but
not one ounce of me wanted to celebrate.

There is no way I could have prepared for that day; it’s a strange feeling
to take care of a terminally ill parent, especially when you’re a mom of
little
children. Would my eldest remember my dad? I knew my 2-year-old wouldn’t. I
felt robbed. I’m too young not to have a dad.

Tears streamed down my face. As soon as I started the car, lyrics from the
radio spoke of a day when going to heaven will bring those of us who love
and
follow Christ new bodies. The day of ultimate healing.

Jesus met me in my car that day. He reached down into my pit of despair. He
made it clear to me that He was real and heaven is real, too.

Before this day I’d prayed non-stop for God to heal Dad. I knew He could. As
I read my Bible I came across stories of Jesus healing the blind, the lame,
even raising the dead. I’d seen Him heal a friend’s child of cancer. There
was no doubt in my mind that God could heal my dad’s cancer too.

However, until that day in the parking deck, I had never considered my
father’s passage to heaven as the ultimate healing. This realization poured
a peace
into my spirit like I had never experienced during his cancer battle.

That peace filled my heart and stayed through the next day when he died. It
was there the day of his funeral, and it’s been there each time I’ve thought
of him since. God’s perfect love flowed to imperfect me and continues to
remain in my life, quieting my fears of the future as well as the pains of
my
past.

Perhaps there are days when you feel life isn’t fair. Maybe it even feels
hopeless. At times like these, when we don’t feel Jesus’ love for us, we can
reach out to Him, asking for His peace that goes beyond our feelings. A
peace that surpasses our understanding (
Philippians 4:7,
ESV). A real peace beyond what we can comprehend or communicate. We can
reach out to our Jesus and lay hold of the truth in today’s key verse:
"Because
of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from
heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to
guide our feet into the path of peace."

Father, no matter how I feel, help me remember and reach out for the peace
Jesus wants to give me through His perfect love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 26:3,
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because
they trust in you." (NIV)

John 14:27,
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the
world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 15 Aug 2015, 10:22 pm

Back-Door Blessing
by Charles R. Swindoll

James 1

I had lunch recently with a businessman who runs his own company. As we
talked, the subject of wisdom kept popping up in our conversation. So I
asked,
"How does a person get wisdom? I realize we are to be men of wisdom, but few
people ever talk about how it is acquired."

His answer was quick and to the point: "Pain."

I paused and looked deeply into his eyes. Without knowing the specifics, I
knew his one-word answer was not theoretical. He and pain had gotten to know
each other rather well.

It was then I quoted from the first chapter of James: "When all kinds of
trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them
as
intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your
faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go
on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have
become men of mature character, men of integrity with no weak spots" (James
1:2-4,
Phillips).

There is no shortcut, no such thing as instant endurance. The pain brought
on by interruptions and disappointments, by loss and failure, by accidents
and
disease, is the long and arduous road to maturity. There is no other road.

But where does wisdom come in? James explains in the next verse: "And if, in
the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he
has only to ask God---who gives generously to all men without making them
feel guilty---and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be
given
him" (1:5).

As I see it, it is a domino effect. One thing bumps up against another,
which, in turn, bumps another, and in the long haul, endurance helps us
mature.
Periodically, however, we will find ourselves at a loss to know what to do
or how to respond. It's then we ask for help, and God delivers more than
intelligence
and ideas and good old common sense. He dips into His well of wisdom and
allows us to drink from His bucket, whose refreshment provides abilities and
insights
that are of another world. Perhaps it might best be stated as having a small
portion of "the mind of Christ."

When we have responded as we should to life's blows, enduring them rather
than escaping them, we are given more maturity that stays with us and new
measures
of wisdom, which we are able to draw upon for the balance of our lives.

By accepting life's tests and temptations as friends, we become men and
women of mature character.

Excerpted from
Day by Day with Charles Swindoll,
Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers).
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.


What To Do When Life Becomes Turbulent
LEAH DIPASCAL

"Yes, he alone is my Rock, my rescuer, defense and fortress. Why then should
I be tense with fear when troubles come?"
Psalm 62:2
(TLB)

As I headed down the gateway toward the plane, I noticed something was
different. My heart wasn’t racing and my palms weren’t damp with
perspiration. To
say it was a phenomenon is an understatement.

The fact that I wasn’t afraid was proof God was changing me from the inside
out. Years prior, you couldn’t have paid me enough to step foot on a plane.

As I looked out the plane window, I marveled at the beautiful day God
created. There’s not a cloud in the sky … It’s going to be great flying
weather.
No bumps or turbulence to worry about. I can just sit back, relax and enjoy.

One hour into the flight I was singing a different tune. Although the sky
was still clear, the turbulence was anything but enjoyable. Even the flight
attendants
were asked to take their seats, and the cockpit was silent. Uh … hello? Can
someone tell me what’s going on up there?!?!

What started out as a relaxing flight turned into a stressful experience.
With three hours left in the flight, I didn’t want to feel anxious the
entire
time. I needed to shift my focus off the turbulence and on to God.

With all the bumping, shifting and rattling, it wouldn’t be easy, but it was
necessary. I was determined to learn from this experience, not be terrified
by it.

So after praying for God’s protection, I closed my eyes and whispered, "God,
what are You trying to teach me? What am I supposed to learn?"

For the remainder of the flight I waited and watched for God to reveal some
invaluable lesson. By the time we landed I walked off the plane with this in
mind: Unexpected turbulence creates an opportunity to experience more of
God.

It’s the perfect opportunity to …

Grow my faith.
Rather than shrink back in fear or become discouraged, I can lean in and
draw closer to God’s presence while looking for His activity in the midst of
my
circumstances. Patiently waiting for God to act on my behalf can be a
catalyst for spiritual maturity and deeper faith in Him.

Remember Who is in control.
Remembering God is in control helps lead my heart and mind to a place of
peace. I may not always know exactly where I’m headed, but God does.
Regardless
of how turbulent the journey may be, He promises to get me safely from my
present location to His eternal destination (Heaven). Therefore, I have
nothing
to fear.

Make a refining decision.
Sometimes, turbulence is not an option. So I’m left with two questions: Am I
going to worry and wonder if God will get me through this? Or, am I going
to relax and trust that God will get me through this?
Hebrews 11:6
give us the best answer: "… without faith, it is impossible to please God …"
(NIV). I just need to apply it to my life. And when I do, God refines me
in the process.

Watch for God’s goodness and glory.
When turbulence comes I can easily miss God’s goodness. I need to look for
His glory around me and set my thoughts on the impossible He can do for me.

Has life been tossing you around lately? The next time you experience a
little turbulence … whether on a flight or at ground level … remember that
you
have full access to the One who will hold you steady and secure. Just like
Psalm 62:2
states, "Yes, he alone is my Rock, my rescuer, defense and fortress. Why
then should I be tense with fear when troubles come?"

Heavenly Father, as I face today’s challenges, help me not to shrink back in
fear or discouragement. Instead, teach me how to see these challenges as an
opportunity to grow my faith, to remember You are in control, to be refined,
and to experience Your goodness and glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Acts 2:25,
"I see that the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is
right beside me." (NLT)

Psalm 91:14-15,
"The LORD says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who
trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them
in
trouble. I will rescue and honor them.’" (NLT)



New Post on KenBible.com - Planting Seeds
----------------------------------------------------------

Planting Seeds

Posted: 16 Jun 2015 09:55 PM PDT

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither
the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes
the
growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive
his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers.
(1
Corinthians 3:6-9, NASB)

The Lord had called me to a task, and in spite of personal misgivings and
insecurities, I had obeyed. For four years I had done all He led me to do,
all
He enabled me to do, all I knew to do. I had worked hard. I had believed in
the project and its importance. I had financed it with my own money.

The response: almost nothing. As near to nothing as one can get.

I spoke to the Lord about my discouragement, and He answered me. He said
that I was planting seeds, and I’d have to trust Him and wait for the
harvest.

That helped me see my entire life in a new light. I am planting seeds,
trusting God for the growth and the eventual harvest.

Thank You, Father! How much light is shed by a simple word from You! How
much broader and deeper is Your perspective!

So, friends:

Do not be discouraged by
small numbers in your work for the Lord.
Be content to plant seeds.
The harvest will come in His time.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

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Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Daily Devotional
Praise Talking and Stubborn Singing - #7416

Our dog, Missy, had to share our attention with another pet. Yeah, it was a 
canary that we named in honor of one of our Native American friends. We 
named
the canary Cherokee. Now, this little yellow cheerleader was great for when 
you were in a bad mood because he never was! As soon as you uncovered his 
cage
in the morning, he began warbling his repertoire of happy tunes. It might be 
a sunny day, and you had happy singing from him all day long. It might be
a miserable day. Guess what? Happy singing all day long! It didn't matter 
how the people around our canary felt; happy, stressed, noisy, quiet, or 
down.
It just didn't matter. No matter what, he was always singing!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Praise 
Talking and Stubborn Singing."

You know the bottom line today? We've got a lot to learn from the Hutchcraft 
canary. Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Hebrews chapter
13, verse 15. It says, "Through Jesus, let us continually offer to God a 
sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess His name." Notice how 
frequently
we're called to be praising God - continually. And notice that a lot of 
times praising God is a sacrifice.

Now watch! Why is that? Because we don't feel like it. There's a lot of 
unpleasant stuff going on. We've been praying, maybe, and we haven't gotten 
any
answers that we can recognize. When times are tough and God seems largely 
silent, praise is not just the overflow of some gushy spiritual high, "Hey, 
praise
the Lord!" No, it's a choice. It's a sacrifice.

And God's command to be praise talkers is not conditioned on our 
circumstances. He says "continually". Listen to 1 Thessalonians 5:16, "Be 
joyful always.
Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will 
for you in Christ Jesus." This sounds like the lifestyle of a certain yellow
bird. No matter what, he was singing. His script for the day was already 
written. Everyone was going to hear positive sounds from him.

That's a choice we are all called to make each new day. Actually, the 
commitment to be a "praiser" is a new perspective on your day. You go into 
the day
aggressively looking for the marks of God on that day, the subtle activity 
of God, the dramatic activity of God, the little things, the big things, the
little surprises, the little encouragements. There's not a day in your life 
that doesn't have the fingerprints of God all over it.

But like human praise, they're not always immediately visible. You have to 
go looking for them. And that's what "praisers" do. I have seen the effect 
of
a stubborn singer on the people who hear the songs. Our canary's happy 
sounds made it pretty tough to stay in a bad mood, and we really appreciated 
that
bird's consistent positiveness.

I think you can have that effect on the people around you, lifting their 
load, lifting their spirits, changing the atmosphere if you lose the 
complaining,
lose the cynicism, lose the negative and you dedicate yourself to 
continually praising your Lord. Not just with a rote "Praise the Lord!" But 
with specific
praises for specific evidences of God's character and God's working in this 
very day.

You may be in a sick bed, an unemployment line, a lonely time, a time of 
loss, or a time of overwhelming stress. But is that what's going to 
determine
your attitude or your talk? No, it needs to be the Christ in you, not the 
circumstances around you.

I want you to be like our little canary friend, singing no matter what and 
turning people's sadness into singing.
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 ·


Do You Need A Little Extra Boost From God Today
by Dean Masters

Judges 15:18-19
And he was very thirsty, and he called upon eh Lord and said, “You have 
granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant, and shall I know 
die
of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?†And God split open 
the hollow place that is a Lehi, and water came out from it. And when he 
drank,
his spirit returned and he revived.

What would it take to revive you today? Have you been depressed, or 
frustrated, confused or just simply at the end of your rope? Maybe today 
finds you
in a place where you just can’t take any more. Don’t forget this one thing; 
God is still capable of doing anything! There is nothing too difficult for
Him!

Pour your heart out to God and ask Him and expect Him to give you what you 
need to revive you today! Maybe you don’t even know what it is that it will
take to give you back your hope and faith today, but He does! Pray and ask 
Him to do whatever it takes to give you back your strength and to revive 
your
hope. It is never God’s desire to see you downhearted and frustrated, it is 
pretty difficult to serve Him if you are in the “depths of despair!

Psalm 42:11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil 
within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my 
God.â€
It is time to focus in on the God of All and give all of those frustrations 
to Him once again today, I know, I know, you probably have been and what 
difference
will today make? It could make all the difference in the world and 
besides….. what else are you going to do with it? Let’s turn those negative 
words around
and remind ourselves of all that God is able to do if we will just trust in 
Him and believe. Matthew 13:58 says, “And he did not do many mighty works 
there,
because of their unbelief.†It is easy to get to a point where we lose faith 
because we have prayed and prayed and struggled until we have nothing left,
but that is when we need to pull ourselves up again and ask Him for His 
strength and His faith, and His Hope and Joy to get us through. Give Him 
glory
just like the Psalmist did in 42:11 and believe that He will bring you 
through! Don’t allow your circumstances get you to the point that everything 
you
think and say is negative, negativity does not give God any glory and no, it 
doesn’t make you more spiritual either.

Let’s praise God today because He is a mighty God, a God who can deliver 
you, the God who hears your prayers, and rejoice in knowing that absolutely 
nothing
is impossible for Him! Don’t give up! Hold on to Him as if that is all you 
have!

Quote:
“Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of 
the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’â€

The Origin

1 John 4:19

There is no light in the planet but that which proceeds from the sun; and 
there is no true love for Jesus in the heart but that which comes from the 
Lord
Jesus Himself. From this overflowing fountain of the infinite love of God, 
all our love to God must spring.

This truth is foundational, that we love Him for no other reason than 
because He first loved us. Our love for Him is the result of His love for 
us. When
studying the works of God, anyone may respond with cold admiration, but the 
warmth of love can only be kindled in the heart by God's Spirit.

What a wonder that any of us, knowing what we're like, should ever have been 
brought to love Jesus at all! How marvelous that when we had rebelled 
against
Him, He should, by a display of such amazing love, seek to draw us back. We 
would never have had a grain of love toward God unless it had been sown in
us by the sweet seed of His love for us.

Love, then, has for its parent the love of God shed abroad in the heart: But 
after it is divinely born, it must be divinely nourished. It is not like a
plant, which will flourish naturally in human soil--it must be watered from 
above. Love for Jesus is a flower of a delicate nature, and if it received
no nourishment but that which could be drawn from the rock of our hearts, it 
would soon wither. As love comes from heaven, so it must feed on heavenly
bread. It cannot exist in the wilderness unless it be fed by manna from on 
high. Love must feed on love. The very soul and life of our love for God is
His love for us.

I love Thee, Lord, but with no love of mine,
For I have none to give;
I love Thee, Lord; but all the love is Thine,
For by Thy love I live.
I am as nothing, and rejoice to be
Emptied, and lost, and swallowed up in Thee.

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Deuteronomy 16
verse 2 Psalms 103

Lasting Love
by Alistair Begg

No one enters into marriage with the intention of failing. Each person who 
says, “I do†hopes for a long and beautiful life together with their spouse.
But as time passes, couples forget the basics. Too often they become so 
wrapped up in their own lives that they neglect the essentials critical to a 
healthy
marriage.

Too often divorce is an acceptable norm. In this candid book, Alistair Begg 
reveals important building blocks for ensuring that your marriage is one 
that
will last a lifetime. He reminds us that when men and women understand their 
roles of leadership, submission, teamwork, and mutual respect, love can last
a lifetime.

From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. 
Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News 
Publishers,
Wheaton, IL 60187,
www.crossway.org.


 Christ Is the Way to Holiness

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ 
liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith 
of
the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Here is one of the greatest secrets of living a victorious life that I know 
anything about: holiness is not the way to Christ—Christ is the way to 
holiness.

Many times we think, “If I could pray enough, live purely enough, study my 
Bible thoroughly enough, or get my life holy enough, that would bring me 
closer
to Jesus. It would bring me into a relationship with Him.”

But not so! It is Jesus Christ Who enables you to pray. It is Jesus Christ 
Who enables you to study the Bible. It is Jesus Christ Who enables you to 
live
the pure life. Holiness is not the way to Christ—Christ is the way to 
holiness.

ACTION POINT:
Claim now the fullness of God’s power. Just as Elisha was identified with 
Elijah, so you must be identified with the Lord Jesus Christ. The way to be 
like
Him is to see Him and to worship Him and praise Him. Then you’re changed; 
you are made like Him. You become like what you spend time with.

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

A Time for Every Purpose
By Answers2Prayer

"To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven..." 
(Eccl 3:1, NKJV)

My cat has a new "favourite" spot: Between my eyes and the computer screen! 
There are only two things that will make her go away: Throwing her off, or
allowing her to suck up what precious little time I have by petting her.

As I think about this, I realize there are always things competing for my 
time: Work, family, ministry, home and yard work, to name a few.

Worry and concern also fall into this category, as do all types of stress. 
Think about it: There is nothing more time-consuming than the worry about 
finances,
than trying to repair broken relationships, than dealing with health issues, 
disease, cancer, etc. In fact, we are often forced to take a break from life
in order to have time for to deal with these problems, and this is to say 
nothing of the fact that worry and stress can suck up the rest of our lives.

A bit more complicated than scratching the cat's ears until she moves on, 
isn't it?

But is the time that the problems of life demand of us really wasted?

When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, I initially saw my forced "break" 
from life as a total waste of time. As the "monster" continued to suck up 
all
of my time and energy, however, I began to realize something very important: 
I now had time to "stop and smell the roses!" With my treatment and 
rehabilitation
demanding physical rest, I began to notice, perhaps for the first time ever, 
the flowers (most would call them "weeds") in my lawn! Beautiful! And the
little hummingbird. I never even knew she was coming to my feeder.

Suddenly the people in my life also became so much more meaningful. With the 
cancer-stress dictating that I no longer crazily ran around trying to feed
all the "time monsters," my relationships strengthened and deepened.

Perhaps the most important thing that came from the fact that this worry ate 
up all my time was that I had the time to grow and strengthen my 
relationship
with God. I learned to trust Him for everything. I learned to leave worry 
completely in His hands.

In the end, God provided me just the right amount of time off work to regain 
my strength. When I was able to return to all the former things that 
historically
had always vied for my time, I found that the valuable lessons God taught me 
through the time-monster of cancer stayed with me. I began leaving all my
worries in his hands, even the time-worries, and as a result, though my 
responsibilities haven't lessened, I still have time to stop and smell the 
roses!

Is it for nothing that Jesus tells us to, "Come to Me, all you who labor and 
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt 11:28, NKJV)? Remember, 
there
is no trial or bad circumstance that you and I are going through that God 
hasn't allowed; and when we give Him all the worry, all the time concerns of
whatever it is we're going through, He will, indeed, make, "everything 
beautiful in its time" (Eccl 3:11, NKJV)!

Let's remember that, "To everything there is a season, A time for every 
purpose under heaven," (Eccl 3:1, NKJV). Whatever it is that you are going 
through
right now, give it to Jesus. Let Him carry the burden, and be prepared to 
"sit down and smell the roses."

Oh, an Oreole family has moved into my back yard this summer, bringing me 
hours of joy. I wonder if I would have even noticed them before cancer "ate"
up all my time...

In His love,
Lyn

Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "
Aboard God's Train
-- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator 
for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and
Scriptural Nuggets,
a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with
Answers2Prayer Ministries.
Follow Lyn on
Twitter
@lynchaffart.

Announcement:

Do you have a prayer request? Do you know someone who needs to be prayed 
for? Prayer works! The Bible confirms this in James 5:16: "The prayer of a 
righteous
man is powerful and effective." (NIV) Send your prayer request
here
and let us pray in agreement with you! Matt 18:20: "For where two or three 
come together in my name, there am I with them." (NIV) Hallelujah!

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Tue 11 Aug 2015, 5:43 pm

Spies
by dean W. Masters

There was a virtual reality television show where six men and six women were 
chosen to go through training to see which one would be hired as a spy. When 
they first came to “The Farm” for their training they were given new clothes 
to wear and told to take everything of theirs off and put on the new 
clothes. This was to be their new identity.

When we come to Jesus Christ we are to get rid of the old and are given a 
new identity also:

Ephesians 4:22-24 (ISV)
22 Regarding your former way of life, you were taught to strip off your old 
man, which is being ruined by its deceptive desires, 23 to be renewed in the 
spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new man, which 
was created according to the likeness of God in righteousness and true 
holiness.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (WNT)
17 So that if any one is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old state of 
things has passed away; a new state of things has come into existence.

Some of the people on the television program thought they could keep some of 
their belongings. They may not have even thought about some stuff like a 
class ring they were wearing. Someone did keep a little book with phone 
numbers in it. If they were actually spies then the enemy could get these 
things and do some damage to them or to others. Even if we have accepted 
Jesus Christ as our Savior we may still have some bad habits. We may try to 
hide our bad habits. This doesn’t work. God can see all of these. Become a 
new creature through the power of the Holy Spirit and leave your old sins 
behind.

These spies are trained to be just like the people around them. They are to 
blend in with everyone else so they will not be found out. Some Christians 
live like this also. They may live an ordinary life but never tell anyone 
about Jesus. Paul wrote that we are not to be like this:

Romans 12:2 (CEV)
2 Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you 
think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to 
him.

What is good and pleasing to God? We are to do what Jesus commanded us to 
do. That includes loving God with all that is in us, loving our neighbors 
and going to make disciples.

So we need to be like spies in the sense that we need to get rid of the old 
and become new creatures. WE don’t need to live like spies in that we are to 
be in the world but not of it. WE are to be different creatures who bring 
others to Jesus Christ.

How to Overcome Past Pain and Let Hope into Your Life
Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of 
Pete Wilson's new book,
Let Hope In: 4 Choices That Will Change Your Life Forever
(W Publishing, 2013).

Each new day of your life is a gift from God that He wants you to live 
fully. But if the pain you’ve suffered in your past is still impacting your 
life
now, you can’t fully embrace the new life God offers you because you’ll be 
stuck in a frustrating cycle of brokenness that leaves you feeling hopeless.

The key to overcoming your past pain is making choices that invite God’s 
hope into your life. Here are some choices you can make to heal from your 
past
and enjoy hope from now on:

Transform your pain instead of transferring it. If you don’t find ways to 
learn from your past pain, you’ll likely be doomed to repeat the mistakes 
you
made in the past and transfer your pain to everyone with whom you interact – 
from your friends and
family
members to your coworkers and neighbors. So ask God to break the hold that 
your past has over you and show you what useful lessons you can learn from 
it
so you can begin moving forward. God is much more powerful than your 
history, and when you trust Him, God will start to transform your pain into 
healing
and wisdom in your life.

Leave shame behind. Silence the voice of shame in your life so it won’t 
block the healing that God wants to give you. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s 
voice
telling you that God loves you completely and unconditionally, regardless of 
what has happened in your past. Even though God knows the worst about you,
He wants to redeem you anyway. Let go of shame and accept God’s invitation 
to healing.

Overcome your regrets. Holding onto regrets from your past will only lead to 
more regrets unless you break the unhealthy cycle by releasing your regrets
to God. Realize that it’s pointless to dwell on your regrets, since you can’t 
go back and change your past – all you can do is keep moving forward. Pray
specifically about each of your regrets while envisioning Jesus on the 
Cross. Leave every one of your regrets at the foot of the Cross as a 
symbolic way
of entrusting them to God’s power to redeem them for good purposes.

Confess that you’re not okay. Don’t waste any more time or energy pretending 
to be fine when you’re really hurting, lonely, confused, or frightened 
because
of your past pain. If your pain was caused by some sin of yours in the past, 
confess that to God, repent from the sin, and ask Him to forgive you. If 
your
pain was caused by someone else sinning against you, admit to God that you 
need to forgive the person who hurt you, and ask God to empower you to do 
so.
Ask God and some fellow believers you can trust to help you start the 
healing process.

Pursue healing. Turn to the ultimate Healer, Jesus Christ, to help you heal. 
Seek Jesus’ guidance for every step of your healing journey, knowing that
He specializes in taking what’s broken and restoring it to how it should be.

Embrace your past. Accept the reality of what happened in your past that has 
caused you pain, without denying it or minimizing its effect on your life.
Let go of your desire to have life go the way you’d planned it. Surrender 
your past to God, so He will take it and use it for good purposes. Talk 
openly
about your past with other people who are struggling with similar types of 
pain, if you sense God leading you to share what you’ve learned with them. 
Doing
so can usher hope into their lives as well as your own.

Choose trusting God over pleasing God. Instead of trying to make up for your 
past failures by working hard with religious rituals you hope will please
God, choose to trust God’s promise that He loves and accepts you 
unconditionally. Rather than trying to reach God through your own efforts, 
trust in His
grace.

Accept God’s surprising gift of radical grace, and be graceful with others. 
Unlike the limited, strings-attached grace that other people (even those in
church) offer you, God Himself wants to give you completely unconditional 
grace – grace you can count on, no matter what you’ve done in the past. That
grace is surprising, yet real. God sees past your past sin when He looks at 
you; He focuses on the fact that you’re one of His beloved children. No 
matter
how others may label you as a second-class person due to your past mistakes, 
God always sees you as a first-class person. Express your gratitude to God
by following His command to forgive the people who have hurt you in the 
past – relying on God’s help to do so.

Discover the true meaning of God’s will for you. You can free yourself from 
the burden of worrying about aligning your decisions with God’s will when 
you
realize that knowing God’s will is simple. God’s will isn’t about figuring 
out specific details about your circumstances, such as which job you should
pursue or where you should live. Instead, God’s will is simply about giving 
your best effort to loving God and loving people in any circumstances. 
Recognize
that God has given you the freedom to make your own decisions about 
specifics in your life, as long as you follow the basic principle of God’s 
will, which
is to choose the most loving course of action while trusting God. Don’t 
worry that poor decisions you made in the past may have caused you to miss 
out
on God’s will for your life. You can always get back in line with God’s will 
for your life when you trust God to redeem your mistakes and try to make 
loving
decisions from now on.

Be grateful. Choose to be grateful for all the good gifts that God 
constantly pours into your life. The more you choose gratitude, the less 
power your
painful past will have over you.

Overcome fear. You can move past your fear of the unknown and into a hopeful 
future when you ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind each day. Then you’ll
be able to approach any situation from a faithful perspective. Focus on God’s 
love, which drives out all fear, and you’ll experience more hope in your
life.

Adapted from
Let Hope In: 4 Choices That Will Change Your Life Forever,
copyright 2013 by Pete Wilson. Published by W Publishing Group, an imprint 
of Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tn.,
www.thomasnelson.com.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sun 09 Aug 2015, 10:03 pm

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I 
have loved you, that you also love one another."

By Answers2Prayer


Alzheimer's

Many of us know what a scourge Alzheimer's disease is. While cancer in its 
various forms seems to dominate the attention of our aging congregation 
right
now, we have also had our share of Alzheimer's and dementia victims. The 
despair, heartache, and frustration these bring to loved ones has to be 
experienced
first-hand to be believed. I have read many inspiring prayers for the loved 
ones of Alzheimer's victims, but this one, written for our Drummond Hill 
Presbyterian
Church congregation in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, by our pastor, Rev. 
Wally Hong, is especially poignant and says it all, in my opinion. Let it 
speak
for itself.

Dear God, my loved one remembers me less.

There, sitting alone in a world so far away;

when our eyes meet, there is no recognition - no hello.

The more I bring past joys to awaken the life that could be,

the more emptiness I find in those beautiful eyes.

My heart aches! My soul is full of anguish!

Where do I get strength and peace?

Be with me, O God! Give me strength to remember

the love of yesterday

when our hearts and souls danced together,

when we glimpsed eternity and laughed.

Give me the sight to see life that is from You,

filled with possibilities of love

For I refuse to stop loving even in my deepest sadness. Amen.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; 
love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does 
not
seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, 
but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all
things, endures all things. Love never fails." (NKJV)

One of our church ladies died several years ago after a lengthy spell of 
Alzheimer's. At her funeral, two of her long-suffering daughters stood 
beside
her open casket, beaming at me, and asserting, "Now she knows who she is 
again!" That is the language of rejoicing and of love.

Prayer: Merciful Father, we thank You that Jesus assumed our burdens and 
suffered for our sins. But some are assuming the burdens and suffering of 
their
loved ones who are slowly slipping into the oblivion of Alzheimer's. Uphold 
those who suffer, Father, both the afflicted and their loved ones; enable 
them
to endure. May those of us who are spared such agony of spirit extend our 
love, sympathy, understanding, and active help to those who undergo the 
experience.
In Jesus' most precious name, we pray. Amen.

Robert Norminton
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Thanks to
PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Announcement:

Happy 31st wedding anniversary to Rob and Lyn Chaffart!

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely 
give."

Love Worth Finding Ministries

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Pray When You Don’t Feel Like It

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all 
your heart.â€
Jeremiah 29:13

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Many times we pray trying to impress someone in our group, but the early 
Christians weren’t trying to impress anybody. They were desperate. They 
prayed
with intensity, fervency and specificity. They prayed to God, not to impress 
one another.

What have you learned about intense prayer? When you’re in a crisis, you 
learn how to pray with intensity, don’t you?

Many of us prayed this morning, but if I were to ask you, you couldn’t tell 
me with specificity what you prayed for. It was just a general prayer with
no real intensity. I love Jeremiah 29:13, where God says, “And ye shall seek 
Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart." Sometimes
we don’t feel like praying, so we say we’ll not pray.

ACTION POINT:
Don’t feel like praying? Continue in prayer until you do feel like it. 
Friend, if there’s ever a time that you need to pray, it’s when you don’t 
feel like
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

How to Understand the Bible

How Can We Refine Our Understanding of Biblical Theology?

Theology is not limited to the work of professors and clergy. Any serious 
Christian who has invested time in reading and studying Scripture is doing 
the
work of theology, because theology (from the Greek words theos, meaning 
“God,†and logia, meaning “utterance, speech, reasoningâ€) is simply seeking 
ways
to understand and speak about God, and all else in life as God defines it.

This is one of the enormous blessings of being a lifetime reader of 
Scripture. We are learning God. And learning everything God has said about 
everything
else that really matters in life. What is a person? Why are people violent? 
What does a good marriage look like? What is our relationship with the 
animal
kingdom? What happens after we die? How can we find peace and prosperity in 
life? Why does money become a source of tension? Where can we find justice?

What Scripture offers us, in its totality, is a comprehensive knowledge 
about God and life. This knowledge is not unlimited, for mysteries remain. 
Believers
should not be frustrated by that. The Bible should never be criticized for 
not being what it never claims to be. It is not a comprehensive textbook of
science. It does not address all areas of economics and government. The 
Bible is not a documentary of all the details of the historical periods it 
addresses,
but rather, the telling of the story of God’s interaction with humanity.

So how do we, in our quest to reason about and speak about God, refine a 
“biblical theologyâ€? First, we should not rely on the longstanding method of 
searching
for verses, producing a list, and pretending that this produces a coherent 
and true doctrine or theology. It is easy, of course, to use a concordance 
or
a computer program or an online lookup function to put in front of our 
eyeballs all of the biblical verses that use the words heaven, sin, Christ, 
baptism,
money, or violence. While this can be a helpful exercise, creating such 
lists do not render overarching, rational concepts. If we are trying to 
figure
out what the Bible says about violence, we will have to find the passages 
that offer major insights, and those passages may not even use the word 
violence
at all—for instance, Cain murdering Abel (
Gen. 4:8).
It is helpful to do word searches, but only as part of a larger strategy of 
refining your understanding of biblical theology.

Theology is all about synthesis, which is to take many ideas and discover 
their connections, leading to an overall theory or system. We sometimes talk
about our “belief system,†which is what theology leads to, and it is a 
wonderful thing. Biblically knowledgeable believers are not shocked when 
people
lie, steal, and cheat. When wars break out. When people are used as slaves. 
We understand these harsh realities because the word of God describes the 
causes
and development of sin—and our understanding is our “theology.†This 
understanding does not come from looking up the word sin online. Rather, as 
we read
all of Scripture as a lifestyle, we discover and synthesize thousands of 
places where “sin†is described as transgression, stumbling, iniquity, 
wandering,
crookedness, trespass, impiety, lawlessness, injustice, and more. The Psalms 
talk about brokenness. Jesus teaches about blindness. Revelation points to
evil. Read Scripture as a lifestyle and you lose your naiveté—and that is a 
good thing.

Maturity is all about synthesis—putting together what you learned years ago, 
with what you learned months ago, with what you learned today. You see 
patterns
of life. Lessons that are cumulative. So it is with refining a biblical 
theology. The most important thing we do is read Scripture regularly, widely 
(not
just the parts we like), and for a lifetime. Synthesis happens in our minds 
automatically. You read along and your mind is picking up bits and pieces of
the truth about love, and righteousness, and temptation, and angels, and 
God, and a thousand other ideas. In the back of your mind, connections are 
forming.
Every time you come back to a certain biblical book, you see things you 
never did before, but the connections get stronger. You understand Jeremiah’s 
“new
covenant†because you recall the prior covenants with Abraham, Moses, and 
others, and you remember Jesus and the book of Hebrews’ teaching about the 
“new
covenant.†And so it is with hundreds of other big ideas.

So the main commitment we need to make for the big payoff of gaining a 
substantial “belief system†is the faithful and thoughtful reading of all of 
Scripture.
The synthesis will happen in our minds. But to ensure that we are reading 
with understanding and effect, we need to read with concentration. Taking 
notes
is extremely helpful. Just have pen and paper nearby when you read. Note a 
verse that strikes you, a question that comes to mind, a connection or 
contrast
with another passage, something you want to remember, a thought you want to 
tell someone else. Do that as a lifestyle and the synthesis will go deeper.
Review your notes months later, and you will make connections that are just 
waiting to happen.

Truth is too good to be viewed as a list. The word of God offers a faithful 
description of reality. The difference between a flourishing and a failing
life frequently hinges on where we have made the effort to discover and live 
in reality. This is why we want to understand Scripture.
About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook 
Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for 
thirty
years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help 
Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, 
the
most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to 
Engagement.

Experiencing LIFE Today

No one has ever become poor by giving. – Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? If being an instrument of God means helping the 
helpless, then where do we start? Needs are everywhere!

Some of you are wondering if you can get your spouse on board because you’re 
pretty sure you need to sell the house, cash out your retirement, find a 
mission
overseas, and pack your bags.

And maybe the Spirit will lead you that way. But let me ask you this: What 
happens to the helpless who are left behind?

The needs are too great for just one person to meet.

But Jesus never said our purpose was to help every single helpless person.

“I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time … Yet 
Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the 
region
of Sidon.” (Luke 4:25-26)

Lots of widows – lots of helpless people – and Elijah was sent to one.

One great prophet was sent to one widow who needed help.

Take a deep breath and let that soak in – you are not called to help every 
single helpless person. You are called to be God’s instrument, making 
yourself
available so He can play His tune through you when He chooses.

How does Jesus want you to do this? The answer is going to look different 
through each of us.

He’s going to ask some of you to release financial resources. Others will 
have ideas for businesses. Some will leave home and live among people in 
another
place. All ofyou need courage as you grant the Spirit permission to live 
through you.

It’s the same tune, different instruments. The Church is now an orchestra.

Borderless Father, freedom! I am no longer paralyzed by the overwhelming 
need or the guilt of not helping everyone. Instead, I ask for sensitivity 
toward
the people who enter my life. Speak through me so I ask the right questions. 
Allow my ears to identify the need. Open my hands to release Your gift. 
Inspire
me with Your creativity! Amen.

Listen to Pete, Jill & Stuart Briscoe on the
Telling the Truth broadcast
at OnePlace.com

Are You Modeling Compassion?
“‘Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who 
fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ And Jesus
said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise’”—Luke 10:36-37(ESV).

In the parable of “The Good Samaritan,” a lawyer puts Jesus to the test, 
asking Him, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus replies, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

The lawyer replies, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart 
and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and
your neighbors as yourself.”

Jesus then says, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 
Seeking to justify himself, the lawyer asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus continues the conversation with the parable of the Samaritan, the only 
one who stops to help a man who is attacked by robbers and left half dead
on the side of the road. The victim had already been ignored by a priest and 
a Levite. But, the Samaritan had compassion, tended to the man’s wounds and
took him to an inn, where he paid the innkeeper and promised to return and 
pay for any difference for the man’s stay.

In the dictionary, compassion means “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow 
for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to
alleviate the suffering.” Synonyms for compassion include grace, mercy and 
kindness. Don’t those words describe God’s goodness to us?

In the news recently was the story of a 5-year-old Alabama boy who 
demonstrated what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. His story has 
become an
international symbol of compassion as it has spread across the Web.

Josiah Duncan and his mother entered a Prattville Waffle House recently 
where the boy spotted a scruffy man sitting in a booth. When Josiah asked 
about
the man’s appearance, his mother explained the man was probably homeless.

However, what really bothered the young boy was the man didn’t have any 
food. The homeless man was not being waited on, so Josiah jumped up and 
asked the
man if he needed a menu. After all, says the youngster, “You can’t order 
without a menu.”

Josiah then begged his mother to buy the destitute man a meal. Initially, 
the impoverished man was going to order an inexpensive hamburger, but the 
mother
and her son told him to order whatever he wanted.

But Josiah’s compassion didn’t end there. When the man’s food arrived, the 
5-year-old insisted on praying over it with him.
“I wanted to say the blessing with him,” Josiah told a local Alabama TV 
station.

“His blessing had the entire restaurant in tears,” says his mother. 
“Watching my son touch the 11 people in that Waffle House tonight will be 
forever one
of the greatest accomplishments as a parent I’ll ever get to witness.”

As parents and grandparents, don’t you think it’s our duty to model 
compassion?

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to email me with 
your thoughts about this post.
For more inspiration, visit my blog at
carolaround.com
Copyright © 2015 Carol Round, All rights reserved.

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
Daily Devotional
Why You Don't Have To Be Afraid - #7413

I was twelve years old when I was baptized. And I thought getting in that 
baptismal tank at our church was hard! Well, my wife was nine years old when
she was baptized, and she grew up in the Ozarks where they baptized folks 
the John the Baptist way - in the creek (or crick).

Well, her Mom helped her get this white baptismal gown on, and then my wife 
(little girl then) stood on the bank as the pastor prepared to baptize her.
She didn't move. The pastor thought maybe she was having a spiritual 
struggle over getting baptized. That never crossed her mind. What did cross 
her mind
was the only other time she had been in a creek like this. She'd been 
swimming and encountered the little beady eyes of a poisonous water moccasin 
snake.
Now, when she contemplated going into that water for Jesus, she couldn't 
help but also contemplate the possibility of those little beady eyes.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why You 
Don't Have To Be Afraid."

Well, did she or didn't she? She did! Here's how my wife tells it: She says, 
"I decided that if I could trust Jesus to save me forever, I guess I could
trust Him to protect me from the snakes." She knew God wanted her to step 
into that water for Him. She also knew the danger that could be there. All 
of
us have moments like that. Maybe you're at one of those "faith versus fear" 
crossroads right now.

Our word for today from the Word of God, Isaiah 40:1-3, and it starts with 
the ultimate answer to the fear that could be holding you back right now. 
"Fear
not" God says, "I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name. You are 
mine." See, my wife moved into that scary water because she decided she 
could
totally trust the One who had redeemed her.

God says, "You belong to Me. I paid for you with the life of my Son. Do you 
really think I'll let you be hurt by obeying Me?" Then He goes on to say, 
"When
you pass through the waters I will be with you. When you pass through the 
rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will
not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze, for I am the Lord your 
God, the holy One of Israel, your Savior."

Notice it says here, "When you pass through the waters and the fire." 
There's no exemption from going through the deep waters or the fire. It 
doesn't say
"if you do". It says, "when". But a promise from the Lord is here, from your 
God, your Savior, that you will not be overwhelmed by them or destroyed by
them. You may get wet. You may get hot, but you won't get drowned and you 
won't get burned up.

As David was hiding in a cave from a king who was trying to kill him, he 
made this amazing statement in Psalm 34:4, one that has answered my wife's 
fears
and my own fears so many times. Psalm 34:4, "I sought the Lord and He heard 
me and He delivered me from all my fears." Wow!

You could put your fear in there. "He delivered me from my fear of ______." 
Maybe today you're standing on the bank, knowing God wants you to step in 
but
you've been focused on the risks of obeying Him. As long as you focus on the 
dangers and the scary possibilities, fear is going to be your master. But
like a little girl learned on the banks of an Ozark creek, if you focus on 
the One who rescued you from an eternal hell, the One who holds you in His 
strong
and loving arms, then faith will win. If Jesus is strong enough to take you 
to heaven, isn't He strong enough to take care of the snakes?

You know, David said in the famous 23rd Psalm, "Though I walk through the 
valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me. I 
wonder
if you have that kind of an intimate and personal relationship with the God 
of heaven? Because with Him, you can even walk through the valley of the 
shadow
of death - the most fearful stretch of all - and say, "I know that Jesus 
died for me. I know my sins have been forgiven, for I have put my life in 
His
hands."

If you've never done that, would you do that today? Go to our website and 
find out more about how you can be sure of this relationship. It's 
ANewStory.com.
And trade your fears for the peace of Christ.
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A Small Piece of the Puzzle

Revenge belongs to God. If vengeance is God's, then it is not ours. God has 
not asked us to settle the score or get even. Ever.

Why? The answer is found in Joseph's statement: "You meant to hurt me, but 
God turned your evil into good to save the lives of many people, which is 
being
done."

Forgiveness comes easier with a wide-angle lens. Joseph uses one to get the 
whole picture. He refuses to focus on the betrayal of his brothers without
also seeing the loyalty of his God.

It always helps to see the big picture.

Some time ago I was in an airport lobby when I saw an acquaintance enter. He 
was a man I hadn't seen in a while but had thought about often. He'd been
through a divorce, and I was close enough to it to know that he deserved 
some of the blame.

I noticed he was not alone. Beside him was a woman. Why, that scoundrel! 
Just a few months out and here he has another lady?

Any thought of greeting him disappeared as I passed judgment on his 
character. But then he saw me. He waved at me. He motioned me over. I was 
caught. I
was trapped. I'd have to go visit with the reprobate. So I did.

"Max, meet my aunt and her husband."

I gulped. I hadn't noticed the man.

"We're on our way to a family reunion. I know they would really like to meet 
you."

"We use your books in our home Bible study," my friend's uncle spoke up. 
"You've got some great insights."

"If only you knew," I said to myself. I had committed a common sin of the 
unforgiving. I had cast a vote without knowing the story.

To forgive someone is to admit our limitations. We've been given only one 
piece of life's jigsaw puzzle. Only God has the cover of the box. To forgive
someone is to display reverence. Forgiveness is not saying the one who hurt 
you was right. Forgiveness is stating that God is fair and he will do what
is right.

After all, don't we have enough things to do without trying to do God's work 
too?

Today's devotional is drawn from Max Lucado's
Cast of Characters.

"God's got it."

That's what my favorite farmer says here, almost daily, on this farm. It's 
been his mantra for as long as he's worked those fields. His philosophy for
farming has become a theology for living.

God is God, and God is good, and God has actually "got it."

This is not just a cute catch-phrase, but an actual way to habitually 
remember that there is a King in Heaven who holds all things together - even 
when
life stings.

When worry.
When cancer.
When inadequacy.
When pain.
When drought.
When storm.
That's when He's got it.
Always.

We repeat it to ourselves, on the bad crop years, and when the diagnoses 
come, and when we've gathered in hospice rooms, and over hospital beds, and 
in
ugly days of wild uncertainty. It's true: What we say to ourselves, and to 
one another, can determine whether we will live imprisoned or free.

Because dark days will come. In this world we will have trouble, but what 
did Jesus say? "Take heart, for I have overcome the world."

So we tell it to each other, over and over again: God's got it.

It's why we return to the table of grace with the cup and the loaf. "Do this 
in remembrance of me," are the words etched into the altar. We return and
remember and receive and repent and repeat. God's got it. He has actually 
and miraculously overcome the world.

We believe this...

- that Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit, that He came to Earth, and that He 
died on a cross, and that when Satan was laughing and the disciples were 
running
scared, God actually and miraculously still had it.

- that Jesus was wrapped in a cloth and buried in a tomb, and a stone was 
rolled into place. And when His followers grieved and saw nothing but 
darkness,
God still had it.

- that on the third day, in opposition to the laws of nature, Jesus rose 
from the dead, and ascended into heaven. Because - please hear me here - God 
most
assuredly had it.

- And we believe that our King is seated at the right hand of the Father, 
because it's true: Our God has still completely and mercifully "got it."

Even in the middle of our worst days.

We may watch a bad situation turn into an impossible situation. Some of it 
will defy logic. From time to time, God will let us in on the reasons why.

And other times? He won't. But He is still our Lord, because He already sent 
a Savior. It's as true today as it was more than 2,000 years ago on 
Calvary:

Our God who had it then, has got it now, and forevermore shall have it. And 
even when I don't get it, God has still got it.

[forwarded by Ray & Frances Wood]
PASS IT ON!
Yeah, you can send this Funny to anybody you want. And, if you're REAL nice, 
you'll tell them where you got it!
www.mikeysFunnies.com


Global Prayer Digest People of the Day
Conflict Avoidance
Jun 05, 2015 01:00 am
Today's Devotional

John 17:20-21, NASB "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those 
also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as
You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that 
the world may believe that You sent Me."

“Being one” does not mean that we always agree. Instead, it means that we 
approach conflict in a different way than the world. Conflicts happen, but 
when
we understand that we are in Christ, we approach conflict with love, and 
with the understanding that a dying world is watching. It means that we 
approach
conflict with the other person’s good at heart, in such a way that fosters 
spiritual growth rather than self-protection

Pray that each of us will learn to resolve our conflicts with love and 
forgiveness

Today's People Group

Last year, two single women, Teti and Lani, arrived in their new location 
with high hopes. They were sent by their church to bring the gospel of peace
to this remote village. They spent much time together in prayer and worship. 
Their relationship grew, yet Teti was hesitant to speak up when she felt 
hurt
by something Lani said. She wouldn’t speak to Lani for three days and 
neighbors began to wonder about their relationship. The church that sent 
Teti and
Lani didn’t provide relational support, and it would bring shame on both 
Lani and Teti for their leaders to hear of their struggle.
Globally, one of the most common reasons for missionaries to leave the field 
is relationship problems with other workers or with their sending agency.
Often believers are hesitant to bring up issues of hurt or concern, so 
problems fester. Misunderstandings and mistrust grow. This doesn’t help to 
bring
the fragrance of Christ to those who are lost.

Pray that believers will learn how to navigate conflict in a Christ-honoring 
way. Ask that mission agencies will understand how to help their workers 
address
relational issues. Pray that workers will truly be ambassadors for Christ, 
and be models of godly reconciliation and forgiveness to a hurting world. 
Pray
that God will help workers know His love for them and their security in Him. 
Pray that they would love God and love others. Pray that cross-cultural 
workers
would be slow to anger and quick to forgive.

Learn more at
Joshua Project.
read more
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forward to a friend
Copyright © 2015 Frontier Ventures, All rights reserved.

nourish

This Is Your Story

The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of 
Uzziah, Jothan, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and of Jeroboam son of 
Jehoash,
king of Israel.  Hosea 1:1

nourish

You're about to experience a salacious story about an unlikely couple, an 
unusual marriage, a man in love, and an illicit affair. But this affair was 
not
the end of the marriage; it was the beginning of a love story.

This story overflows with failure, selfishness, despair, forgiveness, second 
chances, and restoration. And, you thought this was a Bible Study.


It is! The Book of Hosea is one of the most beautiful and confusing books 
you will ever read. The story of Hosea and his wife will shock you and warm 
your
heart. The story of Israel and God in the book of Hosea will frustrate you 
and then fill you with hope.

You will discover that the book of Hosea is the story of God and Israel, 
Hosea and Gomer, and ... the story of you. This is your love story.

But, for all its beauty, trying to explain Hosea just about did me in! How 
do you explain such contrasts of hope and judgment, loyalty and betrayal? I
tried to understand it. I tried to organize it. I tried to explain it. 
Finally, I just had to sit in wonder at the feet of Hosea and his God.

So, I'll tell you right up front—I had no idea how to teach this book!

But, after praying, writing, starting over, rewriting, crying to my editor, 
and trying some more to find a way to communicate it, I finally found the 
answer
resting on my husband's nose.

Let me explain.


My husband, Phil, got trifocals when he turned 50. If you know my story, you 
will smile when I tell you that having to wear trifocals at fifty is not one
of my issues! (If you don't know why that's funny, read my bio!) Even though 
I don't have first-hand experience with those eyeglasses, here's what I know
about them.

Trifocals help you focus in three distinct areas: distance, intermediate, 
and near vision. And that's how you need to view Hosea, too.

When you put on your trifocals, you will see these three views:

DISTANCE When you view Hosea from a distance, you can see the historical 
landscape of Israel at the time of King Jeroboam's reign when the Israelites 
were
prosperous but unfaithful. You get to see the prophet Hosea in action, 
preaching sermons of judgment and hope to God's rebellious people.

INTERMEDIATE When you view Hosea at arm's length, you can get a better view 
of Hosea the husband, his wife, and their family situation. Remember this 
basic
orientation: Hosea's book is a sermon and his life is the illustration. His 
love for his unfaithful wife reflects God's redemptive love for Israel.

NEAR This is the lens through which you read Hosea to see what's right under 
your nose. It helps you see yourself in the story of Israel. It allows you
to see yourself in the story of Hosea and Gomer. With this view, you can see 
who you are and how dearly loved you are. It lets you see that Hosea is your
love story.

Oh, you will be so glad you chose to get to know Hosea! And I'm so glad to 
have you along with me. If you sometimes feel lost or disoriented though, 
you're
in good company. I'm there too. But Dr. Phil tells me that's part of getting 
used to trifocals. If you turn your head too fast you may feel dizzy. In 
those
moments hang onto the main theme of Hosea. God loves us so much that even 
when we've betrayed His love, He comes looking for us. He buys us back, 
takes
us home, cleans us up, and keeps loving us. Who wouldn't endure a little 
dizziness for a love like that?.

Excerpted from Hosea
Excerpted from
Hosea: Unfailing Love Changes Everything

©2015 by Jennifer Rothschild, LifeWay Press.
Used by permission.

Loneliness
by Max Lucado

We’ll try anything to get rid of our loneliness. But should we? Should we be 
so quick to drop it? Could it be that loneliness is a gift? A gift from God? 
A
friend turns away. The job goes bad. Your spouse didn’t understand. The 
church is dull. One by one he removes the options until all you have left is 
God. He
would do that? Hebrews 12:6 tells us, “The Lord disciplines those he 
loves.†If he must silence every voice, he will. He wants you to discover 
what David
discovered and to be able to say what David said, “You are with me.â€

Loneliness. Could it be one of God’s finest gifts? Scripture says, “Perfect 
love casts out fear.†If a season of solitude is his way to teach you to 
hear
his song, don’t you think it’s worth it? So do I.

From Traveling Light
Traveling Light thumbprint

Listen to
UpWords with Max Lucado
at OnePlace.com

The Power of Love
Sunday, June 7, 2015

“Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were 
to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised.â€
- Song of Solomon 8:7 NASB

Those who have never experienced true love cannot imagine its power. It is 
so powerful that Solomon said that it is “as strong as death.†It is not 
mere
emotion but much deeper, cutting to the core of our being. It consumes us, 
body, soul, and spirit.

Many emotions seem similar to love. Admiration. Friendship. Interest. Lust. 
But true love strikes deeper. It cannot be extinguished or quenched, no 
matter
how many waters may be thrown onto it. If entire rivers were to be 
redirected onto love they would not overflow.

It is also priceless. This is a love that cannot be measured or counted. But 
the Bible tells us that “if a man were to give all the riches of his house
for love, it would be utterly despised.†True love cannot be purchased. It 
is about heart and spirit. Our very lives. Things that money cannot buy.

The Bible tells us true love is not a passing feeling but an entirely new 
way of living. It is a byproduct not of human emotion but fruit of the 
Spirit
(Galatians 5:22). This Spirit-inspired love is patient and kind. Never 
jealous or arrogant. It “never fails.†Faith, hope, and love may abide, “but 
the
greatest of these is love†(1 Corinthians 13:4-13).

Solomon may seem to have written about romantic love. But ultimately he 
described a love that can come only from God, the kind of love that He has 
for
us, but also a picture of the kind of love we need to have for Him. A love 
of passion and selfless devotion. Giving and not receiving. A love that 
consumes
us. That changes our lives.

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Dear Father, thank You for loving me so much that You sent Jesus to die for 
me. I am so grateful for that love. Help me to share that love with others.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: Song of Solomon 8
© 2015 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved
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Truth For Life Daily

June 3

Serve Where He Set You

1 Chronicles 4:23

Potters were among the ranks of manual workers, but the king needed potters, 
and therefore they were elevated to royal service, although the material 
upon
which they worked was nothing but clay. In the same way we also may be 
engaged in the most menial part of the Lord's work, but it is a great 
privilege
to do anything for the King; and therefore we will play our part, hoping 
that, although we live among the pots, we will soar in the service of our 
Master.

These people dwelt among plants and hedges and had rough, rustic hedging and 
ditching work to do. They may have wanted to live in the city, amid its 
life,
society, and refinement, but they kept their assigned places because they 
were doing the king's work. There is no ideal place for us to serve God 
except
the place He sets us down. We are not to run from it on a whim or sudden 
notion, but we should serve the Lord in it by being a blessing to those 
among
whom we live. These potters and gardeners had royal company, for they lived 
with the king, and although among hedges and plants, they lived with the 
king
there. No lawful place or gracious occupation, however menial, can keep us 
from communion with our Lord. In hovels, run-down neighborhoods, and jails,
we may keep company with the King. In all works of faith we can count upon 
Jesus' fellowship. It is when we are in His work that we may reckon on His 
smile.

You unknown workers who are serving the Lord amid the dirt and wretchedness 
of the lowest of the low, be of good cheer, for jewels have often been found
among rubbish, earthen pots have been filled with heavenly treasure, and 
ugly weeds have been transformed into precious flowers. Dwell with the King 
and
do His work, and when He writes His chronicles, your name shall be recorded.

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Deuteronomy 7

verse 2 Psalms 90

Loving Jesus More
by Philip Graham Ryken

As
Christians,
we’re called to love Jesus more than anyone or anything else. But do we 
really do this? Emphasizing that God’s love for us is the source of our love 
for
Him, Dr. Phil Ryken challenges us to take Jesus’ words seriously and to 
think carefully about where our affections truly lie.
From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. 
Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News 
Publishers,


Life Is a Mystery to be Lived

BIBLE MEDITATION:
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith 
the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways 
higher
than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.â€
Isaiah 55:8-9

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Have you ever stood and watched a painter paint a picture? He starts putting 
his colors on canvas. He’s just splashing on the colors, mixing this one and
that. You can almost hear him thinking, “A little more yellow here….â€

And we say, “He’s so good—how does he do that?†Then suddenly he’ll get some 
colors and go swoosh! across the canvas. We say, “Oh, you ruined it! You’ve
really messed up. Let’s see how you get out of this!†And then all of a 
sudden it just comes together. It’s a masterpiece!

Sometimes we look at what God does as God puts His colors on the canvas and 
say, “Lord, you’re really doing well.†Then all of a sudden God goes swoosh.
“Lord! You’ve messed things up! How did You let this happen?†Have you ever 
felt that way?

Now it doesn’t make sense to me when I watch that painter. It doesn’t make 
sense to me, but it makes sense to him. And just because things are not 
making
sense to you, do not think that they don’t make sense. In Acts 12 we see 
Herod’s ungodly power, James’ death, then Peter’s release. Yet all of these 
things
are working together. We call that the sovereignty of God, the providence of 
God.

ACTION POINT:
In Acts chapter 12 in your Bible, write in the margin Romans 8:28, “And we 
know, we k-n-o-w, that all things work together for good to those who love 
God,
who are the called according to His purpose.â€
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries

Connecting for Change -- The Problem of Loneliness, Alienation and 
Separation

By Jerry Wiles, President Emeritus, Living Water International, Special to 
ASSIST News Service

HOUSTON, TX (ANS – June 3, 2015) – As I met a man in a revolving door at the 
entrance of a hotel, I smiled and greeted him. Immediately the man turned
around and followed me into the lobby of the hotel and approached me with a 
question. He asked, “Do I know you? Have we met before?†I replied, “I don’t
think so, but we may have a mutual friend.†He said, “Who would that be?†I 
said, “The Lord Jesus Christ, do you happen to know Him?â€

Sharing stories sharing life and
That brief encounter gave me the opportunity to share the Gospel with this 
man. He had heard of Jesus, but had never personally trusted Him or become a
follower of Jesus. He was obviously interested and open to the Lord, and we 
had the opportunity to pray together and he called on the Lord. I explained
that he didn’t have to be in a church building or go through a long 
religious ritual in order to enter a relationship with the Lord. We 
discussed, from
Romans chapter 10, what it means to confess with our mouth and believe in 
our hearts in order to be saved, and that whoever calls on the name of the 
Lord
will be saved.

This man was like so many in society today, he was alienated and separated 
from God because of sin. We know from Scripture that all have sinned and 
come
short of the glory of God. He had heard and knew about Jesus, but just 
needed a little encouragement to respond to the Good News. It seems that one 
of
the big needs in the world today is for believers (followers of Jesus) to 
recognize that we are all ministers of reconciliation, as we are told in II 
Corinthians
5. We are representatives, ambassadors of Christ, and can be agents of 
change, every day, wherever we happen to be.

Loneliness is a common problem, especially in our modern Western world, 
where so many are living in isolation and a lack of community or 
companionship.
Alienation and loneliness are causes of much anxiety and lack of 
connectedness. Research has shown that loneliness is a problem in marriages, 
relationships,
families and even in churches. It has been described as social pain and has 
been a motivator for people to seek social connections. Realizing that can
be a big help in our efforts to minister and witness to others.

I had exchanged a few brief comments with a lady seated next to me on an 
airplane. I mentioned that I work with an organization called Living Water 
International
and that we help people with clean water solutions and share the love of 
Jesus with some of the neediest people on earth. Then she said to me, “Can I 
ask
you a questionâ€? I said, “Sure.†She asked, “What happens when a person 
dies?†Well, it turned out that her mother had passed away that morning, and 
she
was on her way home to help with funeral arrangements. We talked for about 
an hour, and I was able to share and minister to her during that time of 
loss
and pain.

We seldom know what is going on in people’s lives until we connect with them 
and listen. It is important to listen, not only to people’s stories and 
their
pain, but also listen to the Holy Spirit. He will often give us a word that 
is fitly spoken just for that person’s situation. The more we connect with
people and listen to their stories, the more the Holy Spirit will open up 
those divine encounters and many times turn them into life-altering and 
transformational
experiences.

One of the important lessons we have learned over the years in our Orality 
Training sessions is how the experience connects people in ways that do not
normally happen in the big crowds or in large gatherings. Orality Training 
Workshops allow everyone to connect, participate and engage by telling 
stories
and asking questions. Not only do the participants learn stories, they 
discover the meaning and applications and they connect with other people’s 
stories.
One Orality Training Workshop in a church group of about thirty people, 
mostly senior citizens, realized how little they really knew about each 
other.
Even though many of them had been attending church together for more than 25 
years, they came to realize that they really didn’t know one another in a
deep spiritual way.

Sharing stories use
By the middle of the afternoon of the workshop, they were in tears at they 
heard each other’s stories of coming to Christ, how they had endured many 
storms
of life and how God had answered prayer and intervened in their lives. That 
group, like many others in our church culture in the Modern Western context,
demonstrates how we can be part of a large congregation, organization or 
business, and still be living in isolation and loneliness.

It is an encouraging development that increasing numbers of churches and 
organizations are realizing the power of small groups and participatory 
experiences.
The Orality Movement is such a significant and important strategy to address 
these issues of loneliness, isolation and alienation. Even in the business
world, there is a growing awareness that community and relationships are 
very important for healthy organizations.

One of my mentors use to say that one of our big needs is to find out what 
God is up to, and get in on it. Well, we know from Scripture that He is up 
to
reconciling the world unto Himself, He is about redeeming His creation, and 
that He sent the Lord Jesus into the world to seek and save the lost. He now
lives in us, who are born of His Spirit, to carry out that purpose. In 
Christ, we are new creations, we are in spiritual union with the Living God, 
and
we are complete in Him. Therefore there is now no condemnation and no 
separation for those who are in Christ Jesus. What a privilege we have of 
being joined
to the Lord in His eternal purposes.

For information about Orality resources and training opportunities, visit
www.water.cc/orality.
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

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You are Chosen and Loved
Jennifer Rothschild

"I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to 
those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You 
are
my God.’"
Hosea 2:23b
(NIV)

Growing up, I was an uncoordinated kid.

One of the ones who was often chosen last for the kickball team in gym 
class. And even then, only because there was no one else left to pick.

If you, too, have ever been picked last, the idea of being chosen by God 
might sound rather foreign. Some of us might even need to rethink what it 
means
to be chosen.

To be chosen by God means we are His first choice and His best choice. 
Unlike the kids in the gym, He didn’t shrug His shoulders and say, "Well, I 
guess
I’ll take her if no one else will."

Not at all.

When Jesus’ hands were nailed to a cross, His fingers pointed to you and 
me — He intentionally chose to die for us. He chose you and He chose me and 
He
chooses us every day.

Isn’t that amazing?

The book of Hosea in the Bible beautifully illustrates this concept for us. 
Hosea was a prophet whom God told to marry a prostitute and thereby show the
nation of Israel how she’d been unfaithful by worshipping false gods. Hosea 
chose Gomer, a woman who would birth his children, yet leave him time and 
again
for another lover. (For more, see Hosea chapters 1 and 2.)

All through the book of Hosea, we see both judgment and hope, destruction 
and restoration. Hosea proclaims both sides of God, which reflect His one 
heart
— God’s faithful love for His people, warning them for their good.

Just like God chose the nation of Israel and Hosea the prophet chose Gomer 
to reveal His love, God chose you. In fact, you are a chosen woman of God.

It’s so easy to look in the foggy mirror that is my life and see all the 
reasons why I shouldn’t be chosen and loved: I’m selfish, I wander from God, 
I
have mixed motives, I’m not good enough … oh, the reasons are unending!

However, the more accurate mirror of God’s Word reflects the truth that I am 
chosen and loved. And, that my friend, includes you.

In today’s key verse, God’s Word to Israel reminds us that even though we 
have made mistakes and might feel rejected and unworthy of love, God still 
pursues
us. The message of Hosea is still God’s message to us.

In other words, Israel’s identity was a chosen and loved people of God. Our 
identity is chosen and loved women of God.

Thankfully, I’ve learned God doesn’t love me because I am cleaned up, 
religious or even because I am a Christian. He loves me because He is love. 
We didn’t
earn His love and we can’t lose His love either.

The Bible says, "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us"
(Romans 5:8b,
ESV). He didn’t choose to love you because you were lovely, He loved you and 
then you became lovely. Your value comes from His inherit value.

Look into the mirror of your soul and see Gomer reflected back at you. She 
was the beloved bride and so are you. Embrace your true identity as a chosen
and loved woman of God!

Lord, thank You for choosing me, even when I feel unworthy to be chosen. And 
thank You for loving me when I didn’t do anything to earn Your love. Please
speak words of truth over me when I’m tempted to doubt I am chosen and 
loved. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 John 4:9-10,
"God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the 
world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love — 
not
that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to 
take away our sins." (NLT)

Romans 8:38-39,
"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor 
things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor 
anything
else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in 
Christ Jesus our Lord." (ESV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Hosea: Unfailing Love Changes Everything by Jennifer Rothschild is a 
7-session Bible study that focuses on the Old Testament prophet, whose life 
message
demonstrates the kind of love we dream of, a love that changes everything. 
For more encouragement from Jennifer,
visit her website.
© 2015 by Jennifer Rothschild. All rights reserved.

Get Your Joy Back!
by Dean Masters

Psalm 51:12
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing 
spirit.

Have you just been coasting along through life too busy to really think much 
about all that God has done for you? Have you gotten so caught up in all 
that
you need to do that having a walk with God is just another “chore” of the 
day? Maybe you are still reading your Bible every day and going to church 
when
the doors are open on a regular basis, but you aren’t really all that 
excited about your relationship with God.

God wants a close relationship with you, He doesn’t just want to be a 
picture on the wall or a book by your bed. He wants to be your best friend, 
He wants
you to realize that He loves you and is walking with you through everything, 
the good times and the bad! He is that friend and companion that is always
there no matter what you are facing. He loves you! Have you ever had someone 
in your life that you could count on when the whole world around you seemed
to be messed up, you could go have a cup of coffee or glass of tea and just 
sit and talk and forget about all the turmoil going on? That’s what God 
wants
to have with you. You are not alone!

Have you ever been given a gift that just thinking about it still gets you 
excited and grateful for it? Jesus gift of salvation, the most costly of 
gifts,
should excite us as well. It should excite us to the point that we want 
everyone else to experience it as well. We should have a difficult time 
keeping
our mouths shut about it! It shouldn’t be a knick-knack on a shelf.

When we have our joy that came with our salvation we are generally excited 
and willing to do whatever God may ask, We are ready to fight for the cause!
We need to be more like that in this day and age! We need to have our joy so 
we will have a willing spirit to do all that God is asking us to do. We don’t
want to become complacent Christians without a cause. The cause is in front 
of us everyday and I feel as though part of our biggest issue is that we are
not excited about all that God has given us!

Stop for a minute today and ask God to show you if you are missing out on 
the joy of the salvation He has brought you. Ask Him to give you back your 
joy
of your salvation and to give you a willing heart to serve Him, however He 
may ask you to. Ask Him to help you set your priorities in a way that will 
make
you more affective in your service for Him!

Quote:
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole 
staircase.” Martin Luther King

Who sinned?

As He went along, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, 
"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so 
that the work of God might be displayed in his life." John 9:1-3

"Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary 
sins--but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces. Christ, who perfectly
knew the secret springs of the divine counsels, told them two things 
concerning such calamities: that they are not always inflicted as 
punishments of sin--and
that they are sometimes intended purely for the glory of God, and the 
manifesting of His works." Matthew Henry

"Afflictions are often the black foils in which God sets the jewels of His 
children's graces, to make them shine the better. There are some of your 
graces
which would never be discovered, if it were not for your trials. Well, 
Christian, may not this account for the troubles through which you are 
passing?
Is not the Lord bringing out your graces, and making them grow? Real growth 
in grace is the result of sanctified trials. The heart of a Christian is 
Christ's
garden, and his graces are as so many sweet spices and flowers, when His 
Spirit blows upon them, to send forth a sweet savor." Charles Spurgeon

"Stars shine brightest in the darkest night. Afflictions ripen the saints' 
graces. Gold looks the brighter for scouring. Just so, afflictions are but 
our
Father's goldsmiths who are working to add pearls to our crowns. Spices 
smell sweetest when pounded--and juniper smells sweeter in the fire." Thomas 
Brooks

"Some graces grow best in winter. Grace withers without adversity." Samuel 
Rutherford

"The lowly graces of the Spirit thrive best under crosses." Daniel Rowland

"The Lord's jewels need grinding, and cutting, and polishing." R.C. Chapman

"Grievous afflictions are not always sent as a scourge for sins 
committed--but sometimes as preventatives from sins. Paul's thorn prevented 
his pride."
John Leland
We have published
J.R. Miller's
practical two page article, "
The Secret of Personal Helpfulness".
Feel free to forward these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited 
by them!
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The Land of Oz
by Dean W. Masters

Years ago there was a small theme park called “The Land of Oz” which was on 
the side of a mountain owned by the Beech Mountain ski resort in western 
North Carolina. You would wait outside Aunt Em’s house and when the right 
number of people had gathered, a girl who looked like Dorothy would lead the 
group on their tour. You would walk through the house and see some of the 
items used in the movie. You would walk down some ramps as you see a film 
loop of the house in the twister. At the bottom of the ramps you walk 
through the house which has landed at an angle. Once outside you follow 
Dorothy down the yellow brick road. Along the way there are four stages. 
Each one is outside a little house. When your group gets near each house the 
cowardly lion, tin man, scarecrow or wicked witch come out and lip sync a 
song and dance. You end up in a commons area with a big stage and benches 
for you to sit on. At scheduled times the story is finished on the stage 
with Dorothy, the lion, tin man and scarecrow meeting the wizard.

When I was in high school some of my friends got jobs playing some of these 
characters. During the school year the theme park would only be open on the 
weekends. Sometimes my friends would come to school on Monday with traces of 
the makeup they used that they didn’t entirely remove.

WE get the word “hypocrite” from actors as seen in the following:

HYPOCRITE
corresponding to the above, primarily denotes one who answers; then, a 
stage–actor; it was a custom for Greek and Roman actors to speak in large 
masks with mechanical devices for augmenting the force of the voice; hence 
the word became used metaphorically of a dissembler, a hypocrite.

Jesus came against hypocrites. These were the religious leaders of the day 
that thought they were living the right life but they were fooling 
themselves and just playing a role like my friends at the theme park. There 
are many today that call themselves Christians but are that in name only. 
They are only playing the part. On the outside they may look like Christians 
but they have never surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.

We might think they are a believer but we cannot know the true person:

1 Samuel 16:7b (NLT)
7…“The Lord doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward 
appearance, but the Lord looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.”

If you have never surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, do it now and stop 
playing a role. You might fool people but you cannot fool God.

How to Understand the Bible

How Should We to Apply Scripture to Life?

It is dangerous to understand the Bible better. It is all too easy for us to 
feel just a bit of pride about pulling out the meaning of biblical texts,
as if we were beginning to master the Scriptures when, of course, exactly 
the opposite is the whole point. The temptation may come from the power we 
may
feel from having “spiritual knowledge,” which can move us from insecurity to 
superiority. Or we may want to put ourselves over Scripture so we don’t need
to obey it. As Paul says, “knowledge puffs up” (
1 Cor. 8:1).

Here are a few of the reasons why many biblical authors charge us with not 
just knowing the word of God, but practicing it.

Bible Study

God (through Moses):

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on 
your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, 
talking
about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you 
lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses 
and
on your gates. (
Deut. 11:18-20)

Jesus:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into 
practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came 
down, the
streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not 
fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears 
these
words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who 
built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds
blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (
Matt. 7:24-27)

Paul:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, 
correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be 
thoroughly
equipped for every good work. (
2 Tim. 3:16-17)

And using a mirror for a wonderful analogy, James charges us:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it 
says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like 
someone
who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away 
and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into
the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what 
they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (
James 1:22-25)

These and many other passages suggest that applying Scripture begins with 
assimilating its content. Reading, meditating, discussing, practicing, 
praying,
and memorizing are all ways for the biblical text to form the spiritual 
muscle tissue of our lives. This is not about having a list of verses 
rattling
around in our heads, but having the shape and motion of our lives formed by 
biblical truth.

Much of this series has been about personal reading and comprehension of 
Scripture, but this is a good place to mention the power of group or 
community
Bible discussion. It is enormously formative to discuss the meaning and 
application of Scripture in some kind of group. We see new things through 
the eyes
of other people, especially those brave enough to share how their life’s 
difficulties connect or clash with biblical truths.

It is possible for a Bible group to wallow in ignorance if the mode of 
operation is to read a biblical text and throw it open to the group with the 
question:
“What does this mean to you?” No! A biblical text means something specific, 
intended by the original author. Someone in a group Bible study needs to 
take
responsibility to study these things ahead of time and dig out the meaning.

In the group setting, the question can and should be: “How do you see this 
applying to your life?” A biblical text means something specific, but it may
be applied in many different directions, as long as the application is 
really connected with the meaning.

That raises another question: Can a biblical text motivate someone, even if 
the meaning and application don’t seem to be connected? The story can be 
told
many times over, for instance, of someone reading one of the great 
missionary texts in Acts and believing God told him, through the text, to 
pack his bags
and go overseas. It certainly is possible that the Holy Spirit guides 
someone through the words or sentiment of a biblical text—even if the text 
isn’t
properly applied to everyone in that specific way. Such experiences are not 
about the meaning of a biblical text, nor its typical application, but a 
unique
guidance of the Spirit for a particular person.

So the norm is this: biblical text first, original meaning next, and 
finally, present-day application. In this process we learn and relearn “Your 
word,
Lord, is eternal” (Ps. 119:89).

About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook 
Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for 
thirty
years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help 
Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, 
the
most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to 
Engagement.
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What to Do When It's Just One Trouble after the Next
Jennifer Dukes Lee
The rain wouldn’t stop. It fell in thundering sheets, pooling in farm fields 
and backyards. Water ponded in basements, sneaking in while the world 
slumbered.
This is the way of storms: the sky can stand calm above you one hour and 
then scream with rage the next. Yes, skies and mortals weep. “Jennifer,” my 
husband
called up the basement stairs.
“You’ll need to come down here.” I could hear the sadness in his voice. At 
the bottom of the steps, he held out a soggy cardboard box labeled “Jennifer’s
childhood memories.” I had meant for years to put that stuff in plastic 
bins, but hadn’t gotten around to it. I closed my eyes, and let my air out 
in one
long exhale. The storm was indifferent to what I held dear, and the water 
had soaked straight through the cardboard.
Through tears, I pulled forty years of memories out of the box, laying it 
all before a whirring fan, praying I could save most of it. My baptism 
certificate.
My high school diploma. The first news story I ever wrote, at age fifteen. My 
baby book. First tooth. First snip of hair. Every school photograph, 
kindergarten
through senior year.
I cried with the sky, cried over all of my wet stuff. And yes, it was just 
stuff. It will be stained, is all. Storm-stained but not destroyed.
Above us and around us—and sometimes even inside of us—thunderheads are 
building. Out of nowhere, it seems, storms spill from the torn fabric of an 
iron-gray
sky. Or maybe from behind the closed doors of the doctor’s office, or on the 
other end of the phone line, or right at your own front door. I spent many
years as a news reporter. I covered some of the most horrific events 
imaginable, proving true the Bible verse that begins like this: “In this 
world you
will have trouble” (
John 16:33
NIV). Will. Not might. Will.
Reading those words, you might be inclined to keep your doors locked, your 
phone off the hook. You might avoid getting too close to someone who wants 
to
love you, because you never know when the storm will come, sweeping away 
your joy in a torrent. Except that there’s more to that Bible verse. That 
verse
doesn’t end in trouble. It ends in power.
Jesus then said this: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The day 
after the storm seeped into our basement, staining a box full of memories, 
the
creeks bulged and raged. And a few miles away from our front door, a teenage 
boy fell into Beaver Creek. The boy’s friends went for help and found a man
named John Lems, a retired firefighter.
Later, John told local TV news reporters that he thought about throwing that 
boy a rope. But if the boy grabbed for the rope, he would have had to let
go of the tree that was keeping him from going under fifteen feet of rushing 
water.
Today, the old news reporter in me called John to find out the rest of the 
story. John told me that he knew the boy was scared and the river was 
awfully
cold, but he could see that the boy was strong. And he would need to just 
hang on. John said this: “I yelled out to the boy, ‘Yes, it’s cold! But I’m 
not
going to throw you a rope! You’re going to be all right if you just hang on 
to that tree!’” And so that boy hung on to the tree. And he kept hanging on
until the rescuers arrived.
When trouble comes—and trouble will come—when the river through your life 
swells and rages; or when the creek bed cracks dry; when the storm marches 
across
the sky, or maybe straight across your heart; you will be scared. And it 
might feel cold. You might be tempted to grab for a sorry substitute, 
begging
for the false hope of a rope.
But friend, you are strong. Hang on to the tree that is even stronger. Hold 
tight to the tree that has already redeemed you, the tree that bore every 
ache
you could fathom, the tree onto which every sin was nailed. Hold on to the 
tree that held your Savior.
And you and I? We can be each other’s Jonathan, like John Lems shouting from 
the shore, a reminder that “You’re going to be all right if you just hang
on to that tree.” There’s nothing on earth that can uproot that tree or snap 
the Savior’s promise for you. Don’t let go. You’ve already been rescued. The
world and all its storms have already been overcome. And when the storm 
passes by, you’ll find that the Calvary tree held firm. You might be 
storm-stained
and scarred and a bit broken, but look to the sky. For you’ll see it above 
you—the heaving dark will have given way, at last, to the sun.
And you’ll know, for sure, that the light has won.
He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
Psalm 107:29 NKJV
Excerpted from
The Beauty of Grace,
edited by Dawn Camp (Revell, a division of
Baker Publishing Group,
2014). Used by permission.
dawn camp
Jennifer Dukes Lee is a grace dweller and storyteller at
www.JenniferDukesLee.com.
She and her husband live on the
family
farm with their two girls. Jennifer is the author of
Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval—and Seeing Yourself through 
God's Eyes.
Publication date: May 26, 2015

A Beautiful Change

Mindy was walking along the beach near her grandmother’s home on the Jersey 
Shore. She noticed a glint of color in the sand. Bending over, she picked up
what looked like a light-blue stone. It had irregular edges and an almost 
see-through appearance. “Look at this, Grandma.”

Her grandmother peered at it. “Oh, you found a piece of sea glass! I’ve been 
collecting those for years.”

Mindy turned it over in her hand. “What’s sea glass?” Her grandma replied, 
“They’re pieces of broken bottle that get tumbled over the sand by the 
waves.
Eventually their edges are smoothed and they get that frosty look. I’ve 
found many different colors.”

Mindy handed her the piece. “Here, you can add this to your collection.” 
Smiling, her grandmother said, “Thanks, dear. I’ll show you my big jar full 
of
sea glass when we get back. It’s very pretty. I think it’s amazing how the 
ocean can turn broken bottles into something so lovely!”

Like the ocean, God can create beauty out of brokenness. Even in the worst 
situations, he changes sadness and despair into hope and joy. When you’re 
grieving
and heartbroken, lean on God. Trust him to make this beautiful change in 
you. In time he’ll turn your tearful face into one that’s smiling and 
bright.

Bible Verse: [Lord,] you turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my 
sackcloth and clothed me with joy. –
Psalm 30:11

Words to Treasure: “I will turn their mourning into gladness,” ... declares 
the Lord. –
Jeremiah 31:13-14

365 Days of Adventure
Copyright Information

NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions: 365 Days of Adventure (Zondervan). © 
2013 by Zondervan. Used with permission. All rights reserved. The book's 
title
must be included when sharing the above content on social media. Visit the
Adventure Bible website


Experiencing LIFE Today

To please God ... and to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness ... to 
be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights
in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden 
of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is. – C. S. Lewis

It’s one thing to realize your primary purpose is to be God’s kid. It’s 
another thing to believe that being God’s kid is enough to please Him. 
Surely there
must be something more – something else required of you in order to make Him 
glad He let you live?

Travel with me to Luke 3. I want to show you the very first words spoken 
over Jesus as an adult. Jesus was down with the others, getting baptized by 
John
the Baptist:

And as [Jesus] was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended 
on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my
Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:2122, emphasis mine)

We are witnessing Jesus’ primary human calling, which is the same as ours – 
to be a child of God.

But what about the second half of God’s statement? Correct me if I’m wrong, 
but Jesus hasn’t done anything yet. He hasn’t healed anyone. He hasn’t gone
headtohead with any Pharisees. He hasn’t taught a single sermon or performed 
a miracle.

Still, God says, “Hey, you’re My boy, I love you, and you please Me.”

You know what? He says the same thing to us. If all we ever do in this life 
is exercise our primary calling – that of being His child – we have 
fulfilled
our primary purpose. God is pleased with us; God is pleased with you.

Isn’t that beautiful? That’s called grace, my friends.

Yet most believers have a longing to be used by God. It’s heard in the 
question, “God, what do You want me to do?”

This question leads us to our secondary purpose. As children of God, we are 
called to be His instruments. When I think of instruments, I think of 
musical
instruments. So here’s the problem: Instruments cannot play themselves. They 
need a master.

Our secondary calling is to be an instrument in the hands of the Master.

Loving Father, it blows my mind that I could be nothing other than Your 
child and this would still please You. The grace of it all overwhelms me, 
drives
me to my knees in thanks, and spurs me forward into Your hands – eager to 
join the divine melody here on earth. Amen.

Listen to Pete, Jill & Stuart Briscoe on the
Telling the Truth broadcast
at OnePlace.com
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 01 Aug 2015, 11:13 pm

Let God Help with the Pruning
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”—Romans 3:23 (HCSB).

If you’ve ever seen a wisteria vine, especially in bloom, you know its 
charms are almost impossible to resist. That’s what drew me to purchase one 
about
four years ago. When I first saw the beautiful lavender flowers on the vines 
wrapped around an arbor in a neighbor’s yard, I knew I had to have one.

I succumbed to the beauty of the blooms dangling from the vines. Mesmerized, 
I couldn’t wait to have one growing over the arbor in my own backyard. After
purchasing one at a local garden center, I hurried home to plant the woody, 
climbing vine. However, I soon discovered this invasive plant has a mind of
its own.

In an article by Jeanne Rostaing called, “Wisteria: A Dangerous Beauty (Are 
You Tempted?),” she says, “You are not the first to succumb. Marco Polo was
an early conquest. He brought wisteria seeds out of China in the 13th 
century. But you would be wise to take the time to get to know this beauty 
before
you commit to her. Like a Jezebel, she will steal your heart and then, after 
you are weakened and besotted with love, she will set about to dominate your
garden and, if possible, your house. Take this caveat to heart: she is fully 
capable of attempting to murder your other plants.”

While the wisteria has not taken over my house, it dominates my arbor and 
the corner of the backyard where it is planted. Even if I had known how much
work this plant takes to maintain, I would still have planted it because I 
love working in my yard. The resulting beauty of my labor is worth the 
efforts
I expend.

On a recent Saturday, I was, once again, pruning my wisteria. Rostaing says, 
“Buy yourself a heavy-duty pair of pruning shears because, if you do plant
wisteria, you will need to become a virtuoso pruner.” I’ve definitely become 
a master at pruning this wild, but lovely vine.

As I pruned that day, I was once again amazed at how fast the vines had 
curled around my fence posts, the wooden swing hanging underneath my arbor 
and
everything else close enough for its tentacles to grasp. Snipping away with 
my pruning shears, I began to compare my vine with sin.

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 
Little things we might not consider sin—cheating on our taxes, not speaking
up when we receive too much change back at the store, not telling the whole 
truth, judging others because they’re different from us, envying what others
have or the way they look, and the list could go on—but if not kept in 
check, they can become as invasive as the wisteria vines threatening to take 
over
my yard.

If we avoid our faults, we can’t deal with them. When we face our personal 
issues with honesty, seeking God’s help with the pruning, we can live a life
pleasing to Him.

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to email me with 
your thoughts about this post.
For more inspiration, visit my blog at
carolaround.com
Copyright © 2015 Carol Round, All rights reserved.

Love Worth Finding Ministrie

How Do You Handle A Crisis?

BIBLE MEDITATION:

“And he [Herod] killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because 
he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also.”
Acts 12:2-3

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, 
who are the called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:

What do you do in times of crisis? One thing we all must do, before we panic 
or sin against God, is respect the mystery of God’s providence.

Throughout the pages of His Word, you’re going to see the hidden hand of 
God...working in mysterious ways, in inexplicable ways. God is in the 
shadows
arranging things, moving things people cannot see. That may be true in your 
life right now. God is working, but you cannot see Him working.

You may be in the middle of chaos right now. Nothing seems to be making 
sense. Everything you thought you had nailed down is coming loose, and the 
devil
is pulling nails.

Just because it doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t make 
sense. Many of us have questions. As we look at Acts chapter 12, we say, 
“Well,
how could God let a rascal like Herod be the king anyway? Isn’t God, God? If 
I were God, I’d turn him into a frog. And why should James be killed and 
Peter
released? Does God have favorites? Has God lost control?”

ACTION POINT:

We do not live by explanations. Life is not a problem to be solved; it is a 
mystery to be lived. Sometimes we must back off and simply see what I call
the hidden hand of God. Just because today you cannot see the hand of God 
working doesn’t mean God is not working.
© 2014 Love Worth Finding Ministries | PO Box 38300 - Memphis, TN 38183-0300

The Danger of Forgetfulness
by Association of Biblical Counselors

by
Paul Tripp

We all do it, probably every day. It has a huge impact on the way we view 
ourselves and the way we respond to others. It’s one of the main reasons we 
experience
so much conflict in our relationships. The scary thing is: we barely 
recognize that we’re doing it.

What is this thing we all tend to do that causes so much harm? We forget the 
generosity of God.

In the busyness and self-centeredness of our lives, we sadly forget how much 
our lives have been blessed by and radically redirected by the generosity
of God. The fact that he blesses us when we deserve nothing (except for 
wrath and punishment) fades from our memories like a song whose lyrics we 
once
knew but now cannot recall.

Every morning, God’s generosity greets us in at least a dozen ways, but we 
barely recognize it as we frenetically prepare for our day. When we lay our
exhausted heads down at the end of the day, we often fail to look back on 
the many gifts that dripped from God’s hands into our little lives.

We don’t often take time to sit and meditate on what our lives would have 
been like if the generosity of the Redeemer had not been written into our 
personal
stories. Sadly, we all tend to be way too forgetful, and there are few 
things more dangerous in the Christian life than forgetfulness.

Forgetfulness is dangerous, because it shapes the way you think about 
yourself and others. When you remember God’s generosity, you also remember 
that you
simply did nothing whatsoever to earn his blessing. When you remember his 
generosity, you’re humble, thankful, and tender. When you remember his 
generosity,
complaining gives way to gratitude and self-focused desire gives way to 
worship.

But when you forget God’s generosity, you proudly tell yourself that what 
you have is what you’ve achieved. When you forget his generosity, you take 
credit
for what only his blessings could produce. When you forget his generosity, 
you name yourself as righteous and deserving, and you live an entitled and 
demanding
life.

When you forget God’s generosity and think you’re deserving, you find it 
very easy to withhold generosity from others. Proudly, you think that you’re 
getting
what you deserve and that they are, too. Your proud heart is not tender, so 
it’s not easily moved by the sorry plight of others. You forget that you are
more like than unlike your needy brother or sister, failing to acknowledge 
that neither of you stands before God as deserving.

...ill you remember to remember the generosity of God? Remembrance produces 
upward worship, inward humility, and outward generosity. Give thanks, be 
humble,
and be generous, because the blessings you receive from the Lord are not 
what you deserve.

God bless
Paul David Tripp
1. How has God been generous to you [this year]? List at least 10 examples.
2. Look at your list. Which of those 10 examples are you tempted to take 
personal credit for? Why does God deserve all the credit?
3. How have you been arrogant and self-righteous about blessings when you 
should be humble and grateful?
4. How have you failed to extend generosity to others [this year]?
5. How can you be generous to others as an expression of your humble 
gratitude for the undeserved blessings you have received as a result of the 
generosity of God?
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Fri 31 Jul 2015, 3:13 pm

Praying Most For What You Love the Most

Your prayer-life is a measure of your spiritual maturity. Just about any 
decent book on prayer will tell you so. Your prayer lives exposes you to the 
reality
that what is nearest and dearest to your hearts are those things for which 
you pray the most. It is an inescapable rule. In this respect, your prayer 
life
may betray the public image which you, in turn, portrayed to others. Just a 
few years back, I became painfully aware that my prayer life was centered 
on...me.
What a shock it was to realize that my prayers were essentially 
self-serving!

The practice of prayer has fallen on hard times in the church today. There 
may be many factors producing this rapid downturn in frequency and quality 
of
prayer. Two of the most obvious are the affluence of western society and the 
lack of deeply spiritual representative prayer in our churches.

The Affect of Affluence

The affluence and relative ease of western culture has relaxed the grip that 
Scripture should hold on our lives. Our material lives are easier than they
were even one hundred years ago: the present relief we have from infant 
mortality or child labor, from common sicknesses that often resulted in 
death but
are now treatable have lulled us into a false sense of security. The Puritan 
pastor and theologian John Owen apparently had eleven children, ten of whom
died in childhood--the one who didn't die in childhood died of tuberculosis 
soon after she had married. Owen's wife passed away eight years before him.
People once knew--even expected--death and serious sickness to be a present 
reality in their lives, and often it drove them to prayer. They knew what it
was to “number their days and gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12) Sadly, 
it is not so now. As longevity and better quality of life are now 
expected--even
deemed a right--we have been driven from pondering our mortality and eternal 
realities to filling our lives with less consequential matters--with 
trivialities.
Prayers for health, wealth, success, family, children, friendship, 
employment, while not illegitimate topics of prayer (3 John 2), are the 
topics which
saturate most Christian prayers today.

The Affect of Prayer in the Worship Service

The dilution of spiritually rich prayer has also been aided and abetted by 
prayers from the pulpit. The casual manner of many public prayers--where 
Jesus
is merely our best bud and God is little more than a divine handy man--teach 
the average Christian how not to pray. Awe, transcendence and a sense of 
holiness
in prayer have been replaced with a superficial familiarity with the 
Almighty. Ministers lead and teach by example and must teach the manner and 
the content
of biblical prayer.

How then should we pray, publicly and privately? Most books on prayer focus 
on using biblical petitions – this is the what and how of prayer. The what
is the content of our prayers, the how is the manner of our prayers. Have we 
adopted a biblical and God-honoring posture of prayer, or have we adopted
an essentially selfish attitude in prayer? What are our priorities in 
prayer? Are we more concerned with the spiritual realities of our life and 
the lives
of others than with the material? For example, when was the last time you 
prayed that God would “make you worthy of the calling to which you have been
called” (Eph 4:1; and 2 Thess. 1:11); or, that you would be “joyful in hope, 
patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom.12:12); or, that 
“God...would
give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had”. 
(Rom 15:5-6); or, that “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as
you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the 
Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:13); or, “that you will not do anything wrong.” (2 Cor 
13:7).
Or do ceaselessly give thanks to God for your brethren, remembering them in 
your prayers? (Eph1:16; Col 1:9); or, do you pray that “you may be filled 
with
the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as 
to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col 1:9); or, we could turn to the
Psalms - “create in me a clean heart of God, and renew a right spirit within 
me”(Ps. 51:10); “be merciful to me O God, be merciful to me for in you my
soul takes refuge” (Ps 57:1); and “May God be gracious to us and bless us 
and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, 
your
saving power among all nations.” (Ps. 67:1)

The truth is that our prayers are not saturated with Scriptural petitions 
(which place a great deal of emphasis on our spiritual well-being and little
on our material well-being) because we are not saturated with Scripture and 
its priorities. Resultantly, we often end up praying for the wrong things.
Or, perhaps we might better say, we don’t pray for the right things. While 
praying for material matters is both permissible and necessary, there are 
more
important things in life. We are not here to live our lives for material and 
physical well-being. We are to be supremely mindful of the life to come. To
that end, our prayers ought to focus on those matters that will fit us for 
eternal life. In short, our spiritual condition is far more important than 
our
material or physical condition.

To help us pursue a spiritually rich prayer life, I want to commend several 
resources specifically designed to aid us all in our prayer lives. All of 
them
centre on the following idea: we are to pray Scripture. We are to pray the 
petitions that the writers of Scripture teach us to pray. In doing so, we 
will
have access not to the power of prayer, but the power of your Almighty and 
loving Father in Heaven who works through the prayers of his people to 
strengthen,
encourage, and shape us into the image of his beloved Son.

Recommended Resources
D.A. Carson,
Praying with Paul, A Call to Spiritual Reformation.
- I highly commend Carson’s practical and piercing work into the heart of 
prayer. The book examines both the theology and practicalities of prayer, 
engaging
in an analysis of Paul’s prayers. This book will change your prayer life.

Terry Johnson,
Leading in Worship
- While this book is targeted at those who lead worship, the helpful 
collection of Scriptural prayers which will suit everyone interested in 
growing in
the grace of prayer.

Matthew Henry,
Method for Prayer.
This is the collection par excellence of biblical passages that may rightly 
be used in prayer. The book covers every conceivable item of prayer and is
of profound use to the Christian.

Timothy Keller,
Prayer
- This book is an easily-accessible theology and practice of prayer and will 
serve the reader well.

Samuel Miller,
Thoughts on Public Prayer
- This unique little book teaches ministers and congregants how to lead 
others in public prayer. It focuses both on form and content

A Godly Response to Criticism
Proverbs 15:31-33

No one likes criticism, but encountering some is inevitable, so we need to 
learn how to respond in a godly way. Although you might be tempted to become
defensive or angry, remain calm and listen. The words may hurt, but great 
benefits come to those who carefully consider what is said.

If we refuse to accept reproof, we'll limit our potential for Christlike 
character development and spiritual growth. Some of life's best lessons come 
through
difficult experiences. If God allowed the situation, you can be sure that He 
wants to use it in transforming you into His Son's image. Whether the 
criticism
is valid or not, whether it's delivered with kindness or harshness, your 
goal should always be to respond in a way that glorifies the Lord. Remember 
that
you are responsible only for how you handle yourself, not for how the other 
person is acting.

When a criticism comes your way, be quiet and listen until the other person 
has finished. Make direct eye contact to show attentiveness and respect. 
When
your critic finishes, thank him for bringing his concerns to your attention, 
and tell him that you will consider what he's said. Ask the Lord if the 
accusation
is valid. Let Him search your heart and either affirm your innocence or 
convict you.

Every rebuke is an opportunity from God. It's a chance to let your Christian 
character shine by showing love to your critic. If he is angrily attacking
you, your respect and kindness become a powerful testimony. Criticism is 
also an occasion to humble yourself and accept the Lord's correction.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please 
visit
www.intouch.org.
Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2009 All Rights 
Reserved.

The FAX of Life

Title: Your Bible Is Not Safe!

Date: For the Week of June 1, 2015

In the fanciful movie The Neverending Story, a boy named Bastian ducks into 
a bookstore to avoid a group of bullies. When the storeowner tries to move
him back to the street, Bastian offers that he should be allowed to stay. He 
likes books. In fact, he names some of the classics he has read already.

As their exchange continues, the boy spots a book that sparks this dialogue:

"What's that book about?" asks Bastian.

"Oh, this is something special," replies the shop's owner.

"Well, what is it?" says the curious boy.

"Look. Your books are safe. While you're reading them you get to become 
Tarzan or Robinson Crusoe."

"But that's what I like about them," says Bastian.

"Yes, but afterwards you get to be a little boy again."

"What do you mean?"

"Listen," says the man. "Have you ever been Captain Nemo, trapped inside 
your submarine while the giant squid was attacking you?"

"Yes."

"Weren't you afraid you couldn't escape?"

"But it's only a story," protests the boy.

"That's what I'm talking about. The ones you read are safe."

To which Bastian says, "And that one isn't?"

It is only fair that you should be warned: The Bible you have on your desk 
or shelf is unsafe. It could do strange, unsettling things to you. It can 
turn
your life upside down. It might actually change you to the degree that old 
friends would declare you are not the same person they have known across the
years.

The Bible is the story of God's activity in history to draw human beings 
into the life of Jesus. It challenges us to see that Jesus has all 
authority -
in heaven and on earth - to mark the way, model the truth, and give life. 
Jesus alone. And the Bible is the volume that points us to him for meaning, 
identity,
and purpose.

People who want the security of personal comfort and self-directed lives had 
better steer clear of the Bible. It pulls us out of ourselves. It calls for
self-emptying and Christ-focus. It teaches kindness, self-restraint, and 
love for our neighbors.

The Bible is anything but safe, for it draws us to the life-transforming 
Jesus.

For back issues and other resources please visit
www.RubelShelly.com
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Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Thu 30 Jul 2015, 8:14 pm

Changing Can'ts to Won'ts
by Charles R. Swindoll

Romans 12:21

Can't and won't. Christians need to be very careful which one they choose. 
It seems that we prefer to use "can't."

"I just can't get along with my wife."
"My husband and I can't communicate."
"I can't discipline the kids as I should."
"I just can't give up the affair I'm having."
"I can't stop overeating."
"I can't find time to pray."

Any Christian who takes the Bible seriously will have to agree the word here 
really should be "won't." Why? Because we have been given the power, the 
ability
to overcome. Literally!

Any good psychiatrist knows that "I can't" and "I've tried" are merely lame 
excuses.

We're really saying "I won't," because we don't choose to say "With the help 
of God, I will!"

Now, go back and change all those "can'ts" on that internal list you carry 
around to "won'ts" and see how that makes you feel about yourself. Not very
good, huh? It's the same as "choosing" to disobey. Today you can choose to 
be an "I will" person.

An excuse has been defined as the skin of reason stuffed with a lie (Michael 
Green, Illustrations for Biblical Preaching).

Excerpted from
Day by Day with Charles Swindoll,
Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). 
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Abide With Me
Monday, June 1, 2015

“They approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though 
He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is
getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.’ So He went in to 
stay with them.”
- Luke 24:28-29 NASB

Henry Francis Lyte faced significant obstacles that could have been 
crippling. Born in Scotland on this day in 1793, he was orphaned as a boy, 
yet overcame
these challenging conditions to become a distinguished poet. Throughout his 
life he battled tuberculosis, which often left him weak but also gave him a
compassionate heart, and a profound perspective about life. He once hoped to 
pursue a career in medicine but, instead, became a pastor, a ministry that
gave him meaning and purpose.

Through these struggles, he learned that God always was with him. Late in 
life, facing declining health, he wrote a poem that expressed how much God’s
presence meant to him. Based on Jesus’ encounter with the two men on the 
road to Emmaus, it was called “Abide with Me.”

Facing problems, he learned to depend on God and His presence. On days that 
seemed gloomy, he could cry, “Lord, with me abide.” He realized that other
people might fail him, and life’s comforts could disappear. But he always 
could trust in God, who was the “help of the helpless.”

Looking back on his life, he realized that earth’s joys may “grow dim” and 
“its glories pass away.” There might be “change and decay” all around. But 
he
knew that God was with him through both “cloud and sunshine.” Because of His 
presence, he could be freed from fear, and triumph through every trial, and
even in death.

Today, make sure that you are confident that God is with you. No matter the 
size of your problems, trust in Him. He is abiding with you, right now!

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Father, thank You that You abide with me in every situation I face. You are 
my Helper, my Rock, and my Fortress. I trust in You and commit my life to 
You.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: Luke 24
Inspiration Ministries • PO Box 7750 Charlotte, NC 28241
Inspiration Ministries UK • Admail 3905 London • W1A 1ZT • UK Charity No 
1119076
© 2015 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved

Rico Tice / May 31, 2015
We Talk About What We Love

When we keep our mouths shut about the gospel, it shows there is something 
wrong in our hearts.

We all have those moments in life we wish we could rewind to and do things 
differently. For me, the thing I most regret is what happened before my 
grandmother’s
death. Or rather, what didn’t happen.

My grandmother died absolutely convinced that God would accept her because 
she was a good person. She had no faith in Christ. And here’s what I regret.
In the week before my grandmother died, I did not speak to her about Jesus. 
I tried to love her well, but didn’t say anything to her about Jesus. When
my other grandmother had died, I’d taken her hand and prayed with her. But 
not that grandmother. I just let her go.

I Was Afraid

Why didn’t I tell her about Jesus? I’ve come to realise that I was afraid of 
what she’d say, and I was afraid of what my family would say, because I knew
they’d think it was inappropriate and unhelpful. I was afraid.

I loved my grandmother, and she loved me, but the hard truth is that I loved 
myself more than her. I wanted my family to think well of me more than I 
wanted
her to think of Christ as her Savior. That’s why I didn’t speak to her. I 
loved myself more than I loved her — and more than I loved my Lord.

And that means that my family’s respect and having an easy time in life had 
become idols to me. When it came down to it, the hard truth was that I 
wanted
my family to respect me more than I wanted to bring Jesus glory or see my 
grandmother saved. It was my idol — a good thing elevated into a divine 
thing
— and I was so afraid of losing it that I kept my mouth shut.

The Divine Waiter?

I’ve often wondered why lovely, compassionate, committed Christians simply 
don’t do evangelism — and why, at times, I didn’t either. For years, I 
couldn’t
understand why so many well-taught, and in many ways mature, believers were 
just apathetic about sharing the gospel. They knew about the new creation;
they believed in the reality of hell; they confessed Jesus as their King and 
Savior. But they were half-hearted at best about telling others about him.

Here’s what I slowly came to conclude had happened to these committed, 
non-evangelizing Christians: In their hearts, they were serving something 
good that
they had made into their god — their idol. And that’s what was stopping them 
from evangelizing.

Everyone worships something. By nature, we’re the people Paul describes in 
Romans 1:25, who have “served created things rather than the Creator.” 
Anything
that we serve instead of God is a created thing, an idol. Money, reputation, 
power, career, family, and so on — our hearts get kidnapped.

When we worship an idol, we turn God into a divine waiter. He is there to 
deliver our daydream to us. We touch base with him on a Sunday; we put our 
order
in via prayer; we might give a decent tip in the collection plate. But God 
is essentially there to give us what we feel we need — our idol. And we get
furious with him if he doesn’t deliver.

Witness Is a Test of Our Treasure

Becoming a Christian doesn’t automatically or immediately cure us of this 
idol-worship. At the heart of all sin is idolatry in the heart — loving and 
obeying
something other than our loving God. I am constantly struggling to keep the 
Lord Jesus at the center of my heart, to find my identity and assurance and
purpose and satisfaction in him.

And unless I do, I will not speak about him. After all, we talk about what 
we love. If you’ve ever had a friend who has just got engaged, and you’ve 
listened
to him talk about his loved one non-stop for hours (or if you’ve ever been 
that person!), you’ll know this is true.

So for as long as Jesus is not my greatest love, I will keep quiet about him 
in order to serve my greatest love, my idol. I will keep quiet about him 
because
I am afraid of losing my greatest love, my idol. Suppressing the truth about 
Christ is the effect of our wicked worship of created things, and it makes
God angry:

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and 
unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 
(Romans 1:18)

An Idol Mind — And Heart

So if we know the gospel, but we’re not sharing the gospel, then it’s 
because our hearts are somewhere else. It’s actually because what we most 
want is
a comfortable life, or a good reputation with friends and colleagues, or a 
nice settled existence with our family, and so on.

Even if we have everything straight in our heads, the reason that we won’t 
witness is because of what’s going on in our hearts. That’s why we say 
enough
to salve our consciences — we talk about church, or Jesus’s love, or how 
great it is to pray — but we won’t say enough to help people be saved. We 
won’t
talk about death, or sin, or hell, or salvation.

We need to ask ourselves, So what does my heart find easy to love more than 
Jesus? What stops me from obeying God by speaking of his Son? We need to 
spot
our idols, so that we can confess our idols, and so we can begin consciously 
to seek what we have been looking for from those idols in the only place 
where
we will truly find it — the Lord Jesus. We need to replace our idols with 
the real God: Christ.

If we’re to share Christ, we need first to truly love Christ. We need to ask 
the Spirit to go to work in our hearts with the gospel, so that we’ll love
Christ more and more, and he’ll displace our idols; and so when we talk 
about what we love, we’ll be talking about him. And we won’t be regretting, 
once
it’s too late, who we didn’t talk to about him.
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