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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 4 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Sat 11 Feb 2017, 3:36 pm

PresbyCan Daily Devotional

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Today's Devotional

Roots

Hosea 12:6 – So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and
justice, and wait continually for your God. (ESV)

I have moved house recently to a chalet bungalow on the very edge of town
here in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. The house is rather run-down
and
in need of major TLC.

There was a holly tree that was planted some twenty years ago to decorate
the patio with its leaves and red berries — very pretty it was, too. However
pretty it was, it was too large and too close to the house. Its branches
overshadowed the roof guttering, and its roots were in danger of getting
into
the foundations. It had to go.

In addition, over many years, the tree roots had grown underneath and lifted
some of the patio slabs well proud of their neighbours, making trip hazards
and see-saws of the slabs. So I had to dig up and re-lay a large section of
our sizable patio to the rear of the house.

To get this into shape again involved using various tools: pickaxe, shovel,
crowbar, spade, etc. The slabs were heavy, and I am a lot fitter now! As
Friedrich
Nietzsche said, "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger." It
certainly got the heart pumping.

As I removed the holly tree, I also found tree roots from the cherry
tree —even bigger, but further away. Now that I have removed the roots,
trimmed the
cherry tree, and put it all back again, I realized that these beautiful
trees had nearly compromised the safety of the rear of the house. The roots
went
right up to the back wall. So just in the nick of time, the hazard has been
removed before it had done any permanent damage.

I wonder what roots are growing under the surface of our lives, endangering
our faith? It could be ungodly attitudes undermining God's love in us, and
through us to others. They could be sinful and of the world, sneakily
breaking up God's straight path or blinding us to the truth. The only
inkling that
we may have that something is awry is that we find ourselves not as calm and
level-headed as we know we should be, or once were. Are we emotional
see-saws
or spiritual trip hazards to others? How are our quiet times? How often do
we really listen or give time to God in our lives?

Not to worry! As we hold fast to God, He will dig out the overgrown roots
from our past, make our paths straight, and pull out the weeds, if we ask
Him
in Jesus' name.

Prayer: Lord, we are saddened to find that we have allowed ourselves to let
the roots of sin grow under our spiritual feet, and we are surprised at how
close to Your foundation that we have allowed them to come. Please open our
eyes to the truth; dig up the unhelpful roots that have grown in us over the
years; and show us the way forward. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Rod Marshall < roderickmarshall@yahoo.com >
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

Thought for Today: God did not start loving us because of what we were, and
He will go on loving us in spite of what we are.

Verse for Today: Joshua 1:14-15 – You are to help your brothers until the
Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken
possession
of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go
back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you
east
of the Jordan toward the sunrise. (NIV)

Why Worrying is a Failure to Grasp the Gospel
by Trevin Wax

"Don't be a worry wart!" people say… and those of us prone to anxiety
promptly begin worrying about worrying too much.

I know the feeling. I worry too. I'm not the "lie awake at night" kind of
person. But I notice that when I have a lot on my plate, I give an
inordinate
amount of attention to little details. Worry consumes me in a variety of
ways: I lose patience quickly, I snap at my wife and kids, or I lose my
sense
of empathy for others. Worry turns my focus to Me.

For a while, I thought that worry was caused by my failure to seek first the
kingdom. If I would only fix my eyes on Jesus more, then I would stop
worrying.
If I would only think about the kingdom more, then anxiety wouldn't be an
issue.

Certainly, those who are seeking the kingdom above all things are not
preoccupied with food, and drink, and clothing (as Jesus says in the Sermon
on the
Mount). And yes, seeking the kingdom first is a good action plan if we find
ourselves worrying.

But seeking first the kingdom comes after we have been sought by the King.
The root cause of worry is not misplaced priorities. It's misplaced faith.
It's
a failure to grasp the gospel of a God worthy of our trust.

So worry shows up whenever my view of God is diminished and my view of
myself gets too big. I worry because my vision of God is skewed. I rest when
my
vision is fixed.

"Look at the birds of the air!" Jesus said. "God gives them food, even if
they don't work and earn their way." There's more to this parallel than a
mere
animal-to-human comparison about
how much more God will care for us. There's gospel here. God has given
undeserved favor to the birds. He blesses them apart from their merits.

God's grace and mercy is sustaining us too. Everything we have comes from
God's hand. Salvation belongs to the Lord. And the powerful God who saved us
is the loving Father who sustains us.

When I reflect on the gospel of a priceless Savior giving his all for
undeserving sinners like you and me, then I am assured that our value in the
eyes
of God does not shift with the economic tides. Our worth is not measured in
what we do for God, but what God has done for us.

This is God the Father who sent his only Son to the cross that we deserved.

This is God the Son who willingly took on flesh, lived among us, and died in
our place.

This is God the Spirit who prompts our hearts and brings us back into
unending fellowship with our Maker.

It is the costly actions of God that give us our value.

In these difficult times, we - the people of God's kingdom - need to be
reminded of our true citizenship and true identity. The uneasiness of worry
surfaces
in our hearts when we lose sight of the gospel of God's grace to the
undeserving. Failure to grasp the gospel is what causes us to take our eyes
off the
kingdom and forget who we are in Christ.

United to Christ, we are part of a royal family. Our older Brother is the
King of the world.

Thou art coming to a King,
large petitions with thee bring,
For his grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.
- John Newton

Trevin Wax is the Managing Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum
developed by LifeWay Christian Resources. He blogs daily at Kingdom People
. He is also the author of Holy Subversion
(Crossway, 2010) and
Counterfeit Gospels (Moody, 2011).

Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Taking Action
Monday, January 16, 2017

"When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on
sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed
loudly
and bitterly ... In each and every province ... there was great mourning
among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing."
Esther 4:1-3 NASB

Jews everywhere were distraught. Without exception, they all were to be
killed. With the king's approval, the date had been set. They reacted with
"great
mourning." But there was great "confusion" as the news spread (Esther 3:15).

Desperate to find an appropriate response, Jews reacted "with fasting,
weeping and wailing, and many lay on sackcloth and ashes." They must have
wondered
if anything could be done to change the course of events.

The Bible tells us the end of this story, and how Mordecai and Esther acted
to save their people. But we can wonder what would have happened if they had
done nothing? If they had assumed that change was impossible?

But Mordecai changed history because he was serious, and willing to take
action. He cared deeply and was unashamed to express his emotions, tearing
his
clothes, putting on sackcloth and ashes, and wailing "loudly and bitterly."

In the Greek text (found in the Septuagint, used throughout New Testament
times) we read how Mordecai prayed, reminding God what He "had done in the
past."
How He was "the Lord and King of all creation." How "there is no one who can
stand against you." How He pleaded that God would save His people and "save
us from our enemies" (Esther 4:15-28 Good News Translation, Septuagint).

These people didn't just have feelings, analyze options, or wish something
would happen. They put their faith into action.

Today, remember that believers are to demonstrate that their faith is
genuine by the things we do (James 2:17-18), like Mordecai and Esther. In
your life,
follow their example. Put your faith into action.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, help me to be bold and put my faith into action. I believe that Your
Word is true. I trust in You! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Further Reading: Esther 4

Be a life changer!

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Post  Admin on Fri 10 Feb 2017, 11:03 am


The Bible
tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably
because they are generally the same people.
– G. K. Chesterton

Who is your enemy? You know the person – the one whose very name spikes your
blood pressure. The person you avoid if at all possible. The person with
whom
you have full-length, imaginary debates while showering.

“Who is your enemy? The person with whom you have imaginary debates while
showering.”
TWEET THIS

I’m almost certain someone’s face came to mind as you read the above
paragraph. I don’t know – call it a hunch – but I think this person might be
your
enemy.

As a new creation in Christ, what are we supposed to do with our enemies? Do
we endure them? Do we defeat them? Do we educate them? Or can we ignore
them?

These are great questions.

In Luke 6:27 , Jesus speaks into this very question. He says, “To you who
are listening I say: Love your enemies....

Noooo. Surely He didn’t mean it!

If you aren’t listening to Jesus, then you’re in the clear. You can endure,
defeat, educate, and ignore.

But if you are listening to Jesus and if you desire to grow in your walk
with Him, then He’s talking to you. And to you who are listening, He says,
“Love
your enemies.”

Did you notice Jesus made the word enemy plural?

He knew we couldn’t live in this broken world without accumulating a few
enemies along the way. Jesus doesn’t question whether or not we have
enemies.
He assumes we have enemies and instructs us to love them.

Jesus, loving my enemies sounds a lot more difficult than ignoring them, and
a little less entertaining than spiting them. But if love is the way of Your
Spirit, I’m willing. Love through me. Free me in my relationships from
resentment and pain. Amen.

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


Renew your spirit for the year ahead!

So many people step into the new year exhausted and burned out. But this
crazy, rushed life isn’t the abundant Life Jesus promised. Jill Briscoe
wants
to help you renew your spirit for the year ahead, with her insightful and
truth-filled book and CD series called
Running on Empty

God Knows Our Way and His Plans Are Good: There’s Hope Ahead
By Debbie McDaniel, Crosswalk.com Writer

“ For I know the plans I have for you
,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to
give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes, we may not believe this is true. Troubles swirl around us,
pressures feel too great, life seems hard. We might even feel like God has
forgotten
us and left us facing the struggles all alone.

Yet in the background of this great verse, we're reminded that God spoke
these words to His people, not when times were easy, but when times were
very
hard. They would endure 70 years of captivity, they would experience great
suffering. And it's right there, in the midst of all that, we can see the
hope
of God shine through.

He didn't leave his people in the tough trials. He won't leave us there
either. He walks us through, reminding us that His plans are for good, for a
future,
for a hope. He is right with us, and breathes confidence and peace, that we
will press through the struggle, and come out to the other side, stronger,
faith-filled. He assures us that He will never waste the pain of what we
experience in this life, but will bring greater good and blessing because of
it.

If you find yourself facing hard times today, or maybe you’ve just walked
through a difficult year, this verse is your reminder – there’s hope ahead.
Be
confident of this, God’s not finished yet. You're still here, you're gaining
strength and perseverance through the trials. He has good in store, great
purpose in all that we walk through, no matter how hard it may be.

He sees the big picture of our lives, and He's aware of every little detail
too. He knows what He's doing, even when we can't see it all yet. He often
works behind the scenes that unfold our every day, in the places where we
may not always understand His plans. Even through all our seasons of
waiting.

So we can trust...that He has our best in mind. He's got our back. He's with
us right now. And He's secured our future too.

Resting in that truth today. There's peace in knowing we don't have to try
hard to control it all. We can let go of the need to try to figure it all
out,
or the striving of trying to make things happen.

God knows, He understands, we’re never alone.

Keep pressing through.

He loves you.

He cares.

He is with you.

Peace.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Have the trials you’ve been walking through or
the problems you’ve faced caused you to lose some hope? Bring it all before
God
today. Let go of the need to have it all make sense right now. Look to Him.
Ask for His fresh filling and renewal. Be reminded of His truth, that He
will
use it all for good somehow, and has a great future and hope for you still
in store.

Further Reading:
James 1:2-4
Philippians 3:13-14
Romans 12:12
Romans 8:28


Are You in the Belly of a Big Fish?
by Fred Alberti, Salem Web Network Director of Social Media

But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah
, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah 1:17

Being a homeschool family we sometimes have some rather interesting
experiments that we get to enjoy as a family. George is one such experiment.
George
is a goldfish whose bowl-mate sadly perished. My son's task was to teach the
goldfish to come to the top of the bowl when he tapped on the glass. After
several weeks of tapping and feeding and tapping and feeding the fish
finally learned to come to the top of the bowl.

Big deal right? Right, that is until the fish started to do more. Anytime
someone would walk by the bowl he would get all excited and start moving his
mouth like he was yelling at whoever it was that was walking by the bowl.
This became rather normal and we would just ignore him or comment that he
was
yelling at us in Spanish.

Then one day my kids were listening to an FFH song titled " Big Fish
." It was then that George decided to really show off what he could do. When
the song played George would begin to swim around like he was dancing in the
water and would seemingly move his mouth to the words (move over Ashlee
Simpson).

I particularly like the first verse of the song which goes like this:

Are you in the big fish
Are you sitting in the belly of a world gone mad
Have you turned your back in His wish
On His will for your life, have you made Him sad
Do you want to get out of the big fish
Listen to God and follow His plan
And you won't be part of the main dish
He'll spit you out on to dry land

I've sometimes felt like I was in the belly of a big fish. I had decided to
do something my way instead of first seeking the Lord's guidance and
leading.

You, whoever you are, God has a plan for your life. Maybe you feel like you
are wasting your time at a dead-end job. Or perhaps you have no job but
would
desperately like one. Maybe you think you have the dream job but the Lord
has been speaking to you in a still small voice to give it up for something
else.
Like Jonah, you may not particularly like the mission God has for you but He
has the intention of making you ideally suited to carry that plan out.

Will you follow His plan or will you turn your back?

Maybe you've already chosen to turn your back and feel that there is no way
out now. If that is the case I've got good news for you. The
Bible
has this to say about Jonah, "From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord
his God"
(Jonah 2:1
). God is the God of second, third, and fourth chances.

Commit your way to the Lord today.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Buy a goldfish if you don't have one already. As
you feed it remember that the Lord has a purpose and a plan for your life.
Ask Him to reveal it to you daily.

Further Reading
Jonah Runs From God
Jonah and Me
Hebrews 13:20-21
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Post  Admin on Wed 08 Feb 2017, 8:43 pm

Engaging With God

Swimmers fear and love the blocks, standing there before a race, waiting to
climb that little platform, the brief prelude to the race. There is nervous,
expectant anxiety there. And so we all develop little rituals, habitual
movements to help calm our nerves—the stretches, arm swinging, and water
splashing,
performed in the same order, every time. It brings a measure of “known” to
the “unknown” of the race about to begin. Engaging with the living God in
prayer
and personal worship is just as unnerving as a race, even at times more so.
What hidden sins will prayerful reflection on God’s word uncover? How will
seeing the risen Christ in the Scriptures leave us stunned? What new
opportunities to walk in obedience will the Holy Spirit prompt? With these
kinds of
possibilities facing us every time we come to God in personal devotion (and
corporate worship, for that matter) we have the opportunity to develop
spiritual,
pre-race rituals to prepare us for the blocks of the devotional life. Psalm
25:4-5 provides just such a routine in its five statements.

The first three statements are the same request said three different ways,
nuance piling on in each iteration like a snowball that becomes an
avalanche.
The last two statements are grounding prayers, declarations of fact that
provide justification for an answer. And so, Psalm 25:4-5 reads, "Make me to
know
your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long."

In our approach to God in worship, we can take David’s first request as our
prayer to God, asking that God would reveal his ways to us. This is more
than
just a request for God to increase our knowledge of Bible facts. David is
asking God to teach him practical wisdom, how the truths of Scripture fit
together
into the life of a follower of the Lord.

In a second related request, David asks that God would show him his paths,
adding an element of journey and trajectory to his first request. The
Christian
is not static in worship or life. The Christian is an exile, a pilgrim on
the journey to final rest, an athlete competing in a race hurtling toward a
finish.
But we are not left to chart our way, to choose whichever path that fits, or
trailblazer on our own. In this journey there is only one way that leads to
salvation: the path of the Lord. David is asking that God would teach him
that path.

Next, David requests that God would lead him in His truth. The Christian
life isn’t wandering in mystical guessing. Nor is the Christian life a
scientific
discovery of bare facts, shared by different disciplines and religions. The
life of the Christian faith is about growth in God’s truth, the unique truth
that is God’s personal possession and revealed fully in Christ, truth that
he gives specifically and only to his people in the Bible.

Lastly, David closes with two grounding prayers. A grounding prayer is a
declaration that follows a prayer request, giving the foundation for an
answer,
what “grounds” the answer might stand upon. David grounds his three
thematically similar prayer requests in a description of God’s posture
toward his people
and his people’s posture toward him, reciprocal and mutually reinforcing,
God the sole and active bestower of salvation, his people, those who
expectantly
wait on him to act. It is so important to get that right as we start into
worship. God initiates in worship, graciously, and because of the finished
work
of Jesus. We as God’s people are passive and receptive to God’s initiating
grace. We don’t perform in personal worship expecting the applause of God.
We
begin asking that God would act on our behalf, meeting us as we open his
word and pray.

In these five prayerful statements, we have a way to approach God in
worship. Here is a pre-race, spiritual block routine to calm our worship
nerves. If
we were to pray these things, paraphrasing on this side of the cross of
Christ we might pray:

“Heavenly Father, as I come to you in worship through the finished work of
your Son in the power of the Holy Spirit, would you show me your ways in
Jesus,
that I might walk in step with the Holy Spirit, according to your truth. I’m
asking this expectantly as I wait on you because salvation is entirely
yours,
through Jesus Christ, the only mediator between You and me.”

And then we wait in prayer, in the word of God, for what God does as he
engages with his people in worship.

Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Correction
Monday, January 9, 2017

"He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a
wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
rebuke
a wise man, and he will love you ... The fear of the Lord is the beginning
of wisdom ... If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff,
you will bear it alone."
Proverbs 9:7-12 NKJV

The Bible says that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." We
gain this deep, powerful, life-changing wisdom when we seek Him. When we
study
His Word. When we pray and fellowship with Him.

Part of this process is being vulnerable and open, allowing Him to teach us,
correct us, and reveal when we are wrong. His correction can be unpleasant.
But, if we seek to be wise, we will recognize that this correction is
essential. And we will realize that there are many ways He can teach and
correct
us.

We may go through situations in which we will be stretched and challenged.
If we want to be wise, and gain God's understanding, we will learn from
these
experiences, and not reject them.

The Bible tells us that, when a wise person is rebuked, "he will love you."
He will grasp the value of this experience. He will recognize that there is
more to learn, that he might make mistakes, and that some things could be
done better.

Yet some are like scoffers, rejecting correction. Scoffers are defensive and
think about themselves. When such people are corrected or rebuked, the
result
is shame and harm for those who provide correction. They do not recognize
that they have anything to gain through the advice and observations of
others.

Today, ask God to show you if you have been a scoffer. Welcome His
instruction and correction, in whatever form it comes. Seek Him. Humble
yourself before
Him. Gain His wisdom.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, show me if I ever act as a scoffer. I seek Your wisdom. Show me
where I may need correction. Lead me. Teach me Your ways. Thank You. In
Jesus'
name. Amen.

Further Reading: Proverbs 9
© 2016 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved

Streams in the Desert
I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (Philippians 4:11 ).

Paul, denied of every comfort, wrote the above words in his dungeon.

A story is told of a king who went into his garden one morning, and found
everything withered and dying. He asked the oak that stood near the gate
what
the trouble was. He found it was sick of life and determined to die because
it was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine was all out of heart
because it could not bear grapes, like the vine. The vine was going to throw
its life away because it could not stand erect and have as fine fruit as the
peach tree. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant
like the lilac.

And so on all through the garden. Coming to a heart's-ease, he found its
bright face lifted as cheery as ever. "Well, heart's-ease, I'm glad, amidst
all
this discouragement, to find one brave little flower. You do not seem to be
the least disheartened." "No, I am not of much account, but I thought that
if you wanted an oak, or a pine, or a peach tree, or a lilac, you would have
planted one; but as I knew you wanted a heart's-ease, I am determined to be
the best little heart's-ease that I can."

Others may do a greater work,
But you have your part to do;
And no one in all God's heritage
Can do it so well as you.

They who are God's without reserve, are in every state content; for they
will only what He wills, and desire to do for Him whatever He desires them
to
do; they strip themselves of everything, and in this nakedness find all
things restored an hundredfold.

Anne Graham Lotz - The Proof of Love
The Proof of Love
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still
sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8, NKJV

Has someone suggested to you that:

If God really loved you, He would heal your disease?

If God really loved you, He would never have allowed you to lose your job?

If God really loved you, He would bring your spouse back home?

If God really loved you, you would be healthy and wealthy and problem free?

Yet God has said that the proof of His love is none of those things! The
proof of His love is that while we were sinners, passing Jesus by on the
road
of life, He sent His only, beloved Son to die for us.

Would you thank God, not just for saying, “I love you,” in words, but for
proving it?

Blessings

Copyright © 2017 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved.

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
The Carpenter's Miracle - #7830

When we secured land to build our Ministry Headquarters, we barely noticed
the barn that was standing on that land, until God blessed us with some
truckloads
of donated materials which needed a place to be stored. Suddenly, we were
taking a second look at this old pole barn filled with hay. The center was
the
only part that had walls - walls with rotting wood. The east and west sides
of the barn had no walls, just some rotting old poles holding up a makeshift
roof. We asked a contractor friend if there was any hope for the barn -
especially since some folks had said just to bulldoze it. The contractor
said the
rafters and the foundation were actually good enough that something might be
able to be done.

Well, what followed was hundreds of hours of volunteer labor, a cement
floor, the old wood and poles being removed, walls built to enclose the
entire area-including
the east and west ends, a second story and stairs were built, and we put on
the truckload of shingles and vinyl siding that had been donated. Now,
little
did we know when we first started rebuilding that barn, that would also
become our temporary Headquarters while our new building was being
completed. Today,
when people see this nice, vinyl-sided building which is fundamental to our
ministry and the things that are produced there going around the world, when
they see how useful that facility has become, and especially when they see
the pictures of the dilapidated old thing it was a few weeks before, it's
nothing
less than amazing!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The
Carpenter's Miracle."

I know a Carpenter who does that with people! He takes lives that seem
pretty wrecked, hopeless and too far gone, and He miraculously redeems them
and
rebuilds them into something no one ever dreamed they could be. Jesus is the
Master Carpenter, and it might be that your life is ready for His miraculous
renovating power.

In our word for today from the Word of God He describes our spiritual
condition before the Carpenter comes. Ephesians 2:1, 3 say, "You were dead
in your...sins...we
were by nature objects of wrath." See, God says all the things we've done in
our life that He calls "sins" - every time we have done it our way instead
of God's way - they have us under an eternal death penalty. God has to
punish our sin, and the punishment is spiritual death forever.

But we're dead in our sins even before we die physically. That might be what
you're feeling right now - this despair and hopelessness. Inside, you're
kind
of like our old barn. There are holes everywhere. You're about to give up
hope of ever changing. You feel like it's all falling down. In your heart -
maybe
even in the eyes of others - your life seems ready for the bulldozer.

Hang on. Here comes the Carpenter. These verses from the Bible say, "But
because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive
with
Christ even when we were dead...By grace you have been saved, through
faith." God loves you too much to lose you, so He sent His only Son, Jesus,
to do
the dying for all the sinning you've ever done. So you can be saved, like
rescued if you commit yourself to Jesus Christ.

The result is not just that you get rescued from hell. Jesus builds you into
someone more useful than you could have ever imagined. Listen. It goes on
to say, "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works
which God prepared in advance for us to do." Think of it, the wreckage of
your
past forgiven; a new you built by the Master Carpenter. It all begins the
day you turn it all over to Jesus, which for you, could be today.

You can tell Him right now, "Jesus, I resign the running of my own life. I
was made by You and for You. You died for every wrong thing I've ever done.
Beginning this day, Jesus, I'm yours." Our website is about helping you
begin that relationship with Jesus Christ. And I really want to urge you to
go there as soon as you can today. It's ANewStory.com.

I've watched carpenters transform a structure that was ready for the
bulldozer into something incredibly strong and useful. And I've watched
Jesus transform
lives that seemed so far gone into walking miracles of His grace. You can't
imagine what you could be if you'll open yourself up to the touch of the
Master's hand.
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 ·
USA

Welcome to the Nugget

January 10, 2017

Anticipating Heaven
By Answers2Prayer
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Devotionals
Contact us

Once in a lifetime you meet somebody that prompts you to say, "I want to be
just like her."

Let me tell you about Karen. Like millions, she has faced cancer, but hers
is a rare type; the survival rate is alarmingly small. Yet, for years, she
has
defied all odds and survived its claim on her health. But Karen hasn't just
survived; she is living her days to the fullest. Though years of treatment
have zapped her energy, she keeps going, again, defying all odds, baffling
all doctors.

But Karen has another secret: she has no fear of death. She knows Christ.
She knows heaven awaits her. And certain of her eternity, her courage can
fill
her hospice room. Karen displays the confidence few possess. She has even
taken her husband shopping for the suit he will wear at her funeral.

Like many of us have chosen the centerpiece for the table at our wedding
reception, Karen has chosen her tombstone. Could it be that Karen was put on
this
earth to fulfill God's unique plan and also to teach the rest of us that
death cannot bring about fear? Death of the physical body is the doorway to
life
eternal, the beginning of the perfect life, and the anticipation of glorious
living.

As of this writing, Karen has been told it's only a very short time before
she faces Jesus. But she holds to her faith. She has all plans in place. She
has prepared her family. And in doing so, perhaps she prepares us to see her
example, so that we, someday like Karen, will declare the words of Paul:
"Where,
O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?"
"...Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus
Christ." (1 Corinthians 16:55 and 57)

Has Christ who lives in you also erased the sting of death?

Janet Eckles

If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home
for more inspiration.

Announcement:

The book of John takes us through many deep discussions that Jesus gave at
various times in His ministry. Please
click here
for Study #1 -- JESUS AND NICODEMUS; Study #2 -- THE WOMAN AT THE WELL;
Study #3 -- AT THE POOL OF BETHESDA; Study #4 -- THE BREAD OF LIFE; Study
#5 --
The Shepherd and His Flock; and Study #6 -- The Vine and the Branches.

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely
give."
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Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah
Today's

Turning Point
Friday, December 30
From Tightly to Lightly

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
and they shall become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24

Recommended Reading
Psalm 128:1-6
The Pew Research Center has noted that, for the first time in 130 years,
more young adults (ages 18-34) are living in their parents’ home than in any
other
setting (32.1 percent as of 2014). Some left to go to college and returned,
while some never left at all. While there can be practical reasons for this
arrangement, it has the effect of blurring the line between childhood and
adulthood.

Listen to Today's Radio Broadcast
Genesis 2:24 uses a key word to describe what eventually should happen:
“leave.” That verse refers to a young couple leaving their parents to be
married,
but it also suggests something parents must prepare for: their children
leaving the nest. The job of parenting is multifaceted, but it can be
summarized
as the process of preparing children to leave. Parenting is teaching
children the slow process of transferring trust and dependency from parents
to God—learning
to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Wherever your children or grandchildren are in their life journey, make sure
you are transitioning from holding them
tightly as children to holding them lightly as young adults.

The surest way to make life hard for your children is to make it soft for
them.
Unknown

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Revelation 18 – 19
David Jeremiah's
TURNING POINT WITH DR. DAVID JEREMIAH
David Jeremiah's Website
Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah
Copyright © 2015 Turning Point for God. All rights reserved.

Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Bringing Light to Chaos
Friday, January 6, 2017

"The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the
deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters."
Genesis 1:2 NASB

It was the picture of disorganization. There was no order, and nothing was
certain. The world "had no form" (The Expanded Bible). The Hebrew word here
suggests that there was confusion and a kind of emptiness. There was a
"void." (The Hebrew word suggests waste.) And it was a world of darkness.

Then, God acted to bring order. The first thing we see is that, by His
Spirit, He was "moving." The picture here is of observing, and watching
carefully
and deliberately. Brooding. Studying. Examining. And only after lingering
did He take action.

He first acted by bringing light, and separating the light from the
darkness. God was bringing order out of chaos. And as He looked at His
creation, and
the orderly world He made, God declared that it was "very good."

Through His actions in creation, we see that He is a God of order. This is
the picture of how God approaches our lives. He brings clarity to confusion.
He replaces disorganization with organization. Uncertainty is replaced by
certainty. Chaos is replaced by order and His plans. Emptiness is replaced
by
meaning and purpose. And any sense of darkness is replaced by His light.

God can have this kind of impact on any situation you face. Do you feel
uncertain? Disorganized? Confused? Unsettled? Remember that He is a God of
order.
He can provide you with peace. He can give you plans and ideas. He can
replace any uncertainty you feel with clarity.

Start with filling your heart and mind with His Word. Be careful to learn
His principles, and apply them in your life. Commit your needs to Him, and
ask
Him to guide your thinking, and direct your path. Let His Spirit "move" on
you, and penetrate every corner with His light.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, I seek Your wisdom. Guide my thinking. Bring peace and order to my
life and the situations I face. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Further Reading: Genesis 1
Inspiration Ministries - PO Box 7750 Charlotte, NC 28241 - Inspiration
Ministries UK - Admail 3905 London - W1A 1ZT - UK Charity No 1119076 -

© 2016 Inspiration Ministries, All rights reserved

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is
not proud." (1Cor 13:4)

By Answers2Prayer
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More Illustrations
Contact us

Another Word for Love

I knew a woman who always found an excuse to love.

I met her working at the most difficult job of my life - as a helper in an
after-school daycare center. I was completely unprepared for the work; I had
no training and my temperament seemed to be particularly unsuited to the
position.

I reminded myself that I was hired to watch the children, play with them and
lead arts and crafts - not fix all of their problems, of which there were
many. And my only help was Mrs. Tucker, a 73-year-old retired social worker
who worked with me. All that stood between the kids and disaster was me and
a 73-year-old woman. And I wasn't that sturdy a defense. But I soon learned
that Mrs. Tucker was a master with these children.

"Some children just need more love," she always said. A case in point was
Timmy. Timmy received special help at school because of his emotional
problems.
He was developmentally delayed. He often fought with other children and was
a compulsive hair-puller. I could never get close to Timmy - he did not
trust
anyone. Anyone, that is, except Mrs. Tucker. He responded her. He genuinely
loved her because, I came to believe, she loved him.

One day a fight broke out between Timmy and one of the other children. After
separating them, Mrs. Tucker directed Timmy to sit in a chair. He screamed,
"I HATE YOU, Mrs. Tucker! You're a mean, old lady! I hate you!"

"I know you hate me right now, Timmy," she said firmly, "but I'm sure not
going to let you pull the other children's hair."

After a while Timmy had calmed down and Mrs. Tucker called him over. His
cheeks were still dirty and bore dried tear streaks. I could not hear their
conversation,
but I saw Timmy put his arms around her neck. When I walked by I heard him
say, "I'm sorry I called you a mean old lady, Mrs. Tucker." I knew he meant
it.

A little later Mrs. Tucker said to me, "Timmy just needs more love than
other children."

On another occasion I heard Timmy's mother say, "You work magic with him,
Mrs. Tucker. He doesn't respond to anybody like he does to you."

Maybe so, but sometimes "magic" is just another word for "love."

Steve Goodier

Announcement:

One of the ministries connected with Answers2Prayer provides inspirational
stories
. If you have written inspirational stories and would like to share them
with others, please feel free to submit them to me. The writer of any story
published
on our site will receive proper credit. Please
submit your story to us . Thank you.
Rob Chaffart
©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely
give."



Heavenletter #5918 Kiss the Earth, February 6, 2017

God said:
I am your dear God. That’s it! What did you think I was? Did you really think that I am a despot who delights in making you dance through hoops?
In one sense, there is only one choice I give you, and that is the choice to grow. Willingly or unwillingly, you will grow, and you will grow higher and higher like Iowa corn. You will grow even higher than Jack and the Beanstalk. Not even the sky is the limit. There is no limit to the heights you can climb. There simply are no limits. In other words, you are limitless.
This is a wonderful thing, yet you fear it. You may protest the ground that you walk on, yet you don't want to let go of it. What do you think I would say to you?
I say to you: Kiss the Earth beneath your feet and kiss the Unlimitedness of your rising higher and higher. You will not have to stand upon your tiptoes. You will get off the ground and fly. You will fly. Do you know the happiness this is?
Has not everyone had dreams of flying?
Dreams come true. You will soar. You will fly beyond your wildest dreams, and dream anew yet Great Dreams, and they will also come true.
I have heard you say: "There has to be more to Life than this."
How right you are. Shakespeare penned it: "There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Yet you have dreamt them all in your psychology.
It has been said that I have wonders to perform. True. And so do you. Think of how it will be when you reveal your True Self to yourself. This is not a wonder, for it is natural, yet it will be wonderful and magnificent. It will be true.
You are going to step out. You are going to take a leap. You will find yourselves dancing in the streets. You will find yourselves dancing in the sky. You will find yourselves dancing in all hearts, for where I am are you.
I do not stand alone in a High Tower. Never am I alone. Never is there a time when anyone is alone. There are trillions of possibilities -- correction – endless possibilities -- Infinite possibilities. To be alone in the Universe is an impossibility. Nevertheless, you have experienced a woeful sense of being alone.
Dear Ones, each of you desires to rejoin consciously with your Self, which is to say with Me. There is nothing hard about it, for Oneness is natural.
It is natural for you to hear Me. Therefore, it is easy for you to hear Me. You will find yourself hearing Me as naturally as you feel the Sun on your face. You will feel My Presence. Feel it now.
You are here with Me now, and I am here with you. We are all here together. We are here together as One.
There is nothing in the world or in Heaven but Oneness.
I am your prerogative. You are entitled to Me. Come closer to Me, even as there is no closer. There is nothing closer than Oneness. In Oneness, We are One. Separateness is a fantasy that many have held onto as if for dear Life.
What is your reasoning? No matter. Jump in! Get wet. The water is fine.
The fact is that We do swim in the Water of Life as One. Close your eyes all you want – it is still true. There is no departure from Truth, and why would you want to run away from such a Truth as this that I give to you?

Permanent Link: http://heavenletters.org/kiss-the-earth.html

Thank you for including this link when publishing this Heavenletter elsewhere.

Copyright © 1999-Now Heavenletters™

Why Act with Integrity?
Monday, February 6, 2017

"'Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God ... he still holds fast his integrity'... Then his wife said to him, 'Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!'"
Job 2:3, 9 NASB


Satan claimed that there was only one reason why Job acted with integrity: He was strictly motivated by self-interest and personal gain. Satan claimed that Job, like all people, would be willing to compromise if God stopped protecting and blessing him.

Job was forced to face these issues—how life's challenges would impact his beliefs, his values, and his relationship with God. Yes, he struggled and had questions. Yet he continued to cling to his "integrity." He remained committed to do what was right, regardless of consequences, or what others said and did.

This resolution was difficult for Job's wife to understand. She asked him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity?" She argued that it was pointless to act with integrity. Her inclination was to give up, and even curse God.

Even though Job was going through difficulties, he could not give up. He did not understand what had transpired, but realized he needed to accept what God allowed, whether that was good or trouble. The Bible concludes, "In all this Job did not sin with his lips."

These responses challenge us to think about our own lives. What are our core values? Why, in fact, do we do what is "right"? What are our unshakable commitments?

We all may go through experiences that make us feel like giving up like Job's wife—becoming discouraged and frustrated. Ready to forget about morality. Basing everything on self-interest. Or, we can respond like Job.

Ask God to give you an unshakable commitment to integrity. Regardless of the outcome, seeking to do what is right in every situation.

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, help me to have an eternal perspective on my life. Help me to do the right thing in every situation. Help me to impact others for the Gospel. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Further Reading: Job 2

Witnessing Worshiping Workers

Isaiah 43:10-12 (NIV)
10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
11 I, even I, am the Lord,
and apart from me there is no savior.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.

Isaiah was prophesying to both the northern kingdom of Israel and the
southern kingdom of Judah that they would be taken into captivity. They
would be living among people with other gods. They were to live in their
world but not be part of it as we are also taught to live. God through
Isaiah was trying to get the truth into the minds of these people that He is
the only true God. He is their Redeemer. He has always been and always shall
be. He was trying to get this into their thick heads before they went into
exile where they would be tempted to follow the other gods.

There are some people that think that God has left them when they go through
trials and hardships. They start grumbling and complaining to God and anyone
else who will listen. God was telling these people that He would not forget
them so they need to remember this and continue to have faith in Him when
their hard times come. WE need to
remember that God is in control whether it looks like it or not.

God told them that they were going to be witnesses. They were to tell the
foreigners who the true God is. Today we Christians need to be witnesses to
each other. Instead of
grumbling and griping we need to testify to each other as to whom the Lord
truly is and what He is doing in our lives. WE need to give testimonies as
to the goodness of the Lord. WE need to do this in our churches and other
Christian groups. This helps build the faith of others up. WE also need to
do this when talking with friends. How easy it is to talk about anything
else but God and his Son Jesus Christ.

WE also are commanded to be witnesses to others of what Jesus Christ has
done for them. Again, it is too easy to talk about sports or the weather but
leave the most
important subject behind. That subject is that Jesus Christ died for them
and wants to have a relationship with them.

God through Isaiah told the people that they would be His servants. The
Hebrew word for servant also means “worshiper” so when you are working, you
are worshiping. WE Christians need to be servants of each other. We need to
help our fellow Christians whenever they have needs that we can help with.
These needs can be physical but they can also be mental and spiritual. WE
also need to let others serve us. WE don’t need to be too proud to let
someone help us. One way that may help others to be willing to listen to us
when we witness to them is to serve them in some way. It is hard to think
about spiritual things when you are hungry. WE need to feed the hungry
physically but then feed them spiritually. WE need to clothe the naked
physically but also need to help them to find
Jesus so that they can be clothed spiritually in garments of righteousness.
WE need to give the thirsty water to drink but we also need to give them the
Living Water.

May we all be witnessing, worshiping workers wherever we walk.

by Dean W. Masters

"Nothing But Jesus!" #84-23

Sermon Text for February 5, 2017
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on February 5, 2017
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
Copyright 2017 Lutheran Hour Ministries

Listen to The Lutheran Hour podcast online
Text: 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and
him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My
message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a
demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on
human wisdom, but on God's power.
Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed. Hallelujah!

Super Bowl 51 kicks off this weekend. If you're going, are you ready for
this; it may cost you about $4,000 for a ticket to the big event. Some
special
ticket packages include a pregame party with former NFL quarterbacks Joe
Montana and Warren Moon. Since the big game is in Houston this year, the
pregame
meal is an all-you-can-eat Texas tailgate with lots of grilled and smoked
meats along with unlimited beverages.

Now here's another word of truth for you today. I will definitely not be at
the game; at least not in Houston! It's a lot less pricey to watch the game
at home. But I could have afforded that first Super Bowl. Did you know that
the tickets back then went all the way up to $12 back in 1967? And there
were
tickets to spare that year. Thirty-two thousand seats went unfilled at Super
Bowl number one.

It's a little more complicated today, right? Somehow, the contest has become
more than a football game. It is an event. It's a way of life. It is
packaged,
marketed, and memorialized. There is a lot of officially licensed stuff! You
can buy pictures, plaques, medallions, posters, Lego sets, jerseys, patches,
and pins. There seems to be no end to it.

Today you'll see people, pageantry, products, and parties. As I was thinking
about the Bible lesson today, I began to wonder. Do you really need all of
that stuff in your life? Is that what we need today? Do we need more
activity, more noise, more things to buy, or more things to do?
Honestly, I don't really yearn at all for more complications or commotion in
my life. It's really just the opposite. What I really want is a little more
peace, some quiet time, quality in some close relationships, and a sense of
being fulfilled and personally content. That's what I'm looking for. Maybe
you feel the same way. Instead of noise and anxiety, I need to turn the
volume down and let my soul be restored.

That is one remarkable contrast I notice between what the world gives and
what God gives. The world says, "More!"-more possessions, more purchasing,
more
hustle, more bustle. The world says, "Make it happen; you're not doing
enough; you don't have enough; you'll never be enough."

But then you have the complete contrast of the Apostle Paul saying, "And I,
when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the
testimony
of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you
except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).

Nothing but Jesus. Wow! That's right, nothing but Jesus; in all things!

It's an uncluttered message. More than that, it is personal, meaningful, and
life-giving; nothing but Jesus. This is Jesus, the Son of God. He didn't ask
you to do more. He didn't tell you that you would never be enough. He came
to seek you and to save you. He came to forgive you and strengthen you. He
came
to rebuild you and restore you, to fill your life with His abundance. Jesus
Christ crucified came to carry your burdens, to remove the weight of your
failures
and sin, and to give you the gift of new life today. He came to calm your
worries and take away your fears. And He is still with you-the risen Son of
God.
He even promises to be with you and with me always.

Listen to what Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid" (John 14:27 NIV).

In a big-production world, Jesus is completely unique. It seems as if God
knew you and I would be drawn into all the manias of life: Super Bowl mania,
shopping mania, activity mania, food mania,
pack-your-schedule-till-nothing-else-fits mania, worry mania, fear mania,
doubt and loneliness mania. God knew
all those manias loom in our lives, so He drew a stark contrast in His Word.
He showed you and me that Jesus gives life that is not only sane, but good.

I think of the time Jesus visited His friends Mary and Martha. The sisters
were so happy to have their Friend and Teacher in their home. Martha busied
herself with preparations, but became frustrated with her sister Mary. She
complained to Jesus, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me alone
to serve? Tell her then to help me." But Jesus directed her out of her
frenzied worry, out of her mania, and He said to her, "Martha, Martha, you
are anxious
and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen
the good portion, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:40-42
ESV).

Mary chose the one thing. I remember at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, I was
privileged to give the devotion at the community lunch before the game. Penn
State
played Auburn. The coaches, the media, the players, and the business leaders
of Tampa all were there. What did I share with them? I said there is one
thing
in life that makes life worth living, games like this worth playing, blocks
and tackles worth making, friends worth having, families worth being, work
worth doing; that one thing is a faith relationship, a trust with God in
Christ. With Him, it's worth it. Without Him, it's a game that will soon be
forgotten
no matter who wins! I wonder if you can remember who won that game.

Yes, even on the day of the big game we need to remember; nothing but Jesus
will do!

But why? Let's be honest. We tend to be more attracted to complication and
clutter, don't we? We've all got a bit of Martha in us. I try to do way too
much. I say yes to too many invitations. I pack my calendar, thinking I can
squeeze in just a little more. How about you? Do you take a little too much
onto your shoulders? Do you carry some burdens you shouldn't? Have you
accumulated some guilt because you think you should be able to do it all and
be
it all for everyone and everything? Are you getting squeezed by too many
things, too much to think about, and too many concerns?

It's what we do. It's part of our ongoing habit of thinking we are God. Oh,
we may not admit that we try to take the place of the Almighty, but our
actions
speak louder than our words. Somehow, you and I put ourselves in the center
of the universe even though there is no job opening for that position. And
we get overwhelmed. This world is a tough place. It is not for the faint of
heart. But our hearts can only take so much. Under the weight of tragedy,
violence,
and personal pain, we crumble. That's the way we are. That's the nature of a
broken life in a broken world. And that's what's so amazing about what Jesus
does. Jesus quiets the noise of a broken world and He tidies up your life
and mine.

Have you heard of author Marie Kondo? She wrote a book called, The
Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The book is a number one New York Times
best seller.
It's all about how to manage and sift through all your stuff. It's about
cleaning up your junk. And, apparently, a lot of people want help in this
area.
They feel surrounded and enslaved by their clutter.

One key principle Marie emphasizes is only keep things that spark joy. So,
instead of a pile of t-shirts you never wear; keep the few that you enjoy.
Instead
of a cupboard filled with dishes you've forgotten about, find the few you
enjoy using. Instead of hanging on to shelves of books or magazines or
stuffed
animals, pick one or two that mean something to you and let your life be
filled with what matters and with what is good.

That's like the unique and life-restoring work of Jesus in our overwhelming
world. He quiets the noise; He tidies up your life. What does Jesus tell
you?
It's simple. He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I
will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28 NIV). You and I are broken and sinful
people.
We are burdened. We accumulate more burdens and it wears us out. It drains
our hope. We need help. We need rest. Jesus gives the rest you and I need.
He
took all the clutter of your guilt and worry; your burdens and helplessness,
and He silenced that torturous noise; where, on the cross. He died for you.
He gathered up your burdens. He cleaned house. He threw it all into the
eternal dumpster, never to be seen again. When Jesus stepped out of the
tomb, He
changed everything. He quieted the voices that say you're not good enough
and there is no hope. Now through God's Word, through His gift of baptism,
and
in the Lord's Supper, Jesus brings you what sparks joy. He gives you eternal
hope, freedom from guilt, forgiveness of your sins, and peace that surpasses
your understanding. He gives you faith as a foundation and the promise of
His presence. That's a reason for joy. And that's why Paul said, "I decided
to
know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." Nothing but
Jesus.

Let's bring this home for you and for me today. How does "nothing but Jesus"
affect your life right now?

Let me tell you a little story. On August 5, 2006, a former defensive tackle
on the Georgetown University football team was playing beach volleyball in
Hermosa Beach, California. At 6'4" and 285 pounds, Janne Kouri was an
imposing figure. He starred on the college gridiron and had been in the
sights of
NFL scouts during his football playing days. Janne decided to take a dip in
the ocean that afternoon. He dove headfirst into the waves, but he did a
pile
driver into a sandbar. Suddenly, he couldn't move. It was only through the
fast action of an off-duty EMT that Kouri was pulled from the water and
rushed
to the hospital. That's where the doctor delivered the devastating news:
Janne's spinal cord was fractured in two places. The prospect of his ever
walking
again was dim. Even more, the trauma could very well end his life.

For two months, Janne was in the intensive care of the hospital. He
developed pneumonia and he twice nearly died. That's when Susan, Janne's
girlfriend
and soon-to-be wife, found Dr. Susan Harkema at the Frazier Rehabilitation
Institute in Louisville, Kentucky. Harkema was helping to develop a new
therapy
known as "loco-motor training." Using repetitive motion, the therapy was
meant to teach the spinal cord how to control motor functions like walking.
Harkema
told Janne and Susan, "There is hope," she said, "There is hope for his
recovery."

After three months of training, Janne reached his first milestone: he
wiggled a toe. Now you see what's going to happen here, right? You see what
happened
to Janne, don't you? He couldn't figure out a way to address his paralysis.
He couldn't come up with an answer. He didn't know how to work through his
injury. But someone else did. His future wife stepped in with energy and
encouragement. Dr. Harkema brought an answer.

In a small way that reminds us how "nothing but Jesus" impacts your life.
Here's the first take away from this message: you don't have to rely on
yourself
for all the answers. You can't. But you have Someone in your life Who has
those answers. His Name is Jesus.

Think about it. Truthfully, you and I could never figure a way out of the
sin and death that paralyze us. As the days go by, you and I can't come up
with
the answers to solve our problems or address our frustrations. We don't know
how to work through all the obstacles and challenges life throws our way.
But Jesus does. He stepped in because of His love for you and me. Jesus
brought an answer we would never think up. He still brings answers beyond
our solutions
and beyond our imaginations. The Apostle Paul declares it again in 1
Corinthians: "'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what
God has
prepared for those who love him- but God has revealed it to us by his
Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NIV). We don't rely on our own ingenuity. Paul
says,
"We have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16).

You can stop trying to figure it all out. Instead, you can lift up your
prayers to Jesus and rely on Him alone. Nothing but Jesus.

So, let me give you a word of freedom today. Even when it comes to what
really matters, you don't have to rely on yourself for all the answers.
Jesus Christ
crucified and risen from the grave, Jesus Christ coming to you in His Word
and sacraments, that is the answer. That's why the second takeaway is so
important:
you don't have to pretend. You don't have to make it look like you're in
control or that you have all the answers. In our reading from 1 Corinthians,
Paul
said he was with the people in weakness and fear and much trembling. He
didn't pretend he that knew it all nor had everything under control. Like
the Apostle
Paul and Janne Kouri, you can admit that you need help and you can be honest
about your vulnerabilities. You can do that when Jesus is in your life. When
Jesus is holding onto you, you can let go without fear. You don't have to
pretend.

And let me tell you, friend, the world needs authentic people who clear the
clutter and noise of self-deception, who can open up about their weaknesses
and struggles, and who can bring the joyful news of a Savior Who gives real
help and genuine restoration. You don't have to pretend.
That's how Janne Kouri did something amazing. Almost six years after his
devastating neck injury, Janne Kouri stood up on his own and he danced a
slow
dance with his wife. It was the dance they couldn't share on their wedding
day. It was a miracle.

So let me say it again: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has
conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9
NIV).

There will be a lot going on today. The halftime show will be filled with
noise, and lights, and dancers, a fog machine, fireworks, and commotion.
Commercials
will vie for your attention. The football game will be happening in there
somewhere in the middle of all of that stuff. This Super Sunday will serve
as
a glimpse of everyday life in today's world. As it all unfolds before your
eyes, remember that there is a source of calm in the middle of the chaos. By
God's grace in your life, you can have the precious gift of faith in Jesus
amidst the noise, amidst the sad quiet, amidst the hype, and even amongst
your
temporal dreams and hopes. God wants you to experience rest and relief,
clarity and confidence, answers and assurance forever in Him. That's the
power
of "nothing but Jesus" for you.

Amen.
Print this Sermon
Action in Ministry for February 5, 2017
Guest: Megan Panarusky
ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is Action In
Ministry. Pastor Seltz, amidst all the noise of life we always find clarity
and
truth in that message of Jesus Christ Who was crucified and risen for us.

SELTZ: That's a beautiful, simple message, Mark, and it really does hold us
especially when all the challenges and the life-and-death issues that are
out
there. But what we're going to talk about today; it is a message that needs
to be shared.

ANNOUNCER: But sometimes we're not sure how to share that message, what to
say. If that sounds familiar, we have a booklet for you called First-Class
Faith
Sharing and joining us now is someone who's passionate about sharing her
faith with others. It's our colleague, Megan Panarusky.

SELTZ: Megan, I know you are and it's so great to have you with us here
today.

PANARUSKY: Thanks, Pastor. Thank you, Mark.

ANNOUNCER: Now this booklet is all about the motivation for sharing Jesus
with others in a natural way. First question though, why isn't this
something
that seems to come naturally to many of us?

PANARUSKY: I think there are lots of reasons that we struggle with it. I
think some people feel like they have to have really good answers to any
question
they might get.

SELTZ: Right.

PANARUSKY: I think some people feel like they have their own doubts so if
they start talking about it, they're not going to sound credible.

SELTZ: Yeah, who am I to do this, right?

PANARUSKY: Yeah. Then there is also a social pressure to not talk about
religion. It's difficult to respond to that pressure.

SELTZ: There are a lot of challenges out there today so we know why it can
be difficult. Megan, we were talking about this a little bit too. What
motivates...what
should motivate us, but what also motivates you as you're sharing your
faith?

PANARUSKY: I guess for me it feels pretty simple. God is the best thing
about my life and I think that He made every human being so that their lives
will
work best when they're built around Him. I really care about all my friends,
even the ones who don't know Jesus, and I want them to be able to have that
too.

SELTZ: Wow! We were just talking about that a little bit too. God wants you
to be yourself. He created you that way. We've talked about it in here,
Mark,
be yourself in Christ; but then for others, like you said, because you want
them to have what you have. What a great thing.

ANNOUNCER: Now the title of this talks about first-class faith sharing; I'm
wondering what it is that makes the sharing of one's faith first class?

SELTZ: There you go.

PANARUSKY: Well, the booklet spends a lot of time reminding us just how
incredible it is that we get to walk through life in a personal relationship
with
the God of the universe. He says that it's like we're first-class travelers.

SELTZ: Yeah, so we're not flying coach. Right?

PANARUSKY: Right. Yeah. His encouragement is that if you're struggling to
share your faith, spend time looking back remembering why God is so awesome
in
your life.

ANNOUNCER: Okay.

SELTZ: When you think about it why is Christmas so incredible, why is Easter
so incredible, why is Lent so challenging, it's because of Who this God is,
right?

PANARUSKY: Exactly.

SELTZ: Okay, so what are some of those points in the booklet that you found
really helpful for you that maybe our listeners would find helpful as well?

PANARUSKY: One thing I really appreciated is He encourages us not to start
by inviting people to church.

SELTZ: Okay.

PANARUSKY: There are quite a few people out there who don't have a great
impression of church and so the booklet says to focus on being the church to
somebody
else.

SELTZ: Be the church. Yeah.

PANARUSKY: Until you've built some trust with them. Give them a chance to
see Jesus in you and give it some time.

ANNOUNCER: All right. You want them to meet Jesus first.

SELTZ: Yeah. Jesus has a lot to overcome in all of our lives. So when He
gathers us all together, it's better to have that connection with Christ and
with
those that you know love you and then you can learn how to love others as
well and be church.

ANNOUNCER: That's right. There are so many who need to hear and believe the
message of Christ and we know that this free booklet can help you as you
share
your faith with those God brings into your life.

SELTZ: Like the Apostle Peter wrote to those who had received the message
from him, he said this: "Though you've not seen God, you love Him. And even
though
you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and you're filled with
inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the end result of your
faith, the
salvation of your souls. Megan, what you're talking about today is that's so
incredible you just want those that you love and those that you meet to know
this too, right?

PANARUSKY: It doesn't have to be that complicated.

SELTZ: It doesn't have to be that complicated. Megan, thank you so much for
being with us here and also inspiring others to share their faith.

PANARUSKY: Thanks for having me.

SELTZ: That's our Action In Ministry segment today; to bless, to empower,
and to strengthen your life in Christ for others.

ANNOUNCER: And the title of this resource is First-Class Faith Sharing
. You can download a copy for free at our website:
lutheranhour.org
. Click on Action In Ministry. Or call 1-855-john316. That's 1-855-564-6316.
LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for February 5, 2017
Topic: How Can I Grow My Relationship When There is so Much Distraction?

ANNOUNCER: Now once again Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions from
listeners. I'm Mark Eischer and today our listener says her husband is
preoccupied
with television, the Internet, and checking his mobile devices all the time.
She feels like they can never talk so how can they grow in their
relationship
when there seems to be so much distraction?

SELTZ: I'm worried about you there, big fellow. I actually worry about all
of us with this stuff. Why do we live in such an age of distraction? It's
crazy.
Isn't it, Mark?

ANNOUNCER: Well, people claim that these digital devices, these screens
everywhere you look, it's causing us to lose our ability even to focus. At
work,
at home, responsibilities are being overlooked and our relationships are
suffering as a result.

SELTZ: Some others argue that this problem isn't new. We just have new
distractions and new challenges; but there always have been forces and
factors fighting
for our attention. Technology isn't always the problem. Our priorities are.

ANNOUNCER: Now this listener thinks her distracted husband is the issue. How
would you answer her?

SELTZ: I hope I don't get in trouble here. The first step in every
relationship when a disagreement happens or when a person is feeling hurt is
to try
to improve the communication. A spouse may not be aware of your hurt; that
might be the first thing. You may be suffering in silence because you think
everyone understands your needs and the way you envision that relationship.

ANNOUNCER: So, the other person may not even think they're hurting someone.

SELTZ: That may be true or they may know it; so you may have to take care of
it that way too. It may be perfectly normal for him to multi-task during
conversations
or to crash on the couch during the football game and not say a word. He may
have grown up in a home where that was the way things were. She may have
grown
up in a completely different context. So, it is important to start
communicating about needs, priorities, and expectations. That's for sure.

ANNOUNCER: That sometimes gets scary and uncomfortable. How do you bring
that up in a conversation?

SELTZ: It's probably not the best idea to grab the phone out of their hand
or block the TV screen to make the point. Timing and gentleness are very
important
in these sensitive situations. Schedule a lunch together or ask your loved
one if you can have a conversation at a convenient and workable time where
you
can focus and then do prepare your words and thoughts.

ANNOUNCER: And don't be accusatory or threatening right up front.

SELTZ: That's right because the key is to first understand one another. Talk
about your feelings, what needs you have. Ask if your loved one how do they
see it and then what can you do together to deal with these things.
Brainstorm. Compromise.

ANNOUNCER: This reminds us of the self-sacrifice described in Ephesians,
chapter 5 where the Apostle Paul says, "Submit to one another out of
reverence
for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21 NIV).

SELTZ: A lot of times people think that the Bible teaches wives to submit
and not husbands; but each has their own submission. So the word "submit"
means
to give-like you're submitting an application. You hand yourself over to the
one you love. You surrender your time, your preferences, your energy because
of the love you have for the other person. That's how Jesus loves you. He
gave up His life. The Bible says because He loved us, we love each other the
same.

ANNOUNCER: Would you say it's even more difficult nowadays with all this
media right at our fingertips?

SELTZ: I think, Mark, that's where loving self-sacrifice comes in. I know of
some groups of friends who put their phones in the middle of the table when
they meet for lunch or dinner. They pledge that they will not look at their
phones. Instead, they will be fully present and engage in their
conversation.
They're going to pay attention to each other.

ANNOUNCER: To sum this up, it sounds like our listener may need to reach
some sort of an agreement with her husband about carving out that time so he
can
be fully and completely present with her.

SELTZ: Yeah, that's a good way to look at it. Thinking back on today's
sermon, Jesus offered wise counsel to Martha when she became distracted by
so many
things. Martha became angry when her sister Mary stopped helping around the
house. Instead, Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to Him. When Martha
complained,
Jesus said: "Look, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,
but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen that good portion" (Luke
10:41-42
ESV).

ANNOUNCER: This world is going to try and pull us in thousands of different
directions. Our sinful hearts will drift away from what is truly important.

SELTZ: That's why the one thing is so important. Focus on Christ and then
take time with each other, work through the issues together, evaluate
personal
priorities regularly; we can walk in the love that Jesus has shown us. We
can love each other effectively as we grow in faith and are shaped by His
grace.

ANNOUNCER: It sounds like that's where the answer for this begins!

SELTZ: It is.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran
Hour Ministries.

Visit lutheranhour.org
Read Today's Devotion
Music Selections for this program:

"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.

"Thy Strong Word Did Cleave the Darkness" From The Concordia Organist (©
2009 Concordia Publishing House)
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PresbyCan Daily Devotional
Friday, January 6, 2017
Today's Devotiona
Giving Thanks In All Circumstances

Psalm 119:71 – It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your
decrees. (NIV)

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

I am a person living with a mental illness. I was diagnosed with bipolar
disorder many years ago, when I was in my thirties. Given the nature of the
illness,
I have naturally had ups and downs. Each and every day, I need to make sure
that I am looking after myself properly, particularly getting enough sleep
and managing stress. Over the years, I have wrestled with the stigma of
having a mental illness. For the most part, I have chosen to suffer in
silence
rather than risk being judged or misunderstood.

As a result of my illness, I have had to lean on God, especially during
bouts of depression. Although joy and laughter had disappeared, and it felt
like
life was not worth living, I had to press in and trust the Lord, because I
had nowhere else to turn. I picked up my Bible during those long and dreary
days and read the Psalms. There, I found comfort and strength that
encouraged me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I have dealt
with my own
sense of shame in having bipolar disorder by reminding myself that I am
fearfully and wonderfully made — faulty brain chemistry and all. Above all,
I have
found peace in knowing that Jesus loves me.

I have sometimes felt sorry for myself and wondered, Why me, Lord? as I
suffered such losses as my career potential and fun times with my daughter
when
she was young. But now, I marvel at all the blessings: my daughter becoming
the lovely and successful person that she is today; being able to stay in
the
workforce for thirty years despite having to take medical leaves at times
and handling work that was often stressful, intense, and demanding; and the
gift
of a beautiful home and neighbourhood.

Looking back now, I see how God preserved me in my struggles and gave me the
right physicians and supervisors to support me. I am also very aware that
because of my experience with bipolar disorder, I know God more. My faith
and trust in Him are so much stronger than they would have been otherwise.
Gaining
the assurance of eternal life is much more important than the temporary
trials that we have to endure. With the psalmist, I can look back and say
that
it was good for me to be afflicted because of the abiding faith that ensued.
And I am thankful for the circumstances that caused me to know God and love
Him more.

We all cope with difficulties of one kind or another in this world. It can
be very hard to give thanks in the midst of trying times or to see any good
come from them. But even then, we can have confidence that there is
something to be thankful for, although it may not be apparent until much
later.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that we can rely on You in times of trouble and
that You bless us in different ways that enable us to persevere and endure.
Help us to recognize how You are working in our lives to bring good out of
afflictions and to give us a reason to be thankful in all circumstances.
Thank
You for Your love for us and for Your Word that reassures us and reminds us
that our hope is in You and that You are always with us. In Jesus' name, we
pray. Amen.
Thought for Today: Be thankful if your job is a little harder than you like.
Knives can't be sharpened on velvet.

Verse for Today: 2 Corinthians 4:18 – So we fix our eyes not on what is
seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is
unseen is eternal.

Waiting is Hard, But We Must Learn to Do It
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BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself because of
him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked
devices
to pass.”
Psalm 37:7

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
We don’t like the word “rest,” do we? We’re always running around pulling up
our radishes by the roots to see how they’re growing, and then cramming them
back into the ground.

Yet Isaiah tells us, “And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be
gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy
upon
you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for
Him” (Isaiah 30:18).

ACTION POINT:
You’re not going to hurry God because He is not interested in time. He’s
interested in timing. Lean back, watch, wait, and trust. He knows what He is
doing.

Discover Jesus
Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
. May God continue to strengthen and encourage you by the Love Worth
Finding devotions.
Forward
Copyright © 2017 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.

His Love Endures Forever
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Editor

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures
forever! -
1 Chronicles 16:34

Last December I had the privilege to be part of a short-term mission’s trip
to Vladimir, Russia, where I worked alongside Russian Christians in the city’s
orphanage. The trip was incredibly challenging, but the opportunity did help
me learn a lot about God and about myself. In particular, I remember the
Sunday
morning where our interpreters invited us to attend their Church. The
building they met in was small, and as I took my seat with the rest of the
team,
I realized there couldn’t be more than thirty people in the congregation.

I found that number rather depressing. My own Church here in the states wasn’t
what I’d call big, but it certainly had more than thirty people in it. A
small voice in the dark part of my mind wondered if this was a sign of
change in our world, that maybe Christianity was beginning to die out. I was
still
in this dismal frame of mind when the congregation stood for the first song,
and it was at that point something extraordinary happened. The people of
that
small Church began to sing together, and I was amazed at the passion they
displayed toward God as they worshiped.

Afterward, my interpreter took me aside and began to tell me about the
history of the Church. Apparently this little Church had been in the
community for
ten years, and it wasn’t shrinking, it was growing. My interpreter told me
how it was through this Church that he had first come to know Christ. He was
the only Christian in his family, and was doing his best to witness to them,
but in the meantime he considered the people here just as close as any
brother
or sister. Nearly everyone in the Church was involved in some kind of
outreach, some even worked with the orphanages full time.

All of this from a Church of thirty people. Sometimes I lose sight of who
God really is, and what he can do with the smallest of offerings. God will
never
be threatened or hindered by our world. He will always be there for us no
matter how far we stray or how hard mankind tries to remove him. Through the
rise and fall of countless empires, all the advancements of science, through
war and pain, the spirit of God has endured.

I guess the writer of Psalms knew what he was talking about when he wrote,

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures
forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures
forever;” – Psalm136:1-4

Intersecting Faith and Life: Try to find ways to live your faith, consider
getting involved in your Church outreach.

Further Reading

Psalm 100:5
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When God Is Doing Something New, and We’re Still Stuck in the Old
by Debbie McDaniel, Crosswalk.com Writer

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new
thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the
wilderness
and streams in the wasteland."
Is. 43:18-19

Sometimes...God is wanting to do something "new" and yet we're still stuck
in the "old." It's hard at times. To let go. Of what's familiar, and what we
know. It seems easier to stay "comfortable," to just keep going with the
flow, not to mess anything up. But then "new" happens, and often sends us
spiraling,
on one big, long loop.

For those who like change - "new" is mostly exciting.

For those who don't like change - "new" is mostly stressful.

Your family, if you're like most, is probably a mix of those two traits.

But here's what I love about God. He thinks and works outside our own box of
thinking. He doesn't always work in the ways that we would have chosen for
our "new." If we had to have a "new."

He sees the big picture. He knows what He's doing. He works behind the
scenes of life that unfold our every day, in the places where we can't
always see
or understand all the “why's.”

So we can trust...that He has our best in mind. That He's got our back. He’s
with us right now. And He's secured our future too.

Sometimes our "new" comes out of great blessing, new opportunities. And
sometimes it comes through great pain, huge loss.

People move, life happens, decisions are made, many change jobs, kids grow
up, and there are times we might go through some really tough struggles. We
may even start to feel cheated. Like life is unfair.

But it still breathes this truth: God is not finished with our lives yet.
You're still here. And He has great purpose in all that you walk through,
even
in every life change and season.

Whether we recognize it or not, we’re rubbing shoulders everyday with people
that we needed to meet in our "new," however hard that new thing may be.

We can rest in His care for us. He knows. He sees. He works in ways we don't
always "get," but there's peace in knowing we don't have to try to control
it all. We can let go - of the need to figure it all out, and the striving
to make things happen.

We can trust Him.

Our future awaits, and there's still good around the bend. God has more in
store.

Peace.

Intersecting Faith & Life: If you find yourself in a new season right now,
or you’re struggling to find the good in changing times, be assured that God
has the best in store. Choose to trust that He’s working on your behalf
today, even in ways you may not fully see or understand.

Further Reading:
Isaiah 55:8-9
Jeremiah 29:11
Revelation 21:5

"Here I Raise My Ebenezer"

There's a peculiar line in the classic hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every
Blessing". It's in the second stanza; and it says, "Here I raise my
Ebenezer." Most
people are probably not familiar with the single verse from which that line
originated. Robert Robinson apparently not only knew of the verse but also
understood its meaning and importance, for it was he who wrote those words
into his beautiful and timeless hymn.

In 1 Samuel 7:12 we are told that "Samuel took a stone and set it up... and
called its name Ebenezer, saying 'Thus far the Lord has helped us.'" That
stone was a reminder to the Israelites of God's faithfulness and might. It
was set up so that no matter what situation they were in, they would be able
to hark back to their defeat of the Philistines in which God was faithful to
deliver them.

What reminders do you have of God's faithfulness in your life? It may be a
picture, a song, a powerful verse that really spoke to your heart during a
difficult time. Whatever it is, keep it at hand so that when you are
discouraged you can not only use it to recall how God has blessed and helped
you,
but you can also look forward to His future faithfulness.

Ebenezer - from two Hebrew words pronounced together: "Even Haazer" - "Stone
of Help."

David Jeremiah
www.DavidJeremiah.org


Welcome to the Nugget
January 3, 2017
To-Do-List
By Answers2Prayer
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Devotionals
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"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else... and he will give you everything
you need."
(Matthew 6:33)

I was looking over the list, the never ending 'To Do' list, crossing things
off, adding tasks, rearranging the items according to today's priorities.
"There
is no end to this list!" I grumbled to myself. "There is always something
else 'to-do!"

The never-ending 'to do' list, how depressing that can be. A good friend of
mine likes to say, "Everything that needs to get done will get done", though
I wonder sometimes. I can easily feel overwhelmed with The List, and that's
when I know it's time for an inventory, a priority check-up.

God wants to communicate with us, and it is unlikely He is going to catch us
'on the run'. He waits. Rick Warren says, "If you are always on the go and
you can't hear God, you are facing the barrier of busyness." Oh yeah, all
those things on The List!

I've heard it said, "Don't under estimate the value of porch sittin' and
rockin'". Basically, I need to make the choice to take time, to wait on God
and
listen to Him. It's hard for God to download much to me when I am racing to
move through my list. He is waiting, though.

I need to choose, purpose, and decision what -and Who - gets moved to the
top. When I rearrange and put God first, everything else will fall into a
manageable
position. It will; that's a promise.

Sally I. Kennedy

Announcement:

Why is it that the "Abundant Life" promised by Jesus to all who believe
doesn't always seem so "abundant?" Where is the "prosperity" that is the
Christian's
due? The answer can be found in the book of Job. Check out "
The Prosperity Doctrine Exposed
," a mini-series by Lyn Chaffart

©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely
give."
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Post  Admin on Fri 03 Feb 2017, 11:54 pm

oday's Turning Point with David Jeremiah
Forward Email to a Friend

Today's

Turning Point
Wednesday, December 21

Ring of Truth

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

Recommended Reading
Ephesians 5:1
In Lessons From My Parents, Stephanie Porter recalls a time when she and her
brothers were frantically trying to put on their snow gear to go outside and
build igloos and ride their sleds. Their mother stopped them. She had lost
her wedding ring and was frantically looking for it. She asked the children
to kneel and pray with her. They did so, and as soon as the “Amen,” was
finished, they jumped up to resume dressing. “My five-year-old brother
slipped
a foot into his snow boot and immediately pulled it back off,” Stephanie
wrote. “He turned the boot upside down and out slipped my mom’s wedding
ring.…
We momentarily forgot about the snow and ran excitedly to show our mom that
our prayer worked.”

Listen to Today's Radio Broadcast
It was a lesson that transcended generations. Stephanie continued, “Now that
I have my own kids, I teach them about faith. We pray every day before
school,
meals, and bedtime…. I hope my daughters will learn faith from me, as I
learned it from my mother.”1

Imitate Christ so your children can imitate you and learn to serve Him.

1Lessons From My Parents, edited by Michele Robbins (Familius, 2013), 5-6.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
James 1 – 5

Celebrate Christmas with “Glad Tidings

of Great Joy”!
TURNING POINT WITH DR. DAVID JEREMIAH
David Jeremiah's Website


KenBible.com

New Post on KenBible.com - Preoccupied with Love
----------------------------------------------------------

Preoccupied with Love

Posted: 27 Dec 2016 09:55 PM PST

Do everything in love (1 Corinthians 16:14, NIV).

When your mind wanders, where does it go? What do you think about in your
spare moments – when driving, eating, waiting, or doing undemanding tasks?
What
are your daydreams?

During one particular vacation, I was in the same room with a number of
family members, all near and dear to me. Yet I caught myself being so
self-absorbed
that my heart and mind were not awake to them and their concerns. If they
had felt problems or pain or confusion, I would not have sensed it. I would
not
have reached out to them to offer a listening heart.

The Lord has graciously showed me that I waste too much of my time and
thought on myself.

I want to be preoccupied with loving other people. What could I accomplish
if I let the Lord’s love dream through me?

I want to be awake to the kaleidoscope of concerns around me, ready to be
Christ’s presence however I can.

I want to be more Christ-like. I’m tired of being insensitive in the little
things I say and in the little things I don’t say. I want to have the mind
and heart of Christ.

How does this happen, after a lifetime of being self-centered? Resolutions
and guilt trips don’t work. But I’m finding the answer is much simpler.
Whenever
I realize that I stand in Christ’s presence, my heart is drawn to Him in
prayer. And as I turn to Him, He soon brings other people to mind. When I
pray,
He frees me from bondage to myself and into the freedom of love. And I can
pray anytime.

Sitting in church on a Sunday morning, the Lord prompts me to pray for the
needs around me:

• to my right, a family numb from years of dealing with a delinquent son;
• behind me, an elderly man apparently about to lose his wife;
• to my left, a young person (remember those years?);
• in front, the mother of two young children facing a painful divorce.

In traffic, passing coworkers in the office, or in my home, He is ready to
share His mind and His heart with me. He just calls me to turn to Him more
often
as I live in His presence.

Lord, draw me to You.


Laying Bricks
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Editor

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,and whoever
wants to be first must be slave of all.For even the Son of Man did not come
to
be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
>Mark 10 : 43 – 45

Sometimes, I get restless. I went to college at Taylor University, a small
Christian school in the middle of Cornfield, Indiana. Though Taylor wasn’t
very
big, it strove to serve Christ, and encouraged its students to impact the
world for God. During the January term, when you could sleep all day and
goof-off
all night, Taylor offered something called
Lighthouse Missions. Instead of wasting their brief vacation, students
became a part of service-learning projects that allowed them to share Christ
with
a world in need.

When Spring Break came around, and the beaches of Florida were calling, it
sent students everywhere from Russia to the neighboring town of Grant
County,
where they engaged in housing projects, orphan care, and outreach. It was
tough giving up those precious vacation days, but it felt good to know you
were
serving Christ. Unfortunately, after graduation opportunities like these are
harder to come by. With a forty to fifty-hour work week, not to mention
budgeted
money and vacation time, jetting off to some foreign location isn’t
something you can just do.

I can remember sitting in church, boiling with frustration because I
couldn't just go
do something like I had in college. God clearly has a sense of irony,
because at that moment the pastor stood up and asked for volunteers to help
pack
up after the service. My problem? I had become the “wealthy giver.” Not sure
what I mean? Read this story in Mark 12
:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched
the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people
threw
in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper
coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus
said,
"I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than
all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her
poverty,
put in everything--all she had to live on." –
Mark 12 : 41-44

It’s amazing how serving Christ can easily become something selfish. I was
only interested in serving if it was on my terms, and because of that I let
a lot of opportunities pass me by. The truth is that volunteering for a
church nursery could be just as important in God’s eyes as building houses
in another
country.

An old professor once told my class that the kingdom of God is built on
willing hearts. When we choose to follow God, we are laying the bricks of
his kingdom,
and creating a sturdy foundation for others to stand on. So get involved,
and if you feel God leading you toward a big opportunity, take it. But don’t
be too proud to serve in the small places. Sometimes it’s the little things
that make all the difference.

Intersecting Faith and Life: What opportunities does your church offer for
serving? Take a moment to look them over and see if one is good for you.
Churches
are always looking for volunteers to help with children and young adults.

Further Reading

Philippians 2:1-4
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What Forgiveness Feels Like
CHRISTINA HUBBARD, COMPEL Member

“When you are praying and you remember that you are angry with another
person about something, forgive that person. Forgive them so that your
Father in
heaven will also forgive your sins.”
Mark 11:25 (ERV)

It’s making me squirm in my wooden chair, this idea of total forgiveness.

People talk loudly around me as I sip coffee at a restaurant and read Jesus’
words that rock me to the core. I wonder, Can these people hear the secret
welling up in my throat? I’m a Christian and I don’t know how to forgive.

I instinctively put my hand over the page to hide the words. I feel exposed.

I’ve walked with God for many years, but I’m struggling to get over past
hurts. My relationships are suffering, and the same personal issues keep
rising
up in my life. I’ve realized I haven’t really shown mercy to those who have
injured me, not
completely. Forgiveness does not come naturally.

I thought it would be easier to love others like my Father in Heaven. But
today, forgiveness feels strange, uncomfortable and radical, like the sun
blazing
hot on me through the cold cafe window.

Forgiveness is heat and exposure, my heart laid bare in front of God. It
feels like surgery. I’m having to admit I’ve become angry and bitter. There
have
been times lately when forgiveness feels nearly impossible because my heart
is bound up tightly like a kid’s knotted shoelaces.

I have pitted myself against others and fought hard for my own rights. I’ve
justified myself under the cloak of righteousness and called it love.
Slowly,
I’m realizing I cannot change people. I am the only problem I can fix.

I think of those who have forgiven me. My husband who pardoned me after I
walked out years ago. My kids who hugged me after I yelled. A whole roomful
of
people who loved me anyway when I threw something in anger.

The capacity to forgive means we are wholly reliant on these open hearts of
ours walking around, alive and resurrected in Christ. Beating, open, raw.
Forgiving,
letting be, letting go.

To forgive is to be transformed completely and never bring up a fault
again -- no matter what it is. We are to pray and want the best for the one
who has
injured us. This is unsettling because it feels impossible. Even after I
forgive, anger tries to sneak in again and again.

Forgiveness feels like letting people off the hook. Releasing our vise grip
on “I told you so” and “You hurt me.” Without forgiveness, our hearts become
hard as stone, petrified wood, rotting slower than time.

Today’s Scripture verse reminds us feelings cannot be trusted, but God’s
mercy can. It’s not easy, this everyday surrendering of ourselves. We must
keep
our hearts open to be reworked day after day.

When past hurts rise up and our spiritual lives grow cold, it’s time to bare
our hearts to our Heavenly Father, who changes hearts of stone into hearts
of flesh. He is faithful to fill us with grace as many times as we need. On
repeat. Forever.

We don’t have to be cold, dead wood. We can be heat and life to this world
like God. He is constantly reminding us of places we need to let mercy in.
He
lays our hearts bare at the table, and we experience the great undoing,
recalibrating work of grace. We forgive so we will be forgiven. Totally.

Dear Jesus, old hurts and feelings still threaten to hijack my heart, but I
want to forgive like You forgive me. When I feel anger creeping in, let that
be the signal to forgive again and experience mercy’s healing power. In
Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Luke 23:34
, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.’
The soldiers threw dice to divide Jesus’ clothes between them.” (ERV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Christina Hubbard is a member of COMPEL Training, an online writing
membership community for those who want to write words that move people.
Registration
for COMPEL only opens a few times a year, and we’ll open it for a few days
in January. Sign up here
to be notified when registration opens again.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How much we forgive others determines the amount of God’s power we
experience in our spiritual lives. What hurts do you have that need to be
brought into
the light of forgiveness?

(c) 2016 by Christina Hubbard. All rights reserved.

Random Acts of Christian Kindness
View this email in your browser

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again;
and your reward shall be great.”
Luke 6:35

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
I’ve seen bumper stickers that exhort us to “show random acts of kindness.”
I think that’s a good thing. And what is kindness? It’s love in the little
things.

A woman came down the aisle of a church to give her heart to Christ, and the
preacher wanted to know what had impacted her life for Christ.
She said, “You did.”
The pastor said, “Well, I’d be interested to know what it was that I said
that brought you to Christ.”
She said, “It was nothing you said. It was something you did. I was standing
nearby when somebody criticized you very unfairly. I saw the kindness with
which you responded, and I knew that your faith was real.”

ACTION POINT:
What random act of kindness can you do today that will demonstrate that your
faith is real?

"Forgive Them"
by Chuck Swindoll

Acts 15:35-41

"Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing." Jesus managed
to utter those penetrating words through bleeding, cracked lips, swollen
from
the noonday sun. Impaled on that cruel, Roman cross, He interceded on behalf
of His enemies. What a magnificent model of forgiveness!

He paid the penalty in full for the sins of the world, the just for the
unjust. As a result of His sacrificial death, reconciliation was made
between man
and God. He's our model for correctly resolving disputes. Ultimately, it's a
matter of forgiveness.

"Father, forgive them . . . " What a way to live!

Before going on, you may have some honest reflecting to do. I invite you to
revisit your own unhealed wounded past. It may date back many years, it may
bring to mind the face of a parent, child, friend, former mate, fellow
employee, boss, coach, pastor, or sibling. They've wounded you. The pain has
lingered
all these years. You can't even hear their name or see a photograph without
all the anger and mistrust flooding your soul like a river overtaking its
banks.

My friend, it's time to move on. Seek a solution. Get help from someone
else, if you must. But get on with it. Whatever it takes to be free, do
that.

Right now, I invite you to stand all alone at the foot of the cross, look up
to Him, and deliberately release it all. See Him hanging there, bleeding and
dying, and embrace His forgiveness, for you and for your enemy. By
forgiving, you're not condoning their sin. You're simply leaving that to
God. That's

His turf, not yours. That's grace. And you can offer it to others because
you don't deserve it either.

Got a little homework to do? Get started on it before it gets too late and
you lose your way home.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives
(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R.
Swindoll, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Finding God when the World's on Fire
It's Your Ministry
Visit insight.org

Copyright © 2016 Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved
worldwide.
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Post  Admin on Mon 30 Jan 2017, 11:02 pm

Sweet Savor

In the beginning of the book of Leviticus there are instructions for
sacrifices. At the end of all of these is a phrase similar to the following:

Leviticus 1:9 (KJV)
9 But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall
burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of
a sweet savour unto the LORD.

What is this sweet savor or sweet aroma? We are not talking about the smell
of steaks grilling in a barbecue. These were burnt sacrifices. That would
not have a very pleasing smell, would it? So what is the sweet savor
mentioned all these times? It is obedience.

We see later in the same book what happened because of obedience and
disobedience:

Leviticus 9:22-10:3 (NCV)
22 Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. When he
had finished offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the
fellowship offering, he stepped down from the altar. 23 Moses and Aaron went
into the Meeting Tent. Then they came out and blessed the people, and the
Lord’s glory came to all the people. 24 Fire came out from the Lord and
burned up the burnt offering and fat on the altar. When the people saw this,
they shouted with joy and bowed
facedown on the ground. 1 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their pans for
burning incense, put fire in them, and added incense; but they did not use
the special fire Moses had commanded them to use in the presence of the
Lord. 2 So fire came down from the Lord and destroyed Nadab and Abihu, and
they died in front of the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what
the Lord was speaking about when he said, ‘I must be respected as holy by
those who come near me; before all the people I must be given honor.’ ” So
Aaron did not say anything about the death of his sons.

After all the sacrifices had been made just as God had commanded, His glory
came down and shone on all the people. Then His fire came down and burnt up
what was on the altar.

We don’t know why Nadab and Abihu didn’t follow God’s commands that Moses
gave them. They didn’t and had to pay the consequences of being struck dead
on the spot. God is holy and expects to be honored by His people by their
obedience.

Jesus Christ paid the supreme sacrifice on the cross and there will be no
more animal
sacrifices needed. All you must do is surrender your life to Jesus Christ.
If you belong to Jesus Christ, you are under grace and not the law. We can
repent and receive forgiveness for our sins. But God still wants our
obedience. We don’t have to worry about whether we are following the letter
of the law as found in the Bible but the Holy Spirit empowers us and the
love of Jesus Christ compels us to be obedient.

God still wants us to treat Him as holy. He always has been and always will
be holy but in this day and time it seems like we have gotten away from that
aspect of God. Do you treat Him as holy? Is there anything you do that does
not bring honor to Him? Is there anything that you do that brings honor to
yourself when it should bring the honor to God? May your life be a sweet
savor to God

by Dean W. Masters

Theology at Midnight
by Dr. Ray Pritchard

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

You discover your theology at midnight.

Until then, it's all theoretical. When midnight comes, you discover the
difference between theory and reality. I used to think that I learned my
theology
during the four years I spent at seminary. But that's not quite true. For
one thing, I already knew what I believed before I went to seminary. Those
four
years of systematic theology, Greek, Hebrew, Bible exposition, church
history and world missions gave me depth and breadth and perspective. I
suppose looking
back, I would say that in seminary I learned how much I didn't know, and I
was given the tools to learn more when I was out on my own.

When I graduated from seminary I felt like most graduates do - that I could
answer any question that came my way. Back then I had very definite opinions
about everything, including many areas where my knowledge was actually quite
shallow. I say that with a smile because it's good for young people to think
they can conquer the world. Where would we be without some young bucks to
challenge the status quo, to make us feel uncomfortable, and to push the
envelope?
I like it when I meet young folks with big dreams about what they want to do
for God. In this fragile, unpredictable world, we need the fire of optimism
that cries out, "Let's take that city for God!" So God bless the young men
and women who believe that all things-yes, all things!-are possible, and who
have no time or patience for those who ask questions or say, "Perhaps we
should think about that for awhile."

Not an Easy Road

Paul seems to have been that sort of man. Perhaps it was inevitable that a
man who had been zealous against Christ before his conversion would be
equally
zealous for Christ afterward. Armed with nothing more than the gospel of
Jesus, he spearheaded the Christian movement through Turkey into Greece and
on
to Rome, the capital of the Empire and the greatest city in the world. He
was, it seems, a force of nature. A man possessed by one great idea ("this
one
thing I do"), he proceeded to preach Christ wherever his name had not been
preached so that those who had never heard might come to saving faith.

But it wasn't an easy road. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27
he enumerates some of his hardships:

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more
severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received
from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with
rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and
a day
in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger
from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in
danger
from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at
sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have
often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone
without food; I have been cold and naked.

When he mentions being in prison frequently, he perhaps did so with a bit of
a wry smile because it was while he and Silas were in prison in Philippi
that
God worked a wonderful miracle on his behalf. The story as told in
Acts 16
goes like this. After casting an evil spirit out of a slave girl, Paul and
Silas were thrown into prison for what we today would probably call
disrupting
the peace. The two men were beaten, thrown in jail, put under close guard,
and placed in the inner cell with their feet bound in stocks.

It was not a pleasant situation.

So what do you do when you have been arrested, beaten, imprisoned, placed
under guard, with your feet bound in stocks, for nothing more than preaching
the gospel of Jesus Christ?

If you are Paul and Silas and it's midnight, you start praying and singing
hymns of praise to God.
Acts 16:25
says that the other prisoners were listening to them. No doubt these two
strangers looked like a mess after being severely beaten. The fact that they
were in stocks and under close guard told the other prisoners that Paul and
Silas were not ordinary criminals. So I ask again, what do you do at
midnight?

The answer is, it all depends on your theology, which you generally don't
discover until midnight. At that point you can't walk over to your library
to
pull out some book on theology, and you can't rifle through that big stack
of notes from your Greek class to see what it says to do when you've been
arrested.
You don't have access to a computer so you can't send an email or update
Facebook or Twitter your friends.

In that lonely moment, you discover your theology. You find out what's real
and what's purely theoretical.

Recently I read a short story about Major Ian Thomas, founder of
Torchbearers International
, that mentioned a saying that was fundamental to his understanding of the
Christian life:

Go where you're sent,
Stay where you're put,
Give what you've got.

The wisdom of that advice struck me, and as I meditated upon it, I began to
consider what great biblical principles it represents. It throws light on
the
darkness of that prison cell in Philippi where Paul and Silas were singing
and praying at midnight.

I. Go Where You're Sent.

If you consider that statement by itself, it may seem to have mainly a
geographic component. Abraham was called by God to go to a land that he
would later
receive as an inheritance (
Genesis 12:1-3
). So he went out from Ur of the Chaldees by faith, not knowing where he was
going (
Hebrews 11:8
). For him the "where" was definitely a location, one particular place.
He was always on the way to the Promised Land. If we examine Paul's case, we
can see that God definitely called him from Turkey to Greece (
Acts 16:9-10
), and when he crossed the Aegean Sea, he ended up at Philippi and began to
preach the gospel, winning men and women to Christ, and proceeding to
establish
a church in that city. Paul's one great calling was to preach the gospel of
Jesus Christ.
The "where" depended wholly on the Lord. That's why he wasn't thrown for a
loop when he ended up in jail, notwithstanding the very great physical
ordeal
of enduring a beating by the authorities. While we don't need to
sensationalize that, we shouldn't downplay it either. When Paul years later
told Timothy
to "endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (
2 Timothy 2:3 ), he knew what he was talking about.

There was nothing easy about being accused of disturbing the peace, being
publicly disgraced, derided, maligned and vilified. Nor was it pleasant to
be
beaten or thrown in prison alongside men who were truly criminals. Certainly
having your legs in stocks not only meant you could hardly move, it also
meant
you would have great difficulty lying down. So what do you do in that
situation?

It all depends on your theology. If you don't believe in the sovereignty of
God, then you'll probably be bitter and angry and very discouraged. If you
don't believe in a God who numbers the hairs on your head (
Matthew 10:30
), then you may think that something terrible has happened to you. But if
you believe in the sovereignty of God, then you know that nothing can happen
to you by accident. In that case, your reaction is likely to be quite
different.

You pray and sing hymns at midnight.

We find the key to the phrase "Go where you are sent" in the word sent. It
means that in every situation of life, Higher Hands are at work, leading you
on from where you are at this moment to where you are supposed to be next.
Many times those Higher Hands will seem to lead you in ways that make no
sense,
and you may not see any purpose in the things happening to you.

Several weeks ago I received an email from my friend Andy McQuitty, senior
pastor of Irving Bible Church in Irving, Texas. When I call Andy my friend,
that doesn't quite do justice to the situation. Back in the 80s, he we
served together at Northeast Bible Church in Garland, Texas. Often I would
go back
to his office and we would kibbutz together, dreaming about new ideas for
the church. Because we lived in the same subdivision and had young children,
we became very close. I can still remember when he came into my office and
said he felt called to move to the other side of Dallas and take the
pastorate
of a small church that had fallen on hard times. That was in the fall of
1987. In the years since then, under the good hand of God, Andy has led
Irving
Bible Church through many building programs, a major relocation, and in the
process it has become a mighty powerhouse for the Lord, attracting thousands
of people every Sunday.

I say that simply to mention that Andy and his wife Alice are dear friends
of ours. The email came out of the blue with some bad news. Following a
routine
physical exam Andy was diagnosed with colon cancer. That led to surgery
which led to a pathology report revealing that the cancer had spread to his
lymph
nodes, which means it might be elsewhere in his body. Not good news at any
time, but especially when you are only 53 years old.

So what do you say to that? How does the godly man respond to such a turn of
events? The answer is, it all depends on your theology. Remember, you don't
learn your theology at midnight. You discover it.
You find out what you really believe. Here are some quotes from two emails
he sent to his congregation after the news broke.

After discussing his medical situation, he put it in this context:

I'm not looking forward to all this and truly wish it wasn't on my plate,
but it is what the Lord has teed up for me and I'm at peace with that. After
all these years shepherding other people through these situations, it's my
turn now! Alice and my family are confident and trusting and a huge bulwark
of strength for me, and I think the Lord has much to teach me in these days.
So we go forward.

My doctors are very hopeful that we will have a very good outcome to this
surgery and that the procedure itself will be curative. Ah, but that's where
the Great Physician comes in. We're just putting it all in His hands.

The Lord is my Shepherd, and yours too. . . we shall not want!

And certainly he is praying for healing and trusting that that is what the
Lord has in mind. But there is always a deeper reality when you face
something
like colon cancer:

God truly is the strength of my heart. I kind of look at this fight with
cancer in the same way I look at riding motorcycles. If God is finished with
me,
nothing can save me. If He's not finished with me, nothing can touch me.
Just so you know, I've given Him all kinds of reasons not to be finished
with
me and I think I made an adequate case. We'll see.

Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns. Andy is bearing witness to his faith
in Almighty God.

That's the true meaning of "Go where you are sent." You go even though it
probably wasn't in your plan, and you go singing and praying and testifying
to
the goodness of the Lord.

II. Stay Where You're Put.

That just means that you go and serve the Lord wherever you happen to be,
even though it may not have been your first choice. That's why Paul and
Silas
were singing at midnight. They knew that God had sent them to the jail to
bear witness for their faith. As Paul and Silas sang and the prisoners
listened,
they had no idea of the earthquake that was about to set them free (vv.
26-28). Nor did they know that soon they would lead the Philippian jailer
and his
whole family to the Lord (vv. 29-34). That was all hidden to them. As far as
they knew, they would stay in prison a few days or a few weeks or a few
months,
and then they would go on trial. After that, no one could say what might
happen.

My point is, Paul and Silas weren't praying and singing in prospect of some
great miracle. They simply bore witness to the goodness of the Lord in a
most
difficult situation.

That's God's call to you and me too. "Stay where you're put" doesn't mean
passively accepting all the bad circumstances of life, and it certainly
doesn't
mean that you shouldn't try to change things if you can. But it does mean
that you believe down deep in your soul that you are where you are because
God
wants you there, and that when he wants you somewhere else, you'll be
somewhere else.

III. Give What You've Got.

Evidently Paul and Silas weren't trying to be quiet in the jail. Evidently
they prayed and sang loud enough that a crowd of prisoners listened to them,
amazed that two men in stocks, having been beaten and roughed up, no doubt a
sight to behold, would seem so cheerful and full of faith.

In jail!
At midnight!

How could this be? They discovered their theology and it carried them
through the darkness of the night.

When Andy McQuitty got the further news of lymph node involvement in his
colon cancer, he wrote at some length about a Hebrew word that pops up often
in
the Old Testament, especially when God calls someone to a special task. The
word is
hinnainee (hin-nay'-nee), which means "Here I am."

Here I am.
Ready to serve.
What do you want me to do?
What may I do for you?

It's what a servant says to the master.
It's what little boy says to his father.
It's what believers say to the Lord God.

Hinnainee. Here I am.

Abraham said it in Genesis 22:1 .
Jacob said it in Genesis 31:11 .
Moses said it in Exodus 3:4 .
Isaiah said it in Isaiah 6:8 .

Andy goes on to quote E. Stanley Ott who offers this insight:

"In every case, the person whom God called simply replied with the Hebrew
word
hinnainee (hin-nay'-nee), the word of the servant - which means "here I
am" - available - ready to serve - what may I do for you?"

When God calls, we can always find excuses to make: "Not me, Lord." "Go ask
someone else." "I'm busy." "I'm happy right where I am." For all of us, the
issue is not our personal desires but our response when the call comes. In
the truly tough stuff of life, we rarely get a choice in advance, which is
probably
a good idea because if we did, we would be sorely tempted to run the other
direction. But it is in moments like this that we discover our theology.

I'm not surprised that Paul and Silas sang in prison. Some of God's best
work gets done in prisons
.

John Bunyan went to prison for preaching the gospel and wrote
Pilgrim's Progress. Dietrich Bonhoeffer went to prison in World War II and
died testifying to God's grace. Chuck Colson went to prison and God gave him
the vision for Prison Fellowship.

I wonder what Paul and Silas prayed at midnight? I wonder if it was
something like what Paul wrote several years later in 2 Thessalonians
2:16-17
.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by
his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts
and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

When Eugene Peterson gave us his version in The Message, he started back in
verse 15 and came up with this:

So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a
tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by
our
letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and
surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart
in
you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.

I like that. "Take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high." We all
need that, don't we? And at midnight we've got to keep a tight grip on what
we know to be true. If it's true in the bright sunlight of noon, it's just
as true at midnight. So perhaps they prayed for courage and a "fresh heart"
and to be made strong so they could bear witness to the Lord.

John Piper said, "The universe exists so that we may live in a way that
demonstrates that Jesus is more precious than life." That truth does not
answer
all our questions, but it does provide the framework for an answer that will
prove true and strong in the worst moments of life. When tragedy strikes,
when life caves in, when your plans are dashed on the jagged rocks of
reality, when you find yourself in a place you never wanted to be, that's
when you
discover what you really believe. As long as things are going good, you
don't really know what you believe. It's all theoretical.
You discover your theology at midnight.

Anyone can sing "Shout to the Lord" when life is good, you've got money in
the bank, your marriage is strong, your kids are doing well, you're happy in
your job, you love your church, and all is right with the world. If with
Paul and Silas you can sing praise to God at midnight in jail, then what
you've
got is real.

Not only will you discover what you believe in times of trouble, that's also
when the world discovers what you believe.

Either God is enough or he isn't. Either Jesus is more precious than life or
he isn't.

The truth comes out, always. And in those moments, when you rest your weary
soul on the God of the universe, when you cry out to Jesus and discover that
he really is there after all, then you discover he was there all along,
everything he said turns out to be true, and the people who watch you know
that
you really believe what you say you believe. And having seen the difference
that Jesus makes in the worst moments of life, that's when they want what
you
have.

Lord, you are so good. Your mercies endure forever. We thank you that you
know what you are doing in every situation. We are glad about that because
many
times we are clueless. We rest our weary souls on you, the Rock of Our
Salvation.

Give us confidence to believe that the God who started a good work in us
will bring it to completion, and even today is bringing it to completion.
Grant
us grace to say "Here I am" when you call us to bear witness at midnight.
Help us to stand fast, never moved, trusting in you, now and forevermore,
until
the day comes when we see Jesus face to face. Amen.

[Content provided by Keep Believing Ministries .]
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The Gift of Friendship with God
December 13, 2016

Read: John 15:1-17

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his
master is doing; but I have called you friends. (v. 15)

Like a golden thread running through the life of Jesus–from the manger, to
the cross, to the resurrection, and into the very throne room of God–runs
the
revelation that God desires relationship, even friendship, with us.

In the advent of Christ, God becomes flesh, reaching out to us in a way we
can understand; signing a peace treaty with us that we did nothing to earn,
negotiate, or win. In Christ’s death, he tears the curtain from heaven
downward to signal his accessibility. The resurrection brings an end to the
power
of sin and death to stop our relationship with the Holy; and Jesus, who is
given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), chooses to use his
power, how? By interceding. Pleading on behalf of his friends!

Has the incredible offer of God’s friendship gripped you? Allow the truth of
it to penetrate the hardest edges of your story, to the place where shame
and fear taunt, or pride pushes you to work for approval. This offer of
friendship must work two ways: we must lay down insecurity and self-reliance
to
receive what we cannot deserve.

—Amy Clemens

Prayer:
Jesus, you who call us your friends, overwhelm us with the reality that
heaven has touched earth; Holy has touched unholy with a message of grace
too sweet
for our love-starved hearts to ignore.

MURDERED!

(From Spurgeon's autobiography)

There was a day, as I took my walks abroad, when I came by a spot forever
engraved upon my memory, for there I saw this Friend, my best, my only
Friend
. . .
MURDERED!

I stooped down in sad affright, and looked at Him. I saw that His hands had
been pierced with rough iron nails, and His feet had been torn in the same
way. There was misery in His dead countenance so terrible that I scarcely
dared to look upon it. His body was emaciated with hunger, His back was red
with
bloody scourges, and His brow had a circle of wounds about it--clearly could
one see that these had been pierced by thorns.

I shuddered, for I had known this Friend full well. He never had a fault--He
was the purest of the pure, the holiest of the holy.

Who could have injured Him?

For He never injured any man--all His life long He "went about doing good."
He had healed the sick, He had fed the hungry, He had raised the dead--for
which of these works did they kill Him? He had never breathed out anything
else but love--and as I looked into the poor sorrowful face, so full of
agony,
and yet so full of love--I wondered who could have been a wretch so vile as
to pierce hands like His. I said within myself, "Where can these traitors
live?
Who are these that could have smitten such a One as this?"

Had they murdered an oppressor--we might have forgiven them; had they slain
one who had indulged in vice or villainy--it might have been his desert; had
it been a murderer and a rebel, or one who had committed sedition--we would
have said, "Bury his corpse--justice has at last given him his due!"

But when You were slain, my best, my only-beloved--where did the traitors
hide? Let me seize them, and they shall be put to death! If there are
torments
that I can devise--surely they shall endure them all. Oh! what
jealousy--what revenge I felt! If I might but find these murderers, what I
would do to them!

And as I looked upon that corpse, I heard a footstep, and wondered where it
was. I listened, and I clearly perceived that the murderer was close at
hand!
It was dark, and I groped about to find him. I found that, somehow or other,
wherever I put out my hand, I could not meet with him, for he was NEARER to
me than my hand would go.

At last I put my hand upon my bosom. "I have you now!" said I--for lo, he
was in my own heart--the murderer was hiding within my own bosom, dwelling
in
the recesses of my inmost soul!

Ah! then I wept indeed, that I, in the very presence of my murdered Master,
should be harboring the murderer! I felt myself most guilty while I bowed
over
His corpse, and sang that plaintive hymn,
"Twas you, MY SINS, my cruel sins,
His chief tormentors were!
Each of my sins became a nail,
and unbelief the spear!"

Amid the rabble which hounded the Redeemer to His doom, there were some
gracious souls whose bitter anguish sought vent in wailing and
lamentations--fit
music to accompany that march of woe.

When my soul can, in imagination, see the Savior bearing His cross to
Calvary, she joins the godly women, and weeps with them; for, indeed, there
is true
cause for grief--cause lying deeper than those mourning women thought. They
bewailed innocence maltreated, goodness persecuted, love bleeding, meekness
about to die--but my heart has a deeper and more bitter cause to mourn.

MY SINS were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders, and
crowned those bleeding brows with thorns! My sins cried,
"Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" and laid the cross upon His gracious shoulders.

His being led forth to die is sorrow enough for one eternity--but MY having
been His murderer, is more, infinitely more grief than one poor fountain of
tears can express.

If Christ has died for me, as ungodly as I am, without strength as I
am--then I cannot live in sin any longer, but must arouse myself to love and
serve
Him who has redeemed me.

I cannot trifle with the evil which slew my best Friend.

I must be holy for His sake.

How can I live in sin--when He has died to save me from it?

~ ~ ~ ~

For further reading: J.R. Miller's
insightful and helpful short article, "
Nevertheless, Afterward ".
Feel free to FORWARD these gems to others who may be encouraged or profited
by them!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Weary?
Monday, December 26, 2016

"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will
give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble
and
gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy
to bear, and the burden I give you is light."
Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

It was a difficult time for many Christians. Surrounded by hostile forces
throughout the Middle East, these eighth century Believers settled in
monasteries,
seeking to find refuge, and a place to seek and serve God.

One of these Believers was a man we know as Stephen of Mar Saba. This Greek
monk lived in a monastery near the Dead Sea.

As choirmaster of this community, he responded to his responsibilities by
composing several hymns. One of these hymns, written in this island of
peace,
was called "Art Thou Weary" (in the 19th century English translation of John
Neale).

The inspiration of this hymn clearly was Jesus's promise to all who were
"weary and carry heavy burdens." His promise is to give His followers rest
and
peace. Such a promise must have been wonderfully welcome to Believers in
that monastery with Stephen.

Surrounded by enemies, facing an uncertain future, Stephen described how
Jesus called His people to let Him be their Guide. We may experience "many a
sorry,
many a labor, many a tear." But He promises us a crown of victory. "If I
still hold closely to Him, what hath He at last? Sorrow vanquished, labor
ended,
Jordan passed."

This is a testimony that can be confirmed by saints, apostles, prophets, and
martyrs who answer "Yes!" They know that, "finding, following, keeping,
struggling,
is He sure to bless."

Jesus still gives peace to all who come to Him. For all who feel weary, He
promises to take away our burdens. For, as God promised, He is the Prince of
Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, I commit these burdens to You: ________. Thank You for
taking away my burdens. Thank You for peace. I trust my life to You. In Your
name.
Amen.

Further Reading: Matthew 11
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It's Not About You!
by Chuck Swindoll

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

I need to underscore a foundational fact: God's goal is not to make sure
you're happy. No matter how hard it is for you to believe this, it's time to
do
so. Life is not about your being comfortable and happy and successful and
pain free. It's about becoming the man or woman God has called you to be.
Unfortunately,
we will rarely hear that message proclaimed today. All the more reason for
me to say it again: Life is not about
you! It's about God.

How can I say that with assurance? Because of Paul's response: "Most gladly,
therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of
Christ
may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults,
with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake;
for
when I am weak, then I am strong" (vv. 9–10). That's it! He got it too. And
he went with it for the rest of his days.

When you and I boast of our strengths, we get the credit, and we keep going
under our own head of steam. But when we boast in what He is doing in the
midst
of our brokenness, inability, and inadequacy, Christ comes to the front. His
strength comes to our rescue. He is honored.

Don't miss that point. The very things we dread and run from in our lives
are precisely what brought contentment to Paul. Look at the list: I am
content
when I lose. I am content when I am weak. I am content with insults. I am
content when I'm slandered. I am content in distresses. I am content with
persecutions.
I am content with difficulties and pressures that are so tight I can hardly
turn around. Why? "Because when I am weak then I'm strong." Knowing that
brought
the apostle, ablaze with the flaming oracles of heaven, to his knees. What a
way to live your life—content in everything—knowing that divine strength
comes
when human weakness is evident.

That's what gave the man of grace true grit. It will do the same for us.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives
(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R.
Swindoll, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Finding God when the World's on Fire
Spin-Free Perspective
Visit insight.org

Copyright © 2016 Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved

5 Life Lessons I Learned while Facing Death
Julie Barrier

I sat in a sterile, dark bedroom for these last months, isolated, gasping
for air. My doctors’ orders? Ninety doses of the strongest antibiotic known
to
man, IV infusions to protect my immune system, breathing treatments,
quarantine and bed rest. My prognosis? Not great. An 80 percent chance I
would lose
my lung and possibly my life if I developed complications.

God gave me a reprieve. He worked a miracle! I got my life back! God
answered prayers of so many who interceded for me.

I learned some profound lessons during those harrowing months. And I never
want to forget them.

1. Don’t fear death. Anticipate it with joy.

Paul said it best, “And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ,
whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying
is
even better.”
( Philippians 1:20-21 NLT)

Most Christians don’t fear going to be with Jesus. It’s the pain, the
debilitating suffering that often precedes death that terrifies us. My
husband often
preached, “Most of us think that we are in the land of the living en route
to the land of the dying. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If we
know
Jesus Christ, we are in the land of the dying traveling to the land of the
living.” I experienced glorious peace during my hard days. Complete release,
contentment and surrender washed over me.

2. Be brave.

When I opened my eyes each morning, I heard God sing these words in my
heart.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the
strength of my life! Of whom shall I be afraid?”
( Psalm 27:1 KJV)

My daughter Brianna fights intense pain, nausea, aching and migraines every
day. Her medicine box is a tool kit and a wall of her garage is stocked with
hospital paraphernalia. But like other courageous soldiers fighting chronic
illness, Brianna is fearless. She wakes up every day and puts one foot in
front
of the other. She doesn’t complain. She serves God powerfully, her family
tirelessly, and bubbles with a remarkable sense of joy. I thought of Brie
constantly
as I suffered. If she could face the pain with
faith , so could I.

3. Let God’s Word empower you.

Speak it. Pray it. Sing it. Envision it. The more you allow it to feed your
soul, the stronger your spirit becomes. When I was too weak to speak, I
listened
to my Daily Audio
Bible
and pictured every scene. His words fortified me.

The psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:92-93 GNT: "If your law had not been my
delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your
precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life."

4. Remember. Be grateful. Be glad.

My husband bought two rotating picture frames and uploaded 20,000 photos of
family, friends, ministry experiences and travel adventures we have shared.
He placed them on our kitchen island. Every day we stop, smile and thank God
as we relive those moments. I feel so blessed connecting with thousands of
Facebook friends: family, classmates, fellow pastors, missionaries and
church members from 40 years of ministry. I see my sweet Facebook buddies
and smile
every day.

Paul cherished his ministry partners as he penned these words from a dank
cell in the Mamartine prison:

“How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s
presence.”
( 1 Thessalonians 3:9 NLT)

5. Revel in each precious moment.

Don’t leave any words unsaid. Don’t leave any sin unconfessed. Hug the
people you love. Share Christ boldly. Give freely. Leverage your time and
energy
for His priorities.

My husband Roger taught me that. He faced life-threatening open heart
surgery at 13 and preached his first sermon that same year. My brave boy has
faced
death many, many times and came back swinging. His motto: “Four things
really matter: the person of Christ, the purpose of God, the people He gave
you,
and the prizes you earn to lay at His feet.”

“For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being
is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day.
And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous
and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. For we fix our attention,
not
on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen
lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.”
( 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 GNT)

I knew all of these lessons intellectually. I have taught them for years.
But now they are in my heart. When life gets dark, the glory of God shines
brighter.
I am not afraid of the valley of the shadow of death, because He is with
me... closer than I imagined!

Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com

Publication date: December 12, 2016

The Lord Ever-Present
View this email in your browser

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is
He that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
1 John 4:4

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
The One who created the valley is there with you! He has prepared the way
through the valley. It is not a place of permanence, but a place of passage.
He knows every twist and turn, every changing shadow, every den where danger
lurks—that One is with you!

Focus on the light and not the darkness. God has made you to walk through
shadows. When the shadow approaches, you must walk through. The One greater
than
death is in you! He is your Jehovah-Shammah—the Lord ever-present. His grace
is greater. His peace is purer. His devotion is dearer. Where Satan casts
a shadow, our Sovereign Lord reigns supreme.

ACTION POINT:
This is a day of hope. Meditate on 1 John 4:4 throughout the day and ask God
to give you a divine appointment to share this beloved truth with someone
today.

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.
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God Made Every Part of You for Worship
Ryan Lister / December 17, 2016
God Made Every Part of You for Worship

It really doesn’t take much.

It might happen when you hear your parents’ favorite Christmas carol.
Immediately the song transports you out of your sterile workday back to your
childhood,
to a living room bursting with tinsel, gifts, and anticipation.

Or maybe it happens when you smell the spices of cider moving through your
house this Christmas and you half-expect the memory of your grandfather to
be
standing in your kitchen, bragging about his
perfect recipe, through his playful grin.

Worship with All Five Senses

Of course, the memories aren’t always that idyllic. For some, they’re
unwelcome intrusions into a life under construction. Good or bad, sweet or
bitter,
the memories still come each Christmas. Just one small trigger, and
everything we’ve loved, lost, and treasured seems to swell up in our hearts.

Nostalgia arrives through our senses. What we hear, see, taste, touch, and
smell is the ink we use to write our mental autobiographies. We cannot
escape
our memories, because we cannot escape our senses, just like we cannot
escape ourselves.

This is beautiful because we were created this way for a purpose. God gives
us five senses to help us worship him: the sights, sounds, smells, textures,
and tastes testify to the diversity of God’s gifts and to the depth of
worship God deserves.

But in our pursuit to conform our hearts and minds to Christ, we often
forget the physical elements in worship. When we lose this dimension, we
often lose
what it means to be altogether human, and ironically we lose a principal way
God means to transform our hearts and minds. Our Lord consistently builds
worship around our senses.

Remember the Passover

Standing on the precipice of Israel’s chaotic redemption, God commands his
people to sit down for a meal — a directive that may seem slightly out of
place
and misguided. But when we see this scene in light of the whole drama, God’s
instructions are perfect. The exodus is not just about God leading Israel
out of Egypt; it is about God leading Israel into lifelong worship.

Passover is theological nostalgia. It defines the redemptive experience of a
whole generation, so much so that God commanded an encore performance every
year (Exodus 12:14). With every lamb, they smelled redemption. When they
tasted bitter herbs, they tasted God’s goodness. When they fastened their
sandals,
every step reminded them of his grace. Every time they dipped hyssop into
blood, they painted their theology.

Remember the Temple

The temple is the instrument God uses to overwhelm his people from the
outside in. Its worship patterns shock each of the physical senses to press
his
purposes into his people. God tuned Israel and her priests to his presence
and praise through the taste of showbread, the heat of the burnt offerings,
the scent of cedar and incense, the gloss of gold, and the echoes of
prayers. The temple’s multi-sensory experience brought the whole person
before the
presence and glory of God (2 Chronicles 7:1–2).

Like the Passover, every visit to the temple etched smells, touches, tastes,
sounds, and sights into the worshiper’s consciousness. After leaving the
temple,
when a familiar scent or sound broke their routine, they were pulled back in
memory to the place where God was present, where their sins went to die, and
where God’s promises were on full display.

Remember the Incarnation

In Christ, God took on flesh and tabernacled in the midst of his people
(John 1:14). In Christ, we see God and, simultaneously, what it means to be
truly human .

This is why Jesus’s ministry invades every part of us, including our senses.
Through mud-caked eyes, the blind can see. Through a touch of his garment,
he heals the broken. Through voicing a simple prayer, the multitudes taste
bread and fish without end.

In Jesus, the one who created our senses entered his world to redeem them.
He comes to touch, smell, hear, see, and taste death for his people so that
you and I may do what we were made to do: worship him with every part of our
being (Romans 12:1).

We were made for this. God calls us to taste this Bread of Life, to drink
this life-giving water, to see this light of the world, to smell the sheep
on
our Good Shepherd, to hear his question, “Who do you say that I am?” We were
made to touch his nail-scarred hands and see him standing outside the empty
tomb (John 20:27).

Remember the Good News

We need to hear and experience the gospel over and over again. God has made
a way for this. Jesus gives us new-covenant nostalgia in the bread and wine
of the Lord’s Supper. And through the waters of baptism, we see, taste,
hear, smell, and feel what it means to move from death to life.

God saves all of us — redeeming and reinterpreting our senses, too — so that
we can worship him more fully. So, taste and see — and touch, hear, and
smell
— that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). You were made for this — every part of
you.

The True Grace of Christian Camaraderie
John Piper / December 17, 2016
Copyright © 2016 Desiring God, all rights reserved


No matter what corner I go around on the winding road of life

(W.B. Hinson)

"I will lead them in paths that they have not known" Isaiah 42:16

I do not know what is around that next turn in this winding trail of life.
But I know this--whatever there is around that corner, I shall have my hand
in Another's hand when I go and face it. And if I feel a little bit
disturbed, I shall move my finger around in the palm of that hand till I
find the scar,
and then I shall know that Jesus Christ, who on the cross was wounded for my
sins--is not going to leave me no matter what corner I go around on the
winding
road of life
.

"Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip!" Psalm 17:5

~ ~ ~ ~

For further reading: J.R. Miller's practical short article, "
PRAYER in the Christian life
Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes).

Always There

I am with you always. - Matthew 28:20

The Lord Jesus is among His people; He walks between the golden
candlesticks; His promise is, "I am with you always." He is as surely with
us now as He
was with the disciples at the lake when they saw coals of fire and fish
being prepared for breakfast. Not physically, but still in reality, Jesus is
with
us. And an important truth this is, for where Jesus is,
love becomes passionate. Of all the things in the world that can set the
heart burning, there is nothing like the presence of Jesus! A glimpse of Him
is
so overwhelming that we are ready to say, "Turn away Your eyes from me, for
they have overcome me." Even the fragrance of the aloes and the myrrh and
the
cinnamon, which linger on His perfumed garments, causes the sick and the
faint to grow strong.

A moment's leaning of the head upon that gracious chest, welcoming His
divine love into our poor cold hearts, and suddenly we are no longer cold
but shine
like seraphs, equal to every task and capable of bearing every suffering. If
we know that Jesus is with us, every power will be heightened, and every
grace
will be strengthened, and we will cast ourselves into the Lord's service
with heart and soul and strength; therefore the presence of Christ is to be
desired
above all things. His presence will be realized most by those who are most
like Him.

If you desire to see Christ, you must grow in conformity to Him. Bring
yourself, by the power of the Spirit, into union with Christ's desires and
motives
and plans of action, and you are likely to be favored with His company.

Remember, His presence may be enjoyed. His promise is as true as ever. He
delights to be with us. If He does not come, it is because we hinder Him by
our
indifference. He will reveal Himself to our sincere prayers and graciously
allow Himself to be detained by our cries and by our tears, for these are
the
golden chains that bind Jesus to His people.

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Zechariah 13:2-9

verse 2 John 16
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Post  Admin on Thu 26 Jan 2017, 8:39 pm

KenBible.com
New Post on KenBible.com - Please Yourself, Lord
----------------------------------------------------------
Please Yourself, Lord
Posted: 06 Dec 2016 09:55 PM PST

My Lord Jesus,
I am amazed at
how much life You have breathed into my deadness,
how much loving wisdom into my selfish ignorance,
how much consistency,
how much holiness,
how much of Yourself You have grown in me.

Loving Lord,
Almighty God,
Merciful Friend,
this is my prayer today:

Please Yourself in me.
Wrap Yourself around my thoughts,
permeate my feelings,
seize my heart,
energize all You have made me.
Fulfill in me
all that Your wisdom has planned and
all that Your love has dreamed.

Lord, please Yourself fully in me today.

From God's Perspective
by Chuck Swindoll

Romans 8:22-23

Any study of the life of the apostle Paul requires a serious look at the
subject of pain. Suffering is not a pleasant subject to explore. Explaining
Paul's
words to the Romans, John Stott writes, "It is not only our fragile body
which makes me groan; it is also our fallen nature, which hinders us from
behaving
as we should. Our groans express both present pain and future longing. Some
Christians, however, grin too much (they seem to have no place in their
theology
for pain) and groan too little."

The man has grown weary of the perpetual Christian grin—frankly, so have I.
If you groan and allow your countenance to reflect any measure of inner
turmoil,
people frown at you judgmentally, as if to suggest you're not walking in the
Spirit. Don't get me wrong. I find nothing offensive about Christians
laughing.
I wrote an entire book affirming that God's people need to laugh more.
Laughter demonstrates authenticity in our lives. I simply believe there's no
need
to glue a permanent Cheshire grin to our faces, lest we look like we're not
living a victorious Christian life. If a fellow believer tells you he's
going
through a particularly tough time, I urge you not to insist he smile. (I
tell the folks at the church not to ask me to listen to one of my tapes on
joy
when they notice I'm feeling down.) Don't urge people to sing along with you
on some tune you think they should be singing. Sometimes we just don't feel
like singing or smiling. After all, God gave us more than one emotion on
purpose.

My desire is to help equip you for what life will inevitably sling across
your path. I understand you may be bearing a burden or heartache, the likes
of
which I've never known. You may be living with pressures or some
debilitating physical disease or emotional pain I couldn't even begin to
imagine. In almost
four decades of pastoral ministry, I've often seen the evidence of inner
turmoil surface on the faces of God's people. In those times, when I feel at
a
loss to offer encouragement, I am most thankful for the Scriptures. In God's
Word we not only discover His will for our lives, we find words of genuine
comfort for those times when life comes unglued.

So be careful not to grin too much and groan too little.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives
(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R.
Swindoll, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Finding God when the World's on Fire
Spin-Free Perspective
Visit insight.org
Copyright © 2016 Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved
worldwide.
Chuck Swindoll's Daily Devotional in your inbox Monday through Saturday from
Insight for Living Ministries.

God Loves to Work in Our Weakness
Travis Myers / December 16, 2016
God Loves to Work in Our Weakness

Although I ended cancer treatment in March, I am still very tired and
limited in what I can accomplish as a full-time professor and in my many
relationships
with friends, relatives, and neighbors.

My experience of weakness has been admittedly frustrating at times, but it
has also been, by God’s good and gracious design, very beneficial for me and
others. God is pleased to use our various kinds of weakness and limitation
to
remind us of important truths and refine our trust in him.

1. Weakness reminds us that our very life depends on God.

Weakness reminds us that our lives are but a vapor, that all flesh is like
grass. We are reminded that God provides each and every breath to our lungs
and beat of the heart. He has numbered our days (Job 14:5; Psalm 139:16). He
is the Creator who upholds all things, even our puny little magnificent
lives,
by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3). We cannot take for granted even the
mere fact of our lives.

This reminder bears the fruit of gratitude and humility.

Too often, when things are going well, we are tempted to forget how
dependent we are upon God for anything and everything (Deuteronomy 6:10–12).
Savings
accounts, good salaries, ministry success, healthy bodies, or a charming
personality can become the horses and chariots in which we put our trust
(Psalm
20:7). When our weakness reminds us that we depend on God and his providence
for life and breath, we find joy simply in knowing that we live by his good
pleasure.

2. Weakness reminds us that God will give us new bodies.

Our aches and pains and inabilities point us to our future perfected body
and soul. Feeling like you have one foot in the grave reminds you that you
have
one foot, already, in glory. Our longing for the resurrection is increased
by weakness.

As J.I. Packer writes
, “Our new body . . . will match and perfectly express our perfected new
heart, that is, our renewed moral and spiritual nature and character.” Our
present
weakness increases our yearning for the day when Christ gives us a new body
that “will never deteriorate, but will keep its newness for all eternity.”
The Christian hope, says Packer, “is understood not in the weak sense of
optimistic whistling in the dark, but in the strong sense of certainty about
what
is coming because God himself has promised it.”

This reminder bears the fruit of hopefulness and endurance in faith.

Romans 5:1–5 says those who have learned to rejoice in their sufferings will
endure through trials, trusting God and growing in Christlikeness. That is
because they look
back to God’s reconciling mercy at the cross and
forward to their full and final deliverance at Christ’s return. Romans 8:25
says that those who hope for the setting right of all creation, by the
Spirit
at work in them, wait for that inheritance with patience.

3. Weakness reminds us that we deserve wrath, but receive grace.

All of creation, ourselves included, suffers corruption, pain, and weakness
because of the sin of our first parents (Romans 8:18–21). And each of us
individually
has earned the just wrath of God for our own multitude of sins (Romans
3:23), let alone a little suffering in this life. We don’t deserve a weight
of glory
(2 Corinthians 4:17), but a weight of wrath.

Yet this world and our lives abound with so many good gifts from God. And we
Christians have the best gift, Christ, who is our life and our eternal
treasure.
We have been spared God’s righteous wrath, redeemed, forgiven by God,
reconciled to him, justified, adopted into his family. What mercy!

This reminder bears the fruit of sympathy and kindness.

The weak, being reminded of God’s tender mercy and forbearance toward them,
are assisted by the Spirit to better embody Ephesians 4:32–5:2: “Be kind to
one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave
you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love,
as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and
sacrifice to God.”

4. Weakness refines our trust in God’s wise and loving providence.

We learn obedience to God as we experience that nothing can separate us from
his Spirit. God never leaves us nor forsakes us (Joshua 1:9; Hebrews 13:5),
no matter how difficult things become. We learn that he knows exactly what
he is doing at all times, what he is up to through our trials, even when we
can’t comprehend it.

So we grumble a little less about our given lot. We learn a bit more
consistency in submission to our Savior and Lord, no matter what he brings
our way.
Our stiff necks grow a bit more flexible. We grow in the grace and knowledge
of the Lord (2 Peter 3:18).

In Finishing Our Course with Joy, Packer defines spiritual maturity like
this: “Spiritual maturity is a deep, well-tested relationship to our triune
God
through our Lord Jesus Christ, and a quality of relationship with both
believers and unbelievers that embraces concern, sympathy, warmth, care,
wisdom,
insight, discernment, and understanding.”

This lesson bears the fruit of neither thinking more highly, nor less, of
others than we ought.

There are various kinds of weak believers: the sick, disabled, elderly,
poor, those not intellectually gifted, those with unimpressive occupations,
the
socially marginalized (to whom little opportunity is given and from whom
little is expected). Some of the most sympathetic, caring, and wise people I
have
been privileged to meet and know fit one or more of those descriptions.
Their relationship with God has been tested and their character refined.

Our weakness reminds us that the marks of spiritual maturity are not the
abilities lauded by the world, like productivity or being a great public
speaker.
God chooses what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and what is weak
to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27). So let us move toward such people
not merely to serve them but to learn from them. Study God at work in their
lives. Look through their limitations to Christ inside. Listen to them
gladly
testify to God’s goodness, grace, and glory.

The Weak Will Conquer the World

All throughout the Bible, we see that God loves to draw attention to himself
and grow the trust of his people by working despite and through their
weaknesses
and limitations. Consider barren Sarah and Rachel, bumbling Moses, Gideon’s
small band, the young virgin Mary, and blue-collar Peter, among others.
Jesus
himself, the Lamb who was slain, ultimately demonstrates that it is meek
sheep who conquer and win the world.

The great — and ironic — wisdom of the cross is that God chooses the
foolish, weak, low, and despised to shame the strong and shut the mouths of
the proud.
God uses our weaknesses to remind us of important gospel truths and to
refine our trust in him.

What Is Your Capacity for Mystery?
John Piper / December 16, 2016

In twelve minutes, John Piper pulls apart some of the tensions between
Calvinism
and Arminianism. Believing the whole Bible, with all of its varied pieces,
is not a small or simple thing. A theology that lives “by
every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4) will require a
great deal of mystery. Those of us who accept both truths of our full human
responsibility
and God’s absolute sovereignty can, as G.K. Chesterton wrote, “see two
different pictures at once and yet see all the better for that.” The
question is
whether you are able to admit that the Bible can say two things that seem
to our minds to be contradictory and, in the end, not contradict each other
after all.

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

This clip is taken from a Look at the Book seminar on Romans 9, by John
Piper. Full audio and video from the seminar,
The Word of God Has Not Failed, may be found here .

Advent Devotional Readers
John Piper / December 2016

Desiring God
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Minneapolis, MN 55413
Copyright © 2016 Desiring God, all rights reserved
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Post  Admin on Wed 25 Jan 2017, 7:51 pm

Fools for Christ
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Editor

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose
the weak things of the world to shame the strong. – 1 Corinthians 1:27

I was leaving the grocery store and had just started my car, when I was
approached by a man pushing a stroller. I assumed he was going to ask for
directions,
but it turned out that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

"Hey man, I really need some help. My daughter and I just got evicted from
our apartment." He proceeded to rattle off his story as I listened
uncomfortably.
He had contacted Social Services but they wouldn’t be able to help him until
tomorrow. His wife had left when things got tough. He was afraid of losing
his daughter. He'd found a cheap motel to stay in, but he still needed
seventeen dollars to pay for the room.

Now, several things began to buzz through my head as he talked. The first
was how I didn’t trust a thing he was saying. In Asia, I’d seen female
beggars
use their children to garner sympathy from passing strangers. In South
America, older men would hold Bibles or crosses, not because they were
Christians
but because it encouraged people to give more generously. Everything about
his story felt rehearsed, staged, right down to the toddler in his stroller.

The second thing was that the man had said he needed $17, which was the
exact amount I had in my wallet. I had been hoping to use that money to grab
a
lunch out or maybe see a movie, but could I really justify being so selfish
if this guy really needed it? I considered giving him a few bucks just to
make
him go away, but withholding the rest didn’t seem any better than giving him
nothing. It felt like I was trapped between two choices, would I be stupid
or heartless. Eventually, I considered what Christ would have me do, and
handed over the money along with my best wishes.

I don’t know what became of that man. Maybe he was telling the truth, maybe
he was lying, and to be honest I don’t really care. God has called us to
love,
and you cannot love others if you are afraid of looking foolish. Remember
what the
Bible says in the book of Matthew,

“’You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I
tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right
cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak
as well.
If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to
borrow from you.’” –
Matthew 5:38-42

Intersecting Faith and Life: Consider this: Love is like dancing, you'll
never do it well if you're afraid of how you look.

Further Reading

1 Corinthians 4

Global Prayer Digest People of the Day
Healings in Iran
Dec 07, 2016 12:00 am

Today's Devotional

Luke 9:2, NET "...and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to
heal the sick."

Pray that when there are divine healings that Iranian Muslims will see that
the true God of Heaven is at work in their midst. Pray for healings to lead
to the extension of His Kingdom in Iran.

Today's People Group

Fadila knew her mother was sick. She’d been bedridden since having a stroke.
None of the doctors could do anything for her. Later one of Fadila’s
brothers
brought two men of faith to the house. “They have the ability to heal,” he
said. The men prayed in the name of Jesus, and their mother was healed. She
rose from her bed and the entire family decided to follow Jesus after that.
The above incident happened in Iran. The names of the people involved have
been changed for security reasons. God is using people in Iran with the gift
of healing to lead people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Almost all
of these new believers come from Muslim backgrounds. They are learning that
Jesus Christ not only has the power to heal, but also the compassion to take
care of them in their time of need. They see both power and true holiness
in Jesus.

Pray that divine healings will continue to happen in Iran. Ask God to direct
new believers to places of worship where Christ is glorified, and people are
being discipled in the ways of the Lord. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give
people who have been healed the willingness to boldly pray for others in the
name of Jesus.

Learn more at Joshua Project .

The Ministries of Francis Frangipane

To Behold the Face of God
( En Español )

Have you not deeply desired to see God, to know Him intimately and truly?
Beloved, to see Jesus is to behold God. Let us not consider it heresy:
we can surely see God! But first we must renounce every perception of the
Almighty other than what we have found proven true in Christ.

Therefore study the life, the teachings, and deeds of Jesus Christ, and you
will remove the veil of mystery surrounding the nature of God.

Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).

What truth could be more profound? Each time we read of what Jesus did, we
are actually beholding the nature of God. Every time we listen to what Jesus
taught, we are hearing the voice of the living God.

Jesus is the image of the invisible Father (Heb. 1:2-3). "In Him all the
fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Col. 2:9). Jesus is God's form. He
mirrored
on earth those things He saw His Father doing in Heaven; He echoed the words
the Father whispered to Him from eternity.

Do you truly desire to see God? Christ's words are windows through which the
pure in heart behold the Almighty.

Certainly others can edify our souls greatly, but no prophet, apostle, or
teacher excels the revelation of God in Christ. Ponder Christ, and you
contemplate
the nature of God. Eat His words and you assimilate into your spirit the
substance of the Almighty.

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many
portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son"
(Heb. 1:1-2).

God spoke to the prophets "in many portions and in many ways." Indeed, all
their words inspire, correct, and guide our souls; they are all profitable
for
reproof and correction, that we may be fully instructed. But "in these last
days [God] has spoken to us in His Son."

Prophets will point the way; Christ is the way. Teachers will expound the
truth; Jesus is the truth. Apostles will proclaim the life; Jesus is the
life.
Yes, all speak the word, but the Son of God is the Word.

The teachings of Jesus Christ are not to be blended into the Scriptures as
though He were one of many equally important voices used by God. He is, in
truth,
the living revelation of God Himself, the sole expression of His invisible
glory. When Christ speaks, we are listening to God unfiltered, unbiased,
unveiled.

So, I ask again, would you see God? Would you pursue the glory of the Lord?
Study Jesus. Ponder His words and deeds. For to steadfastly gaze upon Jesus
is to behold "the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).

Father, I want to see Your glory and to dwell in Your presence. Answer Your
Son's prayer in John 17:24 through me, that I might be with Christ where He
is to behold Your glory. Make Your Word come alive to me, and let it
transform my soul. Renew my mind that I might live in perpetual union with
You.

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

Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, I Will Be Found by You, available at
www.arrowbookstore.com .

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

Accepting Level I Registrations
through December 29, 2016

In Christ's Image Training

Level I classes begin January 6, 2017

There are qualities of heart that actually attract the pleasure of God. If
we possess unoffendable faith in our pursuit of Christ's likeness; if we
walk
humbly with our God; if we position ourselves in the intercessor's gap; and
if we abide in Christ-centered unity with the local body of Christ -- we
will
attract the pleasure of God, and when we awaken His pleasure, His power soon
follows. Sign up today for our next
In Christ's Image Training course that begins January 6, 2017.

Registration closes December 29, 2016 www.icitc.org .

In Christ's Image Training is a six-month, online course developed by Pastor
Frangipane. It is based on 45 years of seeking God, study and revelatory
insights.
These are proven truths that break chains and lead to power in our Christian
walk.

ICIT provides focused training in four essential stages of spiritual
development:

The vision of attaining Christ's likeness
Possessing Christ's humility
Developing a strong prayer life
Becoming one with other Christ believers

The course comes right to your home via email and audio messages and is
designed to lift one's focus toward the actual presence of Jesus Christ. The
full
course not only includes 48 lessons and 39 audio messages (
sample audio), but the discerning student will actually find the Lord using
the weekly lessons to stage opportunities to deepen the truths found in the
training.

For those with limited funds, the entire text is free by email. Just enroll
in the Free Lesson Plan (new students only please).

Student testimonies | Francis presenting the course

Enrollment overview:

1) Go to www.icitc.org and read through the Level I page, FAQ page,
Level I Syllabus page, and Tuition page.

2) Choose an enrollment plan.

3) Next, complete the Level I Registration form before the end of the
day, Thursday, December 29.

4) Submit the registration form - Class begins January 6, 2017.

For more info, please see www.icitc.org .

Training also available in Spanish / Español

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

Save 25% off every resource in our bookstore

Use coupon code: BLESSING2016

Visit Arrow Bookstore to order

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

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Printer-friendly version .

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Post  Admin on Tue 24 Jan 2017, 6:09 pm

What about it?

"...the water I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." John 4:14.
If you’ve ever travelled through the desert-- you’ll notice that it’s mile after mile of dry and barren landscape.
Then suddenly, there’s a spot of green, some trees, bushes, and flowering plants. It always means there’s some kind of water source nearby.
With water, the desert blossoms and comes to life.
The same is true in our lives.
Without God-- we tend to dry up when life gets hard.
It saps us of all our energy, creativity and drive. We eventually feel beaten down, worn out, and dried up.
But Jesus says, “I am living water; anyone who accepts me will never be thirsty again.”
He wasn’t talking about physical thirst. He was talking about satisfying our spiritual thirst so we can blossom and come to life.
What about it? Do you sometimes feel like a dry, dusty shrub in a desert of emptiness?
Come to Christ and enjoy a cool drink of water whenever you need it. ​​

The Impact of Light
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

"For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light."
Psalm 36:9 NASB


Joseph Turner was recognized as one of the great painters in the world by the early 19th century. Yet he kept looking for ways to improve his art. Born in London in 1775, he experienced what became a turning point when he visited Italy for the first time in 1819.

In particular, what struck Turner was the light in that country. Suddenly, through the impact of that light, it seemed he was seeing life a new way. His approach to painting changed.

In his biography of Turner, James Hamilton describes "the shock of this first encounter with Venice." More than ever before, he realized the importance of light.

Through his paintings, particularly after his experiences in Italy, Turner sought to illustrate the difference made by light. As he realized, light gives us a new perspective and changes how we look at people, things, and events in the world. And, when the light shines brightly, it changes our attitude toward problems and challenges.

The Bible tells us that, as the first act of creation, God spoke light into a world filled with darkness (Genesis 1:2-5). God Himself is our light (Psalm 27:1) and He called us "out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). We know that Jesus was the light of the world (John 9:5), but He also told us that, now, we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). And only in His light can we see light.

Today, the world is filled with spiritual darkness. They cannot see, and need the light. But we have it! And we are called to bring the Gospel to them. To be witnesses! To testify to the Truth. Dedicate yourself to this task. Walk in the light. And let His light shine through you.


Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, help me live in the light of Your Word. Use me to spread the light to the nations. I dedicate my time, talent, and treasure to You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Further Reading: Psalm 36

Four Steps to Stop Worry
By Rick Warren

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter
5:7 NLT, second edition).

It takes more than willpower to stop worrying. You already know that,
because you’ve already tried it. You’ve thought, “I shouldn’t worry about
this,”
and yet you just keep on worrying about it.

It’s going to take more than your willpower to stop worrying. It takes four
things:

1. You have to get to know God.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:32 , “People who don’t know God and the way he works
fuss over these things” (MSG). If you don’t have a relationship with God,
you
have every reason to worry. You’ve got to get to know God! As a believer,
you have a heavenly Father who has promised to take care of you. You are God’s
child, and children get special privileges. When you worry, God says, “You’re
my child. Why are you acting like an orphan?”

2. You have to put God first in every area of your life.

Matthew 6:31-33 says, “Don’t worry at all about having enough food and
clothing .... Your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you
need them,
and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and
live as he wants you to” (TLB). Any time you take God out of the center of
your
life and put anything else there -- no matter how good it is -- you’re going
to worry.

3. You have to live one day at a time.

The Bible says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have
its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own”

(Matthew 6:34 NCV). If you’re worrying about tomorrow, you can’t enjoy
today. You miss today’s blessings. It’s OK to plan for tomorrow, but you
have to
live for today. Also, when you’re always worried about tomorrow, the future
gets overwhelming. But God will give you the grace and strength you need
when
you get there. Right now, you only need enough power for today.

4. You have to trust God to care.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you”
(1 Peter 5:7 NLT, second edition). How do you do that? One way is to
memorize God’s promises in the Bible. They’re like an insurance policy for
believers.
When you know something’s covered, you don’t worry about it anymore. Another
way is to pray. If you prayed as much as you worried, you’d have a lot less
to worry about.

What’s the result of taking these four steps? Incredible peace of mind:
“You will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human
mind can understand”
(Philippians 4:7 a TLB).

Pray this prayer today: “Dear Father, I admit that I often forget that you
are with me. I often forget what you’re like. Would you please forgive me
for
that? I need to get to know you better. I need to get to know your Word and
your promises better. Help me to put you first in every area of my life.
Help
me to live one day at a time. Help me to not worry about tomorrow but
instead focus on what you’re doing in my life right now. I want to trust in
your
promise to take care of every one of my needs -- financial, relational,
physical, social, spiritual, and emotional. Help me to trust you more and
worry
less. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Welcome to the Illustrator
Today's Bible Verse:

Mic 6:8b: "Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and
loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously - take God
seriously."
(The Message)

By Answers2Prayer
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Who Put that Large Swimming Pool Around my Home?

It was another splendid but swelteringly steamy day in Tucson, Arizona, and
we, along with our welcome company from overseas, were completely wilted.
All
we could think about was a walk through the cool, air-conditioned mall that
was just twenty minutes away. We made sure to leave our home well-secured,
with our dog safely locked up in her pen, and we set off for a refreshing
stroll through the shops. To make the trip even more special, we treated
ourselves
to some ice-cream that was cold enough to cause Goosebumps to grow all over
our bodies.

An hour later we made our way back home, completely refreshed by our outing.
We couldn't believe what we saw upon our arrival . . .

"Who put that huge swimming pool all over our neighbourhood?" I asked.

"I hope there are no sharks in the water!" answered my wife.

We had been warned that we were living on a hundred-year flood plain, but we
had assumed we had more than enough time to reach our hundredth year. I
guess
nature decided otherwise! Water reached the third step leading into our
home, coming barely short of making an undignified entrance. Our shed was
completely
flooded, along with all of its contents. Even the dog house was flooded.
Wait a minute: The dog!

"Where's my dog???" cried my wife.

We both rushed knee-deep into the pen, but there was no dog to be found. Had
she drowned and sunk to the bottom of that 2 feet of water? We searched the
pen, but found nothing, a fact that made us both very happy. But if she
wasn't there, then where could she be?

Just then our neighbour waded over to greet us. "It's a monsoon," he
explained. "It just came up all of a sudden, and within minutes we had two
feet of
water. We were worried about your dog, and we brought her to our house."

Thank heaven for special neighbours!

This reminds me of Mic 6:8: "But he's already made it plain how to live,
what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do
what
is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously - take God seriously." (The Message)

When others do face some of life's heavy storms, may we be the neighbours we
would like to have!

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." (Matt
7:12 NIV)

We can make a difference in this world through Jesus, the Christ!

"Would anybody like a huge neighbourhood pool? I know where you can find
one, for free!"

Rob Chaffart

Announcement:

As promised, on the first Monday of every month, we be publish one oldie
from our devotional files. Enjoy!

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

Dependence on God—A Witness of His Power
BIBLE MEDITATION:
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the
power may be of God, and not of us.”
2 Corinthians 4:7

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
If you’re like most people, you don’t realize your dependency on God until
you’re burned out from stress—either self-induced or caused by circumstances
beyond your control.
Why is that?
Paul says it’s because we are fragile. But he doesn’t stop there. He says
that God made us this way so that His power may be known through us!

Maybe someone told you, “Oh, just tie a knot and hang on!” Sometimes God
wants us to let go of the rope because it is keeping us tied down to our
destructive
habits. We are totally dependent on God so that the love of His Son may be
made known to the world.

ACTION POINT:
Get a piece of rope and tie a knot in it. Let it sit on your desk this week
as a reminder that God is more than just a knot at the end of the rope. He
is the Savior of the World!
Copyright © 2016 Love Worth Finding Ministries, All rights reserved.
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The Ministries of Francis Frangipane

"This Time I Will Praise the Lord"
( En Español )

We cannot pass through life without getting hurt. Pain and disappointment in
this world are inevitable. How we handle our setbacks, though, shapes our
character and prepares us for eternity. Our attitude is the pivotal factor
determining the level of our protection from strife. Regardless of the
hardships
we have faced, and in spite of the mistakes we have made, the end of our
lives can either be full of praise and thanksgiving or full of misery and
complaint.
In the final analysis, what we have experienced in life will be as rich as
the desires we have had fulfilled or as painful as the things we regret.

The Bible tells us, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Prov. 13:12). Deep
disappointments in life have a way of never leaving us; they enter our
hearts
like fire and then harden into our nature like lava. Setbacks can leave us
cautious about new ventures and suspicious of new friends.

Our woundedness restrains our openness. We are fearful that we will be hurt
again by new relationships. Gradually, unless we learn to handle heartache
correctly, we can become embittered and resentful cynics. We lose the joy of
being alive.

The Source of Fulfillment
It is our own desires and the degree of their fulfillment that produce
either joy or sorrow in our lives. Even basic desires for marriage or
friends can
enslave us if they consume our attention. Are these desires evil? No, but if
having our desires fulfilled is the main reason we have come to Christ, it
is possible our lives simply will not improve until our priorities change.

Have no doubt, the Lord is concerned about fulfilling our desires, but to do
so He must turn our hearts toward His grace. Indeed, the reason we are alive
is not to fulfill our desires but to become His worshipers.

The quest for personal fulfillment can become an idol; it can develop into
such an obsession that we are living for happiness more than living for God.
Thus, part of our salvation includes having our desires prioritized by
Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount, He put it this way: "Seek first His
kingdom
and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not
worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself" (Matt. 6:33-34).
God
wants to, and will, satisfy us beyond our dreams, but not before He is first
in our hearts.

A wonderful example of this can be seen in the life of Leah, Jacob's first
wife. Leah was unattractive, unwanted, and unloved by her husband. Jacob had
served Laban, Leah's father, seven years for Rachel, who was Leah's younger
sister. On their wedding night, however, Laban put Leah in the nuptial tent
instead of Rachel. Although Jacob actually did marry Rachel a week later, he
had to work another seven years for her. So Jacob had two wives who were
sisters.

The Scriptures tell us that Rachel was loved by Jacob, but Leah was hated.
Yet we also read that "the Lord saw that Leah was hated . . ." (Gen. 29:31
KJV).
We must understand this about the nature of God: the Lord is drawn to those
who hurt. "The Lord saw . . . Leah." What wonderful words! In the same way
water descends and fills that which is lowest, so Christ reaches first to
the afflicted, to fill the lowliest and comfort them.

The Lord saw that Leah was unloved. He saw her pain, loneliness and
heartache. Leah, though unloved by Jacob, was deeply loved by the Lord, and
He gave
her a son. Leah's reaction was predictable. She said, "Surely now my husband
will love me" (v. 32).

Worse than living your life alone is to be married to someone who hates you,
as was Leah. How Leah wished that Jacob would share the love he had for
Rachel
with her. Who could blame her? Leah's desires were justified. She had given
Jacob a firstborn son. In her mind, if the Lord could open her womb, He
could
also open Jacob's heart. But the time was not yet; Jacob still did not love
her.

Twice more Leah gave birth to sons, and each time her desire was for her
husband. She said, "Now this time my husband will become attached to me,
because
I have borne him three sons" (v. 34). Yet Jacob's heart still did not desire
her.

For Leah, as well as for us, there is a lesson here: you cannot make another
person love you. In fact, the more pressure you place upon others to accept
you, the more likely they are to reject you instead. Leah's concept of
fulfillment was based on attaining Jacob's love, and now her problem was
worsening.
Not only was she unattractive to Jacob, but also her jealousies were adding
to her lack of loveliness.

Three times we read in this text that the Lord saw and heard that Leah was
unloved. He saw her affliction. Through all her striving for Jacob and her
disappointment
with her marital relationship, the Lord was tenderly wooing Leah to Himself.

As Leah became pregnant a fourth time, a miracle of grace occurred within
her. She gradually became aware that, while she had not been the focus of
her
husband's love, she was loved by God. And as this fourth pregnancy drew near
to completion, she drew nearer and nearer to God. She became a worshiper of
the Almighty.

As she gave birth to another son, she said, "This time I will praise the
Lord" (v. 35). She named that child
Judah, which means, "praise." It was from the tribe of Judah that Christ was
born.

Leah had been seeking self-fulfillment and found only heartache and pain.
But as she became a worshiper of God, she entered life's highest
fulfillment:
she began to please God.

It is right here that the human soul truly begins to change and enter God's
stronghold. As Leah found fulfillment in God, He began to remove from her
the
jealousies, insecurities, and heartaches that life had conveyed to her. A
true inner beauty started growing in Leah; she became a woman at rest.

Likewise, we each have character defects that we are reluctant or unable to
face. Others have seen these things in us, but they have lacked the courage
to tell us. Both physically and personally, these flaws in our nature are
what leave us feeling anxious and threatened.

It is not counsel or classes on success or self-esteem that we need; we
simply need to discover God's love for us. As we begin to praise Him in all
things,
we simultaneously put on the garments of salvation. We are actually being
saved from that which would otherwise have destroyed us!

Disappointments and heartaches cannot cling to us, for we are worshipers of
God! And "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love
God" (Rom. 8:28). If we continue to love God, nothing we experience can
ultimately turn out harmful since God takes all we pass through and, in His
redemptive
power, works it for our good

The Tree of Life
You will remember the verse we quoted, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick"
(Prov. 13:12). The verse concludes with, "But desire fulfillment is a tree
of life." As our desires are fulfilled, we are fulfilled. Since it is the
fulfillment of our desires that fills us with satisfaction, the secret to a
rewarding
life is to commit our desires to God.

Let Him choose the times and means of our fulfillment, allowing the Lord to
prepare us for Himself along the way. The truth is that in ourselves we are
incomplete; but in Christ we have been made complete (Col. 2:10).

You say, "That's easy for you to say. You have a wonderful wife and family.
You are blessed. But you don't understand my problems." Yes, I do. My
wonderful
marriage was very difficult for the first few years. We struggled with many
things in our relationship. My wife and I both came to the place where we
were
unfulfilled in each other. But, like Leah, we both looked to God and said,
"This time I will praise the Lord." In fact, we named our second child the
very
name Leah gave to her fourth -- Judah.

For us, as for Leah, our lives were turned around as we chose to delight in
God. As we became His worshipers, He began to work on our hearts until we
were
not only more pleasing to Him, we were also pleasing to each other! What I
am relating to you is the very thing that saved and blessed our marriage!

Psalm 37:4 reads, "Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the
desires of your heart." As you delight in God, you change. The negative
effects
of disappointment and grief fall off. As love and joy from God begin to
fulfill us, our very souls are restored and beautified. Yes, delight
yourself with
Jesus and your self-destructive tendencies will actually begin to vanish.
Christ will beautify your life from the inside out.

The Outcome of Leah's Life
What happened with Leah? Well, the long years came and went. In time, Rachel
and then Leah died. Jacob, on his deathbed, spoke to his sons: "I am about
to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave . . . which
Abraham bought . . . for a burial site. There they buried Abraham and his
wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried
Leah" (Gen. 49:29-31).

Jacob had buried Leah in the ancestral place of honor! Oh how those words,
though few, imply so much! They tell us that God had, in some marvelous
inner
way, beautified this afflicted one with salvation. After Leah found
fulfillment in God, God gave her fulfillment in Jacob. We can imagine that
over the
years inner peace and spiritual beauty shone forth from Leah; Jacob was knit
to her in love. It is not hard to imagine that when Leah died, she left
smiling,
with the praises of God upon her lips.

Become a worshiper of God! As you surrender your desires to Him, as you put
Him first, He will take what you give Him and make it beautiful in its time.
He will take what has been bent and imbalanced within you and make you stand
upright in His light and glory.

Therefore, this day speak to your soul. Tell the areas of unfulfillment
within you that this time you will praise the Lord!

Lord, I am a Leah, unlovely and always seeking the love of those who have
rejected me. How foolish I have been. How blind. There is no love, no
fulfillment
in this life apart from You. You are the tree of life that satisfies all
desires; You are the healer of my heart. I love You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

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

Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, I Will Be Found by You, available at
www.arrowbookstore.com .
A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.
Copyright (c) 2016
All rights reserved.

Promises, Promises

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)
20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory
of God through us.

Has God ever spoken to you through your spirit while reading Scripture and
given you a promise? After a while did it seem like God had forgotten the
promise He gave to you? You are not the only one this has happened to. God
spoke
directly to Moses and told him exactly what was going to happen and what to
do. Moses went to Pharaoh and asked him to let them go worship their God.
Pharaoh hardened his heart as God said he would and made it harder for the
Israelites. Then the Israelites came to Moses and fussed at him. Then the
following happened:

Exodus 5:22-23 (NCV)
22 Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have you brought
this trouble on your people? Is this why you sent me here? 23 I went to the
king and said what you told me to say, but ever since that time he has made
the people
suffer. And you have done nothing to save them.”

God then reminded Moses of the wonders that he and Aaron would perform in
front of Pharaoh. God again promised Moses that the Israelites would leave
Egypt.

God does make promises but they may take longer than we think to occur. God
may do this to test us to see if we will remain faithful while we wait for
Him to work. Sometimes the promise has come but the demons cloud our eyes to
that fact by creating other
problems or similar problems. Then we don’t look at the great thing that God
has done and see the new problems and forget about what God has done.

When God gives you a promise, don’t look at your circumstances, look only to
God.

by Dean W. Masters
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Reading the Bible is like eating fish!

( Charles Spurgeon )

An old man once said, "For a long period I puzzled myself about the
difficulties of Scripture
, until at last I came to the resolution that reading the Bible is like
eating fish
. When I find a difficulty--I lay it aside, and call it a bone. Why should I
choke on the bone--when there is so much nutritious meat for me? Some day,
perhaps, I may find that even the bone may afford me nourishment!"
Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

God's Waiting Room
by Chuck Swindoll

Acts 11:25 ; 2 Corinthians 12:2-6

If you go back fourteen years from the time Paul wrote the second letter to
the believers at Corinth, that places him at the time he was waiting in
Tarsus.
Quite possibly, during one of his numerous floggings he received in Tarsus,
or in an agonizing battle to survive being stoned, he lapsed into a
semi-conscious
state—something of a trance. Possibly, while in that state of mind, the Lord
transported him to Paradise and revealed inexpressible, profound truths to
him.

The point I want to make is, even in all that, he refused to boast in his
giftedness. Instead, he confessed, "I will rather boast about my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may dwell in me . . . for when I am weak, then I
am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). That's true humility. Incredible
perspective.
He learned
to boast in nothing but his own weakness. And, remember, he learned that in
the shadows. But nobody knew about it. His transformation never made the
headlines.

Your time of God-ordained waiting will never be all that significant in
other people's minds. All they may know is that you dropped out of sight.
You're
gone from the scene. It may begin with a bankruptcy. It may start with a
horrible experience you go through, such as a tragic accident or a
devastating
illness. You may endure the pain of a torn reputation caused by someone who
didn't tell the truth. All that devastation has a way of breaking you. The
Lord uses the disappointment to lead you to your own Tarsus—otherwise known
as His waiting room. There He begins to work deep within your soul until
you,
like Paul, gain such a renewed perspective, you can honestly confess, "When
I am weak,
He is strong." When that happens, as it did with Paul, you will be ready to
come out of the shadows.

Paul was now ready. Not surprisingly, God moved.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives
(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R.
Swindoll, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Finding God when the World's on Fire
Spin-Free Perspective
Visit insight.org
Copyright © 2016 Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved
worldwide.

Why You Need to Fire "Life Coach Jesus"
Scott Slayton

Several years ago, Home Depot used the slogan, “You can do it. We can help.”
A lot of what I hear in popular evangelicalism reminds me of these words.
We present Jesus as the one who can help you fulfill your potential, reach
your dreams, and live the life that you have always wanted. We talk about
him
as if he is standing on the sidelines of our lives yelling, “you can do it,
and I can help.” In this presentation, Jesus becomes nothing more than a
tool
that I use to help me get what I really want.

We foolishly think that we have Scriptural support for this. The first time
I ever heard
Philippians 4:13 , “ I can do all things through Christ
who strengthens me,” it was in a pep talk before a football game. While the
person speaking never uttered the phrase, “you want to win and Jesus can
help,”
it was the clear implication.

What this person did in speaking about Jesus before a football game, we
often do in life. Whether we want healthy relationships, a fit body, a fat
bank
account, or to feel successful, we sanctify our desires by saying that Jesus
is helping us do it. In our popular rendering of Philippians 4:13 , we seem
to be saying, “I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I
want what I want, I’ve got the power to achieve my dreams. I just need a
little
help, and Jesus is the life coach who is helping me reach my goals.

Is this the real Jesus though? Does Jesus present himself as the one who is
there to help us fulfill our vision for our lives? If we go back to
Philippians 4:13
and put it in its context, a better way of understanding Jesus and this
verse starts to emerge.

The opening chapter of Philippians shows us that Paul writes this letter
from prison. He mentions his chains and the imperial guard who watch over
him.
Rather than railing at his circumstances or looking at how this “set back is
going to lead to his comeback,” he rejoices that God is using his suffering
for the advance of the Gospel. Paul is okay with either dying or continuing
to live in his present situation. Either way, his desire is to bring glory
to Christ through his life or in his death.

In the second chapter, Paul encourages his fellow believers to conduct
themselves with self-denying humility rather than self-glorifying ambition.
Paul
knows that our desire to be great, to be successful, and to have more can
create a self-centered view of life. We begin to see life as if it is a
movie
in which I am the star, and everyone else is playing a bit role in which
they exist to help me get what I want. When we find ourselves in this place,
we
begin to treat other people either as pawns to help us get our way or as
obstacles to be cleared from our path.

Paul’s antidote for this malady is a long, steady look at the life of Jesus.
Paul presents him, not as a cheerleader urging us on the achieve our great
personal ambitions, but as a humble servant who poured himself out for
others and by his example encourages us to do the same. Jesus did not hang
on to
his equality with God but left the beauty of heaven and perfect fellowship
with his Father to take on full human flesh and be born in a stable in
Bethlehem.
Then, knowing the joy set before him, Jesus gladly and willingly laid down
his life for us to bring us back to God.

Paul offers a recitation of his own personal accomplishments in chapter
three. Instead of clinging to personal accruements, he tells how he counted
them
as loss so that he might gain Christ. Those things that we so often pant and
long for, Paul possessed, and yet he counted them as worthless refuse
compared
to knowing Christ. In this passage he offers Jesus, not as the means by
which we attain our personal goals, but as the great prize we should have
been
looking for all along. In his life, sufferings, and resurrected glory, we
find everything that we need.

This brings us back to Philippians 4
. After showing Christ as the supreme treasure, for whom we should count the
loss of all things as gain, he turns again to his current situation. He
writes
to the Philippian church to thank them for a gift they sent him to sustain
him in his imprisonment. In doing this Paul says that he has learned to be
content
in whatever circumstance he finds himself. He has lived in low circumstances
and great abundance, yet he knows how to be content wherever his lot may
fall.
He says he can do this because “I can do all things through him who
strengthens me.” Here’s the context for Philippians 4:13 . It’s not a
football field
and there are no shining lights. He is in prison. He needs Jesus to
strengthen him to live for his glory in his difficult circumstances so that
he might
continue to proclaim the Gospel and see Jesus as the infinite treasure that
he is.

In light of what Paul says about the real Jesus in Philippians, we need to
lose life coach and cheerleader Jesus because he is altogether insufficient.
A Jesus who only exists to help me achieve my own personal greatness is not
the real Jesus. The real Jesus is not the means to an end, but is the
treasure
itself.

Jesus did speak of greatness, though, and we would be remiss not to mention
it. Jesus’ disciples argued over who would be the greatest in the kingdom.
They saw Jesus as the catalyst to help them receive the praise of men. He
was their chance to be great. Instead, Jesus showed them another way, and it
was the way he would soon go himself. He said that the greatest among them
would be the servant of all. This is what he modeled when he gave himself up
for us on the cross as Paul mentioned in
Philippians 2
. Then he shows that God highly exalted Jesus, and gave him the name above
every name so that every knee would bow and every tongue confess that Jesus
Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

We don’t find greatness by asking Jesus to come alongside and help us
fulfill our dreams so that we can make much our ourselves. We discover true
greatness
when we treasure Jesus above all else and follow him in serving others for
the glory of his great name. In doing so you will find that the greatness
you
have desired wasn’t that great after all.

Related Posts:
“ Why Christians Need the Gospel Every Day “
For Further Reading:
The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson
This article was originally published on ScottSlayton.net. Used with
permission.
Scott Slayton serves as Lead Pastor at Chelsea Village Baptist Church
in Chelsea, AL and writes at his personal blog One Degree to Another
: scottslayton.net. He and Beth have been married since 2003 and have four
children
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7 Things Not to Say to a Grieving Person
Katherine Britton

“I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether
they'll 'say something about it' or not. I hate if they do, and if they
don't.”

- A Grief Observed

Grief will flummox the most eloquent. When our friends hurt, all we want is
to stand beside them and show them they’re not alone, and somehow words
always
seem to tumble out. But how can you possibly find the “right words” when the
reality of death and suffering is so very wrong? The attempt is bound to
result
in some flubs, yet silence is hard to manage.

After my mom passed away recently, just a couple weeks before her 53rd
birthday, I’ve suddenly found myself on the receiving end of sympathy.
People have
approached me with amazing love and kindness, so very well-intentioned and
wanting so badly to help. I appreciate the sentiment so much—the simple
acknowledgement
that life is irreversibly different is more helpful than you can imagine.
And yet, the expression has sometimes made me shake my head. There’s
sometimes
a hilariously wide difference between the intention and the bizarre
outpouring.

I’m sure many people are simply clueless, as I was before this paradigm
shift. So I’m cataloguing a few of the well-intentioned-but-not-so-helpful
things
people have said for the sake of building empathy. If this helps floundering
friends speak comfort a little more readily, then sharing is worth it.

With that in mind, here's a short catalog of some common, very
well-intentioned comments I've received... and why I've cocked my head at
the people who
utter them.

Well-intentioned: "If there's anything I can do to help" and "Let me know
what I can do."

Why it doesn't work: A couple reasons, actually. First, I appreciate your
assumption that my brain is still functioning on all cylinders, but... it's
not.
Right now, I have the mental energy to answer yes/no questions, but
open-ended questions that require more processing from me? Not so much.
Secondly, I
didn't realize until now how much grief consumes the immediate and hampers
future planning skills. For instance, I probably do need something from the
grocery store. But I won't realize it until the exact instant that I need it
(e.g. milk for tomorrow's breakfast) and the only thing to do is run out at
11p.m. at night. Oops.

Better: "Hey, I'm going to the grocery store right now, can I pick up some
staples for you? Milk? Eggs? Bread? Do you have a list?" or "Hey, can I come
over and clean your bathrooms? Does Tuesday work?"

My brain has much less pressure in this scenario--the onus isn't on me to
call you and hope you're still willing to do a nebulous "anything," and I
can
latch onto something concrete with easy answers. I'm eternally grateful for
the people who really did clean my bathrooms and bring my family
groceries--that
was huge.

Well-intentioned: "Hey, you look sad."

Why it doesn't work: Yes, I probably do. I know you're trying to tell me
that you notice my hurt and carry it with me. But... um, trying to live my
life
and get through the day’s responsibilities. The place to bring this up is
over coffee, not at random (or at work or in the middle of church). I'm
pretty
sure I'm only at half-mast but bringing it up doesn't help me focus on
what's at hand. And now I’m self-conscious to boot.

Better: "Do you need a hand with that project? I'm happy to help." Or send
me a note that I can read in my own time.

Well-intentioned: "I'm a safe person. You can talk to me anytime if you need
to vent or scream or cry."

Why it doesn't work: I have to preface this by saying why this sentiment
doesn't work for me personally, as maybe others do need it. I'm incredibly
blessed
to have strong friends and a strong community, and I'm also a relatively
private person. I know that when people say this, they really just mean they
want
to help. But if I didn't have a strong relationship with you before this,
why would I pour out my soul to you now? When someone I barely know says
this
phrase, it can sound downright opportunist.

There is a special exception: if you’ve been through a hurt similar to mine,
you may have special wisdom to give. You can be a lifeline when you say,
“Here’s
what you can expect. And I promise you will make it through. I’m right here
with you.”

Better: "I've been thinking about you guys a lot, and I love you." You're
honoring my boundaries while telling me you care. This means the world. If
you
really want to help, offer something concrete, like a meal or a notecard
with encouragement/
prayer .

Well-intentioned: In this scenario, you've just seen the person for the
first time since the death/the big news, and you're both in the middle of a
larger
event. You go up to your friend and say, "I'm so sorry about [blank]. How
are you holding up? How was the funeral?"

Why it doesn't work: I can't stress enough how important it is to choose the
timing of your condolences. I understand that you want to know, but I'm in
the middle of a party, a Christmas celebration, a happy hour after work, and
you want me to conjure up my grief in a completely incongruous situation,
on the spot, for you? Sometimes, it's just nice to enjoy a kind of normalcy
for a little while. Of course I haven't forgotten the pain - rather, I'm
choosing
to focus on something else for a little while, because that's healing too.
Let me.

Better: "I've missed you over the last few months. It's really good to see
you again. Hey, would you want to get coffee soon?" This lets the person
know
that you've noticed their absence, and you care. Plus, it offers a gateway
to a private conversation, without the stress of answering pointed
questions.

Well-intentioned: "I know how you feel. My mom died when she was 80."

Why it doesn't work: No two griefs are the same. Assuming you know how
another person is feeling/processing is just that--an assumption. We all
know death,
but not in the same way. For example, my own mom died at 52, leaving behind
four kids still at home and three in highschool. I'm sorry your mom died at
age 80, but please understand that I'm grieving decades of lost time and
unmade memories, as well as trying to step up to help meet my younger
siblings'
practical needs. No, you don't know how I feel, and I'm trying hard not to
feel insulted by your comparison.

Better: "I'm sorry for your loss" and "Hang in there. I promise someday it
gets better." If you're not so close, the tried-and-true line is a good one.
If you've been through strong, close grief, then maybe an encouragement that
someday the weight lifts a little is appropriate. It doesn't assume the
griefs
are the same, but it does offer some hope.

Well-intentioned: "God is in control."

Why it doesn't work: Closely aligned with "God will use this for good
somehow," statements like this fall into the really-bad-timing category.
Maybe they
are true. But in grief, we want a God who is close and immanent and feels
our hurts. A big God in control of the whole universe (yet a loved one died)
working out some distant good (my hurt is now) is quite frankly irrelevant
at the moment. I need a Jesus that weeps with me, who knows my sorrow
because
he carried his own.

Better: "God himself mourns with those who mourns. Death is still the enemy,
and I'm so sorry you met it now." Remind me that God's heart breaks with
mine.
Remind me that even in God's grand plan, death is still an inherent wrong
that needs to be righted.

Well-intentioned: "[Blank] lived a full life, and is with Jesus now."

Why it doesn't work: This one isn't so bad, actually, but it's pretty
incomplete. First, you don't know if a person lived his own definition of a
full
life. And we miss them here, with us. I fully believe that my mom lived
every moment of her almost-53 years to the brim, but the days are empty now.
What
you're saying has a cognitive dissonance with my new reality.

Better: "[Blank] was always so full of life. I remember that time..." Share
a memory you hold dear with me. I don't get to make new memories now, so the
shared ones are much dearer. I love hearing them.

There are no perfect responses to loss. But thanks for listening and trying
to say the less-bad things, all the same. And above all? Never, ever be
afraid
to simply stand with the hurting and say, “I love you. You’re not alone.”
That’s always a
good thing to say.

Article originally posted at Who Are the Brittons. Used with permission.

Katherine Britton is a commercial and hired-gun writer and editor who still
wears her green newspaper visor when she thinks no one is looking. You can
read more of her work on her
personal blog.

Publication date: January 9, 2014


Inspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

Loud Praises
Saturday, December 3, 2016

"Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the
clouds. His name is the Lord — rejoice in his presence!"
Psalm 68:4 NLT

Saint Ambrose became one of the most important church leaders in the fourth
century. Born in AD 340, he served with distinction as the Bishop of Milan
from 374 to 397. In particular, he was known for his passion for preaching.
A serious student of the Bible, he helped guide the church through difficult
times. Confident in his relationship with God, he fearlessly confronted
those who advocated doctrines that were contrary to Biblical truth.

Ambrose stressed the importance of worship, particularly music and
congregational singing. To help underscore the importance of music, he wrote
many hymns
himself, some of which still are sung today.

Historian Paul Johnson has described how Ambrose felt it was important that
Believers learned to sing loudly! Ambrose "thought the volume frightened the
devil, while the harmonics and the beauty of the melodic line were pleasing
to God."

Ambrose once wrote, "From the singing of men, women, virgins and children,
there is a harmonious volume of sound, like the waves of the ocean."

Ambrose echoed a central theme taught throughout the Bible. Yes, there are
times for quiet singing and silent meditation. But we also are commanded to
"sing loud praises to Him who rides the clouds.
"

The Bible describes Heaven as a place where the praise is loud. In his
vision, John "heard a sound from heaven like the roar of mighty ocean waves
or the
rolling of loud thunder
" (Revelation 14:1).

In your life, don't be intimidated by what others may think or say. And
don't hold back or be timid. Express your praise to God. Think of all that
He has
done for you. Sing to His name. Shout with a voice of triumph! Proclaim His
greatness! For He is great, and greatly to be praised!

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, thank You for all that You have done for me. I worship and praise
You! May my life bring You glory! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Further Reading: Psalm 68

Anne Graham Lotz - One Life
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One Life
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that
God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9, NKJV

Today, in a world where the role models are entertainers, athletes and
politicians, many of whom lack morals, integrity and even common decency . .
. in
a world where no one seems to stand for anything unless it is to stand for
selfish, self-serving rights . . . in a world where anything is compromised
if it impedes success . . . in a world where pleasure takes priority over
principles . . . in a world where we care more about public opinion than
about
what God thinks . . . in a world where there are no absolutes, where what is
right is what works or what feels good . . . in a world where character no
longer seems to count . . . In such a world, the testimony of
one life lived for Christ is powerful!
One life cleansed through faith in the blood of Jesus. One life
that confesses, “Jesus is Lord.” One life that has the courage to stand for
godly convictions in the midst of moral compromise.
One life that tells the truth.
One life that lives the truth. One life that lifts high the Light!

You can be that one life!

Blessings,
Copyright © 2016 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved.
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Anne Graham Lotz - Free at Last!
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Free at Last!
Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient
to death - even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:8, NIV

Christ “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being
made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled
himself
and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:7-8) How
awesome to consider that the Creator of the universe, unbound in time and
space
for all eternity, chose to be bound

by a woman’s womb for nine months,

by the body of a man that knew weariness and hunger,

by a Roman cross, with His hands and feet pinned by spikes,

by a borrowed tomb . . .

Why? So that you and I might be set free from the problems that threaten to
bind us and keep us from fulfilling God’s intended purpose for our lives.

Praise God! We can be free, truly free at last, from all that binds us,
because the One Who is gloriously eternal, unbound by time and space, was
willing
to be bound!

Blessings,
Copyright © 2016 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved.

Global Prayer Digest People of the Day
Elam Ministries
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Elam Ministries
Dec 04, 2016 12:00 am

Today's Devotional

1 Timothy 2:3-4, NKJV "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God
our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of
the truth."

Pray that those who are training others to take the gospel to the unreached
will make it clear that God wants all to be saved and to experience His
truth
and love.

Today's People Group

In a land of contrasts—light and darkness, hope and desolation—once again
God is shining His light into hearts resulting in eternal life and
transformation!
Recently Elam Ministries reported that in one region of Iran, there have
been two large baptisms with over 240 Iranians committing their lives to
Jesus
Christ. Though technically closed to evangelism, God has blessed Iran with
people who have open hearts for the gospel of His kingdom. Today Iranians
are
perceived as the most spiritually open Muslim people group in the world.
Elam Ministries trains believing leaders for fruitful ministry in Iran. It
equips the Iranian church with Bibles and resources for evangelism and
discipleship.
Elam sends trained evangelists, church planters, and media personnel for the
Kingdom’s growth and extension.
Getting a New Testament in Iran is difficult. It is illegal, and the
religious police are watching. “But the church has its ways,” Christian News
and Insight
from Elam Ministries reports. When someone requests a Bible, it gets well
used in Iran. Typically when someone reads the Bible, God changes him, and
his
family becomes interested in why that person is changing for the better.
Soon they are reading the Bible together, and a house church begins.

Thank the Lord for this interest in the Bible in Iran! Pray that God’s Word,
including the children’s Action Bible, reaches the hands and hearts of
Iranians,
and results in lives transformed by the love of Christ.

Learn more at Joshua Project .
Like Elam Ministries on Facebook Google Plus One Button share on Twitter
• Elam Ministries
Copyright © 2016 Frontier Ventures, All rights reserved.

Rebecca Barlow Jordan

3 Keys to a Happier New Year

Need some motivation making this new year count? Here are 3 keys to a
happier New Year.

As the new year unfolds, all of us want our year to be “happier” than the
previous one. Based on Scriptural advice, here are three keys to help you
experience
a happier new year:

One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching
forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in
Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14-15, NKJV ).
1. Leave the Past Behind

While we may have difficulty “forgetting” the past, we can all choose to
learn from it and leave it behind. We can ask Jesus to help us cut our
losses,
heal our wounds, and remove any unwanted baggage from the previous year.
Foolish mistakes, wrong decisions, or harmful habits/attitudes can all be
swept
away–if we will learn from them and allow Jesus to recycle them into future,
positive actions.

In some cases, the consequence of past errors will follow us. But we don’t
have to let those consequences imprison our attitudes or our future. As
believers,
we have been granted unconditional forgiveness; God has placed our sins “as
far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12, NKJV). As followers of
Jesus,
the Son of God, we have accepted Jesus’ death on the Cross as penalty for
our sins. As believers, sin breaks our fellowship with God temporarily, but
not
our relationship as His eternal children. Besides that, sinning as believers
should break our heart and move us quickly back into the restorative arms
of our Father.

In the Philippians passage above, the apostle Paul is not just talking about
leaving painful things behind. Earlier in the chapter he referred to his
pre-believer,
misguided zeal of persecuting Christians. Transformed by Jesus, he made a
complete turn-around and followed
Christ
the rest of his life (Acts 9). But he also chose to put behind him any
“credentials” that might elevate his ego: his education, status, successes,
and
achievements–things that he once thought as important but now considered
inferior–anything that might take away from his purpose to “live for Christ”
(Philippians
1:21) Paul could have also mentioned his numerous, difficult challenges:
being shipwrecked, imprisoned falsely, stoned, beaten, persecuted, and in
perilous
situations repeatedly. He refused to let the past (or any unpleasant
circumstance) dictate his future or his contentment.

Refuse to let the past define you. Instead, allow Jesus to refine you.

2. Embrace the Future

“Reaching forward,” or embracing the new year allows you to choose a
positive response toward what is ahead of you, instead of focusing on what
is behind
you. All of us can get stuck in the past if we allow our enemy to attack us
emotionally or spiritually with thoughts like, “Look what you did!” “You don’t
really matter!” “Why try, anyway? You’ll just fail again.” That’s never the
voice of Jesus.

As long as you have breath and life, you are capable of believing the best,
and of letting hope influence your attitudes and future. God is still the
God
of the impossible, and He not only wants to transform us daily; He promises
to finish the work He started in us (Philippians 1:6). Paul, too, testified
to the power of Christ: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens
me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). Some days you may question what to do–or what
Jesus is doing–but faith keeps going, reaching, and believing that Jesus is
in control. Embracing the future means welcoming whatever Jesus wants in our
lives in order to make us more like Him.

What’s keeping you from embracing the future? Maybe no one but you. Reach
forward prayerfully with confidence and hope. Celebrate every step, every
victory,
every moment Jesus gives you. He will never fail you.

3. Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

“Press toward the goal.” In a sense, the “goal” is Jesus. But even more, as
we keep our eyes on Him, we will uncover and discover the life for which we
were made and the purpose for which we were created. Living for Jesus,
allowing Him to live through us, and hearing God’s “well-done” as we finally
arrive
at our eternal home is a prize unlike any other. As we live to give Him
glory, not ourselves, Jesus will constantly “teach us what is best for us”
(Isaiah
48:17). And as we run our race toward the goal, He will reward our faith
constantly with the peace of His presence and the same joy that was set
before
Him.

Running our race with eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our
Faith, is the way to make every year a happier one.

The choice is ours.

My Personal Prayer for You

Lord Jesus, as we begin this new year, help us indeed to leave the past
behind, to embrace the future You have designed for us, and to keep our eyes
constantly
on You. Protect us from those who would attempt to pull us away from the
goal set before us or who try to turn us away from following You. When we
don’t
know what to do, our eyes are on You. Thank You for second chances, for
unconditional love and forgiveness, and for another new year in which to
live and
serve and bring You glory.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

It’s Your Turn

What about you? Which key needs more work for you? How will you allow Jesus
to make this year a happier one for you? Please leave your comments below.

Our Policy

Your words might encourage someone today. You won’t be hounded, prodded, or
automatically added to my mailing list if you leave a comment. Feel free to
email this Christian blog to someone or to re-post on Facebook, Twitter, or
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Complain Less, Give Thanks More

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to
the children of men! -
Psalms 107:8

If we complained less and were more thankful, we would be happier, and God
would be more glorified. Every day thank God for ordinary mercies--we refer
to them as ordinary, and yet they are so priceless that without them we are
ready to perish. Let us thank God for our eyes with which we see the sun,
for
the health and strength to walk around, for the bread we eat, for the
clothes we wear. Let us thank Him that we are not among the hopeless or
confined
among the guilty; let us thank Him for liberty, for friends, for family
associations and comforts. Let us praise Him, in fact, for everything that
we receive
from His generous hand, for although we deserve little, He provides an
abundance.

The sweetest and the loudest note in our thankful songs should be of
redeeming love. God's redeeming acts toward His chosen are forever the
favorite themes of their praise. If we know what redemption means, let us
not withhold
our hymns of thanksgiving. We have been redeemed from the power of our
corruptions, lifted from the depth of sin in which we were naturally
plunged. We
have been led to the cross of Christ--our shackles of guilt have been
removed. We are no longer slaves, but children of the living God, and can
anticipate
the time when we will be presented before the throne without spot or wrinkle
or any such thing.

Even now by faith we wrap ourselves in the fair linen that is to be our
everlasting array and rehearse our unceasing thankfulness to the Lord our
Redeemer.
Child of God, can you remain silent? Stir yourselves with thoughts of your
inheritance, and lead your captivity captive, crying with David, "Bless the
LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name."1 Let this
new month begin with new songs.

1 Psalm 103:1

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Micah 6

verse 2 Luke 15

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
The Hand That Keeps You Safe - #7801

"I don't wanna go." When our boys were little, that was sometimes what
they'd tell me when we were out in the woods where it was like totally dark
and
a little scary. Well, not for me. I mean for them, of course. But I would
reach for their hand and their little hand would instinctively reach up my
way
when we hit a dark stretch, and they'd grab on tight. Now the strangest
thing happened. Once they had their father's hand, their feet started
moving. They
could go where they otherwise would never think about going as long as they
had my hand.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Hand
That Keeps You Safe."

At the other end of life's spectrum from little boys was where my wife's
grandfather was. He was 94. He was unable to remember very much, including
my
wife - his granddaughter. She called him one day and she said, "Hi,
Granddad." She, of course, told him her name, and she said, "I love you." He
wasn't
very happy about it. He said, "I don't know who this is." Some strange woman
was calling and saying she loved him! What is this? Well, she reminded her
Granddad of his only son and that she was his daughter. "I don't know you."
Finally she just said, "Well, Granddad, remember this. Jesus loves you." To
which he replied, "Now Him I know!" Isn't that interesting? After 94 years,
not much that he could remember, but there was one person whose love and
whose
presence he was still aware of - Jesus.

Listen, that's not a religion. That's a relationship so real that it's there
for you through every conceivable stage of life. For my wife, it was real
when she used to walk that dark stretch of road from her house to the school
bus as a little girl. They lived way back in the woods, and that last
stretch
was beyond where she could see Mommy, or the neighbor, or anyone. Knowing
those trees could be hiding the bears and the mountain lions that she knew
were
in their area, she would just start to sing, "Jesus loves me, this I know,
for the Bible tells me so. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me."

This Jesus - this Savior - is literally the hand you never outgrow. The hand
that is there for you as my hand was there for my boys in those dark and
uncertain
places. Here's our word for today from the Word of God. It's the familiar
words of the 23rd Psalm. They're a description of a personal relationship
with
God that I hope you have, or if you don't, that you'll begin it.

These are the words my own father wanted me to read to him the day he was
going into that heart surgery from which he would never recover. Here are
the
words, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want...Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death (Which, by the way, sounds like
a 94-year-old grandfather I knew, and my father facing life-or-death
surgery, and a frightened little five-year-old girl on the dark stretch.).
Though
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you
are with me."

This deep, personal, unloseable relationship with Jesus Christ is what I
pray you will begin. It's the relationship your heart has always hungry for.
This
is the Savior who'll be with you through the turbulence of being a teenager,
the pressures of parenting, the lonely moments of being single, the darkness
of depression, the struggle of disease, or divorce, or disaster, or facing
death.

The hand of Jesus I think maybe is reaching to you right now. If you'll look
closely you'll see nail prints in that hand. They're there because of the
price He paid to tear down the wall between you and God. His brutal death on
the cross was to pay the death penalty for your sins and mine. Now He waits
to forgive you; to be the one constant in your life and in your eternity no
matter what changes.

Don't you want to grab that hand of Jesus to be your own personal Savior,
your lifetime friend? Tell Him today, "Jesus, I give my life to the One who
gave
His life for me. I've been running it. You run it from now on. Jesus, I'm
Yours."

Experience that love for yourself today. Let me invite you to go to our
website. It's there to help you be sure you have begun your relationship
with Jesus
and to show you how. It's ANewStory.com. I hope you'll go there right away
today.

You know, for an elderly grandfather, for a very sick father, for a
frightened little girl, for you, the same never-leave-you person is Jesus.
His hand
is reaching. Won't you grab it? I'll tell you, He'll never, never let go.
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 ·
USA

Child in the Manger: The True Meaning of Christmas

What is Christmas? For many it is a time for holidays, parties, family
gatherings, gifts, meals together, music, and special events. For others it
can
mean unwanted pressure, an increased sense of loneliness, family squabbles,
and crowded shops. For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas
takes
place at the onset of winter with its cold weather and short days. There are
more incidents of depression at Christmas time than at any other time of the
year. It is the best of times for some, but the worst of times for others,
to borrow a phrase from Charles Dickens.

The birth of Jesus
divided history into two major epochs. Until the dawn of our hyper-sensitive
age, even the way we dated events underscored this. From time immemorial,
every day, week, month, and year has been described as either “B.C.”
(“Before Christ”) or “A.D.” (Anno Domini, “in the year of our Lord”). Even
the modern,
pluralistic style abbreviations, B.C.E. (“Before the Common Era”) and C.E.
(“Common Era”) cannot obliterate the indelible impress of Jesus birth. For
what
makes the “Common Era” so “common”? And what explains the dividing line
date? The answer is the same: the birth of Jesus. At the very center of
history
stands the person of Jesus Christ. And He does so because He is at the
center of God’s story.

From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright (c)
2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good
News

The Value of Others
by Chuck Swindoll

Acts 9:28-31

The Message, Eugene Peterson's paraphrase, wraps up this part of the
narrative nicely: "Things calmed down after that and the church had smooth
sailing
for a while. All over the country—Judea, Samaria, Galilee—the church grew.
They were permeated with a deep sense of reverence for God. The Holy Spirit
was with them, strengthening them. They prospered wonderfully."

They didn't need Paul. In Tarsus he had the time to learn that he needed
them. It wasn't about independence. It was about his discovering the value
of
dependence. Tragically, some never learn.

This is a good time to pause and make a twenty-century jump to today. Learn
to appreciate and embrace the value of other people. Don't try to go out
there
on your own. Rather than viewing others around you as hindrances, become
aware of their value. Remind yourself that they play a strategic role in
your
survival and your success. God rarely asks us to fly solo. When He leads us
to soar the heights, there is safety in others soaring with us.

God has designed His family to be that sort of support network for all of
us. Nobody can handle all the pressure over the long haul. Companionship and
accountability are essential!

You may be resisting becoming an active member of a church or enrolling in a
small-group fellowship at your church. You think you can go it alone, and
so far your plan has worked. But it's only a matter of time before a gust of
adversity knocks you off your feet, and you'll need someone to pick you up.
Don't let a stubborn spirit of independence rob you of the joy of sharing
your life, your weaknesses, your failures, and your dreams with others. You
and
I are not indispensable. You and I are not irreplaceable. God is both. It's
His church. He's looking for broken vessels, wounded hearts, and humble
servants,
even those with bad track records who have some scars, who have learned not
to hide them or deny them—people who understand and appreciate the value of
others. Is that you?

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives
(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R.
Swindoll, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 4 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Wed 18 Jan 2017, 2:45 pm

is Dr. King Coming to Dinner?
Greg Morse / January 15, 2017
Is Dr. King Coming to Dinner?

Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream with the world.

He did more than denounce; he dreamt. He did not merely paint the bleak
landscape of racial hostility in the world’s leading nation, but dipped his
brush
in vibrant colors and painted a country as it could be. He imagined a day
when blacks and whites were not only equal in the eyes of the law, but
joined
together around a table in fellowship: “I have a dream that one day on the
red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave
owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

On this day when we honor the sacrifice, vision, and work of Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr., we should ask whether his beloved dream has not only made
it
into our hearts, but also found a seat within our homes, and around our
dinner tables.

Who’s Been at Your Table?

Dr. King imagined a day when the sons of former slave owners and the sons of
former slaves could sit down and break bread together. Are any of us cut by
the recent words of Albert Tate:

Look at your social calendar over the past six months. If you are a
Republican, how many people have sat around your dinner table that voted for
a Democrat
in the most recent election, or vice versa? If you are an African American,
how many people have you invited to dinner who have to put on a lot more
sunscreen
than you when they go to the beach? This should be a telling experience, as
you examine the reality of your social calendar.” (
Birmingham , 168)

Our flawed imaginations and deceptive hearts prefer to “round up” when we
evaluate ourselves, rather than dealing with specific numbers. Perhaps we
should
let our calendars speak to us: Do we allow our tables to reflect the love of
the entire body of Christ as well as our theological convictions? What
specific
number of people unlike ourselves have come into our homes, and sat at our
dinner tables, since we last celebrated King’s influence a year ago?

History of Distrust

We live in a time when one consistently sees more ethnic diversity in
shopping malls, McDonalds drive-thrus, and pee-wee football games than in
the local
church. We live in a time when one wonders whether the demographics of our
congregations may reflect the vision of Jim Crow more than the apostle John.
We live in a time when we often eat with those who like us, agree with us,
and look like us. Our true church fellowship reflects our dining-room
fellowship;
our communion around our dinner-tables will impact, over time, who’s sharing
communion at our churches.

Historically, the white church’s unbiblical orthopraxy has alienated the
black church from its biblical orthodoxy. In other words, a scarred history
around
the dinner table has caused a breach of trust between white and black
Christian communities.

During the era of American slavery (1600–1865), blacks did not break bread
with their masters. If they were even in the dining room, it was to serve,
not
to fellowship as equals. The slave in the room was too often synonymous with
the tables they set and the plates they carried — as property, not persons.

In times of segregation and Jim Crow (1865–1949), blacks were allowed to
have their own dinner tables. Drinking fountains, movie theatres, restrooms,
and
(sadly) many conservative, Bible-believing seminaries were marked “white
only” and “colored only.” “Separate but equal” reigned supreme, as did
oppression,
racism, inequality, and mutual hostility. Neither the restaurant nor the
dinner table displayed God-honoring fellowship.

In the Civil Rights Era (1950–1968), Martin Luther King, Jr. and others
protested the continued injustices. Blacks fought for the right to legal
equality
with regards to voting, racial segregation, and dehumanizing discrimination.
But too often they were met with silence, and even hostility, from
evangelical,
Reformed, and Bible-believing churches and churchmen who “remained silent
behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows,” as King wrote
in
“Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” Only through tumultuous times of police
brutality, riots, hosings, and dog-bitings, was a place at Uncle Sam’s table
legally
granted to African Americans. But even then, segregation still flourished
within American homes.

Pass the Potatoes, Bridge the Gap

Our history has shown us segregation in our neighborhoods, segregation in
the pews, and segregation around our dinner tables. Today, we still can see
segregation
in our neighborhoods, segregation in the pews, and segregation around our
dinner tables. Dr. King’s dream has yet to fully be realized.

Such is the opportunity before us as the church of the risen Christ.

We the blood-bought people of God know that Jesus alone tears down the Great
Wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14). The world has merely humanistic
motivates
for diversity; we have the word of our Creator and the blood of our
Redeemer. Jesus bought a place for that diverse brother in Christ to have a
seat at
our table. Invite him and his family to sit in it.

God Has a Dream

Revelation 19:6–8 is a banner for Christian dinner fellowship:

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and
exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his
Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine
linen, bright and pure.”

The apostle John had a dream. In his vision, he saw a supper where blacks
passed the meat to whites, and Asians passed the fruit to Latinos — all
ethnicities,
all tribes, all languages, gathered together to worship their unifying King
of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 5:9–10). More unifying than the World
Cup, more exhilarating than the Olympics, our God will gather his sheep from
all the corners of the globe in a omni-ethnic feast in which all languages
will resound in worship to his glory.

Our dinner tables are a premier place where racism comes to die, differences
come to be understood, and the glorious work of Jesus comes to be displayed
to an unbelieving world. They will know us by our love for one another (John
13:34–35). Functional segregation only reveals the lapses in our love. But
God gave us dinner tables to be a faint, but real, anticipation of the day
that is coming.

What Does It Mean That God Will Glorify Me? And How?
John Piper / January 15, 2017
What Does It Mean That God Will Glorify Me? And How?

If you find praise from other people more satisfying than praise from God,
you will not be able to believe on Jesus
Desiring God
2112 Broadway Street NE, Suite 150
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Copyright © 2017 Desiring God, all rights reserved


Slow Down!
by Chuck Swindoll

Galatians 1:11-17

Part of the solution is to pursue the benefits of solitude and silence found
in times of obscurity. For the first time in seven years, I took six weeks
off one summer. No preaching, no writing, no counseling, no speaking
engagements . . . no nothing. I focused on slowing down and refilling my
soul with
the deep things of the Lord. I prayed, I sang, I studied, I walked, I
fished, I stayed quiet, and I sat thinking about and reevaluating my life.
It was
magnificent!

You may not have that much time available. You may have only three days, or
perhaps two weeks. If you're not careful, you'll quickly fill those days
with
things to do, places to go, and people to see. Resist that temptation to
crowd out the Lord. What a perfect opportunity to carve out time to be
alone,
just you, the family, and the Lord. Computer off. Fax unplugged. Cell phone
tossed in the ocean.

Instead of speeding up, slow down and rethink. I don't want you to miss any
of these words. I've thought about them for years. Instead of speeding up,
let's find ways to slow down and rethink. Taking time to discover what
really matters is essential if we're going to lift the curse of
superficiality that
shadows our lives. Don't wait for the doctor to tell you that you have six
months to live. Long before anything that tragic becomes a reality, you
should
be growing roots deep into the soil of those things that truly matter.

Once Paul left Damascus and slipped into Arabia, he began taking inventory.
There were no "To Do Before Sundown" lists. No "Six Fast Steps to Success"
or other self-help scrolls clumped under his arms. He was alone. He walked
slower. He watched sand swirl over the stones. He thought deeply about his
past.
He relived what he had done. He returned to what he had experienced on the
road to Damascus. He considered each new dawn a gift from the Lord, the
perfect
opportunity to rework his priorities and rethink his motives. It takes time,
of course . . . lots of time. But time spent in solitude prepares us for the
inevitable challenges that come at us from the splintered age in which we
live.

Slow down. Sit still. Be quiet. Rethink.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives
(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R.
Swindoll, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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God's Family
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Anne Graham Lotz - Time Alone with Jesus
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Time Alone with Jesus
Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Luke 5:16, NIV

Often when I am under stress and pressure, I feel one of my greatest needs
is to get a good night’s sleep. But I’ve found that physical rest alone is
not
enough to revive my flagging spirit. I need the spiritual revival that comes
from spending quiet time alone with Jesus in prayer and in thoughtful
meditation
on His Word.

A careful study of the life of Jesus reveals that as pressed as He was, He
“often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” If Jesus felt He needed time
alone
in prayer with His Father, why do you and I think we can get by without it?
How is your prayer life? Could some of the exhaustion you are feeling be the
result of simple prayerlessness? How motivating it has been for me to view
my early morning devotions as times of retreat alone with Jesus, Who desires
that I “come with Him by myself to a quiet place” in order to pray, read His
Word, listen for His voice, and be renewed in my spirit.

Blessings,
Copyright © 2016 AnGeL Ministries, All rights reserved.

An Encourage1Forward story of Christmas in prison.
Ciloa logo
January 16, 2017
Volume XVII, Issue 3
A Note of Encouragement

Send this Note to a friend.
A Christmas wreath hanging on prison bars

Once Upon A Prison Christmas
...by Katie Cox

Encouraging others can be scary, but here's something I discovered-God
provides the opportunity and gives the encouragement. Our job is to listen
for His
whisper that will lead us to share His encouragement forward...in ways we
never thought possible.

Encourage others. We may not change the world, but we can change theirs.

Take care & be God's,

Chuck
Christmas...and I was bummed.
A man's hands draped through prison bars
A few years ago I learned I had to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas
Day. I was a nurse in a men's prison, specifically the lock-down unit where
the
inmates were confined to their cells. On Christmas Eve, the nurse who had
worked the day before said the inmates seemed "sad".

Well, who could blame them? Being locked up is no picnic and it was the
holidays to boot! No time with extended family, no traditions to enjoy.
Heck, sounded
too much like the Christmas season I was stuck with! I was bummed out, why
shouldn't they be? But it got me thinking...

After morning rounds, I got the loose change in my car, rushed out to the
dollar store...a madhouse!...and bought the last few holiday window clings.
I
went back to the prison and got permission from the Correctional Officers to
bring in a radio.

A gift of encouragement given...

A Christmas wreath hanging on the bars of a prison cell
Then I set to work decorating the windows in the medical unit with Christmas
music a'blastin! The inmates clapped and cheered. Some even sang along with
whatever tune was playing.

When all was finished, I put the radio away and left for the infirmary on
another part of the compound where the staff was having its own
"celebration".
But when I returned for my evening rounds, something amazing happened. An
inmate stopped me and said...

Thank You, Miss Katie, for what you did for us. A lot of the guys were
getting real down and missing their families. When you turned on the music
and started
decorating, it was kinda like being home for a few minutes. After all,
Christmas really isn't about family, friends and food. It's about the
greatest gift
ever offered to us, Jesus. If more of these guys could get that through
their heads and their hearts, maybe they wouldn't be so down.

...and an unexpected one received.

Silhouette of a cross standing in coiled barb wire
Wow! Never thought I'd hear that. And just when I needed to hear it, too.

That could've been my worst Christmas. No home decorations (finally got the
fake tree up on 12/22). No time with extended family. No traditional baking.
No Christmas Day with kids and hubby. But then to be reminded of where my
focus SHOULD be this time of year...and by a criminal at that.

Thank you, Lord, for breaking me down to build me up; for emptying me so
that I can be filled again; for using me to help bring joy to others.

Katie

Today Katie Cox is Kidney Transplant Living Donor Nurse at Emory University
Hospital. She and her husband, Brian, have three children and live outside
of Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Ciloa Lawrenceville, Georgia, U.S.A. www.Ciloa.org

4 Life-Changing Ideas about Bible Study
by John D. Barry

Imagine a collection of books that allowed for you to everyday hear the very
voice of God. Consider adding to that collection stories of righteous
prophets,
holy wars, acts of valor, and slaves being freed. And then, throw into that
collection personal prison letters, a God who came to earth, and more. Then,
envision the entire collection being ancient, from another time, but still
incredibly relevant. You already know I’m talking about the Bible. Now, let’s
go through four steps to take
Bible study
from dull to incredible.

1. Change the subject of your study.

This next point is spoken shockingly little, and I think it’s because we don’t
outright want to admit why our Bible study is seems boring. The Bible is
a means to an end—it’s a means to knowing God as Creator, Jesus who came to
earth, and Spirit present with believers. God is the subject of the Bible,
and should be the subject of our study. It is not the Bible we worship, but
the living God, who came to this very earth as a human, as Jesus, to die for
all of our wrongdoings and rise again.

If our Bible study is focused on the Bible, we’re really missing the point.
Boring study is introduced when we think of the Bible like any other
historical
work or like a textbook. Jesus himself makes this point to some Jews of his
time, “You search the scriptures because you think that you have eternal
life
in them, and it is these that testify about me. And you are not willing to
come to me so that you may have life” ( John 5:39–40 LEB
).

2. Picture it as a movie.

The Bible is full of epic battle scenes and intense drama (read 1–2 Samuel
or Acts). In our overly saturated, visual culture, many of us have lost our
imaginations. We rely on others to imagine for us, in the forms of movies
and other mediums. I think this is tragic because it’s in imagination that
we
find the will power to make the world a better place.

The patriarchs of Israel, the few great kings over God’s people, and the
righteous prophets, were great visionaries of a better life. They studied
God’s
past actions (often through the oral tradition of the time) and then
prayerfully sought the will of God for the present. Through times of prayer
they were
able to see what others could not—a life lived for God, full of spiritual
(and often physical) plenty. This vision is carried forward with Jesus’
disciples,
who have an opportunity to execute the vision of the living God on earth.
And we too are meant to imagine the past, both as it was and as it could
have
been, so that we can envision a better future.

3. Decide which character you are.

Jesus told lots of stories—great parables that were meaningful (see
Matthew 13
). It’s easy to forget when reading these that the point of them is to
identify with the characters: We either are meant to realize that we are one
of
the characters or comprehend that we’re yet to live like the characters do.
When we do so, Jesus’ words move from obscure to real. He is telling us
something
we can do right now. When we hear Jesus, we are meant to take action; we are
meant to do what he has just asked. This takes the Bible from words on paper
to words lived out.

4. Pray about the next steps.

Prayer is perhaps the most undervalued element in western Christianity
(compare
Philippians 4:2–6
). Sure, we pray over meals and even pray for people publicly, but modern
prayer is often treated like asking God to grant our wishes. In actuality,
it’s
a conversation—he talks and we talk, in a dialogue—and one that should be
full of thanksgiving. It’s an opportunity to align ourselves with God so
that
we can do what he has in store for us. It’s where we learn who we are and
what we are meant to be. It’s where we take the words of the Bible to God
and
request that he change us, so that we may do what he has already commanded
for all people (compare
Matthew 6:5–15 ; 6:25–7:12 ).

Without prayer, Bible study will continue to be like studying another book.
Indeed, you may improve your life, but you will not be holistically changed.
God has the ability to make you better than you could ever imagine being,
which certainly will not be easy (it means changing), but will be well worth
the journey.

I hope that when you hear the words “Bible study” you will no longer think
of boring schoolwork or dry lectures. Try turning off the negative reaction
to “study” today by remembering that Bible study is about knowing a God who
has left you guidance in a book. He is also a God who wants to give you
personal
guidance today.

You know what you have to do—go make it happen.

John D. Barry is the CEO and Founder of Jesus’ Economy
, dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. Because
of John’s belief that business can transform lives, Jesus’ Economy also
provides
an
online fair trade shop
. He is currently leading Jesus’ Economy efforts to
Renew Bihar, India
—one of the most impoverished places in the world where few have heard the
name of Jesus. Learn more at JesusEconomy.org.
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THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters - Page 4 Empty Re: THE MASTERS LIST Dean W. Masters

Post  Admin on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 10:59 pm

SEEKING LIGHT

Matthew 2:1-2 Darby
1 Now Jesus having been born in Bethlehem of Judaea, in the days of Herod
the king, behold magi from the east arrived at Jerusalem, saying, 2 Where is
the king of the Jews that has been born? for we have seen his star in the
east, and have come to do him homage.

the magi were seeking the light of the star which would lead them to the
King of the Jews. What they were really seeking was the Light of the world.
That is who they were seeking and they finally found Him.

John 8:12 Darby
12 Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world;
he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of
life.

There are a lot of people in this world who are seeking light or seeking God
through
different religions or groups. The light cannot be found in any of these
things. The Light is only found when a person finds Jesus Christ.

A few days after the death of the former Beatle George Harrison, I heard
someone say that they thought that George Harrison was in heaven. They said
George was seeking God but he was doing this through worshipping Buddha.
Buddhism does not teach that Jesus is the Christ, the messiah. What did
Jesus say about people seeking light, God or heaven?

Luke 13:23-28 Darby
23 And one said to him, Sir, are such as are to be saved few in number? But
he said unto them, 24 Strive with earnestness to enter in through the narrow
door, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter in and will not be able. 25
From the time that the master of the house shall have risen up and shall
have shut the door, and ye shall begin to stand without and to knock at the
door, saying, Lord, open to us; and he answering shall say to you, I know
you not whence ye are: 26 then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten in thy
presence and drunk, and thou hast taught in our streets; 27 and he shall
say, I tell you, I do not know you whence ye are; depart from me, all ye
workers of iniquity. 28 There shall be the weeping and the gnashing of
teeth, when ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in
the kingdom of God, but yourselves cast out.

A lot of people are involved in seeking light, God or heaven but they don’t
know Jesus Christ. They don’t have a personal, intimate relationship with
Him. That is what it means to know Him and for him to know you. If you have
not surrendered your life to Jesus Christ and have a relationship with Him,
do it now!

If you know the light you don’t have to seek any more. If you do know the
Light and say that you are seeking light you are saying that Jesus Christ is
not the light! this is blasphemy! If you are truly seeking light, God or
heaven, look to Jesus Christ and Him alone. Get to know him personally and
intimately. Start by asking Him into your heart and continue in a
relationship with Him. Then you can stop your search.

by Dean W. Masters

How God Became a Man: What Jesus Did for Thirty Years
David Mathis / December 7, 2016
How God Became a Man

It is striking how little we know about most of Jesus’s life on earth.
Between the events surrounding his celebrated birth and the beginning of his
public
ministry when he was “about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23), very few
details have survived.

Given the influence and impact of his life, humanly speaking, we might find
it surprising that so little about his childhood, adolescence, and early
adulthood
is available — especially with the interest his followers, who worshiped him
as God, took in his life. That is, unless, divinely speaking, this is
precisely
how God would have it.

After the birth story, the first Gospel tells us about the visit from magi,
pagan astrologers from the east (Matthew 2:1–12), the family’s flight to
Egypt
for haven (Matthew 2:13–18), and their eventual return upon the death of
Herod (Matthew 2:19–23). Matthew then jumps immediately to the forerunning
ministry
of John the Baptist, and Jesus as a full-grown adult — with nothing at all
about the intervening thirty-plus years of childhood, adolescence, and early
adulthood.

Development Dignified

The third Gospel has more to say, but captures three decades of the most
important human life in the history of the world in remarkably simple terms.
Luke
tells of the high angelic announcement to lowly shepherds (Luke 2:8–21) and
the young family’s first visit to the temple (Luke 2:22–38). He then
summarizes
Jesus’s first twelve years of life in astonishing modesty:

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God
was upon him. (Luke 2:40)

Then, after recounting the story of a 12-year-old Jesus impressing adults at
the temple (Luke 2:41–51), Luke reports some two decades — well more than
half the God-man’s dwelling among us — in this simple sentence:

Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
(Luke 2:52)

How fascinating would it be to know what life was like for the boy Jesus?
Did he plainly outpace his peers in learning? Did his sinlessness infuriate
fallen
siblings? How skilled was he as a worker? Was his carpentry “perfect,” or
did it make good sense around town when he transitioned into public
ministry?

But it’s easy to digress into speculation and miss the powerful point of
these important summary verses in Luke. God has something to teach us here
in
the precious few details. That he would send his own Son to live and mature
and labor in relative obscurity for some three decades, before “going
public”
and gaining recognition as an influential teacher, has something to say to
us about the dignity of ordinary human life and labor — and the sanctity of
incremental growth and maturation.

God could have sent a full-grown Christ. And from the beginning, he could
have created a world of static existence without infants, children, awkward
teens,
middle-agers, and declining seniors — just a race of young, spry, “mature”
adults. But God didn’t do it that way. And he doesn’t do it that way today.
He designed us for dynamic existence, for stages and seasons of life, for
growth and development in body and in soul, both toward others and toward
God.

The lion’s share of Jesus’s earthly life powerfully dignifies the everyday
pains of maturity and growth common to humanity.

Jesus Grew in Stature

The ancient creed confesses his full humanity, in both body and inner
person. Jesus is both “truly God and truly man,
of a reasonable soul and body” (Chalcedon, AD 451). Having a “true human
body,” Jesus was born, he grew, he thirsted, he hungered, he wept, he slept,
he
sweated, he bled, and he died.

All four Gospels unfold his three-year public ministry, and give nearly half
their space to the final week of his life. But what was the God-man doing
most of his earthly life? He was growing. What did he do for three decades
between his celebrated birth and his unforgettable ministry? He walked the
ordinary,
unglamorous path of basic human growth and development. He grew.

The man Christ Jesus did not simply emerge from the wilderness preaching the
kingdom. He learned to latch and crawl, to walk and talk. He scraped his
knees.
Perhaps he broke a finger or wrist. He fought off the common cold, suffered
through sick days, and navigated his way in the awkwardness of adolescence.
He learned social graces and worked as a common laborer in relative
obscurity more than half his earthly life.

Jesus Grew in Wisdom

But Jesus grew not only in body, but also in soul, like every other human,
in wisdom and knowledge. Even by age 12, Luke could say Jesus was “filled
with
wisdom” (Luke 2:40), not because he got it all at once, or always had it,
but because he was learning.

Through sustained effort and hard work, he came into mental acumen and
emotional intelligence that he did not possess as a child. And he didn’t
receive
it all in one moment, but he
grew in wisdom, through the painful steps of regular progress. His human
mind and heart developed. He grew mentally and emotionally, just as he grew
physically.
As Donald Macleod captures it, “He was born with the mental equipment of a
normal child, experienced the usual stimuli and went through the ordinary
process
of intellectual development” (
The Person of Christ , 164).

Surely, we find extraordinary instances later in his life of supernatural
knowledge, given by the Spirit, in the context of ministry. He knew
Nathanael
before he met him (John 1:47), that the Samaritan woman had five husbands
(John 4:18), and that Lazarus had died (John 11:14). Once he even knew that
Peter
would find a shekel in the mouth of the first fish he caught (Matthew
17:27). But we shouldn’t confuse such supernatural knowledge, given by
special revelation,
with the hard-earned, infinite learning of his upbringing.

Jesus learned from the Scriptures and from his mother, in community and in
the power of the Holy Spirit, and he increased in wisdom by carefully
observing
everyday life and how to navigate God’s world.

Jesus Learned Obedience

An essential aspect of his growth in stature and wisdom was his learning
obedience, both to his earthly parents (he “was submissive to them,” Luke
2:51)
and his heavenly Father.

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with
loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was
heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he
learned obedience through what he suffered. And
being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who
obey him. (Hebrews 5:7–9)

That he “learned obedience” does not mean that he began as disobedient, but
that he began as unlearned and inexperienced, and the dynamic existence of
human life gave him experience and know-how. That he was “made perfect”
doesn’t mean that he began as sinful, but that he began in sinless
immaturity and
grew into maturity.

In Favor with God and Man

When Luke 2:52 echoes the words of 1 Samuel 2:26 (“Now the boy Samuel
continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with
man”),
he breaks through a potential hiccup in our perspective on human growth —
both Jesus’s and our own.

True human growth is not Godward at the expense of love. And development in
love should not serve as a distraction to Godward advance. The first
commandment
is love God. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.

No human, not even the God-man himself, skips the growth and maturation
process, and no true growth is one-dimensional, but both toward God and man,
with
all the attendant pains.

Don’t begrudge God the glory of your long, arduous maturation process. In it
you are tasting the growing pains that Jesus knows very well. And he stands
ready to help you persevere until God’s process is complete.

Six Ways to Love a Wayward Child
Denise Kohlmeyer / December 7, 2016
Six Ways to Love a Wayward Child

Daily he stood outside his door, searching the horizon for the lone figure
of his son. Only to be disappointed. Heartbroken. Not today, it seemed. Not
today. But someday, he might return.

Until then, this forlorn father would wait. And watch. And pray. And hope.

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11–32 now has new meaning for me.
I don’t focus so much on the son, as I have in past readings. I focus now
on the father. Watching him. Studying him. Learning from him.

Why? Because now I am standing in his shoes — worn-through with worry,
wondering, and weariness. Worry for my own child’s spiritual lostness.
Wondering
when she will return. Weary about what it will take to bring her home.

Reading this story from this new — although unwanted — perspective has
helped me to discover six principles that were previously lost on me.
Principles
which I am daily trying to put into practice now. Principles that I hope
will help other parents of prodigals, too.

Release Them (Luke 15:11–13)

When confronted by the son’s demand for his inheritance, I am struck by the
fact that the father did not refuse him. He did not put up a fight or speak
a word of warning, even though he certainly could have done so. He simply
complied.

And in complying, I realized, he was really releasing this son. Releasing
him to step into his own journey. Releasing him to face the uncertainty of
his
own future and the consequences of his choices and actions — good and bad.
At some point, every parent faces this release.

From this father’s example, I have accepted that I too must let my daughter
step into her own journey (while using wisdom and discernment within certain
boundaries). I have had to release her, to allow her to make her own
choices — good and bad — and to experience the highs and the lows, the sins
and the
joys. To explore and embrace the beauty and ugliness of it all for herself.

Accept Them (Luke 15:13–14)

This son made poor choices — very poor choices. In all the wrong ways, he
“lived it up,” to put it into our vernacular. His father had given him his
lead,
and now, without any parental restraint, this young man gave in to the
appetites of the world, to his selfish desires, and to sin. Debauchery.
Prostitutes.
All manner of reckless living.

In the end, he was left destitute and desperate.

Like this wayward son, all of our children have been wonderfully created
with a will of their own. They have real choices to make. Between godliness
and
evil. Between God and Satan. Between righteousness and sin. God is sovereign
over their will, but their parents are not.

While it is hard, I accept this. I accept that she has a will to choose. And
I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because I know that she can, and
hopefully,
by God’s grace, will one day
choose Jesus.

Uphold Them (Luke 15:17–18)

The son had reached the end of himself. How long it took is uncertain. But
his sin had left him senseless and sore. It was only then that he “came to
himself.”
Other translations say, “came to his senses.” Either way, his soul was
finally awakened to its sickness, and he began to stumble homeward.

While this son was living it up, wasting his life and his inheritance, the
father, I imagine, was on his knees in prolonged prayer, upholding his son
before
his God.

I too am upholding my daughter. And I pray specifically. I pray that, like
the son, she too will come to her senses. I pray that the Holy Spirit will
stir
her heart and awaken in her an unbearable desire to “go to her Father,”
repent, and be wonderfully restored.

Wait for Them

For how long this father waited is uncertain. Scripture doesn’t say. But he
waited. Every day. Expectantly. Prayerfully. Hopefully.

May God grant parents of prodigals that kind of Spirit-filled patience.

Receive Them (Luke 15:20)

Again, I am awestruck by the father’s response. The day had finally come, at
long last, when the son came home. And compassion propelled this father
forward.
Toward his son — at a dead run, no less. Arms open wide. Love pouring forth.
His heart overwhelmed.

There was no reprimand. No finger-wagging. No “I told you so!” No “How could
you!”

I pray that my response will be as compassionate, loving, gracious, and
welcoming. I must put the pain aside in that moment. With God’s help, I will
enfold
her in an embrace that announces forgiveness, restoration, and unconditional
love.

Celebrate Them (Luke 15:22–23, 32)

The rebellious one had come home. Repentant of his sins. Restored in his
salvation. He was lost. But now is found. Home. For good.

It was indeed cause for celebration. What other response could there
possibly be?

And that, I believe, is one overarching message of this powerful story:
There is celebration, not condemnation, when a lost soul has come to its
senses
through repentance — has appropriated the free gift of grace through faith
in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9) and thus has found its way Home into the
open
arms of a loving and forgiving Father.

How could I do anything less if and when my own prodigal returns? I too will
celebrate her return with an abandon and an abundance that only God and his
angels can rival.

Advent Devotional Readers
John Piper / December 2016

Desiring God
2112 Broadway Street NE, Suite 150
Minneapolis, MN 55413

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Why Do We Give Up on Bible Reading?
Bryce Young / January 11, 2017
Why Do We Give Up on Bible Reading?

So you’ve committed to reading the Bible again this year. Praise God.

Maybe this is something new for you, one of your resolutions for the New
Year. Or maybe you’re a seasoned, veteran reader, just hoping to maintain
the
patterns God has blessed over many years now.

However much or little you have read in the past, though, will not change
what’s going to happen soon, probably even sometime in the next week. Maybe
it’s
happened already. You’ll sit down for your time in the word, spend half an
hour in Genesis or Deuteronomy or Psalms or Romans, close the book, and have
no idea what to do with what you just read.

What do you do when Bible reading produces no obvious application — when you
walk away from your Bible reading with no fantastic insights, no deep
revelations,
or even any profound experience of awe or wonder? This happens more often
than any of us would like to admit. It unnerves us.
I just heard from God, and nothing seems different.

What do you do when your Bible reading seems insignificant or irrelevant?

Two Lies Satan Tells

What do you pray for when your Bible reading gives you no new principles for
how to live? Is there even a purpose to reading Scripture when there’s no
personal application?

Satan aims to devour us by sifting the faith from our souls (Luke 22:31; 1
Peter 5:8). There are two lies that Satan speaks when we read our Bibles.
The
first is that our time in God’s word was worthless. Our reading plan gave us
half-an-hour’s worth of “So-and-so was an evil king. He fought with these
people. He died. And his son became king in his place. . . .” Entertaining,
maybe, but if that’s all we’re after in Bible reading, we’ll do better
turning
on Netflix instead.

This is the lie of cynicism. I see no application for me here. Therefore,
the time must be worthless. Over time, we’ll end up reading the Bible less
and
less or skipping over the “insignificant” parts we suspect are less valuable
or relevant to us.

Or maybe God spares us from cynically dismissing the importance of chapters
or books in the Bible. We will still have times when we don’t know what to
do with what we read. In this case, we don’t take issue with the Bible, but
with ourselves. This is the lie of self-doubt.

Why couldn’t I get anything out of my Bible reading? We know it’s not
because God’s word is insignificant, so it must be that we’re just not smart
enough,
or spiritual enough, or trained enough. Our morning devotions, which started
out with high hope and fresh resolve, end in introspective worry: “What’s
wrong with me that I didn’t see anything new today?”

Not a Filing Cabinet

If you’ve experienced either cynicism or self-doubt in Bible reading, take
heart. When we understand ourselves and the Bible rightly, we will come to
see
that there is no such thing as insignificant or worthless Bible time.

Part of our problem is that we’re misunderstanding what God made humans to
be in the first place. Humans aren’t primarily intellectual filing systems
of
information. Almost none of what you do throughout the day is the result of
compiling information in your brain, sorting it into logical premises, and
choosing to act on a conclusion from those premises.

The main engine that moves you through life is not what you know, but what
you love. We are always moving irresistibly (often, even unnoticeably) in
the
direction of our affections — the deepest inclinations, desires, and loves
that hold our hearts captive.

Why Do We Read?

This is why David said, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have
perished in my affliction” (Psalm 119:92). Seriously? Perished?

David was poetic, but this is not hyperbole. Even if you meditate on God’s
law day and night (Psalm 1:2), unveil the most profound application from
your
Bible reading, understand all mysteries and knowledge of God’s will (1
Corinthians 13:2), but your heart is not being molded into the image of God’s
Son,
your Bible reading is ultimately worth nothing.

In our Bible reading, we aren’t seeking mainly to learn certain things, but
to become certain types of people. We want the beauty and excellency and
holiness
of God to spread its way deeper and broader into who we are — not just into
how we think, but into how we love and feel and act.

We seek to understand God’s word with our minds, find application for our
lives, and gain insight into the mysteries of Christ,
not as ends in themselves, but because these are pathways God gives us to be
conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29).

Sword in His Hands

We get cynical or discouraged in Bible reading in part because we forget
what it means to be human, but also because we often forget that the Bible
is
God’s book.

God’s word is “like fire . . . like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces”
(Jeremiah 23:29). You don’t halt the hammer of God just because you’re left
without a new life principle. We can’t extinguish the living and active word
of God simply because we failed to understand its practical significance
immediately.

We must be faithful to read on our part, but ultimately, it is God who gives
the growth (1 Corinthians 3:7) — the insight, the application, the resolve
— and he’s not dependent on us to give blessing as he wills. When we read
the Bible, we’re not performing self-surgery to help ourselves think better
or
act better. We are turning ourselves over to God, whose healing sword
pierces to the division of our very souls and spirits, joints and marrow
(Hebrews
4:12).

Your growth and sanctification always run deeper than you can observe — don’t
be discouraged because you can’t see it all at once. God can do more in your
life with ten minutes of “insignificant” Bible reading than all the wisdom
of Homer, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy combined.

Never Wasted

All of God’s word is “perfect, reviving the soul” (Psalm 19:7), which means
that your time in the Bible is never wasted. No matter how many new insights
you gain from a given day of devotions (or how few), you always have
something to pray after your time in the word:

Lord, your word is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. By it, you
revive souls, make the simple wise, rejoice hearts, enlighten eyes, and mold
us into righteousness (Psalm 19:7–9). Transform the words in front of me
into virtue and grace within me, conforming me to the image of your Son. Let
your
word fall on my heart like a hammer, breaking away what is sinful and
refining what is righteous. Shape not only my mind, but all of me, to love
what Christ
loves and to hate what he hates. Amen.
Desiring God
2112 Broadway Street NE, Suite 150
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Copyright © 2017 Desiring God, all rights reserved

It Is Not Ours to Ask "Why?"
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BIBLE MEDITATION:
“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: He is a
buckler to all them that trust in Him.”
2 Samuel 22:31

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
When bewilderment enshrouds you and despair looms at your door, when trials
storm the beaches of your life, you may want to ask God, “Why? Why? Why?”
Friend,
you may never understand why things are happening the way they are in your
life, but that’s not your job. You see, it is not necessary for you to know
why. That is God’s question. Your response is all that matters. When we can’t
feel His hand, we must trust His heart. Our job is to simply trust and obey.

ACTION POINT:
Is there something happening in your life for which you have no explanation,
but long for answers? Ask God to give you peace and grace to trust Him.

Why Joy Is Never Dependent on Our Circumstances
By Debbie McDaniel, Crosswalk.com Writer

"This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Ps. 118:24

Many of us may have heard this verse over long years. But what's interesting
to know is that it's set right within a Psalm where the author is writing
about huge adversity. It's not written about when times are good, but when
times are hard. Situations were changing. The Psalmist cried out to God in
anguish,
he was surrounded on all sides by the enemy, he felt pushed back, and about
to fall. Yet right in the midst of huge struggles shared, this chapter both
starts and ends with the same verse, of giving thanks and praise unto God.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever." v. 1,29

Such a powerful reminder to us: True joy is never dependent on our
circumstances. We can still choose to give thanks. We can still believe in
God’s goodness
and love, for that’s what carries us through all difficult seasons.

We might be facing the toughest of times, but the truth is this, He's still
given us today. He's with us, and will never leave or fail us. His love
covers
us, His peace sustains us, and His joy gives us the strength to face every
trial and obstacle with courage and grace. We can rest in the security that
Truth brings.

May His blessings overwhelm you today as you look to Him and choose joy.

Give thanks.

For He is good.

His love endures.

Forever.

Intersecting Faith & Life: No matter what you’re facing today, be confident
in God’s unchanging love for you. If He’s given us today, then we still have
breath left within us to bring honor to Him. Choosing joy in hard times
takes effort and action on our part; it requires our hearts to be set on
Him. May
He help us this day, to choose well.

Further Reading: Psalm 118: 1-29, Nehemiah 8:10, Psalm 28:7

Find more by Debbie at www.debbiemcdaniel.com ,
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Surprising Elements
by Chuck Swindoll

Acts 9:10-21

Surprises are always part of God's leading. In Saul's case, the surprise
came in the form of a light from heaven, marking a life-changing
transformation.
For Ananias, it was a seemingly unreasonable and illogical command from the
Lord, delivered in a vision.

If you're waiting on God to fill in all the shading in your picture, you
will never take the first step in obeying His will. You must be prepared to
trust
His plan, knowing it will be full of surprises. Surprises are always a part
of God's leading.

Surprises always intensify our need for faith. When you encounter the
surprising element of God's will, your faith must engage full throttle.
Otherwise,
you'll turn and run in the opposite direction. At times God's plan will
frighten you. Or you'll be intimidated by its demands. Other times you'll be
disappointed.
For instance, when God tells you no, to wait, or to sit tight, you'll want
to argue. You may decide to fight. You might attempt to negotiate. You may
become
angry. But when your faith kicks into gear, none of those impulses will
control you. Faith says, "I can do this. I trust you, Lord. I don't
understand
everything, but I trust you completely. Let's do it."

Quite possibly God has a major move in store for you in the near future.
After almost seventy years on this earth, and having spent fifty of those
years
studying and learning more about the ways of God, I can tell you His will
for our lives is full of surprises. He has more moves in mind for us than we
could possibly anticipate. And they're not all geographical.

Many are attitude adjustments. Some mean moving us out of our comfort zones
to touch the lives of people we've never met. Or we might be in for a
cross-country
or cross-cultural journey that requires a level of faith we've not exercised
in the past. Be careful about feeling too settled where you are—physically,
emotionally, spiritually, or geographically. If the Lord wants you to move,
I strongly suggest you cooperate, regardless of the risks. If He leads you
to change, then change, even if it's difficult. Surprises from God always
intensify our need for faith.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives
(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R.
Swindoll, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Perfect Trust
God's Family
Visit insight.org

Copyright © 2016 Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved
worldwide.

6 Ways to Combat the Winter Blues
Kelly O'Dell Stanley

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are behind us, and the whole sparkling new year
is waiting, full of potential and promise... and yet, deep in my soul, I
feel
let down. What ever happened to that sense of anything is possible?
What ever happened to goals and hope and motivation?

I think those disappeared along with the tinsel and poinsettias.

I also think the winter blues are completely normal. We spend so much time
and effort anticipating Christmas--both the practical logistics (shopping,
wrapping,
cooking, and cleaning) and the spiritual meanings (God’s promises made
flesh, new beginnings, celebration of God’s plans for us birthed from His
great
love for us). Once all of that is over, it’s only natural that we would feel
a lull. We’re tired. Our pocketbooks are still feeling the strain of the
holidays.
And let’s not forget the fact that winter brings colder weather, less
daylight, and a long stretch in which the only holidays (Groundhog Day,
President’s
Day, etc.) aren’t usually cause for the same kind of celebration.

So how do we move past this? How do we effect real change in our attitudes
and our spirits?

1. Ask God for help.

Turning to God first is always the best approach. It’s okay to pray for
ourselves. Just like we’re supposed to fix our own oxygen masks in an
airplane
emergency before we help the person beside us, we cannot ignore our own
needs now. Every morning, ask God to revive your spirit and soften your
heart.

2. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good.

After the election and all the turmoil it stirred up in my own heart and the
people around me, I felt vulnerable and ouchy. My instinct was to withdraw
from people, but what I discovered is that the best healing took place when
I spent time with people who got me... friends who admire my quirkiness,
family
that accepts me unconditionally, and spiritual mentors who are able to see
past current events and set their sights on eternal things. Yes, there were
some healing discussions--but the most beneficial moments were the ones that
weren’t “about” anything, but were simply time spent laughing and talking
about the minutia of our lives.

3. Pay attention to what you feed your mind.

Just like eating junk food results in feeling lethargic and uncomfortable
(no guilt implied--I do it all the time), we won’t feel healthy when we
feast
on junk mentally. I’m not saying you can’t watch a mindless movie or listen
to popular music. But when you are down, you’ll feel better if you fill your
mind with good things.
(Philippians 4:8
instructs us to think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely,
admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.) Read the
Bible
, start a new Bible study, slowly read through an inspirational book
(fiction or nonfiction), listen to praise music, write in your gratitude
journal,
or learn about something new. If you battle depression or anxiety, now more
than ever you should avoid the situations that trigger stress, if you can.
If social media gets you all worked up, maybe it’s time to take a short
break. Feast on good things.

4. Organize something.

Maybe you’re not a control freak like [my family says that] I am, but I
believe there’s something therapeutic in exerting control over something
else.
This is a harmless way to do that while also helping yourself. Clean out a
closet. Straighten a bookshelf. Match the socks in your drawer. Organize the
medicine cabinet. Move those thousands of unread emails into a new folder so
your inbox isn’t so overwhelming.

I read a book once that claimed visual clutter contributes to mental
clutter, and I have found that to be true in my life. To fight that, clear
some space
physically, even if it’s a very small one. Once I cleaned out the small coat
closet underneath our stairs and painted it a vivid teal color. I bought new
hangers and got rid of extra coats. Most people never saw it, but every time
I opened the door I felt happy.

5. Experience delight.

Let yourself go. Don’t hold back. Allow yourself to stop being critical and
to have fun, even if what you’re doing isn’t all that fun. Go all in, in
every
area of your life. Give yourself permission to be responsibly
irresponsible--take an afternoon off to scrapbook or take photos or nap.
Turn off your ringer
for a couple hours and let yourself get re-centered. Curl up in a blanket
and read a good book or watch a sappy movie. Don’t sabotage yourself by
creating
a situation that will bring difficult or negative ramifications, but simply
do something for yourself without guilt. Focusing on ourselves too much can
be detrimental, but most people don’t allow themselves the luxury of taking
care of themselves, and it’s important that we do.

6. Do something for someone else.

There is a time for recharging, for nursing our wounds and making ourselves
stronger as in number 5 above. But there is nothing that surpasses the
feeling
of helping another person. Maybe that’s in the form of a financial gift
(even a small one), but more likely you’ll be rejuvenated by giving of
yourself.
Stop by to see that relative in the nursing home. Visit the friend from
church who’s recovering from surgery. Take a meal to an overwhelmed mom.
Shovel
a sidewalk for an elderly neighbor. Clean out your spouse’s car. Write a
note to someone who is lonely. There are countless ways to improve someone
else’s
day in a matter of minutes. My grandmother had a plaque in her kitchen that
read, “He who cuts his own wood is twice warmed.” Same principle applies
here,
too--when you show love to someone else, you, too, feel loved. When you let
someone know they are not alone, you, too, get the pleasure of someone’s
company.

Will you pray with me?

Dear Lord, I need Your help. There are bigger and more critical needs out
there, but in order for me to play the role you’ve given me, I need to be
emotionally
healthy. Thank You for the people who love me, who make me feel better just
by being with me. Help me find time to be with those who make my soul sing,
and thank you for the healing and enjoyment that brings. Give me wisdom
about what I consume mentally and emotionally, and help me make wise choices
for
my health. Help me let go of the physical and mental clutter that drags me
down, and help me to delight in the little things and find joy in the things
that I do. But don’t stop there. Show me where else I can help bring
joy--point me towards people whose lives I can improve in any small way. Use
me, Lord,
because that’s often where I find fulfillment, when I’m living out Your
purposes. And through it all, help me to see You, to turn to You, to lean on
You,
and to give thanks to You. Because You are the giver of life, the hope of
eternity, and the author of joy. Amen.

Kelly O’Dell Stanley is the author of Praying Upside Down and
Designed to Pray

nspiration Ministries Daily Devotion

The Eyes of a Servant
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

"To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold,
as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a
maid
to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until He
is gracious to us. Be gracious to us, O LORD."
Psalm 123:1-3 NASB

The psalmist understood the importance of having the right attitude toward
God. He knew that each of us needs to have a personal relationship with Him.
To depend on Him. And we need to know that He is God Almighty, Creator and
ruler of the universe.

But he also understood the importance of being a servant. He pictured the
way in which a faithful servant waits upon a loving master. Watching. Always
ready to serve. The perfect picture of the attitude we are to have toward
God.

We are to be ready to serve Him in every situation. To realize that He has
blessed us that we might be a blessing to others. That we each have
assignments,
and ways we are to invest the resources He has given us. He wants us to be
so committed to serve Him that we will be sensitive to His every gesture,
always
ready, always listening, always available.

The psalmist taught us that we need to trust in God in every situation. The
true test of our faith comes in the midst of life ... when we face
opposition
and difficulties. He wants us to turn to Him, and so trust in Him that we
will wait for His every word.

Today, renew your personal relationship with God. Look to Him and depend on
Him. Then seek to serve Him with the attitude of a servant. And make sure
that
you trust in Him in every situation. He is faithful. And He loves you!

Today's Inspiring Prayer

Father, I commit these situations to You: _______. Help me to have the
attitude of a servant and serve You with my life. I commit my time, talent,
and
treasure to You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Further Reading: Psalm 123
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A New Beginning
by Chuck Swindoll

Acts 9:10-19

Regardless of what you have done, no one is beyond hope. That's the great
hope of the Christian message. No amount or depth of sin in your past can
trump
the grace of God. If you question that, remember Saul, the brash Pharisee of
Tarsus. When the Lord saved him, He didn't put him on probation. The other
disciples did that. No, God gave Saul a new name and, in the process, made
him a new creation. That's what makes grace so amazing!

Even though your past is soiled, anyone can find a new beginning with God.
I've made the same statement throughout my ministry: It's never too late to
start doing what is right. When Saul knelt before the living God, he finally
faced the reality of his sin. Deep within the man, Christ transformed his
life, and he started doing what was right. Grace provides that sort of new
beginning.

Don't get stuck on where you were. Don't waste your time focusing on what
you used to be. Remember, the hope we have in Christ means there's a
brighter
tomorrow. Sins are forgiven. Shame is cancelled out. We're no longer chained
to a deep, dark pit of the past. Grace gives us wings to soar beyond it.

Could it be that you are stuck because of something from your past? Perhaps
it has pinned you to the ground with embarrassment, shame, and fear. You're
crippled by it. The best you can do is to limp through each day, hoping for
a painless end. That way of thinking is from the enemy, Satan. He loves to
push your nose in the dirt, hoping to make you miss the marvelous claims of
grace.

Don't allow him that power in your life today. Around you are people who
have no greater claim on grace than you do, and the Lord mercifully brought
them
out of their pit of sin. If He could turn a Saul of Tarsus, who was engaged
in a murderous rampage, into a Paul the apostle, who preached and lived the
message of grace, He can change your life too.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives
(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R.
Swindoll, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Visit insight.org
Copyright © 2016 Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved
worldwide.

Today's Turning Point with David Jeremiah
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Today's

Turning Point
Tuesday, November 29

Water Poured Out

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God
is a refuge for us.
Psalm 62:8

Recommended Reading
John 12:1-7
Overwhelming feelings rise up within us when we face difficult experiences:
relational conflict, chronic illness, failure, job loss, and rejection to
name
a few. When a big problem presents itself, it is tempting to curl into a
ball and allow worry to consume us mentally and physically. What will I do?

Listen to Today's Radio Broadcast
The verse above reminds us that we can bring our raging emotions and hearts
to God and pour them out like water before Him. Just as Mary poured her
tears
and expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet, we can bring our tender, innermost
thoughts and vulnerable selves to Him. An action plan or cleaned up act are
not required before coming to God.

He is our safe place. He invites us to barge in and interrupt Him at any
time. As you read the Gospels, pay attention to how often Jesus looked up to
heaven
and spent time in prayer. He intentionally focused His attention on the God
of peace and life, and gently invited each of us to confidently do the same.

He [Jesus] looks up to heaven to fix his attention on his Father’s loving
face. He is orienting himself to what is most true in the world—not the
impossibly
inadequate resources.
John Eldredge
Read-Thru-the-Bible
1 Corinthians 1 – 4
David Jeremiah'S

TURNING POINT WITH DR. DAVID JEREMIAH
David Jeremiah's Website
Copyright © 2014 Turning Point for God. All rights reserved

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries - A Word With You
A Word With You
One Hand Short Of Heaven - #7797

It might have been the scariest moment of my life. I was only ten years old,
but I remember it like it was yesterday. I was with my friends in Lake
Michigan.
We started out just wading, but they kept getting deeper - until the lake
bottom dropped off sharply. We started swimming. I didn't know how, and I
was
too embarrassed to tell them. And I started taking on water fast. I mean, I
went under once, I went under twice, and I was desperately thrashing around.
As for my buddies, they thought I was just clowning around. I wasn't! I was
drinking the lake. I could see that water burying me there like it was
yesterday,
and honestly, I was almost a goner. And then he came - the man from the
shore who saw my predicament and he jumped in to do something about it. He
had
come to rescue me. I grabbed him with both hands. I hung onto him as if he
were my only hope, because He was.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "One Hand
Short Of Heaven."

As I've studied the Bible, I've learned that what happened to me that day at
the lake is a picture of another life-or-death situation and the rescue on
which a life depends. In this case, the life-or-death situation involves the
entire human race. So, it's about you and me.

The Bible reveals our true spiritual condition in hopes that we'll recognize
it and take the only action that will save our souls. God's book says, "Your
sins have separated you from your God" (Isaiah 59:2)...that we are "without
God and without hope in this world" (Ephesians 2:12)... and that we are
"dead
our sins."

Sin is so much more than just breaking somebody's religious rules. It's
defying Almighty God by ignoring His rule over our lives and doing what we
want
instead. It's ultimate arrogance. It's defiant rebellion against the One to
whom we owe our existence. And it's all of us; even the most religious
person
listening today. We differ only in the degree of our rebellion against our
Creator, not in the reality of that rebellion or in its awful, eternal
consequences.

We are that little guy, drowning, with no hope of saving ourselves. Our only
hope of avoiding certain death is the same as it was for me that day - a
rescuer.
And it's at that point that Jesus Christ comes off the pages of the history
books and becomes a deeply personal issue for you and me. He saw we were
dying,
He left heaven's shore, and He jumped in to save us at the cost of His own
life when He gave His life in exchange for ours on a cross.

Our word for today from the Word of God, in John 3:18, spells out the
difference between those who will be lost and those who will be rescued:
"Whoever
believes in Him (that's Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not
believe in Him stands condemned already because He does not believe in the
name of
God's one and only Son."

It isn't what you do with some religion or some set of beliefs. It all comes
down to what you do with Jesus - whether or not you believe in Him. In the
original Greek word that's translated as "believe," it means to put your
total trust in Jesus, to hold onto Him like a drowning person would hang
onto
his rescuer. I know about that. And take it from me, that's holding onto Him
with both hands.

Some people miss Him because they try to grab Jesus with just one hand -
because there's something else in the other hand they don't want to let go
of.
A sin they don't want to forsake, a person, a pleasure, or an escape from
their problems. But that's what the Bible calls "another god." And you can't
hold Jesus with one hand and some junk He died for in the other. Believing
in Jesus is grabbing Him with both hands, turning from, abandoning whatever
else has been your hope. Maybe you've tried to turn to Jesus without turning
from your sin, that other hope. Well, it's got to be a two-hand faith,
grabbing
Jesus with all your heart and both your hands.

Have you ever taken that life-saving step? It's time! Tell Him right now.
He's come to where you are, and He's reaching for you with both hands -
nail-scarred
hands. It's time you grabbed Him with both of yours.

I'm going to help you do that. It's what our website's all about. I invite
you to go there right now as soon as you can today - ANewStory.com. Please
take
a few minutes. It could change everything.

Grabbing Jesus with one hand or with both hands; it's the difference between
being saved and being lost.

A Word With You
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. · P.O. Box 400 · Harrison, Arkansas 72602 ·
USA
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