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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sun 15 Nov 2009, 4:37 pm

On His Terms

"Present to the LORD an offering made by fire, a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. With each bull prepare a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two tenths; and with each of the seven lambs, one tenth. Include one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you. Prepare these in addition to the regular morning burnt offering. In this way prepare the food for the offering made by fire every day for seven days as an aroma pleasing to the LORD; it is to be prepared in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering."
-- Numbers 28:19-24
Rather complicated! In other scriptures, when God describes how to present offerings to him, it's more convoluted. Divide up the meat, just so. Lay it on the altar, this way. Why does God go to such extent to make worship as demanding as possible? From the beginning, from the time when he refused Cain's grain offering yet accepted Abel's meat offering
(Genesis 4:4-5), God underscored that people must come to him on his terms.

People in Old Testament times needed to hear that - they were far too prone to fashion calves out of gold and make up their own rules for worshiping God. People in modern times need to hear it - we are prone to throw out all the rules, follow our instincts like idols, and experience God however we see fit.

No longer do we need to bring to God grain, drink, sin, or burnt offerings. We have Jesus: "He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood..." (Hebrews 9:12). But worship is no less demanding. So how do we come to God on his terms? How do we worship in the way he considers acceptable and pleasing? "His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24) These are his terms. Look at the word must. We must worship God this way: With the proper heart attitude and with Christ, the Truth, as our focus.


* * * * *

I worship you in spirit and in truth, Lord. Please accept my offering!


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright € ¦©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Fri 13 Nov 2009, 11:29 am

Opening Eyes

"Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears
of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb shout for joy."
-- Isaiah 35:5-6


Dale stepped up to the pulpit and heaved onto it an incredibly large book with thick pages. As an elder lowered the microphone for him, Dale flipped to a section in the middle of the book. He adjusted his black glasses as if he could see and began to read: "Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees
that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear; your God will come.'"

I immediately recognized the familiar passage from Isaiah 35. Dale's huge and cumbersome book was the Bible written in Braille. But not the entire Bible. The volume from which he read that morning represented only several books
from the Old Testament. He had left most of his Bible at home because he couldn't carry the entire thing!

The blind man continued his reading, with his hands placed squarely on the page and fingers constantly moving over the bumps and points. He read with firm authority. Every once in a while he paused while his fingers encountered a staple in the page (his way of underlining a verse).

Dale looked so small behind the big book and the even bigger pulpit. But in my eyes, he seemed so large. The Bible must be incredibly precious to Dale, seeing that it requires such effort to read it, to underline a verse, and to even cart it around! I glanced at my Bible on my lap. I knew, after that day, I would never look at it quite the same.


How precious is your Bible to you? Is it time for you to see the Bible afresh as the Word of God, a cherished communication from our heavenly Father? Read the entire chapter of Isaiah 35 today and relish in the truth and hope which is the Word of God.

* * * * *

Heavenly Father, thank You that You loved us enough to reveal Yourself to us through the Word. Help me to read it with a fresh vision today.




Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Fri 13 Nov 2009, 11:07 am

(I found the story behind this hymn... http://www.hymnpod.com/2009/01/21/i-must-tell-jesus )



Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
November 11, 2009
I Must Tell Jesus

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
-- I Corinthians 2:2
Once when I was talking on the phone with a Christian woman who was in the last stages of Lou Gehrig's disease, I found myself groping for words to comfort her. Finally, I realized the best thing I could offer was simply the comfort of Jesus; so, I sang for her a favorite hymn:

I must tell Jesus all of my trials, I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me, He ever loves and cares for His own.
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

When I finished singing, I could tell she was calmed and greatly encouraged. She'd not been looking for answers, she was looking for Jesus. Pointing her to the Savior was the best thing I could do. When your heart is being wrung out like a sponge, an orderly list of "sixteen good biblical reasons as to why this is happening" can sting like salt in a wound. You don't stop the bleeding that way.

We must never distance the Bible's answers from God. The problem of suffering is not about some thing, but Someone. It follows that the answer must not be some thing, but Someone. Besides, answers are for the head. They don't always reach the problem where it hurts, in the gut and the heart. Jesus reaches us where we hurt.

If someone you know is struggling through a disease or divorce, or the death of a loved one, point them to the Savior, whether through your testimony, words of encouragement, a shared memory, a poem, scripture or a hymn. The answer to our deepest longings when we hurt is... Jesus.

* * * * *

Give me wisdom, Lord, to know exactly how to point people to you today.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Wed 11 Nov 2009, 11:23 am

God's Fingers... God's Arm

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place."
--Psalm 8:3

"Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him."
--Psalm 98:1


I remember hearing on the news that the Hubble telescope discovered a powerful new mega-star which was not only 100 million times brighter than our sun, but, to the astonishment of astronomers, it was in our own Milky Way galaxy. A thick cloud of gas and cosmic dust had hid the star from our view. Something like that makes me look at the night sky a little differently. And to think, Lord, that you created all these constellations with a snap of your fingers. His fingers?! It sounds so easy. According to Psalm 8:3, it is.

However, when it comes to our salvation, it required much more than the work of God's fingers. Finger-work implies the delicate labor of an intricate task, such as when one creates something fine and fragile. There's nothing "delicate" about securing our salvation. The redemption of man demanded the force of "his right hand and his holy arm." When Jesus gripped his cross with his right hand and carried the killing weight of our sins with his holy arm, he displayed a power that far exceeded his creative skill with stars and suns.

Amazing love! How can it be? That God would go to such lengths! As a response to his love, muse on the words to this majestic hymn today:

And can it be that I should gain an int'rest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain? For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be that Thou, my God shouldst die for me?

He left His Father's throne above, so free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam's helpless race!
'Tis mercy all, immense and free, I rose, went forth, and found out me.

* * * * *

Thank you, Lord, for moving heaven and earth to save me.

Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sat 07 Nov 2009, 6:03 pm

Left Hand of God

... Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?
-- Job 2:10b
For years Karen and her husband, Doug, struggled to have children; then finally, after many disappointments, God blessed them with a beautiful, baby girl. Months later, their daughter was diagnosed with a severe and debilitating disease. Karen's eyes were red and swollen as she struggled to smile. She sighed and said, "I would rather receive something from the left hand of God than nothing at all." The comment revealed her keen knowledge of Middle Eastern culture. Among Arab Bedouins and nomads, the left hand is reserved for menial and often dirty tasks - it is, therefore, an affront to offer anything from your left hand.

But Karen will wholeheartedly take whatever God gives her. Anything from either hand of God is better than nothing. She casts herself on him because she is convinced all things that come from him are ultimately good. "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good," Psalm 107:1 declares. When it came to her child's bad medical report, Karen realized God signed the authorization papers. She would say with Job, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away" (Job 1:21).

Karen and her family are living out the text of Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." Karen may not understand God's secret plan, but she can follow God's revealed words. He is good and, therefore, she can trust him.

Shall we accept good from God's right hand, and not trouble from his left? In whatever way God chooses to unfold his purpose in our lives, can we say with Job, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him" (Job 13:15)?

* * * * *

Lord, let me take your hand today. I trust that you will lead me by your goodness, mercy and love.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Fri 06 Nov 2009, 4:18 pm

The Lord Longs to be Gracious

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him... How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.
-- Isaiah 30:18,19
We know that Jesus was full of tender compassion, but what comes to mind when you think of the God of the Old Testament? Fire and thunder on Mount Sinai? Curses and apocalypses? Rods of reproof and correction, weird visions and strange commands? Smoke and anger and the hurling of hail and lightning?

There's more to the picture. It was the God of Moses, the Holy One of Israel, the subject of Ezekiel's visions and Daniel's disasters, who forbade Israel to curse deaf people, trip the blind, deprive the poor, rob the fatherless, oppress the weak, or make widows objects of prey. He took pity on Hagar sobbing in the desert. He reached out to Hannah who wept so bitterly that she appeared drunk over disappointment for lack of children. He honored and dealt tenderly with Tamar, a victim of incest. He soothed the hurting heart of Naomi in her old age and loneliness.

The Father is tender beyond description. He not only makes his compassion known, he rises to offer his love and mercy. He not only chooses, but longs to be gracious to you. That is, he desires, yearns and even aches to show you the abundance of his care and compassion.

If we do not cling to God through the worst life offers, we will misread him entirely and grow to mistrust and even despise him. "He is slow to anger and abounding in love. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. The Lord is compassionate and gracious..." (Psalm 103:8-10). In your praise today, remember that Jesus not only takes pity on the weak and hurting... the Father does too.

* * * * *

Father, I sometimes only associate tenderness and compassion with your Son, rather than you. Forgive me for not remembering the many demonstrations of your love throughout all of the Bible.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright € ¦©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Thu 05 Nov 2009, 11:59 am

This Is My Father's World

The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
-- Psalm 24:1
This is my Father's world. I was thinking about that yesterday when I arrived early for our church's Wednesday night prayer meeting.

I wheeled to the back of the church, which overlooks Malibu Creek. A green lawn slopes gently to the creek, which is lined by trees and bulrushes. Two huge eucalyptus trees provide shade, and the rays of the setting sun were touching the rosebushes. (Yes, even in November California has roses.) I spent half an hour meticulously cataloging everything in my heart, scanning the pine trees, the yew bushes, the ice plants, the roses, the rabbits, and the birds. I took in each part of the scene slowly and spent a moment or two thanking God for His marvelous, creative variety.

What a way to start Wednesday night prayer meeting. And what a way to remember that this world does not belong to the movers and the shakers. The power brokers don't own it. The governments don't run it, and the banks don't finance it. The terrorists can't destroy it, and the United Nations can't bring it peace. Kodak may try to capture the color, and A&M Records may try to create the sound, but there's no mistaking...this is my Father's world. I realized that all over again as I sat in a rose garden.

Bundle up if you need to and go outside to scrutinize your view of our Father's world. Look it over slowly, really noticing the fine attention to detail the Artist has used. Then praise Him.

* * * * *

Creator God, You've tucked so much beauty into each portion of creation that to try to take in even a little of it fills me with awe and wonder. Thank You that this is Your world--no one else can own it. I'm grateful You've created it for us to enjoy. Teach me to pay more attention to the beauty You've surrounded me with.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sun 01 Nov 2009, 6:28 pm

Reward and Punishment

"After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time-- if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God and provoking him to anger, I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed."
-- Deuteronomy 4:25-26
Reward and punishment may work as a training technique for animals, but it does not work when it comes to God's dealings with us. Listen to what my friend Phillip Yancey observes:

The Bible itself records a kind of behavior-modification experiment on a national scale - God's covenant with the Israelites. For a time, God resolved to reward and punish his people with strict consistency, as detailed in the book of Deuteronomy. What were some of the results of obedience? Prosperous cities... guaranteed military victories and total immunity to diseases. What about the punishment? If they disobeyed, violence and crime, infertility and crop failure. So what resulted from this reward and punishment system? Within 50 years, the Israelites disintegrated into a state of anarchy and much of the rest of the Old Testament recounts the dreary history of those predicted curses coming true.

Years later when New Testament authors referred to that history, they saw those days of reward and punishment in a new light. They said the Old Testament law serves as an object lesson: It demonstrates that human beings are incapable of fulfilling a contract with God.

James 2:13 announces that "Mercy triumphs over judgment!" Thanks be to God who gives us the victory in Christ! You can rejoice that you do not live in a reward-and-punishment type of world. God did not punish my stiff-necked, teenage stubbornness with a broken neck, and he will not zap you with a lightening bolt if you sin. So today, forgive others of their trespasses against you, as he - the Lord Jesus - has forgiven you. It's all about mercy. It's all about grace.

* * * * *

Oh, how grateful I am for your mercy and grace, Lord Jesus.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Thu 29 Oct 2009, 3:25 pm

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
October 28, 2009
Dear Janae,


The Intentional God

He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand...
-- Daniel 4:35
When we say that God allows an accident, or permits a painful disappointment, we get the picture that Satan backs God into a corner with some weird request and then twists God's arm until he yells, "Uncle!" We think that the Lord would really rather not allow thus-and-such, that he would prefer that the devil just leave him alone, thank you.

But the permitting and the allowing that God does in the Bible is far more deliberate than what people usually assume. God gives the green light to problems - not because he's helpless or has set himself restrictions against meddling in the world's affairs - but because he is intentional. God is decisive, even about suffering.

This is obvious in Ezekiel 20:26, "I let them become defiled through their gifts - the sacrifice of every firstborn - that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord." Centuries earlier God saw what was coming. Long before the Jews entered Canaan, he knew what they were disposed to do. Why did God permit them to follow their own vices, especially something so loathsome as infanticide which he hates? He tells us in Ezekiel 20: to expose the vileness closeted in their own hearts so that they would stare at it and vomit. This is hard for us to grasp, but exposing sin is more important to God than relieving human suffering, even unthinkable suffering. (Estes)


* * * * *

Almighty God, forgive me when I think that you allow things to happen in an offhanded or casual way. Forgive me when I assume that the devil is holding you hostage, making you do and decide things you really would rather not. I praise you for your decisiveness, for your deliberateness, for your decrees that are always intentional. You have something good always in mind and a plan that is always perfect. Bless you!


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Wed 28 Oct 2009, 4:19 pm

Hardship that Hangs On

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
-- 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
I can identify with this verse. In the early years of my paralysis when I was squirming to get back on my feet, I looked at my wheelchair and "pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me." To make a long story short, I got the same response as the apostle Paul. Like his, my condition remained chronic.

Why chronic? Why do some hardships never go away? The hurting and hammering process I spoke about yesterday won't end until we become completely holy (and there's no chance of that happening this side of eternity). This is why I can more easily accept my paralysis as a chronic condition. When I broke my neck, it wasn't a jig-saw puzzle I had to solve fast, nor was it a quick jolt to get me back on track. My diving accident was the beginning of a long, arduous process of becoming like Christ. Sure, there are times I wish it were easier, but I realize I'm far from perfect. I have a long way to go to be made like Christ, polished and complete in his image.

The grace of God mentioned in our verse today is enough to sustain us through hardships that hang around. God's grace - the desire and the power to do his will - is sufficient. "Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but healed" (Hebrews 12:12). Health and wholeness, maturity and completeness will be mine one day. The hammer and chisel will be laid down, once and for all!

James 1:2-4 is our advice for the day: "When all kinds of trials crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed" (Phillips).


* * * * *

Lord Jesus, help me to accept those conditions in my life which are chronic, whether in my marriage, family or health. Give me grace for the long haul, knowing the ending will be happy beyond my wildest dreams.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Sat 24 Oct 2009, 1:33 pm

This Is Why He Came

Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: 'Everyone is looking for you!' Jesus replied, 'Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.'
--Mark 1:36-38
Why was Simon and his companions so anxious to find Jesus? Because everyone was asking for him. The day before in Capernaum Jesus had healed all the sick and the demon possessed. Word had spread through the night and the next morning everyone was searching for the Great Physician. Only after searching high and low did Simon find Jesus away from the crowds, almost hiding and praying alone.

Back in Capernaum, sick people and their families were frantic for his healing touch. But Jesus left them to go on. It's not that he didn't care about the cancer-ridden and arthritic (those who came too late for healing the night before). It's just that their illnesses weren't his focus - the gospel was. Jesus' miracles were merely a backdrop to his urgent message. He said so himself: "This is why I have come... so I can preach." And he preached it time and again: Sin will kill you, hell is real, God is merciful, his kingdom will change you, I am your passport. Whenever people missed this point - whenever the immediate benefit of his miracles distracted them from eternal things - the Savior backed away. (Estes)

What are you seeking from God? The healing of a hurt? The meeting of a need? These things are good, but don't miss Jesus' deeper message. The core of his plan is to rescue you from sin. Our pain, poverty, or broken hearts are not his ultimate focus. God cares most, not about making us comfortable, but about teaching us to hate our sins, to grow up spiritually, and love him.


* * * * *

I desire healing on the inside of my heart today. Lord, help me not to be so absorbed with outside things. Touch my soul, Great Physician.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright € ¦©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Joni and Friends Empty Re: Joni and Friends

Post  Admin on Thu 22 Oct 2009, 7:43 am

God Is So...Personal

When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus, all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.
--Luke 4:40
In Luke 4, everybody from the surrounding countryside brought sick people to see Jesus. Now it could have panned out this way:

Jesus surveys the crowd and says, "Okay, all you blind people, you sit over here. And everybody who has a contagious disease, you guys sit way over there. Now, where are the deaf? All you deaf people gather on that hill. Paralyzed people? Calling all paralyzed people! Okay, get yourselves together in a group right in the front here. Now, everybody in position? Are you ready? Here goes!" Then, with a wave of His hand over the crowd, Jesus shouts, "Be healed!"

Aren't you glad it didn't happen that way? No grand-scale miracles of epic proportions were undertaken by Jesus. Instead, He laid His hands on each one who came to Him. His gentle touch healed the deaf, and He had nothing but kind words for blind people who reached out to Him. He ministered to each one...individually. In so doing, He performed divine feats in a loving and highly personal way.

That's what I find so amazing about Christ. Although the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him, He didn't make high drama of it. He glorified the Father but not in a showy way. Unlike the unapproachable "smoke and fire" of the Old Testament Mt. Sinai, Jesus makes himself approachable through the love and tears of the New Testament Mt. Calvary.

That's the kind of miracle God wants to do in your life. Today He encounters you with the same tenderness and humanity he showed two thousand years ago. You are not a face in a sea of nameless people whom he divides into groups like the deaf, the blind, or the paralyzed. He wants to give you his highly personal touch.

* * * * *

Lord, I'm grateful I'm not a What's-his-name in your eyes. I'm not a face in the crowd. You thought of me, formed me, and designed every unique, wonderful bone in my body long before the foundation of the earth. Touch my life today in the personal way yet powerful way. You have touched people through the ages.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Wed 21 Oct 2009, 11:08 am

I'm After God's Heart

...David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes.
--1 Kings 14:8

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.
--Psalm 30:11
David is a man not only after God's heart, but mine. He's bent on pleasing God, but he seems to bounce off the wall spiritually with every Psalm he writes. One day he is wailing, the next, dancing. One moment he throws himself down in sackcloth and ashes, disgusted with his behavior, the next, he's effervescing joy like 7-Up. In the space of just one Psalm, he cries, then rants and raves, gets depressed, teeters on the edge of doubt, then does a complete turnabout, confesses, repents, and ultimately rejoices in praise.

That's my kind of guy. I can identify with someone for whom obedience does not always come easy. I'm not glorying in my hardheadedness. Being slow to obey is not something to brag about. God knows it took a broken neck to back me into a corner in order to get me seriously thinking about his lordship in my life. But I'm learning. No longer is a broken neck required for me to be instant in obedience. Maybe a pressure sore, or a stint in bed from the flu. These are the less dramatic means God uses to press my heart up against his. And, oh, I want to seek his heart!

Are you the kind of believer who immediately turns a headache into a hallelujah? Few, if any, Christians are made automatically holy through their heartaches. Most are like David for whom there was no mystical link between trials and triumphs. Take heart! When you struggle in a test or against temptation, when you move toward obedience, even in a small way, God sees it as seeking after his heart.


* * * * *

O God, though I sometimes wander far, though I stumble and fall, please, please: I want to be a child after your own heart.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright € ¦©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Thu 15 Oct 2009, 12:31 pm

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
October 13, 2009
Dear Janae,


Up Close and Personal

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
--Ephesians 3:17a
Last night, right before prayer time, I was struggling to push out of my heart one of those useless daydreams. My thinking was, I don't want to approach God like this. Then it occurred to me how close God was -- right in the middle of things (because the Spirit of the Lord dwells in my heart). My next thought? Sometimes, Lord, I don't know how you can stand to live inside of me! God carries the weight of my campaign against sin, but I rarely think of him as that up close and personal when I'm engaged against temptation. Because he lives inside me, he's literally in the thick of the battle.

Yet he's the one who has to put up with my choosing stupid thoughts, taking worldly advice, opting to ignore his warnings, forgetting my calling as a servant, and walking more than occasionally in the flesh. How does he put up with all that?

Scripture says, "The battle belongs to the Lord." I'm amazed that the Spirit I grieve when I sin, turns right around whenever he hears me repent, and empowers me to conquer that sin. I'm glad he doesn't hold a grudge. I'm relieved he doesn't say "I told you so." And I'm so grateful that, even when I quench his fire in my heart, he can always be stirred to action by the match ignited when I confess.

Come to think of it, I'm glad the Lord resides inside me. Because the closer he is to the battle -- right there in my heart -- the closer his love is to me.

What battles rage in your heart today? What temptations taunt you to just say yes? Picture the Holy Spirit living inside your heart. And the fiery maelstrom that he is urging you to emerge from victoriously. Thank him for the power to do so.

* * * * *

Father, I know you're pleased with me as your child, and Lord Jesus, I know you're the one who intercedes and prays for me. But Holy Spirit, you're the one who has to live with me. Thank you.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Sun 11 Oct 2009, 6:13 pm

Friend of Sinners

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and 'sinners.'
--Matthew 11:19
The pastor of a church I was visiting introduced me to a newcomer who was struggling with cancer. "I'm not ready to give my life to Jesus," he said to me.

"Have you told Jesus that?" I asked. Judging from the stymied look on his face, the idea of praying was the farthest thing from his mind. "Why don't you take time right now to tell Jesus? Whatever is on your heart, you can tell Him." The man gave a smile when I reached for his hand and then bowed his head with mine saying, "Lord, I...uh...they tell me I should give my life to you...and although I can't, that is, I guess I won't, I really do...I really want to believe. Please...help me."

"You're well on your way to believing in Christ," I said after he finished praying. How could I be so sure? Because he had opened up his heart to encounter the Lord Jesus. When someone engages God in prayer, they can never be quite the same. That man's prayer, though feeble and faltering, meant the Savior, in turn, had a handhold on him. With the encouragement of his pastor and friends, it won't be long before he's welcomed into the family.

The good news sounds great to those who see Jesus befriending them. In the gospels, the Lord Jesus is constantly presented as a friend of sinners. He moved among people as their friend before He became their Savior.

Who can you befriend on Jesus' behalf today? Ask God to bring to mind someone who needs Him--and you. How about you? Do you need a friend today? Ask Jesus to be with you in a way that will be a comfort to you.

* * * * *

When I share our friendship with others today, Lord, help me to show them you want to be their friend, too. Thank you for being so interested in people as... people! Help me to convey that today.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright € ¦©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Sat 10 Oct 2009, 9:34 am

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
You're One of "Those"

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
--Hebrews 10:39
Who are "those?" This verse raises the question, "Who are those who believe and are saved?" The writer of Hebrews has some special people in mind. His answer follows in Hebrews chapter 11, the great honor roll of those who persevered: Moses, Noah, Sarah, Abraham, Rahab, Gideon, David and Samuel, to mention a few.

You are one of "those." You're linked with Moses and Enoch! Yes, even though these men and women had problems, they demonstrated great faith. Moses, although he erupted in anger, repented; Noah had a problem with alcohol, yet didn't shrink back; Sarah mocked God, yet survived and was saved; Rahab with loose morals, Gideon with serious doubts, David with uncontrolled passions, and Samuel with the aches and pains of old age. Ultimately, they did not collapse, but believed and were saved. They were counted as righteous because they lived by faith. And so must you.

Hebrews 12 begins, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles..." (v.1). Sound hard? Hebrews 12:2-3 reminds you to fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith... consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Don't give up. Don't shrink back. Others hung in there and so can you.

* * * * *

Lord, I forget about the saints of old with whom I am intimately linked in you. I am grateful to be one of them... to be a faithful servant... I fix my eyes on you, I believe you... praise God I am saved.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Thu 08 Oct 2009, 3:45 pm

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
October 7, 2009

A Sweet-Smelling Savor

Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other the fragrance of life.
--2 Corinthians 2:14-16
The wind shifts in October, carrying on the breeze the scent of a seasoned wood-fire from a neighbor's chimney. Lean out your window, draw a deep breath, and you can smell the scent of pine from a nearby woods. Or someone baking an apple pie next door. I love this time of year because of the wonderful new aromas in the air. It's amazing how a scent - even a fragrance - evokes powerful feelings.

Today's verse speaks of the power of fragrance. It's another way of saying, "I want to live in a way that will perpetually remind God of the obedience, sacrifice, and devotion of the Lord Jesus. I want my words and deeds to bring to God's mind fragrant memories of the earthly life of his Son."

What's more, our godly words and deeds not only remind God of his Son, but remind others of him, too - whether they believe in Jesus or not. To be obedient among the fellowship of believers is to carry with you the fragrance of Christ. To be obedient in a wicked world is to remind others of the stench of death. But that's not bad! Sometimes the wicked need to face their own mortality to be awakened out of their spiritual slumber. No matter how others interpret it, just be certain to waft Jesus their way.

The smell of hot apple pie brings to mind deep-rooted memories. A wood fire or the scent of pine will do the same. In the same way, your life of obedience can please God with an aroma that reminds him of Jesus. Be fragrant. Be a sweet smelling savor. Be obedient and, thus, be God's memory of his Son.
* * * * *

May my life give off the scent of Christ to all those around me. And, Father, may my obedience bring a smile to you, today, reminding you of your precious Son.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Wed 07 Oct 2009, 12:38 pm

The Wrong Kind of Expert

They never stop sinning...they are experts in greed.
--2 Peter 2:14
I have vivid memories of what it was like to play hockey, ride a horse, and swing a tennis racquet. When it comes to tennis, my mom was my best coach. She possessed great finesse and tried to pass good ball-and-racquet skills on to me. But I was a stubborn learner.

I recall my backhand. I thought I was doing pretty good, but my wrist was bent, my grip was wrong, and my body position wasn't square with the net. In other words, I had gotten very good at doing something very bad. Through hours of practice away from the coaching eye of my mother, I became an expert in poor backhand.

Have you gotten proficient at doing something very wrong? Peter in his epistle talks about people who practice doing the wrong thing and become experts in sin. They train themselves that way--with years of practice. We need to train ourselves to do the right thing. Paul tells Timothy to train himself to be godly. He says, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:8).

As you live, day in and day out, you are either practicing godliness or selfishness. It has been said, "Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, and reap a character." If you want to do what is right, then you had better train yourself in godliness. That means practice--everyday. Remember, others are watching! "Let us, therefore, make every effort... so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:11).

Don't get good at doing something wrong. Instead, make a choice today to live right. Train yourself to be godly.

* * * * *

Father God, You know how easily I fall into bad habits in my thoughts, heart, and actions. Show me how to break one habit and how to learn a godly one. Keep me from letting selfishness reign.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Tue 06 Oct 2009, 4:13 pm

Come Before Winter

Do your best to get here before winter.
--2 Timothy 4:21a
Johan is young, tall, blond, and Dutch. I met him through my cousin, who attended the same Bible school in England as Johan. Gifted and handsome, Johan could have carved out a comfortable youth ministry in his native Netherlands--or most anywhere else in the world.

Comfort, however, isn't one of Johan's major goals. He chose to take the gospel to the Bedouins and nomads near Israel's desolate Sinai Desert, a forgotten people in one of the most forgotten corners of the world.

Johan has learned many life lessons from the people of the desert, including that it is considered worse than murder to know of a water source and to neglect to tell your fellow travelers. Johan points out that six hours without water in the desert during the summer, and you are dead.

How like Philippians 3 in which Paul weeps that the Christians know all about joy, and yet it doesn't change their lives or cause them to share with others. They sat with their cups overflowing while others were thirsty.

You, too, know where the water source is. Thirsty men and women surround you right now: the neighbor down the street, the man at the service station, the boy who carries your groceries, the secretary who types and files, your distant aunt. If these people don't know Christ, they're going to die of thirst.

Paul told Timothy, "Do your best to get here before winter." Do something today to satisfy others' thirst for eternal water. Do it while the communication channels are open. This is the season to speak up; it would be a crime not to.

* * * * *

Teach me to act today, Lord, before storms set in and paths of communication are cut off from those who long to drink from your cup of joy. Help me so to treasure that which You have given me that I must share it with others.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright € ¦©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Fri 02 Oct 2009, 4:06 pm

Memories

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope...
--Lamentations 3:21
My sweetest memories are ones that inspire hope. And many of them are of life before my accident. I recall the grating sensation of a nail file against the tips of my fingers, and the sound of my nails tapping cool, ivory piano keys. I can still "feel" my fingers plucking the tight nylon strings of my old guitar, the touch of peach fuzz, digging my thumb under an orange skin and peeling it.

Funny thing...so many of my freshest memories have to do with my hands. I'm looking at my paralyzed hands right now. The muscles have all atrophied. My fingers are curled and rigid, and I wear leather hand splints so that when I move my arms, my hands don't flop and get in the way. I love it when my husband, Ken, holds my hand. Sometimes when we're wheeling around a mall, I'll hold my arm out, a signal to him to grab my hand. I can't feel it, but I like seeing his hand covering mine.

Why would memories like these inspire hope? They remind me that one day soon I'll have new hands. Fingers that will work and feel again, touch and pluck and pick and scrub and dig. Hands that will embrace loved ones. The first thing I'm going to do is reach for Ken's new, glorified hand and give it a squeeze just to see what it feels like. It'll happen! God promises me in Jeremiah 29:11, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'" My best memories help give that hopeful future "shape."

Let your memories be your handhold on heaven. Do you have of better times, happier days? Use those to help you look forward to when God will wipe away every tear; to when sorrow and sighing will be no more, and to when joy will overtake you.

* * * * *

Lord, help me to use memories to build up my hope for the heavenly future. Thank You for helping me through the present by remembering a pleasant past.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Wed 30 Sep 2009, 12:22 pm

A Peaceful Harvest

Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
--James 3:18
As school starts, kids are engaging in that universal rite--the fight. Some will fight with words. The more sophisticated will fight by creating political alliances with other playground buddies to ward off the offending party.

Of course, I never fought. Just ask my sisters. They were always fighting with each other, but I was never involved...Okay, maybe once, twice at most. But, hey, I'm older now. I never fight...Oh, all right, I do stir up an argument now and then. After all, we're creatures of conflict. And churches, like playgrounds, provide ample opportunities for strife.

Yet James said, "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." He chose peace as the seed because true righteousness can't grow where there is discord. Unrighteousness grows like weeds in an environment where uncertainty and anxiety abound. Evil loves discontent and restlessness. Mind you, James doesn't use the word "peacekeepers," but "peacemakers." People who try to get rid of strife through kowtowing or weakening their principles fail in bringing about a deep and lasting peace. Peace for the sake of expediency is fragile, at best.

Peacemaking runs deeper than peacekeeping. To sow the seed of peace is to press a truth gently yet firmly into the soil of another's heart. When peace prevails, that which is "right" is given room to flourish. We can see circumstances for what they are. We are able to choose the right path.

Peace is a powerful seed in your hand. Sow it in the midst of a sinful world that is too contentious to discern right from wrong. Speak words of peace to those in your church who have lost their sense of what love is and who loves them dearly. Let dissension and discord pass from your hearts so that the stranger in your midst might be wooed to the Righteous One.


* * * * *

Teach me how to plant peace in my heart, Lord. Then show me ways to sow the seed of peace in others' lives.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Wed 16 Sep 2009, 6:52 pm

The Cotton Farmer

Consider how the lilies grow.
--Luke 12:27
Not just the lilies, but a few other flowering things. Like cotton. Seeing a cotton field ready for picking gives new meaning to the phrase "white unto harvest." But a lot of carefully planned work goes into the crop before it reaches that stage - it's true for us as spiritual "plants" as well.

Just at the time - the exact time - the cotton plant starts to bear fruit, the farmer withholds water. Less water at the critical stage in development makes for a fuller cotton flower. The farmer is judicious. He doesn't go too long without watering or the plant will die; then again, he doesn't over-water or it would result in a lush plant with little or no cotton flower. This is how the farmer induces the plant to produce more cotton. At harvest time, he sprays the cotton plant with salt water, which dries up the leaves and makes them fall off. Now the cotton is much easier to pick. We would be prone to leave the green part of the plant. But the farmer knows the plant has to give up its beauty to serve its function.

Dry seasons are no mistake. For consider how you grow. You sometimes bear more fruit (like patience or long-suffering) for having endured a dry season. If you're going through a dry time, keep in mind that God is inducing you to "raise a harvest of righteousness" (James 3:18). The stresses of life are being used for His good purpose. Let that thought release you from worrying. And as far as those dried up leaves that fall off, sometimes, we, too, must give up something that is treasured to serve the purpose God intends for us.


* * * * *

Teach me, Lord, through the example of Your life, to graciously give of myself that others might live. Keep me from a sense of martyrdom and enable me to retain my joy.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright € ¦©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Tue 08 Sep 2009, 6:05 pm

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
September 7, 2009
Songs of Conquest

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: 'Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.' As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.
--2 Chronicles 20:21-22
Anyone who spends time with me knows how much I enjoy singing, especially at work. When someone helps me type, we'll reach for the hymnal next to my computer, flip it open to an old favorite and harmonize our hearts out.

All this is not just to fill the office corridors with song. For me, singing is a wonderful way to clear the spiritual air, shooing away any dark spirits hanging around. (Until recently, a New Age publisher rented the second floor of suites in our building.)

It hearkens back to 2 Chronicles 20 in which Jehoshaphat was called into battle. He "appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him... as they went out at the head of the army." Jehoshaphat's army then made a shambles of the enemy. What a wonderful story of how songs of praise make a difference in a spiritual climate. Confusion befuddled the enemy and their camps turned on one another. The people of God then carried away the plunder.

If you're fighting darkness or spiritual conflict, if the enemy is poised and ready to attack, the best defense is to sing. It's a way of resisting the devil. Singing is also the best offense. Songs of praise will confuse the enemy and send the devil's hoards high-tailing. So pick a hymn, any hymn. Choose a Scripture chorus. Or make up your own melody to a favorite portion of Scripture. Victory over the enemy can be yours for a song.

* * * * *


Bring to my mind songs, Lord, when my path is blocked by the enemy of my soul. Keep my heart attuned to You.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright € ¦©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Tue 01 Sep 2009, 11:04 am

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
August 31, 2009

Guard The Storehouse

"The word of the Lord you have spoken is good," Hezekiah replied. For he thought, "There will be peace and security in my lifetime."
--Isaiah 39:8
Based upon his pleadings before God, Hezekiah had been spared a painful death and guaranteed another fifteen years of life. Upon his recovery, God had also promised that his kingdom would be spared from the Assyrians. Hezekiah was doubly blessed.

It seems, however, that Hezekiah's gratefulness had only himself in mind. A Babylonian emissary visited Hezekiah upon hearing of the king's recovery. He was shown the king's storehouses containing armor, silver, gold - everything to whet Babylon's appetite for conquest. After the emissary left, God made it clear to Hezekiah that those treasures, as well as Hezekiah's own children, would be carried off to Babylon someday.

Hezekiah's response to God's news in this verse reveals how selfish he was. The prophet had just announced to him that Israel -the treasures and the descendants -would be taken captive. Nothing would be left. And the children were going to be made eunuchs in the palace of Babylon. But Hezekiah seems unphased by the prospect. "There will be peace and security in my lifetime." Self-preservation seemed to the order of the day. No matter that his children would suffer. No matter that Israel, the apple of God's eye, would be enslaved. "At least I'll have my peace and security," he said.

* * * * *

There is no room for selfish rationalizations like that of Hezekiah's. Just because we live in dangerous days does not give us an excuse to ignore the next generation. And it will not do to delegate the responsibility to youth pastors and teachers. Each of us must protect our storehouse of faith and ensure through whatever means available that we make decisions beyond our lifetime. Our words, our wallets, our votes, our prayers- all must be harnessed to protect our descendants from captivity to a reckless world.

Lord, may I not be content with peace in my lifetime. May I sacrifice today's luxury for tomorrow's freedom.


Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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Post  Admin on Wed 26 Aug 2009, 9:56 pm

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
August 20, 2009



Use It!

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
--Galatians 6:10
Tyler Law, age 9, strode in front of the gurney that was to take him to surgery for his cancerous arm. "Can I walk?" he had asked the orderly who came to get him. "Sure, kid," the orderly had said, as he fell in line behind the brave patient and joined the parents. The three of them watched as Tyler marched ten paces in front of them. He was raising his bad arm in the air and pumping his biceps in and out.

When they arrived at the prep room his dad asked, "So what was that arm pumping thing about?" "Oh," Tyler answered. "I just wanted to get as much use out of it as I could in case they have to cut it off."

Tyler lived on the brink of losing his arm and took every opportunity to use it for that which it was intended - movement. Muscles tightening, tendons flexing, joints moving, neurons firing. Not a second of enjoying that arm was going to be lost while Tyler still had the chance.

Tyler's words also reveal more than his bravery. They strike a chord of truth about our lives: Use it. Now. I fear that, in our modern Christian world where we are quick to "avoid burnout," we have not used our lives as they were intended. Paul admonishes us to take advantage of the opportunities afforded us to do good. Our lives have so much potential for doing good. We take for granted our time, our talents, our energy, and assume that it must be saved for some great purpose later on. God's purpose for us is not later, it is now.

* * * * *


The opportunities to use our lives for that which they are intended-- loving God - are now. Find those opportunities today. Pursue them to the end, bravely, knowing that it might be the last day afforded for such work.

Lord, I'm taking inventory of my life. What do I have that I'm not using? Where can it be applied, today?

Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright ©️ 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
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